When was Val introduced into ASOAIF?

Let’s talk about the She-Bear!

I have mentioned multiple times on both this site and in the main Westeros.org forum that George RR Martin created the Val archetype many, many moons ago, as well as always putting this character with the Jon archetype as they work together for the common good.

This has also caused a few other posters to give me a little push-back because they are under the impression that Val isn’t “important” because she was introduced halfway through the book series. This really is not quite the whole picture. I think it is necessary to remember that Martin does not think of the main series as different books, rather, he thinks of them as one long story broken up into hold-able, readable sections. So Val, and her sister Dalla, were introduced when the story required their presence. Val, more-so than Dalla, is by far a minor character, even so…

Minor characters sometimes don’t stay minor.” — GRRM

The best GRRM stories to read that also follow this pattern are, and I have given many (not all) details about each down page:

  1. …And Seven Times Never Kill Man, with the relationship Arik NeKrol has with Janis Ryther and the Bitterspeaker. Val seems to be a mashup of Janis and the Jaenshi Bitterspeaker character, all carry the free folk archetype, especially those that stand against the Steel Angel dragons.
  2. *Nightflyers, pretty much all of it as it sets the stage for the Jon + Val relationship, the same flirting, the paranoia and mutiny at Castle Black, the near death experience that Royd has, the crazy “mother ship” that is the three-egg spaceship along with the Targaryen mad mother controlling the ship.
  3. *The Skin Trade… every… single… bit… of… it between Randi Wade and Willie Flambeaux.
  4. *Fevre Dream. So much between the main character Josh York and Valerie (and Cynthia to a small degree). Basically the Jon-archetype is always paired with a free folk archetype.
  5. Bitterblooms, in parts of the character Shawn of Carinhall. Like many of Martin’s prototype characters, they were expanded into two or three ASOIAF characters, such as what happened with Shawn. She starts off as Dunk when burying his father figure Ser Arlan, then into Val/free folk type, then Stannis, then a bit of Arya with a side skosh of Alys Karstark.
  6. Dying of the Light, with the use of the whisperjewel (used in several GRRM stories) that carries over in to ASOIAF as Ghost for Jon, and Drogon for Daenerys. Then there is the brooch/pin people like Gwen and Dirk wear as both protection and identification to which gathering they belong.
    • Dying of the Light: “Up to now, it has not come to open conflict. We travel as widely as we can, visiting each of the cities, searching for those who remain on Worlorn. Any we find we make korariel. We have found only a few- a wild child lost during the Festival, a few lingering Wolfmen in Haapala’s City, an ironhorn hunter from Tara. To each I give a token of my esteem”-he smiled-“a little black iron pin shaped like a banshee. It is a proximity beacon, to warn a hunter who gets too close. Should they touch any wearing such a pin, any of my korariel, it would be a dueling offense. Lorimaar may rant and rage, but he will not duel us. It would be his death.”
    • “Gwen is with the Ironjade Gathering,” Ruark said. He had a small, tight smile on his face. “Me, I’m representing Impril City Academy. Kimdiss. You know?”
    • Vikary cradled his beer mug between two large hands and drank from it thoughtfully. “That is simple enough,” he said. “I am a highbond Kavalar of the Ironjade Gathering, bonded to Gwen Delvano by jade-and-silver. My betheyn was sent to Worlorn by vote of the highbond council, so it is natural that I am here too, and my teyn. Do you understand?”
    • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI– where we see Val is protected by the old gods, and claimed to be a member of that “gathering“.

      “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.

    • The scene between Dirk and Gwen when they are in the tower on Kryne Lamiya, the Festival city built on Worlorn by Dark-dawn. Often called the Siren City, Kryne Lamiya was designed so that its towers made music of the controlled mountain winds, thus playing over and over a symphony by Darkdawn’s leading composer, the nihilist Lamiya-Bailis. The city name Kryne Lamiya sounds an awful lot like the Chroyane the festival city in ASOIAF. Additionally, this city named for the nihilist, and the grimmer details of its history, compares to Petyr Littlefinger Baelish.
    • Dying of the Light: And emerged on a sloping hillside among chokers to a night full of fire and music. Kryne Lamiya was burning. The bone towers screamed a shattered song of anguish.
      Flames were loose everywhere in the pale necropolis, bright sentinels wandering up and down the streets. The city shimmered like some strange illusion in the waves of heat and light; it seemed an insubstantial orange wraith. As they watched, one of the slender looping bridges crumbled and collapsed; its blackened center fell apart first, down into the conflagration, and the rest of the stone span followed. The fire consumed it and rose higher, crackling and shrieking, unsatiated. A nearby building coughed dully and imploded, falling in a great cloud of smoke and flame
    • Whisperjewel. Not to be confused with other jewels such as the swirlstone, glowstones, etc. The whisperjewel is a crystal that has been psionically “etched” to retain certain emotions or thoughts, which are thereafter perceptible when the crystal is held by “resonant” or sympathetic minds. Any type of crystal may be fashioned into a whisperjewel, but certain kinds of gemstones retain the patterns far better than others. The strength and clarity of a whisperjewel may also vary with time, and with the degree of skill of the etching esper. The whisperjewels of Avalon are highly esteemed; Avalon has both a suitable base-crystal and a number of potent Talents. Some less developed worlds are reputed to produce even finer whisper-jewels, but their products seldom find their way onto the interstellar market. Ghost is Jon’s whisperjewel, especially when you see the parallel in the birth of each of them and the  vernix caseosa detailed below. Basically, Jon and Ghost are connected at the molecular level. This parallels Drogon as Daenerys’ whisperjewel figure.
  7. A Song for Lya, mainly in the sporadic scenes with everyone up in the tower rooms and the knowledge, and love, lust, sex they share. First between Robb and Lya (a fire-type_, and then between Robb and Laurie Blackburn (who again, carries many free folk types of characteristics).
  8. This Tower of Ashes is another great one to read that has some links to this aspect of ASOIAF. Here is an excerpt of the opening setting paragraphs. This Tower of Ashes I feel is mostly a Bran type story, but there are other character elements as well:
    • My tower is built of bricks, small soot-gray bricks mortared together with a shiny black substance that looks strangely like obsidian to my untrained eye, though it clearly cannot be obsidian. It sits by an arm of the Skinny Sea, twenty feet tall and sagging, the edge of the forest only a few feet away.
      I found the tower nearly four years ago, when Squirrel and I left Port Jamison in the silver aircar that now lies gutted and overgrown in the weeds outside my doorstep. To this day I know almost nothing about the structure, but I have my theories.
      I do not think it was built by men, for one. It clearly predates Port Jamison, and I often suspect it predates human spaceflight. The bricks (which are curiously small, less than a quarter the size of normal bricks) are tired and weathered and old, and they crumble visibly beneath my feet. Dust is everywhere and I know its source, for more than once I have pried loose a brick from the parapet on the roof and crushed it idly to fine dark powder in my naked fist. When the salt wind blows from the east, the tower flies a plume of ashes.
  9. Armageddon Rag is a great example of the main (icy) protagonist, Sandy Blair, that is part of the hippie flower-children, and after a foray with fire-woman Ananda who tries to bring about an Armageddon of sorts by attempting to force a new militant-fire “movement” of hippiedom. After the experiences in the book, Sandy listens to the music, the lyrics, and he returns back to his flowery-bohemian girlfriend. So, once again the fire is rejected while the flowery people are accepted.


Quick Note regarding the show, and yes, breaking my own blog rule for just a moment. I have to address this issue because I know many readers here will assume that the since the show appeared to not introduce Val, that mean she is not important.

George’s words on the matter. Martin, a longtime comic book fan who has a fun history with Marvel Comics, also compared his novels and the show to Spider-Man comic books:

“We’ve got all these Spider-Men. Is that Stan Lee’s Spider-Man from the comic books? They’re similar, but they’re also different. Things happen to one that never happen to the other. Things are resolved differently. The girlfriends are shuffled and reshuffled. The primary beats are there, the character is there, but it’s a question of the choices you make to tell a story, which are partially dictated by your medium.” (2019)

And then Martin’s comments here:

In a new interview with FastCompany, Martin says of the adaptation process, “It can be… traumatic. Because sometimes their creative vision and your creative vision don’t match, and you get the famous creative differences thing–that leads to a lot of conflict.”

Martin also spoke about the at-times corrosive influence of behind-the-scenes bureaucracy, saying, “You get totally extraneous things like the studio or the network weighing in, and they have some particular thing that has nothing to do with the story, but relates to, ‘Well, this character has a very high Q rating, so let’s give him a lot more stuff to do.” (2019)

If you search the webisphere for the word “plotzee”, you should come up with many examples of the phrase I use to explain how the show has taken book characters and “plotzee’d” then in to show characters. I understand the show has to edit and compress many ideas and characters out of necessity, Val just happens to be one of those book-to-show changes made, while still keeping the important components of Val in the process. This happened to many characters, including Jon Snow , Lady Stoneheart, and Stannis Baratheon.

For instance, Daenerys landing on Dragonstone and meeting Jon Snow is a mash-up of Young Aegon/Griff and Arianne in The Winds of Winter. Daenerys then taking off wearing a white “winter” fur coat and wearing a special one time only style braid is the show version of Val and Jon ( for that particular time being).

Another scene (one of many) that was taken from Val in the books is the season 8 scene between Sansa Stark and Daenerys while they are in the Winterfell library. The two have serious tension between each other and this was directly derived from the A Dance With Dragons – Jon XI scene between Val and the fiery Queen Selyse. A topic I discussed on this page about Jon and Val being the new Nymeria. We witness through the book series that our winter queen, Val, is also against the fiery harbinger Melisandre as well. It’s kind of a theme with George.

However, the show does seem to come back around to the similar point that Jon Snow, King of Winter, will make in the end of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series… he will be the spearhead of the Westeros & Free folk re-union.

Jon Snow making final union with the free folk in season 8 of Game of Thrones, HBO.

In A Song of Ice and Fire

I have noted in the main Jon & Val post how, when, and why Val was introduced to Jon and his arc. In this post I want to show the reader something that they may have missed and that I have not seen it talked about elsewhere. If you are reading this page and know of this same information being pointed out elsewhere online, please feel free to point me in that direction.

By now, seasoned GRRM readers know that clues to one arc are often planted in another, and the clues are done in the form of showing. The #1 rule of well crafted literature is to show, not tell, and GRRM is an expert at this technique.

Basically, Val, or the planned Val archetype, was introduced in A Game of Thrones- Bran II. This scene is part of the maze-like tour Bran gives the reader (mazemakers connection?). Bran’s squirreling about Winterfell is almost like a time-walk from past to future; the basic plot of A Song of Ice and Fire in general. Bran is setting up the chessboard. Lets take a look:

A Game of Thrones – Bran II

Most of all, he liked going places that no one else could go, and seeing the grey sprawl of Winterfell in a way that no one else ever saw it. It made the whole castle Bran’s secret place.

His favorite haunt was the broken tower. Once it had been a watchtower, the tallest in Winterfell. A long time ago, a hundred years before even his father had been born, a lightning strike had set it afire. The top third of the structure had collapsed inward, and the tower had never been rebuilt. Sometimes his father sent ratters into the base of the tower, to clean out the nests they always found among the jumble of fallen stones and charred and rotten beams. But no one ever got up to the jagged top of the structure now except for Bran and the crows.

He knew two ways to get there. You could climb straight up the side of the tower itself, but the stones were loose, the mortar that held them together long gone to ash, and Bran never liked to put his full weight on them.

Aah! So much to unpack in this scene. I want to go line by line.

“His favorite haunt was the broken tower”. This has two meanings. The first being Ghost is the name of Jon’s direwolf, so Ghost = haunt, and Jon is continually haunted by who his mother truly is (Lyanna the flower/Winter Rose). The term “ghost” or “haunt” is used to describe the Jon-type in Fevre Dream, The Skin Trade, and Nightlfyers (and a few others). So it makes thematic sense that it is reused in the Jon arc of ASOIAF.

The second is the fact that Jon put Val up in his old “haunt”, the place where Jon first resided when he arrived at Castle Black, that being the broken down Hardin’s Tower. We know that Jon has often visited with Val up in the tower, even if not detailed on page (yet).

  • A Game of Thrones – Arya IV

Robb took them all the way down to the end, past Grandfather and Brandon and Lyanna, to show them their own tombs. Sansa kept looking at the stubby little candle, anxious that it might go out. Old Nan had told her there were spiders down here, and rats as big as dogs. Robb smiled when she said that. “There are worse things than spiders and rats,” he whispered. “This is where the dead walk.” That was when they heard the sound, low and deep and shivery. Baby Bran had clutched at Arya’s hand.

When the spirit stepped out of the open tomb, pale white and moaning for blood, Sansa ran shrieking for the stairs, and Bran wrapped himself around Robb’s leg, sobbing. Arya stood her ground and gave the spirit a punch. It was only Jon, covered with flour. “You stupid,” she told him, “you scared the baby,” but Jon and Robb just laughed and laughed, and pretty soon Bran and Arya were laughing too.

This crypt scene shows a few key plot points. First being we see this “dead walk” a few times later in one of the many dreams Jon has about the Winterfell crypts. Additionally, it is a near exact retelling of Royd Eris, the Jon archetype of Nightflyers, as Royd exits his private room from behind the wall, and Melantha (Val archetype) notices he is all white, hair and skin, grey eyes, and older than she expected. Royd is frequently referred to as a “ghost” or “spirit” in Nightflyers. Melantha still falls for him regardless. This age detail also comes in to play when you think back to Bran calling Jon, “an old hand at justice.” With age comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom, which is a huge theme in Jon’s storyline, as well as Val’s.

This scene also has Jon in the crypts with his mother, Lyanna, and she was crowned with her favorite flower, the blue winter rose. So Jon being covered in flour and emerging from the crypts is a play on the Tower of Joy/Jon’s birth points that we hear about from Eddard. Jon covered in flour is like the vernix caseosa of the birthing coating from being born to a flower. Present in the vernix caseosa are cells called Nuclear Ghosts… so it seems that Jon and Ghost are connected on a cellular level. Perhaps this is true of all skinchangers and wargs?

We also see each child take action as they do in their respective arcs. Sansa, who is kissed by fire, runs to the stairs, and as noted in #3 below, fire and stairs go hand in hand. Bran wraps himself around his (comparatively) tree-like brother Robb, and he sheds a salty tear. Arya stood her ground, as she does all throughout her arc.

“Once it had been a watchtower, the tallest in Winterfell. Jon is a watcher on the wall, and the wall is the tallest structure in Westeros. There is some reader speculation that Winterfell could have had a different purpose in ancient days, maybe during a previous long night episode, maybe during some other invasion. The current plot issue puts Jon, an “old hand at justice”, in charge of the watchers and the tallest structure. Jon will be the “hand” to Bran as the new high greenseer.

“a lightning strike had set it afire.” Oh boy. How many times do we hear the stairs along the wall being described like lightning-like? A few. And at one point in A Storm of Swords Jon has the barrels of oil and fat stuffed under the stairs to start them to fire during a battle. Again, this also calls back to the story Dying of the Light and the fire destruction of the Festival city Kryne Lamiya (Festival city Chroyane and the Vayrians).

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon VI

As the stars began to fade in the eastern sky, the Wall appeared before him, rising above the trees and the morning mists. Moonlight glimmered pale against the ice… From the ground he could not tell if there were sentries walking the Wall seven hundred feet above, but he saw no one on the huge switchback stair that climbed the south face of the ice like some great wooden thunderbolt.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon VII

So Castle Black had a wall of sorts at last, a crescent-shaped barricade ten feet high made of stores; casks of nails and barrels of salt mutton, crates, bales of black broadcloth, stacked logs, sawn timbers, fire-hardened stakes, and sacks and sacks of grain. The crude rampart enclosed the two things most worth defending; the gate to the north, and the foot of the great wooden switchback stair that clawed and climbed its way up the face of the Wall like a drunken thunderbolt, supported by wooden beams as big as tree trunks driven deep into the ice.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon VII

Jon notched a fire arrow to his bowstring, and Satin lit it from the torch. He stepped to the parapet, drew, aimed, loosed. Ribbons of flame trailed behind as the shaft sped downward and thudded into its target, crackling.

Not Styr. The steps. Or more precisely, the casks and kegs and sacks that Donal Noye had piled up beneath the steps, as high as the first landing; the barrels of lard and lamp oil, the bags of leaves and oily rags, the split logs, bark, and wood shavings. “Again,” said Jon, and, “Again,” and, “Again.” Other longbowmen were firing too, from every tower top in range, some sending their arrows up in high arcs to drop before the Wall. When Jon ran out of fire arrows, he and Satin began to light the torches and fling them from the crenels.

“The top third of the structure had collapsed inward, and the tower had never been rebuilt.” This is rather reminiscent of both the New Gift resettlement that Jon thinks he wants to take over as Ned Stark and Benjen wanted to do in times past. Jon wants to rebuild the north, as he dreams of rebuilding Winterfell.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XI

“Whilst your brothers have been struggling to decide who shall lead them, I have been speaking with this Mance Rayder.” He ground his teeth. “A stubborn man, that one, and prideful. He will leave me no choice but to give him to the flames. But we took other captives as well, other leaders. The one who calls himself the Lord of Bones, some of their clan chiefs, the new Magnar of Thenn. Your brothers will not like it, no more than your father’s lords, but I mean to allow the wildlings through the Wall . . . those who will swear me their fealty, pledge to keep the king’s peace and the king’s laws, and take the Lord of Light as their god. Even the giants, if those great knees of theirs can bend. I will settle them on the Gift, once I have wrested it away from your new Lord Commander. When the cold winds rise, we shall live or die together. It is time we made alliance against our common foe.” He looked at Jon. “Would you agree?”

“My father dreamed of resettling the Gift,” Jon admitted. “He and my uncle Benjen used to talk of it.” He never thought of settling it with wildlings, though . . . but he never rode with wildlings, either. He did not fool himself; the free folk would make for unruly subjects and dangerous neighbors. Yet when he weighed Ygritte’s red hair against the cold blue eyes of the wights, the choice was easy. “I agree.”

Good,” King Stannis said, “for the surest way to seal a new alliance is with a marriage. I mean to wed my Lord of Winterfell to this wildling princess.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon VII

Glass, Jon mused, might be of use here. Castle Black needs its own glass gardens, like the ones at Winterfell. We could grow vegetables even in the deep of winter. The best glass came from Myr, but a good clear pane was worth its weight in spice, and green and yellow glass would not work as well. What we need is gold. With enough coin, we could buy ‘prentice glassblowers and glaziers in Myr, bring them north, offer them their freedom for teaching their art to some of our recruits. That would be the way to go about it. If we had the gold. Which we do not.

“Sometimes his father sent ratters into the base of the tower, to clean out the nests they always found among the jumble of fallen stones and charred and rotten beams.” This is totally Samwell Tarly down in the Castle Black library that is under Hardin’s Tower in the wormways, and Sam was sent by Jon to do research. Remember, in GRRM’s timelines, history repeats but with a twist each time.

  • A Feast for Crows – Samwell I

Sam was reading about the Others when he saw the mouse.

His eyes were red and raw. I ought not rub them so much, he always told himself as he rubbed them. The dust made them itch and water, and the dust was everywhere down here. Little puffs of it filled the air every time a page was turned, and it rose in grey clouds whenever he shifted a stack of books to see what might be hiding on the bottom.

Sam did not know how long it had been since last he’d slept, …(snipped)…That was when he took a quick glance at the empty platter, and spied the mouse feasting on the bread crumbs.

The mouse was half as long as his pinky finger, with black eyes and soft grey fur. Sam knew he ought to kill it. Mice might prefer bread and cheese, but they ate paper too. He had found plenty of mouse droppings amongst the shelves and stacks, and some of the leather covers on the books showed signs of being gnawed.

It is such a little thing, though. And hungry. How could he begrudge it a few crumbs? It’s eating books, though . . .

After hours in the chair Sam’s back was stiff as a board, and his legs were half-asleep. He knew he was not quick enough to catch the mouse, but it might be he could squash it. By his elbow rested a massive leather-bound copy of Annals of the Black Centaur, Septon Jorquen’s exhaustively detailed account of the nine years that Orbert Caswell had served as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. There was a page for each day of his term, every one of which seemed to begin, “Lord Orbert rose at dawn and moved his bowels,” except for the last, which said, “Lord Orbert was found to have died during the night.”

No mouse is a match for Septon Jorquen. Very slowly, Sam took hold of the book with his left hand. It was thick and heavy, and when he tried to lift it one-handed, it slipped from his plump fingers and thumped back down. The mouse was gone in half a heartbeat, skittery-quick. Sam was relieved. Squishing the poor little thing would have given him nightmares. “You shouldn’t eat the books, though,” he said aloud. Maybe he should bring more cheese the next time he came down here.

“But no one ever got up to the jagged top of the structure now except for Bran and the crows.” This is fairly obvious a foretelling of Bran and his future abilities. This scene takes place a few pages before the push from Jaime Lannister, something that forces Bran in to his weightlessness which opens his third eye. In Bran’s last A Dance of Dragons chapter, we see how Bran is able to skinchange a crow and he becomes proficient at it. Bran is also associated with a type of time travel via the weirdwood viewing. I think Bran, after viewing the history of Westeros through his visions, was able to influence the Night’s Watch elections that got Jon voted in as Lord Commander. Bran knows something about Jon’s past and how it plays in to near future of humanity. I have mentioned this over and over, Bran will be the “ice armour” to Jon, and they will work together to save Westeros from the Great Whatever. Additionally, Bran and Samwell will be able to communicate with each other as Sam learns the true tongue.

“the mortar that held them together long gone to ash, and Bran never liked to put his full weight on them.” Aannd, here we go with Val. This is where she fits in. She will help with the survival and rebuilding of Westeros in some way. And once again, we see GRRM put the Jon and Val archetypes together. These stones and mortar are old and they are worn through. It is time for a refresh and a new foundation to be built. And Bran is not the only one to see this. Jon does, for sure, but he “declines” Stannis’ offer to Jon to take Winterfell and Val, but #1 Jon has already stolen Val, and #2 Jon rejects Stannis because Jon considers himself a bastard and the bastards only choice is the wall. Still, Stannis (who is probably about to convert to some old godsy knowledge in The Winds of Winter) knows and sees the value in Val. Whoever gets Winterfell, gets Val. They are a package deal… of foreshadowing.

  • A Feast for Crows – Samwell I

“Why not?” asked Pyp. “She wants to have your children. Maybe we should call you Sam the Seducer.”

Sam reddened. King Stannis had plans for Val, he knew; she was the mortar with which he meant to seal the peace between the northmen and the free folk. “I don’t have time for archery today, I need to go see Jon.”

“Jon? Jon? Do we know anyone named Jon, Grenn?”

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XI

“My father dreamed of resettling the Gift,” Jon admitted. “He and my uncle Benjen used to talk of it.” He never thought of settling it with wildlings, though . . . but he never rode with wildlings, either. He did not fool himself; the free folk would make for unruly subjects and dangerous neighbors. Yet when he weighed Ygritte’s red hair against the cold blue eyes of the wights, the choice was easy. “I agree.”

“Good,” King Stannis said, “for the surest way to seal a new alliance is with a marriage. I mean to wed my Lord of Winterfell to this wildling princess.


Written in 1977, this story is about a young girl named Shawn who has to survive a long winter in order to make it back to her clan. She is intercepted by a fanatical red witch who lives in a giant brazier and deceives Shawn by giving her false light, false food and false visual illusions. Shawn is truly a prototype for Val, Stannis, and a tad Arya. This Bitterblooms quote comes just after Shawn has to bury her father-figure (just like Duncan the Tall with Ser Arlan), right before she has to flee for her life, and is then tricked Stannis-style by the exact Melisandre prototype Morgan Le Fay (AKA Morgan Full of Magic, Morgan Full of Lies). Much more on Melisandre derived from Morgan Le Fay on this page here.

  • Bitterblooms

She left him his skis and his big silverwood bow, its bowstring snapped by the cold. But she took his sword and his heavy fur cloak; it was little enough burden added to her pack. She had nursed him for almost a week after the vampire had left him wounded, and that long delay in the little lean-to had depleted most of their supplies. Now she hoped to travel light and fast. She strapped on her skis, standing next to the clumsy grave she had built him, and said her last farewell leaning on her poles. Then she set off over the snow, through the terrible silence of the deepwinter woods, toward home and fire and family. It was just past midday.

Rhaegar played a silver-stringed harp. There are in story connections between harps and bows. Littlefinger to Sansa: “A harp can be as dangerous as a sword, in the right hands.” And while Jon is Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch he puts much emphasis on archery training, which connects him to Bloodraven and the Raven’s Teeth.

cv5fUpzy_2211162304381sbpiShawn nursed her dead father figure, Lane, after the vampire wounded him. This follows the idea that Val will nurse Jon during recovery, an idea I’ve had for years now. Detailed in the Jon and Val main page as well as the Jon the bear page.

As far as the struggle between ice and fire, Martin has been using that scheme for literally decades at this point. Just as GRRM uses fiery wraiths, vampires, and dragons rather interchangeably between his stories. The counterpoint to this is the consistent way he reworks his icy moon characters throughout his work, and always in opposition to the fire. Now, there is a little bit of choice gong here as well. Someone may be of the north (as an example), but that doesn’t make them an “icy good guy”, and vice versa with fire. No. Rather it is more of the symbolic choice in drinking from the cup of ice or the cup of fire. Martin has used the icy-tree-moon figures several times.

  • Bitterblooms

By dusk, Shawn knew that she would never make it.

She was calmer then, more rational. She had left her grief and her shame behind with his body, as she had been taught to do. The stillness and the cold were all around her, but the long hours of skiing had left her flushed and almost warm beneath her layers of leather and fur. Her thoughts had the brittle clarity of the ice that hung in long spears from the bare, twisted trees around her.

Val is acting as a spearwife, a warrior princess, just as her historic counterpart Nymeria once was a warrior princess/queen. Even Thistle, the free folk woman in the A Dance with Dragons prologue, turns into an icy spearwife against the now fiery Varamyr Six Skins who is trying to “consume” her by usurping her body- like Cyrain of Ash. Here the fiery Varamyr is the one who converts Thistle into an un-dead icy-tree-moon woman.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Prologue

When they reached the crest the wolves paused. Thistle, he remembered, and a part of him grieved for what he had lost and another part for what he’d done. Below, the world had turned to ice. Fingers of frost crept slowly up the weirwood, reaching out for each other. The empty village was no longer empty. Blue-eyed shadows walked amongst the mounds of snow. Some wore brown and some wore black and some were naked, their flesh gone white as snow. A wind was sighing through the hills, heavy with their scents: dead flesh, dry blood, skins that stank of mold and rot and urine. Sly gave a growl and bared her teeth, her ruff bristling. Not men. Not prey. Not these.

The things below moved, but did not live. One by one, they raised their heads toward the three wolves on the hill. The last to look was the thing that had been Thistle. She wore wool and fur and leather, and over that she wore a coat of hoarfrost that crackled when she moved and glistened in the moonlight. Pale pink icicles hung from her fingertips, ten long knives of frozen blood. And in the pits where her eyes had been, a pale blue light was flickering, lending her coarse features an eerie beauty they had never known in life.

She sees me.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI

“Did you follow me as well?” Jon reached to shoo the bird away but ended up stroking its feathers. The raven cocked its eye at him. “Snow,” it muttered, bobbing its head knowingly. Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.

They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.

  • Bitterblooms

As darkness threw its cloak over the world, Shawn sought shelter in the lee of the greatest of those trees, a massive blackbark whose trunk was three meters across. She spread the fur cloak she had taken on a bare patch of ground and pulled her own woven cape over her like a blanket to shut out the rising wind. With her back to the trunk and her longknife drawn beneath her cape, just in case, she slept a brief, wary sleep, and woke in full night to contemplate her mistakes.

In this Bitterblooms scene, the long night for Shawn is on the horizon. This scene happens just before Shawn picks up her gear again, walks on, and then comes to an abandoned great house/castle which is described much like Whitetree village is described in the Jon II chapter below.

  • A Clash of Kings – Jon II

Whitetree, the village was named on Sam’s old maps. Jon did not think it much of a village. Four tumbledown one-room houses of unmortared stone surrounded an empty sheepfold and a well. The houses were roofed with sod, the windows shuttered with ragged pieces of hide. And above them loomed the pale limbs and dark red leaves of a monstrous great weirwood. It was the biggest tree Jon Snow had ever seen, the trunk near eight feet wide, the branches spreading so far that the entire village was shaded beneath their canopy. The size did not disturb him so much as the face . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.

  • Bitterblooms

The stars were out; she could see them peeking through the bare black branches above her. The Ice Wagon dominated the sky, bringing cold into the world, as it had for as long as Shawn could remember. The driver’s blue eyes glared down at her, mocking.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon VIII

“Then it’s time you were away.”

“You have my word, Lord Snow. I will return, with Tormund or without him.” Val glanced at the sky. The moon was but half-full. “Look for me on the first day of the full moon.”

  • Bitterblooms

It had been the Ice Wagon that killed Lane, she thought bitterly. Not the vampire. The vampire had mauled him badly that night, when his bowstring broke as he tried to draw in their defense.

Again, another reference to the fourth hand at the mutiny that was probably some great force not of man, or a great force manipulating a man.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII

… away, he meant to say. When Wick Whittlestick slashed at his throat, the word turned into a grunt. Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin. He cut me. When he put his hand to the side of his neck, blood welled between his fingers. “Why?”

“For the Watch.” Wick slashed at him again. This time Jon caught his wrist and bent his arm back until he dropped the dagger. The gangling steward backed away, his hands upraised as if to say, Not me, it was not me. Men were screaming. Jon reached for Longclaw, but his fingers had grown stiff and clumsy. Somehow he could not seem to get the sword free of its scabbard.

Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.


I wrote the lead character as a black woman — in fact, the name Melantha means “black flower.”George R.R. Martin re: Nightflyers

variety of raw organic honey bee products

This entire story if loaded with Jon and Val prototyping; everything from plot progression, to love interest, to assisting with psionic talents, to fighting a crazy mad dragon mothership, and even a failed mutiny a la Jon and the “for the watch” scene. I cannot post everything, but will do what I can. Just ask if there is something else you would like me to quote.

We will get to flowers in a moment. First, lets talk about honey, shall we?

Honey is not a bad thing to Stark men. This is an assumption made by some based on the A Game of Thrones– Eddard V scene between Eddard and Maester Pycelle when Pycelle is actually trying to poison Eddard. Later we see that it is not the sweet that Eddard dislikes, but the overly sweet that makes him “gag” (that is hiding the poison).

  • A Game of Thrones – Eddard X

    “Only water. Maester Pycelle said you would be thirsty.”

    Ned drank. His lips were parched and cracked. The water tasted sweet as honey.

  • A Game of Thrones – Eddard XIV

    Ned was quiet but firm. “I fear we must convene at once.”

    Pycelle bowed. “As the Hand commands.” He called his servants and sent them running, then gratefully accepted Ned’s offer of a chair and a cup of sweet beer.

Many readers casually describe Val’s hair as blonde, or golden, just honey colored. Well, it is actually dark honey… just like Melantha Jhirl, wink wink, nudge nudge. However, let us take a look at a few direct parallels from Melantha to Val.

  • Nightflyers

Melantha Jhirl was good to watch. Young, healthy, active, Melantha Jhirl had a vibrancy about her the others could not match. She was big in every way; a head taller than anyone else on board, large-framed, large-breasted, long-legged, strong, muscles moving fluidly beneath shiny coal-black skin. Her appetites were big as well. She ate twice as much as any of her colleagues, drank heavily without ever seeming drunk, exercised for hours every day on equipment she had brought with her and set up in one of the cargo holds. By the third week out she had sexed with all four of the men on board and two of the other women. Even in bed she was always active, exhausting most of her partners. Royd watched her with consuming interest. “I am an improved model,” she told him once as she worked out on her parallel bars, sweat glistening on her bare skin, her long black hair confined in a net.

“Improved?” Royd said. He could not send his projection down to the holds, but Melantha had summoned him with the communicator to talk while she exercised, not knowing he would have been there anyway.

  • 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.”

    “Then it’s time you were away.”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI

    “Did you follow me as well?” Jon reached to shoo the bird away but ended up stroking its feathers. The raven cocked its eye at him. “Snow,” it muttered, bobbing its head knowingly. Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.

    They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

    “Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.

And George gave us excatly one Melantha in A Song of Ice and Fire. Melantha Blackwood was a member of House Blackwood and Lady of Winterfell. She married Lord Willam Stark, the second son of Lord Beron Stark, with whom she had two children, Edwyle and Jocelyn Stark. We readers know, or at least strongly assume, that the Blackwood family, also responsible for Brynden Bloodraven Rivers, seems to be a common source for the magic talents that many share in-universe.

The Bloodraven-like Royd Eris and Melantha Jhirl of Nightlfyers. A prototype story to the Jon+Val story, as well as the mutiny at Castle Black. Artist: Palumbo.

Small Crackpot Alert! I have often speculated that maybe Melantha Blackwood is the pregnant lady that Bran witnesses in his weirwood flashback.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Bran III

    After that the glimpses came faster and faster, till Bran was feeling lost and dizzy. He saw no more of his father, nor the girl who looked like Arya, but a woman heavy with child emerged naked and dripping from the black pool, knelt before the tree, and begged the old gods for a son who would avenge her. Then there came a brown-haired girl slender as a spear who stood on the tips of her toes to kiss the lips of a young knight as tall as Hodor. A dark-eyed youth, pale and fierce, sliced three branches off the weirwood and shaped them into arrows. The tree itself was shrinking, growing smaller with each vision, whilst the lesser trees dwindled into saplings and vanished, only to be replaced by other trees that would dwindle and vanish in their turn. And now the lords Bran glimpsed were tall and hard, stern men in fur and chain mail. Some wore faces he remembered from the statues in the crypts, but they were gone before he could put a name to them.

Work in Progress

Fevre Dream

A Combination of Valerie and Cynthia, the mate to Joshua York. So much to talk about here, but another case of marrying in to the York (Stark) name.

Work in Progress

The Skin Trade

Randi Wade, as in “horny water” –> get it? She is the protagonist to the the other wolf protag Willie Flambeaux. Yes, Willie Flambeaux as in a light giving penis-sword.

Work in Progress

The Horned Lord?

Jon has been visiting Val a lot more than we readers may have realized on first read. This is important because it establishes a future connection, maybe shared information, between the two that will not come as a surprise to readers in The Winds of Winter.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon V

Not all the fighting men were broken, though. Half a dozen Thenns in bronze scale armor stood clustered round one cellar stair, watching sullenly and making no attempt to join the others. In the ruins of the old village smithy Jon spied a big bald slab of a man he recognized as Halleck, the brother of Harma Dogshead. Harma’s pigs were gone, though. Eaten, no doubt. Those two in furs were Hornfoot men, as savage as they were scrawny, barefoot even in the snow. There are wolves amongst these sheep, still.

Val had reminded him of that, on his last visit with her. “Free folk and kneelers are more alike than not, Jon Snow. Men are men and women women, no matter which side of the Wall we were born on. Good men and bad, heroes and villains, men of honor, liars, cravens, brutes … we have plenty, as do you.”

She was not wrong. The trick was telling one from the other, parting the sheep from the goats.

Towers of History

Hardin Name Meaning = English: variant of Harding. French: from a pet form of any of several Germanic compound personal names beginning with hard ‘hardy’, ‘brave’, ‘strong’.

  • 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.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI

“Did you follow me as well?” Jon reached to shoo the bird away but ended up stroking its feathers. The raven cocked its eye at him. “Snow,” it muttered, bobbing its head knowingly. Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.

They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.

What’s in Val’s name?

This section courtesy of Corvo the Crow and his inquisitive post back on the Westeros.org forum. Corvo makes some very interesting connections to Val that I had not thought of before. I especially love the fact that Val lead the free folk back to the “hall of the living”. That is one of the “duh” moments that was so clear to the point of the new-Nymeria arc.

  • Valhalla comes from Valr + HollValr means dead/fallen warriorsValkyrie is Valkyrja, Valr + KjosaKjosa is to chooseValkyrie is chooser of the fallen. Female attendants of Odin guiding the fallen to ValhallaA Valkyrie is also a large, strong, courageous or agressive woman.Val, thought of as a warrior princess by Jon, is all of the above except large.Tormund is mead king of Ruddy(Red) Hall

    Odin is also a gos of lightning ans thunder among other things and is often accompanied by his wolf and crow companions.

    One of Tormund’s many titles is thunderfist and by his own admission he’s fond of wargs. He is also called a crowlover by Harma dogshead.

    I’ve always wondered why Tormund liked Val so much. Now I have an answer I think.

    Oh and Val leads Tormund and his followers to the Wall so in a sense she has led the ones that later came back for Jon’s ranging to… shieldhall. Shield hall is the place where knightly brothers leave their shields to be hung when they say their oaths but their shields are taken down when they die. So, the Shieldhall of NW is not a hall of the fallen warriors, but one for the living ones.

    Val has led them to hall of the living.

    And oh, now that I looked at it again, ruddy, apart from red, also means a healthy red color if used for a person’s face.

    Tormund is king of healthy, therefore living, people and Val guides the living to there.

Thank you Corvo the Crow.

Featured image: Val, a member of the free folk. – by Drazenka Kimpel

If you like this topic, follow along with the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire blog, and leave a few comments below.


  1. Good work with all those quotes!
    My understanding is thus: The ‘Val-archetype’ appears frequently through Martin-world. The ‘Val-archetype’ is: a female character who is a ‘free-folk’ character: someone who is associated with being wild, natural, or free, and typically have combat readiness or at least are very active. The Val-archetype is also associated with honey and is typically paired with a Jon-archetype character.

    I think there’s something to be said here, but it still seems a little fuzzy. Isn’t Ygritte basically a ‘Val-Archetype’ too? I mean, Ygritte and Val certainly could share the same archetype, they are both tough female characters from the free-folk who interact alot with Jon.


    1. No, Ygritte is her own character all together. One of her main plot purposes is to expose Jon to the free folk and serve as a history/storyteller as Old Nan was for Bran. This realization is something Jon explicitly exclaims as he observes the variety of free folk in ACOK Jon 7: “This is no army, no more than it is a town. This is a whole people come together.”

      Val is basically the northern version of the “new” Nymeria (one of those adjustments from the outline that took incest *away* from the Starks). https://fattestleechoficeandfire.com/val-jon-future/

      But more importantly, the author did not write the free folk (men or women) as a one dimensional, homogeneous group. From GRRM: ” However, in my own defense, I should note that Dalla was not a “warrior woman” per se. She was from a warrior culture, yes; one that gave women the right, but not the obligation, to be fighters. Ygritte was a warrior woman, as was (most conspicuously) the fearsome Harma Dogshead. Dalla and Val were not.


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