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A Motley Crew (pt.6)


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This is the sixth in a series. Previous parts are here:

Part 1: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/164073-a-sphinx-in-the-midst-part-1/

Part 2: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/164085-a-sphinx-in-the-midst-pt-2/

Parts 3 & 4: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/164091-the-wine-soaked-imp-pts-3-4

Part 5: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/164094-crouching-strangler-hidden-poison-pt5/

 

Before I start this section, I want to say a bit about the point of all this. I’m fascinated by looking at the ways George finds to have fun within the books and it feels as though this theory fall squarely into that category. He’s hidden football stars, Muppets and all Three Stooges in the pages of ASOIAF - little Easter eggs that let us see the twinkle in his eye. And I think this is just an extension of that, albeit on a larger scale, and with deeper implications for the story (perhaps, perhaps, perhaps). George is a meticulously clever dude, with a wicked sense of humour, and this ‘shadow stranger tale’ enables him to utilise these talents to the full. Essentially, this falls outside the realm of ‘ASOIAF lore’. It’s just a writer doing writer things.

The things that leap off from the page and ‘confirm’ that this may be intentional on the author’s part are the things that make me smile, laugh or more often scratch may head. In fact, I would go further and say that if none of this managed to bring a smile to my face I would be more sceptical. The premise has to contain both humour and those little cryptic moments of discovery. And I think that’s all the justification it needs to warrant its existence.

George wants us to have multiple ways to enjoy his work. With that in mind, I won’t just be info-dumping on you here. Instead, I’ll pause every now and then so you can play along for yourself.

A Motley Crew

One very small splash, and the pathetic little tale that was his life would soon be done. - Tyrion VIII

So far we’ve only looked at how the properties and origins of the strangler poison (whether as a stone, or dissolved in wine) are embodied by Tyrion. Although it’s an odd premise, it at least fits the overall theme of symbolism we find in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. As illyrio says:

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"You Westerosi are all the same. You sew some beast upon a scrap of silk, and suddenly you are all lions or dragons or eagles.” - ADWD

It’s not altogether strange when, in this universe, a character takes on the attributes of other animals, plants or even objects. Victarion offers a good example of this, after taking his wound from a man of Highgarden:

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"He had a rose on his shield, the man who gave this to me. I scratched my hand on a thorn."

The Starks are wolf-like, the Lannisters proud as lions. Tyrell men are thorns. Fossoways are apples. Some servants of R’hllor are even known as the fiery fingers. Symbolism has always coursed through the veins of GRRM’s world.

Our next piece of the shadow puzzle relies not on Tyrion’s characteristics, then, but rather those around him. We’re looking at the supporting cast.

Essentially, we will see that Tyrion’s journey through ADWD approximately mirrors the ‘story beats’ of the strangler poison in ACOK an ASOS. Or to put it another way, Martin has gone back to the most prominent characters who come into contact with the strangler and assigned them ‘parallels’ - among the people Tyrion encounters as he moves from Pentos to Slaver’s Bay. Just as Dorothy saw familiar faces in Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, we’ll recognise characters from previous books reflected in the funfair hall of mirrors strewn along Tyrion’s path.

Not every character Tyrion meets is a parallel, but the strangler poison’s chief dramatis personae do all seem to be accounted for in his travels (with one important exception, which is accomplished via other means. More on that later.)

Here are the main players, as I see it, in the strangler’s story through the previous books:

  • Littlefinger
  • Cressen
  • Melisandre
  • Dontos
  • Sansa
  • Olenna
  • Joffrey
  • plus a few surprise bonus characters. Keep reading ….

I believe we encounter them more or less in the same order that the strangler poison does, with the exception of our first guest appearance (but then he is rather an exception in a number of ways). So let’s see who they are and how much evidence we can find to support the premise.

Or pause here, go to the books, and try and match them up yourself before coming back here. I’ll put a little scrolling space for those who want to play along before continuing.

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Littlefinger

I almost didn’t add Littlefinger to the list, as he is never ‘seen with’ the strangler poison per se. (He likes to keep his hands clean, don’t you know). But he nevertheless does orchestrate the plan to bring the strangler to the Purple Wedding, so it would be odd for him not to feature somehow in our shadow story. Well, the best fit for him in Tyrion’s chapters is naturally Illyrio Mopatis. It is the cheesemonger who orchestrates Tyrion’s new life in Pentos, after all, and he who Tyrion first meets when he begins his Essos journey. After this, he is content to remain in the background.

This already broadly parallels Littlefinger’s relationship with the strangler poison. We know that Dontos must have acquired the hairnet through Littlefinger (however directly or indirectly).

We can actually make a trio of fairly precise connections between these two grand players of the game. Before I share my thoughts, why not play along yourself first? Illyrio only appears in the first two and a quarter Tyrion chapters of ADWD, so it won’t take too long. Look for specific character beats or imagery.

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Ready? Let’s set aside the less useful generalisations first. Both Baelish and Mopatis are wealthy, scheming and untrustworthy. Among Martin’s cast of characters they are far from alone in this, however. So we need to dig a little deeper for evidence of riddling.

The first piece of imagery that struck me about Illyrio was this passage:

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Tyrion had a fat black mushroom halfway to his mouth, but something in Illyrio's voice made him stop abruptly. "After you, my lord." He pushed the dish toward his host.

"No, no." Magister Illyrio pushed the mushrooms back. For a heartbeat it seemed as if a mischievous boy was peering out from inside the cheesemonger's bloated flesh. "After you. I insist. Cook made them specially for you.”

This ‘mischievous boy’ peering out feels like a riddle hint. And indeed this aspect of Illyrio that Tyrion glimpses is very much a part of Littlefinger’s persona. A search on the word ‘mischief’ brings up a slew of passages referencing him:

 He looked contrite. The look brought back vivid memories for Catelyn. He had been a sly child, but after his mischiefs he always looked contrite; it was a gift he had. - AGOT - Catelyn IV

There was mischief in Littlefinger's eyes. He drew the knife and glanced at it casually, as if he had never seen it before. - ACOK- Tyrion IV

“You're a dangerous little man, Lannister. Yes, I could sing this song to Lysa.” Again the sly smile, the mischief in his glance. "If I cared to.” - ACOK- Tyrion IV

"Oh, I do," said Littlefinger, "I have it here between my legs." There was mischief in his grey-green eyes. - ASOS - Tyrion III

So, a subtle one to begin with; that’s on par with Martin’s three-stage strategy.

Secondly, let’s look at the Baelish-Sansa relationship. Sansa’s AFFC arc literally ends with Littlefinger revealing his grand plan for her: to help reclaim her birthright as Lady of Winterfell.

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. . . why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright. So those are your gifts from me … ” - AFFC, Alayne II

This finds its parallel with Illyrio, who claims to want the same for Daenerys:

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"Tell me," Tyrion said as he drank, "why should a magister of Pentos give three figs who wears the crown in Westeros? Where is the gain for you in this venture, my lord?”

The fat man dabbed grease from his lips. "I am an old man, grown weary of this world and its treacheries. Is it so strange that I should wish to do some good before my days are done, to help a sweet young girl regain her birthright?” - Tyrion II

Illyrio’s mention of ‘three figs’ brings up an interesting sidebar. This is because the fig tree is better known as the ‘strangler fig’ due to its habit of wrapping its roots around a host tree and cutting off its nutritional supply until it becomes a husk. (Grim though this technique is, the tree is actually one of a rainforest’s keystone species. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangler_fig)

Anyway, any good gardener writer should know his trees, and just perhaps GRRM has used the fig as an early clue to Tyrion becoming ‘the strangler.’ How so? Well, the very first three mentions of the word ‘fig’ in the first book are all in reference to Tyrion. In order, here they are:

  • Lord Tywin Lannister cared not a fig for his deformed son, but he tolerated no slights on the honor of his House - Tyrion IV
  • Robert might not care a fig for Tyrion Lannister, but it would touch on his pride.  - Eddard VIII
  • Do you imagine that Jaime will care a fig that we gave his brother a trial before we flung him off a mountain?” - Catelyn VII

In fact, might this image of the strangler tree, turning its host into a zombified husk, be a theme that George will explore further, as we learn more about weirwoods? It’s an intriguing thought.

Returning to Illyrio, though - he does apparently have a more self-serving goal than seating Dany on the Iron Throne. He confesses to Tyrion that he would be quite satisfied with the position of master of coin …

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Why would I want a rock? My manse is large enough for any man, and more comfortable than your drafty Westerosi castles. Master of coin, though …" The fat man peeled another egg. "I am fond of coins. Is there any sound as sweet as the clink of gold on gold?” - Tyrion II

… a position most famously held by Petyr Baelish, who could generate gold coins from air.

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A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger's rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court, he was master of coin and a member of the small council. - ACOK, Tyrion IV

This third parallel is a much more straightforward one, clearly. So we have a fairly solid trio of connections here, moving from more subtle to less subtle; which is sufficiently in keeping with GRRM’s style to make me think they are not mere coincidence:

  • the mischievous boy within
  • the desire to give a young girl her birthright
  • the master of coin

But what about the third Tyrion chapter, where we also see Illyrio? Well, as a kind of coda to the parallels we’ve already seen, the final image of Mopatis in the books does feel like GRRM giving us one final nudge towards his mirroring with Littlefinger.

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"Good fortune," Illyrio called after them. "Tell the boy I am sorry that I will not be with him for his wedding. I will rejoin you in Westeros. That I swear, by my sweet Serra's hands.”

The last that Tyrion Lannister saw of Illyrio Mopatis, the magister was standing by his litter in his brocade robes, his massive shoulders slumped. As his figure dwindled in their dust, the lord of cheese looked almost small. - Tyrion III

Illyrio is sorry he will miss the boy’s wedding, just as Littlefinger ‘misses’ Joffrey’s wedding, yet sends his regards nonetheless by way of sending … dwarves. A sly nod, perhaps. And as the figure of Illyrio disappears into the distance, Tyrion’s final observation is that he seems almost … little (‘small’). It feels like Martin is practically slapping us round the face with this last one.

That’s all for the man behind the scenes. What about the rest of the cast?

 

Cressen & Melisandre

We first see the strangler at work in the ACOK prologue, where he does battle with

  • one maester
  • one priestess

This ends in one win for the strangler and one defeat (you know which is which). But where can we find their parallels in Tyrion’s journey? Feel free to speculate before reading on.

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In ADWD, Tyrion - the strangler surrogate - doesn’t battle with a true maester, but he does win two significant victories over Haldon, the ‘Halfmaester’. And two halves make a whole.

The first time is over historical facts - with Tyrion the bookworm coming out on top:

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"I fear that you're mistaken. In The Dance of the Dragons, A True Telling, Maester Munkun writes—“

"—that it was Vhagar. Grand Maester Munkun errs. Ser Byron's squire saw his master die, and wrote his daughter of the manner of it. His account says it was Syrax, Rhaenyra's she-dragon, which makes more sense than Munken's version.  - Tyrion III

Score one for the little guy. The second time is at the cyvasse table. Before they play, when Haldon sees Tyrion writing out his dragon lore, he uses an interesting insult:

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"I see you have been defacing more good parchment, Yollo." Haldon laced up his breeches. - Tyrion IV

This echoes the very first time we see the strangler crystal, with Cressen:

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Collapsing into his chair, he pulled the stopper and spilled out the vial's contents. A dozen crystals, no larger than seeds, rattled across the parchment he'd been reading. - ACOK

In a sense, this could mark the beginning of the parallel journey. After Tyrion beats Haldon at cyvasse, we hear this exchange:

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Yollo," Duck called. "Where's Haldon?”

"He's taken to his bed, in some discomfort. There are turtles crawling out his arse." He left the knight to sort that out and crawled up the ladder to the cabin roof. Off to the east, there was darkness gathering behind a rocky island.  - Tyrion IV

Note that as Tyrion savours his victory over Haldon, we are treated to a view reminiscent of Dragonstone, where the strangler was first introduced. A rocky island in the east, where darkness is gathering. Anyway, defeating one Halfmaester twice could be said to count as one full victory for Tyrion, mirroring the events on Dragonstone.

Against the Shy Maid’s priestess, however, Tyrion has as much luck as the strangler had with Melisandre, i.e. none whatsoever. In fact, of all the inhabitants of the boat, she is the one who remains an enigma to him:

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He had sniffed out the truth beneath the dyed blue hair of Griff and Young Griff easily enough, and Yandry and Ysilla seemed to be no more than they claimed to be, whilst Duck was somewhat less. Lemore, though … Who is she, really? Why is she here? Not for gold, I'd judge. What is this prince to her? Was she ever a true septa?

He can’t figure her out. In Tyrion's terms, this counts as a defeat of sorts. And who is ‘this prince’ that she cares so much about? Aegon, of course. This has its mirror in Melisandre, who is interested in guiding a very different kind of ‘prince’ to his destiny, in Stannis:

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"You are he who must stand against the Other. The one whose coming was prophesied five thousand years ago. The red comet was your herald. You are the prince that was promised, and if you fail the world fails with you." Melisandre went to him, her red lips parted, her ruby throbbing.  - ASOS, Davos IV

Of course, that prince will likely turn out to be a fake, with his fiery sword that gives off no heat. Might this parallel tell us something about Young Griff? I think we should be careful about drawing too many parallels on top of parallels, otherwise we get trapped in a hall of mirrors. But there may be echoes that Martin wants us to think about and chew over. Tread carefully, I guess …

Recall, too, how Melisandre claims to deal with the strangler in her own fashion, neatly cheating death:

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The wine was sour on his tongue. He let the empty cup drop from his fingers to shatter on the floor. "He does have power here, my lord," the woman said. "And fire cleanses." At her throat, the ruby shimmered redly.

And just as one priestess cleanses the Strangler poison, so too does Lemore cleanse Tyrion after he is pulled from the Sorrows:

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"Why do I stink of vinegar?”

"Lemore has been washing you with it. Some say it helps prevent the greyscale. I am inclined to doubt that, but there was no harm in trying. It was Lemore who forced the water from your lungs after Griff had pulled you up.

Presumably, this resuscitation treatment involved close bodily contact with Tyrion on Lemore’s part, knowing full well that he may have been infected with greyscale. Like her fiery counterpart, the Shy Maid’s resident priestess faces the effects of this stone menace without fear. I did once speculate that Lemore was a parallel for Lady Stoneheart, with her water symbolism, crystal near her heart and whispering voice. And I do still like this interpretation.

Perhaps I’m wrong about the Mel/Lemore connection. It’s one of the areas that I still haven’t quite got figured out yet. The only other candidate for Melisandre would be the girl Tyrion sleeps with in the brothel - one who he claims ‘is a corpse’ after having sex with her, before proceeding to throw up wine all over her floor. It’s a scene of wine-purging, after all, which does fit the Melisandre ‘strangler-resistance’ idea. And perhaps Mel is one of those corpse-like ‘fire wights’ that people theorise about. The girl also has red symbolism:

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There was only one such in the house, and she was not Tysha. She had freckled cheeks and tight red curls upon her head, which gave promise of freckled breasts and red hair between her legs. "She'll do," said Tyrion, "and I'll have a flagon too. Red wine with red flesh.” - Tyrion VI

Well, then we have two candidates for Melisandre, and I’m torn. Please leave a comment if you have any way to separate them.

The Shy Maid’s voyage does essentially wrap up the ‘ACOK prologue phase’ of the strangler’s appearances, though. From here on, we are concerned with its ASOS story, and possibly beyond.

And that seems a good place to end this part.

Part 7 is now up: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/164111-fleshing-out-the-cast-pt7/

 

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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On 6/7/2024 at 9:12 PM, Sandy Clegg said:

This already broadly parallels Littlefinger’s relationship with the strangler poison. We know that Dontos must have acquired the hairnet through Littlefinger (however directly or indirectly).

Have you considered Littlefinger's heavy association with stone in the context of this analysis?
GRRM has laid it on rather thick.

- in the conventional spelling, the name Peter means "rock," "stone." Petyr also contains the "tyr" syllable meaning rock (as you pointed out in Part V).

- he hails from the Fingers, a series of stony, barren narrow peninuslas.

 Off the bow of the Merling King stretched a bare and stony strand, windswept, treeless, and uninviting.

- Baelish himself references his rocks and stones many times:

No one has made off with any of my rocks or sheep pellets, I see that plainly.

It is a rare thing for a boy born heir to stones and sheep pellets to wed the daughter of Hoster Tully and the widow of Jon Arryn.

- his grandfather's sigil:

The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. “My grandfather’s shield,” Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it.

 

- and here's one that reminds me of the "stones" (gems) living on Illyrio's fingers:

The Fingers are a lovely place, if you happen to be a stone.

Tyrion's thoughts as a reference:

Jewels danced when [Illyrio] moved his hands; onyx and opal, tiger's eye and tourmaline, ruby, amethyst, sapphire, emerald, jet and jade, a black diamond, and a green pearl. I could live for years on his rings, Tyrion mused, though I'd need a cleaver to claim them.

 

Littlefinger has attained wealth and power and exchanged the Titan's head for a mockingbird but he is still the "heir to stones." My guess is he symbolically passes on this heritage to Sansa by giving her a piece of jewellery specifically designed  to wear in her hair (hair/heir), also reflected in her new name - Stone. 

 

Since Littlefinger is so intimately connected to stone and to fingers, perhaps he is is also represented by the stone hand that rises threateningly out of the Rhoyne and / or by the stone hands that drag Tyrion deep into the river, this paralleling LF's attempts to set Tyrion up and literally bring him down. Those stone hands do continue to haunt Tyrion's dreams. 

 

Melisandre

On 6/7/2024 at 9:12 PM, Sandy Clegg said:

Perhaps I’m wrong about the Mel/Lemore connection. It’s one of the areas that I still haven’t quite got figured out yet. The only other candidate for Melisandre would be the girl Tyrion sleeps with in the brothel - one who he claims ‘is a corpse’ after having sex with her, before proceeding to throw up wine all over her floor. It’s a scene of wine-purging, after all, which does fit the Melisandre ‘strangler-resistance’ idea. And perhaps Mel is one of those corpse-like ‘fire wights’ that people theorise about. The girl also has red symbolism:

 

I'm not sure about these connections. Could work but I'll suggest alternatives. 

The girl in the brothel is more of a Sansa parallel imo. Tyrion and Sansa's "bedding that did not happen" scene reminds me of this brothel scene. Like Sansa, the girl is red-haired and repulsed by Tyrion. LIke the girl, Sansa hardly speaks but would do her duty if Tyrion insisted. Sansa also thinks of herself as a corpse:

She desperately needed a bath and a change of clothes. I must look as haggard as a corpse, and smell of vomit.

 There are also echoes of Jeyne Poole - the girl's back is criss-crossed with scars left from whippings. In the brothel scene, it's Tyrion "purging" himself, not the girl. She's not a good fit for Melisandre.

 

Being able to resist the Strangler, however she did it, proves Mel is a hard nut to crack in this regard so we should be looking for someone of similar calibre. Tyrion has not yet met the Melisandre counterpart. I think Dany is the "motley crew member" parallel here. 

Even though she's never actually ingested poison, Dany has "resisted" several poisoning attempts. She also survived the Undying and the pyre.  Mel and Dany are the two women most connected to fire, fire magic and the theme of waking dragons from stone. They have similar dreams of being scoured by fire:

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There was only her and the dragon. Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood. Her blood, Dany sensed. Its eyes were pools of molten magma, and when it opened its mouth, the flame came roaring out in a hot jet. She could hear it singing to her.

She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean. She could feel her flesh sear and blacken and slough away, could feel her blood boil and turn to steam, and yet there was no pain. She felt strong and new and fierce. aGoT, Daenerys III

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The red priestess shuddered. Blood trickled down her thigh, black and smoking. The fire was inside her, an agony, an ecstasy, filling her, searing her, transforming her. Shimmers of heat traced patterns on her skin, insistent as a lover’s hand. Strange voices called to her from days long past. “Melony,” she heard a woman cry. A man’s voice called, “Lot Seven.” She was weeping, and her tears were flame. And still she drank it in. aDwD, Melisandre I

Both give themselves to the fire willingly, the experience bringing about some kind of transformation. In Dany's case we know the cleansing fire strengthens her. Perhaps this is the source of Mel's resistance. For all we know, Dany is actually resistant to poison as well - the author has just never let us actually see this. If Tyrion is a symbolic strangler who might pose dangerous to Daenerys, it's kind of ironic that she's facilitated this by saving him from being eaten by lions. 

Edited by Evolett
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7 hours ago, Evolett said:

- and here's one that reminds me of the "stones" (gems) living on Illyrio's fingers:

The Fingers are a lovely place, if you happen to be a stone.

Yes, 'living on the fingers' isn't just a metaphor for Littlefinger, it's his reality. These two quotes are a mirrored pair. Can't believe I missed that one.

7 hours ago, Evolett said:

Even though she's never actually ingested poison, Dany has "resisted" several poisoning attempts. She also survived the Undying and the pyre.  Mel and Dany are the two women most connected to fire, fire magic and the theme of waking dragons from stone. They have similar dreams of being scoured by fire:

Dany is an interesting choice.  If so, then I think it might be the case we need to do some detective work once the strangler riddle has been identified. Nursey, for example, references a future event I believe. And it may be that the poison with which the wine-seller proposed to kill Dany with in book one was indeed the strangler. We can't know for sure, but perhaps the stranger riddle story is GRRM's way of cluing us in to moments where the poison was used but never revealed? I find that harder to reconcile because it's more speculative, but it's possible.

The other candidate I didn't mention is Shae, who does actually interact with Sansa's hairnet, and therefore the poison. And she was of course a type of brothel worker. Who becomes a corpse.

7 hours ago, Evolett said:

Tyrion has not yet met the Melisandre counterpart.

It would feel like a big omission if she wasn't already there. I like Lemore as LSH as much as Mel, and I'm still torn. The only other possibility I had considered was the boat itself, the Shy Maid - the Asshai Maid - since she is known as Melisandre of Asshai. Tyrion is 'within' the boat yet the boat is unaffected by Tyrion and just keeps on trucking. It wouldn't be the first time a shy maid is associated with boats and being 'unnatural':

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He could feel the flush creeping up his cheeks. "I'm a man with a man's hungers. What sort of unnatural creature are you?"

"Only a shy maid." Asha's hand darted out under the table to give his cock a squeeze. Theon nearly jumped from his chair. "What, don't you want me to steer you into port, brother?" - ACOK, Theon I

Once you start playing the riddle game, all sorts of possibilities open up. This is the danger of using it to interpret the story, but also part of the fun I guess.

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8 hours ago, Sandy Clegg said:

It would feel like a big omission if she wasn't already there. I like Lemore as LSH as much as Mel, and I'm still torn. The only other possibility I had considered was the boat itself, the Shy Maid - the Asshai Maid - since she is known as Melisandre of Asshai. Tyrion is 'within' the boat yet the boat is unaffected by Tyrion and just keeps on trucking. It wouldn't be the first time a shy maid is associated with boats and being 'unnatural':

It would only be an omission if Daenerys turns out not to be the final target. I mean we have two books to go, all may not have been revealed so far. My premise still is that the purpose of the sphinx is to take out some formidable foe. All the evidence shown by the poisoning events we've witnessed as well as Tyrion as a sphinx character killing his own father points in this direction. 

But a note on the Shy Maid: The Jamie and Brienne scene in the baths at Harrenhal contains echoes of Tyrion's drowning. Jamie refers to Brienne as a "shy maiden:" 

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If I faint, pull me out. No Lannister has ever drowned in his bath and I don’t mean to be the first.” “Why should I care how you die?” “You swore a solemn vow.” He smiled as a red flush crept up the thick white column of her neck. She turned her back to him. “Still the shy maiden? What is it that you think I haven’t seen?”

There's something to be said for the Shy Maid (though I'd argue that Septa Lemore is anything but a shy maiden, but then neither is Asha). Brienne is though. Like Griff and Young Griff, she also has the blue symbolism (Brienne the Blue) attached to her person. She's called a "freak" often (much like Tyrion is) and according to Lord Tarly, she like Asha, is "unnatural."

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She’s a freak of nature, far be it from me to deny it.”

Then of course she does that prominent stunt with the boat to overcome their pursuers during the first leg of the journey to King's Landing.

Brienne is connected to LS though, but also to Jamie who does have some strangling symbolism and she's kinda linked to Tyrion through Pod. Not sure what to make of it yet. 

 

Shae and other intermediaries

8 hours ago, Sandy Clegg said:

The other candidate I didn't mention is Shae, who does actually interact with Sansa's hairnet, and therefore the poison. And she was of course a type of brothel worker. Who becomes a corpse.

 When you consider all the prominent poisonings we've witnessed so far, you'll notice that only those  carried out by female intermediaries are successful. When men try to go it alone, they fail:

- Oberyn only half succeeds and is killed

- Cressen dies

- Dany's two male poisoners fail (we are not sure who the third is).

In contrast, LF's plot involves 4 intermediaries if you count Shae as a "handler of the hairnet" as one. Of these, three are women and the acutal poisoning of the wine is carried out by Olena.

In the case of Jon Arryn, it's Lysa who does the deed. 

This is important because in Westeros it's believed that poison is a woman's weapon. We hear this from Ser Rodrik and from Pycelle. So this relates to the male and female aspects of the Sphinx as demostrated by the male and female Valyrian Sphinxes and by Alleras who is really Sarella. The riddle is not personified by a man, rather by someone who is both male and female (perhaps symbolically) or by a series of perpetrators. I think this idea is also conveyed by the Hand's chain of office that strangles Shae: it's a chain of many linked golden hands - many hands that contribute to the act of strangling, symbolising the involvement of more than one person as we see with LF's plot. As such I think Shae is simply a means to an end - to show us this aspect of the sphinx.

So that said, it's interesting we have Tyrion and Penny as a pair of dwarfs, one male, one female, forming a team. Is Penny meant to be Tyrion's partner sphinx? I must admit this is a new thought I have not looked into at all. 

Also, GRRM may be showing us other features of the Sphinx when he has Tyrion kill his father with a crossbow right after the strangling of Shae. Alleras proficient use of the bow ties into this and whatever the apples respresent, there's no mistaking their being taken down or symbolical destruction (except for the last one which motivates Alleras to do better). Though Alleras is not said to use poisoned arrrows, she is associated with poison through Oberyn and perhaps also that all his daughters have his "Viper eyes." The final scenario may well involve the use of a poisoned arrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Evolett
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