*Work in progress page
Forewarning: there will be open spoilers from all of GRRM’s work, including the released TWOW chapters, throughout this entire site.
George RR Martin has described Bran as the most difficult to write because he is a child, but not because of his magic. GRRM has described Bran as the most magical in the series, and that is a hint we readers should be paying extra attention.
Some of the protoype Bran’s George has developed come form his past stories. Often, these proto-Bran’s are shared in the same identity as the Jon-protoype, a sort of 90/10 split, with the Jon being the focus. But not always.
- For a Single Yesterday
- This Tower of Ashes
- Nightflyers- partial Royd Eris
- The Second King of Lonliness- perhaps later if Bran is stuck in the tree forever
In this section I want to discuss the winged wolf, Bran Stark, and how his experiences seem to be taking him in a direction of unity between the old gods and the Citadel.
The character of Bran also seems to follow the beliefs of the Native American/Alaskan Athabaskan people who believe the Raven is the culture hero of their tribes tribes. He is a revered and benevolent transformer god who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Raven stories have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. GRRM has said before that the various Native American peoples are an inspiration to his writing. Jon and Val together also follow some of these parallels.
For a long time now I have seen a pattern being set up the the ASOIAF series of two “lesser” beings having to come together to create something stronger. Sansa and Arya to take down Petyr Baelish. Jon and the free folk marrying back in to those south of the wall in order to repopulate after near extinction. Jaime and Brienne coming back together to complete keep oaths as promised. It appears now that Samwell Tarly has given up the faith of seven (new gods) and has taken his Night’s Watch vows with the old gods, that Sam will have visits with Bran via the purple moss covered weirwood at the Citadel.
However, Bran being a tree is placed in opposition to the destructive type of fire, as we know trees do not like fire, but not all fire is the same fire. Trees are the homes to the greenseers and the keepers of true history, as opposed to the selective falsehoods of the maesters.
A Storm of Swords – Arya VIII
“Nay,” said the dwarf. “You’re not. The black fish holds the rivers now. If it’s the mother you want, seek her at the Twins. For there’s to be a wedding.” She cackled again. “Look in your fires, pink priest, and you will see. Not now, though, not here, you’ll see nothing here. This place belongs to the old gods still . . . they linger here as I do, shrunken and feeble but not yet dead. Nor do they love the flames. For the oak recalls the acorn, the acorn dreams the oak, the stump lives in them both. And they remember when the First Men came with fire in their fists.” She drank the last of the wine in four long swallows, flung the skin aside, and pointed her stick at Lord Beric. “I’ll have my payment now. I’ll have the song you promised me.”
I am proposing that Sam “the Slayer” will slay the Citadel lies and will be the uniting human representative of knowledge that lies somewhere between woods witch and maester. Bran will light Sam’s way, as the Citadel lights the way for higher learning. In a way, this makes Bran a lord of light. Sam and Bran will re-ignite a *new* pact of ice and fire, which was supposed to wed people from the fire line to the ice line. Bran is “married” to the trees, and Sam will be married to his maester (fire) duties, and the two will unite in a symbolic marriage.
This follows GRRM’s style of history repeating, but with a twist. Just like the the culture of the first men gave up their gods and accepted the old gods, and stopped burning weirwoods, Sam gave up his fiery seven gods in favor of the old gods and Sam and Bran will unite for peace.
From the ASOIAF wiki:
The Pact of the Isle of Faces was a treaty that ended the war of the First Men and the children of the forest, an event that took place more than 10,000 years ago.
The Pact came to be after the First Men and the children of the forest fought each other to a standstill and the two races agreed to peaceful coexistence. It was entered into by the greenseers and wood dancers of the children of the forest and the chiefs and heroes of the First Men on a small island in middle of the large lake, known as Gods Eye, in the riverlands.
I also believe that Bran will have these connections with Theon and Jon. We have a few mentions of Jon wearing ice armor in the story. Well, not all armor is literal. Take Sansa:
Joffrey frowned. Sansa felt that she ought to say something. What was it that Septa Mordane used to tell her? A lady’s armor is courtesy, that was it. She donned her armor and said, “I’m sorry my lady mother took you captive, my lord.”
That seemed to anger him. “You hide behind courtesy as if it were a castle wall.”
“Courtesy is a lady’s armor,” Sansa said. Her septa had always told her that.
“I am your husband. You can take off your armor now.”
A lady’s armor is her courtesy. Alayne could feel the blood rushing to her face. No tears, she prayed. Please, please, I must not cry.
Jon will have Bran and Bran’s knowledge as his “ice armor” as he battles the fires at the Trident, because history repeats, just with a twist. Jon, as the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna the second moon maid, is the Sun’s son, as the Qartheen legend would detail. Bran with the help of Sam, and vice versa, are going to have to communicate this information to Jon.
A Storm of Swords – Daenerys III
That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.
She woke suddenly in the darkness of her cabin, still flush with triumph. Balerion seemed to wake with her, and she heard the faint creak of wood, water lapping against the hull, a football on the deck above her head. And something else.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIIThey are all gone. They have abandoned me. Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.
*editing in process*
The Citadel: Birthplace of the Grey Rats
The maesters are an order of scholars, healers, postmen, and scientists who are trained at a school called the Citadel, which is located in Oldtown. The common parlance of the word “maester” is used interchangeably in the series when also referring to the Citadel. They are one in the same beast. A beast with two backs, you could say.
When a person enters into the Citadel system, they are supposed to strip themselves of their surname to show that their allegiance is to the Citadel first. Maester Aemon is doubly sworn to the Night’s Watch and the Citadel, with the latter being superior, as are the measters at Eastwatch and Shadow Tower. Measter’s have control over all of the important goings on with Westeros because they handle all of the messages in and out of the castles, including opening and the reading the messages first. That leaves the door wide open for the chance of treachery to happen.
Ladt Barbrey Dustin gives the most telling speech regarding the maesters:
A Dance with Dragons – [Theon] The Prince of Winterfell
“They heal, yes. I never said they were not subtle. They tend to us when we are sick and injured, or distraught over the illness of a parent or a child. Whenever we are weakest and most vulnerable, there they are. Sometimes they heal us, and we are duly grateful. When they fail, they console us in our grief, and we are grateful for that as well. Out of gratitude we give them a place beneath our roof and make them privy to all our shames and secrets, a part of every council. And before too long, the ruler has become the ruled.
“That was how it was with Lord Rickard Stark. Maester Walys was his grey rat’s name. And isn’t it clever how the maesters go by only one name, even those who had two when they first arrived at the Citadel? That way we cannot know who they truly are or where they come from … but if you are dogged enough, you can still find out. Before he forged his chain, Maester Walys had been known as Walys Flowers. Flowers, Hill, Rivers, Snow … we give such names to baseborn children to mark them for what they are, but they are always quick to shed them. Walys Flowers had a Hightower girl for a mother … and an archmaester of the Citadel for a father, it was rumored. The grey rats are not as chaste as they would have us believe. Oldtown maesters are the worst of all. Once he forged his chain, his secret father and his friends wasted no time dispatching him to Winterfell to fill Lord Rickard’s ears with poisoned words as sweet as honey. The Tully marriage was his notion, never doubt it, he—”
What we know of the Citadel origins is a based on what we learn is a AFFC Samwell chapter, or what we learn from the World book.
- TWOIAF: The origins of the Citadel are almost as mysterious as those of the Hightower itself. Most credit its founding to the second son of Uthor of the High Tower, Prince Peremore the Twisted. A sickly boy, born with a withered arm and twisted back, Peremore was bedridden for much of his short life but had an insatiable curiosity about the world beyond his window, so he turned to wise men, teachers, priests, healers, and singers, along with a certain number of wizards, alchemists, and sorcerers. It is said the prince had no greater pleasure in life than listening to these scholars argue with one another. When Peremore died, his brother King Urrigon bequeathed a large tract of land beside the Honeywine to “Peremore’s pets,” that they might establish themselves and continue teaching, learning, and questing after truth. And so they did.
- I was curious and looked up what “Peremore” could possibly mean in the real world, but found nothing. So I stayed within the theme of the series and checked for word play, which brought me to Peregrine and found this: A powerful bird found in coastal areas, foreign, abroad, farming, pilgrim.
- Rats in general have a negative connotation in the story. They always seem to go against the main protagonists of the series. The Freys come to mind first who go against the Starks. But also the rats of King’s Landing during the Great Spring sickness. There is speculation that it was Bloodraven that drove the rats from the city (There is too much from The Sworn Sword to quote here). That was, after all, the place where BR’s family lived and he had already lost some to the sickness. Is this another hint of a struggle between a holder of “magic” and the grey rats of the Citadel?
TSS: “You would not know the city since the spring. The fires changed it. A quarter of the houses gone, and another quarter empty. The rats are gone as well. That is the queerest thing. I never thought to see a city without rats.“
Dunk had heard that, too. “Were you there during the Great Spring Sickness?”
Aerys keeps his own apartments, and it is said that he would sooner take a book to bed than any woman.” He filled his cup again. “Make no mistake, ’tis Lord Rivers who rules us, with his spells and spies. There is no one to oppose him. Prince Maekar sulks at Summerhall, nursing his grievances against his royal brother. Prince Rhaegal is as meek as he is mad, and his children are . . . well, children. Friends and favorites of Lord Rivers fill every office, the lords of the small council lick his hand, and this new Grand Maester is as steeped in sorcery as he is. The Red Keep is garrisoned by Raven’s Teeth, and no man sees the king without his leave.“
Now, this all seems normal, and then we have the this piece of information given to us (below). Now this is strange, and highly risky, because of the terrible nature of pirates we are told about.
- “Not far. The Isle of Ravens.”
- Who were these pirates?
- How were they defeated?
- Could it have been for money?
The bonding of faith and money, such a natural union…
Money can be a devious beast, depending on the side of the coin that lands face up. It causes all sorts of issues among friends, family, and countrymen alike. It is a root cause for issues like greed, jealousy, and deception. But who would take such a chance against a bunch of pirates that take valuable goods from pirates? Enter House Hightower…
- Supported Greens over the Blacks, which during the Dance of the Dragons, it was shown that they were trying to work their way in to ruling power.
- House words, ‘We Light the Way”, and they use a beacon of fire atop a building. By the way, have you guys ever read And Seven Times Never Kill Man??? You should if you have not had the chance yet. Why? Well, this overlaps with George’s use of a lighted beacon atop a stone structure that is used to lure in the unsuspecting. Annnd the Steel Angels. Just sayin’ because this is not the only place we see fire atop a building in ASOIAF.
- TWOIAF: When the Andals came, the Hightowers were amongst the first lords of Westeros to welcome them. “Wars are bad for trade,” said Lord Dorian Hightower, when he set aside his wife of twenty years, the mother of his children, to take an Andal princess as his bride. His grandson Lord Damon (the Devout) was the first to accept the Faith. To honor the new gods, he built the first sept in Oldtown and six more elsewhere in his realm. When he died prematurely of a bad belly, Septon Robeson became regent for his newborn son, ruling Oldtown in all but name for the next twenty years and ultimately becoming the first High Septon. The boy he raised and trained, Lord Triston Hightower, raised the Starry Sept in his honor after his passing.
- From the author: Q.How does the Citadel get financed? A: Lords pay for the service of the Maesters and the Citadel collects some of the revenue of Oldtown via taxes.
- What is funny about this is that maesters do not stay loyal to a family, instead it seems as though they stay loyal to a castle. So as families may come and go, the maesters always have shelter over their head and they have a definite place to live while they await a new family to train.
The Citadel can’t make money off the trees! If no one needs or believes what the measters are teaching, or of they realize that they can go out in search of knowledge on their own, then the maesters and Citadel lose money. Follow the green.
Basically, the Citadel is assuring its own growth and survival by planting themselves in different castles, not necessarily with the family as we have seen when a family changes. What does this mean for the future of Westeros? Will there be a reform?
Maesters covet dragons- the flying kind
“Warmth calls to warmth…”– Melisandre
But wait, if wars are bad for trade, then why did the Citadel work against the Targaryens??? I mean, the Targaryens were not poor, rough spun wearing, tree-huggers. No. They were rich, so maybe it is something else? As we see in the Dance of the Dragons and the Hightower/Targaryen marriages, if you can’t weed them out, breed them in. Maybe there is something to the dilution of magic in the blood, or, maybe the Citadel wants to covet the magic of dragons, the fire magic of the “gods”, for themselves.
The Hightower, building and sigil, could be that hiding-in-plain-sight beacon? Think about the parallels to the dragons in Meereen now roosting atop the pyramids like flaming beacons of fire (while making claim to the pyramid). Also, the Hightower in Oldtown is said to be an actual beacon that guides ships into port. Dany, the sea loving dragon, is coming to Westeros. Could she be destined for Oldtown at some point?
We get a parallel to this in the north at the wall as well:
- “I’ve sent to Oldtown for more maesters. You’ll have two ravens for when your need is urgent. When it’s not, send riders. Until we have more maesters and more birds, I mean to establish a line of beacon towers along the top of the Wall.”
Speaking of “money”:
- Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.”
*commercial break for funsies! A few quirky anecdotes from Zen Master Raven.
Fire and Ice magics
The Citadel seems to have this dichotomy of wanting to hold magic, and yet wanting to suppress and even eliminate it. Chances are is the Citadel want to be the holders of magic and the highest power in the country. There is a chance that this “wisdom” is passed down from the Archmaesters to the house maesters and the acolytes. The house maesters are just repeating what they are taught, but eventually after several generations, magic and religion and any other knowledge is ridden from Westeros and the Citadel could reign supreme. Yeah, it sounds really fantastical, doesn’t it? But is it false?
We know from the books that, “Though the Citadel has long sought to learn the manner by which it may predict the length and change of seasons, all efforts have been confounded.” Confounded? Why so? Could it be because of GRRM’s statement that is keeping them so confounded?
- The seasons are “completely fantasy based”. There’s no sci-fi type element to it at all. http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Category/C92/P165
Bran has always dreamed to be a knight even though there are no knights in the north, and he shares this idea with Luwin. So what is a broken boy to do? Well, naturally the measter encourages Citadel training because that should teach the magic out of the boy. Kindly, dear old Maester Luwin is frequently telling Bran that the Children of the Forest (and other old god creatures) are gone. Bran tries to explain his dreams and feelings to Luwin and the response he gets is:
Broken, Bran thought bitterly as he clutched his knife. Is that what he was now? Bran the Broken? “I don’t want to be broken,” he whispered fiercely to Maester Luwin, who’d been seated to his right. “I want to be a knight.”
“There are some who call my order the knights of the mind,” Luwin replied. “You are a surpassing clever boy when you work at it, Bran. Have you ever thought that you might wear a maester’s chain? There is no limit to what you might learn.”
“I want to learn magic,” Bran told him. “The crow promised that I would fly.”
- Could Ice= Bran, Fire= Citadel?
There is something called a wood dancer in the story and they are thought to be the knights of the Children of the Forest. So, in a way Bran has achieved his wish, while simultaneously proving maesters wrong and exposing the reader to the bias. Bran has become THE knight of the mind.
- The hunters among the children—their wooddancers—became their warriors as well, but for all their secret arts of tree and leaf, they could only slow the First Men in their advance. The greenseers employed their arts, and tales say that they could call the beasts of marsh, forest, and air to fight on their behalf: direwolves and monstrous snowbears, cave lions and eagles, mammoths and serpents, and more.
The Other mysteries
The maester written World book is filled with the concept that magic and higher myteries (knowledge) are not worth exploring. Just put it out of your mind… here come take a look at this shiny link I forged. Isn’t it shiny. By the way, please pay your taxes so that the Citadel can continue to keep its income steady.
Legend further holds that the greenseers could also delve into the past and see far into the future. But as all our learning has shown us, the higher mysteries that claim this power also claim that their visions of the things to come are unclear and often misleading—a useful thing to say when seeking to fool the unwary with fortune-telling. Though the children had arts of their own, the truth must always be separated from superstition, and knowledge must be tested and made sure. The higher mysteries, the arts of magic, were and are beyond the boundaries of our mortal ability to examine.
Though considered disreputable in this, our present day, a fragment of Septon Barth’s Unnatural History has proved a source of controversy in the halls of the Citadel. Claiming to have consulted with texts said to be preserved at Castle Black, Septon Barth put forth that the children of the forest could speak with ravens and could make them repeat their words.
However, as much as they seem to oppose magic, they also study it. Why? If magic is “nonesense” and doesn’t really exist, when take the time to study it, forge Valyrian steels link, give blood donations to the glass candles, etc?
- “This is Valyrian steel,” he said when the link of dark grey metal lay against the apple of his throat. “Only one maester in a hundred wears such a link. This signifies that I have studied what the Citadel calls the higher mysteries—magic, for want of a better word. A fascinating pursuit, but of small use, which is why so few maesters trouble themselves with it.
- “There are men who call themselves mages and warlocks,” Maester Luwin said. “I had a friend at the Citadel who could pull a rose out of your ear, but he was no more magical than I was. Oh, to be sure, there is much we do not understand.
It seems fairly evident that Marwyn the Mage is the closest to pulling roses out of ears, and he has received a fair amount of scorn and contempt for attaining such knowledge.
“Kill him?” Sam said, shocked. “Why?”
“If I tell you, they may need to kill you too.” Marywn smiled a ghastly smile, the juice of the sourleaf running red between his teeth. “Who do you think killed all the dragons the last time around? Gallant dragonslayers armed with swords?” He spat. “The world the Citadel is building has no place in it for sorcery or prophecy or glass candles, much less for dragons. Ask yourself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights he should have been raised to archmaester. His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can.”
“What will you do?” asked Alleras, the Sphinx. (<<<<—- sneaky Alleras. Prying for info)
Then why does the Citadel have glass candles? From what we have seen with Quaithe, the glass candles can be used to help spread prophecy. Does this mean that glass canldes are another type of alternate knowledge that the Citadel wants to stop from spreading, like Qyburn and surgery?
And sorcery? Could the Valyrian steel link be for dragon spells/blood sorcery specifially? Maybe it just has not worked *yet because magic had left the world and the maesters also suppressed what little knowledge was left?
Qyburn did not look a monster, Jaime thought. He was spare and soft-spoken, with warm brown eyes. “How does a maester come to ride with the Brave Companions?”
“The Citadel took my chain.” Qyburn put away his needle. “I should do something about that wound above your eye as well. The flesh is badly inflamed.”
What happens to the (human) children that wake up and share their probably prophectic dreams to their house measter? Why, they are drugged or hushed as any good doctor would do to a child.
“I had bad dreams,” Shireen told him. “About the dragons. They were coming to eat me.”
The child had been plagued by nightmares as far back as Maester Cressen could recall. “We have talked of this before,” he said gently. “The dragons cannot come to life. They are carved of stone, child. In olden days, our island was the westernmost outpost of the great Freehold of Valyria. It was the Valyrians who raised this citadel, and they had ways of shaping stone since lost to us. A castle must have towers wherever two walls meet at an angle, for defense. The Valyrians fashioned these towers in the shape of dragons to make their fortress seem more fearsome, just as they crowned their walls with a thousand gargoyles instead of simple crenellations.” He took her small pink hand in his own frail spotted one and gave it a gentle squeeze. “So you see, there is nothing to fear.”
Sweetrobin is overdosed because of his “tremors’ and his hearing voices.
Bran is dosed when he wakes from his coma dream.
Teora Toland also has possible prophetic dreams and a maester who is dismissing her, and yet Teora supposedly has a taste for “sweet things”:
- Pycelle lifted a tiny silver bell with thumb and forefinger and tinkled it gently. A slender young serving girl hurried into the solar. “Iced milk for the King’s Hand and myself, if you would be so kind, child. Well sweetened.”
But later we see that Ned does like sweet stuff, just not “well sweetened”. Could Grand Maester Pycelle have been slipping something extra (besides honey) in to Ned’s drink at the time?
- Ned drank. His lips were parched and cracked. The water tasted sweet as honey.
- When Pycelle was gone, Ned called for a cup of honeyed wine. That clouded the mind as well, yet not as badly. He needed to be able to think.
- “The maesters say greyscale is not—”
The men who heal are the men who kill
Alchemy is a form of “magic”. Turning iron into gold, as the tale goes. Just ask Pate… oh wait, you can’t because he got what he wished for when he reversed the alchemial change from gold into iron. However, Pate aside, the Citadel does have its trickster hand in the art of alchemy as well.
What we know of philosophical teachings alchemy in the real world is that is was used a transmutation of base metals into noble metals, and the creation of an exliir of immortality. This immortality is a common theme we see working its way through the story via skinchanging a second life, faceless men mask wearing, perhaps something with a dragon bond and second life, Bloodraven feeding the tree and becoming part of the data storage in the weirnet.
- The alchemists of Lys knew the way of it, though, and the Faceless Men of Braavos . . . and the maesters of his order as well, though it was not something talked about beyond the walls of the Citadel. All the world knew that a maester forged his silver link when he learned the art of healing—but the world preferred to forget that men who knew how to heal also knew how to kill.
- The substance was the pyromancers’ own term for wildfire. They called each other wisdom as well, which Tyrion found almost as annoying as their custom of hinting at the vast secret stores of knowledge that they wanted him to think they possessed. Once theirs had been a powerful guild, but in recent centuries the maesters of the Citadel had supplanted the alchemists almost everywhere. Now only a few of the older order remained, and they no longer even pretended to transmute metals . . .
First, thanks for taking the time to read through this. I hope I gave enough info to ignite some deeper discussions.
Second, If there was ever such a perfect time to bring the World of Ice and Fire book into a discussion, this be it. The book is written by a master of the Citadel, Maester Yandel, with excerpts and additional input from other maester’s added along the way. There are very few bits of clear, totally unbiased pieces of information in this book, but let’s take a look between the lines to see what we find.
I am excited to hear the discussion that comes out of this. I know this is just the tip of the wand when it comes to the Citadel and the measters, but it is all I could fit… until my next post about not-so-Good Queen Alysanne and closing off magic and culture from the north Damn that cheap gold paint!