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Parallel ("Rhyming") Characters: A study of Tyrion and Theon


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While rereading ASOIAF, it struck me that certain characters shared "uncommon aspects" with each other. While violence (in general) is fairly common in ASOIAF, these shared aspects raised a red flag during my reading.I refer specifically to two Point of View (POV) characters which had violent and sexual thoughts about their own respective sisters.If these characters shared one common aspect, that might be a coincidence. But the more commonalities, the less I am inclined to believe it is merely a coincidence and, the more I am inclined to see a concealed and deliberate effort on the part of the author.This post will seek to do the following;

  1. Establish connections between Tyrion and Theon
  2. Establish connections between Tyrion and Theon with other parallel (or "rhyming') characters
  3. Explore other parallels (Rhymes) among the discussed characters
  4. Explore the nature of these parallels and our author's intended purpose

Theon and Tyrion

Theon-Theon's vulgar thoughts about his sister are too much to include here. But you can read them yourself in his first 2 chapters in Clash of Kings, should you wish.-Later after she humiliates him, Theon thinks of strangling his sister.

  • "Theon gritted his teeth and gripped the rope tightly as he made his way across, pretending that it was Asha's neck he was clutching." Theon II, ACOK

Tyrion-Tyrion's thoughts are somewhat darker.

  • "And the only reward I ask is I might be allowed to r*** and kill my sister" Tyrion VII. ADWD

It should be noted that Tyrion is a notorious strangler of women (Shae).

  • That was the worst thing you could have said, sweetling. Tyrion had a hand under father's chain, and twisted. The links tightened, digging into her neck.

Knowing the craftiness of our author GRRM, I took a much closer look to see if they shared uncommon aspects with each other (these aspects stood out the most).

Little Brothers/Valonqars

Tyrion and Theon are both little brothers, Tyrion is literally so. It would seem little brothers are often associated with violence. Cersei certainly believed so.

"The old woman was not done with her, however. "Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the Valonqar shall wrap his hands around your pale white throat and choke the life from you." - Cersei VI AFFC""Tyrion is the Valonqar", she said. "Do you use that word in Myr?" It's High Valyrian, it means little brother" - Cersei IX, AFFC

So besides these two little brothers (Theon and Tyrion), our author has decided to give us prophecy (via Cersei chapters) that link "little brothers" and "strangling" together. Our author has decided to make these connections in 3 places (Theon/Tyrion/Cersei chapters). This means it is on purpose.

Let us take a look at some of the characteristics of Tyrion and Theon to see what else they have in common.

Theon and Tyrion, as they relate to other characters

Tyrion's life

-Hand of the King (A Baratheon King.... Joffrey of House Baratheon), his time in Kingslanding doesn't end well.

-The Younger/Little brother, and thus heir to nothing (unless a brother moves out of the way)

-"Prisoner in the Vale" (Theon considered himself a prisoner of Wintefell when he as a ward).

-Marries a red-haired "Tully" girl (not the great love of their lives but they do it anyway)

-Strangles a woman he once "loved"

-Accused of kinslaying

Does this sound familiar to you at all? Now let's try Theon...

Theon's life

-The younger/little brother (to Asha Greyjoy)

-A "Winterfell" (direct ties to Winterfell) ward to an icy/cool honorable figure with connections to the Vale of Arryn"

-A "Winterfell" (direct ties to Winterfell) ward to an icy/cool honorable figure with connections to the Vale of Arryn"—When he comes home, he presents an alliance to his father. When he comes home, he presents an alliance to his father.

-Accused of kinslaying

-Later, Theon contemplates marrying his sister off to someone.

-Becomes the "Lord of Winterfell" around the time a Bran[don] and Rick[on]/[ard] "disappear".

-Rescues a "stark" maid from a tower with 6 companions

The Theon/Tyrion Ned Stark Parallel

Thus far, we have Tyrion and Theon linked together by their violent and inappropriate thoughts about their sister (respectively). We also have strange connections between Theon and Tyrion with Ned. So, what the HELL is going on here?

Rhyming" or "parallel" ASOIAF Characters

It is my belief that our author has pulled a fast one on us. While we have all been focusing on him telling us directly in the POV characters, what I believe he is also doing (simultaneously) is using these POV characters to tell us an additional story. In a given chapter, our author may also be trying to tell us the story with which the POV characters (and certain non POV characters) rhyme with/parallel.So if Tyrion/Theon parallel Ned exists, their chapters may include information that shed light on the parallel character (in this case, Ned). If I am right about the parallels/rhyming, there are more. I am not done with my re-read, but I am currently looking for parallels for the "main cast" of Robert's Rebellion;

-Aerys II (a "mad" king who drinks too much and is to some extent lecherous, also lazy delegates to his hand)

-Rhaegar Targaryen (and his companions) and Elia Martell

-Rickard/Brandon (and his companions)/Lyanna Stark

-Arthur/Ashara Dayne

-Tywin Lannister

-Hoster Tully/Cat/Lysa



What proof is there that the author has contemplated parallels/rhyming in the books?

You tell me.

"It all seemed so familiar, like a mummer show that he had seen before. Only the mummers had changed. Roose Bolton was playing the part that Theon had played the last time round, and the dead men were playing the parts of Aggar, Gynir Rednose, and Gelmarr the Grimm. Reek was there too, he remembered, but he was a different Reek, a Reek with bloody hands and lies dripping from his lips, sweet as honey. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with sneak." - A ghost in Winterfell, ADWD

We're constantly being told certain characters evoke other characters (from the past). What's the point of doing this... unless it has a narrative purpose. If we knew the past story, it could foreshadow the future. But we don't know the exact past story! It's fully of mysteries and what we do know can be unreliable (and we only have bits and pieces)! So if it's not foreshadowing the future, perhaps it is doing the opposite... telling us what happened in the past.

Implications of the Theon/Tyrion/Ned "Rhyme" for Ned

Ned is tied in multiple ways to Theon and Tyrion. Violent men with ill designs on their respective sisters. Perhaps Ned didn't have a "rosey" relationship" with Lyanna that we thought we did. Perhaps it was more complicated.

Because Theon and Tyrion have these thoughts and they have such deep parallels to Ned, I think it's possible that Ned had similar thoughts. I cannot whether he acted on these thoughts yet. I am currently looking for evidence to prove or disprove this idea. I have the following (vague) passage.

"I was with her when she died," Ned reminded the king. "She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father." He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister's eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his. Ned could recall none of it. "I bring her flowers when I can," he said. "Lyanna was … fond of flowers."" Eddard I, AGOT

His lapse in memory here is suspicious. Is he suppressing a terrible memory? Was he doing something he wouldn't want to remember? The reader does not consider Ned a strangler of women at this time (or any time during the books). But what would you think of this passage if you considered the Theon/Tyrion parallels before reading the passage?

The point of this speculative "evidence" is not to proclaim that Ned did the nefarious deed. At this point I am merely asking questions and gather evidence for my own interpretation of the books.

*Bonus Parallel: Viserys

-Younger brother (to Rhaegar)

-Violent toward sister

-Sexually familiar with sister, Dany (Dany has a dream where she is assaulted by Viserys which is probably a repressed memory)

-Use Marriage pact to sell sister off


-Theon and Tyrion have common attributes/aspects

-Theon and Tyrion share surprising commonalities with Ned Stark

-I propose these commonalities (parallels/shared aspects/rhymes) have a narrative purpose. Since we don't know the past, it cannot be to foreshadow the future. It must reveal the past to us.

-I propose Ned was once like Tyrion and Theon; he was an ambitious Younger Brother, he came home after years of being a ward, he didn’t recognize his sister, he was attracted to her, she made a fool of him, his father was not pleased, Ned dressed and acted like a Southron knight/lordling, Ned proposed a southron alliance, Ned considered marrying off his sister, after his sister humiliated him he wanted to strangle her, Ned takes WinterFell from a Bran/Rick… etc.

-I propose that it’s not just Ned that has parallel characters. Lyanna has Arya and Sansa (as parallels/rhymes). We can use these parallels to uncover an as yet untold story, Roberts Rebellion.

-I promise to continue this line of inquiry. My ultimate goal is to use this "lens" which which I examine the books to ultimate uncover what happened to Lyanna. My first leads are Arya and Sansa, which are the first characters to evoke her. But there are other characters that evoke her as well; Brienne (atypical woman), Dany (sold into marriage by her brother), Olenna - Queen of "Thorns" (rose imagery), the Florents (rose imagery)... etc.

**Guide/Rules for identifying Rhyming/Parallel characters (George is quite generous and gives us more than one way to identify these parallels/Rhymes)

-Who they look like/resemble (Arya closely resembles Lyanna, Jon closely resembles Ned)

-Names that look like/Sound like/mean the same thing as another: (Lyanna/Olenna, etc)

-Shared Nicknames ("the ugly girl", "stark maid")

-Family ties (younger/little brother ("second sons"), twins, older sister, etc.)

-Titles (Prince or "Lord of Winterfell")-General situation (kidnapped stark maid, stealing Winterfell from Bran[don], Rick[ard])

-Historical Events (Theon/Ned and companions rescuing a stark maid from a tower)

-Much and more that I may not be aware of...


Mayhaps you like some of these ideas or, mayhaps not. I have provided my ideas according to my limited re-read of the books. I will continue my re-read and hopefully be able to conclude one way or the other if my ideas have any merit. If you have any ideas about potential parallels please let me know. The two I am having problems with right now are Catelyn Tully and Ramsay Snow. Who are they supposed to represent during Robert's Rebellion (according to my theory)? Gods know...

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/28/2023 at 8:39 PM, Tradecraft said:

Mayhaps you like some of these ideas or, mayhaps not. I have provided my ideas according to my limited re-read of the books. I will continue my re-read and hopefully be able to conclude one way or the other if my ideas have any merit.

I think you are absolutely correct to assume that rhyming ideas and symbolism is the perfect way to uncover secrets and foreshadowing in the books. My own re-read has offered up plenty of parallels and food for thought which I am still digesting.

Some thoughts /advice on your current approach:

On 2/28/2023 at 8:39 PM, Tradecraft said:

-I propose that it’s not just Ned that has parallel characters. Lyanna has Arya and Sansa (as parallels/rhymes). We can use these parallels to uncover an as yet untold story, Roberts Rebellion.

- Look for the parallels everywhere. Not just Robert’s rebellion. 
- Use a good thesaurus and dictionary when looking at words which describe possible ‘rhyming’ features. I recommend the Chambers app. Stark/ugly is not quite close enough to be a rhyme, for example. But the method is sound.

- look for parallels in the way objects are used to represent ideas metaphorically, and the implications this might have. Sometimes a character may be symbolised by an object and vice versa

- keep an open mind and be ready to switch up theories or abandon them entirely as you learn more

Good luck! The symbolism reread is great fun and imo the best way to approach the books :)

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47 minutes ago, Tradecraft said:

I also think Grrm uses inversions.

My own view is that George has kind of thrown the kitchen sink at these books - he uses a vast array of devices, so sure why not inversions. I do think he’d have to find a way to signal those inversions when they happen though. Just to play fair!

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