George RR Martin tickled our fancies by giving readers a preview of his history book Fire & Blood, vol 1. All text credits goes to George RR Martin and image credits to Doug Wheatley. Below, I have pasted the text from George’s blog.
Here is a link to his NotABlog site where you can check it out. http://georgerrmartin.com/notablog/2018/09/27/a-fire-blood-excerpt-just-for-you/
My commentary and notes, with additional book quotes, are below the pasted excerpt. The video, text, and artwork credit are pasted below as well. I did not go too much into the political troubles that Jaehaerys was having at the time because this excerpt seems to want to focus on this precursor to what Alysanne later executes.
FIRE AND BLOOD EXCERPT
Several years had passed since the king had last made a progress, so plans were laid in 58 AC for Jaehaerys and Alysanne to make their first visit to Winterfell and the North. Their dragons would be with them, of course, but beyond the Neck the distances were great and the roads poor, and the king had grown tired of flying ahead and waiting for his escort to catch up. This time, he decreed, his Kingsguard, servants, and retainers would go ahead of him, to make things ready for his arrival. And thus it was that three ships set sail from King’s Landing for White Harbor, where he and the queen were to make their first stop.
The gods and the Free Cities had other plans, however. Even as the king’s ships were beating their way north, envoys from Pentos and Tyrosh called upon His Grace in the Red Keep. The two cities had been at war for three years and were now desirous of making peace, but could not agree on where they might meet to discuss terms. The conflict had caused serious disruption to trade upon the narrow sea, to the extent that King Jaehaerys had offered both cities his help in ending their hostilities. After long discussion, the Archon of Tyrosh and the Prince of Pentos had agreed to meet in King’s Landing to settle their differences, provided that Jaehaerys would act as an intermediary between them, and guarantee the terms of any resulting treaty.
It was a proposal that neither the king nor his council felt he could refuse, but it would mean postponing His Grace’s planned progress to the North, and there was concern that the notoriously prickly Lord of Winterfell might take that for a slight. Queen Alysanne provided the solution. She would go ahead as planned, alone, whilst the king played host to the Prince and Archon. Jaehaerys could join her at Winterfell as soon as the peace had been concluded. And so it was agreed.
Queen Alysanne’s travels began in the city of White Harbor, where tens of thousands of northerners turned out to cheer her and gape at Silverwing with awe, and a bit of terror. It was the first time any of them had seen a dragon. The size of the crowds surprised even their lord. “I had not known there were so many smallfolk in the city,” Theomore Manderly is reported to have said. “Where did they all come from?”
The Manderlys were unique amongst the great houses of the North. Having originated in the Reach centuries before, they had found refuge near the mouth of the White Knife when rivals drove them from their rich lands along the Mander. Though fiercely loyal to the Starks of Winterfell, they had brought their own gods with them from the south, and still worshipped the Seven and kept the traditions of knighthood. Alysanne Targaryen, ever desirous of binding the Seven Kingdoms closer together, saw an opportunity in Lord Theomore’s famously large family, and promptly set about arranging marriages. By the time she took her leave, two of her ladies-in-waiting had been betrothed to his lordship’s younger sons and a third to a nephew; his eldest daughter and three nieces, meanwhile, had been added to the queen’s own party, with the understanding that they would travel south with her and there be pledged to suitable lords and knights of the king’s court.
Lord Manderly entertained the queen lavishly. At the welcoming feast an entire aurochs was roasted, and his lordship’s daughter Jessamyn acted as the queen’s cupbearer, filling her tankard with a strong northern ale that Her Grace pronounced finer than any wine she had ever tasted. Manderly also staged a small tourney in the queen’s honor, to show the prowess of his knights. One of the fighters (though no knight) was revealed to be a woman, a wildling girl who had been captured by rangers north of the Wall and given to one of Lord Manderly’s household knights to foster. Delighted by the girl’s daring, Alysanne summoned her own sworn shield, Jonquil Darke, and the wildling and the Scarlet Shadow dueled spear against sword whilst the northmen roared in approval.
A few days later, the queen convened her women’s court in Lord Manderly’s own hall, a thing hitherto unheard of in the North, and more than two hundred women and girls gathered to share their thoughts, concerns, and grievances with Her Grace.
After taking leave of White Harbor, the queen’s retinue sailed up the White Knife to its rapids, then proceeded overland to Winterfell, whilst Alysanne herself flew ahead on Silverwing. The warmth of her reception at White Harbor was not to be duplicated at the ancient seat of the Kings in the North, where Alaric Stark and his sons alone emerged to greet her when her dragon landed before his castle gates. Lord Alaric had a flinty reputation; a hard man, people said, stern and unforgiving, tight-fisted almost to the point of being niggardly, humorless, joyless, cold. Even Theomore Manderly, who was his bannerman, had not disagreed; Stark was well respected in the North, he said, but not loved. Lord Manderly’s fool had put it elsewise. “Methinks Lord Alaric has not moved his bowels since he was twelve.”
Her reception at Winterfell did nothing to disabuse the queen’s fears as to what she might expect from House Stark. Even before dismounting to bend the knee, Lord Alaric looked askance at Her Grace’s clothing and said, “I hope you brought something warmer than that.” He then proceeded to declare that he did not want her dragon inside his walls. “I’ve not seen Harrenhal, but I know what happened there.” Her knights and ladies he would receive when they got here, “and the king too, if he can find the way,” but they should not overstay their welcome. “This is the North, and winter is coming. We cannot feed a thousand men for long.” When the queen assured him that only a tenth that number would be coming, Lord Alaric grunted and said, “That’s good. Fewer would be even better.” As had been feared, he was plainly unhappy that King Jaehaerys had not deigned to accompany her, and confessed to being uncertain how to entertain a queen. “If you are expecting balls and masques and dances, you have come to the wrong place.”
Lord Alaric had lost his wife three years earlier. When the queen expressed regret that she had never had the pleasure of meeting Lady Stark, the northman said, “She was a Mormont of Bear Isle, and no lady by your lights, but she took an axe to a pack of wolves when she was twelve, killed two of them, and sewed a cloak from their skins. She gave me two strong sons as well, and a daughter as sweet to look upon as any of your southron ladies.”
When Her Grace suggested that she would be pleased to help arrange marriages for his sons to the daughters of great southern lords, Lord Stark refused brusquely. “We keep the old gods in the North,” he told the queen. “When my boys take a wife, they will wed before a heart tree, not in some southron sept.”
Alysanne Targaryen did not yield easily, however. The lords of the south honored the old gods as well as the new, she told Lord Alaric; most every castle that she knew had a godswood as well as a sept. And there were still certain houses that had never accepted the Seven, no more than the northmen had, the Blackwoods in the riverlands chief amongst them, and mayhaps as many as a dozen more. Even a lord as stern and flinty as Alaric Stark found himself helpless before Queen Alysanne’s stubborn charm. He allowed that he would think on what she said, and raise the matter with his sons.
The longer the queen stayed, the more Lord Alaric warmed to her, and in time Alysanne came to realize that not everything that was said of him was true. He was careful with his coin, but not niggardly; he was not humorless at all, though his humor had an edge to it, sharp as a knife; his sons and daughter and the people of Winterfell seemed to love him well enough. Once the initial frost had thawed, his lordship took the queen hunting after elk and wild boar in the wolfswood, showed her the bones of a giant, and allowed her to rummage as she pleased through his modest castle library. He even deigned to approach Silverwing, though warily. The women of Winterfell were taken by the queen’s charms as well, once they grew to know her; Her Grace became particularly close with Lord Alaric’s daughter, Alarra. When the rest of the queen’s party finally turned up at the castle gates, after struggling through trackless bogs and summer snows, the meat and mead flowed freely, despite the king’s absence.
Things were not going as well at King’s Landing, meanwhile. The peace talks dragged on far longer than anticipated, for the acrimony between the two Free Cities ran deeper than Jaehaerys had known. When His Grace attempted to strike a balance, both sides accused him of favoring the other. Whilst the Prince and the Archon dickered, fights began to break out between their men across the city, in inns, brothels, and wine sinks. A Pentoshi guardsman was set upon and killed, and three nights later the Archon’s own galley was set afire where she was docked. The king’s departure was delayed and delayed again.
In the North, Queen Alysanne grew restless with waiting, and decided to take her leave of Winterfell for a time and visit the men of the Night’s Watch at Castle Black. The distance was not negligible, even flying; Her Grace landed at the Last Hearth and several smaller keeps and holdfasts on her way, to the surprise and delight of their lords, whilst a portion of her tail scrambled after her (the rest remained at Winterfell).
Her first sight of the Wall from above took Alysanne’s breath away, Her Grace would later tell the king. There had been some concern how the queen might be received at Castle Black, for many of the black brothers had been Poor Fellows and Warrior’s Sons before those orders were abolished, but Lord Stark sent ravens ahead to warn of her coming, and the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Lothor Burley, assembled eight hundred of his finest men to receive her. That night the black brothers feasted the queen on mammoth meat, washed down with mead and stout.
As dawn broke the next day Lord Burley took Her Grace to the top of the Wall. “Here the world ends,” he told her, gesturing at the vast green expanse of the haunted forest beyond. Burley was apologetic for the quality of the food and drink presented to the queen, and the rudeness of the accommodations at Castle Black. “We do what we can, Your Grace,” the Lord Commander explained, “but our beds are hard, our halls are cold, and our food—”
“—is nourishing,” the queen finished. “And that is all that I require. It will please me to eat as you do.”
The men of the Night’s Watch were as thunderstruck by the queen’s dragon as the people of White Harbor had been, though the queen herself noted that Silverwing “does not like this Wall.” Though it was summer and the Wall was weeping, the chill of the ice could still be felt whenever the wind blew, and every gust would make the dragon hiss and snap. “Thrice I flew Silverwing high above Castle Black, and thrice I tried to take her north beyond the Wall,” Alysanne wrote to Jaehaerys, “but every time she veered back south again and refused to go. Never before has she refused to take me where I wished to go. I laughed about it when I came down again, so the black brothers would not realize anything was amiss, but it troubled me then and it troubles me still.”
A few things I noticed are:
- George borrowed the name “Alaric” for A Song of Ice and Fire from Phyllis Eisenstein, the same author that A Storm of Swords was dedicated to because she convinced GRRM to “put the dragons in.” Phyllis has a series called Tales of Alaric the Minstrel.
- We readers do not know the aftermath of much of Queen Alysanne’s travels in this excerpt alone. It is written in the main A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as the World of Ice and Fire book that the aftermath has some repercussions that did not sit well with the northmen. In the meantime, I do hope that Martin has not decided to re-write his own already published stories to fit a new narrative. Bold statement, I know, and probably not one to make other ASOIAF happy with me, but it is true and has to be acknowledged. The aftermath as written now in the series is pasted below, however, it also calls back to Arik (like Alaric) from And Seven Times Never Kill Man and his observations of the Steel Angels.
- …And Seven Times Never Kill Man full story with ASOIAF notes here.
- This fiery mind-control influence on the tree-person is something GRRM has done many times, including: Catelyn having a sept in Winterfell (fiery worship pyramid from …Seven Times), Melisandre having influence on Stannis while Stannis is near her, possibly Daenerys and her influence over Aegon VI or Jon, in the story Remembering Melody, in Bitterblooms between Morgan full of magic (Melisandre prototype) and Shawn, Grey Alys (part Daenerys prototype) in In the Lost Lands, the spider queen in This Tower of Ashes, and so many more examples.
- And Seven Times Never Kill Man
“Do you believe in evil?” Arik neKrol asked Jannis Ryther as they looked down on the City of the Steel Angels from the crest of a nearby hill. Anger was written across every line of his flat yellow-brown face, as he squatted among the broken shards of what once had been a Jaenshi worship pyramid.
“Evil?” Ryther murmured in a distracted way. Her eyes never left the redstone walls below, where the dark bodies of the children were outlined starkly. The sun was going down, the fat red globe that the Steel Angels called the Heart of Bakkalon, and the valley beneath them seemed to swim in bloody mists.
“Evil,” neKrol repeated. The trader was a short, pudgy man, his features decidedly mongoloid except for the flame-red hair that fell nearly to his waist. “It is a religious concept, and I am not a religious man. Long ago, when I was a very child growing up on ai-Emerel, I decided that there was no good or evil, only different ways of thinking.” His small, soft hands felt around in the dust until he had a large, jagged shard that filled his fist. He stood and offered it to Ryther. “The Steel Angels have made me believe in evil again,” he said.
2. Silverwing not going over the wall. This, in my opinion, is a very telling detail. There could be many reasons why, and we readers only have this tiny detail to work with, but this is definitely a bit of information to keep an eye out for when Fire & Blood is released. From what I see in Martinworld, this has to do with there can be only one ruling dragon at a time (in a dragon’s opinion), and the ice-dragon Others are attempting to usurp the fiery dragon’s reign (who is trying to hold onto their usurped reign taken from the green-tree elemental). A conflict that begins on page with the Waymar prologue in A Game of Thrones, and then circles back around in Jon’s mutiny attempt.
- “…though the queen herself noted that Silverwing “does not like this Wall.” Though it was summer and the Wall was weeping, the chill of the ice could still be felt whenever the wind blew, and every gust would make the dragon hiss and snap. “Thrice I flew Silverwing high above Castle Black, and thrice I tried to take her north beyond the Wall,” Alysanne wrote to Jaehaerys, “but every time she veered back south again and refused to go. Never before has she refused to take me where I wished to go.”
3. The relationship that “warms” between Alaric Stark and Alysanne, and Silverwing’s rejection to going over the wall thrice, seems to maybe point to the idea that the “big bad” was not a Stark (as some fans theorize), but maybe continues to point more to the idea that the “big bad” was more of a Bolton creation. There are clues in history that the Bolton’s were jealous of the Starks for various reasons, even flaying them, very much like GRRM’s story The Skin Trade. If the Others were created, then I suspect they were created by the Red King Bolton’s in retaliation to the Starks. Ramsay is a current example of a Bloodstone Emperor figure, as I detailed in other posts on this blog; eyes like chips of dirty ice, wears the “bastard” ruby cut into a blood drop, riles at being called a bastard, etc… Additionally, there is more noted down in #11 regarding the cloak and future betrayal.
- This “warming” that fire-women do to the icy men (one time a girl in Bitterblooms) George repeatedly writes about is always a glamour of whatever sort that fits the setting. Melisandre uses a magic glamour and her sexual nature, Morgan full of lies and magic in Bitterblooms uses glamours and sexual prowace to trick Shawn of Carinhall. Ananda Caine in Armegeddon Rag uses her sexuality and beauty to glamour the icy Sandy Blair and Eden Morse to do her bidding regarding prophecy. Heck, even the fiery Cersei uses her beauty to trick men to do her bidding. Daenerys being “the most beautiful in the world” and faking tossing around her “I’m just a little girl” act is nothing more than manipulation, and global manipulation at that. This warming act that Alysanne puts on is just another fire glamour that repeats in George’s worlds, and it does not end well, ever.
- The World of Ice and Fire – The North: The Lords of Winterfell
Whether anti-Targaryen feelings were made worse by Queen Rhaenys Targaryen’s efforts to knit together the new, single realm with marriages between the great houses is left to the reader to consider. That Torrhen Stark’s daughter was wed to the young and ill-fated Lord of the Vale is wellknown; it was one of the many peace- binding marriages forged by Rhaenys. But there are letters preserved at the Citadel suggesting that Stark accepted these arrangements only after much protest, and that the bride’s brothers refused to attend the wedding entirely.
Later still, it was said that the Starks were bitter at the Old King and Queen Alysanne for having forced them to carve away the New Gift and give it the Night’s Watch; this may be one reason for why Lord [Ellard] Stark sided with Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys at the Great Council of 101 AC.
We have earlier discussed House Stark’s role in the Dance of the Dragons. Let it be added that Lord Cregan Stark reaped many rewards for his loyal support of King Aegon III…even if it was not a royal princess marrying into his family, as had been agreed in the Pact of Ice and Fire made when the doomed prince Jacaerys Velaryon had flown to Winterfell upon his dragon.
Though in these days it is said that Lord [Ellard] Stark was glad to aid the Night’s Watch with the Gift, and took little convincing, the truth is otherwise. Letters from Lord Stark’s brother to the Citadel, asking the maesters to provide precedents against the forced donation of property, made it plain that the Starks were not eager to do as King Jaehaerys bid. It may be that the Starks feared that, under the control of the Castle Black, the New Gift would inevitably decline—for the Night’s Watch would always look northward and never give much thought to their new tenants to the south. And as it happens, that soon came to pass, and the New Gift is now said to be largely unpopulated thanks to the decline of the Watch and the rising toll taken by raiders from beyond the Wall.
[the name Ellard was later admitted to have been a mistake by the authors, but the sentiment in the book remains the same.]
- A Storm of Swords – Bran III (remembering Bran only has the knowledge a maester taught him as he has not gone into the trees yet to witness history for himself). Even in AGOT-Bran I we hear Eddard wrongly accuse the troubles Gared faced as being caused by “wildlings”, because that was a lie Eddard was taught.
“Who holds this land?” Jojen asked Bran.
“The Night’s Watch,” he answered. “This is the Gift. The New Gift, and north of that Brandon’s Gift.” Maester Luwin had taught him the history. “Brandon the Builder gave all the land south of the Wall to the black brothers, to a distance of twenty-five leagues. For their . . . for their sustenance and support.” He was proud that he still remembered that part. “Some maesters say it was some other Brandon, not the Builder, but it’s still Brandon’s Gift. Thousands of years later, Good Queen Alysanne visited the Wall on her dragon Silverwing, and she thought the Night’s Watch was so brave that she had the Old King double the size of their lands, to fifty leagues. So that was the New Gift.” He waved a hand. “Here. All this.”
No one had lived in the village for long years, Bran could see. All the houses were falling down. Even the inn. It had never been much of an inn, to look at it, but now all that remained was a stone chimney and two cracked walls, set amongst a dozen apple trees. One was growing up through the common room, where a layer of wet brown leaves and rotting apples carpeted the floor. The air was thick with the smell of them, a cloying cidery scent that was almost overwhelming. Meera stabbed a few apples with her frog spear, trying to find some still good enough to eat, but they were all too brown and wormy.
It was a peaceful spot, still and tranquil and lovely to behold, but Bran thought there was something sad about an empty inn, and Hodor seemed to feel it too. “Hodor?” he said in a confused sort of way. “Hodor? Hodor?”
“This is good land.” Jojen picked up a handful of dirt, rubbing it between his fingers. “A village, an inn, a stout holdfast in the lake, all these apple trees . . . but where are the people, Bran? Why would they leave such a place?”
“They were afraid of the wildlings,” said Bran. “Wildlings come over the Wall or through the mountains, to raid and steal and carry off women. If they catch you, they make your skull into a cup to drink blood, Old Nan used to say. The Night’s Watch isn’t so strong as it was in Brandon’s day or Queen Alysanne’s, so more get through. The places nearest the Wall got raided so much the smallfolk moved south, into the mountains or onto the Umber lands east of the kingsroad. The Greatjon’s people get raided too, but not so much as the people who used to live in the Gift.”
4. Also like The Skin Trade, the wall is the largest mirror in the known world. Silverwing would not/could not pass “through the mirror” (over the wall). We are not sure exactly why just yet, but it could be anything from dragons don’t like that kind of northern cold, to the magic ward in the wall works both ways- keeps ice and fire from passing. One thing we do know, mirrors reverse images, ideas, concepts, etc. Just as Bran thinks of the story Old Nan tells, and it always starts in reverse with the end. I detailed the “quicksilver sea” on two pages: Fourth knife at Jon’s mutiny, and then the page about Jon not truly being killed, “Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?”.
After a little more thinking on this Silverwing issue, especially in regards to magic passing the wall, and that it has to do with the GRRM story Override. The Great Whoever seems to be able to override the magic built into the wall, which is how the wighted Night’s Watch brothers in A Game of Thrones were dead and then reanimated later. There is a powerful force that can override the wall, and now we need someone who can override the override box… that will be Bran. I will add book quotes soon, or just ask me in the comments if you are curious and curiouser now.
- A Storm of Swords – Bran IV
As the sun began to set the shadows of the towers lengthened and the wind blew harder, sending gusts of dry dead leaves rattling through the yards. The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan’s stories, the tale of Night’s King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night’s Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. “And that was the fault in him,” she would add, “for all men must know fear.” A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.
He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night’s King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night’s King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.
“Some say he was a Bolton,” Old Nan would always end. “Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear Island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.” She always pinched Bran on the nose then, he would never forget it. “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.”
No, Bran thought, but he walked in this castle, where we’ll sleep tonight. He did not like that notion very much at all. Night’s King was only a man by light of day, Old Nan would always say, but the night was his to rule. And it’s getting dark.
5. Another observation, and one I noted in this post here about Demon Reaver and roads, we again see how the fiery Targaryens use expansionism the same way that the manner as the Steel Angels. This portion of the history seems to tell the reader for the first concrete time just how old the Kingsroad is, and the circumstances that brought upon its development. Expansionism and “progress”.
George has said some of his sources for character/world building inspiration is based on Native Americans. I detailed a bit in this essay about Bears: Jon and Val, however, I want to add a reminder here about roads. The White feather-Bear Clan of the Hopi Indians has listed this as one of the signs of Armageddon, or, end of the fourth world:
- The land shall be criss-crossed with rivers of stone that make pictures in the sun.
6. The phrasing here with the Manderly’s, “The size of the crowds surprised even their lord. “I had not known there were so many smallfolk in the city,” Theomore Manderly is reported to have said. “Where did they all come from?”, makes wonder if there is some truth to history that humans and other inhabitants hid in the various hollow hills around Westeros during a cataclysmic invasion; previous long night, previous dragon/fire attacks, etc. This is what happens in other Martin stories like Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels, In the House of the Worm, and even …And Seven Times Never Kill Man.
- Additionally regarding the Manderly’s, it appears as if they have always been the opportunistic family when it comes to joining/marrying in to a more powerful house.
7. And, ummm, I thought the “wildlings” were the bad men who steal the girls from the men south of the wall? This part here needs a lot more explanation. Why was this “wildling” girl captured north of the wall and given as property to someone else south of the wall?
- “Manderly also staged a small tourney in the queen’s honor, to show the prowess of his knights. One of the fighters (though no knight) was revealed to be a woman, a wildling girl who had been captured by rangers north of the Wall and given to one of Lord Manderly’s household knights to foster.“
8. I do find it interesting that fire-woman Alysanne has a Darke Red Shadow that follows her as her sworn shield. This Jonquil mock fighting against a free folk woman make me wonder of this is a female, lesbian, version of the tale of Florian and Jonquil. Ser Florian, better known as Florian the Fool, is the main character in a tale about falling in love with a maiden named Jonquil. He is one of the many legendary heroes of the riverlands from the Age of Heroes. In this version, Jonquil Darke is the partner to a possible Florian, which is a flowery sounding name that is common with the free folk. Just speculation, though.
- Alysanne summoned her own sworn shield, Jonquil Darke, and the wildling and the Scarlet Shadow dueled spear against sword whilst the northmen roared in approval.
9. Alaric Stark mentions, “If you are expecting balls and masques and dances, you have come to the wrong place.” This is from the GRRM story In the House of the Worm. A story that, in the end, the protagonist Annelyn gives a huge warning against incest for blood purity and survival depends on mixed boodlines. Alaric Stark mentions the “wrong place’ for a reason; incest isn’t a northern practice.
- In the House of the Worm
Every fourth year the brightest and wittiest and highest-born among the yaga-la-hai would gather in the Chamber of Obsidian to view the sun and feast in its dying rays. The chamber was the only place for such a brilliant masque. It was high in the House of the Worm, so that all the tunnels leading to it slanted upward, and the floor and ceiling and three of the walls were sheets of fused obsidian, cold and shiny as a mirror and dark as death. For the four-years-less-a-day that passed between the Sun Masques, the lesser-born worm-children, called torch-tenders, worked tirelessly in the chamber, polishing and rubbing, so that when the bronze knights came to fire the torches, their reflections would gleam in the black glass around them. Then the guests would assemble, a thousand strong in gay costumes and fantastic masks, and the obsidian would bend and distort their bright faces and graceful forms, until they were a whirling motley of demons dancing in a great black bottle.
- [Annelyn’s warning and result at the end] Afterward, he became a familiar figure among the yaga-la-hai, though he lost his flair for dress and much of his fine wit. Instead, he spoke endlessly and persuasively of forgotten crimes and the sins of bygone eons, painting deliciously dark pictures of monster worms who bred beneath the House and would one day rise to consume all. He was fond of telling the worm-children that they ought to lie with grouns, instead of cooking them, so that a new people might be fashioned to resist his nightmare worms.
In the endless long decay of the House of the Worm, nothing was so prized as novelty. Annelyn, though considered coarse and most unsubtle, wove entertaining tales and had a spark of shocking irreverence. Thus, though the bronze knights grumbled, he was allowed to live
10. Alaric Stark was married to a Mormont woman. Lord Stark had himself a She-Bear. Alaric says of her, “She was a Mormont of Bear Isle, and no lady by your lights, but she took an axe to a pack of wolves when she was twelve, killed two of them, and sewed a cloak from their skins. She gave me two strong sons as well, and a daughter as sweet to look upon as any of your southron ladies.” This, to me, seems to relay the info in the current story of the relationship between She-Bear Val and Jon, and then Val and Queen Selyse (which Selyse was not very respectful towards Val). She-Bear’s and Starks seem to get well together.
A Storm of Swords – Jon II
“Yes, but . . . Tormund, I swear, I’ve never touched her.”
“Are you certain they never cut your member off?” Tormund gave a shrug, as if to say he would never understand such madness. “Well, you are a free man now, but if you will not have the girl, best find yourself a she–bear. If a man does not use his member it grows smaller and smaller, until one day he wants to piss and cannot find it.”
11. Alaric warning Alysanne about her clothing has nothing to do with modern ideas of men and misogyny against women. No. This is a very clear and repeated theme across much of Martin’s work that the clothing, especially cloaks, are symbolic. And when a fire women doesn’t need winter clothes, there is a betrayal on the horizon, as we know later Queen Alysanne does conduct. This is seen in other areas of ASOIAF, so is consistent with Stark men and their (soon to be) opposing fire-women. The future betrayal of lands was noted in #3 above. Additionally, the cloaking sign of betrayal by a fiery woman to an icy man was also detailed in the Daenerys is the Night Lion page, with plenty of text from the story In the Lost Lands, but more is added below. The silver claws is also connected to the fourth hand in the mutiny stabbing of Jon.
- Fire & Blood:Her reception at Winterfell did nothing to disabuse the queen’s fears as to what she might expect from House Stark. Even before dismounting to bend the knee, Lord Alaric looked askance at Her Grace’s clothing and said, “I hope you brought something warmer than that.” He then proceeded to declare that he did not want her dragon inside his walls. “I’ve not seen Harrenhal, but I know what happened there.”
A Dance with Dragons – Jon I
“Poor fare for a prince … but better than whore’s milk, aye.” Stannis drummed his fingers on the map. “If we may return to the matter of these forts …”
“Your Grace,” said Jon, with chilly courtesy, “I have housed your men and fed them, at dire cost to our winter stores. I have clothed them so they would not freeze.”
A Dance with Dragons – Jon VI
“Lord Snow.” The voice was Melisandre’s.
Surprise made him recoil from her. “Lady Melisandre.” He took a step backwards. “I mistook you for someone else.” At night all robes are grey. Yet suddenly hers were red. He did not understand how he could have taken her for Ygritte. She was taller, thinner, older, though the moonlight washed years from her face. Mist rose from her nostrils, and from pale hands naked to the night. “You will freeze your fingers off,” Jon warned.
“If that is the will of R’hllor. Night’s powers cannot touch one whose heart is bathed in god’s holy fire.”
A Storm of Swords – Jon XI
He shut the door and pulled the bell cord. The winch began to turn. They rose. The day was bright and the Wall was weeping, long fingers of water trickling down its face and glinting in the sun. In the close confines of the iron cage, he was acutely aware of the red woman’s presence. She even smells red. The scent reminded him of Mikken’s forge, of the way iron smelled when red-hot; the scent was smoke and blood. Kissed by fire, he thought, remembering Ygritte. The wind got in amongst Melisandre’s long red robes and sent them flapping against Jon’s legs as he stood beside her. “You are not cold, my lady?” he asked her.
She laughed. “Never.” The ruby at her throat seemed to pulse, in time with the beating of her heart. “The Lord’s fire lives within me, Jon Snow. Feel.” She put her hand on his cheek, and held it there while he felt how warm she was. “That is how life should feel,” she told him. “Only death is cold.”
- In the Lost Lands– right before Gray Alys betrays Boyce for his skin.
Outside, it was twilight. Boyce had not prepared any food, Gray Alys noted as she took her seat across the fire from where the pale-haired ranger sat quaffing his hot wine.
“A beautiful cloak,” Boyce observed amiably.
“Yes,” said Gray Alys.
“No cloak will help you when he comes, though.”
Gray Alys raised her hand, made a fist. The silver claws caught the firelight. Gleamed.
“Ah,” said Boyce. “Silver.”
“Silver,” agreed Gray Alys, lowering her hand.
“Still,” Boyce said. “Others have come against him, armed with silver. Silver swords, silver knives, arrows tipped with silver. They are dust now, all those silvered warriors. He gorged himself on their flesh.”
Gray Alys shrugged.
12. He then proceeded to declare that he did not want her dragon inside his walls. Aside from the severe bow or burns that were administered at Harrenhal, Alaric Stark is telling Queen Alysanne “NO” they will not play the sexually suggestive game Come-into-my-castle.
- He then proceeded to declare that he did not want her dragon inside his walls. “I’ve not seen Harrenhal, but I know what happened there.”
13. Something else that just dawned on me is the opening of this excerpt with the “progresses” and talk of roads. This is repeating near exactly the common theme we first read about in the story And Seven Times Never Kill Man, where the dragon-fire militant religious group called the Steel Angels (yes, like a flying sword), are making the same type of disturbances on the indigenous inhabitants. The information and book quotes for this are on the Deamon Reaver Roads page. This also goes back to the information detailed up in #1 at the top of this list.
- Several years had passed since the king had last made a progress, so plans were laid in 58 AC for Jaehaerys and Alysanne to make their first visit to Winterfell and the North. Their dragons would be with them, of course, but beyond the Neck the distances were great and the roads poor,
I may add a few more thoughts to this post (time and computer permitting), but wanted to get a few ideas out there while they were fresh in my mind.
From the book FIRE & BLOOD by George R. R. Martin. Copyright © 2018 by George R. R. Martin. Reprinted by arrangement with Bantam, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. All rights reserved.
Feature image artist: Doug Wheatley
Find out more about Fire & Blood here.
Want sumthin’ else to read?
I have started a book club re-read for the older works of George R.R. Martin for purposes such as research, scholarship, and teaching. I own all copies of material that is used for this book club. If you have not yet read a story listed, please check with your local bookstore for your own reading material to purchase (Indie Bookstore Finder or Bookshop.org). The full list of GRRM stories outside of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I have read can be found on this page here.
It takes a while to transcribe and then note each story for research purposes, even the really short ones, so the main book club page will be updated as each re-read is added. Make sure you subscribe for updates.
If there is a story in particular you would like to ask about, feel free to do so in comments below.
If you prefer to listen to a podcast that gives synopsis and analysis of stories written by George R.R. Martin, please consider the new group A Thousand Casts to accompany your ears. Twitter or Podbean.
- Override– A betrayal between brothers. We are introduced to the rather well adjusted, pacifist main character Kabaraijian who is eventually sold out by his coworker/brother for money. A blood betrayal in #ASOIAF terms.
- Nightflyers– Nightflyers is about a haunted ship in outerspace. This story is everything a reader would want from a GRRM story; high body count, psi-link mind control, whisperjewels, corpse handling, dragon-mother ships, the Night’s Watch ‘naval’ institution in space, and Jon and Val.
- Sandkings– Welcome to the disturbing tale of Simon Kress and his Sandkings. Early origins of Unsullied, Dothraki, Aerea Targaryen, and Dragon who mounts the world, set among a leader with a god complex. One of the “must read” George R.R. Martin stories.
- Bitterblooms– In the dead of deep winter, a young girl named Shawn has to find the mental courage to escape a red fiery witch. Prototyping Val, Stannis, and Arya along with the red witch Melisandre.
- The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr – Discarded Knights guards the gates as Sharra feels the Seven while searching for lost love. Many Sansa and Ashara Dayne prototyping here as well.
- …And Seven Times Never Kill Man– A look into a proto-Andal+Targaryen fiery world as the Jaenshi way of life is erased. But who is controlling these events? Black & Red Pyramids who merge with Bakkalon are on full display in this story.
- The Last Super Bowl– Football meets SciFi tech with plenty of ASOIAF carryover battle elements.
- Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
- Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
- The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
- Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
- Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
- This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
- 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.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- 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!