Get it 😉
Let’s raise a horn of meade to a behind the scenes heroine of A Song of Ice and Fire. The Melantha Jhirl from Nightflyers. The Janis/Bitterspeaker from And Seven Times Never Kill Man. The Valerie/Cynthia from Fevre Dream. The Maggie from Armageddon Rag. The Glenda from Weekend in a War Zone. The amazing Randi Wade from The Skin Trade.
I was so excited as I read through the ASOIAF series and I came upon the parts where GRRM was clearly using a favorite character type he has used so often in the past. Val is not in any way a “late addition” or meaningless to the series. Not by any means. She has been around since the mid 1970’s, in truth.
Believe it or not, George R.R. Martin is pretty good at writing strong, confident women that have their own thoughts and plans which actually add to the plot and motivations in a story. The women listed above (and I am sure many others I have not yet mentioned) are not the “sidekicks” to men, but actual players in the game. Just like Val.
Jon has the utmost trust in Val as he sends her on a mission to help free the Free Folk. Val is considered a high value prize in the story, mostly by creeps like Selyse and her retinue. In contrast to using women as coin, Jon desires Val but knows that in his current position he cannot undo his Night’s Watch Position and has to settle for a “bastard’s sort of honor”.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon III
All the same, the wildling princess was not beloved of her gaolers. She scorned them all as “kneelers,” and had thrice attempted to escape. When one man-at-arms grew careless in her presence she had snatched his dagger from its sheath and stabbed him in the neck. Another inch to the left and he might have died.
Lonely and lovely and lethal, Jon Snow reflected, and I might have had her. Her, and Winterfell, and my lord father’s name. Instead he had chosen a black cloak and a wall of ice. Instead he had chosen honor. A bastard’s sort of honor.
We readers are catching on the idea that the current NW vows are not what they seem (link below). And most importantly, always trust your dog! Ghost likes Val, and how could he not. She looks like a weirwood (as does Ghost), she is trusted by Jon, she has an icy magic about her, Jon deems her a midwife.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI
“Did you follow me as well?” Jon reached to shoo the bird away but ended up stroking its feathers. The raven cocked its eye at him. “Snow,” it muttered, bobbing its head knowingly. Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.
They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.
“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.
Val also stands up to the dragon Selyse just as we saw in Dorne (detailed in the Nymeria page below). And mark my words, she is going to protect Jon at the mutiny and will aid in healing him, as well as getting Jon to accept his warg talents (also talked about in the Nymeria page and the Wolf and Bear page). As Tormund, the Horned Lord of Winter, says…
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.”
In addition to all of this, she stands up for herself against men who misunderstand the term and ritual of “stealing” and try to actually steal her.
I have spent the last few days revamping my page that talks about where Val came from, both adding new quotes and fixing the formatting errors from WordPress updates. I will continue to add to this Val page as time permits (as with many other quote heavy pages), but in the meantime, here are the best essays if you want to take a raven’s peek:
And best of all, the author seems to have some plans for Val. Who knows what they could be, but the world of Westeros, if not Planetos, does need to rebuild after this new Long Night, and unity between factions is the first place to start. And it is interesting that this information is given in a Samwell chapter, especially since there is a good chance Sam and Bran will be in tree or raven communication with each other in the future.
A Feast for Crows – Samwell I
“Why not?” asked Pyp. “She wants to have your children. Maybe we should call you Sam the Seducer.”
Sam reddened. King Stannis had plans for Val, he knew; she was the mortar with which he meant to seal the peace between the northmen and the free folk. “I don’t have time for archery today, I need to go see Jon.”
“Jon? Jon? Do we know anyone named Jon, Grenn?”
Want more GRRMspreading?
Try one of these stories for the the re-read book club.
- 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!