Tormund- Horned Lord of Winter

Tormund rose to his feet. “Hold. You gave Styr his style, give me mine.”

Mance Rayder laughed. “As you wish. Jon Snow, before you stands Tormund Giantsbane, Tall-talker, Hornblower, and Breaker of Ice. And here also Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts.”

“That sounds more like me,” said Tormund. “Well met, Jon Snow. I am fond o’ wargs, as it happens, though not o’ Starks.”

A Storm of Swords – Jon I

Tormund Giantsbane. Artist: Brittmartin

This analysis and speculation is the counter-horn discussion to what and who will blow the fiery Dragon Horn. That short and brain crushingly fun post can be found here.

History repeats: Names Version

Tormund, as a new recruit to the cause of stopping the Others (a NW man), his bellowing at Jon’s mutiny attempt is narrative signal to the readers that the Others are there (or just about there). I know many readers are looking for an actual toot-toot horn, but as George R.R. Martin always says, the core of this story is the human, the heart, the conflict, and choice.

The Others are the ice dragon, as the Valyrians are the red-fire dragon. These are metaphors for the suppressive overreach of corporate greed and heavy-hand government.

Let’s take a look at the name Tor-Mund for a moment. We know from Dreamsongs that Martin has written two stories based on Sweden’s history, and that he studied this history in college, and that he has cited Norse as something he draws on for story inspiration (discussed in this Jon page if you want to take a look at the quotes).

Our Tormund has many a name, and a lot of meaning behind each one. Tor+Mund comes from the Old Norse Þórmundr, which basically means = thunder + hand, protection = Tormund Thunderfist. The opposite of the fiery hand of R’hllor that is about consuming for oneself, and oneself only.

Tormund could also be a conjunction of Thor+Mund, which means god+mouth = horn, or, speaker to gods. Additionally, the area stimulated at the base of the skull is referred to as “The Mouth of God” as well as the medulla oblongata of the brain stem. This is not unlike the use of the pineal gland that is the “third-eye” of the body, the window to the soul and knowledge. Something Bran is using and we know Bran is a type of pine seed. Also something H.P. Lovecraft used in some of his stories.

I like the notion that Tormund “Horn-blower” gave Jon a set of golden twins (his armbands) when the free folk pay homage to Jon as they pass through the wall. Heavily symbolic in that gesture. And not to forget Samwell Tarly of Horn Hill, but Samwell will be busy elsewhere. This is something I have been speculating about for a long, long time.

Aside from the golden twins, I always wondered if Tormund wasn’t the horn himself.

Prophecy and the details that go along with it are always foggy and often misinterpreted in this story. So we have Tormund with gold bands marked with runes, and later at the pink letter reading in the very symbolic shieldhall, we get Tormund blowing a horn twice. And then Jon asks for a “horn” just before he is stabbed making the third blast = Others. Well, what if that horn Jon gets is the back up and support of Tormund Horn-blower at this time???

Where is this physical winter horn is the current story?

Well, we do not know for sure, but this is what we are told:

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon IV

“Why are you crying, then?”

“Not for fear!” She kicked savagely at the ice beneath her with a heel, chopping out a chunk. “I’m crying because we never found the Horn of Winter. We opened half a hundred graves and let all those shades loose in the world, and never found the Horn of Joramun to bring this cold thing down!”

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon VI

Maester Aemon paused, washcloth in hand. “The Horn of Winter is an ancient legend. Does the King-beyond-the-Wall truly believe that such a thing exists?”

“They all do,” said Jon. “Ygritte said they opened a hundred graves . . . graves of kings and heroes, all over the valley of the Milkwater, but they never . . .”

“Who is Ygritte?” Donal Noye asked pointedly.

I do want to note if there is a literal, physical horn that is needed, I think it is the one Sam has with him down south right now (for many reasons).

It has Begun

With the mutiny happening, that means the brothers have fallen apart and not stood together, which means the “wall falls”. When the wall falls, the common foe can pass. This may not be a literal falling of thousands of tons of ice and rock (that will come later), but the metaphor of the strength of those who defend it. Tormund being the third “horn blast” at the mutiny while the wall falls is the sign that the Others can now pass through, or over, or under, etc. The last thing Jon feels at his mutiny is, “only the cold.” This is the sign that the Others are indeed now on their way as the Others bring a different type of cold; one that makes it hurt to breathe, one that shatters regular steel.

What the books say about the strength of walls:

  • If the Wall falls, night falls as well, the long night that never ends.
  • Jon Snow glanced toward the stockade. Two walls were down, a third falling fast.
  • A wall is only as good as the men defending it.

But alas, no worries. Jon has sent Val to not only find the free folk and lead them to safety, a la Nymeria and her 10,000 ships, but Jon has sent Val to find the horn of Winter… which she does:

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon VIII

    “And if she [Val] lied? If she meets with misadventure?”

    “Why, then, you may have a chance to choose a lord commander more to your liking. Until such time, I fear you’ll still need to suffer me.” Jon took a swallow of ale. “I sent her to find Tormund Giantsbane and bring him my offer.”

    “If we may know, what offer is this?”

“The same offer I made at Mole’s Town. Food and shelter and peace, if he will join his strength to ours, fight our common enemy, help us hold the Wall.”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI

    “Har!” laughed Tormund Giantsbane. “Don’t bandy words with this one, Lord Snow, she’s too clever for the likes o’ you and me. Best steal her quick, before Toregg wakes up and takes her first.”

    [Jon] What had that oaf Axell Florent said of Val? “A nubile girl, not hard to look upon. Good hips, good breasts, well made for whelping children.” All true enough, but the wildling woman was so much more. She had proved that by finding Tormund where seasoned rangers of the Watch had failed. She may not be a princess, but she would make a worthy wife for any lord.

The why this could be happening is because Jon, as a symbol of ice in by means of choosing to be Jon Snow, King of Winter, is the anathema to the fiery side of the story.

The thing is, just as Mel is fabricating bizarre conclusions regarding Stannis and the Azor Ahai prophecy, she is also not reading the flames correctly  when it comes to who the ‘true’ great other will be in the real war for humanity…

  • A Storm of Swords – Davos IV

    Another battle will be the end of all of us, thought Davos. Lord Alester saw that much true enough. “Your Grace asked for honest counsel. In honesty then . . . we lack the strength for another battle against the Lannisters.”

    “It is the great battle His Grace is speaking of,” said a woman’s voice, rich with the accents of the east. Melisandre stood at the door in her red silks and shimmering satins, holding a covered silver dish in her hands. “These little wars are no more than a scuffle of children before what is to come. The one whose name may not be spoken is marshaling his power, Davos Seaworth, a power fell and evil and strong beyond measure. Soon comes the cold, and the night that never ends.” She placed the silver dish on the Painted Table. “Unless true men find the courage to fight it. Men whose hearts are fire.”

    Stannis stared at the silver dish. “She has shown it to me, Lord Davos. In the flames.”

…but we readers were provided this setup early in the series…

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon IX

    But he had not left the Wall for that; he had left because he was after all his father’s son, and Robb’s brother. The gift of a sword, even a sword as fine as Longclaw, did not make him a Mormont. Nor was he Aemon Targaryen. Three times the old man had chosen, and three times he had chosen honor, but that was him. Even now, Jon could not decide whether the maester had stayed because he was weak and craven, or because he was strong and true. Yet he understood what the old man had meant, about the pain of choosing; he understood that all too well.

    Tyrion Lannister had claimed that most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it, but Jon was done with denials. He was who he was; Jon Snow, bastard and oathbreaker, motherless, friendless, and damned. For the rest of his life—however long that might be—he would be condemned to be an outsider, the silent man standing in the shadows who dares not speak his true name. Wherever he might go throughout the Seven Kingdoms, he would need to live a lie, lest every man’s hand be raised against him. But it made no matter, so long as he lived long enough to take his place by his brother’s side and help avenge his father.

Caveat… the horn is a silent shout

Martin has used the “silent shout” phrasing and concept in his other stories such as

  • Fevre Dream
  • The Skin Trade
  • Nightflyers
  • The Ice Dragon, and a few others.

Just about each time it is used, the purpose is that the sound/scream is not meant for everyone to hear, it is specifically meant for someone or something in particular. That end-user person or “thing” varies by story.

Get your tinfoil hats ready… If we are to follow GRRM’s repeated pattern here, the sound of the horn may be another silent shout, and it may have been blown already. This scene with Jon has him blowing the (broken) horn, but then within a another chapter or two and within basically the same geographic location near the Fist of Firstmen, the wights later attack.

  • A Clash of Kings – Jon V

    He had made a dagger for Grenn as well, and another for the Lord Commander. The warhorn he had given to Sam. On closer examination the horn had proved cracked, and even after he had cleaned all the dirt out, Jon had been unable to get any sound from it. The rim was chipped as well, but Sam liked old things, even worthless old things.
  • A Clash of Kings – Jon VII

    The call came from behind him, softer than a whisper, but strong too. Can a shout be silent? He turned his head, searching for his brother, for a glimpse of a lean grey shape moving beneath the trees, but there was nothing, only . . .

What’s in a Name?

Well, to back it up just a tad, where did the Tormund and his magic member come from? Why, Andy’s Gang, of course. You will recognize Froggy from Martin’s own NotABlog as the avatar he sometimes uses for certain announcements. What do you ask Froggy to do? Plunk his “magic twanger”, which is not unlike the name Willie Flambeaux used for the hero’s name in the werewolf story The Skin Trade.

In the novel Armageddon Rag, the best friend to the hero, Sandy Blair, is a guy named Harold “Froggy” Cohen, who with the rest of Sandy’s friends, serve as a mental compass and grounding stone when it comes time for Sandy to make a world-saving decision. This is not unlike what I propose we will see with Tormund, Morna, Val, Borroq, Dolorous Edd, and others after the mutiny to keep Jon from going full berserk. In Armageddon Rag, Harold would always joke and flirt with woman by asking them to “plunk his magic twanger,” and it worked, often. Go figure.

My personal crackpot idea is that Froggy in Armageddon Rag is partially to heavily based on Harlan Ellison as well, the friend/author/editor that pushed George to create the amazing (amazingly sad) story Meathouse Man.

  • Armageddon Rag

Harold “Froggy” Cohen had been Sandy’s roommate for two years at Northwestern, and his friend for years after that. They’d taken to each other almost from the start. Froggy had been a short, ungainly kid, thick around the middle, with Coke-bottle glasses and dandruff in his scruffy brown hair and the thickest eyebrows Sandy had ever seen. But they’d had a pile of stuff in common. Harold Cohen came from the Bronx and Sandy from New Jersey, so they were both Eastern exiles at college. They shared a taste for New York–style pizza and Schaefer beer. They both loathed the Yankees, an attitude that Froggy admitted had gotten him beaten up more than once in his Bronx childhood. They liked most of the same music, read most of the same books, got radicalized at much the same speed, and stopped at more or less the same place. But the real bond was Andy’s Gang, a television show both of them had watched religiously as kids. Hosted by Andy Devine and sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes, the show had featured the adventures of Ghanga the Elephant Boy, and weekly concerts by Midnight the Cat and Squeaky the Mouse. Midnight sawed on the violin while Squeaky did tricks; it had taken Sandy a long time to twig to the fact that they weren’t real live animals. But that was just the supporting cast. The real star of the show was Froggy the Gremlin. Every week Andy Devine would say, “Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy,” and there’d be this puff of smoke, and in the middle of it would appear this egregious-looking rubber frog puppet, wearing a dinner jacket, a striped vest, and a bow tie. “Hiya kids, hiya, hiya, hiya,” he would croak in the deepest, evilest, froggiest voice you’d ever want to hear, while rocking from side to side and grinning like the devil.

We go from Froggy, to Harold, and now back to Tormund…

At one point we see Jon ask Tormund about his many names, to which Tormund answers all except the horn-blower name. I believe that is because we have yet to see that happen on page. It is foreshadowing.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon II

“I never did, but see you don’t go spreading that about. Tormund Giantsbane has a better ring to it than Tormund Giantsbabe, and that’s the honest truth o’ it.”

“So how did you come by your other names?” Jon asked. “Mance called you the Horn-Blower, didn’t he? Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Husband to Bears, Father to Hosts?” It was the horn blowing he particularly wanted to hear about, but he dared not ask too plainly. And Joramun blew the Horn of Winter, and woke giants from the earth. Is that where they had come from, them and their mammoths? Had Mance Rayder found the Horn of Joramun, and given it to Tormund Thunderfist to blow?

“Are all crows so curious?” asked Tormund. “Well, here’s a tale for you. It were another winter, colder even than the one I spent inside that giant, and snowing day and night, snowflakes as big as your head, not these little things. It snowed so hard the whole village was half buried. I was in me Ruddy Hall, with only a cask o’ mead to keep me company and nothing to do but drink it. The more I drank the more I got to thinking about this woman lived close by, a fine strong woman with the biggest pair of teats you ever saw. She had a temper on her, that one, but oh, she could be warm too, and in the deep of winter a man needs his warmth.

This would make Jon Snow a “new” Joramun, King of Winter, which would make Tormund the ‘horn of Winter‘, proper.

Tormund the Horn

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI

    He was not a tall man, Tormund Giantsbane, but the gods had given him a broad chest and massive belly. Mance Rayder had named him Tormund Horn-Blower for the power of his lungs, and was wont to say that Tormund could laugh the snow off mountaintops. In his wroth, his bellows reminded Jon of a mammoth trumpeting.

Readers of this blog know that I theorize Bran will work with Jon together to defeat the enemy. Bran is the “ice armour” that will protect Jon (for now). The giants will be those men, women, actual giants, etc that band together to help protect Jon, what is left of the wall defenses, and the realm. The new watch. Additionally, the “giants” of Joramun could also be an earthquake, but that is for another post.

In Ragnarok, one of the final signs that the world is about to end is the crowing of three “cocks”. This idea of the ‘end of the world’ is not literal; it is more like the end of an era in time and the world will be born anew (and I do believe rebirth is a common theme along most stories by George R.R. Martin). It just so happens that the wall is repeatedly referred to as ‘the end of the world‘.

  • The völva then describes three roosters crowing (“Cocka-doodle-doo”): In stanza 42, the jötunn herdsman Eggthér sits on a mound and cheerfully plays his harp while the crimson rooster Fjalar (Old Norse “hider, deceiver”[11]) crows in the forest Gálgviðr. The golden rooster Gullinkambi crows to the Æsir (pronounced ‘ice ear‘) in Valhalla, and the third, unnamed soot-red rooster crows in the halls of the underworld location of Hel in stanza 43.[12]

HAR! Have you seen the size of Tormund’s member???

  • The armbands were old gold, solid and heavy, engraved with the ancient runes of the First Men. Tormund Giantsbane had worn them as long as Jon had known him; they had seemed as much a part of him as his beard. “The Braavosi will melt these down for the gold. That seems a shame. Perhaps you ought to keep them.”

    “No. I’ll not have it said that Tormund Thunderfist made the free folk give up their treasures whilst he kept his own.” He grinned. “But I’ll keep the ring I wear about me member. Much bigger than those little things. On you it’d be a torque.”

    Jon had to laugh. “You never change.”

  • Tormund Giantsbane had roared to hear it. “Afraid of being carried off, is she? I hope you never said how big me member is, Jon Snow, that’d frighten any woman. I always wanted me one with a mustache.” Then he laughed and laughed.
  • All ripped and torn I was, and half me member bit right off, and there on me floor was a she-bear’s pelt. And soon enough the free folk were telling tales o’ this bald bear seen in the woods, with the queerest pair o’ cubs behind her. Har!” He slapped a meaty thigh. “Would that I could find her again. She was fine to lay with, that bear. Never was a woman gave me such a fight, nor such strong sons neither.”

    “What could you do if you did find her?” Jon asked, smiling. “You said she bit your member off.”

    “Only half. And half me member is twice as long as any other man’s.” Tormund snorted. “Now as to you . . . is it true they cut your members off when they take you for the Wall?”

    “No,” Jon said, affronted.

By the way, and not to get too weird here, but this isn’t the first time in the story where a horn is a stand-in for a penis in some way. The same as swords and lances taking the role of penises. Take this Victarion passage, for example, and then compare it to how Martin writes about a gun in his story And Death His Legacy.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Victarion I

Near the end, before the smoking ketch was swallowed by the sea, the cries of the seven sweetlings changed to joyous song, it seemed to Victarion Greyjoy. A great wind came up then, a wind that filled their sails and swept them north and east and north again, toward Meereen and its pyramids of many-colored bricks. On wings of song I fly to you, Daenerys, the iron captain thought.

That night, for the first time, he brought forth the dragon horn that the Crow’s Eye had found amongst the smoking wastes of great Valyria. A twisted thing it was, six feet long from end to end, gleaming black and banded with red gold and dark Valyrian steel. Euron’s hellhorn. Victarion ran his hand along it. The horn was as warm and smooth as the dusky woman’s thighs, and so shiny that he could see a twisted likeness of his own features in its depths. Strange sorcerous writings had been cut into the bands that girded it. “Valyrian glyphs,” Moqorro called them.

That much Victarion had known. “What do they say?”

  • And Death His Legacy

Suddenly the fire burned again. With quick strides, de Laurier crossed the room and yanked one of the rifles from its mounting. He stroked the stock softly with a trembling hand, but his voice when he spoke was cold and hard and determined. “Damn it,” he said. “I’m not dead yet.” He laughed a wild, snarling laugh as he sat down to oil the gun.

Compare to Barbrey Dustin’s speech to Theon in A Dance with Dragons:

  • A Dance with Dragons – The Turncloak

“You knew him,” Theon said.

The lantern light in her eyes made them seem as if they were afire. “Brandon was fostered at Barrowton with old Lord Dustin, the father of the one I’d later wed, but he spent most of his time riding the Rills. He loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two. And my lord father was always pleased to play host to the heir to Winterfell. My father had great ambitions for House Ryswell. He would have served up my maidenhead to any Stark who happened by, but there was no need. Brandon was never shy about taking what he wanted. I am old now, a dried-up thing, too long a widow, but I still remember the look of my maiden’s blood on his cock the night he claimed me. I think Brandon liked the sight as well. A bloody sword is a beautiful thing, yes. It hurt, but it was a sweet pain.

The day I learned that Brandon was to marry Catelyn Tully, though … there was nothing sweet about that pain. He never wanted her, I promise you that. He told me so, on our last night together … but Rickard Stark had great ambitions too. Southron ambitions that would not be served by having his heir marry the daughter of one of his own vassals. Afterward my father nursed some hope of wedding me to Brandon’s brother Eddard, but Catelyn Tully got that one as well. I was left with young Lord Dustin, until Ned Stark took him from me.”

Where are the other horns in the A Song of Ice and Fire series?

Well, not at or near the wall, so…? The closest we have of a horn in relation to any northern plotline is the horn Samwell Tarly of Hornhill has with him down in Oldtown.

Q: Does Sam still have the horn that Jon found with the obsidian?

GRRM: Yes. (Source)

If one were to reread the part where Ghost and Jon find the bundle, you can tell that Ghost is acting funny and leading Jon to it… may or maynot be Bloodraven. This is something I have rambled on about for a while now.

Sam is in Oldtown to train as a maester and the third training link is generally the bronze link, which is astronomy. Based on Archmaester Vaellyn’s “subject to judge” being “the heavens” (A Feast for Crows, Prologue) and him being described as “the stargazer” (A Feast for Crows, Appendix).

The bronze bands on the horn are broken and it’s a good thing Sam is in a place that trains its people to forge metals and also has a library that holds secrets from hundreds of years past. Sam does love to read and learn about past, as Jon also commanded him to do.

Also of note, Samwell has basically been stripped of most all of his possessions except for the horn.

During training at the Citadel, we readers know that the maesters forge a metal link as their studies go on, and bronze is the third link… the link for astronomy and a metal of the north. Sam will be working with bronze in the very place that has tons of knowledge about the “magic” of the north (that they are trying to keep out of the hands of the general public).

  • A Clash of Kings – Jon 4

“Beneath the dragonglass was an old warhorn, made from an auroch’s horn and banded in bronze. Jon shook the dirt from inside it, and a stream of arrowheads fell out. He let them fall, and pulled up a corner of the cloth the weapons had been wrapped in, rubbing it between his fingers. Good wool, thick, a double weave, damp but not rotted. It could not have been long in the ground. And it was dark. He seized a handful and pulled it close to the torch. Not dark. Black.”

This next quote takes place in A Feast for Crows. The prologue of Feast also gives us some insight to the upcoming use of metals and rewards at the Citadel. Now the metal of the horn Samwell has is bronze, but the literary relationship to links, trilling, and drinking are quite clear.

One funny line that Leo says is, “I understand you won your copper link. I’ll drink to that. which is kinda funny because Jon told Sam to make a drinking horn out the the broken horn he gave Sam. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Sam fixed the horn, filled it with ale, tried to drink from it (incorrectly) and accidentally blew the damn thing and woke an ice dragon? Hey, I can dream!

  • A Feast for Crows – Prologue

Perhaps it was the fearsomely strong cider—he had not come here to drink, but Alleras had been buying to celebrate his copper link, and guilt had made him thirsty—but it almost sounded as if the nightingale were trilling gold for iron, gold for iron, gold for iron.

[and then]

“Mutton,” muttered Mollander. He sounded none too pleased about it. “We shared a haunch of boiled mutton.”

“I’m certain it was filling.” Leo turned to Alleras. “A lord’s son should be open-handed, Sphinx. I understand you won your copper link. I’ll drink to that.”

Alleras smiled back at him. “I only buy for friends. And I am no lord’s son, I’ve told you that. My mother was a trader.”

  • A Clash of Kings – Jon V

It must have been buried for a reason.

He had made a dagger for Grenn as well, and another for the Lord Commander. The warhorn he had given to Sam. On closer examination the horn had proved cracked, and even after he had cleaned all the dirt out, Jon had been unable to get any sound from it. The rim was chipped as well, but Sam liked old things, even worthless old things. “Make a drinking horn out of it,” Jon told him, “and every time you take a drink you’ll remember how you ranged beyond the Wall, all the way to the Fist of the First Men.” He gave Sam a spearhead and a dozen arrowheads as well, and passed the rest out among his other friends for luck.

Another link to astronomy, copper, and dragons that could bridge this gap was a reminder to me by the poster Lord Wraith:

  • A Clash of Kings – Bran V

“Osha,” Bran asked as they crossed the yard. “Do you know the way north? To the Wall and . . . and even past?”

“The way’s easy. Look for the Ice Dragon, and chase the blue star in the rider’s eye.” She backed through a door and started up the winding steps.

“And there are still giants there, and . . . the rest . . . the Others, and the children of the forest too?”

Graphic novel from Avatar. Mike Wolfer provided the art.

This has been Developed

I do believe that Bowen Marsh and the mutineers were used by Melisandre and the fiery hand of R’hllor to bring Jon down. In the meantime you can read the original thread here from if you so desire. I speculate (below) how it could end for Marsh. Additionally, the gigantic ice wall acts as a mirror in many cases; Tyrion and Jon both see their reflections in it. This follows the werewolf story of The Skin Trade that is so much a protoype to the Jon Snow- Ramsay Snow- Theon- Val circle we have now.

In The Skin Trade, when one gets “blood on the mirror”, the sinister unknown evil ‘Skinner’ is summoned and won’t stop until it gets it victim… eventually. This parallels almost exactly the cold and the “bite” that comes with it- even people losing body parts to the cold/bite. The protagonist Willie Flambeaux (Jon Snow) manages to evade the Skinner, and the main antagonist father Johnathon Harmon (Roose Bolton) goes to intimidate Willie’s love interest Randi Wade (Val) to get what he wants… something we see GRRM kept the same broad strokes but re-imagined it to fit the ASOIAF story line. And if we think back to the opening prologue of the A Song of Ice and Fire story, the Others seemed to be searching for someone with the traits of Jon, but they found the mummer Waymar Royce instead, so they keep looking.

So what does this mean? The Others (or the common foe) are at the wall, or just about to close in on it rather soon. They are going to “break through” just as the Skinner in The Skin Trade breaks through the mirrors to get the victim.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII

The Shieldhall went mad.

Every man began to shout at once. They leapt to their feet, shaking fists. So much for the calming power of comfortable benches. Swords were brandished, axes smashed against shields. Jon Snow looked to Tormund. The Giantsbane sounded his horn once more, twice as long and twice as loud as the first time.

~~~and then while out in the yard just before the mutiny stabbing~~~

Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun howled again and gave Ser Patrek’s other arm a twist and pull. It tore loose from his shoulder with a spray of bright red blood. Like a child pulling petals off a daisy, thought Jon. “Leathers, talk to him, calm him. The Old Tongue, he understands the Old Tongue. Keep back, the rest of you. Put away your steel, we’re scaring him.” Couldn’t they see the giant had been cut? Jon had to put an end to this or more men would die. They had no idea of Wun Wun’s strength. A horn, I need a horn. He saw the glint of steel, turned toward it. “No blades!” he screamed. “Wick, put that knife …”

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon II

“I never did, but see you don’t go spreading that about. Tormund Giantsbane has a better ring to it than Tormund Giantsbabe, and that’s the honest truth o’ it.”

“So how did you come by your other names?” Jon asked. “Mance called you the Horn-Blower, didn’t he? Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Husband to Bears, Father to Hosts?” It was the horn blowing he particularly wanted to hear about, but he dared not ask too plainly. And Joramun blew the Horn of Winter, and woke giants from the earth. Is that where they had come from, them and their mammoths? Had Mance Rayder found the Horn of Joramun, and given it to Tormund Thunderfist to blow?

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon X

“What if we refuse the offer?” Jon had no doubt that they would. The Old Bear might at least have listened, though he would have balked at the notion of letting thirty or forty thousand wildlings loose on the Seven Kingdoms. But Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt would dismiss the notion out of hand.

“If you refuse,” Mance Rayder said, “Tormund Giantsbane will sound the Horn of Winter three days hence, at dawn.”

So if Tormund Horn-blower sounds his horn for the third time, which will be at the time of the mutiny, this is the signal to the readers, probably not the in-world men at this point, that the Others (or the enemy) is on their way…

  • A Storm of Swords – Samwell I

He remembered turning in a circle, lost, the fear growing inside him as it always did. There were dogs barking and horses trumpeting, but the snow muffled the sounds and made them seem far away. Sam could see nothing beyond three yards, not even the torches burning along the low stone wall that ringed the crown of the hill. Could the torches have gone out? That was too scary to think about. The horn blew thrice long, three long blasts means Others. The white walkers of the wood, the cold shadows, the monsters of the tales that made him squeak and tremble as a boy, riding their giant ice-spiders, hungry for blood . . .

According to the most accurate to date Timeline, the free folk have been at CB for three days, and that is when the assassination attempt happened. Time is up!

Burnt Black Heart of Marsh

Dragon horn. Cropped image of the Dragon Horn card. Illustrated by Yoann Boissonnet.
And to reiterate, this Tormund and King of Winter analysis and speculation is the counter-horn discussion to what and who will blow the fiery Dragon Horn. That short and brain crushingly fun post can be found here.
Just as Cragorn was a vessel-servant of a “god” messing with fire, and he gets burnt out for it, I am speculating that Bowen Marsh will also be burnt up after the fiery hand of the fire god “R’hllor” via Melisandre uses him to stab John. Possibly Bowen Marsh’s heart will be blackened in his case. The fiery hand of the red god theme is present in almost all of Martin’s work in some way that fits the setting of the story.
  • The Glass Flower (Cyrain, a Daenerys protoype)

“I make my own meaning, cyborg, and life is the enemy of death, not its mother. Congratulations. You’ve won. And so have I.” I rose and reached across the table, plunged my hand through the cold black chest, and ripped the crystal heart from his breast. I held it up and it shone, brighter and brighter, its scarlet rays dancing brilliantly upon the cold dark mountains of my mind.

  • A Feast for Crows – The Reaver

“Woe.” The Crow’s Eye sipped from his silver cup. “I once held a dragon’s egg in this hand, brother. This Myrish wizard swore he could hatch it if I gave him a year and all the gold that he required. When I grew bored with his excuses, I slew him. As he watched his entrails sliding through his fingers he said, ‘But it has not been a year.'” He laughed. “Cragorn’s died, you know.”


“The man who blew my dragon horn. When the maester cut him open, his lungs were charred as black as soot.”

Victarion shuddered. “Show me this dragon’s egg.”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Victarion I

“Much and more.” The black priest pointed to one golden band. “Here the horn is named. ‘I am Dragonbinder,’ it says. Have you ever heard it sound?”

“Once.” One of his brother’s mongrels had sounded the hellhorn at the kingsmoot on Old Wyk. A monster of a man he had been, huge and shaven-headed, with rings of gold and jet and jade around arms thick with muscle, and a great hawk tattooed across his chest. “The sound it made … it burned, somehow. As if my bones were on fire, searing my flesh from within. Those writings glowed red-hot, then white-hot and painful to look upon. It seemed as if the sound would never end. It was like some long scream. A thousand screams, all melted into one.”

“And the man who blew the horn, what of him?”

He died. There were blisters on his lips, after. His bird was bleeding too.” The captain thumped his chest. “The hawk, just here. Every feather dripping blood. I heard the man was all burned up inside, but that might just have been some tale.”

Remember this?

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XI

“Dalla died.” Jon was saddened by that still. “Val is her sister. She and the babe did not require much capturing, Your Grace. You had put the wildlings to flight, and the skinchanger Mance had left to guard his queen went mad when the eagle burned.” Jon looked at Melisandre. “Some say that was your doing.”

She smiled, her long copper hair tumbling across her face. “The Lord of Light has fiery talons, Jon Snow.”

Jon nodded, and turned back to the king. “Your Grace, you spoke of Val. She has asked to see Mance Rayder, to bring his son to him. It would be a . . . a kindness.”

And we are back to History Repeating… as always

Old Man horned river god. Artist: Puppy-Chow.

One of my biggest finds of the series is that Jon and Val are acting together as the new Nymeria Warrior Princess of history. Two together makes a unit stronger. This realization about Jon and Val put many things in to new light when you go back and re-read the histories of Dorne, the Rhoyne, and Nymeria and her 10,000 ships. Just as the Rhoyne river had its god with a horn/s, we have Tormund.

In many cultures and beliefs across the world, the turtle is the symbol for longevity, which brings wisdom, and carving your path. Plus, there is the idiom from the Tortoise and the Hare of Aesop’s fable stating “slow and steady wins the race”. Aegon VI behaves as the impatient hare that jumps and then burns out, while Jon Snow is a slower plodder that plans for a bigger future.

Then we get to Tyrion in a Dance with Dragons, who has a time trip as he sails down the Rhoyne on the Shy Maid where Aegon VI is discovered along with discovering the turtle river gods. This whole time trip experience is Martin calling back to his stories Fevre Dream, Under Siege, and For a Single Yesterday. However, what we have in ASOIAF is this. While the ending comment of “birth of kings” does relate to Aegon VI in the immediate picture, the meta-puropse of the entire scene is about Jon Snow (and Val reenacting Nymeria):

  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion IV

When Lemore climbed back onto the deck, Tyrion savored the sight of water trickling between her breasts, her smooth skin glowing golden in the morning light. She was past forty, more handsome than pretty, but still easy on the eye. Being randy is the next best thing to being drunk, he decided. It made him feel as if he was still alive. “Did you see the turtle, Hugor?” the septa asked him, wringing water from her hair. “The big ridgeback?”

The early morning was the best time for seeing turtles. During the day they would swim down deep, or hide in cuts along the banks, but when the sun was newly risen they came to the surface. Some liked to swim beside the boat. Tyrion had glimpsed a dozen different sorts: large turtles and small ones, flatbacks and red-ears, softshells and bonesnappers, brown turtles, green turtles, black turtles, clawed turtles and horned turtles, turtles whose ridged and patterned shells were covered with whorls of gold and jade and cream. Some were so large they could have borne a man upon their backs. Yandry swore the Rhoynar princes used to ride them across the river. He and his wife were Greenblood born, a pair of Dornish orphans come home to Mother Rhoyne.

“I missed the ridgeback.” I was watching the naked woman.

“I am sad for you.” Lemore slipped her robe over her head. “I know you only rise so early in hopes of seeing turtles.”

“I like to watch the sun come up as well.” It was like watching a maiden rising naked from her bath. Some might be prettier than others, but every one was full of promise. “The turtles have their charms, I will allow. Nothing delights me so much as the sight of a nice pair of shapely … shells.”

Septa Lemore laughed. Like everyone else aboard the Shy Maid, she had her secrets. She was welcome to them. I do not want to know her, I only want to fuck her. She knew it too. As she hung her septa’s crystal about her neck, to nestle in the cleft between her breasts, she teased him with a smile.

[and then]

I shall, the dwarf was thinking, when he spied a rippling ahead not six yards from the boat. He was about to point it out to Lemore when it came to the surface with a wash of water that rocked the Shy Maid sideways.

It was another turtle, a horned turtle of enormous size, its dark green shell mottled with brown and overgrown with water moss and crusty black river molluscs. It raised its head and bellowed, a deep-throated thrumming roar louder than any warhorn that Tyrion had ever heard. “We are blessed,” Ysilla was crying loudly, as tears streamed down her face. “We are blessed, we are blessed.”

Duck was hooting, and Young Griff too. Haldon came out on deck to learn the cause of the commotion … but too late. The giant turtle had vanished below the water once again. “What was the cause of all that noise?” the Halfmaester asked.

“A turtle,” said Tyrion. “A turtle bigger than this boat.”

“It was him,” cried Yandry. “The Old Man of the River.”

And why not? Tyrion grinned. Gods and wonders always appear, to attend the birth of kings.

And history repeats… And Aegon is coming back to Westeros as the river of time rewinds and repeats:

  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion V

Tyrion saw it too. Kingfisher, or another poleboat, he told himself, but somehow he knew that was not right. His nose itched. He scratched at it savagely. The light grew brighter as the Shy Maid approached it. A soft star in the distance, it glimmered faintly through the fog, beckoning them on. Shortly it became two lights, then three: a ragged row of beacons rising from the water.

“The Bridge of Dream,” Griff named it. “There will be stone men on the span. Some may start to wail at our approach, but they are not like to molest us. Most stone men are feeble creatures, clumsy, lumbering, witless. Near the end they all go mad, but that is when they are most dangerous. If need be, fend them off with the torches. On no account let them touch you.”

[and then]

“Why,” said Tyrion, “if the stone men had taken Yandry or Griff or our lovely Lemore, we would have grieved for them and gone on. Lose you, and this whole enterprise is undone, and all those years of feverish plotting by the cheesemonger and the eunuch will have been for naught … isn’t that so?”

The boy looked to Griff. “He knows who I am.”

If I did not know before, I would now. By then the Shy Maid was well downstream of the Bridge of Dream. All that remained was a dwindling light astern, and soon enough that would be gone as well. “You’re Young Griff, son of Griff the sellsword,” said Tyrion. “Or perhaps you are the Warrior in mortal guise. Let me take a closer look.” He held up his torch, so that the light washed over Young Griff’s face.

“Leave off,” Griff commanded, “or you will wish you had.”

[and then]

“Kingfisher,” said Griff. “Her, or some other like her.” But he drew his sword again.

No one said a word. The Shy Maid moved with the current. Her sail had not been raised since she first entered the Sorrows. She had no way to move but with the river. Duck stood squinting, clutching his pole with both hands. After a time even Yandry stopped pushing. Every eye was on the distant light. As they grew closer, it turned into two lights. Then three.

“The Bridge of Dream,” said Tyrion.

However, we have Bloodraven to help explain it all away… kinda…

  • A Dance with Dragons – Bran III

“A man must know how to look before he can hope to see,” said Lord Brynden. “Those were shadows of days past that you saw, Bran. You were looking through the eyes of the heart tree in your godswood. Time is different for a tree than for a man. Sun and soil and water, these are the things a weirwood understands, not days and years and centuries. For men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them. The oak is the acorn, the acorn is the oak. And the weirwood … a thousand human years are a moment to a weirwood, and through such gates you and I may gaze into the past.”

Crackpot Corner

Yes, I am side-speculating that IF Jon Snow has another name given to him by his mother Lyanna, then it is Joramun, or some variant of that name. The official word on the street from Martin is Eddard named Jon. I do not dispute by any means that is what Eddard names Jon. But, Martin is a tricksy bird so let’s speculate the hell out of it, shall we?

  • Q: Since all of their mothers died, who gave Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister their names?

    GRRM: Mothers can name a child before birth, or during, or after, even while they are dying. Dany was most like named by her mother, Tyrion by his father, Jon by Ned. Source.

Ultimately, after a much warranted struggle with his identity after learning of his real parents, I think Jon will still take the name Jon Snow, King of Winter.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon IV

Samwell Tarly nodded. “I … if you want, you can call me Sam. My mother calls me Sam.”

“You can call him Lord Snow,” Pyp said as he came up to join them. “You don’t want to know what his mother calls him.”

IF Jon has another name, it is possible that it is some form of Aemon or Aegon. Not my favorite idea at all, but hey, it’s not my series to write. One reason that leaves the door cracked for me that Jon could have another birth name is that the name of the protagonist from Fevre Dream that is a near exact Jon prototype, he goes by Josh York, but his full name is Joshua Anton York. This name is only ever mentioned once in the story, but that Anton is enough to give a theorist pause. And yet, in the story there are two other names the protagonist changes his name to that are not named in the story. Just that he changed his name when he arrived in England, and then again in Scotland, so all in all Josh’s true birth name is still up for question.

  • Fevre Dream

Let me begin with myself, my own life, and tell you the rest as I learned it. You asked my age. I am young, Abner, in the first flush of adult life by the standards of my race. I was born in provincial France in the year 1785. I never knew my mother, for reasons I shall reveal later. My father was a minor noble. That is, he granted himself a title as he moved through French society. He had been in France several generations, so he enjoyed a certain status, though he claimed to be of Eastern European origin. He had wealth, a small amount of land. He accounted for his longevity by a ruse in the 1760s, whereby he posed as his own son and eventually succeeded himself.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XII

    And then the years were gone, and he was back at Winterfell once more, wearing a quilted leather coat in place of mail and plate. His sword was made of wood, and it was Robb who stood facing him, not Iron Emmett.

    Every morning they had trained together, since they were big enough to walk; Snow and Stark, spinning and slashing about the wards of Winterfell, shouting and laughing, sometimes crying when there was no one else to see. They were not little boys when they fought, but knights and mighty heroes. “I’m Prince Aemon the Dragonknight,” Jon would call out, and Robb would shout back, “Well, I’m Florian the Fool.” Or Robb would say, “I’m the Young Dragon,” and Jon would reply, “I’m Ser Ryam Redwyne.”

  • Fire & Blood

Two years later, in 70 AC, Aemon and Jocelyn were joined in a ceremony that rivaled the Golden Wedding for its splendor. Lady Jocelyn at sixteen years old was one of the great beauties of the realm; a long-legged, full-breasted maid with thick straight hair that fell to her waist, black as a raven’s wing. Prince Aemon was one year younger at fifteen, but all agreed that they made a handsome couple. An inch shy of six feet tall, Jocelyn would have towered over most of the lords of Westeros, but the Prince of Dragonstone had three inches on her. “There stands the future of the realm,” Ser Gyles Morrigen said when he beheld the two of them side by side, the dark lady and the pale prince.

Want more GRRMspreading?

Here is an in-the-process list of the other stories I have transcribed and noted that compares line by line to ASOIAF. More stories will be updated on the main book club page if I do not get to updating here first.

  1. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
  2. Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
  3. The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
  4. Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
  5. Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
  6. Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
  7. The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of  The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
  8. A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
  9. For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
  10. This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
  11. A Peripheral Affair (1973)When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
  12. The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
  13. Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
  14. Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
  15. A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
  16. Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
  17. The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
  18. The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
  19. Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
  20. Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.

If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.

Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!

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