The She-Bear has begun to sing

Thanks for joining the GRRMspreader! I accept all members of the rapscallion varieties, including cripples, bastards, moonsingers, breastplate stretchers, and broken things. Of course, those high falutin’ types are also welcome, but better hang on.

This site is dedicated to discussing the books and stories written by George RR Martin and using them to help dissect his magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). I consider myself a fan of the author George R.R. Martin, not just  A Song of Ice and Fire, which mean I will draw on his other stories to compare to ASOIAF.

Current Posts Main Page. For other book analysis pages, please use the menu at top.

Forewarning: There will be open spoilers for any and all of George RR Martin’s work at any point on this site. This includes the upcoming A Song of Ice and Fire books, The Winds of Winter, and all ancillary novels such as Dunk & Egg, The World Book and Fire & Blood Vol 1, Dreamsongs anthologies, stand alone novels, stories published in trade magazines… all of it. There is, however, no A Game of Thrones television show discussion on this site for many reasons but mainly because the author himself has described the tv series as its own thing, its own alternate universe and bought and paid for “fan fiction“. The two mediums especially cannot be compared past season 3 of the show.


“In A Song of Ice and Fire, I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.” –GRRM


As a mere fan of this author, I have read as much of George R.R. Martin’s work as I can get my dirty little mitts on. Scouring old bookstores, working the summoning circles of the ink gods, and making seedy back alley deals has rewarded me several key scores. Reading and re-reading his cited sources and fellow authors has helped, as well as watching all of his past television shows he scripted or directed.

It’s not as weird as it sounds. I was raised reading and watching horror, SciFi, and high-magic fantasy so much of this has been sheer coincidence. Forbidden Planet, a fave of mine, and GRRM’s, happens to be a classic that launched a hundred imitations. I have watched many of those as well because I like the total immersion. As such, I tend to lovingly call myself not just a fan, but a GRRMspreader.

This has given me a new view into his storytelling world as a completeness in itself, which is the whole point of this blog- connecting the dots to a bigger picture.

However, just like every other text analyst out there, I could be wrong about much of this as I am simply piecing together his writing and plot style; the ending is always the author’s. George R.R. Martin is feeding us a long, drawn out, eleventy-course dinner full of capons, turnips,  bacon grease, lampreys, and the blueberry pie will only be served when he is ready.


You know that the ending won’t please everyone, don’t you?

Of course I will disappoint some of my fans because they are making theories about who will finally take the throne: who would live, who would die… and they even imagine romantic pairings. But I have already experienced that phenomenon with Feast for Crows and again with Dance with Dragons, and repeating the words of Rick Nelson: “You can’t please anyone, so you’ve got to please yourself”. So I will write the two last books as good as I am capable of and I think the great majority of my readers would be happy with it. Trying to please everyone is a horrible mistake; I don’t say you should annoy your readers but art isn’t a democracy and should never be a democracy. It’s my story and those people who get annoyed should go out and write their own stories; the stories they wanna read. –GRRM


Having read as much of his work as I can get my little paws on, I realized George R.R. Martin (GRRM) has his own repeating themes that he uses between books, and of which we are also witnessing in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I have long said that it seems his literary career thus far has been “practice” for his self-proposed magnum opus. That, in my opinion, is a fabulous thing because you can see where he draws from and is continuing towards; what worked, what did not.

Why does Martin do this? Why does he repeat his themes so often? I can’t speak for the man, but simply put, it seems he has a particular story in his gut, in his soul, that he needs to get out and on page for readers to witness. Be it political, social, religious, environmental, he has a lot on his mind and will sing his song until it sounds correct to his ears. His literary past has been mostly short stories, now A Song of Ice and Fire has the literary room to tune into all of it.


Q: Did Joseph Campbell have any influence?

GRRM: No, John W. Campell


A word is not the same to one author as it is to another, and GRRM chooses each and every word for his own reason. In my mind it makes much more sense to compare/contrast the author against his own work to witness how he ends up using his admitted inspirations, as opposed to assuming he is swindling his work from others. There are many times where George talks about his own ideas, developing his own voice as he has said, this is just one:

“The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr” was my first pure fantasy as a pro. Fantastic published it in 1976. Keen-eyed readers will notice certain names and motifs that go all the way back to “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark,” and other names and motifs that I would pick up and use again in later works. In my fiction, as in real life, I never throw anything away. You can never tell when you might find another use for it. Sharra and her dark crown were originally meant for the Dr. Weird mythos that Howard Keltner once asked me to create. By 1976, however, my fanzine days were almost a decade behind me and Dr. Weird had folded up shop, so I felt free to reclaim the ideas and rework them for a different sort of tale.

–George R. R. Martin, Dreamsongs: Volume I

“Laren Dorr” was published in 1976, “Bitterblooms” in 1977, “In the Lost Lands” in 1982. Old work, certainly, but I was always fond of those three stories, and of the three women who starred as the protagonists: Sharra, Gray Alys, and Shawn of Carinhall. None of the stories had anything to do with A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, of course, nor even with each other… but a careful reader can find hints and shadows and seeds of many of the ideas that would later bloom in Westeros in each of them. Still, even so, they remained obscure, known only to a few.

— George R.R. Martin, Not a Blog

Which is your favorite character?

Tyrion.

Do you remember when he came to your mind?

Well… In 1981 I wrote a novel with Lisa Tuttle called Windhaven. In fact, we wrote three different short stories with the same main character, Maris, and once we had them written we decided to put them all into one book with three different parts. So while we were writing the books we thought about a dwarf who would have been the Lord of one of the islands. He had to be the ugliest person in the world but the most intelligent too. I kept that idea in my mind and it reappeared to me when I was starting to write Game of Thrones. So…That’s Tyrion Lannister. –GRRM


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Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy

Many other fans have done great work in finding the parallels within the A Song of Ice and Fire world. I have been part of some very thought provoking forum threads that have helped open up my processes when dissecting the books. These same repeated themes, icons, items, verbiage, identities are also repeated across all of GRRM’s work. George seems to be very consistent.


I’ve been planting all these clues that the butler did it, then you’re halfway through a series and suddenly thousands of people have figured out that the butler did it, and then you say the chambermaid did it? No, you can’t do that

–George RR Martin


The big World of Ice and Fire book? Foreshadowing for what is to happen in the current series. The same thematic history has repeated throughout all of GRRM’s work; reclaiming his own ideas. The World book, as well as the maps created by Martin, were done so by the nudging of the publishing houses. With the maps, according to GRRM, he filled them in on the fly. The real story is in current Westeros, as Martin says, so basically, different roads lead to the same castle (to paraphrase Jon Snow). Once you find the repetition, the main A Song of Ice and Fire story is lot less complicated.


I’m a very different writer than Tolkien, we were products of very different times. He was born in the 19th century a product of English society at a particular point in time he served and fought in the trenches of World War one. He was a world-class linguist and Oxford Don of academic persuasion. He wrote his books largely, I think, for his own amusement and the amusement of his children. Where he had some particular passions of his like creating artificial languages. I share none of that. I mean, I’m a baby boomer born in 1948, I come from a blue-collar background in Bayonne New Jersey, lived in federal housing projects was involved in the opposition to the Vietnam War and have have largely pulled stories and and written as a as a professional writer for most of my adult life. I have great admiration for Tolkien but my work is in no sense tolkien-esque except in the sense of being a secondary world fantasy…”

***

It’s suspicious… Tolkien was also R.R. Tolkien…

[Laughs] I read Tolkien when I was twelve or so and he impressed me a lot so I don’t get tired of rereading it. In fact, I planned to send a letter to Mr. Tolkien when I was a child, but I finally didn’t, thing for which I am a little bit annoyed, more after getting noticed that Tolkien use to read almost every letter he received. But Tolkien wasn’t a direct influence to me when I decided to write A Song of Ice and Fire although my books are in the fantasy canon that Tolkien improved. I mean, fantasy is very ancient. We can find it in the Iliad or in the Gilgamesh Poem, but Tolkien turned it into a modern genre, and A Song of Ice and Fire shares some of these patterns but not all of them. For example, I pretend to offer a dirty fantasy, more raw than Tolkien’s.


I think it may be important here to understand that GRRM does like Tolkien and respects his work as the foundation to all proceeding magical fantasy. To get a better understanding of how Martin uses the Tolkien influence in his own works, I direct you to the amazing essays of Blue Tiger and the Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire.

This a favorite quote from Nightflyers that just about sums up ASOIAF theorizing for me. Royd had been listening to the  passengers trying to form overly complicated theories on why certain events are happening to them and who Royd “really” is. Royd basically tells them to keep it simple and you will find the truth. This keep it simple idea is a common thread throughout many GRRM stories:

“Tell, then,” the xenotech said suspiciously. “What are you?”
“I liked your guess about the gas giants,” Royd said. “Sadly, the truth is less dramatic. I am an ordinary Homo sapien in late middle-age. Sixty-eight standard, if you require precision. The holograph you see before you was the real Royd Eris, although some years ago. I am older now.”

You do not have to have read all of George RR Martin’s work to enjoy and interact on this site, I will provide as many story quotes as possible, but it does help if you have read them… and fanaticize over them like I do. However, just ask and I will provide more quotes as often as needed. I do not mind at all.


I welcome discussion in the comments section, but I do ask you show respect for alternative ideas and that you stay on topic. As this is an ever evolving site, any new information and credits will be given when credit is due.

I was active on the Westeros.org forum as the poster The Fattest Leech discussing some of these topics with other posters, many of whom helped guide me in the right direction. I am not active on that forum much anymore, but to those great posters… THANK YOU!

And a huge Thank You to George RR Martin for his decades of plot twists, inverted tropes, love triangles, jambles and jumbles, as well as the interregnum that never ends. You tricksy bird, you.

Please visit his Not a Blog for ASOIAF updates.


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

The Fattest Leech blog is one of many in the fandom working to unravel the clues to A Song of Ice and Fire. Here are a few other websites that may also be of interest:


Some of these posts and on this site can grow a little long. There is just so much information to share that it can sometimes be difficult to keep word counts down. However, I discovered something new! (I am basically a technological Luddite and simple things like this thrill me.)

The WordPress.com Reader is a great tool for catching up with your favorite blogs or exploring interesting new reads. And now, you can save those posts and resume reading at your leisure with Save For Later.

How does it work?

First, make sure you have the newest version of the  WordPress app on your phone or tablet — version 10.2. Open the app, and head into the Reader.

Saving content for later

Whenever you find a post you’d like to save for later, tap the bookmark icon (Bookmark outlined). The icon will change from an outline to a solid color (Bookmark solid background) so you know the post has been saved.

This entire site and all of the contents are always a work in progress as new information is discovered upon each reread, and when there are enough hours in the day to complete the needed updates.


Thanks for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by gumbo! 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Hello The Fattest Leech,

    I think that it was a good idea how you let people know that the WordPress.com app has a feature that allows them to bookmark posts for later.

    I do not use the app myself, I use the website on my computer, but that is still helpful information for people who do not know this.

    Thank you,

    -John Jr

    Liked by 1 person

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