Bakkalon the Pale Child, and Flames

“… want to wake the dragon …”

Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade. “Faster,” they cried, “faster, faster.” She raced, her feet melting the stone wherever they touched. “Faster!” the ghosts cried as one, and she screamed and threw herself forward. A great knife of pain ripped down her back, and she felt her skin tear open and smelled the stench of burning blood and saw the shadow of wings. And Daenerys Targaryen flew.

“… wake the dragon …”

— A Game of Thrones, Daenerys IX

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Daenerys with her “black fire” sword, Drogo. Artist Magali Villeneuve

This is one of the many opposing-parallels between Daenerys and the Bran & Jon combo. Martin has clearly taken his first ideas from the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man and has expanded it for the purpose of A Song of Ice and Fire. Just as Daenerys is the bride of fire (detailed below), Bran is also wedded to the trees. These two are going to meet out on that ‘darkling plain’, as GRRM describes it in his story A Song for Lya, and detailed in this Greenseeing post here.

However, on this page we are going to focus mainly on the stories …And Seven Times Never Kill Man and A Song for Lya. Based on the greenseeing element, the Bran & Jon combo and Daenerys are opposing-parallels because while the route and experiences are incredibly similar between Daenerys and Bran, the details and outcomes are polar opposite. The theme of fire=pyre= pyramid=mountain=volcano is prevelant in these two stories.

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Bakkalon with the black reaver sword and horde of religious-militant followers known as the Steel Angels.

George talking about the pale child Bakkalon in one of his Dreamsongs anthologies:

“And Seven Times Never Kill Man” was written in 1974 and published in 1975. It got me my second Analog cover for that year (a few months earlier, a gorgeous Jack Gaughan painting had adorned the issue featuring “The Storms of Windhaven,” a collaboration between me and Lisa Tuttle), this one a stunning John Schoenherr that I wish I’d bought. The Steel Angels were created as my answer to Gordy Dickson’s Dorsai, although the term “Steel Angel” came from a song by Kris Kristofferson. Their god, the pale child with a sword, had an older and more dubious pedigree: he was one of the seven dark gods of the mythos I’d designed for Dr. Weird, as glimpsed in “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark.” The title is from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, of course, and got me almost as much praise as the story. Afterward several other writers, all Kipling fans, announced that they were annoyed they hadn’t thought of it first.”

A militant-religious-politicial trio. This is a lot like the Stallion that Mounts the World prophecy, only, the stallion isn’t baby Rhaego, it is Daenerys herself. Dany’s son with Khal Drogo, Rhaego, is believed to be the stallion who mounts the world per Dothraki prophecy. Prophecy isn’t accurate, nor to be trusted fully. Instead, prophecy and visions are like a foggy mirror where you might catch small glimpses of what could have been and what could come to be; anything but accurate as it all up to interpretation. After Daenerys eats a horse’s heart at Vaes Dothrak, a crone of the dosh khaleen proclaims,

  • As swift as the wind he rides, and behind him his khalasar covers the earth, men without number, with arakhs shining in their hands like blades of razor grass. Fierce as a storm this prince will be. His enemies will tremble before him, and their wives will weep tears of blood and rend their flesh in grief. The bells in his hair will sing his coming, and the milk men in the stone tents will fear his name. The prince is riding, and he shall be the stallion who mounts the world.

And we know Daenerys wants to take over Westeros, and we know that she is becoming accustomed to the Dothraki way of life (primarily war strategy) and she is manipulating her political situations  with her feign of being “just a young girl”, as Bakkalon is just a young god-child, a comment she uses no less than twelve times throughout A Song of Ice and Fire

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VI

    Dany smiled. “My son has his name, but I will try your summerwine,” she said in Valyrian, Valyrian as they spoke it in the Free Cities. The words felt strange on her tongue, after so long. “Just a taste, if you would be so kind.”

    The merchant must have taken her for Dothraki, with her clothes and her oiled hair and sun-browned skin. When she spoke, he gaped at her in astonishment. “My lady, you are … Tyroshi? Can it be so?”

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys IV

    But it was Prendahl na Ghezn who spoke for the sellswords. “You would do well to take your rabble elsewhere,” he said. “You took Astapor by treachery, but Yunkai shall not fall so easily.”

    “Five hundred of your Stormcrows against ten thousand of my Unsullied,” said Dany. “I am only a young girl and do not understand the ways of war, yet these odds seem poor to me.”

which is why readers now know that when Daenerys says of her brother Viserys that he was “no dragon”, meaning Daenerys realized then that SHE has to be the fiery stallion to mount the world (A dragon), because Viserys was never going to be the one to ‘fly’ her to Westeros. In this same scene we also have a greeshka-like glob covering Viserys head, the sign that someone is being consumed by a fire god/dess. Note the sharing of bloodstreams the greeshka perform- blood of my blood, a hivemind. (Not to be confused with collective conssciousness as in the trees)

  • A Song for Lya
    • Final Union isn’t death, to him.
    • The Greeshka is his god, and he’s going to join it.
  • A Song for Lya

Besides, what’s the Greeshka if not a carnivore? It eats them, doesn’t it?”

“What do you think?” Lya asked.

“I think it had something to do with the religion, but I haven’t worked it all out yet.

{and}

On their heads rode the Greeshka.

I’d expected to find the sight hideous. I didn’t. It was faintly disquieting, but only because I knew what it meant. The parasites were bright blobs of crimson goo, ranging in size from a pulsing wart on the back of one Shkeen skull to a great sheet of dripping, moving red that covered the head and shoulders of the smallest like a living cowl. The Greeshka lived by sharing the nutrients in the Shkeen bloodstream, I knew.

And also by slowly—oh so slowly—consuming its host.

Lya and I stopped a few yards from them, and watched them ring. Her face was solemn, and I think mine was. All of the others were smiling, and the songs that the bells sang were songs of joy. I squeezed Lyanna’s hand tightly. “Read,” I whispered. We read. Me: I read bells. Not the sound of bells, no, no, but the feel of bells, the emotion of bells, the bright clanging joy, the hooting-shouting-ringing loudness, the song of the Joined, the togetherness and the sharing of it all. I read what the Joined felt as they pealed their bells, their happiness and anticipation, their ecstasy in telling others of their clamorous contentment.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IV

    Cohollo came to Dany as Irri and Jhiqui were helping her down off her silver. He was the oldest of Drogo’s three bloodriders, a squat bald man with a crooked nose and a mouth full of broken teeth, shattered by a mace twenty years before when he saved the young khalakka from sellswords who hoped to sell him to his father’s enemies. His life had been bound to Drogo’s the day her lord husband was born.

    Every khal had his bloodriders. At first Dany had thought of them as a kind of Dothraki Kingsguard, sworn to protect their lord, but it went further than that. Jhiqui had taught her that a bloodrider was more than a guard; they were the khal’s brothers, his shadows, his fiercest friends. “Blood of my blood,” Drogo called them, and so it was; they shared a single life. The ancient traditions of the horselords demanded that when the khal died, his bloodriders died with him, to ride at his side in the night lands. If the khal died at the hands of some enemy, they lived only long enough to avenge him, and then followed him joyfully into the grave. In some khalasars, Jhiqui said, the bloodriders shared the khal’s wine, his tent, and even his wives, though never his horses. A man’s mount was his own.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys V

    The sound Viserys Targaryen made when that hideous iron helmet covered his face was like nothing human. His feet hammered a frantic beat against the dirt floor, slowed, stopped. Thick globs of molten gold dripped down onto his chest, setting the scarlet silk to smoldering … yet no drop of blood was spilled.

    He was no dragon, Dany thought, curiously calm. Fire cannot kill a dragon.

    a_golden_crown_for_the_dragon_by_katiarathunter-d67btfr
    A Golden Crown for the Dragon by Katiara T Hunter

Choice of Cups

The cups. It has nothing to do with what is actually in the cup, that is just a physical manifestation of the existential choice one has to make about themselves. A person drinks from the cup of ice (weirwood paste), while the other drinks from the cup of fire (shade of the evening), while drinking of the green fountain is given to Bran. The House of the Undying is like the underworld, or Hell, opposite of where Bran currently resides. Bran is in a different type of hell- this Hel, one of a cyclical nature between incarnations. The Shade trees are essentially the opposite of weirwoods in location, color, and iconography- it is inverted compared to the where Bran is in the story.

  • A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV

    “One flute will serve only to unstop your ears and dissolve the caul from off your eyes, so that you may hear and see the truths that will be laid before you.”

    Dany raised the glass to her lips. The first sip tasted like ink and spoiled meat, foul, but when she swallowed it seemed to come to life within her. She could feel tendrils spreading through her chest, like fingers of fire coiling around her heart, and on her tongue was a taste like honey and anise and cream, like mother’s milk and Drogo’s seed, like red meat and hot blood and molten gold. It was all the tastes she had ever known, and none of them . . . and then the glass was empty.

    “Now you may enter,” said the warlock. Dany put the glass back on the servitor’s tray, and went inside.

  • A Song for Lya

“How?”

She squinted in puzzlement. “I don’t know. I mean, they still love us, and all. But now their thoughts are, well, sort of more human. There are levels, you know, and digging isn’t easy, and there are hidden things, things they hide even from themselves. It’s not all open like it was. They’re thinking about the food now and how good it tastes. It’s all very vivid. I could taste the rolls myself. But it’s not the same.”

I had an inspiration. “How many minds are there?”

“Four,” she said. “Linked somehow, I think. But not really.” She stopped, confused, and shook her head. “I mean, they sort of feel one another’s emotions, like you do, I guess. But not thoughts, not the detail. I can read them, but they don’t read one another. Each one is distinct. They were closer before, when they were ringing, but they were always individuals.”

An inverted tree is supposed to be a symbol of rejecting the tree of life in many cultures. A zaqqum tree is said to spring out of the bottom of hellfire. Some Islamic scholars believe in a literal meaning of this tree means “grown in fire”, showing the inverted flora of Jahannam-hell. As described in the Quran, Hell has seven levels, each one more severe than the one above it; seven gates, each for a specific group of sinners(Horse Gate of Vaes Dothrak and the proceeding lines of god statues); a blazing fire that creates deamons (Drogo funeral pyre), boiling water (we know Dany prefers scalding baths), and the Tree of Zaqqum.

Pyat essentially acts as a “devil” and tries to trick Dany in to misdirecting her. Stay to the right, but oh, come here straight ahead. Nothing is real, but everything can hurt and kill. This is a place of shadows. However, as readers are told in the series, the Targaryens think themselves above all gods and men, and Drogon chews the weirwood door and burns the Undying Ones inside. She is beating death as her own type of goddess. Another prototype for Daenerys is Cyrain of Ash and Liltih, and yes, Cyrain sits in a large cup that overflows with fiery, bloody lava. Read about that here.

The other person in the story that we hear of with a direct connection to the inky shade trees and the shade of the evening drink is the other Demon Reaver, Euron. Could Daenerys and Euron be destined to team up together? Or is Cersei, the Daenerys parallel (per George) and fire woman in this vision by Aeron Greyjoy in The Winds of Winter:

  • The dreams were even worse the second time. He saw the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood-red sea. He saw his brother on the Iron Throne again, but Euron was no longer human. He seemed more squid than man, a monster fathered by a kraken of the deep, his face a mass of writhing tentacles. Beside him stood a shadow in woman’s form, long and tall and terrible, her hands alive with pale white fire. Dwarves capered for their amusement, male and female, naked and misshapen, locked in carnal embrace, biting and tearing at each other as Euron and his mate laughed and laughed and laughed …

Drogon is Daenerys’ black demon reaver sword that was created by blood and fire magic. Dragons are swords which have no hilts, which makes fire people/dragons the sword without a hilt that Jon is warned against by the sisters Dalla and Val. A sword without a hilt has no control.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon X

It was Dalla who answered him, Dalla great with child, lying on her pile of furs beside the brazier. “We free folk know things you kneelers have forgotten. Sometimes the short road is not the safest, Jon Snow. The Horned Lord once said that sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it.”

Sidenote: When Dany first rides Drogon, he goes where he wants, which is back to his own “Dragonstone” out in the Dothraki sea (very Iron Islands-like). Dany eventually learns she can somewhat control Drogon by lashing against him on the right or left, but not much more. I speculate that this dragon-sword without a hilt could gain a hilt byway of saddle, ingeniously provided by Tyrion. Then Daenerys will have her sword control over Drogon.


Trees- Nor do they love the Flames

Quickie reminder: Trees and fire do not get along… books and fire for that matter, and the trees are the books of true history in this series. The structure of trees+towers+libraries=history & knowledge is always opposing the fire+pyre+pyramid+mountain+volcano=consuming ideologies. Even fiery Cersei burns icy Eddard Stark to the ground. As of now in ASOIAF, the elements are out of balance.

  • A Storm of Swords – Arya VIII

“She will leave on the morrow, with us,” Lord Beric assured the little woman. “We’re taking her to Riverrun, to her mother.”

“Nay,” said the dwarf. “You’re not. The black fish holds the rivers now. If it’s the mother you want, seek her at the Twins. For there’s to be a wedding.” She cackled again. “Look in your fires, pink priest, and you will see. Not now, though, not here, you’ll see nothing here. This place belongs to the old gods still . . . they linger here as I do, shrunken and feeble but not yet dead. Nor do they love the flames. For the oak recalls the acorn, the acorn dreams the oak, the stump lives in them both. And they remember when the First Men came with fire in their fists.” She drank the last of the wine in four long swallows, flung the skin aside, and pointed her stick at Lord Beric. “I’ll have my payment now. I’ll have the song you promised me.”


The Pale Child

Bakkalon the Pale Child as described by GRRM in And Seven Times Never Kill Man compared to Daenerys with her own fiery reaver sword. Just a quick mention for those not familiar with with this story yet, this Bakkalon is the best god speech is given by a leader of the religious zealot group of the Steel Angels. This is compared to Melisandre and her narrow, biased, binary world view of R’hllor versus other “gods”, merged with a Faith of Seven/Andal archetype (another reason why Aegon/Griff will win over the Riverlands). In addition to the other details, Hrakkar is almost a rework of Bakkalon, and that pelt makes Daenerys a Lion of Night.

  • The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr

Laren stopped, and his eyes woke up again. “Ah, Sharra,” he said. “Be careful how you go. Even your crown will not help you should they move on you directly. And the pale child Bakkalon will tear at you, and Naa-Slas feed upon your pain, and Saagael on your soul.” She shivered, and cut another piece of meat. But it was cold and tough when she bit into it, and suddenly she noticed that the candles had burned very low. How long had she listened to him speak?

This message from Bakkalon claims that violence is the only answer, or the most devoutly effective answer. Additionally, we can see the setup for a battle with greenseer/skinchanger types, as well as thralldom as the “sons of Bakkalon” are analogous to the wights, Frey family, sparrows, Unsullied (read Legion), and smallfolk prostrating themselves outside the pyramids for Daenerys.

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Proctor Wyatt standing in front of the hanging sacrifices while wearing a Bakkalon figure necklace. Artist: John Schoenherr

And Bakkalon was not an actual child, nor are the worshippers actual children. It is a metaphor the same as we use in the real world religions like Christianity to be a “child of god”. John 1:12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name.

Lyon and DaHan both nodded, among others. “Speak wisdom to us,” Fieldbishop Dhallis said then.
Proctor Wyatt agreed. One of the lesser-ranking squadmothers brought him the Book, and he opened it to the Chapter of Teachings.
“In those days much evil had come upon the seed of Earth,” the Proctor read, “for the children of Bakkalon had abandoned Him to bow to softer gods. So their skies grew dark and upon them from above came the Sons of Hranga with red eyes and demon teeth, and upon them from below came the vast Horde of Fyndii like a cloud of locusts that blotted out the stars. And the worlds flamed, and the children cried out, ‘Save us! Save us!’
“And the pale child came and stood before them, with His great sword in His hand, and in a voice like thunder He rebuked them. ‘You have been weak children,’ He told them, ‘for you have disobeyed. Where are your swords? Did I not set swords in your hands?’
“And the children cried out, ‘We have beaten them into plowshares, oh Bakkalon!’
“And He was sore angry. ‘With plowshares, then, shall you face the Sons of Hranga! With plowshares shall you slay the Horde of Fyndii!’ And He left them, and heard no more their weeping, for the Heart of Bakkalon is a Heart of Fire.
“But then one among the seed of Earth dried his tears, for the skies did burn so bright that they ran scalding on his cheeks. And the bloodlust rose in him and he beat his plowshare back into a sword, and charged the Sons of Hranga, slaying as he went. Then others saw, and followed, and a great battle-cry rang across the worlds.
“And the pale child heard, and came again, for the sound of battle is more pleasing to his ears than the sound of wails. And when He saw, He smiled. ‘Now you are my children again,’ He said to the seed of Earth. ‘For you had turned against me to worship a god who calls himself a lamb, but did you not know that lambs go only to the slaughter? Yet now your eyes have cleared, and again you are the Wolves of God!’ [sidenote: Lamb men mage Mirri Maz Durr goes to slaughter when she tied to Dany’s pyre as sacrifice. The shadow of a wolf in the tent with Mirri, who pregnant Daenerys is brought in to meet, signifies the ‘wolves of god’ aspect]
“And Bakkalon gave them all swords again, all His children and all the seed of Earth, and He lifted his great black blade, the Demon-Reaver that slays the soulless, and swung it. And the Sons of Hranga fell before His might, and the great Horde that was the Fyndii burned beneath His gaze. And the children of Bakkalon swept across the worlds.”
The Proctor lifted his eyes. “Go, my brothers-in-arms, and think on the Teachings of Bakkalon as you sleep. May the pale child grant you visions!”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys V

    “What is done is done,” said Reznak mo Reznak. “Your Worship, I beg you, take the noble Hizdahr for your king at once. He can speak with the Wise Masters, make a peace for us.”

    “On what terms?” Beware the perfumed seneschal, Quaithe had said. The masked woman had foretold the coming of the pale mare, was she right about the noble Reznak too? “I may be a young girl innocent of war, but I am not a lamb to walk bleating into the harpy’s den. I still have my Unsullied. I have the Stormcrows and the Second Sons. I have three companies of freedmen.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys III– (dreaming of slaying the ice symbol Jon Snow)

    Ser Jorah had no answer. He only smiled, and touched her hair, so lightly. It was enough.

    That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.

    She woke suddenly in the darkness of her cabin, still flush with triumph. Balerion seemed to wake with her, and she heard the faint creak of wood, water lapping against the hull, a football on the deck above her head. And something else.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys III

    I know one stands before me now, weeping mummer’s tears. The realization made her sad.

    “When I went to the Hall of a Thousand Thrones to beg the Pureborn for your life, I said that you were no more than a child,” Xaro went on, “but Egon Emeros the Exquisite rose and said, ‘She is a foolish child, mad and heedless and too dangerous to live.’ When your dragons were small they were a wonder. Grown, they are death and devastation, a flaming sword above the world.” He wiped away the tears. “I should have slain you in Qarth.”

    “I was a guest beneath your roof and ate of your meat and mead,” she said. “In memory of all you did for me, I will forgive those words … once … but never presume to threaten me again.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys VI

    Dany broke her fast under the persimmon tree that grew in the terrace garden, watching her dragons chase each other about the apex of the Great Pyramid where the huge bronze harpy once stood. Meereen had a score of lesser pyramids, but none stood even half as tall. From here she could see the whole city: the narrow twisty alleys and wide brick streets, the temples and granaries, hovels and palaces, brothels and baths, gardens and fountains, the great red circles of the fighting pits. And beyond the walls was the pewter sea, the winding Skahazadhan, the dry brown hills, burnt orchards, and blackened fields. Up here in her garden Dany sometimes felt like a god, living atop the highest mountain in the world.

    Do all gods feel so lonely? Some must, surely.

  • And Seven Times Never Kill Man

Wyatt was twice as skeletal as she remembered him. He had been standing outdoors, near the foot of a huge platform altar that had been erected in the middle of the city. A startlingly lifelike statue of Bakkalon, encased in a glass pyramid and set atop a high redstone plinth, threw a long shadow over the wooden altar. Beneath it, the squads of Angels were piling the newly harvested neograss and wheat and the frozen carcasses of bushogs.

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Bakkalon the pale child, militant-religious god figure of the Steel Angels (foreground), showcased at the top of a worship pyramid and encased in crystal. Artist: John Schoenherr

What GRRM has to say (twice) about the dragons and them being “nuclear” written out in the Demon Reaver page here.

So, either Daenerys is GRRM’s reinvention of his own Pale Child Bakkalon, or the tinfoil theories are correct and baby Rhaego is secretly alive and is waiting for Daenerys with the Dosh Khaleen… right? Right? (answer: no) In And Seven times… there is even a falsey translated vision of Bakkalon that aligns with Daenerys’ House of the Undying vision of a supposed adult Rhaego standing in front of a burning city.

More from And Seven Times Never Kill Man:

  • It was a statuette no larger than his fist, a heavy-breasted fertility goddess fashioned out of the fragrant, thin-veined blue wood of the fruit trees. She sat cross-legged on a triangular base, and three thin slivers of bone rose from each corner of the triangle to meet above her head in a blob of clay.
  • The trader turned. Half of the Steel Angels were on their knees, the rest had absent-mindedly lowered their arms and they froze in gaping wonder. The Squadmother turned to DaHan. “It is a miracle,” she said. “As Proctor Wyatt has foreseen. The pale child walks upon this world.”

But the Weaponsmaster was unmoved. “The Proctor is not here and this is no miracle,” he said in a steely voice. “It is a trick of some enemy, and I will not be tricked. We will burn the blasphemous thing from the soil of Corlos.” His arm flashed down.

The Angels in the powerwagon must have been lax with awe; the blastcannon did not fire. DaHan turned in irritation. “It is no miracle!” he shouted. He began to raise his arm again.

Next to neKrol, the bitter speaker suddenly cried out. He looked over with alarm, and saw her eyes flash a brilliant yellow-gold. “The god!” she muttered softly. “The light returns to me!”

And the whine of powerbows sounded from the trees around them, and two long bolts shuddered almost simultaneously in the broad back of C’ara DaHan. The force of the shots drove the Weaponsmaster to his knees, smashed him against the ground.

“RUN!” neKrol screamed, and he shoved the bitter speaker with all his strength, and she stumbled and looked back at him briefly, her eyes dark bronze again and flickering with fear. Then, swiftly, she was running, her scarf aflutter behind her as she dodged toward the nearest green.

“Kill her!” the Squadmother shouted. “Kill them all!” And her words woke Jaenshi and Steel Angels both; the children of Bakkalon lifted their lasers against the suddenly surging crowd, and the slaughter began. NeKrol knelt and scrabbled on the moss-slick rocks until he had the laser rifle in his hands, then brought it to his shoulder and commenced to fire. Light stabbed out in angry bursts; once, twice, a third time. He held the trigger down and the bursts became a beam, and he sheared through the waist of a silver-helmeted Angel before the fire flared in his stomach and he fell heavily into the pool.

For a long time he saw nothing; there was only pain and noise, the water gently slapping against his face, the sounds of high-pitched Jaenshi screaming, running all around him. Twice he heard the roar and crackle of the blastcannon, and more than twice he was stepped on. It all seemed unimportant. He struggled to keep his head on the rocks, half out of the water, but even that seemed none too vital after a while. The only thing that counted was the burning in his gut.

Then, somehow, the pain went away, and there was a lot of smoke and horrible smells but not so much noise, and neKrol lay quietly and listened to the voices.

The pyramid, Squadmother?” someone asked.

It is a miracle,” a woman’s voice replied. “Look, Bakkalon stands there yet. And see how He smiles! We have done right here today!”

Compare that story passage to this from A Dance with Dragons:

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys III

  • “Those left behind in Meereen would envy them their easy deaths,” moaned Reznak. “They will make slaves of us, or throw us in the pits. All will be as it was, or worse.”

  • “Where is your courage?” Ser Barristan lashed out. “Her Grace freed you from your chains. It is for you to sharpen your swords and defend your own freedom when she leaves.”

  • “Brave words, from one who means to sail into the sunset,” Symon Stripeback snarled back. “Will you look back at our dying?”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VIII

He will give us these castrati, Dany thought, and then he will march home and make some more. The world is full of boys.

The tumblers who came next failed to move her either, even when they formed a human pyramid nine levels high, with a naked little girl on top. Is that meant to represent my pyramid? the queen wondered. Is the girl on top meant to be me?

Afterward her lord husband led his guests onto the lower terrace, so the visitors from the Yellow City might behold Meereen by night. Wine cups in hand, the Yunkai’i wandered the garden in small groups, beneath lemon trees and night-blooming flowers, and Dany found herself face-to-face with Brown Ben Plumm.

There are plenty more quotes to add from both stories that show the sameness between the Bakkalon/Steel Angels and the R’hllorists and Daenerys. In order to attempt to keep this essay at a readable length, I will not post them all. Please ask if you want to see them, as I will add them upon request.

In the meantime, a few other connections between R’hllor- fire god worship and the Bakkalon/Steel Angels are the prayers don’t start until night sets, they pray for hours, they have weird relationships with their children- both sacrificing their children to the flames. And we know that there are no children in Asshai.


The Pale Child and Saagael in Fire & Blood

Saagael!

This came as a shock to me while reading Fire & Blood, vol 1. The god Saagael comes from one of Martin’s early works of fantasy titled Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark that deals with opposing forces, not unlike ice and fire at all. In fact, I have the entire story of Saagael written out with my commentary notes added along the way. This is clearly where, on paper, George first started to develop his fire god/R’hllor religion with red priests, child sacrifice, and more. We know other elements including, but not limited to, Zoroastrianism were used to further develop the red religion, and the name R’hllor is drawn from Lovecraft’s R’lyeh, but you can see Martin’s own end use as he proto-develops the ASOIAF fire religion in this early story. Additionally, Saagael being referenced as a giver of pain also connects to the story The Glass Flower and the character Cyrain of Ash and Liltih, as noted and quoted in this page here.

We know that in A Song of Ice and Fire that there are a few references to Bakkalon, but then Martin went ahead and added Bakkalon again in his newest work and now linking Bakkalon to Saagael just blows my mind at this point. And the plot and character setting they are displayed in… I am a smidge staggered.

  • Fire and Blood

Though the court and city still doted on the king’s brother, that clever, gallant boy Viserys, the same could not be said for his Lysene wife. Larra Rogare had taken up residence in the Red Keep with her husband, yet in her heart she remained a lady of Lys. Though fluent in High Valyrian and the dialects of Myr, Tyrosh, and Old Volantis in addition to her own Lysene tongue, Lady Larra made no effort to learn the Common Tongue, preferring to rely upon translators to make her wishes known. Her ladies were all Lyseni, as were her servants. The gowns she wore all came from Lys, even her smallclothes; her father’s ships delivered the latest Lysene fashions to her thrice a year. She even had her own protectors. Lysene swords guarded her night and day, under the command of her brother Moredo and a towering mute from the fighting pits of Meereen called Sandoq the Shadow.

All this the court and kingdom might have come to accept in time, had Lady Larra not also insisted upon keeping her own gods. She would have no part in the worship of the Seven, nor the old gods of the northmen. Her worship was reserved for certain of the manifold gods of Lys: the six-breasted cat goddess Pantera, Yndros of the Twilight who was male by day and female by night, the pale child Bakkalon of the Sword, faceless Saagael, the giver of pain.

Her ladies, her servants, and her guards would join Lady Larra at certain times in performing obeisances to these queer, ancient deities. Cats were seen coming and going from her chambers so often that men began to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep. It was even said that Larra herself could transform into a cat, to prowl the gutters and rooftops of the city. Darker rumors soon arose. The acolytes of Yndros could supposedly transform themselves from male to female and female to male through the act of love, and whispers went about that her ladyship oft availed herself of this ability at twilight orgies, so she might visit the brothels on the Street of Silk as a man. And every time a child went missing, the ignorant would look at one another and talk of Saagael’s insatiable thirst for blood.


Religio-Political Hierarchy = Mass Control

Feudalism-The-Feudal-Pyramid
Feudal Pyramid

From the wide base up to the tippy-top, all fire leads to Daenerys. The pyramids with flames (dragons) on top, and the Citadel beacon with flames on top. The Pale Child Bakkalon with her flaming black sword/reaver. This is also reflected in Baelor the Blessed, who is playing his part as Proctor Wyatt, pale child worshiper, even down to the Baelor statue in the Sept. http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Baelor_the_Blessed

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys VI
    She had them nailed to wooden posts around the plaza, each man pointing at the next. The anger was fierce and hot inside her when she gave the command; it made her feel like an avenging dragon. But later, when she passed the men dying on the posts, when she heard their moans and smelled their bowels and blood . . .
    Dany put the glass aside, frowning. It was just. It was. I did it for the children.
  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys V
    “We were all unblooded once, Your Grace. The Unsullied will help stiffen them. If I had five hundred knights …”
    “Or five. And if I give you the Unsullied, I will have no one but the Brazen Beasts to hold Meereen.” When Ser Barristan did not dispute her, Dany closed her eyes. Gods, she prayed, you took Khal Drogo, who was my sun-and-stars. You took our valiant son before he drew a breath. You have had your blood of me. Help me now, I pray you. Give me the wisdom to see the path ahead and the strength to do what I must to keep my children safe.
  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VIII
    He will give us these castrati, Dany thought, and then he will march home and make some more. The world is full of boys.
    The tumblers who came next failed to move her either, even when they formed a human pyramid nine levels high, with a naked little girl on top. Is that meant to represent my pyramid? the queen wondered. Is the girl on top meant to be me?

Dany is going to be a red god folk saint, because of fire worship. Aegon will act as powerwagon and pave the way for Daenerys to arrive in Westeros. Too bad Aegon is the mummer’s dragon, because that means the next Dance of Dragons will be between fire and ice, Daenerys and Jon/Bran.

And this SteelAngel/R’Hollor/Bakkalon-fire god parallel carries over with the Daeron I and his statue with his sword pointed toward Dorne. The conquest of Dorne by the dragons is something I discussed as history repeating, but with a twist, between the Free Folk, Jon and Val, and fiery Queen Selyse and Night’s Watch mutineers.


Set up from the Beginning

Even Illyrio Mopatis’s manse has a Bakkalon style figurehead at his manse. There is a marble pool with a statue of a naked boy in its center. The statue is lithe and handsome, made of painted marble so that the hair is blond and shoulder-length. It is poised to duel with a bravo’s blade in hand.

800px-Mariusz_Gandzell_Illyros_estateII
Illyrio’s manse in Pentos. – Illustrated by Mariusz Gandzel. © Fantasy Flight Games.

The pool is surrounded by six cherry trees. Fruit/fruit trees in ASOIAF tends to represent children or family. Young Aegon (Young Griff) would be Aegon the sixth of his name.

  • A Feast for Crows – Brienne VI
    …We are blessed here. Where the river meets the bay, the currents and the tides wrestle one against the other, and many strange and wondrous things are pushed toward us, to wash up on our shores. Driftwood is the least of it. We have found silver cups and iron pots, sacks of wool and bolts of silk, rusted helms and shining swords . . . aye, and rubies.”
    That interested Ser Hyle. “Rhaegar’s rubies?”
    “It may be. Who can say? The battle was long leagues from here, but the river is tireless and patient. Six have been found. We are all waiting for the seventh.”
  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion II
    Illyrio brushed away the objection as if it were a fly. “Black or red, a dragon is still a dragon. When Maelys the Monstrous died upon the Stepstones, it was the end of the male line of House Blackfyre.” The cheesemonger smiled through his forked beard. “And Daenerys will give the exiles what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres never could. She will take them home.”
    With fire and sword. It was the kind of homecoming that Tyrion wished for as well. “Ten thousand swords makes for a princely gift, I grant you. Her Grace should be most pleased.”
    The magister gave a modest bob of his head, chins jiggling. “I would never presume to say what might please Her Grace.”

A New Blackfyre Burns Bright

A Blackfyre resurgence in the current story is also foreshadowed from the past, as the author is wont to do on many occasion. Here we see a gold coin (Targaryens) but it doesn’t look like a king with its clean shaven face, which could imply a female instead for our current story, and it is young like our Bakkalon, and it connected to Blackfyre (Drogon = blackfire), and it is connection to a rebellion. While we will not have a rebellion in the current story, we will have another Dance of Dragons, and it is foreshadowed to happen between Daenerys and Jon on the Trident with Jon in his ‘black ice” armor that is Bran.

  • The Mystery Knight

“The king.”

Dunk took a closer look. The face on the coin was young, clean-shaved, handsome. King Aerys was bearded on his coins, the same as old King Aegon. King Daeron, who’d come between them, had been clean-shaved, but this wasn’t him. The coin did not appear worn enough to be from before Aegon the Unworthy. Dunk scowled at the word beneath the head. Six letters. They looked the same as he had seen on other dragons. DAERON, the letters read, but Dunk knew the face of Daeron the Good, and this wasn’t him. When he looked again, he saw that something odd about the shape of the fourth letter, it wasn’t… “Daemon,” he blurted out. “It says Daemon. There never was any King Daemon, though, only—”

“—the Pretender. Daemon Blackfyre struck his own coinage during his rebellion.”

 

This is the biggest, most current, hint that Daenerys will be a new Blackfyre in the GRRM scheduled Dance of Dragons. History repeats, but with a twist, and dragons change gender. Daenerys is young, clean faced, and beautiful. Dany will come with her black-fire Drogon, and she will slay the mummer’s dragon Aegon (possibly after a romance), she will take the sword Blackfyre from him as her own. The chest that Illyrio sends with Tyrion most likely has Blackfyre the sword in it. Aegon will bring it back to Westeros and Dany will retrieve it then after they have their affair of sorts and she slays Aegon as the “mummer’s dragon”.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion III
    “Your ploy was a success,” said Haldon. “I laughed myself.”
    “There is a gift for the boy in one of the chests. Some candied ginger. He was always fond of it.” Illyrio sounded oddly sad. “I thought I might continue on to Ghoyan Drohe with you. A farewell feast before you start downriver …”

-and then-
Tyrion found the plain fare a pleasant change from all the rich food he had eaten with Illyrio. “Those chests we brought you,” he said as they were chewing. “Gold for the Golden Company, I thought at first, until I saw Ser Rolly hoist a chest onto one shoulder. If it were full of coin, he could never have lifted it so easily.”
“It’s just armor,” said Duck, with a shrug.

-and then-

  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion IV
    “Swords?” Young Griff grinned. “Swords will be sweet.”
    Tyrion helped him dress for the bout, in heavy breeches, padded doublet, and a dinted suit of old steel plate. Ser Rolly shrugged into his mail and boiled leather. Both set helms upon their heads and chose blunted longswords from the bundle in the weapons chest. They set to on the afterdeck, having at each other lustily whilst the rest of the morning company looked on.

So now we are set to witness how the swords are about to come back out to dance. However, in many ways it has been in the works from the beginning. And keep in mind that the Pale Child carries a black sword. Black sword = Drogo.

House Darry SigilIt starts with the cart/ploughshare, and advances from there. The House Darry sigil shows a type of cart king- a man with a ploughshare working his field. King of his castle. This implies that Willem Darry intended to raise Viserys and Daenerys as a peaceful, reasonable people. However it did not work because as noted in the story, Viserys was showing his father’s cruelty at a young age, and later Dany sits complicit as her husband kills her brother and rightful king and “dragons plant no trees.”

***

I will add that I have long speculated the reason George RR Martin kept Brynden Bloodraven Rivers around in the story, whose lifetime goal to repeatedly stomp out the Blackfyre fires, is because we do indeed have a new resurgence in the make. History repeats with a twist, and now Bloodraven, who has been watching Bran since his birth, has to turn the page/leaf to Bran to man the helm of that ship.

It was recently confirmed by GRRM that Bloodraven took Dark Sister to the wall. That, in addition to his means of protection and Raven’s Teeth accompanying him, seems to point to a future setup for this new dance of dragons.


Rejecting Peace

And when Daenerys is backed into a stressful corner, she rejects the talk/song of peace from Missandaei and instead wants to talk about battle and her brother, Rhaegar, winning fights. As Arstan Whitebeard (Barristan Selmy) tells Daenerys how Rhaegar did not always win at fights, Daenerys gets upset and keeps prodding for a “win”, meanwhile overlooking the truer type of person Rhaegar was:

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys IV

The hours crept by on turtle feet. Even after Jhiqui rubbed the knots from her shoulders, Dany was too restless for sleep. Missandei offered to sing her a lullaby of the Peaceful People, but Dany shook her head. “Bring me Arstan,” she said.

 

This stressful lashing out is also shown in the man character from Sandkings, Simon Kress. There are many, many parallels to Simon Kress, including the desire for god-like worship, Woe who is akin to Mirri Maz Duur or the Ghost  of High Heart, and the Sandkings themselves acting as part her worshipping army, and part the families of Meereen that go against Daenerys. I will detail Sandkings in another post, but for now, Simon Kress uses a “lightbringer” sword down upon his followers.

  • Sandkings

The restoration went well. But as Kress inspected the work through his magnifiers, he chanced to glance close at the face on the sandcastle wall. It startled him.
He drew back, blinked, took a healthy gulp of wine, and looked again.
The face on the wall was still his. But it was all wrong, all twisted. His cheeks were bloated and piggish; his smile was a crooked leer. He looked impossibly malevolent.
Uneasy, he moved around the tank to inspect the other castles. They were each a bit different, but ultimately all the same.
The oranges had left out most of the fine detail, but the result still seemed monstrous, crude; a brutal mouth and mindless eyes.
The reds gave him a satanic, twitching sort of smile. His mouth did odd, unlovely things at its corners. The whites, his favorites, had carved a cruel idiot god.
Kress flung his wine across the room in rage. “You dare, ” he said under his breath. “Now you won’t eat for a week, you damned . . .” His voice was shrill. “I’ll teach you.”
He had an idea. He strode out of the room, then returned a moment later with an antique iron throwing sword in his hand. It was a meter long, and the point was still sharp. Kress smiled, climbed up, and moved the tank cover aside just enough to give him working room, exposing one corner of the desert. He leaned down and jabbed the sword at the white castle below him. He waved it back and forth, smashing towers and ramparts and walls. Sand and stone collapsed, burying the scrambling mobiles. A flick of his wrist obliterated the features of the insolent, insulting caricature that the sandkings had made of his face. Then he poised the point of the sword above the dark mouth that opened down into the maw’s chamber; he thrust with all his strength, meeting with resistance. He heard a soft, squishing sound. All the mobiles trembled and collapsed. Satisfied, Kress pulled back.


Black-Fire on the Water

Also, I think what we will see in the The Winds of Winter before this Dance of Dragons happens, is that the Riverlands will rise to support Aegon the VI. So far in the story we get many hints that the Riverlands is full of fire supports and fire magic. Therefore, in that we readers are allowed a set up for a return of the bigger dragon that will come and burn the crops as punishment to those who bowed to the “wrong” dragon, and/or those who refuse to support Daenerys. But truly, this comes after Daenerys and Aegon possibly become a couple, but she (speculative) kills Aegon as the mummer’s dragon who betrays Dany for his love of Arianne Martell. Jon is the Sun’s son, most likely not Quentyn or Aegon.

  • A Feast for Crows – Jaime IV

The fields outside the walls of Darry were being tilled once more. The burned crops had been plowed under, and Ser Addam’s scouts reported seeing women in the furrows pulling weeds, whilst a team of oxen broke new ground on the edge of a nearby wood. A dozen bearded men with axes stood guard over them as they worked.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys V

Dany followed on her silver, escorted by Ser Jorah Mormont and her brother Viserys, mounted once more. After the day in the grass when she had left him to walk back to the khalasar, the Dothraki had laughingly called him Khal Rhae Mhar, the Sorefoot King. Khal Drogo had offered him a place in a cart the next day, and Viserys had accepted. In his stubborn ignorance, he had not even known he was being mocked; the carts were for eunuchs, cripples, women giving birth, the very young and the very old. That won him yet another name: Khal Rhaggat, the Cart King. Her brother had thought it was the khal’s way of apologizing for the wrong Dany had done him. She had begged Ser Jorah not to tell him the truth, lest he be shamed. The knight had replied that the king could well do with a bit of shame … yet he had done as she bid. It had taken much pleading, and all the pillow tricks Doreah had taught her, before Dany had been able to make Drogo relent and allow Viserys to rejoin them at the head of the column.
“Is place,” Khal Drogo answered, in the Common Tongue that Dany had taught him, “for Sorefoot King.” He clapped his hands together. “A cart! Bring cart for Khal Rhaggat!”
At the last, Viserys looked at her. “Sister, please … Dany, tell them … make them … sweet sister …”
When the gold was half-melted and starting to run, Drogo reached into the flames, snatched out the pot. “Crown!” he roared. “Here. A crown for Cart King!” And upended the pot over the head of the man who had been her brother.
The sound Viserys Targaryen made when that hideous iron helmet covered his face was like nothing human. His feet hammered a frantic beat against the dirt floor, slowed, stopped. Thick globs of molten gold dripped down onto his chest, setting the scarlet silk to smoldering … yet no drop of blood was spilled.

Daenerys is the last dragon, a title she inherited from Rhaegar, whom Rhaego was named after, and then the baby Rhaego’s soul was sacrificed into the dragon’s egg to wake Rhaegal. Whew! That is a lot of lasts. However, Just as Daenerys is taking the last dragon helm from Rhaegar, she is also turning her peaceful ploughsahres back into swords, as Rhaegar did through Willem Darry. Also, it is worth noting that Bran is taking another type of helm from Bloodraven as the new Sea/See Lord- the ship’s helm.

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys I

“As you wish,” said Whitebeard. “As a young boy, the Prince of Dragonstone was bookish to a fault. He was reading so early that men said Queen Rhaella must have swallowed some books and a candle whilst he was in her womb. Rhaegar took no interest in the play of other children. The maesters were awed by his wits, but his father’s knights would jest sourly that Baelor the Blessed had been born again. Until one day Prince Rhaegar found something in his scrolls that changed him. No one knows what it might have been, only that the boy suddenly appeared early one morning in the yard as the knights were donning their steel. He walked up to Ser Willem Darry, the master-at-arms, and said, ‘I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior.'”

“And he was!” said Dany, delighted.

Daenerys reveals her tricksy side as Bakkalon throughout the story.

  • I am only a young girl and know little of the ways of war,” she told Lord Ghael, “but we have heard that Astapor is starving. Let King Cleon feed his people before he leads them out to battle.” She made a gesture of dismissal. Ghael withdrew.
    Her hair had burned away in Drogo’s pyre, so her handmaids garbed her in the skin of the hrakkar Drogo had slain, the white lion of the Dothraki sea.
    blood of Valyria still runs strong in Lys, where even the smallfolk oft boast pale skin, silver-gold hair, and the purple, lilac, and pale blue eyes of the dragonlords of old.

Beating back peace in favor of War

Bakkalon’s sword into ploughshares, turns back on human children, wants to war instead of peace. This idea is also reflected as the tiger woman/ Volantis plot develops. Bakkalon being a ‘dark god’ most likely never existed in human form as he was always just the political-relious concept of the Steel Angels. He is a a god-like icon for war.

Let us beat swords into plowshares-  Evgeniy Vuchetich

The meaning and inspiration for Bakkalon comes from real life from both religion and  socialism.

Isaiah 2:4. This passage has rather stunning comparisons to what we read about in ASOIAF, including the relationship between Daenerys and her Dothraki hoards and the mother of mountains.

The Mountain of the Lord
3And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. 5Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.… http://biblehub.com/isaiah/2-4.htm

Swords to ploughshares (or Swords to plowshares) is a concept in which the innate human desire for conflict and competition is transmuted into peaceful, productive activities. The conversion of military weapons or technologies into peaceful civilian applications is both a metaphor for, and a consequence of, this. However, Daenerys as the Bakkalon figure that warriors in the story pray to shows that peace is not an option. If you stand still and try for peace you will be left behind. Choose war.

If you would like to read more about the sculpture artist Yevgeny Vuchetich

Remember readers, be sure to beat your ploughshares back into swords…

  • “No. You are the blood of the dragon. The whispering was growing fainter, as if Ser Jorah were falling farther behind. Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words.

“Fire and Blood,” Daenerys told the swaying grass.

This little pale child in Daenerys learns the ways of necromancy (whether instinctual or not?) and she sacrifices her own living family to give life to these cold stones that now radiate heat with each step taken.  She draws forth her own Excalibur sword from stone. And then comes final union, much like in the story A Song for Lya.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III

Yet when she slept that night, she dreamt the dragon dream again. Viserys was not in it this time. 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.

And the next day, strangely, she did not seem to hurt quite so much. It was as if the gods had heard her and taken pity. Even her handmaids noticed the change. “Khaleesi,” Jhiqui said, “what is wrong? Are you sick?”

“I was,” she answered, standing over the dragon’s eggs that Illyrio had given her when she wed. She touched one, the largest of the three, running her hand lightly over the shell. Black-and-scarlet, she thought, like the dragon in my dream. The stone felt strangely warm beneath her fingers … or was she still dreaming? She pulled her hand back nervously.

From that hour onward, each day was easier than the one before it. Her legs grew stronger; her blisters burst and her hands grew callused; her soft thighs toughened, supple as leather.

We see Daenerys sacrifices her son, Rhaego, to the flames, not unlike Lilith is required to sacrifice her children. Daenerys is most likely acting on instinct here, but these are some of the first steps that level her up to “fire goddess” status to be worshiped as a folk god by her story’s end. This again follows the Damon Julian “bloodmaster” theme from the story Fevre Dream.

In addition to Daenerys giving her child to sacrifice, we also see Euron Greyjoy doing the same in the Euron sample chapter of The Winds of Winter. This is yet another of the many clues that at some point Euron and Daenerys are going to come together (and probably meet Jon on the Trident, with Davos by Jon’s side- per the clues from Fevre Dream).

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Daenerys pregnant with Rhaego and holding Rhaegal’s dragon egg. Artist Mike D’antoni

Daenerys giving her child to the flames happens about five chapters before Mirri Maz Duur’s supposed blood ritual, and it starts with the traditional Targaryen “cradling” of the egg along with a baby Targaryen.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IV

Irrifetched the egg with the deep green shell, bronze flecks shining amid its scales as she turned it in her small hands. Dany curled up on her side, pulling the sandsilk cloak across her and cradling the egg in the hollow between her swollen belly and small, tender breasts. She liked to hold them. They were so beautiful, and sometimes just being close to them made her feel stronger, braver, as if somehow she were drawing strength from the stone dragons locked inside.

She was lying there, holding the egg, when she felt the child move within her … as if he were reaching out, brother to brother, blood to blood. “You are the dragon,” Dany whispered to him, “the true dragon. I know it. I know it.” And she smiled, and went to sleep dreaming of home.

 

We read about this “reaching flames” idea with another fire mage, Melisandre. The parallels here actually emphasize how disheartening it is that Daenerys fed her son to the hungry flames.

A Dance with Dragons – Jon X

Though only a few men of the Night’s Watch had gathered about the ditchfire, more looked down from rooftops and windows and the steps of the great switchback stair. Jon took careful note of who was there and who was not. Some men had the duty; many just off watch were fast asleep. But others had chosen to absent themselves to show their disapproval. Othell Yarwyck and Bowen Marsh were amongst the missing. Septon Chayle had emerged briefly from the sept, fingering the seven-sided crystal on the thong about his neck, only to retreat inside again once the prayers began.

Melisandre raised her hands, and the ditchfire leapt upward toward her fingers, like a great red dog springing for a treat. A swirl of sparks rose to meet the snowflakes coming down. “Oh, Lord of Light, we thank you,” she sang to the hungry flames. “We thank you for brave Stannis, by your grace our king. Guide him and defend him, R’hllor. Protect him from the treacheries of evil men and grant him strength to smite the servants of the dark.”

And later we see Daenerys’ new child, Drogon, a god (of fire) as the Valyrians named their dragons for, eating a child. Children and the red god do not co-exist very well. I guess that is why there are no children that dwell in Asshai. This Assjai concept was developed by George eons ago when he wrote one of his first stories Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark. In that story we see some very Rhllorian demon worshipers about to sacrifice a child to a red fiery god.

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys I

Dragons always preferred to attack from above, Dany had learned. Should either get between the other and the sun, he would fold his wings and dive screaming, and they would tumble from the sky locked together in a tangled scaly ball, jaws snapping and tails lashing. The first time they had done it, she feared that they meant to kill each other, but it was only sport. No sooner would they splash into the sea than they would break apart and rise again, shrieking and hissing, the salt water steaming off them as their wings clawed at the air. Drogon was aloft as well, though not in sight; he would be miles ahead, or miles behind, hunting.

He was always hungry, her Drogon. Hungry and growing fast. Another year, or perhaps two, and he may be large enough to ride. Then I shall have no need of ships to cross the great salt sea.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys I

He lifted the sack, and spilled its contents on the marble.

Bones they were, broken bones and blackened. The longer ones had been cracked open for their marrow.

It were the black one,” the man said, in a Ghiscari growl, “the winged shadow. He come down from the sky and … and …”

(snipped)

“Reznak,” Ser Barristan said quietly, “hold your tongue and open your eyes. Those are no sheep bones.”

No, Dany thought, those are the bones of a child.

However, now that Daenerys started her process of transforming herself into the bride of fire by her child sacrifice, it continues as she “wakes the dragon” in later chapters. The burning in her womb is also reflected in the other (symbolic) fiery dragon queen, Selyse.

  • A Storm of Swords – Davos V

Give me the boy for R’hllor,” the red woman said, “and the ancient prophecy shall be fulfilled. Your dragon shall awaken and spread his stony wings. The kingdom shall be yours.”

Ser Axell went to one knee. “On bended knee I beg you, sire. Wake the stone dragon and let the traitors tremble. Like Aegon you begin as Lord of Dragonstone. Like Aegon you shall conquer. Let the false and the fickle feel your flames.

“Your own wife begs as well, lord husband.” Queen Selyse went down on both knees before the king, hands clasped as if in prayer. “Robert and Delena defiled our bed and laid a curse upon our union. This boy is the foul fruit of their fornications. Lift his shadow from my womb and I will bear you many trueborn sons, I know it.” She threw her arms around his legs. “He is only one boy, born of your brother’s lust and my cousin’s shame.”

  • A Clash of Kings – Davos II

“Shadow?” Davos felt his flesh prickling. “A shadow is a thing of darkness.”

“You are more ignorant than a child, ser knight. There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.”

 

Daenerys has transformed her son Rhaego from living boy, to her shadow child born of fire, and that shadow is now Drogon, who is referred to as a “winged shadow“.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IX

“… don’t want to wake the dragon …”

She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb. Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash. She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin.

“… want to wake the dragon …”

[and then]

She should weep, she knew, yet her eyes were dry as ash. She had wept in her dream, and the tears had turned to steam on her cheeks. All the grief has been burned out of me, she told herself. She felt sad, and yet … she could feel Rhaego receding from her, as if he had never been.

Ser Jorah and Mirri Maz Duur entered a few moments later, and found Dany standing over the other dragon’s eggs, the two still in their chest. It seemed to her that they felt as hot as the one she had slept with, which was passing strange. “Ser Jorah, come here,” she said. She took his hand and placed it on the black egg with the scarlet swirls. “What do you feel?”

“Shell, hard as rock.” The knight was wary. “Scales.”

Heat?”

“No. Cold stone.” He took his hand away. “Princess, are you well? Should you be up, weak as you are?”

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X
She had sensed the truth of it long ago, Dany thought as she took a step closer to the conflagration, but the brazier had not been hot enough. The flames writhed before her like the women who had danced at her wedding, whirling and singing and spinning their yellow and orange and crimson veils, fearsome to behold, yet lovely, so lovely, alive with heat. Dany opened her arms to them, her skin flushed and glowing. This is a wedding, too, she thought. Mirri Maz Duur had fallen silent. The godswife thought her a child, but children grow, and children learn.
And then a few paragraphs later, Dany confirms she is the bride of fire herself, that this was a wedding.

“You are khaleesi,” Rakharo said, taking the arakh. “I shall ride at your side to Vaes Dothrak beneath the Mother of Mountains, and keep you safe from harm until you take your place with the crones of the dosh khaleen. No more can I promise.”She nodded, as calmly as if she had not heard his answer, and turned to the last of her champions. “Ser Jorah Mormont,” she said, “first and greatest of my knights, I have no bride gift to give you, but I swear to you, one day you shall have from my hands a longsword like none the world has ever seen, dragon-forged and made of Valyrian steel. And I would ask for your oath as well.”

“You have it, my queen,” Ser Jorah said, kneeling to lay his sword at her feet. “I vow to serve you, to obey you, to die for you if need be.”


Fire Sex Union

And next we have the union of bride and “groom” to make it legit. The sensual fire coupling between the rider and the ridden. We see GRRM using fire-sex unions across in his work, and also including Cersei and Melisandre and Selyse, but this started back with stories like (bot not limited to) A Song for Lya. Here we see Lya is the one telepath that is consumed by the odd religious experience of what is essentially, walking into the flames. This scene and concept is Ice & Fire’d up later in the Daenerys X- A Game of Thrones chapter (mentioned above) during her union with the flames where she emerges naked and nursing dragons, that wedding that makes her the bride of fire. This does make me wonder what Lyanna Stark was experiencing as she wedded Rhaegar Targaryen? Was it an experience like this one, or closer to what we read in Dying of the Light between Gwen Delvano and Jaan Vikery?

A few quotes about Final Union in A Song for Lya:

  • …but from First Joining to Final Union there was only joy and music, and they wandered the streets and rang their bells and talked and sang, and other Shkeen gave them food and drink. It was an honor to feed a Joined, and the Shkeen who had given up his meatrolls was radiating pride and pleasure.
  • [Takes place after Lya had been missing for some time] Then Lya came to me. She floated down from the starless sky, pale and thin and fragile, and stood beside me on the plain. She brushed her hair back with her hand, and looked at me with glowing wide eyes, and smiled. And I knew it was no dream. She was with me, somehow. We talked.

Hi, Robb.

Lya? Hi, Lya. Where are you? You left me.

I’m sorry. I had to. You understand, Robb. You have to. I didn’t want to be here anymore, ever, in this place, this awful place. I would have been, Robb. Men are always here, but for brief moments.

A touch and a voice?

Yes, Robb. Then darkness again, and a silence. And the darkling plain.

You’re mixing two poems, Lya. But it’s OK. You know them better than I do. But aren’t you leaving out something? The earlier part. “Ah love, let us be true.…”

Oh, Robb.

Where are you?

I’m—everywhere. But mostly in a cave. I was ready, Robb. I was already more open than the rest. I could skip the Gathering, and the Joining. My Talent made me used to sharing. It took me.

Final Union?

Yes.

Oh, Lya.

Robb. Please. Join us, join me. It’s happiness, you know? Forever and forever, and belonging and sharing and being together. I’m in love, Robb, I’m in love with a billion billion people, and I know all of them better than I ever knew you, and they know me, all of me, and they love me. And it will last forever. Me. Us. The Union. I’m still me, but I’m them too, you see? And they’re me. The Joined, the reading, opened me, and the Union called to me every night, because it loved me, you see? Oh, Robb, join us, join us. I love you.

The Union. The Greeshka, you mean. I love you, Lya. Please come back. It can’t have absorbed you already. Tell me where you are. I’ll come to you.

Yes, come to me. Come anywhere, Robb. The Greeshka is all one, the caves all connect under the hills, the little Greeshka are all part of the Union. Come to me and join me. Love me as you said you did. Join me. You’re so far away, I can hardly reach you, even with the Union. Come and be one with us.

No. I will not be eaten. Please, Lya, tell me where you are…

armand-cabrera-cabrera-a-song-for-lya-18x24-oil-web
A naked Lya gives herself to the greeshka in ‘final union’ (flames under the mountain). Artsist: Armand Cabrera

Going into the mountains seems to be a common theme across much of Martinworld literature. Most, if not all, fire woman have some sort of experience under mounatins, and Daenerys being at the Mother of Mountains places her atop that volcano-pyramid of fire goddesses.

  • A Storm of Swords – Davos II

    Davos shook his head. “I will be fine. Tell me, Salla, I must know. No one but Melisandre?”

    The Lyseni gave him a long doubtful look, and continued reluctantly. “The guards keep all others away, even his queen and his little daughter. Servants bring meals that no one eats.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Queer talking I have heard, of hungry fires within the mountain, and how Stannis and the red woman go down together to watch the flames. There are shafts, they say, and secret stairs down into the mountain’s heart, into hot places where only she may walk unburned. It is enough and more to give an old man such terrors that sometimes he can scarcely find the strength to eat.”

    Melisandre. Davos shivered. “The red woman did this to him,” he said. “She sent the fire to consume us, to punish Stannis for setting her aside, to teach him that he could not hope to win without her sorceries.”

The final-final union (second life as experinced after you enter the greeshka union) may come much later if Daenerys ends up second-lifeing into Drogon, which is highly possible.

  • The Princess and the Queen

…Meanwhile, Seasmoke rolled and banked and looped. One instant he would be below his foe, and suddenly he would twist in the sky and come around behind her. Higher and higher the two dragons flew, as hundreds watched from the roofs of Tumbleton. One such said afterward that the flight of Tessarion and Seasmoke seemed more mating dance than battle. Perhaps it was.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys IX
Dizzy, Dany closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she glimpsed the Meereenese beneath her through a haze of tears and dust, pouring up the steps and out into the streets.
The lash was still in her hand. She flicked it against Drogon’s neck and cried, “Higher!” Her other hand clutched at his scales, her fingers scrabbling for purchase. Drogon’s wide black wings beat the air. Dany could feel the heat of him between her thighs. Her heart felt as if it were about to burst. Yes, she thought, yes, now, now, do it, do it, take me, take me, FLY!

 


Quite possibly more to come on this topic. In the meantime, Thank You for reading along to the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire.

9 Comments

  1. “Her ladies, her servants, and her guards would all join Lady Larra at certain times in performing obeisances to these queer, ancient deities. Cats were seen coming and going from her chambers so often that men begun to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep. It was even said that Larra herself could transform into a cat, to prowl the gutters and rooftops of the city” (Fire & Blood)

    This seems to be a reference to the Cats of Queen Berúthiel story from J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium.

    Berúthiel was a noblewoman from an unnamed city in Umbar, south of the City of Umbar proper. The twelfth king of Gondor, Tarannon Falastur, married her – presumably for political reasons; to reunite the Numenoreans of Umbar with the Dunedain of Gondor.

    Both Umbar and Gondor were realms founded by Numenoreans, but Gondor & Arnor were settled by members of the Faithful party, the Elf-friends loyal to the Valar, whereas Umbar was a colony of King’s Men, followers of the usurper king Ar-Pharazôn the Golden (in fact, there was a famous monument to Ar-Pharazôn overlooking the Haven of Umbar, until Sauron had it destroyed).

    Thus, Berúthiel became the Queen of Gondor. Yet her marriage to Tarannon was “childless”, as the king had little love for his “nefarious, solitary and loveless” wife.

    According to “The Unfinished Tales”:
    Berúthiel “had nine black cats and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things ‘that men wish most to keep hidden’, setting the white cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass.”

    Compare to “Fire & Blood”
    “Cats were seen coming and going from her [Larra Rogare’s] chambers so often that men begun to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep”

    In the end, Tarannon and Berúthiel were estranged and the king had her exiled. She was placed on a ship (together with the cats), and sent back to Umbar:
    “The ship was last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead and another as a figure-head on the prow”

    Soon after Tarannon’s death, a war broke out between Umbar and Gondor, and some speculate among its causes was the way in which Queen/Lady Berúthiel was treated in Gondor.

    The feline deity Larra Rogare worshipped might be a reference to Sauron (whom the Umbarians oft worshipped) – in early versions of JRRT’s tales Sauron appears as an enormous black cat-like creature named Tevildo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your memory constantly amazes me! I can’t remember if you once told me if you read the Tuf Voyaging series? Haviland Tuf has his psionic cats that he uses for mind reading (or the like) while he is negotiating with his allies/opponents (varies a little upon the situation). This makes me think that these connections to JRRT have been in use far longer than ASOIAF came about. GRRM said he did not particularly care for the character Tuf, so I also wonder if this is why Larra is made to be a bit of an antagonist/Sauron.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have read seven Tuf stories, and I believe those are all in the series: The Plague Star, Guardians, A Beast for Norn, Call Him Moses, Loaves and Fishes, Second Helpings, Manna from Heaven.
        But that was in 2016, almost three years ago, so I don’t remember all the details.

        To determine if it’s possible Tuf’s cats were inspired by Berúthiel’s, we have to look at the chronology. “The Unfinished Tales” were published in 1980, so only post-1980 GRRM stories should contain such references (if it is the case that there was any influence on him from this book at all).
        “A Beast for Norn” is from 1976, and “Call Him Moses” is from 1978. “Guardians” is from 1981, so it is possible to find genuine “The Unfinished Tales” influence in there, and in the final four Tuf stories from 1985.
        Also, if GRRM read “The Unfinished Tales” soon after they came out, in 1980 or early 1981, he’d have those tales fresh in his mind, so we should find our Cats of Queen Berúthiel reference there.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe GRRM has a deep knowledge of JRRT’s universe, but it is hard to demonstrate any proof that he’s read all those other stories besides LOTR, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

    But here are some clues:
    * In his May 2019 Not-a-Blog post, GRRM has mentioned JRRT’s story that is not that widely known outside the group of hardcore fans:
    “The event will include a costume contest… so come dressed as your favorite Tolkien character. I expect to see an auditorium full of elves, dwarves (not dwarfs, as all Tolkien purists know), ents, hobbits, Aragorns, Boromirs, Galadriels, and the occasional Leaf by Niggle”

    “Leaf by Niggle” is Tolkien’s short story from 1945.

    * in January 2002 GRRM wrote the following words in “What I’m reading” section at his site:

    “J.R.R.TOLKIEN, AUTHOR OF THE CENTURY. Shippey, one of the world’s leading Tolkien scholars, makes an eloquent and persuasive case for JRRT as the most significant author of the 20th century, and demolishes many of the criticisms leveled against LOTR by critics reluctant to admit a fantasist to the pantheon. A very readable book, this will give you a new appreciation of the depth and artistry of what JRRT accomplished… and Shippey’s comparison of Tolkien and Joyce is certain to provoke howls of outrage from the literati”.

    * in 2001 GRRM wrote that:
    “A couple of new publications are worth mentioning, although my contributions to both are small. St. Martin’s Press has just issued MEDITATIONS ON MIDDLE EARTH, edited by Karen Haber, an assemblage of essays by a number of leading contemporary fantasists concerning J.R.R. Tolkien and the influence he had on their work. I wrote the introduction to the book, and John Howe provided the illustrations. MEDITATIONS has some good stuff in it; those of you with an interest in Tolkien might want to check it out”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great summary, Leech 🙂

    I read Seven Times Never Kill a Man several times over now, and what I noticed from the get go was the “red alerts” by George in it. And yes, I noticed how the Proctor has the Saagel color scheme of black-red. For me there are four factions in the story:
    – the followers of Bakkalon coming to colonize the planet and take and destroy with Bakkalon god-given sole right to use violence to dominate. And thus “Bakkalon”
    – Arik the red-haired trader with his heart in the right place, but like some anthropologists projecting his own beliefs of the nature of religion while making contact with the native Jainshi, only to get it reflected back at him, thereby unaware that the Jainshi are mind controlled to be peaceful and live in perfect harmony with their environment. And while he trains the rebel-Jainshi with the noble sentiment to protect the non-violent Jainshi from the Steel Angels’ destructive Bakkalon ways, this training results into one of the rebel-Jainshi far removed enough from the waterfall pyramid to shoot arrows at the weaponmaster, which sets off a massacre, in which Arik dies.
    – the mind-soul-vampires living within the red pyramids who use beliefs and imagery inside the heads of worshippers to give them false visions, in order to prevent any species from becoming a plague either by instructing their worshippers to hold a hunting cull, mind-control their sexual urges, and including a cull of their own children (infanticide). I am not sure this is actually Bakkalon at all. Those mind-suckers are just using a pre-existing worhsip of Bakkalon by using his image and then use that image as visions to convince the Proctor to command his underlings to give up all arms and turn them into ploughshears, to burn the winter stock as they have come to believe that winter will never come again, and hang their own children from the Red Walls. Hell, we even get hints that the hogs are mind controlled. Once the stone-circle pyramid is destroyed, the hogs attack surviving Jainshi for example.
    – the native Jainshi who have a peaceful seeming Utopian society, but are in fact mind-controlled, only allowed to develop talents much like in a hive, where some larvae develop into a queen, others into worker bees, or soldiers, and yet others into males to have their once in a lifetime chance at exctatis orgasm. Only one gets to be ta talker, only one is a carver, etc. The knowledge and skill necessary to talk or carve is withheld. It’s not a cultural learning process. They are quite different from the Jainshi rebels who wrestle themselves free from the mind control and become curious, sexually liberated, able to feel anger and question things. In the end only these are allowed to keep that freedom by leaving the planet and the Utupian society of the Jainshi held out to us early on turns out to be an illusion.

    I agree fully with the parallels that Dany and the Valyrians compare to Saagel, the Proctor, Steel Angels and Bakkalon. But I see Bakkalon as killing the children and lives of others (those they wish to dominate), come to take as they please and bring fire and blood. While indeed Dany sacrifices Rhaego subconsciously or intuitively, I do not see that necessarily that as Bakkalon’s creed. Bakkalon’s creeds seem to say: profilerate, multiply and conquer.

    Meanwhile I see Rh’llor as the parallel to the red mind-control pyramids, which may use the Bakkalon image, but only for its own ends. And this force does compel to sacrifice the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks SweetSunRay! I agree that Bakkalon is more for proliferation, legions to be more precise. This is the Wildcards character Legion (Danny Shepard) that GRRM creates in that universe that is reflected in the legions of Unsullied. We even have Ser Grandfather Selmy procreating warriors in Dany’s leave for her. That is all on another page. Just too much to put into one “essay” in one spot. Thanks for replying.

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      1. As discussed… bear with me…

        Here’s my proposal on “Bakkalon the pale child” as a concept in And Seven Times Never Kill a Man

        There are two elements that struck me to have this idea. First, the Steel Angels refer to the planet they intend to colonize as Corlos. This harks back to “Only Children are Afraid in the Dark”. Obviously that very early Dr. Weird (green-gold) adventure does not belong to a 1000 worlds, but at the very least George is using it as a reference to it. In that story, Corlos implies opening doors to let demonic darkness through to overtake and dominate life with horrors, violence, etc – with “evil”. This is especially highlighted because we also get the thematic color-scheme of Saagael in Proctor (black and red). George dropped the name here, but black and red stands for “evil” and Corlos for letting “evil through” or letting it loose onto a world/planet/city….

        The question then becomes whether George replaced Saagael with Bakkalon as imagery, whether he conflated them, or that in-world Bakkalon used to be an entirely different message altogether, but ended up abused and conflated by black-red demonic evil, like eventually the red pyramid gods use the same Bakkalon image to twist it into the message into “sacrifice your children and worship us, we’ll provide for you.”

        And it seems that indeed Bakkalon’s image was abused twice by two forces. Because one of the heart wrenching characters in the short story is the female Jainshi rebel who is so angry and upset over what befell her and her people while she was still a child. She’s even rejected by her own people, because she’s so angry at the injustice and beginning to question things the red pyramids prefer to keep sole control over. She learns to shoot with a laser. And towards the end, we are told that though she dropped the laser, her male (mate?) Jainshi still walks around with a laser. Though he has no speaking part in the short story, we can transfer the bitter talking’s feelings of rebellion against the injustice to that of the male, who also must have been a child at the time. This makes that male a grey-furred Bakkalon: an innocent abused child forced to take up arms because adults sacrifice the children of others and their own both in peace and in war, to defend itself, to survive and against the injustice. That bitter talker Jainshi so reminded me of Arya, and she too sees Bakkalon in the HoBaW.

        So, I think that initially Bakkalon was a child-hero who freed himself of (mind)-slavery and abuse and injustice and learned to fend for himself: innocence lost. And that it actually stands for fighting against injustice and slavery and sacrificing children for the good of adults. But over time, some force or evil dominion minded people like the Steel Angels, took the image of the Bakkalon child for their own and conflated it with their basic Saagael-like goal. And we witness how another mind-enslaving force take that image again for their own gain, and thus we end up with pale children dressed in white hanging from a wall as sacrifice, while a grey-furred male Jainshi holding a laser free from it all (the original Bakkalon) is rescued and taken to Port Jameson.

        So, we thus have three type of Bakkalons in aSoIaF:
        – the one like the rebel-Jainshis who were forced to grow up too fast, lost their innocense, and learned to fend for themselves against injustice. And so we have Bakkalon at the HoBaW in Arya’s arc, amongst a people who unshackled themselves from slavery.
        – the demonic red and black Bakkalon, who is abused by its elders to listen and obey, forced to grow up fast and take responsibilities like an adult (soldier, war, breed), all to profilerate and seek dominion through fire and blood and destruction => Saagael conflated with Bakkalon. This is what Dany becomes.
        – the red god mind-control crystal Bakkalon, who is either sacrificed or enslaved as a child to the red god (flames) to serve the needs of an adult wanting power and worship => Rh’llor conflated with Bakkalon. Mel herself and all the children she wants to burn. As well as the children used by the Faith for their power games to restrict people’s sex life or proclaimed as bastards who aren’t worthy of consideration.

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      2. Bakkalon likely never existed. It is an allegory for the militant-religious movement that is bringing colonization. The merging of Saagael (pyramid, pyre, altar) with Bakkalon (the political mentioned above) is what appeals to the Steel Angels. It is blood *and* fire(power) that consumes the worshipers because they are expendable to this “god” that only gets beings to worship it through compulsion, not unlike Damon Julian from Fevre Dream as a good parallel fire-god example. Thanks for adding more to this in regards to R’hllor, which I do think is just a human name for the same god as Saagael/Bakkalon is. Your other notes are equally a great! It seems we are both seeing this pattern even as we work our way through the details. This is what I was hoping for when I started writing all of this down 🙂

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