So recently I was going through some of my old posts back at the Westeros.Org forum when I cam across this old gem. I always liked this idea, and knew there was more to it, but had never really touched on it after I made this post almost three years ago (about 1,000 in internet years). I am welcoming any new discussion and ideas to this blip I had. It could be rather interesting to make some new literary connections.
My original post touched on the wordplay of sow-sew-dragons-Greyjoys. This basic idea was this:
* * *
Totally random speculation and I am not even sure if this is the thread for it, but, could the Greyjoy words “We Do Not Sow” be a moment of foreshadowing to Euron or Vic not controlling or riding a dragon??? I know there are some other possibilities as to why they could not, but I wonder if the fact that George added this bit of information in TPatQ actually gives a hint.
At one point during the Dance of Dragons, there were too many dragons compared to riders (kinda like now). So to help his mother Rhaenyera, Prince Jacaryes held a tournament called the Sowing to test for any other dragon riders from the pool of dragonseed that existed. If I remember correctly, the tournament was a disaster and no new dragon riders came from it
So, could the Greyjoy words mean We do not ride dragons?
- Prince Jacaerys announced (with the prompting of Mushroom, if his Testimony is to be believed) that any man or woman who could ride one of these dragons would be ennobled.
- Even on Dragonstone, long Queen Rhaenyra’s seat and stronghold, they found many who misliked the queen for reasons both good and ill. Some grieved for brothers, sons, and fathers slain during the Sowing or…
* * *
As I reread what I wrote back then, I can see that there is a lot more to this and it is not limited to the Greyjoys. Both Daenerys and Euron share the use of traditional signs in the representation of both beings creature of the Leviathan. And maybe this idea of being a “reaver” will come in to play here? Feel free to speculate the hell out of it.
I have in no way been able to include every instance for this idea. Feel free to add them as needed in comments.
It may be useful, or not, if you read the Forsaken/Aeron Greyjoy chapter that GRRM read at Balticon in 2016.
Sewing tales, sowing discourse, sowing seeds, and sow (as in pig)
The term I used above is actually called, in full, The Sowing of the Seeds, as named by Grand Maester Munkun, also known as “the Red Sowing“, was an event in the Dance of the Dragons. This is detailed most recently in the fake history book Fire & Blood, vol.1.
- Mushroom, the fool at Rhaenyra‘s court, who attempted to ride Silverwing
- Ser Steffon Darklyn, burned to death while attempting to mount Seasmoke
- Lord Gormon Massey, burned to death while attempting to mount Vermithor
- Silver Denys, claimed to descend from a bastard, son of Maegor the Cruel, had an arm torn off while attempting to mount Sheepstealer and got devoured along with his sons by the Cannibal.
- Alyn of Hull, burned while trying to tame Sheepstealer, survived thanks to the interevention of Addam.
And here we are back again to the sowing of seeds and red dragons, this time from the tales of Greyjoys…
A Clash of Kings – Theon I
Aegon the Dragon had destroyed the Old Way when he burned Black Harren, gave Harren’s kingdom back to the weakling rivermen, and reduced the Iron Islands to an insignificant backwater of a much greater realm. Yet the old red tales were still told around driftwood fires and smoky hearths all across the islands, even behind the high stone halls of Pyke. Theon’s father numbered among his titles the style of Lord Reaper, and the Greyjoy words boasted that We Do Not Sow.
A Feast for Crows – The Iron Captain
The priest raised a bony finger. “They pray to trees and golden idols and goat-headed abominations. False gods . . .”
“Just so,” said Euron, “and for that sin I kill them all. I spill their blood upon the sea and sow their screaming women with my seed. Their little gods cannot stop me, so plainly they are false gods. I am more devout than even you, Aeron. Perhaps it should be you who kneels to me for blessing.”
The Red Oarsman laughed loudly at that, and the others took their lead from him.
- The Forsaken
Beyond them, a host of merchant ships floated on a tranquil, turquoise sea. Cogs, carracks, fishing boats, even a great cog, a swollen sow of a ship as big as the Leviathan. Prizes of war, the Damphair knew. Euron Crow’s Eye stood upon the deck of Silence, clad in a suit of black scale armor like nothing Aeron had ever seen before. Dark as smoke it was, but Euron wore it as easily as if it was the thinnest silk. The scales were edged in red gold, and gleamed and shimmered when they moved. Patterns could be seen within the metal, whorls and glyphs and arcane symbols folded into the steel.
Red Dragon Queen
Since the first chapter of book 1, A Game of Thrones, Martin has been teasing readers with the sewing/sowing of dragons.
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys I
Her brother, sprawled out on his pillows beside her, never noticed. His mind was away across the narrow sea. “We won’t need his whole khalasar,” Viserys said. His fingers toyed with the hilt of his borrowed blade, though Dany knew he had never used a sword in earnest. “Ten thousand, that would be enough, I could sweep the Seven Kingdoms with ten thousand Dothraki screamers. The realm will rise for its rightful king. Tyrell, Redwyne, Darry, Greyjoy, they have no more love for the Usurper than I do. The Dornishmen burn to avenge Elia and her children. And the smallfolk will be with us. They cry out for their king.” He looked at Illyrio anxiously. “They do, don’t they?”
“They are your people, and they love you well,” Magister Illyrio said amiably. “In holdfasts all across the realm, men lift secret toasts to your health while women sew dragon banners and hide them against the day of your return from across the water.” He gave a massive shrug. “Or so my agents tell me.”
And of course, as Martin has said before, we have a new Dance of Dragons coming up. Who could it be between? I do believe this is one of many hints that the next Dance of Dragons will be between Jon and Daenerys. This skirmish in the fighting pits of Meereen, the new dragon pits like the historic Dance of Dragons, seems to show a hint of what is to come. Strong Belwas, basically Daenerys’s wise fool, even tells Dany that horsemeat (Jon) and Onions (Davos) will make her strong.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys IX
“Horsemeat and onions makes you strong,” said Belwas.
The battle was followed by the day’s first folly, a tilt between a pair of jousting dwarfs, presented by one of the Yunkish lords that Hizdahr had invited to the games. One rode a hound, the other a sow. Their wooden armor had been freshly painted, so one bore the stag of the usurper Robert Baratheon, the other the golden lion of House Lannister. That was for her sake, plainly. Their antics soon had Belwas snorting laughter, though Dany’s smile was faint and forced. When the dwarf in red tumbled from the saddle and began to chase his sow across the sands, whilst the dwarf on the dog galloped after him, whapping at his buttocks with a wooden sword, she said, “This is sweet and silly, but …”
“Be patient, my sweet,” said Hizdahr. “They are about to loose the lions.”
And as readers are reminded at the end of A Dance with Dragons, dragons also do not sow, meaning, they do not plant trees…
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys X
“It is such a long way,” she complained. “I was tired, Jorah. I was weary of war. I wanted to rest, to laugh, to plant trees and see them grow. I am only a young girl.”
No. You are the blood of the dragon. The whispering was growing fainter, as if Ser Jorah were falling farther behind. Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words.
“Fire and Blood,” Daenerys told the swaying grass.
A Few Long-term Notes
Ok, so we all know that Martin said his 1993 Outline was full of filler because he was, “making shit up,” right. He was very clear about this back in 2016 at Balticon. If you want to read the outline that he threw together to try and pitch his books, here is a link.
- While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarian hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume, A Dance with Dragons.
While most of the outline has been drastically changed or omitted, there are some broad strokes we can see he still has planned… and that are also part of his basic literary themes and motifs we see him rework over and over again (kinda the focus of this blog here). Martin has also stated that Daenerys and Tyrion will both be in Meereen for most of The Winds of Winter, will meet towards the end, and during this time Daenerys will spend much of it with the Dothraki… doing what?
- “Well, Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart,” Martin said. “They both have quite large roles to play here. Tyrion has decided that he actually would like to live, for one thing, which he wasn’t entirely sure of during the last book, and he’s now working toward that end—if he can survive the battle that’s breaking out all around him. And Dany has embraced her heritage as a Targaryen and embraced the Targaryen words. So they’re both coming home.” —George R.R. Martin
And this does line up with how GRRM describes his initial intent for Daenerys in his ’93 outline.
As I mentioned when I started here, we see there are plenty of wordplay elements to work from. Interchangeable phrases that can be read this way, or that.
My purpose int his post is to start to bring the examples together (I have not listed all instances by any means), to maybe bring it all together to help us understand this huge quilt of A Song of Ice and Fire just a little better.
Other pages to peruse if you so wish:
- ASOIAF Leviathan characters.
- More connection between Daenerys and Euron, including past GRRM story references.
- Deamon Reavers… and roads.
- Greenseeing is Enlightenment
- Fiery hand religions throughout GRRM’s work.
- Big picture Jon development.
Thanks for reading along with the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire.