Hellooo and welcome to the book club re-read section of this blog. Like each book club story on this blog, the reading and commenting is done at your own pace. Have fun and enjoy!
This time around we are discussing the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. I have this story in a few print editions, but the main one I am working from is the July 1975 edition published in ANALOG: Science Fiction/Science Fact. All artwork within this edition is created by John Scheonherr.
Quickie reminder: I openly discuss everything in Martinworld wherever needed, and I hope you do too. This includes story details, behind the scenes info, and interviews with George R.R. Martin… every dirty detail.
This one is going to be thoroughly noted, I can tell already, but will keep notes to a minimum. These notes are meant as a means to kick-start the dialogue in the comments section. Additionally, I will add links to other not-an-essay’s that I have worked on using Martinworld works that show further connections in regards to specific topics. Nothing is required reading to understand this Seven Times story. All optional.
Or, if you prefer, the notes are easily skipped if you have something else you noticed and want to discuss. There is no way I can or have included all of my notes line by line, so I await to hear what others have to say.
The Word of GRRM
I have been asked before which of GRRM’s past stories would I recommend to get the closest literary stylizing for A Song of Ice and Fire. In my opinion, that is a difficult question to answer because these older stories all play into that magnum opus that is ASOIAF to we fans. You can neither remove one story and expect the same structure, as well as the structure isn’t complete until you add all parts; Martinworld. And it seems as though Martin himself also tends to follow this guideline as he repeatedly says that he reuses/repurposes his older works and ideas to fit something new (as detailed on the blog home page). However, through all of this, it is without doubt that …And Seven Times Never Kill Man is a work he is especially proud of… as he should be, and I highly recommend it.
From Not a Blog, January 2018:
- “A Song for Lya” was my first Hugo Award winner, and is also a novella, one of my strongest works. “And Seven Times Never Kill Man” was one of my Hugo losers (and the basis for the famous John Schoenherr ANALOG cover that some say inspired George Lucas to create the Ewoks, for which I accept absolutely no blame). Both of those are part of my Thousand Worlds future history, like “Nighflyers” itself. “Override” and “Nor the Many-Colored Fires…” were SF, but not part of the same continuity, and “War Zone” was a near future dystopia, and a bit of an experiment for me. In other words, this is a real grab bag of a collection.
- “And Seven Times Never Kill Man” was written in 1974 and published in 1975. It got me my second Analog cover for that year (a few months earlier, a gorgeous Jack Gaughan painting had adorned the issue featuring “The Storms of Windhaven,” a collaboration between me and Lisa Tuttle), this one a stunning John Schoenherr that I wish I’d bought. The Steel Angels were created as my answer to Gordy Dickson’s Dorsai [detailed here], although the term “Steel Angel” came from a song by Kris Kristofferson . Their god, the pale child with a sword, had an older and more dubious pedigree: he was one of the seven dark gods of the mythos I’d designed for Dr. Weird, as glimpsed in “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark.” The title is from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, of course, and got me almost as much praise as the story. Afterward several other writers, all Kipling fans, announced that they were annoyed they hadn’t thought of it first.”
- “And Seven Times Never Kill Man” was nominated for a Hugo as the Best Novelette of 1974. “The Storms of Windhaven” was also up that year for Best Novella. At “Big Mac,” the 1976 worldcon in Kansas City, the two stories both lost within minutes of each other (the former to Larry Niven, who promptly dropped and broke his Hugo, the latter to Roger Zelazny). The following night, aided and abetted by Gardner Dozois and armed with a jug of cheap white wine left over from someone else’s party, I threw the very first Hugo Losers Party in my room at the Muehlebach Hotel. It was the best party at the convention, and in later years would become a worldcon tradition, although recently some irony-challenged smofs have insisted on renaming it “the Hugo Nominees Party.”
I have gone on time and again that the Ice and Fire components of ASOIAF are the two rising dragon-like entities that will create the two major battles that end this current world allowing the world to reshape anew because Greenseeing means Enlightenment; learning to fly after this interregnum. One dragon is akin to corporate overreach, the other dragon is governmental overreach, both are oppressive to the common people.
When I mentioned “dragons” in this story, or almost anywhere in this blog, I am using that as a basic catch-all term for the fire element, because that is the crux of the symbolism: elements. Dragons take the form of a variety of beings across his work, such as, soulsucks, vampires, vampyres, wraiths, banshee, fighter jets, and even the Hrangans, to name a few. Afterall, the animalian dragons in ASOIAF almost never were and it was going to be a fiery mind game the entire time either using Dragons or dragons.
“I did consider in the very early stages not having the dragons in there. I wanted the Targaryen’s symbol to be the dragons, but I did play with the notion that maybe it was like a psionic power, that it was pyrokinesis — that they could conjure up flames with their minds. I went back and forth. My friend and fellow fantasy writer Phyllis Eisenstein actually was the one who convinced me to put the dragons in, and I dedicated the third book to her. And I think it was the right call.” —George R.R. Martin
This again is made fairly clear that Daenerys will have mental powers over people as this is something Martin has been planning (in some form) since he wrote his 1993 outline pitch letter, something GRRM said he was “pissed” about that it was leaked to the public.
- [Daenerys] she stumbles on a cache of three dragons eggs; of a young dragon will give Daenerys power bend Dothraki to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
- The Steel Andal Invasion
The idea that the fire (blue – ice, green wildfire((= misrule of Westeros)), or red-dragon) consumes for the self. Fire is jealous god and what it does serves the self, even craving worship, as opposed to the trees that serve as library-towers that take information in (history) to be able to serve the many. During the story we will see many of these ice and fire dichotomies that play against the “green” terrans. The law of the jungle is just that, the principle that those who are strong and apply ruthless self-interest will be most successful- serves the one, not the many. Fire.
I’m not an “American First” (and maybe because I read science fiction) I’m a “Terran First”. I’m a human being first. And I have this sympathy for other human beings no matter what side of the giant ice wall they happen to be born on. — George R.R. Martin
Oh, and don’t let the “wolf” part in Law of the Jungle trick you into thinking this is directly a “Stark” connection. The Starks did not exist when this story was written, and GRRM has another story that is wolf against wolf, The Skin Trade, which is basically a Red King Bolton versus Stark proto-story. More on that in a future post. But we do have some wolfish-Dany connections that will make sense…
The Law of the Jungle
(From The Jungle Book)
Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back -- For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep; And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep. The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown, Remember the Wolf is a Hunter -- go forth and get food of thine own. Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle -- the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear. And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair. When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail, Lie down till the leaders have spoken -- it may be fair words shall prevail. When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar, Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war. The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home, Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come. The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain, The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again. If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay, Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away. Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can; But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man! If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride; Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide. The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies; And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies. The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will; But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill. Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same. Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same. Cave-Right is the right of the Father -- to hunt by himself for his own: He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone. Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw, In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law. Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is -- Obey!
Bastards were common enough, but incest was a monstrous sin to both old gods and new, and the children of such wickedness were named abominations in sept and godswood alike. The dragon kings had wed brother to sister, but they were the blood of old Valyria where such practices had been common, and like their dragons the Targaryens answered to neither gods nor men.
…And Seven Times Never Kill Man!- by George R.R. Martin
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!
Outside the walls the Jaenshi children hung, a row of small gray-furred bodies still and motionless at the ends of long ropes. The oldest among them, obviously, had been slaughtered before hanging; here a headless male swung upside down, the noose around the feet, while there dangled the blast-burned carcass of a female. But most of them, the dark hairy infants with the wide golden eyes, most of them had simply been hung.
- This is fire worship, not tree worship. Heads on spikes and hangings (Riverlands) is the act of a fire terrorists/god; Tywin, Lady Stoneheart, Jon and Qhorin, nipples cut off, even Seventy-Nine Sentinels, etc. I often talk about how cutting into a person is an act of fire; here, this one, here again…
- Just like in ASOIAF, pay attention to eye color.
A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I- an “ice god”offering
By the time the three of them emerged north of the Wall the snow was falling steadily. A ragged blanket of white covered the torn and tortured earth that stretched from the Wall to the edge of the haunted forest. Jon Snow and his black brothers were gathered around three spears, some twenty yards away.
The spears were eight feet long and made of ash. The one on the left had a slight crook, but the other two were smooth and straight. At the top of each was impaled a severed head. Their beards were full of ice, and the falling snow had given them white hoods. Where their eyes had been, only empty sockets remained, black and bloody holes that stared down in silent accusation.
Toward dusk, when the wind came swirling down out of the ragged hills, the bodies of the lighter children would twist at the ends of their ropes and bang against the city walls, as if they were alive and pounding for admission.
But the guards on the walls paid the thumping no mind as they walked their relentless rounds, and the rust-streaked metal gates did not open.
“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.
- The Wall and Valyrian steel are both made of spells and blood. Both are “evil” as they consume life to feed the one. And both are associated with snakes/dragons and swords. The Steel Angels are in a place they carved out and called Sword Valley, akin to the Axe where the Andals originated in ASOIAF.
- There is a chance that Artys Arryn, born of pure Andal blood, was a dragonrider as tales of the Winged Knight could be a biblical “Angel” reference, and per ususal, the tales became distorted over time.
“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.
- The Free Folk woman Ygritte had red hair “kissed by fire”.
A Clash of Kings – Jon VI; “Snow” is an evil name because “bastards” were deemed inferior by the Andals. Andals are the colonialist elitists in ASOIAF, especially when later forged with Targaryen fire.
“I’m Jon Snow.”
[Ygritte] She flinched. “An evil name.”
“A bastard name,” he said. “My father was Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell.”
She took the fragment from him wordlessly and turned it over in her hands. Ryther was much taller than neKrol. and much thinner; a hard bony woman with a long face, short black hair, and eyes without expression. The sweat-stained coveralls she wore hung loosely on her spare frame.
“Interesting,” she said finally, after studying the shard for several minutes. It was as hard and smooth as glass, but stronger; colored a translucent red, yet so very dark it was almost black. “A plastic?” she asked, throwing it back to the ground.
- This seems to be an anomaly such as dragonglass, oily black stone, or Valyrian melted stone material. There is no tree equivalent in ASOIAF. Weirwood sap I would speculate to be closest, but that derived of a natural element- Bran’s Last Supper.
A Storm of Swords – Samwell V
“Dragonglass.” The red woman’s laugh was music. “Frozen fire, in the tongue of old Valyria. Small wonder it is anathema to these cold children of the Other.”
“On Dragonstone, where I had my seat, there is much of this obsidian to be seen in the old tunnels beneath the mountain,” the king told Sam. “Chunks of it, boulders, ledges. The great part of it was black, as I recall, but there was some green as well, some red, even purple. I have sent word to Ser Rolland my castellan to begin mining it. I will not hold Dragonstone for very much longer, I fear, but perhaps the Lord of Light shall grant us enough frozen fire to arm ourselves against these creatures, before the castle falls.”
Sam cleared his throat. “S-sire. The dagger . . . the dragonglass only shattered when I tried to stab a wight.”
NeKrol shrugged. “That was my very guess, but of course it is impossible. The Jaenshi work in bone and wood and sometimes metal, but plastic is centuries beyond them.”
- Simple, primitive materials such as the Children of the Forest (CotF), Giants, and Free Folk (First Men) do.
- A typical Martin thing to do is to take a single character/archetype from an old story and then expand them into 2-3 for ASOIAF because he has the literary room to do so. These Jaenshi, the only natives to this planet, have been expanded into both the CotF and the Free Folk for Westeros in ASOIAF.
“Or behind them,” Ryther said. “You say these worship pyramids are scattered all through the forest?”
“Yes, as far as I have ranged. But the Angels have smashed all those close to their valley, to drive the Jaenshi away. As they expand, and they will expand, they will smash others.”
Ryther nodded. She looked down into the valley again, and as she did the last sliver of the Heart of Bakkalon slid below the western mountains and the city lights began to come on. The Jaenshi children swung in pools of soft blue illumination, and just above the city gates two stick figures could be seen working. Shortly they heaved something outward, a rope uncoiled, and then another small dark shadow jerked and twitched against the wall. “Why?” Ryther said, in a cool voice, watching.
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
A Clash of Kings – Tyrion X
“Nor do I, but . . .” This pause was longer than the one before, and when Varys spoke again his voice was different somehow. “I was an orphan boy apprenticed to a traveling folly. Our master owned a fat little cog and we sailed up and down the narrow sea performing in all the Free Cities and from time to time in Oldtown and King’s Landing.
“One day at Myr, a certain man came to our folly. After the performance, he made an offer for me that my master found too tempting to refuse. I was in terror. I feared the man meant to use me as I had heard men used small boys, but in truth the only part of me he had need of was my manhood. He gave me a potion that made me powerless to move or speak, yet did nothing to dull my senses. With a long hooked blade, he sliced me root and stem, chanting all the while. I watched him burn my manly parts on a brazier. The flames turned blue, and I heard a voice answer his call, though I did not understand the words they spoke.
NeKrol was anything but cool. “The Jaenshi tried to defend one of their pyramids. Spears and knives and rocks against the Steel Angels with lasers and blasters and screechguns. But they caught them unaware, killed a man. The Proctor announced it would not happen again.” He spat. “Evil. The children trust them, you see.”
A Game of Thrones – Prologue; a screechgun
The pale sword came shivering through the air.
Ser Waymar met it with steel. When the blades met, there was no ring of metal on metal; only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like an animal screaming in pain. Royce checked a second blow, and a third, then fell back a step. Another flurry of blows, and he fell back again.
- “The children” who trust the Steel Angels are a lot like Missandei, the one with eyes of molten gold (lava).
“Interesting,” Ryther said.
“Can you do anything?” neKrol asked, his voice agitated. “You have your ship, your crew. The Jaenshi need a protector, Jannis. They are helpless before the Angels.”
- The Jaenshi need a leader, something the Free Folk are already recognizing in, and behaving towards Jon Snow, King of Winter.
“I have four men in my crew,” Ryther said evenly. “Perhaps four hunting lasers as well.” That was all the answer she gave.
NeKrol looked at her helplessly. “Nothing?”
“Tomorrow, perhaps, the Proctor will call on us. He has surely seen the Lights descend. Perhaps the Angels wish to trade.” She glanced again into the valley. “Come, Arik, we must go back to your base. The trade goods must be loaded.”
Wyatt, Proctor of the Children of Bakkalon on the World of Corlos, was tall and red and skeletal, and the muscles stood out clearly on his bare arms. His blue-black hair was cropped very short, his carriage was stiff and erect. Like all the Steel Angels, he wore a uniform of chameleon cloth (a pale brown now, as he stood in the full light of day on the edge of the small, crude spacefield), a mesh-steel belt with hand-laser and communicator and screechgun, and a stiff red Roman collar. The tiny figurine that hung on a chain about his neck—the pale child Bakkalon, nude and innocent and bright-eyed, but holding a great black sword in one small fist—was the only sign of Wyatt’s rank.
- The World of Corlos is on page and discussed in detail in the highly recommended Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark story. This is also a detail that is near exactly duplicated in ASOIAF: Corlos, Corlys, Corliss, etc. This is where the “dragons” enter the world through fire and blood ritual: Dany learning the fire and blood rituals and then self-hatching her eggs, the Others at the wall, Euron and whatever he is doing, Cersei birthing her three self-pollinated dragonlettes, etc.
- Chameleon cloth is used in various Thousand World stories. It is a type of mirror-camouflague gear that primarily hunters wear- specifically “the thing that hunts the hunters”.
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.
- Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere.
- The red collar that Proctor Wyatt wears is just that of the priest-recruiters of the fiery Greeshka-god wear in the highly recommended story A Song for Lya, where they also worship a lava-styled god under a mountain (volcano). Pics in the link as well. In ASOIAF, wearing a collar is a sign you are a slave, and Melisandre is a slave to the red fire god R’hllor and she wears a red ruby collar. Daenerys removes her collar because that is her first step in the “a dragon is no slave” advancement, because a dragon is a slaver, if even a religious-mental slaver.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon IV
“Not me. I’m done with those bloody fools.” Rattleshirt tapped the ruby on his wrist. “Ask your red witch, bastard.”
Melisandre spoke softly in a strange tongue. The ruby at her throat throbbed slowly, and Jon saw that the smaller stone on Rattleshirt’s wrist was brightening and darkening as well. “So long as he wears the gem he is bound to me, blood and soul,” the red priestess said. “This man will serve you faithfully. The flames do not lie, Lord Snow.”
Perhaps not, Jon thought, but you do.
- The Steel Angels are a militant-religious organization. Daenerys, in her own unreliable POV is just an innocent (despite how people around her react to her statements and decisions). Daenerys is already fomenting herself as THE extreme fire-goddess, The Unsullied Lady of Battle/Spears, the Dothraki concepts of Khal(eesi) of Khals and Dragon in the North, and she knows when to use words to sway things her way. No less than thirteen times she uses a variation on the phrase, “I am but a young girl and know little of the ways of war.”
Four other Angels stood behind him: two men, two women, all dressed identically. There was a sameness about their faces, too; the hair always cropped tightly, whether it was blond or red or brown, the eyes alert and cold and a little fanatic, the upright posture that seemed to characterize members of the military-religious sect, the bodies hard and fit. NeKrol, who was soft and slouching and sloppy, disliked everything about the Angels.
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them … four … five … Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.
The pale sword came shivering through the air.
Proctor Wyatt had arrived shortly after dawn, sending one of his squad to pound on the door of the small gray prefab bubble that was neKrol’s trading base and home. Sleepy and angry, but with a guarded politeness, the trader had risen to greet the Angels, and had escorted them out to the center of the spacefield, where the scarred metal teardrop of the Lights of Jolostar squatted on three retractable legs.
The cargo ports were all sealed now; Ryther’s crew had spent most of the evening unloading neKrol’s trade goods and replacing them in the ship’s hold with crates of Jaenshi artifacts that might bring good prices from collectors of extraterrestrial art. No way of knowing until a dealer looked over the goods; Ryther had dropped neKrol only a year ago, and this was the first pickup.
“I am an independent trader, and Arik is my agent on this world,” Ryther told the Proctor when she met him on the edge of the field. “You must deal through him.”
- In this story, Jannis Ryther and the Bitterspeaker are an archetypypical combo of the ASOIAF Val, one of many “Val’s” throughout Martinworld. Jon and Val together are recreating a new Nymeria, down to near-exact line by line plot advancements.
“I see,” Proctor Wyatt said. He still held the list he had offered Ryther, of goods the Angels wanted from the industrialized colonies on Avalon and Jamison’s World. “But neKrol will not deal with us.”
Ryther looked at him blankly.
“With good reason,” neKrol said. “I trade with the Jaenshi, you slaughter them.”
- Again, Val as part of a new Nymeria is also shown through Val against the fiery Selyse.
The Proctor had spoken to neKrol often in the months since the Steel Angels had established their city-colony, and the talks had all ended in arguments; now he ignored him. “The steps we took were needed,” Wyatt said to Ryther. “When an animal kills a man, the animal must be punished, and other animals must see and learn, so that beasts may know that man, the seed of Earth and child of Bakkalon, is the lord and master of them all.”
NeKrol snorted. “The Jaenshi are not beasts, Proctor, they are an intelligent race, with their own religion and art and customs, and they …”
- Again, this is the Free Folk.
Wyatt looked at him. “They have no soul. Only the children of Bakkalon have souls, only the seed of Earth. What mind they may have is relevant only to you, and perhaps them. Soulless, they are beasts.”
- Janos Slynt is of Andal origin as well as being a pawn to the fiery Tywin Lannister. Among other things, Janos the “butcher” is a major bigot alongside Selyse. Jon is realizing that he is half a wolf as well as half a free folkian, but Janos only condems him for his identity, as Andals tend to do when they confront a being of the green-old gods as well as the “bastard” idea again.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon II
“Lord Janos,” Jon said, “I will give you one last chance. Put down that spoon and get to the stables. I have had your horse saddled and bridled. It is a long, hard road to Greyguard.”
“Then you had best be on your way, boy.” Slynt laughed, dribbling porridge down his chest. “Greyguard’s a good place for the likes of you, I’m thinking. Well away from decent godly folk. The mark of the beast is on you, bastard.“
- Dolorous Edd took hold of Slynt by one arm, Iron Emmett by the other. Together they hauled him from the bench. “No,” Lord Janos protested, flecks of porridge spraying from his lips. “No, unhand me. He’s just a boy, a bastard. His father was a traitor. The mark of the beast is on him, that wolf of his … Let go of me! You will rue the day you laid hands on Janos Slynt. I have friends in King’s Landing. I warn you—” He was still protesting as they half-marched, half-dragged him up the steps.
“Arik has shown me the worship pyramids they build,” Ryther said. “Surely creatures that build such shrines must have souls.”
The Proctor shook his head. “You are in error in your belief. It is written clearly in the Book. We, the seed of Earth, are truly the children of Bakkalon, and no others. The rest are animals, and in Bakkalon’s name we must assert our dominion over them.”
“Very well,” Ryther said. “But you will have to assert your dominion without aid from the Lights of Jolostar, I’m afraid. And I must inform you, Proctor, that I find your actions seriously disturbing, and intend to report them when I return to Jamison’s World.”
“I expected no less,” Wyatt said. “Perhaps by next year you will burn with love of Bakkalon, and we may talk again. Until then, the world of Corlos will survive.” He saluted her, and walked briskly from the field, followed by the four Steel Angels.
- A small sept was built for Lady Catelyn Tully, a southroner who is uncomfortable with the old gods and never liked the godswood. A sept added to Winterfell godswood = fire worship pyramid.
- Queen Alysanne and her ride north and to Winterfell is another antagonistic Steel Angel/Pyramid influence. Details here.
- Read about Corlos here in Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark.
- Selyse + Mel = Shireen burn, and this is associated with Stannis moving away from the fire-pyramid influence and closer to the trees (as The Winds of Winter preview chapter shows). Make no doubt, what Stannis did to the free folk at the wall was atrocious, it just seems as though he will come around as Jon did (realizing the free folk are simply humans) and will show his regrets. Stannis will be that boy as he has his own Proudwing moment of flight. This is also a Windhaven refrence.
- The four Angels following the Proctor is akin to the guards that follow Selyse at Castle Black, the ones Jon refers to as following like royal ducklings.
“What good will it do to report them?” neKrol said bitterly, after they had gone.
“None,” Ryther said, looking off toward the forest. The wind was kicking up the dust around her, and her shoulders slumped, as if she were very tired. “The Jamies won’t care, and if they did, what could they do?”
NeKrol remembered the heavy red-bound book that Wyatt had given him months ago. “And Bakkalon the pale child fashioned his children out of steel,” he quoted, “for the stars will break those of softer flesh. And in the hand of each new-made infant He placed a beaten sword, telling them, ‘This is the Truth and the Way.’ ” He spat in disgust. “That is their very creed. And we can do nothing?”
Her face was empty of expression now. “I will leave you two lasers. In a year, make sure the Jaenshi know how to use them. I believe I know what sort of trade goods I should bring.”
The Jaenshi lived in clans (as NeKrol thought of them) of twenty to thirty, each clan divided equally between adults and children, each having its own home-forest and worship pyramid. They did not build; they slept curled up in trees around their pyramid. For food, they foraged; juicy blue-black fruits grew everywhere, and there were three varieties of edible berries, a hallucinogenic leaf, and a soapy yellow root the Jaenshi dug for. NeKrol had found them to be hunters as well, though infrequently. A clan would go for months without meat, while the snuffling brown bushogs multiplied all around them, digging up roots and playing with the children.
- The hallucinogenic leaf is akin to sourleaf in ASOIAF, but also to other Martinworld drugs such as Esperon, Chronine, and the one used in The Stone City, and Armageddon Rag. The yellow root could be akin to Bloodraven feeding his tree-self to Bran which allows Bran to open his third eye.
- Borroq is a free folk skinchanger who can inhabit the body of a boar.
- The weirwoods grow all over, whereas the pyramids are a mind-control alien device that behave in ways similar to the fungus (not the nature/trees) from Men of Greywater Station. I will add that each castle in Westeros seems to have a weirwood and/or heart tree, almost trapped within its walls. Superficially similar, but functionally different.
- Free Folk are split into countless clans. However, even within these free-flower people there are “bad” ones. As the Free Folk pass through the wall, and the Frozen Shore clans start to arrive, that is when we get a warning from Tormund, as well as a near exact description of the Frozen Shore clans potentially being nefarious (in some way) when they are described just like the “death” in the GRRM story A Night at Tarn House.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XII
[Frozen Shore clan] The dogs that drew the chariots were fearsome beasts, as big as direwolves. Their women were clad in sealskins, some with infants at their breasts. Older children shuffled along behind their mothers and looked up at Jon with eyes as dark and hard as the stones they clutched. Some of the men wore antlers on their hats, and some wore walrus tusks. The two sorts did not love each other, he soon gathered. A few thin reindeer brought up the rear, with the great dogs snapping at the heels of stragglers.
“Be wary o’ that lot, Jon Snow,” Tormund warned him. “A savage folk. The men are bad, the women worse.” He took a skin off his saddle and offered it up to Jon. “Here. This will make them seem less fearsome, might be. And warm you for the night. No, go on, it’s yours to keep. Drink deep.”
Then suddenly, when the bushog population had reached some critical point, the Jaenshi spearmen would walk among them calmly, killing two out of every three, and that week great hog roasts would be held each night around the pyramid. Similar patterns could be discerned with the white-bodied tree slugs that sometimes covered the fruit trees like a plague, until the Jaenshi gathered them for a stew, and with the fruit-stealing pseudomonks that haunted the higher limbs.
- What we are seeing here is the influence that the pyramids have on the Jaenshi, making them do things that they would not necessarily do with their own free will. This will come up again with more detail later in the story.
- Additionally, there is speculation among certain parts of the fandom that believe Melsisandre will temporarily take over Castle Black after Jon’s mutiny attempt and will burn a lot of Free Folk that she has locked inside the Shieldhall. (I will add a link to the theory here when I locate one-> A 2013 idea here, more on the way )
So far as neKrol could tell, there were no predators in the forests of the Jaenshi. In his early months on their world, he had worn a long force-knife and a hand-laser as he walked from pyramid to pyramid on his trade route. But he had never encountered anything even remotely hostile, and now the knife lay broken in his kitchen, while the laser was long lost.
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
Royce’s body lay facedown in the snow…
He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XII
Howd Wanderer swore his oath upon his sword, as nicked and pitted a piece of iron as Jon had ever seen. Devyn Sealskinner presented him with a sealskin hat, Harle the Huntsman with a bear-claw necklace. The warrior witch Morna removed her weirwood mask just long enough to kiss his gloved hand and swear to be his man or his woman, whichever he preferred. And on and on and on.
As they passed, each warrior stripped off his treasures and tossed them into one of the carts that the stewards had placed before the gate. Amber pendants, golden torques, jeweled daggers, silver brooches set with gemstones, bracelets, rings, niello cups and golden goblets, warhorns and drinking horns, a green jade comb, a necklace of freshwater pearls … all yielded up and noted down by Bowen Marsh. One man surrendered a shirt of silver scales that had surely been made for some great lord. Another produced a broken sword with three sapphires in the hilt.
The day after the Lights of Jolostar departed, neKrol went armed into the forest again, with one of Ryther’s hunting lasers slung over his shoulder.
Less than two kilometers from his base, neKrol found the camp of the Jaenshi he called the waterfall folk. They lived up against the side of a heavily-wooded hill, where a stream of tumbling blue-white water came sliding and bouncing down, dividing and rejoining itself over and over, so the whole hillside was an intricate glittering web of waterfalls and rapids and shallow pools and spraying wet curtains. The clan’s worship pyramid sat in the bottommost pool, on a flat gray stone in the middle of the eddies; taller than most Jaenshi, coming up to neKrol’s chin, looking infinitely heavy and solid and immovable, a three-sided block of dark, dark red.
NeKrol was not fooled: he had seen other pyramids sliced to pieces by the lasers of the Steel Angels and shattered by the flames of their blasters; whatever powers the pyramids might have in Jaenshi myth, whatever mysteries might lie behind their origin, it was not enough to stay the swords of Bakkalon.
The glade around the pyramid-pool was alive with sunlight when NeKrol entered, and the long grasses swayed in the light breeze, but most of the waterfall folk were elsewhere. In the trees perhaps, climbing and coupling and pulling down fruits, or ranging through the forests on their hill. The trader found only a few small children riding on a bushog in the clearing when he arrived. He sat down to wait, warm in the sunlight.
Soon the old talker appeared.
- I swear to the old gods and the new that Samwell Tarly is not only learning the old speach of ravens, but will communicate with Bran as well. Yup, it’s written up here how and why.
- Again we have a few broadstrokes to Missandei, the little golden-eyed girl who is loyal to Daenerys. In addition to her being a ‘speaker’, she tells a story of how her brothers (her clan) would climb and play in trees, until they were captured and made slaves. A curious thing is that in ADWD, Jhiqui calls Missandei a slave to Daenerys, even though Jhiqui was there when Missandei was “freed”. This reads to me like the infamous unreliable POV GRRM says he wrote in to each character:
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys II
“Your slave Missandei.” Jhiqui had a taper in her hand.
“My servant. I have no slaves.” Dany did not understand. “Why does she weep?”
“For him who was her brother,” Irri told her.
He sat down next to neKrol, a tiny shriveled Jaenshi with only a few patches of dirty gray-white fur left to hide the wrinkles in his skin. He was toothless, clawless, feeble; but his eyes, wide and golden and pupilless as those of any Jaenshi, were still alert, alive. He was the talker of the waterfall folk, the one in closest communion with the worship pyramid. Every clan had a talker.
- This is also another Bloodraven type of proto-character, one of many GRRM has created before adding Bloodraven to ASOIAF.
“I have something new to trade,” neKrol said, in the soft slurred speech of the Jaenshi. He had learned the tongue before coming here, back on Avalon. Tomas Chung, the legendary Avalonian linguist, had broken it centuries before, when the Kleronomas Survey brushed by this world. No other human had visited the Jaenshi since, but the maps of Kleronomas and Chung’s language-pattern analysis both remained alive in the computers at the Avalon Institute for the Study of Non-Human Intelligence.
- Kleronomas is a legendary character talked about through much of thr Thousand Worlds universe of stories. Like Bran the Builder, he never actually appears on page, but we have his stories and we know he started the Acdemy of Knowledge (weirwood-net in ASOIAF terms). Ultimately he is a near exact prototype to both Bran and Bloodraven.
- While Kleronomas himself never appears on page, we do have a substitute in his body show up and play the ‘game of mind” with the incredibly close Daenerys protoype named Cyrain of Lilith and Ash in the GRRM story The Glass Flower. Another highly recommended read.
“We have made you more statues, have fashioned new woods,” the old talker said. “What have you brought? Salt?”
- The Jaenshi prize salt above anything else.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon III
Val stood on the platform as still as if she had been carved of salt. She will not weep nor look away. Jon wondered what Ygritte would have done in her place. The women are the strong ones. He found himself thinking about Sam and Maester Aemon, about Gilly and the babe. She will curse me with her dying breath, but I saw no other way. Eastwatch reported savage storms upon the narrow sea. I meant to keep them safe. Did I feed them to the crabs instead? Last night he had dreamed of Sam drowning, of Ygritte dying with his arrow in her (it had not been his arrow, but in his dreams it always was), of Gilly weeping tears of blood.
Jon Snow had seen enough. “Now,” he said.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon VIII
I hope not. Jon was counting on that, trusting that Val could succeed where Black Jack Bulwer and his companions had failed. She need fear no harm from the free folk, he hoped … but both of them knew too well that wildlings were not the only ones waiting in the woods. “You have sufficient food?”
“Hard bread, hard cheese, oat cakes, salt cod, salt beef, salt mutton, and a skin of sweet wine to rinse all that salt out of my mouth. I will not die of hunger.”
A Storm of Swords – Bran IV; his baptismal
“I am the sword in the darkness,” Samwell Tarly said. “I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers. I am the shield that guards the realms of men.”
“Then pass,” the door said. Its lips opened, wide and wider and wider still, until nothing at all remained but a great gaping mouth in a ring of wrinkles. Sam stepped aside and waved Jojen through ahead of him. Summer followed, sniffing as he went, and then it was Bran’s turn. Hodor ducked, but not low enough. The door’s upper lip brushed softly against the top of Bran’s head, and a drop of water fell on him and ran slowly down his nose. It was strangely warm, and salty as a tear.
NeKrol undid his knapsack, laid it out, and opened it. He took out one of the bricks of salt he carried, and laid it before the old talker. “Salt,” he said. “And more.” He laid the hunting rifle before the Jaenshi.
“What is this?” the old talker asked.
“Do you know of the Steel Angels?” neKrol asked.
The other nodded, a gesture neKrol had taught him. “The godless who run from the dead valley speak of them. They are the ones who make the gods grow silent, the pyramid breakers.”
“This is a tool like the Steel Angels use to break your pyramids,” neKrol said. “I am offering it to you in trade.”
The old talker sat very still. “But we do not wish to break pyramids,” he said.
“This tool can be used for other things,” neKrol said. “In time, the Steel Angels may come here, to break the pyramid of the waterfall folk. If by then you have tools like this, you can stop them. The people of the pyramid in the ring-of-stone tried to stop the Steel Angels with spears and knives, and now they are scattered and wild and their children hang dead from the walls of the City of the Steel Angels. Other clans of the Jaenshi were unresisting, yet now they too are godless and landless. The time will come when the waterfall folk will need this tool, old talker.”
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III
As the riding became less an ordeal, Dany began to notice the beauties of the land around her. She rode at the head of the khalasar with Drogo and his bloodriders, so she came to each country fresh and unspoiled. Behind them the great horde might tear the earth and muddy the rivers and send up clouds of choking dust, but the fields ahead of them were always green and verdant.
They crossed the rolling hills of Norvos, past terraced farms and small villages where the townsfolk watched anxiously from atop white stucco walls. They forded three wide placid rivers and a fourth that was swift and narrow and treacherous, camped beside a high blue waterfall, skirted the tumbled ruins of a vast dead city where ghosts were said to moan among blackened marble columns. They raced down Valyrian roads a thousand years old and straight as a Dothraki arrow. For half a moon, they rode through the Forest of Qohor, where the leaves made a golden canopy high above them, and the trunks of the trees were as wide as city gates. There were great elk in that wood, and spotted tigers, and lemurs with silver fur and huge purple eyes, but all fled before the approach of the khalasar and Dany got no glimpse of them.
By then her agony was a fading memory. She still ached after a long day’s riding, yet somehow the pain had a sweetness to it now, and each morning she came willingly to her saddle, eager to know what wonders waited for her in the lands ahead. She began to find pleasure even in her nights, and if she still cried out when Drogo took her, it was not always in pain.
The Jaenshi elder lifted the laser and turned it curiously in his small withered hands. “We must pray on this,” he said. “Stay, Arik. Tonight we shall tell you, when the god looks down on us. Until then, we shall trade.” He rose abruptly, gave a swift glance at the pyramid across the pool, and faded into the forest, still holding the laser.
NeKrol sighed. He had a long wait before him; the prayer assemblies never came until sundown. He moved to the edge of the pool and unlaced his heavy boots to soak his sweaty, calloused feet in the crisp cold waters.
- Worship of R’hllor happens when the night arrives. The worship ceremonies last for hours. Even the marriage of Alys Karstark to the new Magnar in ADWD- Jon X takes a long time and people are freezing.
A Storm of Swords – Davos VI
“Lord Davos? We’d best be about it.” Ser Andrew touched his elbow gently. “My lord?”
The title still rang queer in his ears, yet Davos turned away from the window. “Aye. It’s time.” Stannis, Melisandre, and the queen’s men would be at their prayers an hour or more. The red priests lit their fires every day at sunset, to thank R’hllor for the day just ending, and beg him to send his sun back on the morrow to banish the gathering darkness.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI
Bowen Marsh opened his mouth. No words came out. A flush crept up his neck.
Jon Snow turned away. The last light of the sun had begun to fade. He watched the cracks along the Wall go from red to grey to black, from streaks of fire to rivers of black ice. Down below, Lady Melisandre would be lighting her nightfire and chanting, Lord of Light, defend us, for the night is dark and full of terrors.
When he looked up, the first of the carvers had arrived; a lithe young Jaenshi female with a touch of auburn in her body fur. Silent (they were all silent in neKrol’s presence, all save the talker), she offered him her work.
It was a statuette no larger than his fist, a heavy-breasted fertility goddess fashioned out of the fragrant, thin-veined blue wood of the fruit trees. She sat cross-legged on a triangular base, and three thin slivers of bone rose from each corner of the triangle to meet above her head in a blob of clay.
- Lysa Tully in the Eyrie, blue flame, and connected to blue-veined makeup poisoning.
- The blue & black Shade of the Evening tree.
NeKrol took the carving, turned it this way and that, and nodded his approval. The Jaenshi smiled and vanished, taking the salt brick with her. Long after she was gone. neKrol continued to admire his acquisition. He had traded all his life, spending ten years among the squid-faced gethsoids of Aath and four with the stick-thin Fyndii, traveling a trader’s circuit to a half-dozen stone age planets that had once been slaveworlds of the broken Hrangan Empire; but nowhere had he found artists like the Jaenshi. Not for the first time, he wondered why neither Kleronomas nor Chung had mentioned the native carvings. He was glad they hadn’t, though, and fairly certain that once the dealers saw the crates of wooden gods he had sent back with Ryther, the world would be overrun by traders. As it was, he had been sent here entirely on speculation, in hopes of finding a Jaenshi drug or herb or liquor that might move well in stellar trade. Instead he’d found the art, like an answer to a prayer.
- On this world, only the Jaenshi are the only native out of all the characters (and pyramids) on page.
- There is a Fyndii on page in The Glass Flower.
Other workmen came and went as the morning turned to afternoon and the afternoon to dusk, setting their craft before him. He looked over each piece carefully, taking some and declining others, paying for what he took in salt. Before full darkness had descended, a small pile of goods sat by his right hand; a matched set of redstone knives, a gray deathcloth woven from the fur of an elderly Jaenshi by his widow and friends (with his face wrought upon it in the silky golden hairs of a pseudomonk), a bone spear with tracings that reminded neKrol of the runes of Old Earth legend; and statues. The statues were his favorites, always; so often alien art was alien beyond comprehension, but the Jaenshi workmen touched emotional chords in him. The gods they carved, each sitting in a bone pyramid, wore Jaenshi faces, yet at the same time seemed archetypically human: stern-faced war gods, things that looked oddly like satyrs, fertility goddesses like the one he had bought, almost-manlike warriors and nymphs. Often neKrol had wished that he had a formal education in extee anthropology, so that he might write a book on the universals of myth. The Jaenshi surely had a rich mythology, though the talkers never spoke of it; nothing else could explain the carvings. Perhaps the old gods were no longer worshipped, but they were still remembered.
- Daenerys’ title in Meereen is not “your grace”, which is a term used for temple sex workers, but rather her title is “Your Worship”. As well as this literally being Dany’s title as she resides within her largest pyramid, this is what the common folk outside are doing in her honor; worship and proselytizing.
- “Myhsa” is a word for worship, as well as mother, which we know in this story the Mother is part of the Andal worship of the Seven. The word “mhysa“, was derived from the Latin/Catholic term for “missa”, which means mass… as in a composition setting several sung parts to prayer. I discussed this in this page here and something that is shown whenever “mhysa” is called. Daenerys, as the Pale Child Bakkalon, will (begrudgenly?) merge with the Seven as Aegon the Dragon first did, in order to help seal his invasion/conquest. (as GRRM calls Dany’s landing in Westeros)
- The trees do not require worship. There is nothing in ASOIAF that says this. What we have here is more mental influence the pyramids have over the native Jaenshi. This is also just like the caarvings the insects in Sandkings do when they worship Simon Kress, who is another Martinworld protoype for Daenerys Targaryen. Simon Kress buys four sets of Sandkin bugs specifically because they will worship him and they carve faces in his likeness as they develop, eventually having a mental psi-link bond with Simon.
By the time the Heart of Bakkalon went down and the last reddish rays ceased to filter through the looming trees, neKrol had gathered as much as he could carry, and his salt was all but exhausted. He laced up his boots again, packed his acquisitions with painstaking care, and sat patiently in the poolside grass, waiting. One by one, the waterfall folk joined him. Finally the old talker returned.
The prayers began.
The old talker, with the laser still in his hand, waded carefully across the night-dark waters, to squat by the black bulk of the pyramid. The others, adults and children together, now some forty strong, chose spots in the grass near the banks, behind neKrol and around him. Like him, they looked out over the pool, at the pyramid and the talker outlined clearly in the light of a new-risen, oversized moon. Setting the laser down on the stone, the old talker pressed both palms flat against the side of the pyramid, and his body seemed to go stiff, while all the other Jaenshi also tensed and grew very quiet.
- What is happening here is something called proximity telepathy- mental slavery in this case. Anyone who has read any of George R.R. Martin’s woork knows how often he uses various forms of telepathy, or, psi-link mental powers. Telepathy/Mind Reading is a psychic power that allows a character to read another person’s thoughts and/or communicate with them mentally. The closer you are to the pyramid, especially with a touch, the more entranced you are. This proximity to the pyramids creates violent ideas.
- In addtion, in Martinworld there is bodily slavery, as well as mental chains of slavery (manipulation through telepathy or religious reasons, as a common example). Freeing one type just to use them for the other is still being a slaver.
- This is one of a few reasons why it seems that Stannis is believing less and less in Melisandre and the religion of R’hllor and won’t follow under the compulsion to burn Shireen, rather Selyse and Melisandre (who are at the ice-dragon wall), they will instead.
NeKrol shifted restlessly and fought a yawn. It was not the first time he’d sat through a prayer ritual, and he knew the routine. A good hour of boredom lay before him; the Jaenshi did silent worship. and there was nothing to be heard but their steady breathing, nothing to be seen but forty impassive faces. Sighing, the trader tried to relax, closing his eyes and concentrating on the soft grass beneath him and the warm breeze that tossed his wild mane of hair. Here, briefly, he found peace. How long would it last, he mused, should the Steel Angels leave their valley . . .
A Dance with Dragons – Jon X
He glanced at Queen Selyse. There must have been a blizzard the day she and Stannis wed… She hates the cold but loves the flames. He had only to look at her to see that. A word from Melisandre, and she would walk into the fire willingly, embrace it like a lover.
Not all her queen’s men seemed to share her fervor. Ser Brus appeared half-drunk, Ser Malegorn’s gloved hand was cupped round the arse of the lady beside him, Ser Narbert was yawning, and Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain looked angry. Jon Snow had begun to understand why Stannis had left them with his queen.
“The night is dark and filled with terrors,” Melisandre sang. “Alone we are born and alone we die, but as we walk through this black vale we draw strength from one another, and from you, our lord.” Her scarlet silks and satins swirled with every gust of wind. “Two come forth today to join their lives, so they may face this world’s darkness together. Fill their hearts with fire, my lord, so they may walk your shining path hand in hand forever.”
The hour passed, but neKrol, lost in meditation, scarce felt the flow of time. Until suddenly he heard the rustlings and chatter around him, as the waterfall folk rose and went back into the forest. And then the old talker stood in front of him, and laid the laser at his feet.
“No,” he said simply.
NeKrol started. “What? But you must. Let me show you what it can do…”
“I have had a vision, Arik. The god has shown me. But also he has shown me that it would not be a good thing to take this in trade.”
“Old talker, the Steel Angels will come . . .”
“If they come, our god shall speak to them,” the Jaenshi elder said, in his purring speech, but there was finality in the gentle voice, and no appeal in the vast liquid eyes.
“For our food, we thank ourselves, none other. It is ours because we worked for it, ours because we fought for it, ours by the only right that is: the right of the strong. But for that strength—for the might of our arms and the steel of our swords and the fire in our hearts—we thank Bakkalon, the pale child, who gave us life and taught us how to keep it.”
- This is a reference to the Law of the Jungle from the beginning.
- Also roads, the idea of expansionism that brings (paved/Valyrian) roads to a story that is also showing the repression and elimination of the indigineous is not a good thing in his story’s. Sorry Jaehaerys. This is also something GRRM was inspired to use that comes from indigenous American culture (something he says he has used as inspiration); Prophecies of White Feather, a Hopi of the ancient Bear Clan Snakes of iron.
The Proctor stood stiffly at the centermost of the five long wooden tables that stretched the length of the great mess hall, pronouncing each word of the grace with solemn dignity. His large veined hands pressed tightly together as he spoke, against the flat of the upward-jutting sword, and the dim lights had faded his uniform to an almost-black. Around him, the Steel Angels sat at attention, their food untouched before them; fat boiled tubers, steaming chunks of bushog meat, black bread, bowls of crunchy green neograss. Children below the fighting age of ten, in smocks of starchy white and the omnipresent mesh-steel belts, filled the two outermost tables beneath the slit-like windows; toddlers struggled to sit still under the watchful eyes of stern nine-year-old houseparents with hardwood batons in their belts. Further in, the fighting brotherhood sat, fully armed, at two equally long tables, men and women alternating, leather-skinned veterans sitting next to ten-year-olds who had barely moved from the children’s dorm to the barracks. All of them wore the same chameleon cloth as Wyatt, though without his collar, and a few had buttons of rank. The center table, less than half the length of the others, held the cadre of the Steel Angels; the squadfathers and squadmothers, the weaponsmasters, the healers, the four fieldbishops, all those who wore the high, stiff crimson collar. And the Proctor, at its head.
- Note how each position is like an aspect of a god from the Andal worship of the Faith of the Seven.
- Cupbearer/hostages of Daenerys, Devan Seaworth is Melisandre’s hostage and has a prototype in the story A Song For Lya, and Jon takes hostages at the Wall as the Free Folk pass and pay him homage.
- This war planning table surrounded by Steel Angels is very much serves the same narrative purpose as the “artifact” table called the Siege Perilous as GRRM used in The Glass Flower, as well as the Painted Table of Dragonstone, also called an “artifact” and directly compares to the Siege Perilous from The Glass Flower.
“Let us eat,” Wyatt said at last. His sword moved above his table with a whoosh, describing the slash of blessing, and he sat to his meal. The Proctor, like all the others, had stood single-file in the line that wound past the kitchen to the mess hall, and his portions were no larger than the least of the brotherhood.
There was a clink of knives and forks, and the infrequent clatter of a plate, and from time to time the thwack of a baton, as a house-parent punished some transgression of discipline by one of his charges; other than that, the hall was silent. The Steel Angels did not speak at meals, but rather meditated on the lessons of the day as they consumed their spartan fare.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys X
A vast herd of horses appeared below them. There were riders too, a score or more, but they turned and fled at the first sight of the dragon. The horses broke and ran when the shadow fell upon them, racing through the grass until their sides were white with foam, tearing the ground with their hooves … but as swift as they were, they could not fly. Soon one horse began to lag behind the others. The dragon descended on him, roaring, and all at once the poor beast was aflame, yet somehow he kept on running, screaming with every step, until Drogon landed on him and broke his back. Dany clutched the dragon’s neck with all her strength to keep from sliding off.
The carcass was too heavy for him to bear back to his lair, so Drogon consumed his kill there, tearing at the charred flesh as the grasses burned around them, the air thick with drifting smoke and the smell of burnt horsehair. Dany, starved, slid off his back and ate with him, ripping chunks of smoking meat from the dead horse with bare, burned hands. In Meereen I was a queen in silk, nibbling on stuffed dates and honeyed lamb, she remembered. What would my noble husband think if he could see me now? Hizdahr would be horrified, no doubt. But Daario …
Afterwards, the children—still silent—marched out of the hall, back to their dormitory. The fighting brotherhood followed, some to chapel, most to the barracks, a few to guard duty on the walls. The men they were relieving would find late meals still warm in the kitchen.
- Euron’s Silence, what Illyrio does to the little birds or mice, the Silent Sisters of the Faith of the Seven.
The officer core remained; after the plates were cleared away, the meal became a staff meeting.
“At ease,” Wyatt said, but the figures along the table relaxed little, if at all. Relaxation had been bred out of them by now. The Proctor found one of them with his eyes. “Dhallis,” he said, “you have the report I requested?”
- This is a bit like Dalla on Dragonstone who reports on the comet and Melisandre.
- Cyrain of Lilith and Ash wishes she had a Steel Angel body to steal as mentioned in The Glass Flower.
Fieldbishop Dhallis nodded. She was a husky middle-aged woman with thick muscles and skin the color of brown leather. On her collar was a small steel insignia, an ornamental memory-chip that meant Computer Services. “Yes, Proctor,” she said, in a hard, precise voice. “Jamison’s World is a fourth-generation colony, settled mostly from Old Poseidon. One large continent, almost entirely unexplored, and more than twelve thousand islands of various sizes. The human population is concentrated almost entirely on the islands, and makes its living by farming sea and land, aquatic husbandry, and heavy industry. The oceans are rich in food and metal. The total population is about seventy-nine million. There are two large cities, both with spaceports: Port Jamison and Jolostar.” She looked down at the computer printout on the table. “Jamison’s World was not even charted at the time of the Double War. It has never known military action, and the only Jamie armed forces are their planetary police. It has no colonial program and has never attempted to claim political jurisdiction beyond its own atmosphere.”
- The planet Jamison’s World takes page in This Tower of Ashes. It stands in absolute contrast to the Steel Angels and thier miltairly religious methods of colonization. The report the Proctor wanted was to make sure the Jamie’s can’t retaliate against them and their fire weapons. A complete imbalance in warfare.
- This Double War is very much like the upcoming Dance of Dragons/Long Night in ASOIAF. This is why Bran has to learn to fly, to be able to move society forward after this ASOIAF interrgenum- regain “spaceflight” (as noted in the beginning of this page).
The Proctor nodded. “Excellent. Then the trader’s threat to report us is essentially an empty one. We can proceed. Squadfather Walman?”
“Four Jaenshi were taken today, Proctor, and are now on the walls,” Walman reported. He was a ruddy young man with a blond crewcut and large ears. “If I might, sir, I would request discussion of possible termination of the campaign. Each day we search harder for less. We have virtually wiped out every Jaenshi youngling of the clans who originally inhabited Sword Valley.”
A Clash of Kings – Daenerys I
“The black,” she said, “is Drogon.”
Yet even as her dragons prospered, her khalasar withered and died. Around them the land turned ever more desolate. Even devilgrass grew scant; horses dropped in their tracks, leaving so few that some of her people must trudge along on foot. Doreah took a fever and grew worse with every league they crossed. Her lips and hands broke with blood blisters, her hair came out in clumps, and one evenfall she lacked the strength to mount her horse. Jhogo said they must leave her or bind her to her saddle, but Dany remembered a night on the Dothraki sea, when the Lysene girl had taught her secrets so that Drogo might love her more. She gave Doreah water from her own skin, cooled her brow with a damp cloth, and held her hand until she died, shivering. Only then would she permit the khalasar to press on.
They saw no sign of other travelers. The Dothraki began to mutter fearfully that the comet had led them to some hell. Dany went to Ser Jorah one morning as they made camp amidst a jumble of black wind-scoured stones. “Are we lost?” she asked him. “Does this waste have no end to it?”
Wyatt nodded. “Other opinions?”
Fieldbishop Lyon, blue-eyed and gaunt, indicated dissent. “The adults remain alive. The mature beast is more dangerous than the youngling, Squadfather.”
“Not in this case,” Weapons-master C’ara DaHan said. DaHan was a giant of a man, bald and bronze-colored, the chief of Psychological Weaponry and Enemy Intelligence. “Our studies show that, once the pyramid is destroyed, neither full-grown Jaenshi nor the immature pose any threat whatsoever to the children of Bakkalon. Their social structure virtually disintegrates. The adults either flee, hoping to join some other clan, or revert to near-animal savagery. They abandon the younglings, most of whom fend for themselves in a confused sort of way and offer no resistance when we take them. Considering the number of Jaenshi on our walls, and those reported slain by predators or each other, I strongly feel that Sword Valley is virtually clean of the animals. Winter is coming, Proctor, and much must be done. Squadfather Walman and his men should be set to other tasks.”
- Here the Angels are preparing for winter, for a long stay.
- The phrase “Winter is coming” has also been defined in the story For a Single Yesterday. It seems to mean “Winter”, with a capital W, like Snow with a capital S. It is more of a prophetic device than anything.
A Game of Thrones – Catelyn I
Ned frowned. “He must learn to face his fears. He will not be three forever. And winter is coming.”
“Yes,” Catelyn agreed. The words gave her a chill, as they always did. The Stark words. Every noble house had its words. Family mottoes, touchstones, prayers of sorts, they boasted of honor and glory, promised loyalty and truth, swore faith and courage. All but the Starks. Winter is coming, said the Stark words. Not for the first time, she reflected on what a strange people these northerners were.
There was more discussion, but the tone had been set; most of the speakers backed DaHan. Wyatt listened carefully, and all the while prayed to Bakkalon for guidance. Finally he motioned for quiet.
“Squadfather,” he said to Walman, “tomorrow collect all the Jaenshi—both adults and children— that you can, but do not hang them if they are unresisting. Instead, take them to the city, and show them their clanmates on our walls. Then cast them from the valley, one in each direction of the compass.” He bowed his head. “It is my hope that they will carry a message, to all the Jaenshi, of the price that must be paid when a beast raises hand or claw or blade against the seed of Earth. Then, when the spring comes and the children of Bakkalon move beyond Sword Valley, the Jaenshi will peacefully abandon their pyramids and quit whatever lands men may require, so the glory of the pale child might be spread.”
- Expansionism, or Manifest Destiny. The belief that a land is preordained property and the occupier has the rights to own as much as possible. Both the Andal invasion and Aegon’s Conquest are ASOIAF examples.
Lyon and DaHan both nodded, among others. “Speak wisdom to us,” Fieldbishop Dhallis said then.
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VI
“No. He cannot have my son.” She would not weep, she decided. She would not shiver with fear. The Usurper has woken the dragon now, she told herself … and her eyes went to the dragon’s eggs resting in their nest of dark velvet. The shifting lamplight limned their stony scales, and shimmering motes of jade and scarlet and gold swam in the air around them, like courtiers around a king.
Was it madness that seized her then, born of fear? Or some strange wisdom buried in her blood? Dany could not have said. She heard her own voice saying, “Ser Jorah, light the brazier.”
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X
As she climbed down off the pyre, she noticed Mirri Maz Duur watching her. “You are mad,” the godswife said hoarsely.
“Is it so far from madness to wisdom?” Dany asked. “Ser Jorah, take this maegi and bind her to the pyre.”
Proctor Wyatt agreed. One of the lesser-ranking squadmothers brought him the Book, and he opened it to the Chapter of Teachings.
“In those days much evil had come upon the seed of Earth,” the Proctor read, “for the children of Bakkalon had abandoned Him to bow to softer gods. So their skies grew dark and upon them from above came the Sons of Hranga with red eyes and demon teeth, and upon them from below came the vast Horde of Fyndii like a cloud of locusts that blotted out the stars. And the worlds flamed, and the children cried out, ‘Save us! Save us!’
“And the pale child came and stood before them, with His great sword in His hand, and in a voice like thunder He rebuked them. ‘You have been weak children,’ He told them, ‘for you have disobeyed. Where are your swords? Did I not set swords in your hands?’
“And the children cried out, ‘We have beaten them into plowshares, oh Bakkalon!’
“And He was sore angry. ‘With plowshares, then, shall you face the Sons of Hranga! With plowshares shall you slay the Horde of Fyndii!’ And He left them, and heard no more their weeping, for the Heart of Bakkalon is a Heart of Fire.
“But then one among the seed of Earth dried his tears, for the skies did burn so bright that they ran scalding on his cheeks. And the bloodlust rose in him and he beat his plowshare back into a sword, and charged the Sons of Hranga, slaying as he went. Then others saw, and followed, and a great battle-cry rang across the worlds.
“And the pale child heard, and came again, for the sound of battle is more pleasing to his ears than the sound of wails. And when He saw, He smiled. ‘Now you are my children again,’ He said to the seed of Earth. ‘For you had turned against me to worship a god who calls himself a lamb, but did you not know that lambs go only to the slaughter? Yet now your eyes have cleared, and again you are the Wolves of God!’
“And Bakkalon gave them all swords again, all His children and all the seed of Earth, and He lifted his great black blade, the Demon-Reaver that slays the soulless, and swung it. And the Sons of Hranga fell before His might, and the great Horde that was the Fyndii burned beneath His gaze. And the children of Bakkalon swept across the worlds.”
The Proctor lifted his eyes. “Go, my brothers-in-arms, and think on the Teachings of Bakkalon as you sleep. May the pale child grant you visions!”
They were dismissed.
- The Red Lamb in the Barristan TWOW chapter makes the ASOIAF version of “beat your ploughshares into swords” speech. He is Lhazarene (peaceful lamb people) and he is now converting to the “red” effectively following history of how the Dothraki used to be lamb men untilt they found fire. Same with ancient Valyrians who were shepherds until they merged with fire.
The Winds of Winter – Barristan I
“Every boy feels the same way on the eve of battle. Aye, and grown men as well. Those Stormcrows over there are feeling the same thing. So are the Dothraki. There is no shame in fear, unless you let it master you. We all taste terror in our time.”
“I am not afraid.” The Red Lamb’s voice was loud, almost to the point of shouting. “Should I die, I will go before the Great Shepherd of Lhazar, break his crook across my knee, and say to him, <i>’Why did you make your people lambs, when the world is full of wolves?'</i> Then I will spit into his eye.”
Ser Barristan smiled. “Well said…but take care that you do not seek death out there, or you will surely find it. The Stranger comes for all of us, but we need not rush into his arms.
- Daenerys has two experiences linking her to the “wolves of god” child concept:
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VIII
“The maegi,” someone else said. Was that Aggo? “Take her to the maegi.”
No, Dany wanted to say, no, not that, you mustn’t, but when she opened her mouth, a long wail of pain escaped, and the sweat broke over her skin. What was wrong with them, couldn’t they see? Inside the tent the shapes were dancing, circling the brazier and the bloody bath, dark against the sandsilk, and some did not look human. She glimpsed the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys X
As the world darkened, Dany settled in and closed her eyes, but sleep refused to come…
Off in the distance, a wolf howled. The sound made her feel sad and lonely, but no less hungry. As the moon rose above the grasslands, Dany slipped at last into a restless sleep.
- This idea of throwing down ploughshares and taking up swords again is a rejection of peace in favor of war. GRRM has quite a bit of backstory written into this piece, all of which is both politically and zealot-religious motivated.
- All of these details and source refrences are discussed in the following page, one page I will say explicitly details the connections to Daenerys as well: Bakkalon the Pale Child, and Flames.
- This also includes House Darry, suporter of House Targaryen. Ones who use a ‘black man’ plantation worker as a sigil, not unlike the other Martinworld connections GRRM uses that links Daenerys/Targaryens to archetypes such as Damon Julian from Fevre Dream.
The trees on the hill were bare and glazed with ice, and the snow-unbroken except for their footsteps and the stirrings of the bitter-sharp north wind—gleamed a blinding white in the noon sun. In the valley beneath, the City of the Steel Angels looked preternaturally clean and still. Great snowdrifts had piled against the eastern walls, climbing halfway up the stark scarlet stone; the gates had not opened in months. Long ago, the children of Bakkalon had taken their harvest and fallen back inside the city, to huddle around their fires. But for the blue lights that burned late into the cold black night, and the occasional guard pacing atop the walls, neKrol would hardly have known that the Angels still lived.
- This is sounding a lot like Castle Black during A Dance with Dragons, including the ignorance of the Others being right there… like, right there! The Wall is the biggest mirror/Gate of Corlos in Westeros, and Melisandre is going to spark the Armageddon Rag of the Double War Dance.
A Dance with Dragons – Bran II
Bran blinked back a tear and felt it freeze upon his cheek. Coldhands took Hodor by the arm. “The light is fading. If they’re not here now, they will be soon. Come.”
Wordless for once, Hodor slapped the snow off his legs, and plowed upward through the snowdrifts with Bran upon his back. Coldhands stalked beside them, his blade in a black hand. Summer came after. In some places the snow was higher than he was, and the big direwolf had to stop and shake it off after plunging through the thin crust. As they climbed, Bran turned awkwardly in his basket to watch as Meera slid an arm beneath her brother to lift him to his feet. He’s too heavy for her. She’s half-starved, she’s not as strong as she was. She clutched her frog spear in her other hand, jabbing the tines into the snow for a little more support. Meera had just begun to struggle up the hill, half-dragging and half-carrying her little brother, when Hodor passed between two trees, and Bran lost sight of them.
The hill grew steeper. Drifts of snow cracked under Hodor’s boots. Once a rock moved beneath his foot and he slid backwards, and almost went tumbling back down the hill. The ranger caught him by the arm and saved him. “Hodor,” said Hodor. Every gust of wind filled the air with fine white powder that shone like glass in the last light of day. Ravens flapped around them. One flew ahead and vanished inside the cave. Only eighty yards now, Bran thought, that’s not far at all.
Summer stopped suddenly, at the bottom of a steep stretch of unbroken white snow. The direwolf turned his head, sniffed the air, then snarled. Fur bristling, he began to back away.
“Hodor, stop,” said Bran. “Hodor. Wait.” Something was wrong. Summer smelled it, and so did he. Something bad. Something close. “Hodor, no, go back.” [and then a wight breaks through the snow and begins to attack Bran and his group]
The Jaenshi that neKrol had come to think of as the bitter speaker looked at him out of eyes curiously darker than the soft gold of her brothers. “Below the snow, the god lies broken,” she said, and even the soothing tones of the Jaenshi tongue could not hide the hardness in her voice. They stood at the very spot where neKrol had once taken Ryther, the spot where the pyramid of the people of the ring-of-stone once stood.
A Game of Thrones – Eddard I
“Likely they were too shy to come out,” Ned jested. He could feel the chill coming up the stairs, a cold breath from deep within the earth. “Kings are a rare sight in the north.”
Robert snorted. “More likely they were hiding under the snow. Snow, Ned!” The king put one hand on the wall to steady himself as they descended.
A Game of Thrones – Eddard IV
So he listened, and she told it all, from the fire in the library tower to Varys and the guardsmen and Littlefinger. And when she was done, Eddard Stark sat dazed beside the table, the dagger in his hand. Bran’s wolf had saved the boy’s life, he thought dully. What was it that Jon had said when they found the pups in the snow? Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord. And he had killed Sansa’s, and for what? Was it guilt he was feeling? Or fear? If the gods had sent these wolves, what folly had he done?
NeKrol was sheathed head to foot in a white thermosuit that clung too tightly, accenting every unsightly bulge. He looked out on Sword Valley from behind a dark blue plastifilm in the suit’s cowl. But the Jaenshi, the bitter speaker, was nude, covered only by the thick gray fur of her winter coat. The strap of the hunting laser ran down between her breasts.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI
From above came the sudden sound of wings. Mormont’s raven flapped from a limb of an old oak to perch upon Jon’s saddle. “Corn,” it cried. “Corn, corn, corn.”
“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.
“Other gods beside yours will break unless the Steel Angels are stopped,” neKrol said, shivering despite his thermosuit.
The bitter speaker seemed hardly to hear. “I was a child when they came, Arik. If they had left our god, I might be a child still. Afterwards, when the light went out and the glow inside me died, I wandered far from the ring-of-stone, beyond our own home forest, knowing nothing, eating where I could. Things are not the same in the dark valley. Bushogs honked at my passing, and charged me with their tusks, other Jaenshi threatened me and each other. I did not understand and I could not pray. Even when the Steel Angels found me, I did not understand, and I went with them to their city, knowing nothing of their speech. I remember the walls, and the children, many so much younger than me. Then I screamed and struggled; when I saw those on the ropes, something wild and godless stirred to life inside me.” Her eyes regarded him, her eyes like burnished bronze. She shifted in the ankle-deep snow, curling a clawed hand around the strap of her laser.
NeKrol had taught her well since the day she had joined him, in the late summer when the Steel Angels had cast her from Sword Valley. The bitter speaker was by far the best shot of his six, the godless exiles he had gathered to him and trained. It was the only way; he had offered the lasers in trade to clan after clan, and each had refused. The Jaenshi were certain that their gods would protect them. Only the godless listened, and not all of them; many—the young children, the quiet ones, the first to flee—many had been accepted into other clans. But others, like the bitter speaker, had grown too savage, had seen too much; they fit no longer. She had been the first to take the weapon, after the old talker had sent her away from the waterfall folk.
“It is often better to be without gods,” neKrol told her. “Those below us have a god, and it has made them what they are. And so the Jaenshi have gods, and because they trust, they die. You godless are their only hope.”
The bitter speaker did not answer. She only looked down on the silent city, besieged by snow, and her eyes smoldered.
And neKrol watched her, and wondered. He and his six were the hope of the Jaenshi, he had said; if so, was there hope at all? The bitter speaker, and all his exiles, had a madness about them, a rage that made him tremble. Even if Ryther came with the lasers, even if so small a group could stop the Angels’ march, even if all that came to pass—what then? Should all the Angels die tomorrow, where would his godless find a place?
They stood, all quiet, while the snow stirred under their feet and the north wind bit at them.
The chapel was dark and quiet. Flameglobes burned a dim, eerie red in either corner, and the rows of plain wooden benches were empty. Above the heavy altar, a slab of rough black stone, Bakkalon stood in holograph, so real he almost breathed; a boy, a mere boy, naked and milky white, with the wide eyes and blond hair of innocent youth. In his hand, half again taller than himself, was the great black sword.
Wyatt knelt before the projection, head bowed and very still. All through the winter his dreams had been dark and troubled, so each day he would kneel and pray for guidance. There was none else to seek but Bakkalon; he, Wyatt, was the Proctor, who led in battle and in faith. He alone must riddle his visions.
A Feast for Crows – Samwell IV [dragons are neither male or female, but changeable as flame]
On Braavos, it had seemed possible that Aemon might recover. Xhondo’s talk of dragons had almost seemed to restore the old man to himself. That night he ate every bite Sam put before him. “No one ever looked for a girl,” he said. “It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar, I thought . . . the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died. He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy…
A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I
“What do you see, my lady?” the boy asked, softly.
Skulls. A thousand skulls, and the bastard boy again. Jon Snow. Whenever she was asked what she saw within her fires, Melisandre would answer, “Much and more,” but seeing was never as simple as those words suggested. It was an art, and like all arts it demanded mastery, discipline, study. Pain. That too. R’hllor spoke to his chosen ones through blessed fire, in a language of ash and cinder and twisting flame that only a god could truly grasp. Melisandre had practiced her art for years beyond count, and she had paid the price. There was no one, even in her order, who had her skill at seeing the secrets half-revealed and half-concealed within the sacred flames.
Yet now she could not even seem to find her king. I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow. “Devan,” she called, “a drink.” Her throat was raw and parched.
- Having guards about her would no doubt help keep the black brothers properly respectful, the red priestess knew, but none of the men that Stannis had given her were like to be much help should she find herself in peril. It made no matter. Melisandre of Asshai did not fear for herself. R’hllor would protect her.
So daily he wrestled with his thoughts, until the snows began to melt and the knees of his uniform had nearly worn through from long scraping on the floor. Finally, he had decided, and this day he had called upon the senior collars to join him in the chapel.
Alone they entered, while the Proctor knelt unmoving, and chose seats on the benches behind him, each apart from his fellows. Wyatt took no notice; he prayed only that his words would be correct, his vision true. When they were all there, he stood and turned to face them.
“Many are the worlds on which the children of Bakkalon have lived,” he told them, “but none so blessed as this, our Corlos. A great time is on us, my brothers-in-arms. The pale child has come to me in my sleep, as once he came to the first Proctors in the years when the brotherhood was forged. He has given me visions.”
They were quiet, all of them, their eyes humble and obedient; he was their Proctor, after all. There could be no questioning when one of higher rank spoke wisdom or gave orders. That was one of the precepts of Bakkalon, that the chain of command was sacred and never to be doubted. So all of them kept silence.
“Bakkalon Himself has walked upon this world. He has walked among the soulless and the beasts of the field and told them our dominion, and this he has said to me: that when the spring comes and the seed of Earth moves from Sword Valley to take new land, all the animals shall know their place and retire before us. This I do prophesy!
“More, we shall see miracles. That too the pale child has promised me, signs by which we will know His truth, signs that shall bolster our faith with new revelation. But so too shall our faith be tested, for it will be a time of sacrifices, and Bakkalon will call upon us more than once to show our trust in Him. We must remember His Teachings and be true, and each of us must obey Him as a child obeys the parent and a fighting man his officer: that is, swiftly and without question. For the pale child knows best.
“These are the visions He has granted me, these are the dreams that I have dreamed. Brothers, pray with me.”
And Wyatt turned again and knelt, and the rest knelt with him, and all the heads were bowed in prayer save one. In the shadows at the rear of the chapel where the flameglobes flickered but dimly, C’ara DaHan stared at his Proctor from beneath a heavy beetled brow.
That night, after a silent meal in the mess hall and a short staff meeting, the Weaponsmaster called upon Wyatt to go walking on the walls. “Proctor, my soul is troubled.” he told him. “I must have counsel from he who is closest to Bakkalon.” Wyatt nodded, and both donned heavy nightcloaks of black fur and oil-dark metal cloth, and together they walked the red-stone parapets beneath the stars.
- Many broadstroke details of the Dothraki.
Near the guardhouse that stood above the city gates, DaHan paused and leaned out over the ledge, his eyes searching the slow-melting snow for long moments before he turned them on the Proctor. “Wyatt,” he said at last, “my faith is weak.”
The Proctor said nothing, merely watched the other, his face concealed by the hood of his night-cloak. Confession was not a part of the rites of the Steel Angels; Bakkalon had said that a fighting man’s faith ought never to waver.
“In the old days,” C’ara DaHan was saying, “many weapons were used against the children of Bakkalon. Some, today, exist only in tales. Perhaps they never existed. Perhaps they are empty things, like the gods the soft men worship. I am only a Weaponsmaster; such knowledge is not mine.
“Yet there is a tale, my Proctor—one that troubles me. Once, it is said, in the long centuries of war, the Sons of Hranga loosed upon the seed of Earth foul vampires of the mind, the creatures men called soul-feeds. Their touch was invisible, but it crept across kilometers, farther than a man could see, farther than a laser could fire, and it brought madness. Visions, my Proctor, visions! False gods and foolish plans were put in the minds of men, and . . .”
A Clash of Kings – Daenerys I
“The black,” she said, “is Drogon.”
Yet even as her dragons prospered, her khalasar withered and died. Around them the land turned ever more desolate. Even devilgrass grew scant…
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VI
Drogo was silent for a time. Finally he said, “This seller of poisons ran from the moon of my life. Better he should run after her. So he will. Jhogo, Jorah the Andal, to each of you I say, choose any horse you wish from my herds, and it is yours. Any horse save my red and the silver that was my bride gift to the moon of my life. I make this gift to you for what you did.
“And to Rhaego son of Drogo, the stallion who will mount the world, to him I also pledge a gift. To him I will give this iron chair his mother’s father sat in. I will give him Seven Kingdoms. I, Drogo, khal, will do this thing.” His voice rose, and he lifted his fist to the sky. “I will take my khalasar west to where the world ends, and ride the wooden horses across the black salt water as no khal has done before. I will kill the men in the iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak to bow down beneath the Mother of Mountains. This I vow, I, Drogo son of Bharbo. This I swear before the Mother of Mountains, as the stars look down in witness.”
His khalasar left Vaes Dothrak two days later, striking south and west across the plains. Khal Drogo led them on his great red stallion, with Daenerys beside him on her silver. The wineseller hurried behind them, naked, on foot, chained at throat and wrists. His chains were fastened to the halter of Dany’s silver. As she rode, he ran after her, barefoot and stumbling. No harm would come to him … so long as he kept up.
“Silence,” Wyatt said. His voice was hard, as cold as the night air that crackled around them and turned his breath to steam.
There was a long pause. Then, in a softer voice, the Proctor continued. “All winter I have prayed, DaHan, and struggled with my visions. I am the Proctor of the Children of Bakkalon on the World of Corlos, not some new-armed child to be lied to by false gods. I spoke only after I was sure. I spoke as your Proctor, as your father in faith and your commanding officer. That you would question me, Weaponsmaster, that you would doubt— this disturbs me greatly. Next will you stop to argue with me on the field of battle, to dispute some fine point of my orders?”
“Never, Proctor,” DaHan said, kneeling in penance in the packed snow atop the walkway.
“I hope not. But, before I dismiss you, because you are my brother in Bakkalon, I will answer you, though I need not and it was wrong of you to expect it. I will tell you this; the Proctor Wyatt is a good officer as well as a devout man. The pale child has made prophecies to me, and has predicted that miracles will come to pass. All these things we shall see with our very eyes. But if the prophecies should fail us, and if no signs appear, well, our eyes will see that too. And then I will know that it was not Bakkalon who sent the visions, but only a false god, perhaps a soul-feed of Hranga. Or do you think a Hrangan can work miracles?”
No.” DaHan said, still on his knees, his great bald head downcast. “That would be heresy.”
“Indeed,” said Wyatt. The Proctor glanced briefly beyond the walls. The night was crisp and cold and there was no moon. He felt transfigured, and even the stars seemed to cry the glory of the pale child, for the constellation of the Sword was high upon the zenith, the Soldier reaching up toward it from where he stood on the horizon.
- The red comet if often referred to as a red sword in the sky:
A Clash of Kings – Arya I
That night she lay upon her thin blanket on the hard ground, staring up at the great red comet. The comet was splendid and scary all at once. “The Red Sword,” the Bull named it…
A Storm of Swords – Samwell V
…”It is the war for the dawn you speak of, my lady. But where is the prince that was promised?”
“He stands before you,” Melisandre declared, “though you do not have the eyes to see. Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai come again, the warrior of fire. In him the prophecies are fulfilled. The red comet blazed across the sky to herald his coming, and he bears Lightbringer, the red sword of heroes.”
“Tonight you will walk guard without your cloak,” the Proctor told DaHan when he looked down again. “And should the north wind blow and the cold bite at you, you will rejoice in the pain, for it will be a sign that you submit to your Proctor and your god. As your flesh grows bitter numb, the flame in your heart must burn hotter.”
“Yes, my Proctor,” DaHan said. He stood and removed his night-cloak, handing it to the other. Wyatt gave him the slash of blessing.
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.”
On the wallscreen in his darkened living quarters the taped drama went through its familiar measured paces, but neKrol, slouched in a large cushioned recliner with his eyes half-closed, hardly noticed. The bitter speaker and two of the other Jaenshi exiles sat on the floor, golden eyes rapt on the spectacle of humans chasing and shooting each other amid the vaulting tower cities of ai-Emerel; increasingly they had begun to grow curious about other worlds and other ways of life. It was all very strange, neKrol thought; the waterfall folk and the other clanned Jaenshi had never shown any such interest. He remembered the early days, before the coming of the Steel Angels in their ancient and soon-to-be-dismantled warship, when he had set all kinds of trade goods before the Jaenshi talkers; bright bolts of glittersilk from Avalon, glowstone jewelry from High Kavalaan, duralloy knives and solar generators and steel powerbows, books from a dozen worlds, medicines and wines—he had come with a little of everything. The talkers took some of it, from time to time, but never with any enthusiasm; the only offering that excited them was salt.
- This curiosity of other ways of life the Jaenshi show here are similar to Ygritte wanting to see castles and her reaction to seeing Queenscrown with Jon.
- Speaking of Queen Alysanne, the main five (soon to be seven) books are the only actual canon in ASOIAF (per GRRM), and what we learn of Queen Alysanne comes from both Jon and Bran, the green opposites of the red dragon. Alysanne not only lays claim to the north via the gold Queenscrown (expansionism/manifest destiny again) she even has a statue built of her that was erected at Deep Lake, a castle she had built with her jewels (crystals). This is not unlike the staues of fiery Bakkalon in this story and in ASOIAF. There is reason to question this “good” queen’s motives. There can be only one dragon, the last dragon.
- This crystal-jewels-crown symbolism of Alysanne has narrative purpose not too unlike the crystal flower and the ‘game of mind’ that (Dany prototype) Cyrain of Lilith and Ash has in The Glass Flower.
- Whisperjewels are something that exists in Martinworld. The bones of Hazzea are Dany’s ‘whisperjewel”, etched by Drogon.
- “We all have good and evil in us and there are very few pure paragons and there are very few orcs. A villain is a hero of the other side, as someone said once, and I think there’s a great deal of truth to that, and that’s the interesting thing.” –GRRM
It was not until the spring rains came and the bitter speaker began to question him that neKrol realized, with a start, how seldom any of the Jaenshi clans had ever asked him anything. Perhaps their social structure and their religion stifled their natural intellectual curiosity. The exiles were certainly eager enough, especially the bitter speaker. NeKrol could answer only a small portion of her questions of late, and even then she always had new ones to puzzle him with. He had begun to grow appalled with the extent of his own ignorance.
But then, so had the bitter speaker; unlike the clanned Jaenshi—did the religion make that much difference?—she would answer questions as well, and neKrol had tried quizzing her on many things that he’d wondered at. But most of the time she would only blink in bafflement, and begin to question herself.
- the bitter speaker is away from the pyramids and away from the influence (proximity telepathy) of the black & red god-like structures. Her memory is returning, perhaps in broken bits, but returning.
“There are no stories about our gods,” she said to him once, when he’d tried to learn a little of Jaenshi myth. “What sort of stories could there be? The gods live in the worship pyramids, Arik, and we pray to them and they watch over us and light our lives. They do not bounce around and fight and break each other like your gods seem to do.”
“But you had other gods once, before you came to worship the pyramids,” neKrol objected. “The very ones your carvers did for me.” He had even gone so far as to unpack a crate and show her, though surely she remembered, since the people of the pyramid in the ring-of-stone had been among the finest craftsmen.
- Fist of the First Men
- This adds a bit more text to the fandom idea (an idea I also share) that the cache Jon finds near the Fist of the First Men was left/planted by a Child of the Forest with or without Uncle Benjen’s help (or something like that, TBD).
Yet the bitter speaker only smoothed her fur, and shook her head. “I was too young to be a carver, so perhaps I was not told,” she said. “We all know that which we need to know, but only the carvers need to do these things, so perhaps only they know the stories of these old gods.”
Another time he had asked her about the pyramids, and had gotten even less. “Build them?” she had said. “We did not build them, Arik. They have always been, like the rocks and the trees.” But then she blinked. “But they are not like the rocks and the trees, are they?” And puzzled, she went away to talk to the others.
- This is akin to the “green magic” in ASOIAF, represented by Greenseeing, skinchaning and warging, Blood-Bran-Jon, etc. This is drawn heavily from Norse animism, something GRRM talks about in his Dreamsongs vol.1 anthology.
- Animism; part existentialsim, the proverbial “way of the world.”
A Dance with Dragons – Bran III
And they did sing. They sang in True Tongue, so Bran could not understand the words, but their voices were as pure as winter air. “Where are the rest of you?” Bran asked Leaf, once.
“Gone down into the earth,” she answered. “Into the stones, into the trees. Before the First Men came all this land that you call Westeros was home to us, yet even in those days we were few. The gods gave us long lives but not great numbers, lest we overrun the world as deer will overrun a wood where there are no wolves to hunt them. That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling. The giants are almost gone as well, they who were our bane and our brothers. The great lions of the western hills have been slain, the unicorns are all but gone, the mammoths down to a few hundred. The direwolves will outlast us all, but their time will come as well. In the world that men have made, there is no room for them, or us.”
But if the godless Jaenshi were more thoughtful than their brothers in the clans, they were also more difficult, and each day neKrol realized more and more the futility of their enterprise. He had eight of the exiles with him now—they had found two more, half dead from starvation, in the height of winter— and they all took turns training with the two lasers and spying on the Angels. But even should Ryther return with the weaponry, their force was a joke against the might the Proctor could put in the field. The Lights of Jolostar would be carrying a full arms shipment in the expectation that every clan for a hundred kilometers would now be roused and angry, ready to resist the Steel Angels and overwhelm them by sheer force of numbers; Jannis would be blank-faced when only neKrol and his ragged band appeared to greet her.
If in fact they did. Even that was problematical; he was having much difficulty keeping his guerrillas together. Their hatred of the Steel Angels still bordered madness, but they were far from a cohesive unit. None of them liked to take orders very well, and they fought constantly, going at each other with bared claws in struggles for social dominance. If neKrol had not warned them, he suspected they might even duel with the lasers. As for staying in good fighting shape, that too was a joke. Of the three females in the band, the bitter speaker was the only one who had not allowed herself to be impregnated. Since the Jaenshi usually gave birth in litters of four to eight, neKrol calculated that late summer would present them with an exile population explosion. And there would be more after that, he knew; the godless seemed to copulate almost hourly, and there was no such thing as Jaenshi birth control. He wondered how the clans kept their population so stable, but his charges didn’t know that either.
- The Crannogmen are said to be guerrilla fighters.
“I suppose we sexed less,” the bitter speaker said when he asked her, “but I was a child, so I would not really know. Before I came here, there was never the urge. I was just young, I would think.” But when she said it, she scratched herself and seemed very unsure.
Sighing, neKrol eased himself back in the recliner and tried to shut out the noise of the wall-screen. It was all going to be very difficult. Already the Steel Angels had emerged from behind their walls, and the powerwagons rolled up and down Sword Valley turning forest into farmland. He had gone up into the hills himself, and it was easy to see that the spring planting would soon be done. Then, he suspected, the children of Bakkalon would try to expand. Just last week one of them—a giant “with no head fur,” as his scout had described him—was seen up in the ring-of-stone, gathering shards from the broken pyramid. Whatever that meant, it could not be for the good.
Sometimes he felt sick at the forces he had set in motion, and almost wished that Ryther would forget the lasers. The bitter speaker was determined to strike as soon as they were armed, no matter what the odds. Frightened, neKrol reminded her of the hard Angel lesson the last time a Jaenshi had killed a man; in his dreams he still saw children on the walls.
But she only looked at him, with the bronze tinge of madness in her eyes, and said, “Yes, Arik. I remember.”
Silent and efficient, the white-smocked kitchen boys cleared away the last of the evening’s dishes and vanished. “At ease,” Wyatt said to his officers. Then: “The time of miracles is upon us, as the pale child foretold.
“This morning I sent three squads into the hills to the southeast of Sward Valley, to disperse the Jaenshi clans on lands that we require. They reported back to me in early afternoon, and now I wish to share their reports with you. Squadmother Jolip, will you relate the events that transpired when you carried out your orders?”
“Yes, Proctor.” Jolip stood, a white-skinned blond with a pinched face, her uniform hanging slightly loose on a lean body. “I was assigned a squad of ten to clear out the so-called cliff clan, whose pyramid lies near the foot of a low granite cliff in the wilder part of the hills. The information provided by our intelligence indicated that they were one of the smaller clans, with only twenty-odd adults, so I dispensed with heavy armor. We did take a class five blastcannon, since the destruction of the Jaenshi pyramids is slow work with side-arms alone, but other than that our armament was strictly standard issue.
“We expected no resistance, but recalling the incident at the ring-of-stone, I was cautious. After a march of some twelve kilometers through the hills to the vicinity of the cliff, we fanned out in a semicircle and moved in slowly, with screechguns drawn. A few Jaenshi were encountered in the forest, and these we took prisoner and marched before us, for use as shields in the event of an ambush or attack. That, of course, proved unnecessary.
- Literally the opposite of the Night’s Watch vow. Literally.
“When we reached the pyramid by the cliff, they were waiting for us. At least twelve of the beasts, sir. One of them sat near the base of the pyramid with his hands pressed against its side, while the others surrounded him in a sort of a circle. They all looked up at us, but made no other move.”
She paused a minute, and rubbed a thoughtful finger up against the side of her nose. “As I told the Proctor, it was all very odd from that point forward. Last summer, I twice led squads against the Jaenshi clans. The first time, having no idea of our intentions, none of the soulless were there; we simply destroyed the artifact and left. The second time, a crowd of the creatures milled around, hampering us with their bodies while not being actively hostile. They did not disperse until I had one of them screeched down. And, of course, I studied the reports of Squadfather Allor’s difficulties at the ring-of-stone.
“This time, it was all quite different. I ordered two of my men to set the blastcannon on its tripod, and gave the beasts to understand that they must get out of the way. With hand signals, of course, since I know none of their ungodly tongue. They complied at once, splitting into two groups and, well, lining up, on either side of the line-of-fire. We kept them covered with our screechguns, of course, but everything seemed very peaceful.
- This is very much like the Free Folk-Children of the Forest representing the hippie, flower children of GRRM’s generation. This is something he also shows in his writing of Armageddon Rag.
- This is also like the absolute begruding acceptance of “no choice” that Stannis and Melisandre offer to the Free Folk as they pass through the wall, even down to the FF having to burn thier weirdwood “gods” in A Dance with Dragons- Jon III.
“And so it was. The blaster took the pyramid out neatly, a big ball of flame and then sort of a thunder as the thing exploded. A few shards were scattered, but no one was injured, as we had all taken cover and the Jaenshi seemed unconcerned. After the pyramid broke, there was a sharp ozone smell, and for an instant a lingering bluish fire—perhaps an afterimage. I hardly had time to notice them, however, since that was when the Jaenshi all fell to their knees before us. All at once, sirs. And then they pressed their heads against the ground, prostrating themselves. I thought for a moment that they were trying to hail us as gods, because we had shattered their god, and I tried to tell them that we wanted none of their animal worship, and required only that they leave these lands at once. But then I saw that I had misunderstood, because that was when the other four clan members came forward from the trees atop the cliff, and climbed down, and gave us the statue. Then the rest got up. The last I saw, the entire clan was walking due east, away from Sword Valley and the outlying hills. I took the statue and brought it back to the Proctor.” She fell silent but remained standing, waiting for questions.
“I have the statuette here,” Wyatt said. He reached down beside his chair and set it on the table, then pulled off the white cloth covering he had wrapped around it.
The base was a triangle of rock-hard blackbark, and three long splinters of bone rose from the corners to make a pyramid-frame. Within, exquisitely carved in every detail from soft blue wood, Bakkalon the pale child stood, holding a painted sword.
- Shade of the Evening tree, of which Daenerys drinks and tastes everything she has known.
“What does this mean?” Fieldbishop Lyon asked, obviously startled. “Sacrilege!” Fieldbishop Dhallis said.
“Nothing so serious,” said Gorman, Fieldbishop for Heavy Armor. “The beasts are simply trying to ingratiate themselves, perhaps in the hope that we will stay our swords.”
- Bow or burn is the way of the fire gods.
“None but the seed of Earth may bow to Bakkalon,” Dhallis said. “It is written in the Book! The pale child will not look with favor on the soulless!”
- There can be only one, in the eyes of a dragon.
“Silence, my brothers-in-arms!” the Proctor said, and the long table abruptly grew quiet again. Wyatt smiled a thin smile. “This is the first of the miracles of which I spoke this winter in the chapel, the first of the strange happenings that Bakkalon told to me. For truly he has walked this world, our Corlos, so even the beasts of the fields know his likeness! Think on it, my brothers. Think on this carving. Ask yourselves a few simple questions. Have any of the Jaenshi animals ever been permitted to set foot in this holy city?”
“No, of course not.” someone said.
“Then clearly none of them have seen the holograph that stands above our altar. Nor have I often walked among the beasts, as my duties keep me here within the walls. So none could have seen the pale child’s likeness on the chain of office that I wear, for the few Jaenshi who have seen my visage have not lived to speak of it—they were those I judged, who hung upon our city walls. The animals do not speak the language of the Earthseed, nor have any among us learned their simple beastly tongue. Lastly, they have not read the Book. Remember all this, and wonder; how did their carvers know what face and form to carve?”
Quiet; the leaders of the children of Bakkalon looked back and forth among themselves in wonderment.
Wyatt quietly folded his hands. “A miracle. We shall have no more trouble with the Jaenshi, for the pale child has come to them.”
To the Proctor’s right, Fieldbishop Dhallis sat rigidly. “My Proctor, my leader in faith,” she said, with some difficulty, each word coming slowly, “surely, surely, you do not mean to tell us that these, these animals—that they can worship the pale child, that he accepts their worship!”
A Dance with Dragons – Jon III
Val stood on the platform as still as if she had been carved of salt. She will not weep nor look away. Jon wondered what Ygritte would have done in her place. The women are the strong ones…
Wyatt seemed calm, benevolent; he only smiled. “You need not trouble your soul, Dhallis. You wonder whether I commit the First Fallacy, remembering perhaps the Sacrilege of G’hra when a captive Hrangan bowed to Bakkalon to save himself from an animal’s death, and the False Proctor Gibrone proclaimed that all who worship the pale child must have souls.” He shook his head. “You see, I read the Book. But no, Fieldbishop, no sacrilege has transpired. Bakkalon has walked among the Jaenshi, but surely has given them only truth. They have seen him in all his armed dark glory, and heard him proclaim that they are animals, without souls, as surely he would proclaim. Accordingly, they accept their place in the order of the universe, and retire before us. They will never kill a man again. Recall that they did not bow to the statue they carved, but rather gave the statue to us, the seed of Earth, who alone can rightfully worship it. When they did prostrate themselves, it was at our feet, as animals to men, and that is as it should be. You see? They have been given truth.”
Dhallis was nodding. “Yes, my Proctor. I am enlightened. Forgive my moment of weakness.”
But halfway down the table, C’ara DaHan leaned forward and knotted his great knuckled hands, frowning all the while. “My Proctor,” he said heavily.
“Weaponsmaster?” Wyatt returned. His face grew stern.
“Like the Fieldbishop, my soul has flickered briefly with worry, and I too would be enlightened, if I might?”
Wyatt smiled. “Proceed,” he said, in a voice without humor.
“A miracle this thing may be indeed,” DaHan said, “but first we must question ourselves, to ascertain that it is not the trick of a soulless enemy. I do not fathom their stratagem, or their reasons for acting as they have, but I do know of one way that the Jaenshi might have learned the features of our Bakkalon.”
“I speak of the Jamish trading base, and the red-haired trader Arik neKrol. He is an Earthseed, an Emereli by his looks, and we have given him the Book. But he remains without a burning love of Bakkalon, and goes without arms like a godless man. Since our landing he has opposed us, and he grew most hostile after the lesson we were forced to give the Jaenshi. Perhaps he put the cliff clan up to it, told them to do the carving, to some strange ends of his own. I believe that he did trade with them.”
“I believe you speak truth, Weaponsmaster. In the early months after landing, I tried hard to convert neKrol. To no avail, but I did learn much of the Jaenshi beasts and of the trading he did with them.” The Proctor still smiled. “He traded with one of the clans here in Sword Valley, with the people of ring-of-stone, with the cliff clan and that of the far fruit tangle, with the waterfall folk, and sundry clans further east.”
“Then it is his doing,” DaHan said. “A trick!”
All eyes moved to Wyatt. “I did not say that. NeKrol, whatever intentions he might have, is but a single man. He did not trade with all the Jaenshi, nor even know them all.” The Proctor’s smile grew briefly wider. “Those of you who have seen the Emereli know him for a man of flab and weakness; he could hardly walk as far as might be required, and he has neither air-car nor power sled.”
“But he did have contact with the cliff clan,” DaHan said. The deep-graven lines on his bronze forehead were set stubbornly.
“Yes, he did,” Wyatt answered. “But Squadmother Jolip did not go forth alone this morning. I also sent out Squadfather Walman and Squadfather Allor, to cross the waters of the White Knife. The land there is dark and fertile, better than that to the east. The cliff clan, who are southeast, were between Sword Valley and the White Knife, so they had to go. But the other pyramids we moved against belonged to far-river clans, more than thirty kilometers south. They have never seen the trader Arik neKrol, unless he has grown wings this winter.”
- Sword Valley is the Axe origin of the Andals
- White Knife is mentioned in ASOIAF as a major river in the north. In 58 AC Queen Alysanne Targaryen‘s party sailed from White Harbor to the river’s rapids, then continued on through trackless bogs and summer snows to Winterfell.
- Bran is the winged wolf.
Then Wyatt bent again, and set two more statues on the table, and pulled away their coverings. One was set on a base of slate, and the figure was carved in a clumsy broad manner; the other was finely detailed soaproot, even to the struts of the pyramid. But except for the materials and the workmanship, the later statues were identical to the first.
“Do you see a trick, Weaponsmaster?” Wyatt asked.
DaHan looked, and said nothing, for Fieldbishop Lyon rose suddenly and said, “I see a miracle,” and others echoed him. After the hubbub had finally quieted, the brawny Weaponsmaster lowered his head and said, very softly, “My Proctor. Read wisdom to us.”
“The lasers, speaker, the lasers!” There was a tinge of hysterical desperation in neKrol’s tone. “Ryther is not back yet, and that is the very point. We must wait.”
He stood outside the bubble of the trading base, bare-chested and sweating in the hot morning sun, with the thick wind tugging at his tangled hair. The clamor had pulled him from a troubled sleep. He had stopped them just on the edge of the forest, and now the bitter speaker had turned to face him, looking fierce and hard and most unJaenshi-like with the laser slung across her shoulders, a bright blue glittersilk scarf knotted around her neck, and fat glowstone rings on all eight of her fingers. The other exiles, but for the two that were heavy with child, stood around her. One of them held the other laser, the rest carried quivers and powerbows. That had been the speaker’s idea. Her newly-chosen mate was down on one knee, panting; he had run all the way from the ring-of-stone.
“No, Arik,” the speaker said, eyes bronze-angry. “Your lasers are now a month overdue, by your own count of time. Each day we wait, and the Steel Angels smash more pyramids. Soon they may hang children again.”
“Very soon,” neKrol said. “Very soon, if you attack them. Where is your very hope of victory? Your watcher says they go with two squads and a powerwagon—can you stop them with a pair of lasers and four powerbows? Have you learned to think here, or not?”
“Yes,” the speaker said, but she bared her teeth at him as she said it. “Yes, but that cannot matter. The clans do not resist, so we must.”
- Clearly there isn’t going to be a Pact between the CotF and the fire people in this story. None of GRRM’s earlier works are 1:1 comparisons with ASOIAF, rather, it is the broad strokes and the repetition of major themes that is most important.
The World of Ice and Fire – Ancient History: The Coming of First Men
Regardless, the children of the forest fought as fiercely as the First Men to defend their lives. Inexorably, the war ground on across generations, until at last the children understood that they could not win. The First Men, perhaps tired of war, also wished to see an end to the fighting. The wisest of both races prevailed, and the chief heroes and rulers of both sides met upon the isle in the Gods Eye to form the Pact. Giving up all the lands of Westeros save for the deep forests, the children won from the First Men the promise that they would no longer cut down the weirwoods. All the weirwoods of the isle on which the Pact was forged were then carved with faces so that the gods could witness the Pact, and the order of green men was made afterward to tend to the weirwoods and protect the isle.
With the Pact, the Dawn Age of the world drew to a close, and the Age of Heroes followed.
From one knee, her mate looked up at neKrol. “They . . . they march on the waterfall,” he said, still breathing heavily.
“The waterfall!” the bitter speaker repeated. “Since the death of winter, they have broken more than twenty pyramids, Arik, and their powerwagons have crushed the forest and now a great dusty road scars the soil from their valley to the riverlands. But they had hurt no Jaenshi yet this season, they had let them go. And all those clans-without-a-god have gone to the waterfall, until the home forest of the waterfall folk is bare and eaten clean. Their talkers sit with the old talker and perhaps the waterfall god takes them in, perhaps he is a very great god. I do not know these things. But I do know that now the bald Angel has learned of the twenty clans together, of a grouping of half-a-thousand Jaenshi adults, and he leads a powerwagon against them. Will he let them go so easy this time, happy with a carved statue? Will they go, Arik, will they give up a second god as easily as a first?” The speaker blinked. “I fear they will resist with their silly claws. I fear the bald Angel will hang them even if they do not resist, because so many in union throws suspicion in him. I fear many things and know little, but I know we must be there. You will not stop us, Arik, and we cannot wait for your long-late lasers.”
And she turned to the others and said, “Come, we must run,” and they had faded into the forest before neKrol could even shout for them to stay. Swearing, he turned back to the bubble.
The two female exiles were leaving just as he entered. Both were close to the end of their term, but they had powerbows in their hands. NeKrol stopped short. “You too!” he said furiously, glaring at them. “Madness, it is the very stuff of madness!” They only looked at him with silent golden eyes, and moved past him toward the trees.
A Storm of Swords – Jon X
“Go inside the tent and stay with Dalla. It’s not safe out here.” It wouldn’t be a great deal safer inside, but she didn’t need to hear that.
“I need to find the midwife,” Val said.
“You’re the midwife. I’ll stay here until Mance comes back.” He had lost sight of Mance but now he found him again, cutting his way through a knot of mounted men…
- The page Jon Snow: The Wolf and the Bear explains the importance of Jon appointing Val as midwife.
Inside, he swiftly braided his long red hair so it would not catch on the branches, slipped into a shirt, and darted toward the door. Then he stopped. A weapon, he must have a weapon! He glanced around frantically and ran heavily for his storeroom. The powerbows were all gone, he saw. What then, what? He began to rummage, and finally settled for a duralloy machete. It felt strange in his hand and he must have looked most un-martial and ridiculous, but somehow he felt he must take something.
Then he was off, toward the place of the waterfall folk.
NeKrol was overweight and soft, hardly used to running, and the way was nearly two kilometers through lush summer forest. He had to stop three times to rest, and quiet the pains in his chest, and it seemed an eternity before he arrived. But still he beat the Steel Angels; a powerwagon is ponderous and slow, and the road from Sword Valley was longer and more hilly.
- Cersei’s wheelhouse.
Jaenshi were everywhere. The glade was bare of grass and twice as large as neKrol remembered it from his last trading trip, early that spring. Still the Jaenshi filled all of it, sitting on the ground, staring at the pool and the waterfall, all silent, packed together so there was scarcely room to walk among them. More sat above, a dozen in every fruit tree, some of the children even ascending to the higher limbs where the pseudomonks usually ruled alone.
On the rock at the center of the pool, with the waterfall behind them as a backdrop, the talkers pressed around the pyramid of the waterfall folk. They were closer together than even those in the grass, and each had his palms flat against the sides. One, thin and frail, sat on the shoulders of another so that he too might touch. NeKrol tried to count them and gave up; the group was too dense, a blurred mass of gray-furred arms and golden eyes, the pyramid at their center, dark and unmovable as ever.
The bitter speaker stood in the pool, the waters ankle-deep around her. She was facing the crowd and screeching at them, her voice strangely unlike the usual Jaenshi purr; in her scarf and rings, she looked absurdly out of place. As she talked, she waved the laser rifle she was holding in one hand. Wildly, passionately, hysterically, she was telling the gathered Jaenshi that the Steel Angels were coming, that they must leave at once, that they should break up and go into the forest and regroup at the trading base. Over and over again she said it.
But the clans were stiff and silent. No one answered, no one listened, no one heard. In full daylight, they were praying.
NeKrol pushed his way through them, stepping on a hand here and a foot there, hardly able to set down a boot without crunching Jaenshi flesh. He was standing next to the bitter speaker, who still gestured wildly, before her bronze eyes seemed to see him. Then she stopped. “Arik,” she said, “the Angels are coming, and they will not listen.”
“The others,” he panted, still short on breath. “Where are they?” “The trees,” the bitter speaker replied, with a vague gesture. “I sent them up in the trees. Snipers, Arik, such as we saw upon your wall.”
“Please,” he said. “Come back with me. Leave them, leave them. You told them. I told them. Whatever happens, it is their doing, it is the fault of their fool religion.”
“I cannot leave,” the bitter speaker said. She seemed confused, as so often when neKrol had questioned her back at the base. “It seems I should, but somehow I know I must stay here. And the others will never go, even if I did. They feel it much more strongly. We must be here. To fight, to talk.” She blinked. “I do not know why, Arik, but we must.”
And before the trader could reply, the Steel Angels came out of the forest.
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
It was cold. Shivering, Will clung more tightly to his perch. His face pressed hard against the trunk of the sentinel. He could feel the sweet, sticky sap on his cheek.
There were five of them at first, widely spaced; then shortly five more. All afoot, in uniforms whose mottled dark greens blended with the leaves, so that only the glitter of the mesh-steel belts and matching battle helmets stood out. One of them, a gaunt pale woman, wore a high red collar; all of them had hand-lasers drawn.
- Who or what was the fourth hand at Jon’s mutiny attempt? Hint: R’hllor related. Go figure!
“You!” the blond woman shouted, her eyes finding Arik at once, as he stood with his braid flying in the wind and the machete dangling uselessly in his hand. “Speak to these animals! Tell them they must leave! Tell them that no Jaenshi gathering of this size is permitted east of the mountains, by order of the Proctor Wyatt, and the pale child Bakkalon. Tell them!” And then she saw the bitter speaker, and started. “And take the laser from the hand of that animal before we burn both of you down!”
Trembling, neKrol dropped the machete from limp fingers into the water. “Speaker, drop the gun,” he said in Jaenshi, “please. If you ever hope to see the far stars. Let loose the laser, my friend, my child, this very now. And I will take you when Ryther comes, with me to ai-Emerel and further places.” The trader’s voice was full of fear; the Steel Angels held their lasers steady, and not for a moment did he think the speaker would obey him.
But strangely, meekly, she threw the laser rifle into the pool. NeKrol could not see to read her eyes.
- Ploughshares versus swords again. Who is choising violence over peace?
The Squadmother relaxed visibly. “Good.” she said. “Now, talk to them in their beastly talk, tell them to leave. If not, we shall crush them. A powerwagon is on its way!” And now, over the roar and tumble of the nearby waters, neKrol could hear it: a heavy crunching as it rolled over trees, rending them into splinters beneath wide duramesh treads. Perhaps they were using the blastcannon and the turret lasers to clear away boulders and other obstacles.
- Spider-Night Queen, as GRRM often shows. This Tower of Ashes.
- “I have tried to make it explicit in the novels that the dragons are destructive forces, and Dany (Daenerys Targaryen) has found that out as she tried to rule the city of Meereen and be queen there. She has the power to destroy, she can wipe out entire cities, and we certainly see that in Fire and Blood, we see the dragons wiping out entire armies, wiping out towns and cities, destroying them, but that doesn’t necessarily enable you to rule — it just enables you to destroy.” George R.R. Martin, November 21, 2018. Source. A few more GRRM quotes about dragons being destructive here.
“We have told them,” neKrol said desperately. “Many times we have told them, but they do not hear!” He gestured all about him; the glade was still hot and close with Jaenshi bodies and none among the clans had taken the slightest notice of the Steel Angels or the confrontation. Behind him, the clustered talkers still pressed small hands against their god.
“Then we shall bare the sword of Bakkalon to them.” the Squadmother said, “and perhaps they will hear their own wailing!” She holstered her laser and drew a screechgun, and neKrol, shuddering, knew her intent. The screechers used concentrated high-intensity sound to break down cell walls and liquefy flesh. Its effects were psychological as much as anything; there was no more horrible death.
- If you have been following the seasons in this story, we are now back in springtime.
- Daenerys in Meereen in the upcoming The Winds of Winter, and then Dany in Westeros when she arrives approximately by the beginning of A Dream of Spring.
- Frog prince Quentyn Martell
But then a second squad of the Angels were among them, and there was a creak of wood straining and snapping, and from behind a final grove of fruit trees, dimly, neKrol could see the black flanks of the powerwagon, its blastcannon seemingly trained right at him. Two of the newcomers wore the scarlet collar—a red-faced youth with large ears who barked orders to his squad, and a huge, muscular man with a bald head and lined bronze skin. NeKrol recognized him: the Weaponsmaster C’ara DaHan. It was DaHan who laid a heavy hand on the Squadmother’s arm as she raised her screechgun. “No,” he said. “It is not the way.”
A Dance with Dragons – The Dragontamer
Gerris chuckled. “Dragons are not made of wood, Arch.”
“Some are. That old King Aegon, the randy one, he built wooden dragons to conquer us. That ended bad, though.”
- Aegon the Unworthy: Like many other Targaryen kings, Aegon was obsessed with regaining dragons for his house. Instead of trying to resurrect the dead dragons of his ancestors, Aegon instead turned to the pyromancers and commanded them “build me dragons”. What followed were seven wood and iron monstrosities, fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire. Upon their completion, Aegon ordered these devices dragged to the Boneway to initiate the invasion of Dorne
She holstered the weapon at once. “I hear and obey.”
DaHan looked at neKrol. “Trader,” he boomed, “is this your doing?”
“No,” neKrol said.
“They will not disperse,” the Squadmother added.
“It would take us a day and a night to screech them down,” DaHan said, his eyes sweeping over the glade and the trees, and following the rocky twisted.path of the waterwall up to its summit. “There is an easier way. Break the pyramid and they go at once.” He stopped then, about to say something else; his eyes were on the bitter speaker.
“A Jaenshi in rings and cloth,” he said. “They have woven nothing but deathcloth up to now. This alarms me.”
“She is one of the people of the ring-of-stone,” neKrol said quickly. “She has lived with me.”
DaHan nodded. “I understand. You are truly a godless man, neKrol, to consort so with soulless animals, to teach them to ape the ways of the seed of Earth. But it does not matter.” He raised his arm in signal; behind him, among the trees, the blastcannon of the powerwagon moved slightly to the right. “You and your pet should move at once.” DaHan told neKrol. “When I lower my arm, the Jaenshi god will burn and if you stand in the way, you will never move again.”
- Jarlwas referred to as Val’s “pet”.
“The talkers!” neKrol protested, “the blast will—” and he started to turn to show them. But the talkers were crawling away from the pyramid, one by one.
Behind him, the Angels were muttering. “A miracle!” one said hoarsely. “Our child! Our Lord!” cried another.
NeKrol stood paralyzed. The pyramid on the rock was no longer a reddish slab. Now it sparkled in the sunlight, a canopy of transparent crystal. And below that canopy, perfect in every detail, the pale child Bakkalon stood smiling, with his Demon-Reaver in his hand.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VIII
He will give us these castrati, Dany thought, and then he will march home and make some more. The world is full of boys.
The tumblers who came next failed to move her either, even when they formed a human pyramid nine levels high, with a naked little girl on top. Is that meant to represent my pyramid? the queen wondered. Is the girl on top meant to be me?
The Jaenshi talkers were scrambling from it now, tripping in the water in their haste to be away. NeKrol glimpsed the old talker, running faster than any despite his age. Even he seemed not to understand. The bitter speaker stood open-mouthed.
- The pyramids have released their hold on the Jaenshi and turned to the worship of the Steel Angels. A new merge of the military-religious is upon this planet.
- In Meereen, Viserion and Rhaegal are already placing themselves at the tops of pyramids- like gods. The Great Pyramid in Meereen doesn’t have a harpy statue on top (not one described, anyway). I suspect that when Daenerys returns with Drogon, she will land there with her “black-fire sword” as THE representation of Bakkalon and the fire god/dess.
- Daenerys will then burn Meereen before she leaves the city behind. This is possibly foretold in history because the Great Pyramid of Meereen is based off the Great Pyramid of Ghis that was burned by Valyrian Freehold (also slavers).
The trader turned. Half of the Steel Angels were on their knees, the rest had absent-mindedly lowered their arms and they froze in gaping wonder. The Squadmother turned to DaHan. “It is a miracle,” she said. “As Proctor Wyatt has foreseen. The pale child walks upon this world.”
But the Weaponsmaster was unmoved. “The Proctor is not here and this is no miracle,” he said in a steely voice. “It is a trick of some enemy, and I will not be tricked. We will burn the blasphemous thing from the soil of Corlos.” His arm flashed down.
The Angels in the powerwagon must have been lax with awe; the blastcannon did not fire. DaHan turned in irritation. “It is no miracle!” he shouted. He began to raise his arm again.
Next to neKrol, the bitter speaker suddenly cried out. He looked over with alarm, and saw her eyes flash a brilliant yellow-gold. “The god!” she muttered softly. “The light returns to me!”
A Storm of Swords – Jon XI
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.”
And the whine of powerbows sounded from the trees around them, and two long bolts shuddered almost simultaneously in the broad back of C’ara DaHan. The force of the shots drove the Weaponsmaster to his knees, smashed him against the ground.
“RUN!” neKrol screamed, and he shoved the bitter speaker with all hisstrength, and she stumbled and looked back at him briefly, her eyes dark bronze again and flickering with fear. Then, swiftly, she was running, her scarf aflutter behind her as she dodged toward the nearest green.
“Kill her!” the Squadmother shouted. “Kill them all!” And her words woke Jaenshi and Steel Angels both; the children of Bakkalon lifted their lasers against the suddenly-surging crowd, and the slaughter began.
- “Dracarys”– Daenerys Stormborn
A Storm of Swords – Jaime V
…When that failed he took off his chain of office and flung it down on the floor. Aerys burnt him alive for that, and hung his chain about the neck of Rossart, his favorite pyromancer. The man who had cooked Lord Rickard Stark in his own armor. And all the time, I stood by the foot of the Iron Throne in my white plate, still as a corpse, guarding my liege and all his sweet secrets.
“My Sworn Brothers were all away, you see, but Aerys liked to keep me close. I was my father’s son, so he did not trust me. He wanted me where Varys could watch me, day and night. So I heard it all.” He remembered how Rossart’s eyes would shine when he unrolled his maps to show where the substance must be placed. Garigus and Belis were the same. “Rhaegar met Robert on the Trident, and you know what happened there. When the word reached court, Aerys packed the queen off to Dragonstone with Prince Viserys. Princess Elia would have gone as well, but he forbade it. Somehow he had gotten it in his head that Prince Lewyn must have betrayed Rhaegar on the Trident, but he thought he could keep Dorne loyal so long as he kept Elia and Aegon by his side. The traitors want my city, I heard him tell Rossart, but I’ll give them naught but ashes. Let Robert be king over charred bones and cooked meat. The Targaryens never bury their dead, they burn them. Aerys meant to have the greatest funeral pyre of them all. Though if truth be told, I do not believe he truly expected to die. Like Aerion Brightfire before him, Aerys thought the fire would transform him . . . that he would rise again, reborn as a dragon, and turn all his enemies to ash.
NeKrol knelt and scrabbled on the moss-slick rocks until he had the laser rifle in his hands, then brought it to his shoulder and commenced to fire. Light stabbed out in angry bursts; once, twice, a third time. He held the trigger down and the bursts became a beam, and he sheared through the waist of a silver-helmeted Angel before the fire flared in his stomach and he fell heavily into the pool.
For a long time he saw nothing; there was only pain and noise, the water gently slapping against his face, the sounds of high-pitched Jaenshi screaming, running all around him. Twice he heard the roar and crackle of the blastcannon, and more than twice he was stepped on. It all seemed unimportant. He struggled to keep his head on the rocks, half out of the water, but even that seemed none too vital after a while. The only thing that counted was the burning in his gut.
Then, somehow, the pain went away, and there was a lot of smoke and horrible smells but not so much noise, and neKrol lay quietly and listened to the voices.
“The pyramid, Squadmother?” someone asked.
“It is a miracle,” a woman’s voice replied. “Look, Bakkalon stands there yet. And see how he smiles! We have done right here today!”
“What should we do with it?”
“Lift it aboard the powerwagon. We shall bring it back to Proctor Wyatt.”
- The Godsway of the Dothraki at the Mother of Mountains… another mother-mhysa-worship connection to Daenerys.
Soon after the voices went away, and neKrol heard only the sound of the water, rushing down endlessly, falling and tumbling. It was a very restful sound. He decided he would sleep.
- “Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?”–GRRM
- Fourth hand at Jon’s mutiny stabbing
- Ghost was tricked by Melisandre, not trust
The crewman shoved the crowbar down between the slats and lifted. The thin wood hardly protested at all before it gave. “More statues, Jannis,” he reported, after reaching inside the crate and tugging loose some of the packing material.
“Worthless.” Ryther said, with a brief sigh. She stood in the broken ruins of neKrol’s trading base. The Angels had ransacked it searching for armed Jaenshi, and debris lay everywhere. But they had not touched the crates.
The crewman took his crowbar and moved on to the next stack of crated artifacts. Ryther looked wistfully at the three Jaenshi who clustered around her, wishing they could communicate a little better. One of them, a sleek female who wore a trailing scarf and a lot of jewelry and seemed always to be leaning on a powerbow, knew a smattering of Terran. but hardly enough. She picked up things quickly, but so far the only thing of substance she had said was, “Jamson’ World. Arik take us. Angels kill.” That she had repeated endlessly until Ryther had finally made her understand that, yes, they would take them. The other two Jaenshi, the pregnant female and the male with the laser, never seemed to talk at all.
“Statues again.” the crewman said, having pulled a crate from atop the stack in the ruptured storeroom and pried it open.
Ryther shrugged; the crewman moved on. She turned her back on him and wandered slowly outside, to the edge of the spacefield where the Lights of Jolostar rested, its open ports bright with yellow light in the gathering gloom of dusk. The Jaenshi followed her, as they had followed her since she arrived; afraid, no doubt, that she would go away and leave them if they took their great bronze eyes off her for an instant.
“Statues,” Ryther muttered, half to herself and half to the Jaenshi. She shook her head. “Why did he do it?” she asked them, knowing they could not understand. “A trader of his experience? You could tell me, maybe, if you knew what I was saying. Instead of concentrating on deathcloths and such, on real Jaenshi art, why did Arik train you people to carve alien versions of human gods? He should have known no dealer would accept such obvious frauds. Alien art is alien.” She sighed. “My fault, I suppose. We should have opened the crates.” She laughed.
The bitter speaker stared at her. “Arik deathcloth. Gave.”
Ryther nodded, abstractly. She had it now, hanging just above her bunk; a strange small thing, woven partly from Jaenshi fur and mostly from long silken strands of flame red hair. On it, gray against the red, was a crude but recognizable caricature of Arik neKrol. She had wondered at that, too. The tribute of a widow? A child? Or just a friend? What had happened to Arik during the year the Lights had been away? If only she had been back on time, then . . . but she’d lost three months on Jamison’s World, checking dealer after dealer in an effort to unload the worthless statuettes. It had been middle autumn before the Lights of Jolostar returned to Corlos, to find neKrol’s base in ruins, the Angels already gathering in their harvests.
And the Angels—when she’d gone to them, offering the hold of unwanted lasers, offering to trade, the sight on those blood-red city walls had sickened even her. She had thought she’d gone prepared, but the obscenity she encountered was beyond any preparation. A squad of Steel Angels found her vomiting, beyond the tall rusty gates, and had escorted her inside, before the Proctor.
Wyatt was twice as skeletal as she remembered him. He had been standing outdoors, near the foot of a huge platform-altar that had been erected in the middle of the city. A startlingly lifelike statue of Bakkalon, encased in a glass pyramid and set atop a high redstone plinth, threw a long shadow over the wooden altar. Beneath it, the squads of Angels were piling the newly-harvested neograss and wheat and the frozen carcasses of bushogs.
- This is how Davos describes Stannis after he had given his seed (children) to Melisandre in order for her to birth shadow babies. Stannis, like Edan Morse from Armageddon Rag, are being hollowed out because of their proximity and involvement with their respective fire-women.
“We do not need your trade,” the Proctor told her. “The World of Corlos is many-times-blessed, my child, and Bakkalon lives among us now. He has worked vast miracles, and shall work more. Our faith is in Him.” Wyatt gestured toward the altar with a thin hand. “See? In tribute we burn our winter stores, for the pale child has promised that this year winter will not come. And He has taught us to cull ourselves in peace as once we were culled in war, so the seed of Earth grows ever stronger. It is a time of great new revelation!” His eyes had burned as he spoke to her; eyes darting and fanatic, vast and dark, yet strangely flecked with gold.
- And this is essentially how the arrival of the Andals at the Wall distorted the original concpet and meaning of the Night’s Watch vows, altering history for the worse. The Free Folk are not the enemy, rather the Ice Dragon Other is (for that time period).
A Storm of Swords – Bran III
The Reeds exchanged a look. “How do you know that?” asked Jojen. “Have you been here before, my prince?”
“No. Old Nan told me. The holdfast has a golden crown, see?” He pointed across the lake. You could see patches of flaking gold paint up around the crenellations. “Queen Alysanne slept there, so they painted the merlons gold in her honor.”
“A causeway?” Jojen studied the lake. “You are certain?”
As quickly as she could, Ryther had left the City of the Steel Angels, trying hard not to look back at the walls. But when she had climbed the hills, back toward the trading base, she had come to the ring-of-stone, to the broken pyramid where Arik had taken her. Then Ryther found that she could not resist, and powerless she had turned for a final glance out over Sword Valley. The sight had stayed with her.
Outside the walls the Angel children hung, a row of small white-smocked bodies still and motionless at the end of long ropes. They had gone peacefully, all of them, but death is seldom peaceful; the older ones, at least, died quickly, necks broken with a sudden snap. But the small pale infants had the nooses round their waists, and it had seemed clear to Ryther that most of them had simply hung there till they starved.
- More Saagael/R’hllor archetyping. Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark
- The fate of the Steel Angels in this story seems to be set to a die-off in within the next few generations. Winter is coming, yet they have burned thier winter stores (is the ASOIAF Night’s Watch about to have a major fire?), and they are not mating with each other as a way to “cull” themselves, as well as they are killing thier own children (future generations). Are they the “last dragon” of … And Seven Times?
As she stood, remembering, the crewman came from inside neKrol’s broken bubble. “Nothing,” he reported. “All statues.” Ryther nodded.
“Go?” the bitter speaker said. “Jamson’ World?”
“Yes,” she replied, her eyes staring past the waiting Lights of Jolostar, out toward the black primal forest. The Heart of Bakkalon was sunk forever. In a thousand thousand woods and a single city, the clans had begun to pray.
- The pyramids, whatever type of consciousness they are, are basically opportunistic carnivores. When one worshipping meal runs out, they hunt down another. In ASOIAF, dragons don’t seem to prefer to eat humans, but if that is what they have to, they will. I’ve long said that Dany’s dragons are not like the other living dragons in the ancillary stories, rather, they are something different. Hazzea is a whisperjewel meant for Daenerys.
- I speculate overall in ASOIAF we are going to see Aegon VI as a ‘step 1’ of the merge between the Faith of the Seven and the fire aspects. This will happen in the Riverlands as that is where most of the R’hllor believers currently are in the story. Aegon VI will arrive with the sword Blackfyre, which will “prove” him a noble lad, but then when Daenerys comes in with her dragons and he crosses her for a betrayal for love (or however it happens), she will burn him with her Drogon Black-fire and take the Blackfyre.
- You’ll also recognize that in this story, as with all GRRM stories where he uses the term, “madness” is not a clinical term or illness, nor is it a gendered term. It is a sign of wanting war or battle, the desire to fight. It is often associated with the feeling that you have the ‘right’ to rule over everyone, there can be only one.
Bastards were common enough, but incest was a monstrous sin to both old gods and new, and the children of such wickedness were named abominations in sept and godswood alike. The dragon kings had wed brother to sister, but they were the blood of old Valyria where such practices had been common, and like their dragons the Targaryens answered to neither gods nor men.
Thank you so much for sticking around and reading this ASOIAF-Martinworld book club story.
What to read next?
That is up to you. If you are now hankering for another pre-A Song of Ice and Fire book club story to haggle over like a crone with a codfish, try one of these…
- 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.
- 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. A fiery red & black woman puts an icy Stark under mental submission.
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!