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Daecon Dayne

Bran, BR, and The Heart of Winter: Bran's power is phenomenal, his fate terrific.

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During my current reread of AGoT, the chapter describing how Bran 'learns to fly' was simply overwhelming. Maybe it was and always has been a bit of a no-brainer for most, but, to me, it screamed: Bran is the absolute bee's knees, and his power dwarfs everybody else's (alive, I'm not going to go into things such as the CotF and the shattering of the arm etc.). Nobody in the series holds a candle to the volcano of innate power that is, Bran. What rouses my curiosity, however, is why BR is so determined to keep Bran alive, and why he wants to meet/train Bran.

And... "the heart of winter". I had no recollection of this whatsoever until rereading.

I'm only really going to refer to the chapter I mentioned above (with a few additional details from here and there, if I find my ADwD, and the post doesn't consume me). I'll try to keep it short, but this is unlikely - ignore that, it's likely to only get longer. I'm aware that there's lots of threads on young Bran, but they mostly seem concerned with the "three shadows" (I don't care much about this. Seems sussed out, and pretty negligible anyhow). Correct me/contribute/discuss, do whatever so pleases you.

Here's a few choice examples which demonstrate Bran's mad-crazy ability:

  • "Bran was staring at his arms, his legs [...] Has he always been so thin?" To kick-start this post, this seems to suggest than Bran, when tapping into his Greenseer abilities, is alive outside of his own body. Astral projection or something along those lines. Whether Bran can discard his body entirely, without any mental (spiritual, I guess) detriment, remains to be seen, IIRC?
  • When remembering Jaime pushing him out of a window ("A face swam up at him"), the Three-eyed-Crow (BR) urges Bran: "Forget that, you do not need it now, put it aside, put it away. It [the crow] landed on Bran's shoulder, and pecked at him, and the shining golden face was gone." So, BR can apparently alter the memories of those who he inhabits? That, or he simply prompts Bran to erase the memory himself. Either way, oh em gee. Also, when will Bran "need it", the memory, that is? Was BR merely saying 'Hey, forget about it. There's more important stuff to do,' or was it more along the lines of 'Not yet. When the time's right, you'll know'?
  • "Bran looked down [...] The whole world was spread out before him [...] He could see everything so clearly [...] He could see the whole realm, and everyone in it." This one... Bran is just plain godly. If this is his gift merely awakening, god only knows what he'll be capable of once he's refined and honed it. Again, nobody is fucking with Bran's power here; he's illustrated as omnipresent. Beat that, Daenerys; beat that, Jon; beat that, Mel; beat that Euron... you get the point, even the characters who explicitly/implicitly/speculatively have magical power, just pale in comparison. Seriously, Bran had the world laid out for him, here.
  • Bran sees multiple events which occur during his comatose state. Oh, and the (weighty) possibility that Bran was actually detached from the linearity of time; e.g., Ser Robert Strong, Jon's "cold bed", and so on. Note: these are not certainties; but they're aptly fitting.
  • "At the heart of the godswood, the great white weirwood brooded [...] When it felt Bran watching, it lifted its eyes from the still waters and stared back at him knowingly". The old gods are apparently aware of Bran, and acknowledge him as if he is one of their own. I, personally, don't like the prospect of Bran ultimately being a tree-man like BR, but the heart-tree staring back at him "knowingly" is indicative of Bran being a true Northern son, with the favour of the old gods on his side. Whether or not you believe the old gods are actually gods or not - moot. Something powerful seems to hold Bran in regard, whether that be high or low.

Some interactions between Bran and the crow (BR):

  • ""Help me," he [bran] said [as he falls]. I'm trying, the crow replied". OK, so BR immediately identifies himself as some kind of friend to Bran; a mentor, an ally, somebody who wants Bran to 'fly'.
  • ""What are you doing to me?" he [bran] asked the crow, tearful. Teaching you how to fly [it responded]." Again, BR wants Bran to defeat the nightmarish episode. In addition to this, BR clearly wants Bran's abilities 'unlocked'. He wants Bran to be able to 'fly': "You'll die when you hit the ground, the crow said."
  • Basically, the crow is helping to save Bran's life. BUT...

Some quotes which make me suspicious of BR's motives:

  • The aforementioned 'wiping' of Bran's memory of Jaime. It makes sense that Bran doesn't "need it now", however, it's dubious as to exactly what BR knows, how he knows it, and for how long he's known it. Which brings me on to the next point.
  • "[the crow] had three eyes, and the third one was full of a terrible knowledge". The third eye is a clear allusion to BR's greenseer capability; but, Martin's use of "terrible knowledge" is, without a doubt, foreboding.
  • Bran sees "the heart of winter" in his vision, and BR states: "Now you know [...] Now you know why you must live [...] Because winter is coming". This seems like a blatant reference to the Others. I'll get back to "the heart of winter" in a moment. But, in accordance with this clot of bullet-points, BR seems to have gleaning something about Bran's fate, or his potential, or both, which we haven't been informed on. Yet. So what's BR end-game? Does he simply want to train Bran to be a good-guy, in his stead? BR could conversely be leading Bran to his death; he might be gearing up to claim Bran's abilities and augment them with his own for some sinister purpose. I can't decide.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong here (don't have ADwD this very moment), but doesn't BR say something in the vein of "I've been keeping tabs on you for a while now, Bran"? Note: I'll find it before the end of the night, and edit accordingly.
  • In any case, I'm decidedly undecided about BR at the moment.

What on earth is "the heart of winter", and what's it's significance?

  • "And he [bran] looked past the Wall [...] North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat burned his cheeks. Now you know, the crow whispered [...] Now you know why you must live. "Why?" Bran said [...] Because winter is coming".
  • What is it? It's probably the equivalent - or thereabouts - of one of our lovely Earth's poles; I think instead of having two icy poles, Martin enjoys the idea of one hot pole, and one cold pole (I'm assuming we're all competent-enough readers, and that I don't have to provide evidence for this/spell it out; for those who don't grasp my name, Mels quote about the "hinges" of the world, and, well, the whole series, its name/characters/plot/motifs).
  • Bearing this in mind, it's pretty damn safe to say that the "heart of winter" is some form of Other apex - it's essentially staring us in the face, by its very name.
  • The above point is pretty in-your-face, so I'll hazard more speculation/postulation. The heart of winter is a city, a kingdom, a legendary fortress, a Mecca-of-sorts, - whatever - which is inhabited, and has been inhabited by The Others for thousands of years. The next point is an interesting quote which may/mayn't give solid detail to this. I think it does.
  • "Bran looked down [...] There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears.He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points. He was desperately afraid [...] Bran spread his arms and flew [...] The terrible needles of ice receded below him." Martin's use of "spires", and the detail of "a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points", portrays the setting as some kind of Other-castle, where they flaunt the bodies of dead greenseers ("a thousand other dreamers") on its walls ("blue-white spires").
  • And it seems as though Bran, or somebody, is going to visit "the heart of winter". Martin's said that we're going to see a lot more of the land-beyond-the-wall in the upcoming TWoW, so I wouldn't be at all surprised Bran goes there, or if Jon does and Bran has to remotely aid him. Or something along those general lines. It seems integral to the series' motifs and the sheer scope of the plot, anyway.

What does all of this mean? My thoughts:

  • Bran is indefinitely powerful. Seriously, not only does he retain potential immortality, omnipresence and prophetic dreams, but, for all we know, he can probably warg dragons and rule the world as a shrub, too.
  • BR isn't quite what he seems, though I ardently hope that he is genuine about helping Bran.
  • "the heart of winter" is coming, and Bran will be a colossal player in quelling this, or instigating it. Depends where you see his character going.

I'll edit this thing later with some more points. I haven't covered all the reasons why I find BR dubious (like his potential reasons for 'unlocking' Bran's power), nor have I covered any of the actual dialogue/interactions between BR and Bran in ADwD. I plan on doing this later tonight, though. Also, this is a bit all-over-the-place, apologies.

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Bran does remember Jaime later.

Yeah. Does it have any significance at the time, though? Stormed through the books too quickly I think, hence the much-needed reread.

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It's amazing how some characters become even more awesome upon a reread. I don't think I picked up on the magnitude of Bran's power initially either. Your points about the "heart of winter" are especially interesting and make me even more excited for TWoW. I can't see Jon being the one to venture to the "heart of winter" though.

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First of all, nice post, second I have to ask if you have read the Mystery Knight, it's the third D&E?

The reason I ask is Bloodraven is one of my favorite characters, and I personally think his intentions are all on the up and up. If he were trying to lure Bran for some sinister reason I think he would have used better bait than showing him mankinds possible extinction. But as for the rest you're mostly right, Bran has the potential to be one of the most powerful beings in the story with the Weirwoods, and the ravens. I think the birds are the most overlooked, but will be the most useful as time goes on but only WoW can tell for sure.

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Bran is Westeros' version of google! I interpreted the heart of winter as being some kind of force. Maybe whatever is causing magic to reemerge? I'm sort of with the maesters in the belief that the magic isn't such a positive thing.

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Bran is Westeros' version of google! I interpreted the heart of winter as being some kind of force. Maybe whatever is causing magic to reemerge? I'm sort of with the maesters in the belief that the magic isn't such a positive thing.

The heart of winter is the source of the Others. In the Lands of Always Winter.

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This is great. I'd like to think BR is just an ends justify the means kinda guy, but he really does know the most about the threat of the Others. I think he just sees that Bran is more powerful than he is he has a better chance at really stopping the Others. Its gonna be interesting to see what this heart of winter is

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I've been preaching Bran since I've read aGoT. He's one of my favorite characters. I hope for great things to come from him. When winter comes, nobody will be able to deny the power of the old gods. :cool4:

The spires and impaled dreamers are probably greenseers who failed to fly. I see it as kind of like Freddy Krueger who kills in people dreams. The others kind of high jack them and send them falling to the LoAW.

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Enjoyed the post. I agree about Bran. I think Bran is going to be the biggest hero in the entire story. I just hope that the rest of humanity in the story finds out about him otherwise, it may end up "bittersweet"

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Bran may be a deciding factor in the battle with the Others. I dont think Bloodraven is all about the Others. I think he knew about them and thats why he decided to become an "Old God" so to speak. Perhaps his waning could be loosening a hold on the Heart of Winter. Some sort of balance is in place, perhaps. Its kinda crackpot but you never know. The fact that the weirwoods in the south have been cut down is also significant. Perhaps the Isle of Faces has a connection to this. Harrenhal is one of the only southern areas with a huge weirwood heart tree still left. The Isle of Faces is a place that people cant seem to reach. I wonder why....

Maybe Bran will have a huge role to play involving these places.

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Bran is definitely the game changer in the series. It will be interesting to see after the Lords in westeros stop their squabbling how the powers that remain will handle the other threat that is looming.

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He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat burned his cheeks.

The heart of winter is R'hllor, which sucks heat from everything nearby to feed itself and gives a tiny fraction of its power to its followers to entice them into its cause - to break down the Wall so it can roam the whole world... maybe

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Bloodraven is the Westeros version of Batman, give him a kid sidekick and prep time and he can even stop the heart of winter.

Seriously of course he is powerful, he has super powers. Don't forget Bloodraven comes to those who have near death experiences and helps awaken their gifts, he did the same with Jojen.

Brans one of the three heads of the Dragon, I don't think BR has long to live and I think Bran will absorb some part of him through the tree, knowledge maybe a little personality similar to warging. When that happens he will be the third head of the Dragon. Pick any aspect of three you want to apply, Wizard, Warrior, Maid ; Prince, King, Queen ; Child, Husband, Mother etc...

I don't think BR is pure good but he is telling Bran what he needs to know, not everything he knows. I also think Bran may walk again.

BR has been watching the major players as best he can and communicating to some of them as best he can, Ghost and Jons Raven are his methods with Jon. He has also been forming a giant wolf pack using Nymeria, that's not normal behavior for wolves they don't form giant packs of hundreds, to hard to keep it fed.

I would be surprised if he doesn't have something to do with Quathie.

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Bloodraven is the Westeros version of Batman, give him a kid sidekick and prep time and he can even stop the heart of winter.

Seriously of course he is powerful, he has super powers. Don't forget Bloodraven comes to those who have near death experiences and helps awaken their gifts, he did the same with Jojen.

Brans one of the three heads of the Dragon, I don't think BR has long to live and I think Bran will absorb some part of him through the tree, knowledge maybe a little personality similar to warging. When that happens he will be the third head of the Dragon. Pick any aspect of three you want to apply, Wizard, Warrior, Maid ; Prince, King, Queen ; Child, Husband, Mother etc...

I don't think BR is pure good but he is telling Bran what he needs to know, not everything he knows. I also think Bran may walk again.

BR has been watching the major players as best he can and communicating to some of them as best he can, Ghost and Jons Raven are his methods with Jon. He has also been forming a giant wolf pack using Nymeria, that's not normal behavior for wolves they don't form giant packs of hundreds, to hard to keep it fed.

I would be surprised if he doesn't have something to do with Quathie.

I never made the connection with BR and Nymeria's pack before... Interesting! But I thought that wolves only took one warg master? That may not necessarily apply to direwolves though.

And yeah, I think that Quaithe still has a big part to play. I hope they bring her back in the tv series!

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Thank you for this post! Bran is actually my favorite character but he does not seem to get a lot of love in this forum (complaints of boring chapters, etc). I too believe Bran to be the most powerful character and have said elsewhere that he will be key to the final culmination of the story (restoring some kind of balance is what I suspect). Also BR is fascinating in his own right and his interactions with Bran do raise a lot of questions.

I am in the midst of a Bran-only re-read and also highlighted much of what you have quoted with the intention of analyzing more deeply. I want to take a little more time to formulate thoughts before posting specific responses to your comments, and in the meantime I hope you continue working on this thread. I've even been pondering suggesting a Bran re-read in that sub-forum, but I am not ready to lead it. However, if you start one I would happily participate.

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