Jump to content

Heresy 246 Bran 1 and the Dogs


Recommended Posts

Once upon a time three members of the Nights Watch went pursued a band of wildling raiders north through the forest – only for the ranging to go horribly wrong. The raiders mysteriously vanished and instead the leader of the patrol was killed by six [or eight if you follow Melifeather’s arithmetic] Others or White Walkers. Then Ser Waymar, the slain one, rose as a wight or zombie and strangled the witness of his last fight. Thus the prologue to the first book of what was intended to be three – but the story has since “grewed”.

That prologue was then of course followed by the first chapter: Bran

Bran [the chapter] is significant – very significant – not just in the story of the boy, but in showing us where the whole story is going.

To understand why, its worth setting out a number of issues, which may seem obvious, but which are vitally important to help understand what’s really going on here. I have in the past drawn a parallel with the Sherlock Holmes adventure concerning The Musgrave Ritual and at this point the story does indeed revolve around the Stark family and a mystery, which they don’t understand or rather are only imperfectly aware of.

Bran [the chapter] opens with a sequel to the earlier prologue. The third ranger, Gared, somehow or other escaped from the ambush. We don’t know how, but he turns up below the Wall and so must die, as a deserter. Lord Eddard Stark therefore rides out to do the deed, accompanied by his sons [including a bastard] although there’s no mention of a picnic basket or any other light refreshments. Gared the Ranger ought to be straightforward, but he’s unable to explain to Lord Eddard how he got away [and from what] or how he got over the Wall. Neither of those things are impossible to do, of course and neither of them are or need to be inexplicable in his confession, especially as we the reader have read the prologue, but instead we’re explicitly told that he can’t explain anything. So why create the mystery?

Then, on the way home from the execution they encounter a dead direwolf and her six living cubs.

The first collective instinct of all the grown-ups present is to kill the cubs, but then Jon the Bastard points out that there’s one cub for each of the six kids, so they are obviously meant to have them. Sorted, and so the story carries on, but as heretics we’ve wondered whether there’s something more to it.

It may of course be connected with the dead direwolf. Here’s where the Musgrave Ritual starts to kick in. It seems that long ago, it was customary for the Stark kings to be accompanied by direwolves – not actually spoken of but they appear on the old funerary monuments. They don’t have them now and we don’t know why they no longer have them, although its separately mentioned that direwolves haven’t been seen south of the Wall for hundreds of years and rather later on in the story one of the Children [of the Forest] refers to direwolves as one of the Old Races, which implies they’re something more than just big dogs.

Now, on the very day that the Starks ride out to execute the ambush survivor they trip over a direwolf on their own side of the Wall and not just any direwolf but a dead one – slain by a vanished stag or was it a bone dagger - who has whelped six living cubs, one for each Stark sibling.

I’ve argued in the past that the two events look as if they might be connected; that Gared may have been spared by the boys in white, in order to convoy the direwolf south and through or across the Wall, and then to kill her with a bone dagger [a la Val] in order to deliver the pups at just the right place and time. We can take this up again if you like, but right now it’s the pups themselves I’d like to look at.

The immediate question which arises is that if the children of Winterfell were meant to have them, as everyone seems to be agreed. WHY are they meant to have them?

Is it connected with Maege Mormont’s hailing Robb Stark as King of Winter?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This takes us right back to the beginning, even before the much talked about outline.

I'm torn on the direwolves: they're clearly there right at the start and create a great sense of mystery, but I feel they are a bit weak in most of the story. It's not that I object to magic elements but, for me, the direwolves are weak compared to, say, the white walkers and the birth of the dragons.

I find it easier to start with the direwolves from an external to the universe (Doylist) perspective.

They are clearly meant to signify something about each child in their behaviour and name.  The problem is that with changes in the story since they were conceived, the direwolves no longer quite fit.

Lady - the pretty direwolf who acted as a lady clearly fits Sansa very well.  The story of her execution neatly foreshadowed Sansa's story to abandon the Starks and join the Lannisters.  Only that isn't what happened and retro fitting the idea to Sansa being somewhat isolated doesn't work as well.

Nymeria - the slightly wild direwolf who causes havoc in the Riverlands matches Arya's personality very well, and her storyline in ACoK and ASoS.  However, her current stay in Braavos doesn't fit (though Arya's continuing connection to her direwolf across the sea is intriguing.)

Grey Wind - symbolising death, this fits Robb's story very well.  I'm not sure how early GRRM had decided that Robb would die (not quite the same question as when he conceived of the Red Wedding) but presumably by the time that the direwolf was named.

Shaggy Dog - the wild direwolf obviously fits perfectly with Rickon's moods.  Presumably GRRM was expecting to pack Rickon off never to be seen again with a name like Shaggy Dog, though personally I'm hoping Davos has success in finding him.

Ghost - the white wolf who is quiet and watches and is apart form the others obviously fits Jon's name and situation.  Is there more to the name though?  Given the events at the end of ADwD and speculation on Jon's future there probably is.

Summer - Bran's direwolf plays a huge role in saving him, though I find it hard to grasp the personality of the direwolf other than its loyalty to Bran.  It seems to play a much more important role in the plot than the otehr direwolves (who disappear from the story when it is not convenient). The name Summer seems to fit with Bran being a 'sweet summer child' and presumably hints that Bran is still playing an important role in events come a Dream of Spring - maybe leading everyone towards a new summer.

Nothing new there, but it sets up the context.

My take on Black Crow's question of 'WHY' is that it is meant to be answered in-universe (Watsonian).  Having read the books several times and read quite a few posts over the last few years on theories, I don't have any clear idea of the answer.  From what GRRM has said, the vision of the direwolves came first, so any explanation for why would have been retconned by the author (not a criticism).

The events of the Prologue and the finding of the direwolves create a strong counter-argument to the idea that the hatching of the dragons were the cause of the increase in magic (well, that might be true for fire magic, but clearly things were afoot in the icy realms already).  It still seems difficult to account for the direwolf's presence - maybe a small, viable, community of direwolves had survived south of the wall or maybe there is a mechanism to get it south of the wall.  Bloodraven is usually mentioned in these conversations and maybe he is the answer, although the direwolves' arrival feels a rather physical thing whereas he seems to operate more through dreams (if you assume he is the Three Eyed Crow).

Having just re-read what I've written and thinking on it further, plus GRRMs comment from some time in the past that not every mystery will be revealed, maybe there is no good Watsonian explanation.  Perhaps the key to the direwolves is that they help the reader connect the Stark children to the Starks, hint as plot development and help readers ask the big, metaphysical questions (such as the nature of magic, the roots of the Starks etc.)

I feel that is a very long post to come to a lame answer to a very good question, but I think it best expresses what I feel now (until I change my mind when someone comes up with a much better theory!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, oldbus said:

Ghost - the white wolf who is quiet and watches and is apart form the others obviously fits Jon's name and situation.  Is there more to the name though?  Given the events at the end of ADwD and speculation on Jon's future there probably is.

This is so obvious now to me that I’m shocked that I haven’t realized it before! Of course Jon will become a ghost! I had suggested towards the end of the previous Heresy thread that white walkers are white shadows and the opposite of black shadows. They must be magical remnants of humans after their lives are taken.

Melisandre drew two black shadows from Stannis, literally giving birth to them. White shadows must be the flip side of the coin, something preserved after death.

Val is likely a white priestess and she will go to a dying Jon Snow and preserve a remnant of him before the rest of him dies. At the end he was already feeling the cold.

Ygritte identified Jon as the Bastard O’Winterfell. Old Nan claimed the Nights King was a Stark bastard. Maybe this is important to creating a new Nights King and the Wildlings know this? 

Edited by Melifeather
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Melifeather said:

This is so obvious now to me that I’m shocked that I haven’t realized it before! Of course Jon will become a ghost!

Yes, blindingly obvious once its nailed up. How on earth did we miss it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, oldbus said:

It still seems difficult to account for the direwolf's presence - maybe a small, viable, community of direwolves had survived south of the wall or maybe there is a mechanism to get it south of the wall.  Bloodraven is usually mentioned in these conversations and maybe he is the answer, although the direwolves' arrival feels a rather physical thing whereas he seems to operate more through dreams (if you assume he is the Three Eyed Crow).

Just to backtrack a little on this as its a long time since I posted the theory, but essentially it revolves around thinking on the nature of "shadows"; the black shadows conjured to serve as assassins by Mel and the white ones conjured by [?] to become white walkers. There are important differences of course. The black ones are smoke-like and consequently very ephemeral, while the white ones are able to construct near corporeal bodies from the ice crystals in the cold air. Both, essentially, however are Ghosts of human origin.

There also seems to be an ability to "possess" other creatures, perhaps seen in at least some wights and certainly seen in the Faceless Men. The correspondence between the six white walkers who scragged Ser Waymar and the six pups who were so magically whelped near the survivor may be a simple co-incidence - or the pups may be possessed by those same ghosts

Edited by Black Crow
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Still [vaguely] on topic, but a little diversion.

If we think of the walkers as ghosts, what creates them? Or rather what make's the difference between a wight and a walker?

Is it the bone/antler bone dagger sported by Val and possibly used to slay the direwolf in Bran I  ?  :commie:

Edited by Black Crow
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Still [vaguely] on topic, but a little diversion.

If we think of the walkers as ghosts, what creates them? Or rather what make's the difference between a wight and a walker?

Is it the bone/antler bone dagger sported by Val and possibly used to slay the direwolf in Bran I  ?  :commie:

I think there has to be some sort of magic ritual. If you die without the ritual you're just a wight, but if someone is there to do the ritual, then you can become a white walker.

Melisandre hinted at a ritual that included "something" pleasurable and using "life-fire" to create the shadow:

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Davos III

"No." Perhaps he should have lied, and told her what she wanted to hear, but Davos was too accustomed to speaking truth. "You are the mother of darkness. I saw that under Storm's End, when you gave birth before my eyes."

"Is the brave Ser Onions so frightened of a passing shadow? Take heart, then. Shadows only live when given birth by light, and the king's fires burn so low I dare not draw off any more to make another son. It might well kill him." Melisandre moved closer. "With another man, though . . . a man whose flames still burn hot and high . . . if you truly wish to serve your king's cause, come to my chamber one night. I could give you pleasure such as you have never known, and with your life-fire I could make . . ."

". . . a horror." Davos retreated from her. "I want no part of you, my lady. Or your god. May the Seven protect me."

 

 

Life-fire to create a shadow. The brighter the fire the darker the shadow. So how to make a white shadow? The only shadows that live at night are those made by the moon. 

Speaking of rituals...Thoros told Beric Dondarrion that it was the Lord of Light that brought him back.

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Arya VII

"Even brave men blind themselves sometimes, when they are afraid to see," Lord Beric said when Lem was gone. "Thoros, how many times have you brought me back now?"

The red priest bowed his head. "It is R'hllor who brings you back, my lord. The Lord of Light. I am only his instrument."

"How many times?" Lord Beric insisted.

"Six," Thoros said reluctantly. "And each time is harder. You have grown reckless, my lord. Is death so very sweet?"

 

In this same Arya VII chapter it's explained (briefly) how Thoros gave Beric a fiery kiss the first time that he had been killed and then has repeated it six times. When magic was gone from the world, priests still performed the kiss as a ritual at funerals, probably forgetting its original purpose. I realize that this is different than when Melisandre drew shadows from Stannis, but it is a ritual that raises the dead.

Quote

 

 Storm of Swords - Arya VII

"Could you bring back a man without a head?" Arya asked. "Just the once, not six times. Could you?"

"I have no magic, child. Only prayers. That first time, his lordship had a hole right through him and blood in his mouth, I knew there was no hope. So when his poor torn chest stopped moving, I gave him the good god's own kiss to send him on his way. I filled my mouth with fire and breathed the flames inside him, down his throat to lungs and heart and soul. The last kiss it is called, and many a time I saw the old priests bestow it on the Lord's servants as they died. I had given it a time or two myself, as all priests must. But never before had I felt a dead man shudder as the fire filled him, nor seen his eyes come open. It was not me who raised him, my lady. It was the Lord. R'hllor is not done with him yet. Life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God's and God's alone."

 

Maybe Val has to give Jon the Ice god's own kiss? Filling her mouth with ice cold wind and breathing ice down his throat and into his lungs? Although filling her own mouth with cold air would warm it, but there must be a way to get the magical cold winds inside somehow and the moon probably needs to be out.

Perhaps the manner of death matters too? I had suggested that the woman up the tree with afar-eyes led the ritualistic freezing to death, even though as Waymar pointed out - it wasn't that cold. Can the cold wind be conjured? Was that what she was doing? Looking up at the moon and making an appeal to the cold wind?

When Bowen Marsh punched Jon in the belly with a dagger, is it possible that it was an obsidian dagger or even a bone dagger?

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII

Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. "For the Watch." He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.

Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger's hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. "Ghost," he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Circling back to the dead mother direwolf and her pups...it seems certain now that it was an important magical totem. Born with the dead. In some shamanic traditions, animal parts can be used to connect the practitioner to the animal. But did Gared arrange the scene? I'm skeptical. If it is important to get these pups to the Starks then I wouldn't trust a terrorized man scared out of his wits to do it. But they did need him to be found in a place that would bring the Starks down that path.

We know the wildlings have scaled the Wall multiple times so here is what I am thinking. I think the mother direwolf was killed north of the Wall and then carried over. The pups didn't even have to come from the same litter(s) - just ones that were different in nature and the correct sex. And since we're talking magic, maybe there was another ritual that bound the children to the wolves? Whoever the "shaman" or ice priestess was that connected with the dead direwolf, there must have been some type of bonding ceremony to symbolize the Stark children and connect them with the pups.

If you're wanting to make sure that there are enough wolves and one white wolf to line up with the Stark children, then you would gather them up. The mother direwolf was full of corruption so it had been dead for quite some time. All the better to create a dramatic scene with the belly slit open by an antler. The antler conveniently represents House Baratheon, but in shamanic rituals it also represents fertility and the giving of life. Again, I must repeat. Born with the dead.

The pups were ritualistically "born" with the similarly prepared dead direwolf. 

Edited by Melifeather
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Bloodraven told Bran:

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

That was just another silly dream, though. Some days Bran wondered if all of this wasn't just some dream. Maybe he had fallen asleep out in the snows and dreamed himself a safe, warm place. You have to wake, he would tell himself, you have to wake right now, or you'll go dreaming into death. Once or twice he pinched his arm with his fingers, really hard, but the only thing that did was make his arm hurt. In the beginning he had tried to count the days by making note of when he woke and slept, but down here sleeping and waking had a way of melting into one another. Dreams became lessons, lessons became dreams, things happened all at once or not at all. Had he done that or only dreamed it?

"Only one man in a thousand is born a skinchanger," Lord Brynden said one day, after Bran had learned to fly, "and only one skinchanger in a thousandcan be a greenseer."

"I thought the greenseers were the wizards of the children," Bran said. "The singers, I mean."

 

Only one man in a thousand is born a skinchanger yet all six Stark children are wargs? I think the key word here is "born" a skinchanger which leaves enough wiggle room to be interpreted as there could be other ways to be "born" a skinchanger. Perhaps via a magic ritual with a dead direwolf?

Edited by Melifeather
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ser Waymar rose as a wight after being killed by by the swords of a band of White Walkers and other wights have risen from other dead bodies that were not killed by White Walkers.   What raises the wights?  When Ser Waymar rose, the White Walkers were long gone.  I'm not convinced that the White Walkers raise the wights and if they don't, how are the wights raised?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, LongRider said:

Ser Waymar rose as a wight after being killed by by the swords of a band of White Walkers and other wights have risen from other dead bodies that were not killed by White Walkers.   What raises the wights?  When Ser Waymar rose, the White Walkers were long gone.  I'm not convinced that the White Walkers raise the wights and if they don't, how are the wights raised?

I'm under the impression that the magical cold air raises the wights, but that the white walkers bring the cold. Both the white walkers and the wights have icy blue eyes indicating that there is magic cold inside them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The wights and WW's are of cold magic, for sure.  Another question, Val and the bone knife, I haven't heard much about her bone knife and am unsure of why you think it's important?   Sam's research at Castle Black did not answer the question of if the wights/WW's bring the cold or if it becomes cold then they show up.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Yes, blindingly obvious once its nailed up. How on earth did we miss it!

Also, Jon played the ghost in the WF crypts to scare his younger siblings.  hmmmm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

The question is, did the magical cold air always blow in the north, only stopped from moving south of the Wall or was it contained within the Wall and only recently released? The Wall stops magic from passing, because there are spells woven into it. 
 

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

"Why not?"

"The Wall. The Wall is more than just ice and stone, he said. There are spells woven into it . . . old ones, and strong. He cannot pass beyond the Wall."

It grew very quiet in the castle kitchen then. Bran could hear the soft crackle of the flames, the wind stirring the leaves in the night, the creak of the skinny weirwood reaching for the moon. Beyond the gates the monsters live, and the giants and the ghouls, he remembered Old Nan saying, but they cannot pass so long as the Wall stands strong. So go to sleep, my little Brandon, my baby boy. You needn't fear. There are no monsters here.

 

 

The Wall is more than ice and spells. Ygritte said it's made of blood.

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Jon IV

"It's made of ice," Jon pointed out.

"You know nothing, Jon Snow. This wall is made o' blood."

 

 

The men of the Watch take an oath that can also be used as magic words that allow them to find and pass through magical gates.
 

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

"How did you get through the Wall?" Jojen demanded as Sam struggled to his feet. "Does the well lead to an underground river, is that where you came from? You're not even wet . . ."

"There's a gate," said fat Sam. "A hidden gate, as old as the Wall itself. The Black Gate, he called it."

The Reeds exchanged a look. "We'll find this gate at the bottom of the well?" asked Jojen.

Sam shook his head. "You won't. I have to take you."

"Why?" Meera demanded. "If there's a gate . . ."

"You won't find it. If you did it wouldn't open. Not for you. It's the Black Gate." Sam plucked at the faded black wool of his sleeve. "Only a man of the Night's Watch can open it, he said. A Sworn Brother who has said his words."

 

 

What caused the spells to unravel enough to release the cold air? It happened prior to the dead direwolf or was it actually the ritualistic killing of the direwolf that released the cold air?

Edited by Melifeather
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, LongRider said:

The wights and WW's are of cold magic, for sure.  Another question, Val and the bone knife, I haven't heard much about her bone knife and am unsure of why you think it's important?   Sam's research at Castle Black did not answer the question of if the wights/WW's bring the cold or if it becomes cold then they show up.  

We're told the "bones remember". Perhaps Val's bone knife is actually made from a direwolf bone?

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Melisandre I

Mance Rayder chuckled. "I had my doubts as well, Snow, but why not let her try? It was that, or let Stannis roast me."

"The bones help," said Melisandre. "The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such things. A dead man's boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man's shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer's essence does not change, only his seeming."

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

36 minutes ago, Melifeather said:

The question is, did the magical cold air always blow in the north, only stopped from moving south of the Wall or was it contained within the Wall and only recently released? The Wall stops magic from passing, because there are spells woven into it. 

The Wall doesn't always stop the wind though, as we see in this passage:   "A north wind had begun to blow by the time the sun went down. Jon could hear it skirling against the Wall and over the icy battlements as he went to the common hall for the evening meal."   AGOT, Jon VII

In George's 1993 letter to his publishers the Others are said to 'ride down on the winds of winter'.  

Need to keep in mind, at this time there were two wights south of the Wall, Othor and Jafer Flowers.  Did something ride down the skirling wind to reanimate the two wights on the wrong side of the Wall?  Their presence could have changed things, and the wind and the magic were able to blow over the Wall.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, LongRider said:

The Wall doesn't always stop the wind though, as we see in this passage:   "A north wind had begun to blow by the time the sun went down. Jon could hear it skirling against the Wall and over the icy battlements as he went to the common hall for the evening meal."   AGOT, Jon VII

In George's 1993 letter to his publishers the Others are said to 'ride down on the winds of winter'.  

Need to keep in mind, at this time there were two wights south of the Wall, Othor and Jafer Flowers.  Did something ride down the skirling wind to reanimate the two wights on the wrong side of the Wall?  Their presence could have changed things, and the wind and the magic were able to blow over the Wall.

 

The passage does say “against  the Wall”, but you are correct that something caused Othor and Jafer to rise, although I might point out that they were dragged through the Wall. The first thing that comes to mind is the rule about inviting a vampire or witch into your home. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Melifeather said:

Circling back to the dead mother direwolf and her pups...it seems certain now that it was an important magical totem. Born with the dead. In some shamanic traditions, animal parts can be used to connect the practitioner to the animal. But did Gared arrange the scene? I'm skeptical. If it is important to get these pups to the Starks then I wouldn't trust a terrorized man scared out of his wits to do it. But they did need him to be found in a place that would bring the Starks down that path.

I think that we need to consider the circumstances. In real life co-incidences do happen - from time to time - but in the writing of fiction it can be different...

In the opening of the story six white walkers scrag a Nights Watch patrol somewhere north of the Wall

Later the sole survivor turns up south of the Wall, near Winterfell [co-incidence?] and the Starks ride out to execute him

On the way home afterwards six [co-incidence?] pups turn up in their path

All are agreed that the six pups are "meant" for the six children of Winterfell... [co-incidence?]

Somehow coincidence doesn't cut it. It's all being managed. The only real question is how.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, Melifeather said:

The passage does say “against  the Wall”, but you are correct that something caused Othor and Jafer to rise, although I might point out that they were dragged through the Wall. The first thing that comes to mind is the rule about inviting a vampire or witch into your home. 

It's noted the wind went 'over the icy battlements.' so I would argue that it went over.   Agree with your thought about the inviting a vampire into one's home.  Still, the wights knew who they wanted and where to find them.  

Link to comment
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.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...