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Rethinking Romance: Love Stories of ASOIAF

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I like it. I was talking to (at) my friend Brian about how much GRRM hints at this being a love story, a brutal tragic fucked up love story, but a love story. A song of ice and fire. Just the arrangement of the title draws my attention. Martin talks about how he writes about the human heart. The dark places, the capacity for love, the capacit to love. I've always thought the story "the meathouse man" was important to think about when sorting out the characters. Martin says it was painful to write and still hurts him to think about. I reccomend giving it a read if you haven't. If this was a story about war and violence it would be a song of fire and ice. The switching of the words seems so important to me. But I uh, think differently. Great thread I'm interested in seeing where it goes. "He should have made the wolf maiden the queen of love and beauty" "she was but that's a sadder story" that is gorgeous writing. Sorry if words are mixed at all.

I had never really associated that story in particular with ASOIAF, but I suppose you could consider it romanticism. A very cold, brutal romanticism. A story of a human heart gone numb. I don't think the characters of ASOIAF ever reach that level of dissociation with other humans with exception of the dirty deal between Qyburn and Cersei.

As for Cath and Heathcliff, I think that Jaime and Cersei would be a far better comparison. There is so much selfishness bound into the relationship that it can only lead to mutual destruction. I'm still hopeful that Jaime survives long enough to fully extricate himself.

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Yes for sure, I'm tempted to say that love is perhaps the most important theme: it is about the individual versus society (personal wants and needs versus social/family expectations) , it is a key driver of the politics (Lyanna and Rhaegar, Lysa and Littlefinger, Robb and Jeyne) and a key driver of the family dynamics (The Ned and Catelyn, Johanna and Tywin) or indeed both (Aegon the Unworthy and numerous others). In short - no love, no ASOIAF.

I also like how love as a destructive force both sharpens our sense of our precarious this society is - ie a bit of lovin' can bring the whole thing down and harkens back to the Arthurian tradition: Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, Arthur and Morgana.

Certainly. I remember having been in love. It's definitely bad for you, I lost a lot of weight through love sickness I remember that :( . Youngsters - don't do it. If you marry let it be for land or gold or swords, but stay clear of love, 'tis the bane of honour and the scourge of duty.

Modern love can afford to be sugary sweet stuff because it is not that dangerous. We have more stable institutions (leastwise in the northern hemisphere so called western part), we are not (beyond the Mediterranean) dependent on the family. In short it is affordable, allowable and indulgable. Not so in the world of Ice and Fire.

Certainly, love could have an enormous political impact in a real medieval society - the affair between Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, and the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, for example.

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We really would like to request that participants avoid labeling any of these relationships - this thread isn't meant to be a discussion of whether some of these relationships are "healthy" or not, but rather a group analysis and "rethink" on how Martin approaches and writes about romance. Otherwise, this thread could get ugly very fast and degenerate into discussions of rape/pedophilia/Stockholm Syndrome.

I also actually belong to the "doubters" camp about Arya/Gendry, but I think that's the fun of this thread - to keep and open mind and examine relationships that may not have immediately "jumped out" at you when you read through the series =D

DL/LC both were very certain when they told me that Arya/Gendry is supported by the text and mutual, so I'm definitely looking forward to exploring and rereading it.

Sorry, was meant to indicate that I'm looking forward to being able to debate this with other readers based on the textual evidence, my comment wasn't supposed to be 'eurgh paedophilia' just that the age difference adds to the unlikeliness along with lack of textual evidence for romance.

I really am looking forward to discussing this, not just gonna label stuff!

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We're working on it, we thought the first would be Jaime and Brienne...

But please, share the soundtrack. :)

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I don't think I have ever read anything on the forum something with which I have identified more, than this :D

I think it's foolish to even consider the idea that love is not both an integral part of human nature, and a driving force for human conflict, tragedy and comedy. And as in reality so in ASOIAF ;) GRRM is speaking of what is deeply in our hearts.

On another note, I too am interested in the Arya/Gendry dynamic. They might not have rolled around in the hay together, but they indisputably formed a bond. Let's answer the question : is this bond romantic in nature, or brotherly/sisterly?

I'm open to it, in either case. We shouldn't dismiss anything straightaway!

I see the relationship with Arya and Gendry developing along the same lines as Laurie and Amy in Little Women: they originally have a platonic, sibling-like love, but as they grow older and experience more, it evolves... into a less platonic sort of scenario. Also, the notion addressed by several people that it is "pedophiliac" seems a little off-base in terms of the context of the cultural norms of ASOIAF. At this point Arya's what, 9-11? And Gendry is about 15-17? In terms of the story, they're probably closer in age than any couple other than Sansa and Joffrey. I really like the idea of them reconnecting down the line because I feel like he is one of the only men who Arya could really ever love or respect.

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Welcome, Ladybyrd! Great example from Little Women.

Also had to look it up, I think Amy and Laurie's age difference was 10+ years and there's also Jo and Frederick's age difference, 20+ years.

Fixed typo...

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Sorry, was meant to indicate that I'm looking forward to being able to debate this with other readers based on the textual evidence, my comment wasn't supposed to be 'eurgh paedophilia' just that the age difference adds to the unlikeliness along with lack of textual evidence for romance.

I really am looking forward to discussing this, not just gonna label stuff!

No problem! Looking forward to your input~

The analyses will begin soon, thank you all for your patience ;)

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No problem! Looking forward to your input~

The analyses will begin soon, thank you all for your patience ;)

Okay, so I didn't miss much. Pfff. *relieved*

We were so mad when we found out there was no wifi in the rooms (even though the travel agency swore there would be)... So we only got to check facebook and mails at some restaurants and I never got to check in here and see what was going on. I'm so glad I didn't miss anything, haha :DD

Even though I'm not a fan of Jaime and Brienne, I'm really looking forward, hope we are starting soon :D

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Okay, I can't believe I didn't see this earlier! At least I haven't missed anything anyway :)

I actually can't wait for this to start ^_^

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Hi all,

Sorry for the delay. Our Jaime/Brienne contributors need a little more time. I'm going to try to have Asha/Qarl finished today or tomorrow, so there will be something ready soon.

Thanks for your patience!

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I can't wait for this! I mean if it's anything like the re-read forums, I'm going to be learning a lot. lol All the time and energy people put into the forums is great. I think no matter which relationship you guys look at, it will always be insightful.

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My (premature) thoughts on Arya/Gendry:

I don't think that their relationship was "romantic" in the sense that they would "roll around in the hay" (as someone above astutely put it) together if given the chance. But that does not mean that the relationship could not have evolved to that level if the characters had stayed together and Arya had aged and gone through puberty. In other words, the seeds for a romantic relationship could well have been there, even if the relationship was not yet sexual. I don't think the text is going to clearly resolve this question, but it is certainly possible (if not likely) that their relationship would have eventually reached that point. And I think the text does clearly confirm that Arya was (or wanted to be) close to Gendry). So I think it is well worth exploring the nature of the relationship between the two even if had not yet become -- and could not have become absent pedophilia -- sexual in nature.

What I'm trying to say is that I think we are approaching the issue too narrowly if we just say, well, Arya had not yet gone through puberty, so there's no way there could be a romantic relationship between the two. Don't boys and girls who start as friends and who grow up together go on to have romantic relationships all the time? So, I think the Arya/Gendry relationship is well worth exploring and I hope we don't all become too fixated on the narrow sexual part of it.

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Don't boys and girls who start as friends and who grow up together go on to have romantic relationships all the time?

Good point.

We're going to look at things in the context of Westeros, otherwise our list would be pretty short.

Looking at the ages (approximately):

Brienne/Jaime - 18/33, Dany/Drogo - 13/30, Dany/Daario - 15/30, Sansa/Sandor - 13/28, Lyanna/Rhaegar - 14/22, Jeyne/Robb - 15/16, Ygritte/Jon - 19/15, Loras/Renly - 17/20, Arya/Gendry - 11/15, Asha/Qarl - 23/?

There was also Lancel 15/Cersei 31...

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I'm glad to see I didn't miss anything. I lost track of this thread for some reason, but I'm really looking forward to it and think it will be fascinating.

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Don't boys and girls who start as friends and who grow up together go on to have romantic relationships all the time?

Based on most romance novels that I've read, yeah. :P But of course, those friends don't want to turned their friendship to romance (in the beginning) 'coz they're afraid it will ruin something in their relationship but in the end when they realized they belong together, they end up happily ever after. Surely this kind of stories can also happen in real life. I have a friend back in college who end up marrying her childhood sweetheart. They were classmates during kindergarden till high school; looking at their pictures when they were kids was kinda cute. When my friend moved to Canada, she went home after a year just to marry her boyfriend. Lurve. :wub:

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A Preramble: Of Ships Setting Sail

I want to make clear that I am never a shipper for shipper’s sake. I like to say that when I read the ships sail toward me…

I love the author’s style regarding pairings. As complicated as real life relationships with people are. Subtly done, work is involved, you have to make the connections, read between the lines, think, deduce, and work with the bones he throws us. In a way, the challenge and mental engagement that the author offers is why most of us probably enjoy the series so much. Nothing is getting spelled out for us entirely. Although there were certain events between people that have kicked the reader blatantly in the teeth. I know there was no way I ever thought in the beginning, for example, that Jaime and Brienne would ever be civil to each other, let alone become friendly. What a winding road that pairing is too, among many others.

I have a few pairings I love. I can share my experience with one in particular.

I remember the first time I read the chapters where Gendry and Arya interacted: a friendship blossomed, and so many other things stood out for me. The author’s writing of this haphazard, thrown together connection between the two is gold. Flawed, human, raw…peppered with loyalty, friendship, security, caring, tests, salty language and expressions, short tempers, conflicted feelings, different developments, the confusion and difficulty of sorting things out that is a trademark of youth. And always I love when another character brings about some change and/or growth in another character. Sandor and Sansa are another prime example of this. And so are Jaime and Brienne after all.

It was a roller coaster with these two characters in particular. I couldn’t wait to read the next pages. It was funny and refreshing and real. I remembered an early crush I had in elementary school when I acted like a complete idiot. It was darling and nostalgic at the same time. I thought of my relatives. A couple that has been together since kindergarten. The separations in between, life, destiny or however one views it, bringing them back together in the most coincidental manner several times, and the early name-calling, hair-pulling, teasing, and what not. And really so much more than I can go into right now. The laugh out loud stories they tell and my observations because we all went to the same school. Years later, they are married with children now.

I had many reactions as I sat that winter in a big comfy chair, in which my husband had to come down to the basement and check if I was still alive from time to time. Well, that was my entire first reading of the series, not just this, or a few other pairings. If we got divorced I worried that he would name the author in the court proceedings. I kid. Anyway…

Look at this nice boy sticking up for her!

Oh, crap it is one of Robert’s bastards, the dude from the forge. Hopefully he is ,er, more tactful around the ladies. He sort of sassed dear Ned a bit. Oh, wait, he doesn’t know she is a lady yet…or even a girl.

Well, at least the green-handed kid and the pie-making baker bully will leave her be!

Oh, no, if they find out if she is a girl…

Aw, they are becoming friends.

He knows. He knew. I think a bit earlier than he is saying.

Aw, look he deferred to her.

Man, she got them out of that mess.

Eliza Doolittle at the Ascot…couldn’t be happier. So what? Acorns are kinda cute…at least somebody appreciates them on a gown.

Ooh, he’s jealous….

“The bad kind.” One of the best lines of dialogue and delivery….Ever. Crabapple thrown at a high speed to the head included.

Er, he (the Hound) just took her. What will Gendry think?

It really was quite an adventure. Even better on a re-read when you read more carefully, analyzing word choice, determining tone, etc…

So presently they are separated. Both are quite busy. I don’t see this lasting forever, to put it bluntly. And they are not the only pair separated at any rate, which others will discuss in upcoming posts regarding pairings and analysis of chapters. Most pairings couldn’t shake future connections if they tried. I have put that forth on Westeros before when I have posted on various threads. But Gendry and Arya threads are unique from some of the other pairings, I find. They are not as common and seem to have little stamina on Westeros, amongst the many pairings in particular. I’m not even talking about the possible romance angle. Some don’t even acknowledge that they had a friendship, or think he somehow dumped her for the BWB, (though I think he had other things going on in his head, and it was not exactly the intention. But that is for another time.) Hell, many don’t even think he has a brain…at all.

And that is fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. And I value and honor that truly, though I don’t always agree. That is what a forum is for. To see all facets and perspectives and opinions as we wait for the next installment. Steal someone’s thunder and it can make for a very boring thread.

The web is narrowing and other people are caught up in it too. For at least the Sandor/Sansa, Jaime/Brienne, and Gendry/Arya pairings, and other characters perhaps that have met before, or that have ties to the same people and eventual agendas. The Uncat, BWB, and some other characters are pretty much all linked up with these three pairings in particular, but to different degrees. Arcs are narrowing down amongst characters. I believe I called it the “Web” and/or the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Er, Westerosi style.

So that was a little intro of my appreciation for some of the more intricate, head-scratching, mystifying ships, especially Gendry and Arya.

Here is the first of some of my observations/ sort of op-ed thingies, regarding Gendry and Arya.

*Please note that a full-fledged chapter-by-chapter analysis for the Gendry/Arya pairing will be coming in time on the thread during the scheduled time/week for that pairing from a different poster.

My drivel is some fun, loose, side dish, filler until then.

It Had to Be You: On Gendry and Arya

Part 1: Daddy Might Just Approve of “The Boy.”

(Or I couldn’t pick a better future suitor for Arya.)

(Or Lord Stark just might have run into his future son-in-law.)

Go right ahead and read along when Ned visits the Street of Steel in AGOT.

The author points out that he is tall and muscled. (Pointing out to the reader that he is a good-looking young man just physically first, because we have not seen him speak yet.)

The author has pointed out that Robert in his youth and Renly were very good-looking. And Gendry is often compared to them or described similarly. Well, described with attributes linked to good looks, or what many find attractive, and with Baratheon attributes also. (tall, muscled, strength, etc.) Sorry, Uncle Stannis…And Brienne can back up the Renly sentiments I am sure. Just ask her!

Ned keeps silent and it is apparent that Mott didn’t bring up the boy until what I can only imagine was that very crickets-chirping-grey-eyed-Stark-long-faced-cold stare. He seemed cautious, apprehensive, not instantly forthcoming, but knew better than to keep it from Lord Stark, Hand of the King. Protective of what he knows, and/or the boy is valuable to him because he is a good worker with a lot of potential. And surely he knows that Ned is Robert’s wingman. I am sure that there was fear too, that he was supposed to keep the gold coinage and keep quiet and continue to train the boy. We see at the end of his conversation with Ned that it is probably all of these things and he seems to like the boy too. And really, he is still the king’s son after all. Bastard or not, and despite how the series amongst the nobility views bastards in Westeros.

In a series where the poor and working lower classes are not respected much, are downtrodden, have hard, short lives…or worse, we get a description of a work place/shop with many journeyman and apprentices, yet this young man stands out.

It is because of his work ethic, strength, and skill, which he makes clear to Ned.

I am not talking about how Mott knows who he is, in my opinion. Only he knows this, I believe, within the workplace. Although there was even a debate today on a thread that some are not sure Mott knows exactly. And outside of work, there is Jon Arryn, Stannis, and now Ned. And, er, Varys, I think too was the one that set up Gendry at Mott’s in disguise.

Mott makes it very clear that:

1. He is a hard worker.

2. He is a talented armorer in training. (bull helm)

Ned is shown the helm. Gendry is modest and shows him “shyly.” Ned confirms it is expertly done. Humble, modest, talented, and good-looking? All good here.

He is brave. He snatches it out of Ned’s hands refusing to part with it. He won’t even make the sale for money, which I am sure he could use. Sold! Or would Mott get a cut and insist on it? Not sure here, but it is his shop. I will bring this up again later.

Yes, this is the right future man for his daughter. Money doesn’t sway who he is. He doesn’t care that Lord Stark, er, a lord, asked to buy it from him either. The Bull. He’s no bullshit.

And Ned’s other daughter has entranced the Hound. Wolf girls and their animal avatar men…

Why? Why so stingy with the bull helm. He could make another. Or offer another at a later date to send to Lord Stark. Literally, he is forging a very early identity, and on his own. Stubborn and bull-headed and trying to make a point to those who call him stubborn, he has pride in the very best sense. I take it as foreshadowing. He won’t sell himself out. He will never sell himself out. Just like when he went with the BWB, even after Arya offered him work at Riverrun. He wants to be his own man.

Also, Mott could have argued. Oh, really? You made it for you? Not on my time or with my materials, buddy, so fork it over to Lord Stark and count yourself lucky, boy. But he didn’t. He seems to like him. Mott is a better figure of authority than many other people we have seen. We have seen others who were dealt unfortunate hands by those in power or with power over them, who use it, abuse it, and enforce it. And oftentimes they do it brutally, cruelly, and in a terrifying manner. Imagine if a woman turned down a client in front of Littlefinger. I shudder to think.

Mott apologizes for him and doesn’t ask that Gendry apologize himself. He throws out that he could use a beating. My guess is he won’t. I don’t need to be a fly on the wall of that hot forge to guess what happened afterwards. Mott asks forgiveness for him again and offers to make one for Ned. Not that Gendry will be making one for Ned. Which is funny that it is his work, Gendry’s, that Ned offered to buy. Not Mott or another of his staff. Knowing Noble Ned he probably wanted to do it to open the conversation with Gendry, a young boy that doesn’t know him, and help out Robert’s kid in a way. He didn’t offer to buy anything else or in replacement either. LOL! Well, Ned is not one for tricked out armor. He is of the North. But then again, once he got the info he sought, was it really necessary afterwards?

Gendry was so honest. And his quote about Stannis made me laugh out loud. “The bald one? No, not him. He never said no word, just glared at me, like I was some raper who done for his daughter.” Well, we know his feelings about this subject. Rapers are lowlifes to him. And there you go. A decent young man, not like some of the other immoral scoundrels we see in the series. It is established early that he is a good person in many ways. And yeah, because your Uncle Stannis recognized you and thank the Seven he didn’t tell Mel. But he might. Edric Storm got away. Or there is a run-in down the road. Brienne was dying to tell him before she got attacked. And don’t get me started on that stupid scene in the tv series. I try to erase that from memory. Leeches for Christ’s sake, of all things, on his….ouch! I have seen the gifs and memes people made. Ew. Just ew!

He is honest and forthright, was very much himself, genuine, and a bit snippy like Arya. Love it!

Ok, call me stubborn, fellow coworkers. You think I am bull-headed? Look what I can make. In your face, and talk to my bull helm. Too perfect! Or what I imagine he was thinking as he, pissed off, hammered away, held tongs over the flames, dunked the steel with a heavy hand as water splashed in the cold bath, and a bull helm emerged. Foreshadowing that he is going to forge his own path. He did it in a small way by being made a ser and joining the Brotherhood. Ok, not much, right? Ser Gendry of the Hollow Hill is something though. Beric was a knight. He won’t be babysitting and protecting orphans when things get going. Did I mention he protects orphans? Small children; the weak and innocent… (Gush!) Ned, I will work pro bono as a wedding planner. Let me make it happen!

And just when you see enough people call him dumb. Right from his sponsor, himself, and right from his very own mouth. “A smart boy, but stubborn.” There you go.

Mott then lies for him again. Ned gives him another frigid, S(s)tark, steely gaze.

“…such promise...” I’d say so, Tobho. Oh, and can I plan the wedding in ten years for your youngest daughter, Lord Stark. Please?

And let’s not forget that Daddy did offer him a spot as a Stark man. Ooh, the irony!!!! Maybe. And he did offer to take him under his wing. “He has the look of a warrior.” Well, that is, if he was ever inclined to drop a hammer and pick up a sword for him. Ah, what could have been? (Booknerd spaces out wistfully…)

And Arya may never know that. Sonofabitch! The unfairness of it all! I can’t dream up yet a scenario where they are together and they talk again of her father and he tells her of their encounter when he was a young ‘prentice boy. Too bittersweet and too painful at this point in the series to think on as of yet, until things turn. But I am biding my time.

Longshots, with a sprinkle of crackpottery: That theory I saw that due to the door description, Mott is with Arya in Braavos as the Kindly Man. Or there are swords to be found and some even reforged, and old master Mott and former student Gendry meet up Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso style. Not sure I joined those theory teams yet, but I am keeping my options open. Let’s say I am a free agent for now.

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