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Syrio Forel will return


Corvo the Crow
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Evidence that Syrio is dead:

•Faced down an armed and armored knight with only a broken wooden practice sword.

•Completely absent from the story since then, except for brief flashbacks in Arya's memories.

Evidence that Syrio is alive:

•We didn't see a body.

Literally every argument for Syrio being somehow alive depends on the fact that Syrio's desecrated remains were not shown on page. The other arguments, that he picked up a longsword and somehow knew exactly how to use it, or that he is a secret Faceless Man, rests on the faulty assumption that if it's not explicitly stated in the text, it must mean that Syrio is miraculously alive. But subtext is a thing, and since there is exactly zero evidence that Syrio is a Faceless Man, or that he knows how to fight with longswords, we have to assume that he died offpage. Or, rather, we could assume that, and it would be the safe bet. Or we could make cool "Dune" inspired fanfic and insist it's actually evidence.

Sorry folks. There just isn't any reason to believe Syrio lived. 

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14 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Tell that to Duncan Idaho from Dune, who Syrio mostly got copy pasta'd from. If Duncan Idaho can return and be a very important characters in the later books, Syrio can - and being an unoriginal copy character should- return as well.

This isn't Dune though.  GRRM is influenced by stories and myths from Homer to the contemporary world and any number of authors or screenwriters.  The story is his own and whether we spot references or not doesn't determine what is going to happen.

E.G. Stark vs Lannister is inspired by the Wars of The Roses (York vs Lancaster) but what happens is up to GRRM.  He threw in references to The Three Stooges too but even if you spot it that doesn't tell you anything about the story.

Syrio died in 1996 :crying:

13 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Evidence that Syrio is alive:

•We didn't see a body.

Literally every argument for Syrio being somehow alive depends on the fact that Syrio's desecrated remains were not shown on page. 

Sorry folks. There just isn't any reason to believe Syrio lived. 

The "we don't have a body" argument has been used to argue that none of Geor Hightower, Arthur Dayne or Jonothor Darry died at The Tower of Joy, reappearing variously as Qhorin Halfhand, Mance Raydar or Willem Darry (Dany's guardian in her childhood); that Rhaegar didn't die on The Trident, or rather that he did but as his body was not cremated, or maybe because it was?, he was revived or maybe reincarnated as....Mance Raydar / [John Doe].

If there's a reason for Syrio to be Jaqen or if he has any further relevance I can't see it.  Ned's party were slaughtered to the man/woman - even Vayon Poole and Septa Mordane - and only Ned, Arya, Sansa and Jeyne Poole survived due to hostage value, the latter by accident and then because she had value as an Arya substitute. 

No one is looking for this dangerous swordsman, no one circulates this man's description and warns that he is Arya's protector or indeed that he was last seen fighting to protect this now missing high value hostage.  If he had escaped Trant and were alive the assumption would be that he helped Arya escape and they would be looking for him as the best lead on her.  I find the silence to be deafening.

Either Syrio was a Yoren-like figure who fulfilled his purpose and exited stage left or he's on one mighty old road trip with Benjen.  Arguing he's alive seems to be based on his popularity, the fact that he's Braavosi and therefore can be alleged to be linked to the mysterious FM and, in this case, basing his character arc in ASOIAF on the arc of a character he may be loosely inspired by in another work.

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14 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Literally every argument for Syrio being somehow alive depends on the fact that Syrio's desecrated remains were not shown on page. The other arguments, that he picked up a longsword and somehow knew exactly how to use it, or that he is a secret Faceless Man, rests on the faulty assumption that if it's not explicitly stated in the text, it must mean that Syrio is miraculously alive. But subtext is a thing, and since there is exactly zero evidence that Syrio is a Faceless Man, or that he knows how to fight with longswords, we have to assume that he died offpage. Or, rather, we could assume that, and it would be the safe bet. Or we could make cool "Dune" inspired fanfic and insist it's actually evidence.

I mean sure, this kind of Occam's Razor reasoning applies perfectly well in real life police procedural, but in a mystery story it kind of ignores the artistry of the author, and his intention to spring reveals and surprises in future. That being said, I do feel that Syrio is in a box marked 'future reveal' that GRRM may be unsure what to do with yet. He is a gardener writer, and the Syrio 'seed' may wither or flourish as he sees fit. I lean towards us learning more of his fate - but as to the nature of that fate, I don't think we as readers have enough to go on yet.

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17 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Evidence that Syrio is dead:

•Faced down an armed and armored knight with only a broken wooden practice sword.

•Completely absent from the story since then, except for brief flashbacks in Arya's memories.

Evidence that Syrio is alive:

•We didn't see a body.

Literally every argument for Syrio being somehow alive depends on the fact that Syrio's desecrated remains were not shown on page.

We are told repeatedly about the true seeing, but we don’t see the fight or a body.

We do see bodies for the other victims of the coup.

Cersei referring to the dancing master later, with no indication that he died, wasn’t included for no reason.

Syrio is not only not absent (literally if he’s Jaqen) but is mentioned 30+ times after Game of Thrones, and in the WoW chapters another Forrel is mentioned.

Mindblowing that in this of all series people want to hand wave Syrio away!

17 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

The other arguments, that he picked up a longsword and somehow knew exactly how to use it, or that he is a secret Faceless Man, rests on the faulty assumption that if it's not explicitly stated in the text, it must mean that Syrio is miraculously alive.
 

There are countless examples of people’s deaths being faked in this series… that’s also context.

There is nothing miraculous about it.

Imagine thinking he was killed by Meryn Fucking Trant, lol.

17 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

But subtext is a thing, and since there is exactly zero evidence that Syrio is a Faceless Man, or that he knows how to fight with longswords, we have to assume that he died offpage.

The subtext all points to him having lived. There is no reason to assume he died off page. It’s almost like you payed no attention to the lessons he was teaching Arya.

But, no point in trying to show someone who refuses to see.

17 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Sorry folks. There just isn't any reason to believe Syrio lived. 

You are entitled to be as vehemently wrong as you’d like, or as sorry as you like, it won’t change the story.

There is no reason to write it the way it is unless he lived.

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5 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

Either Syrio was a Yoren-like figure who fulfilled his purpose and exited stage left or he's on one mighty old road trip with Benjen. 

Benjen is alive though, or was, before Ramsay captured Winterfell. During Theon's dead feast dream we don't get to see Benjen, while we see, among numerous other dead people, the Starks: Rickard, Brandon Lyanna and Ned. Even Robb joins the feast.

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15 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Benjen is alive though, or was, before Ramsay captured Winterfell. During Theon's dead feast dream we don't get to see Benjen, while we see, among numerous other dead people, the Starks: Rickard, Brandon Lyanna and Ned. Even Robb joins the feast.

It's possible Benjen could reappear but the longer his absence lasted and the more Jon and then Bran and the Reeds explored north of The Wall the less likely it has become.  He's essentially a minor character who has several appearances in AGOT before disappearing.  We see his men return as wights, Mormont's ranging fails to find him, there's no word of sightings of him from The Wildlings, etc....

The story is largely about the Stark children: the elder generation shuffled off stage earlier on, Uncle Benjen as well as Ned and Cat.  Just as Arya's mentors disappear so she has to survive on her own so do Jon's - Benjen, Donal Noye, The Old Bear, Maester Aemon.  Thematically and practically I don't see Benjen's return after so long MIA: the re-appearance of the much more experienced First Ranger would kind of undercut Jon as The Boy Lord Commander of the NW and his place in the Stark succession as well.  With Benjen around, we simply don't need Jon.

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@Mourning Star

Syrio Forel = Jaqen H'gar = The Alchemist = Pate = Bran

fferyll means "alchemist, magician" in Welsh

 

In Old Norse saer means "conjurer, magician, wizard"  and in Old Norse, "wizard" is synonymous with "assassin, hired bandit" so the Faceless Men = Wizards

and saer means "sea" and "seen, clear" and Syrio talks to Arya about seeing through illusions, and he served the Sea Lord.

 

forell means "trout" in Swedish

branda means "a little trout" in Old Norse and Bran is half Tully whose sigil is a trout.

brandr means "to burn, firebrand"

Sirius means "to burn, scorch" in Latin/Greek

In Old Norse the dog-star Sirius is called Loka brenna, "the conflagration of Loki" and Loki was a shaper-shifter who turned himself into a Salmon, and Loki was very closely associated with the wolf Fenrir, and the Norse dictionary suggests that Loki was himself a wolf.

Jachin gives Arya a magic coin.  coin / cuin means "wolf" in Gaelic [agor means "coin" in Hebrew"]

 

Bran's horse was Dancer.  Syrio is a Dancer.

 

jakh means "a living supernatural being" in Hindi, and jagan means "lord of the world" and jagna means "to burn"

 

Jachin is one of the two black and white pillars of Freemasonry, and the other being Boaz.  And Jaqen's assumed identity purports to be from Lorath where they worship Boash.

In Old Norse pill means "tree" and pilarr means "pillar" and pila-grimr means "pilgrim"

Jachin is from the House of Black and White.  Which is a metaphor for a Weirwood Cave, and Lorath comes from the Gaelic lior na rath or "fairy hill, prince's seat, garth"  The Black and White pillars are the Black weirwoods of Essos and the White weirwoods of Westeros.

 

The Stranger/ Wanderer

hagar means "stranger, wanderer" in Hebrew [guagaire means "rambler, stroller" in Gaelic]

ferill means "traveller, pilgrim, walker, track, trace, to rise" in Old Norse

vallari  means "pilgrim, wanderer in a foreign land" in Old Norse and the Valar Morghulis is the secret password of the Faceless Men.

seryeeanee means "to walk, wander" in Greek (and syrouros means "curly, curly-haired")

 

Forel and Jachin protect Arya

geocian means "to help, preserve, rescue, save" in Old English

forhelan means "to conceal, to hide, protect, shield" in Old English

 

and forieldan means "to put off, to delay" and Syrio's catch phrase is "not today" and scorian means "to refuse"

forhyda "to sheathe", forhalla "to conceal, to relate", forhyra "to hire"

In Middle English forel  means “case, sheath”, its a kind of parchment for book covers; a forrill. parchment,

 

gwach [sounds like "Jach"] means "cell" and Jachin was in the Black Cells,

gwachell means "needle, skewer, knitting needle"  and Arya's sword is Needle

gwachel means "concealing"

 

In Welsh and Gaelic, several words mean "squeal" (like a pig) which sound like "Jach" which is how jachin = Pate the pig boy.

giogam means "squeal" and gogan means "piggin"

gwichian / gwich means "to squeal"

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22 hours ago, By Odin's Beard said:

@Mourning Star

Syrio Forel = Jaqen H'gar = The Alchemist = Pate = Bran

fferyll means "alchemist, magician" in Welsh

Love all the references you listed here, always a fun exercise.

However, I am inclined to simplicity in these matters. If I had to take a shot at analyzing the name Syrio Forel, and these are always speculative at best...

I would suggest that Syrio is a reference to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, the dog star or wolf star.

Forel is a parchment used to cover books, traditionally often made from sheep skin.

This would mean Syrio Forel is a type of wolf in sheep's clothing, or more literally a sort of book ends to protect the tale of a dog/wolf.

And since we know of another Forel in the series we may as well play the same game.

Phario, I would suggest, is a reference to Pharos, the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, also famous for its library.

And this is where it gets fun. Not only is a lighthouse a guide (Pharos becoming the derivation of the greek word for lighthouse), but there is this fantastic legend about the destruction of the Lighthouse of Alexandria (taken from Wikipedia): The 10th-century writer al-Mas'udi reports a legendary tale on the lighthouse's destruction, according to which at the time of Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (r. 705–715) the Byzantines sent a eunuch agent, who adopted Islam, gained the Caliph's confidence and secured permission to search for hidden treasure at the base of the lighthouse. The search was cunningly made in such a manner that the foundations were undermined, and the Pharos collapsed. The agent managed to escape in a ship waiting for him.

I would point out that Jaqen/Alchemist/Pate is currently in Oldtown, the site of the Hightower.

 Phario Forel had written it, and he had the bloodiest quill of all of Braavos.

Edited by Mourning Star
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On 10/27/2022 at 8:33 AM, Sandy Clegg said:

I mean sure, this kind of Occam's Razor reasoning applies perfectly well in real life police procedural, but in a mystery story it kind of ignores the artistry of the author, and his intention to spring reveals and surprises in future. That being said, I do feel that Syrio is in a box marked 'future reveal' that GRRM may be unsure what to do with yet. He is a gardener writer, and the Syrio 'seed' may wither or flourish as he sees fit. I lean towards us learning more of his fate - but as to the nature of that fate, I don't think we as readers have enough to go on yet.

But this isn't a mystery story. It's not even remotely suggested in the text that Syrio is secretly alive. There are no clues on page that lead us down a rabbit hole of dicovery building up to the possible reveal that Syrio Forel is alive. No one in story acts like Syrio Forel might have survived. And if Syrio had lived, why is Meryn Trant still around?

There's no mystery here. It's not even in the mystery genre. Syrio served his narrative purpose in the story and now he's dead.

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On 10/27/2022 at 11:37 AM, Mourning Star said:

We are told repeatedly about the true seeing, but we don’t see the fight or a body.

We do see bodies for the other victims of the coup.

Cersei referring to the dancing master later, with no indication that he died, wasn’t included for no reason.

Syrio is not only not absent (literally if he’s Jaqen) but is mentioned 30+ times after Game of Thrones, and in the WoW chapters another Forrel is mentioned.

Mindblowing that in this of all series people want to hand wave Syrio away!

There are countless examples of people’s deaths being faked in this series… that’s also context.

There is nothing miraculous about it.

Imagine thinking he was killed by Meryn Fucking Trant, lol.

The subtext all points to him having lived. There is no reason to assume he died off page. It’s almost like you payed no attention to the lessons he was teaching Arya.

But, no point in trying to show someone who refuses to see.

You are entitled to be as vehemently wrong as you’d like, or as sorry as you like, it won’t change the story.

There is no reason to write it the way it is unless he lived.

It sounds more like you're grasping at straws trying to prove your theory. We don't need to see Syrio's body to know he's dead. Even Arya saw clearly that Syrio was at a prohibitive disadvantage. Meryn Trant is notably still alive, which he wouldn't be if Syrio had beaten him. Cersei making an offhand comment about Arya's dancing master, whom Cersei barely considers a person at all, let alone someone important, means nothing. Arya remembering her favorite teacher years later is understandable, but is not evidence of Syrio's survival. Having a surname like "Forel" in Bravos is also not proof that Syrio is alive. Other characters who died and then came back had strong narrative and thematic reasons to do so: justice for Beric, vengeance for Catelyn, etc. But Syrio taught Arya what she needed to know. He taught her to "look with her eyes." That's all I'm doing here. Syrio was a great secondary character who had a great positive impact on Arya. And now he's gone, leaving Arya with only his lessons to guide her forward. 

It makes more sense than Syrio being the 50th super duper secret faceless man.

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4 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

It sounds more like you're grasping at straws trying to prove your theory. We don't need to see Syrio's body to know he's dead. Even Arya saw clearly that Syrio was at a prohibitive disadvantage. Meryn Trant is notably still alive, which he wouldn't be if Syrio had beaten him. Cersei making an offhand comment about Arya's dancing master, whom Cersei barely considers a person at all, let alone someone important, means nothing. Arya remembering her favorite teacher years later is understandable, but is not evidence of Syrio's survival. Having a surname like "Forel" in Bravos is also not proof that Syrio is alive. Other characters who died and then came back had strong narrative and thematic reasons to do so: justice for Beric, vengeance for Catelyn, etc. But Syrio taught Arya what she needed to know. He taught her to "look with her eyes." That's all I'm doing here. Syrio was a great secondary character who had a great positive impact on Arya. And now he's gone, leaving Arya with only his lessons to guide her forward. 

It makes more sense than Syrio being the 50th super duper secret faceless man.

We're working with the same text, you are entitled to an opinion.

I've just tried to show you the way I see it. I think it's a safe bet that Trant didn't kill Syrio.

Not sure how you got to 50th faceless man, but I think you are hand waving away the story to suit your assumptions.

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12 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

There's no mystery here. It's not even in the mystery genre. Syrio served his narrative purpose in the story and now he's dead.

There's too much going on beneath the surface of the books for GRRM to not be hinting at a huge mystery at the heart of them. Just because you find it in the fantasy section, doesn't mean GRRM isn't capable of blending genres. There's horror in ASOIAF, too, which I think will reveal itself more as the books go on. Maybe even elements of sci-fi (we know Bran will be dong some form of time travel). It's all wrapped in an epic fantasy cloak, sure, but I think GRRM is more ambitious than even fans give him credit for.

As for Syrio, I think whether he is alive or not doesn't really matter as much as the lessons he teaches Arya, and by extension the reader who wants to get to the bottom of GRRM's mysteries:

Quote

"Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth."

If we treat all the narrators as 100% reliable, we will never get to the heart of what's going on. Assuming that the conclusions of Jon, Tyrion, Catelyn, etc. are accurate all the time won't help us. But paying attention to the details, the sights, sounds, smells, they notice - these are more reliable and may eventually help us to build a bigger picture.

I'll give an example. Everyone obsesses over where Dany's damn lemon tree actually was, as Braavos is way to cold to grow lemons. So they try and change the geography to fit the story. Maybe she grew up in Dorne, or Tyrosh, etc. But what if it we are going on a false assumption? What if Dany never had a lemon tree at all? She only remembers something as a lemon tree because she was too young to have another frame of reference? 

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1 hour ago, Sandy Clegg said:

I'll give an example. Everyone obsesses over where Dany's damn lemon tree actually was, as Braavos is way to cold to grow lemons. So they try and change the geography to fit the story. Maybe she grew up in Dorne, or Tyrosh, etc. But what if it we are going on a false assumption? What if Dany never had a lemon tree at all? She only remembers something as a lemon tree because she was too young to have another frame of reference? 

Because this way lies madness.

It's one thing to question the reliability of narrators, be it Arya's conclusion that Syrio is doomed or Dany growing up in Braavos, but when you start questioning the whole thing you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we can't believe anything we read then what's the point of reading? Rather I think the key is that there is intentional misdirection going on, and when we have been misled there will be at least some reason for it.

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1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

when you start questioning the whole thing you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we can't believe anything we read then what's the point of reading?

Well yes, unless GRRM had laid enough hints for us to tell the difference. As an experiment, I started doing a very suspicious re-read, doubting almost everything. Yes. You do go down a lot of false paths and start to question your sanity - but it’s eventually a great way to tune in to the various methods GRRM uses in his arsenal of trickery. There was one podcast he recorded around AFFC’s publication, I remember, where he likens himself to a magician - performing ‘narrative sleights of hand’. Distracting readers with one hand while he “subtly plants a seed or clue with his other hand”. I take that to mean there must be a lot of stuff we’ve been overlooking. And that’s because we have so many preconceptions about where the story is headed. So I try not to work backwards, assuming I know where the series is going, but instead look for little connections that might add up to bigger things. But, you know - he’s a gardener writer and anything is subject to change. So in the end we might just be chasing ‘discarded plot threads’. 

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42 minutes ago, Sandy Clegg said:

Well yes, unless GRRM had laid enough hints for us to tell the difference. As an experiment, I started doing a very suspicious re-read, doubting almost everything. Yes. You do go down a lot of false paths and start to question your sanity - but it’s eventually a great way to tune in to the various methods GRRM uses in his arsenal of trickery. There was one podcast he recorded around AFFC’s publication, I remember, where he likens himself to a magician - performing ‘narrative sleights of hand’. Distracting readers with one hand while he “subtly plants a seed or clue with his other hand”. I take that to mean there must be a lot of stuff we’ve been overlooking. And that’s because we have so many preconceptions about where the story is headed. So I try not to work backwards, assuming I know where the series is going, but instead look for little connections that might add up to bigger things. But, you know - he’s a gardener writer and anything is subject to change. So in the end we might just be chasing ‘discarded plot threads’. 

And I completely agree with this. I think there are a lot of little secrets and misdirections going on, but as you said, the key is finding a textual reason to be suspicious rather than just reading it in a way to reach the conclusion you want.

All this said, I expect some nice twists that many now consider wild or "tinfoil" and dismiss out of hand, including both that Syrio survived and Dany not being the child of Aerys and Rhaella, because that is exactly the sort of story this is, and I don't think he plants inconsistencies and details thoughtlessly.

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34 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

All this said, I expect some nice twists that many now consider wild or "tinfoil" and dismiss out of hand, including both that Syrio survived and Dany not being the child of Aerys and Rhaella, because that is exactly the sort of story this is, and I don't think he plants inconsistencies and details thoughtlessly.

He definitely doesn't, I agree. And I'd go further - I think he knew exactly what kind of tinfoil people would come out with, and even plants ideas which deliberately lead to insane fan speculation, because that's all part of the misdirection. He knows full well that we obsess over the Tower of Joy, over parentage of various characters, over who will ride which dragon, who will be Cersei's valonqar.

Not to say that these won't come into play, but I think with such 'dazzling' mysteries to preoccupy us, it's easy for him to bury other important stuff. Yet still -  people have done so much good detective work already since ADWD came out. My favourite 100% true one is the Night Lamp theory, with Stannis v the Freys. It works because it relies on purely understanding battle tactics, with no need for magic or mysticism. So it can be done.

It's the more 'occult' stuff that is harder to get your head round, though, because GRRM is very reluctant to lay down rules for this kind of stuff. Instead, we have to go off examples seen in-world. All we really know is that blood magic and sacrifice is necessary. There has to be a cost (something he's said in interviews). That, and all the lore that goes back thousands of years to the Age of Heroes, etc, which I think is more than just 'colourful world-building'. Essentially, nothing is wasted. And yet, a lot of it is misdirection. But even the misdirections are fascinating and could lead to something we don't expect. These books take soooo long to write for good reason :) 

Ok, here's another thought that entered my mind recently. Dany has never been seen through the POV of another character. Never. We've had POVs from Barristan and Quentyn, who have memories of her, but she is never around during their POVs. What this means, I do not know. Possibly nothing. But that Meereense knot occupied GRRM for an awful long time ...

This is the level of suspicion I have now reached. Nurse, time for my pills please!

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