*Work in progress page
Forewarning: there will be open spoilers from all of GRRM’s work, including the released The Winds of Winter (TWOW) chapters and Fire & Blood, vol 1. Some of you may recognize most of the information here from my time on the Westeros.org forum in early to mid 2017, finally pulled together in this heresy thread , but then soon had to leave that forum for a while to help with major family matters.
George R.R. Martin started off the A Song of Ice and Fire series with an imbalance in the elements: fire was out of control! Everything from Cersei demanding a wolfskin cloak, to Cersei tearing up Robert Baratheon’s will delivered by Eddard, to Eddard leaving Winterfell, to the birth of dragons, to the rise of R’hllor, and even with the blue-fire icy Others coming back on tot stage. Martin is setting his story up for a re-balance = neutral Green Tree Kings bringing back balance to Planetos.
“So will you,” said Meera. That made Bran sad. What if I don’t want to remain when you are gone? he almost asked, but he swallowed the words unspoken. He was almost a man grown, and he did not want Meera to think he was some weepy babe. “Maybe you could be greenseers too,” he said instead.
“No, Bran.” Now Meera sounded sad.
“It is given to a few to drink of that green fountain whilst still in mortal flesh, to hear the whisperings of the leaves and see as the trees see, as the gods see,” said Jojen. “Most are not so blessed. The gods gave me only greendreams. My task was to get you here. My part in this is done.”
A Dance with Dragons – Bran III
What’s in a Name?
The name “Brân” in Welsh is usually translated as crow or raven. In Old Norse, something which GRRM said he has drawn some inspiration from, “Brand” is a slight variant of the name “Brandr“. Old Norse brandr = ‘fire, swordblade’, a symbolic representation of the sword Lightbringer, the red sword of heroes, in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Martin has used this Brand version in his story Fast-Friend, as noted below.
- Update August 22, 2019: One of George’s most interesting answers at castle ward talk. Question: the name Bran means raven. Was that the reason why George chose the name Bran. Answer: he was aware of the meaning and connection, but no, he chose the name Bran because it sounded cool./ Source SweetSunRay.
Bran the Blessed, or Brân Fendigaidd, literally means “Blessed Crow”, and was a giant and a king in mythology. 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. Bran is going to be the greenseeing bringer of light, as the Emerald Tablet explains:
Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing
And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.
The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
It ascends from the earth to the heaven & again it descends to the earth & receives the force of things superior & inferior.
By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world
& thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing & penetrates every solid thing.
So was the world created.
From this are & do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world
That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished & ended.
What to Read
Some of the prototype Bran’s George has developed come form his past stories. Often, these proto-Bran’s are shared in the same identity as the Jon-prototype, a sort of 90/10 split, with the Jon being the focus. But not always.
- Override– I am recommending this story because I do believe Bran will be the “ice armor” for Jon as the Battle of the Trident (or at the God’s Eye) reoccurs, this time between a Bran/Jon combo and Daenerys. This story explains an “override” in telepathic abilities while simultaneously showing the character to be a rather strong “handler”. No, Jon is not dead.
- For a Single Yesterday– A great short story that shows a serious Bran+Bloodraven scenario of desiring a lost love (Sandi in this story), songs, using a drug to mentally “timetrip” in order to learn lost information to help the current/future, and all of this happens under a tree by a creek, and the hero is a guy named Lieutenant Robert Winters. And yeah, just like in Armageddon Rag, the ending includes a reunion of survivors and someone playing a guitar… because songs unify.
- This Tower of Ashes– Oh yeah. We have illegitimate genetically-engineered pet cat named Squirrel, soot-grey and obsidian watchtower that predates men, John carries a bow, spider webs and huge white female spiders, and drinking a toxic venom drink that makes one transcendentally high. The plot revolves around the main character having a serious question and desire for a past love (Crystal in this story).
- Nightflyers– Royd Eris is mostly a Jon type, but he is also Bran, Bloodraven, and a smidge Rhaegar. It is interspersed depending on the scene.
- The Second King of Lonliness- perhaps later if Bran is stuck in the tree forever.
- The Way of Cross and Dragon– This story focus much on death, and resurrection, and re-inventing oneself all while merging old and news ways of (religious) thought. Power, money, and doctrinal disputes are another developed theme.
- The Glass Flower– this is near 100% a Daenerys precursor story, but to read this story will give you a better understanding of the cup of ice/cup of fire mind game that Bran and Daenerys seem to be headed towards. Where Cyrain from The Glass Flower drinks and literally sits in the cup of fire (as does Daenerys), in the end Kleronomas drinks from and remakes his new seat in the nature he allows to re-take over the land; the cup of neutral nature from the green fountain as Jojen describes in the above quote. The weirwood trees are the symbol of the “neutral green” as they represent both ice and fire. It is all in how you use it.
- Fevre Dream– Quite often the Jon-type character is also split with a Bran and Bloodraven protoype. The three are the heads of some existential plain across Martinworld literary works of consciousness and identity. In this story there is also a “throne” or high seat that is the ship Fevre Dream. It starts out as blue, sliver and white, but then is usurped and converted in to read and black. There is a mind battle that takes on the Fevre River, but in the end the ship is given over to nature as normalcy within the vampire race takes over, led by Josh York.
- Armageddon Rag– This story is great because once again it clearly defines the struggle between the smallfolk/hippies/flower children and the corporations (fire) that suppress. Both of them have extremists, and the extremist are always prone to war, but it is the middle ground, the water, that can change the flow of humanity. It is a choice.
- Fast-Friend- a short but encompassing journey, exploring love, morality, loss, lost dreams, and lost love. This story really plunges to the heart of what could be the future of Bran and Meera Reed. The main character in this story is named Brand, and his love interest that becomes a “fast friend” is named Melissa.
- The Pear-Shaped Man- the big, fat bold points of this story hold true for both the ice/Bran and fire/Daenerys sides of the ASOIAF story. Both being absorbed/consumed by that which they initially fear. Bran is initially scared of becoming “married to the trees”, and Daenerys is scared of being consumed by fiery Targaryen madness like her father. Sometimes you do not have a choice in your destiny, sometimes it just happens no matter how many times you try to thwart it.
For a little fun reading, check out the possible historic connection to the Black Gate being the Wall of the Crow in Egypt.
Acorn into the Oak
Bran was born in 290 AC. As of the final chapter of A Dance with Dragons, we are nearing the end of 300 AC, so Bran is 10 (maybe 11 depending on the times of year). Who knows how long the upcoming battle for humanity is going to last? And then the reconstruction of Westeros? They will need a leader, right?
A comment George RR Martin made about the skipping of the give year gap.
“If a twelve-year old has to conquer the world, then so be it.”
Now, I do not think by the very end-end an oppressive iron throne will remain for anyone to sit upon, the feudal society will evolve into something better for all instead of just the elite, but Bran will live to watch and guide a new ruling system in to place. He is, after all, almost a tree full grown, not some weepy sapling babe.
A Dance with Dragons – Bran II
Something about the way the raven screamed sent a shiver running up Bran’s spine. I am almost a man grown, he had to remind himself. I have to be brave now.
But the air was sharp and cold and full of fear. Even Summer was afraid. The fur on his neck was bristling. Shadows stretched against the hillside, black and hungry. All the trees were bowed and twisted by the weight of ice they carried. Some hardly looked like trees at all. Buried from root to crown in frozen snow, they huddled on the hill like giants, monstrous and misshapen creatures hunched against the icy wind. “They are here.”
A Dance with Dragons – Bran III
“The secrets of the old gods,” said Jojen Reed. Food and fire and rest had helped restore him after the ordeals of their journey, but he seemed sadder now, sullen, with a weary, haunted look about the eyes. “Truths the First Men knew, forgotten now in Winterfell … but not in the wet wild. We live closer to the green in our bogs and crannogs, and we remember. Earth and water, soil and stone, oaks and elms and willows, they were here before us all and will still remain when we are gone.”
“So will you,” said Meera. That made Bran sad. What if I don’t want to remain when you are gone? he almost asked, but he swallowed the words unspoken. He was almost a man grown, and he did not want Meera to think he was some weepy babe. “Maybe you could be greenseers too,” he said instead.
“No, Bran.” Now Meera sounded sad.
Bran is but a young boy, but with the knowledge he gains as he greensees through time, he is going to face a very hard reality and he will have to kill the boy and the let the man/knight be born. This is the same concept in the story For A Single Yesterday and Override, among the other stories listed above.
A Game of Thrones – Bran I
“He does,” his father admitted. “As did the Targaryen kings before him. Yet our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.
“One day, Bran, you will be Robb’s bannerman, holding a keep of your own for your brother and your king, and justice will fall to you. When that day comes, you must take no pleasure in the task, but neither must you look away. A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.”
That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. “Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!” Then he was gone again.
In the story For A Single Yesterday, the character Kieth likes to sit in a sleeping bag (looking like a worm) under a red-leafed tree next to a river and injects a drug called Chronine to help him “time trip” a few years in to the past so that he can see his lost love. Jon Winters is the one who explains how the experiences should be used to help rebuild society after a war-collapse.
- For A Single Yesterday
“Chronine is not a time machine,” Winters said. “It is a memory drug. And there are things we must remember.” He glanced around the circle. “Is there anyone here who ever worked in a hospital? An orderly? A candy-striper? Never mind. There might be, in a group this size. And they’d have seen things. Somewhere in the back of their skulls they’d know things we need to know. I’ll bet some of you took shop in high school. I’ll bet you learned all sorts of useful things. But how much do you remember? With chronine, you could remember it all. We might have someone here who once learned to make arrows. We might have a tanner. We might have someone who knows how to build a generator. We might have a doctor!”
Winters paused and let that sink in. Around the circle, people shifted uneasily and began to mutter.
Finally Winters continued. “If we found a library, we wouldn’t burn the books for heat, no matter how cold it got. But we’re doing the same thing when we let Keith timetrip. We’re a library—all of us here, we have books in our heads. And the only way to read those books is with chronine. We should use it to help us remember the things we must know. We should hoard it like a treasure, calculate every recall session carefully, and make sure—make absolutely sure—that we don’t waste a grain of it.”
Then he stopped. A long, long silence followed; for Keith, an endless one. Finally Rick spoke again. “I never thought of that,” he said reluctantly. “Maybe you have something. My father was a doctor, if that means anything.”
[and the rebuilding talk continues]
Two Together Makes Something Stronger
In this section I want to discuss the winged wolf-squirrel-boy, Bran Stark, and how his experiences seem to be taking him in a direction of unity between the old gods and the Citadel. Bran seems to be a more powerful greenseer than Bloodraven at this point in the his training, or non-training even. Bran seems to have the more innate talents that Daenerys does when she questions herself on how she knows what the ritual is to conduct blood and fire magics.
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 Native American parallels.
For a long time now I have seen a pattern developing in the the ASOIAF series of two “lesser” beings having to come together to create something stronger- a reforging of swords. 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. Daenerys (or Cersei?) possibly uniting with Euron. Bran and Samwell will work together to bridge the gap between the old ways and the new. It appears now that Samwell Tarly has given up the faith of seven (fire related) 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 Isle of Ravens in Oldtown, near the Citadel, and across the Honeywine river.
The old ways + the new = progress
Chat Between Friends
A few noted book passages that give clues to Sam conversing with the weirwood/ravens to share information back and forth with Bran the (less malicious) Ratatoskr squirrel this idea are below, but this is not the full account:
- A Game of Thrones – Bran II
He confessed his crime the next day in a fit of guilt. Lord Eddard ordered him to the godswood to cleanse himself. Guards were posted to see that Bran remained there alone all night to reflect on his disobedience. The next morning Bran was nowhere to be seen. They finally found him fast asleep in the upper branches of the tallest sentinel in the grove.
As angry as he was, his father could not help but laugh. “You’re not my son,” he told Bran when they fetched him down, “you’re a squirrel. So be it. If you must climb, then climb, but try not to let your mother see you.”
- A Feast for Crows – Samwell V
Moss and creeping vines covered the walls, Sam saw, and ravens walked its battlements in place of archers. The drawbridge had not been raised in living memory.
It was cool and dim inside the castle walls. An ancient weirwood filled the yard, as it had since these stones had first been raised. The carved face on its trunk was grown over by the same purple moss that hung heavy from the tree’s pale limbs. Half of the branches seemed dead, but elsewhere a few red leaves still rustled, and it was there the ravens liked to perch. The tree was full of them, and there were more in the arched windows overhead, all around the yard. The ground was speckled by their droppings. As they crossed the yard, one flapped overhead and he heard the others quorking to each other. “Archmaester Walgrave has his chambers in the west tower, below the white rookery,” Alleras told him. “The white ravens and the black ones quarrel like Dornishmen and Marchers, so they keep them apart.”
I suspect Sam is teaching the ravens to talk, as noted in this post.
- A Game of Thrones – Jon V
Pyp let fly a whoop and thrust his sword into the air. Ser Alliser fixed him with a reptile stare. “They will call you men of Night’s Watch now, but you are bigger fools than the Mummer’s Monkey here if you believe that. You are boys still, green and stinking of summer, and when the winter comes you will die like flies.” And with that, Ser Alliser Thorne took his leave of them.
The other boys gathered round the eight who had been named, laughing and cursing and offering congratulations. Halder smacked Toad on the butt with the flat of his sword and shouted, “Toad, of the Night’s Watch!” Yelling that a black brother needed a horse, Pyp leapt onto Grenn’s shoulders, and they tumbled to the ground, rolling and punching and hooting. Dareon dashed inside the armory and returned with a skin of sour red. As they passed the wine from hand to hand, grinning like fools, Jon noticed Samwell Tarly standing by himself beneath a bare dead tree in the corner of the yard. Jon offered him the skin. “A swallow of wine?“
- A Game of Thrones – Jon VI
Mormont himself confirmed Grenn’s doubts. “Castle Black has no need of a godswood. Beyond the Wall the haunted forest stands as it stood in the Dawn Age, long before the Andals brought the Seven across the narrow sea. You will find a grove of weirwoods half a league from this spot, and mayhap your gods as well.”
“My lord.” The voice made Jon glance back in surprise. Samwell Tarly was on his feet. The fat boy wiped his sweaty palms against his tunic. “Might I … might I go as well? To say my words at this heart tree?”
- A Clash of Kings – Jon III
“It looks snug. You know where Sam is?”
“Keep on the way you were. If you come on Ser Ottyn’s pavilion, you’ve gone too far.” Giant smiled. “Unless Sam’s found him a tree too. What a tree that would be.“
It was Ghost who found Sam in the end. The direwolf shot ahead like a quarrel from a crossbow. Under an outcrop of rock that gave some small degree of shelter from the rain, Sam was feeding the ravens. His boots squished when he moved. “My feet are soaked through,” he admitted miserably. “When I climbed off my horse, I stepped in a hole and went in up to my knees.”
A Different kind of Fire
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 flame is the same fire. Trees are home to the greenseers and the keepers of true history, as opposed to the selective falsehoods of the current high ranking maesters, which trickles down to the House maesters and what they teach to the children.
- 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 speculating 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 type. 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 these for example:
- 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.”
“Courtesy is a lady’s armor,” Sansa said. Her septa had always told her that.
- “Your sword you shall have,” declared Lord Beric, “but your innocence must be your armor.“
He looked south, and saw the great blue-green rush of the Trident. He saw his father pleading with the king, his face etched with grief. He saw Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, and he saw Arya watching in silence and holding her secrets hard in her heart. There were shadows all around them. One shadow was dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.
Ice Armour… with a Twist
Jon will have Bran and Bran’s knowledge as his “ice armor” as he battles the fires at the Trident or God’s Eye, 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.
- A Dance with Dragons – Jon XII
They 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 past this point*
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. Again, I started to write this out in the Westeros.org heresy thread back in 2017, click here if you want to see some follow-up comments by other posters.
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.
Lady 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?
- The Sworn Sword: “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?”
- The Sworn Sword: 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.”
They did not need a boat to reach the Isle of Ravens; a weathered wooden drawbridge linked it to the eastern bank. “The Ravenry is the oldest building at the Citadel,” Alleras told him, as they crossed over the slow-flowing waters of the Honeywine. “In the Age of Heroes it was supposedly the stronghold of a pirate lord who sat here robbing ships as they came down the river.”
Moss and creeping vines covered the walls, Sam saw, and ravens walked its battlements in place of archers. The drawbridge had not been raised in living memory.
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
I have long been a firm believer that Bran will become a knight… but more specifically, a Knight of the Mind while he is the new keeper of history, which will also be handy when the battle on the darkling stream comes to dance. One of the first hints at this comes from this part of the book where well-meaning poppa Eddard gets everything almost right, but sorta wrong, the opposite of what will be the outcome of the Stark children in the books. What we do see is the merging of science and nature/animism being foreshadowed. Something I speculate will happen the the essays Bran the Greenseer of Enlightenment, as well as Samwell and Bran connecting at the Citadel :
A Game of Thrones – Eddard V
Arya bit her lip. “What will Bran do when he’s of age?”
Ned knelt beside her. “He has years to find that answer, Arya. For now, it is enough to know that he will live.” The night the bird had come from Winterfell, Eddard Stark had taken the girls to the castle godswood, an acre of elm and alder and black cottonwood overlooking the river. The heart tree there was a great oak, its ancient limbs overgrown with smokeberry vines; they knelt before it to offer their thanksgiving, as if it had been a weirwood. Sansa drifted to sleep as the moon rose, Arya several hours later, curling up in the grass under Ned’s cloak. All through the dark hours he kept his vigil alone. When dawn broke over the city, the dark red blooms of dragon’s breath surrounded the girls where they lay. “I dreamed of Bran,” Sansa had whispered to him. “I saw him smiling.”
“He was going to be a knight,” Arya was saying now. “A knight of the Kingsguard. Can he still be a knight?”
“No,” Ned said. He saw no use in lying to her. “Yet someday he may be the lord of a great holdfast and sit on the king’s council. He might raise castles like Brandon the Builder, or sail a ship across the Sunset Sea, or enter your mother’s Faith and become the High Septon.” But he will never run beside his wolf again, he thought with a sadness too deep for words, or lie with a woman, or hold his own son in his arms.
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:
- A Game of Thrones – Bran VIBroken, 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.”Maester Luwin sighed. “I can teach you history, healing, herblore. I can teach you the speech of ravens, and how to build a castle, and the way a sailor steers his ship by the stars. I can teach you to measure the days and mark the seasons, and at the Citadel in Oldtown they can teach you a thousand things more. But, Bran, no man can teach you magic.”
Could Ice= Bran, Fire= current Citadel?
*format editing in process past this point*
Just as the Night’s Watch has lost their knowledge of the true purpose of their order, this idea could also hold that the maesters, who seem to be of first men descent, have also lost their ways in knowing the purpose of their order. Ironic, right? The all-knowing maesters not actually knowing all. The re-forging of science and nature seems to be where certain plot points of ASOIAF are headed. Both sides have truth, and exaggerations.
A Storm of Swords – Bran IV
Bran wasn’t so certain. The Nightfort had figured in some of Old Nan’s scariest stories. It was here that Night’s King had reigned, before his name was wiped from the memory of man. This was where the Rat Cook had served the Andal king his prince-and-bacon pie, where the seventy-nine sentinels stood their watch, where brave young Danny Flint had been raped and murdered. This was the castle where King Sherrit had called down his curse on the Andals of old, where the ‘prentice boys had faced the thing that came in the night, where blind Symeon Star-Eyes had seen the hellhounds fighting. Mad Axe had once walked these yards and climbed these towers, butchering his brothers in the dark.
All that had happened hundreds and thousands of years ago, to be sure, and some maybe never happened at all. Maester Luwin always said that Old Nan’s stories shouldn’t be swallowed whole. But once his uncle came to see Father, and Bran asked about the Nightfort. Benjen Stark never said the tales were true, but he never said they weren’t; he only shrugged and said, “We left the Nightfort two hundred years ago,” as if that was an answer.
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 mysteries (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 candles are another type of alternate knowledge that the Citadel wants to stop from spreading, like Qyburn and surgery? Qyburn is basically the Herbert West of Westeros, but the same underlying idea remains; the tinkering of life eternal, overcoming death, dealing in the powers of the “gods”.
And sorcery? Could the Valyrian steel be the link for dragon spells/blood sorcery specifically? Maybe it just has not worked *yet because magic had left the world and the maesters also suppressed what little knowledge was left?
Luwin slid a finger up under his collar and began to turn it, inch by inch. He had a thick neck for a small man, and the chain was tight, but a few pulls had it all the way around. “This is Valyriansteel,” 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.
“All those who study the higher mysteries try their own hand at spells, soon or late. I yielded to the temptation too, I must confess it. Well, I was a boy, and what boy does not secretly wish to find hidden powers in himself? I got no more for my efforts than a thousand boys before me, and a thousand since. Sad to say, magic does not work.”
Even un-maester Qyburn was scorned from attaining further knowledge that could be seen in modern eyes as exploratory surgery. (George has said that Aeron is really only providing CPR)
- 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.”
The dose makes the poison
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 . . .
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 maesters, 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!