The “She” of GRRM’s women

Work in progress page 🙂

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.”

She who must be obeyed.

It seems that George RR Martin first has glints of his Daenerys- Bakkalon the Pale Child come to him from the story She: A History of Adventure, or She Who Must Be Obeyed. Melisandre is a strong representative of the “She” in the icy side of ASOIAF, and this part is based on the 1935 movie. There are several, several parallels to Daenerys/Bakkalon as well as Cyrain and Litlith, Cersei (whom GRRM says is a Daenerys parallel), of fire mages, and maybe a little bit of “ice magic mages” in the snowy versions. I would go so far as including Ashara Dayne, however, Ashara seems to represent only the side of “haunting” beauty to such a degree that men who set their eyes upon her (Eddard, Barristan) are enraptured.

  • “Behold me, lovely as no woman was or is, undying and half-divine. Memory haunts me from age to age, and passion leads me by the hand– evil have I done, and with sorrow have I made acquaintance from age to age, and from age to age, evil I shall do, and sorrow shall I know til my redemption comes.” Ayesha/She, She- A History of Adventure.
  • Beauty is like the lightning. It is lovely, but it destroys.” Ayesha/She, She- A History of Adventure.

This is the foundation of the fire .vs. ice woman in A Song of Ice and Fire upon which these characters are built. Additionally, the GRRM story Bitterblooms has a red witch named Morgan le Fay which is very much based on a combination of She and Arthurian legend. It is also not without mention that the movie versions and the canon book both also have some Jon and Bran travel elements to it, including Bloodraven in the cave. The icy themed 1935 movie even starts off with a journey north where they meet a local man and his daughter who are the basis for Craster, his Keep, and his daughters… MINUS the incest.

A bit like Brynden Bloodraven Rivers in the cave:

  • “I don’t want to convey any disrespectful notion or slight when I call those good and learned men fossils, but my experience is that people are apt to fossilize even at a university if they follow the same paths too persistently. I was getting fossilized myself, but of late my stock of ideas bas been very much enlarged. Well, I lay and reflected, and wondered what on earth would be the end of it all, till at last I ceased to wonder, and went to sleep.” – Holly, She – A History of Adventure
  • “Who would so load up his back with memories of lost hours and loves, and of his neighbor’s sorrows which he cannot lessen, and with wisdom that brings not consolation?” Ayesha/She on the nature of living too long and seeing too much.

Q: But Leech, you are pulling this out of thin air. There is no proof that George RR Martin knows who Henry Rider Haggard is?

A: Alas, GRRM does know who the author Henry Rider Haggard is, and has mentioned both Haggard and a reference to this She- A History of Adventure book in this interview here:

I soared among the skyscrapers of Metropolis with Superman, fought bad guys in Gotham City with Batman, swung between the water towers of Manhattan with Spider-Man. I sailed the South Seas with Long John Silver and Robert Louis Stevenson, and swam beneath them with Aquaman and Prince Namor the Submariner. Scrooge McDuck took me to Darkest Africa to search for King Solomon’s Mines, and H Rider Haggard returned me there.

And George, being the film buff that he is, not only based his Val and spearwives in part on the main character in his favorite SciFi movie (detailed here), but he also based “Good” Queen Alysanne on a movie version of real life Eleanor of Aquitaine.

You might consider Alysanne as the Eleanor of Aquitaine of Westeros, and model her on Katherine Hepburn’s portrayal of Eleanor in the film THE LION IS WINTER.

The publisher’s summary from Audible says this: Leo Vincey, a beautiful young man with the looks of a Greek and his fatherly guardian Holly, a Cambridge scientist, go to Africa to avenge the death of a supposed ancestor of Leo, named Kallikrates. Travelling across volcanic plains and marshes, they finally got confronted with the She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed queen Ayesha (compatible with Asshai in ASOIAF). The adventures, supernatural and mythical experiences of Leo and Holly, and above all the description of the archetypal goddess Ayesha make the story a remarkable one.

There have a few movies based on this character, and George is a movie buff who owns the Jean Cocteau Theater. This story, book and move version, both have a Snow White element to it with the quest for beauty and eternal life through fire. As I pointed out in the Bran post, GRRM does have connections to Disney movies and old tales.

UPDATE: I am still working on this page with lots to update and clarify, however, after watching the full 1935 version of this story and, #1 it was rather good, and, #2 it seems George RR Martin is using a mashup of points primarily from the two movies, with just a little book text thrown in. The original story and the later 1965 Hammer film both have the setting in the hot lands of north eastern Africa that parallels Daenery’s arc, while the 1935 film has the expedition start in the frozen wastes of the north in Siberia which parallel Melisandre in Jon’s arc.

She- 1935 movie. This “icy” version of the journey starts with a travel up north, beyond a mountain wall of ice.

Both She settings take place under a mountain/volcano. A clear dichotomy of ice and fire, both in keeping with the opposing force of the blue flame versus the red flame. More updating to come.

1935 She movie. The version set in the snowlands with a Melisandre type Fire mage.
1935 She movie. Here you can see in the colorized version the dress She wears looks like it is made of fire, as if she were wreathed in flames…. like Melisandre.

In the 1935 movie you can see clear visual inspiration for Daenerys during her time living in a Meereenese pyramid:

Visions in the fire, well yes, ASOIAF has plenty of that in the way of Melisandre and fire mages, even the riddles of Quaithe, and Daenerys who has her marriage to the flames and walks out unburnt with her “children” now birthed:

Clips from the 1965 Hammer film:

The 1965 film has some interesting bits that pique the ASOIAF readers mind, such as the producers name Hammer, and the main actress Ursula Andress, best known for her coming out of the sea, while singing, in a white bikini, and dagger in hand bond girl clip. The name Ursula also reminds a reader of the in-world historical character Ursula Upcliff and her sea related story. Ursual Upcliff seems to be an in-world historic precursor to the Jon and Val relationship.

She, subtitled A History of Adventure, is a novel by English writer H. Rider Haggard, first serialized in The Graphic magazine from October 1886 to January 1887. She was extraordinarily popular upon its release and has never been out of print. This story is interspersed with philosophy of life and death and love, and of course, being careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

The story is a first-person narrative that follows the journey of Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. There they encounter a primitive race of natives, the Amahagger, and a mysterious white queen (very pale, unlined skin and black hair) named Ayesha who reigns as the all-powerful “She”, or “She-who-must-be-obeyed“. This white queen is like Bakkalon the Pale Child, Cyrain of Ash and Lilith, and Daenerys in GRRM’s own stories. She/Ayesha is herself is foreign ruler in the “dark lands” and she represents imperialism in the story.


  • Ayesha – the title character of the novel, called Hiya by the native Amahagger, or “She” (She-who-must-be-obeyed). Ayesha was born over 2,000 years ago amongst the Arabs, mastering the lore of the ancients and becoming a great sorceress. Learning of the Pillar of Life in the African interior, she journeyed to the ruined kingdom of Kôr, feigning friendship with a hermit who was the keeper of the Flame that granted immortality. She bathed in the Pillar of Life’s fire. Her name Ayesha is of Arabic origin and according to the author should be pronounced “Assha”. One thing to say about this- Doom of Valyria!
  • Horace Holly – protagonist and narrator, Holly is a Cambridge man whose keen intellect and knowledge was developed to compensate for his ape-like appearance. Holly knows a number of ancient languages, including Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew, which allow him to communicate with the Amahagger (who speak a form of Arabic) and She (who knows all three languages). Holly’s interest in archaeology and the origins of civilisation lead him to explore the ruins of Kôr.
  • Leo Vincey – ward of Horace Holly, Leo is an attractive, physically active young English gentleman with a thick head of blond hair. His parents have both died; his father was a scholar who became ill, and his mother died in childbirth. He is the confidant of Holly and marries Ustane according to her customs. According to She, Leo resembles Kallikrates in appearance and is his reincarnation, therefore, She lusts after Leo thinking he is Killikrates returned to her.
  • Billali – an elder of one of the Amahagger tribes and personal servant to Ayesha/She. He is a rather nice guy in the book. In the 1935 movie (icy version) he dies after seeing Ayesha/She die in the blue flames. The blue flames are in every version.
  • Ustane – an Amahagger maiden. She becomes romantically attached to Leo, caring for him when he is injured, acting as his protector, and defying She to stay with him. Ustane is a very close Gilly, Doreah protoype, as well some hints of the healer/spearwife Val who will protect and tend to Jon after his mutiny stabbing.
  • Job – Holly’s trusted servant. Job is a working-class man and highly suspicious and judgmental of non-English peoples. He is also a devout Protestant. Of all the travellers, he is especially disgusted by the Amahagger and fearful of She.
  • Kallikrates – an ancient Greek, the husband of Amenartas, and ancestor of Leo. Two thousand years ago, he and Amenartas fled Egypt, seeking a haven in the African interior where they met Ayesha. There, She fell in love with him, promising to give him the secret of immortality if he would kill Amenartas. He refused, and, enraged, She struck him down.
  • Amenartas – an ancient Egyptian priestess and ancestress of the Vincey family. As a priestess of Isis, she was protected from the power of She. When Ayesha slew Kallikrates, she expelled Amenartas from her realm. Amenartas gave birth to Kallikrates’ son, beginning the line of the Vinceys (Leo’s ancestors). This is described with far more detail in the book than it is in either movie version.

And Ayesha loves to wear shades of purple. You have to watch a colorized version of the 1935 movie to see this, but this book cover shows one such amethyst outfit.


A little investigative snooping has given up the info that the name “Hiya” generally means Heart, is of Indian origin, Name Hiya is a Feminine (or Girl) name. Person with name Hiya are mainly Hindu by religion. Name Hiya belongs to rashi Kark (Cancer) with dominant planet Moon (Chandra) and Nakshatra (stars) Punarvasu. You can easily spot the ASOIAF carry over clues in this name meaning.

She who must be obeyed
The night was almost, but not quite, dark, the moon not having risen as yet, which
made us wonder how we should be able to see the dancing.
“Thou wilt presently understand,” said Ayesha, with a little laugh, when Leo asked
her; and we certainly did. Scarcely were the words out of her mouth when from every point we saw dark forms rushing up, each bearing with him what we at first took to be an enormous flaming torch. Whatever they were they were burning furiously, for the flames stood out a yard or more behind each bearer. On they came, fifty or more of them, carrying their flaming burdens and looking like so many devils from hell. Leo was the first to discover what these burdens were.
“Great heavens!” he said. “They are corpses on fire!” I stared and stared again. He was perfectly right- the torches that were to light our entertainment were human mummies from the caves!

However, just like George tends to do, he takes his inspirations and mixes them up to make something new and his own. Some (not all) of the broad strokes he kept to remix are:

  • In the beginning of the book, it is made known that there is a special sherd, or ancient piece of pottery, that is a criticial piece of the plot puzzle. This reminds me of the lesson Maester Luwin gives to Bran with the little clay boy that falls and breaks. In the 1935 movie, that sherd is replaced with a gold statue of a goddess-type figure wreathed in flames.
  • The name of the place that holds the blue fire is called Kor. This name could be a play on words with the word “coeur” which means “heart”. She we have a travelogue of an icy story that goes to the heart of winter (blue flame) with Bran, and the fiery version that takes the reader to the heart of fire (Daenerys in Essos).
    • . . . the shape of shadows . . . morrows not yet made . . . drink from the cup of ice . . . drink from the cup of fire . . .
  • Some of the native Amahagger smallfolk become restless and seize Mahomed, intending to eat him as part of a ritual “hot pot”. Mahomed dies from the hot pot. This translates to Daenerys standing by as her husband, Khal Drogo, kills he brother with hot molten gold.
  • Her beauty is so great that it enchants any man (almost) who beholds it.
  • She, who is veiled and lies behind a partition, warns Holly (somewhat of a Samewell Tarly type- physically and intellectually) that the power of her splendour arouses both desire and fear, but he is dubious. I will say that in the print story, She takes a non-romantic liking to Holly for his knowledge. She is intrigued by the meaning of his name and then after he tells She the meaning, Holly is often referred to as a “tree”. This lines up with the tree-men, and Garth in ASOIAF, but more importantly, that the trees are the true holders of history and knowledge within ASOIAF.
  • The pillar of light translates to the glass candles, the Citadel in Oldtown, and the pyramids in Meereen with the dragons roosting on the top, and the volcanoes of Valyria (which the pyramids of Meereen also represent). There are pyramids in the story She.
  • The women who live in the cave systems, the Rock People, are the ones who dictate marriage customs and they are the ones who select the spouse, and are honored because women are the source of life. This very much reflects what GRRM has written the free folk as in his story.
  • The name Leo is pronounced Lay-O. A reader might be tempted to line this up with the Lannister’s, but we know GRRM has said that much of the political plot in ASOIAF is based on the War of the Roses, which is primarily the Lancaster’s and York’s (Starks). This Leo is described to be more like Jorah Mormont in some ways. Either way, the purpose of the Leo in the She story is to have the representative of the sun-male-lover with golden curly hair like a lion’s mane. I have already detailed how Daenerys is the Lion of Night.
  • In the book story, Leo is a “Royal Son of the Sun,” and I have long stated that the ASOIAF warning Quaithe gives Daenerys about “the sun’s son,” is actually a warning for Daenerys to avoid Jon, being that Jon is the son of sun symbol Rhaegar.
  • There is a travel scene that reflects Tyrion’s sea voyage and his voyage down the Sorrows river almost exactly, including giant “gods” buried in the river.
  • A black goat is requested as an offering to She/Ayesha for blood sacrifice. A black goat is taken from a “neighboring kraal” for sacrifice. This easily translates in to the neighboring Meereenese House Pyramids and the kraal for Pahl, of whom Daenerys has said there is blood between her and House Pahl. Plus, the word kraal sounds like a Ghiscari word.
  • And then the story says, “Oh! oh! oh! give me the blod of the goat.” which is reminiscent of Patchface and his jingles of “Oh, oh, oh”, and , “I know, I know, I know.”
  • And She/Ayesha is connected to silver and laugh (like the bells Daenerys wears in her hair that signal death).
    • “I was about to interpose, for I knew that Leo was not too strong-minded where women were concerned, when- oh, horror!- I heard a little silvery laugh behind me. I turned round, and there was She herself, and with her Billali and two male mutes. I gasped and nearly sank to the ground, for I knew that such a situation must result in some dreadful tragedy, of which it seemed exceedingly probable to me that I should be the first victim.
  • And in the movie, She wears a crystal crown, and often at the same time she wears a purple outfit. This could be some prototyping for GRRM bringing together the Faith of the Seven with Aegon the Conquerer/Dragon, as well as Young Aegon/Griff in the Riverlands. The Faith of the Seven will most likely follow Daenerys after she slays Aegon as the mummer’s dragon.
Crystal crown of She

In the climax of the novel, Ayesha takes the two men to see the Pillar of Fire, passing through the ruined city of Kôr into the heart of the ancient volcano. She is determined that Leo should bathe in the fire to become immortal and remain with her forever, and that together they can become the immortal and all-powerful rulers of the world. This also parallels Ygritte trying to tempt Jon into staying with her down in the caves, to which Jon rejects and emerges the next day more optimistic than before. I stated on the Val + Jon page that Ygritte was actually not a good thing for Jon because she was trying (subconsciously for the plot) suppress Jon and his need to range. It was good for Jon to reject the red fire volcano that was Ygritte, who tries to eat him. The Winds of Winter – Arianne chapter also have a cave dwelling scene in which carvings from the Children of the Forest are discovered.

A Storm of Swords – Jon III

“Some have searched for it. Them that go too deep find Gendel’s children, and Gendel’s children are always hungry.” Smiling, she set the torch carefully in a notch of rock, and came toward him. “There’s naught to eat in the dark but flesh,” she whispered, biting at his neck.
… and then…
“Jon Snow,” she told him, when he’d spent his seed inside her, “don’t move now, sweet. I like the feel of you in there, I do. Let’s not go back t’ Styr and Jarl. Let’s go down inside, and join up with Gendel’s children. I don’t ever want t’ leave this cave, Jon Snow. Not ever.”
A Storm of Swords – Jon IV, the very first paragraph
Ghost was gone when the wildings led their horses from the cave. Did he understand about Castle Black? Jon took a breath of the crisp morning air and allowedhimselftohope. The eastern sky was pink near the horizon and pale grey higher up. The Sword of the Morning still hung in the south, the bright white star in its hilt blazing like a diamond in the dawn, but the blacks and greys of the darkling forest were turning once again to greens and golds, reds and russets. And above the soldier pines and oaks and ash and sentinels stood the Wall, the ice pale and glimmering beneath the dust and dirt that pocked its surface.

After a perilous journey, they come to a great cavern, but at the last Leo doubts the safety of entering the blue flames. To allay his fears, Ayesha steps into the Spirit of Life, but with this second immersion in to blue fire, the life-preserving power is lost and Ayesha begins to revert to her true age. There is a chance that we something like this happen to Melisandre on page as she may be controlled by potions or her ruby at her throat. We do see a transformation when Moqorro survives seven days in the sea and emerges physically changed.

She- 1965 movie

Holly speculates that it may be that a second exposure undoes the effects of the previous or the Spirit of Life spews death on occasion. Before their eyes, Ayesha withers away in the fire, and her body shrinks. The sight is so shocking that Job dies in fright. Before dying, She tells Leo, “Forget me not. I shall come again!” This is a clear parallel to Daenerys going into Drogo’s funeral pyre and Jorah being frightened.

A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X

And there came a second crack, loud and sharp as thunder, and the smoke stirred and whirled around her and the pyre shifted, the logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts. She heard the screams of frightened horses, and the voices of the Dothraki raised in shouts of fear and terror, and Ser Jorah calling her name and cursing. No, she wanted to shout to him, no, my good knight, do not fear for me. The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons,don’tyousee? Don’tyouSEE? With a belch of flame and smoke that reached thirty feet into the sky, the pyre collapsed and came down around her. Unafraid, Dany stepped forward into the firestorm, calling to her children.


And if my speculations about the story She are correct, then that means Jorah Mormont will be Daenerys’s Nissa Nissa sacrifice.

She who must be obeyed
“Listen: I know it, thou dost love this man thyself, and therefore wouldst thou destroy
me who stand across thy path. Ay, I die- I die, and go into the darkness, nor know I
whither I go. But this I know. There is a light shining in my breast, and by that light, as by a lamp, I see the truth, and the future that I shall not share unroll itself before me like a scroll. When first I knew my lord”- and she pointed to Leo- “I knew also that death would be the bridal gift he gave me- it rushed upon me of a sudden, but I turned not back, being ready to pay the price, and, behold, death is here! And now, even as I knew that, so do I, standing on the steps of doom, know that thou shalt not reap the profits of thy crime. Mine he is, and, though thy beauty shine like a sun among the stars, mine shall he remain for thee.
Daenerys will give her bride gift to Jorah much later.
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X
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 bridegift 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.”
The book ends on this introspective thought, that is very much like the Darkling Plain that George uses in his stories, including, A Song for Lya, Fevre Dream, and Bran and Daenerys each.
A story that began more than two thousand years ago may stretch a long way into the dim and distant future. Is Leo really a reincarnation of the ancient Kallikrates of whom the inscription tells? Or was Ayesha deceived by some strange hereditary resemblance? The reader must form his own opinion on this as on many other matters. I have mine, which is that she made no such mistake.
Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of the mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally
developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid. And when that final development ultimately occurs, as I have no doubt it must and will occur, in obedience to a fate that never swerves and a purpose that cannot be altered, what will be the part played therein by that beautiful Egyptian Amenartas, the princess of the royal race of the Pharaohs, for the love of whom the priest Kallikrates broke his vows to Isis, and, pursued by the inexorable vengeance of the outraged goddess, fled down the coast of Libya to meet his doom at Kor?



WORK IN PROGRESS: The Philosophies of the story “She”

  • There is even a Rhaegar + Lyanna moment in the story. Here is but a snippet of the section: “In the poem given above by Mr. Holly, Ayesha evidently followed epithalamium, which, wild and beautiful as it was, is exceedingly difficult to render into English, and ought by rights to be sung to the music of a cantata, rather than written and read. It was divided into two parts- one descriptive or definitive, and the other personal; and, as nearly as I can remember, ran as follows: Love is like a flower in the desert.”
  • Since the She-archetype follows the fire women if ASOIAF, this line could be the start of the Catelyn to Lady Stoneheart transformation. George RR Martin has said Lady Stoneheart is a fire wight in the story. She had an elemental change to her being. This could have been the spark for that idea: “a stony-hearted mother is our earth, and stones are the bread she gives her children for their daily food. Stones to eat and bitter water for their thirst, and stripes for tender nurture.”
  • Ayesha, herself knows that ultimately, even for her, “all things end in silence and in ashes.”

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