The Red Sun Rises, The Glass Candle Burns: The Lost Targaryen Prince

Mance Rayder is the son of Duncan “the Small” Targaryen and Jenny of Oldstones.

Depending upon your beliefs regarding the legitimacy of Jon and/or Aegon, this may render Mance to have a more legitimate claim.

Mance may have been fathered (directly or –more likely– otherwise) by Bloodraven.

The ‘evidence’ for these arguments is largely unconventional and will be disagreeable to many readers. I don’t deny this.

This is because a large portion of based on analysis of motifs, prose, patterns. It’s not the kind of hard “in-world” facts that most of us know and love. It draws from an understanding of Martin’s other works and the prominent, pervasive themes throughout his career. It has elements of SWAG (scientific wild-ass guesses) based on existing precedents. It invokes some analysis of the text that may be symbolic (thus scientifically untestable) allusions. The idea culminates with an examination of elements that tie things together like a rug in The Big Lebowski.

All of which may be subject to a variety of biases. That said, I believe this is a strong concept for the origins of Mance Rayder.

Of course, your mileage may vary. This may seem like a well-argued idea, an ass-pull of epic dimensions, or total tinfoil. ASOIAF theorycraft is very much a spectrum disorder.

At the very least, I believe the different ideas that contribute to the overall theory are individually interesting. Taken on their own, they are each thought-provoking.

I’ve tried to break the arguments into logical, discrete sections as follows:

  1. The Ghosts of Westeros. The possible presence of spirits that lurk in Westeros at the edge of perception. The early writings of George R.R. Martin that support these ideas. The value of mystery in storytelling and personal growth.
  2. Dead Mothers, Abandoned Sons. A theme of ghosts and curses attributed to mothers disconnected from their sons. A pattern of such spirits that have been possibly been experienced in the course of the books.
  3. The Ghost of Harrenhal. Could there really be some kind of spirit that lurks at Harrenhal? Is there any context that associates Harrenhal to the themes of ghosts in Westeros or Martin’s influential writings?
  4. The Tragedy at Summerhall, The Death of Jenny of Oldstones. The location and manner of Jenny’s death.
  5. Songs are Stupid. The significance of Arya’s refrain about the stupidity of songs. How such commentary often belies important details. How these elements substantiate the idea of Jenny’s death.
  6. Cursed Forever.
    The motive for leaping from a tower. The emergent possibility of a son.
  7. The Allegory of a Tattered Cloak. The latent symbolism of Mance’s cloak, what it says about his possible origins.
  8. What’s in a Name? The mysterious, inappropriate nature of Mance’s name. His penchant for anagrams, and what that portends about his name’s meaning.
  9. Weaving it Together. A collection of smaller, related ideas that contribute to the overall theory and arguments in this essay.
  10. Emergent Speculations. Ideas that follow from some of the speculations herein.

Note: There are no spoilers for unreleased content, such as The Winds of Winter or The World of Ice and Fire.

*   *   *

THE GHOSTS OF WESTEROS


 “Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come.”
Bloodraven — BRAN III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Mist and ghostly, indeterminate presences are a subtle but pervasive feature of A Song of Ice and Fire. This concept and the mystery that surrounds it has long been a fascination of Martin’s, as indicated in some of his earliest works.

As a core motif and/or theme, it has specific relevance in the books.

With Morning Comes Mistfall

One of Martin’s earliest published stories concerned a planet that is bathed in mist by night. Rumors hold that mysterious ‘wraiths’ live in this mist and have long eluded scientific or empirical observation.

A core conflict of the story is between the proprietor of the planet’s only hotel and the leader of a science team who plan to scientifically and decisively validate the presence or absence of these wraiths. The proprietor feels that such mysteries are central to human thought and growth, whereas the science leader feels that such beliefs are ignorant.

“That’s superstitious nonsense. If I had to guess, I’d say these mist wraiths of yours were nothing but transplanted Earth ghosts. Phantoms of someone’s imagination. But I won’t guess-I’ll wait until the results are in. Then we’ll see. If they are real, they won’t be able to hide from us.”
   — WITH MORNING COMES MISTFALL

Both the idea of creatures that live in mist and the idea of creating mysteries that cannot be solved are drawn directly from his short story With Morning Comes Mistfall. I have a more extensive analysis of that story and it’s themes in another essay. This section consists of a minor portion of those findings, limited to what is relevant to this essay’s topic.

*   *   *

Folklore versus Cloistered Studies

This conflict between the proprietor and the scientist is a handy analogue for the notable conflict between the knowledge of the commonfolk such as Old Nan, Val and Osha, to the education of maesters like Luwin.

This is best encapsulated in the following passage:

Sanders shook his head sadly, drained his drink, and continued. “You’re the one who doesn’t understand, Doctor. Don’t kid yourself. You haven’t freed Wraithworld. You’ve destroyed it. You’ve stolen its wraiths, and left an empty planet.”

Dubowski shook his head. “I think you’re wrong. They’ll find plenty of good, profitable ways to exploit this planet. But even if you were correct, well, it’s just too bad. Knowledge is what man is all about. People like you have tried to hold back progress since the beginning of time. But they failed, and you failed. Man needs to know.”

“Maybe,” Sanders said. “But is that the only thing man needs? I don’t think so. I think he also needs mystery, and poetry, and romance. I think he needs a few unanswered questions, to make him brood and wonder.”

Dubowski stood up abruptly, and frowned. “This conversation is as pointless as your philosophy, Sanders. There’s no room in my universe for unanswered questions.”

“Then you live in a very drab universe, Doctor.”

“And you, Sanders, live in the stink of your own ignorance. Find some new superstitions if you must. But don’t try to foist them off on me with your tales and legends. I’ve got no time for wraiths.”
— WITH MORNING COMES MISTFALL

The the central conflict in Mistfall is the clash of science and mystery, and the human value of mysteries.

Turning to A Song of Ice and Fire, we see that the “folklorists” have nuggets of truth and meaning that escape the study of maesters. However these gems are often cloaked in myth and legend, rendering their immediate applicability uncertain. We also see that their folk tales and myths serve the purpose of engendering thought, introspection and personal growth on the part of the listeners. This is consistent with the hotelier’s point about the necessity of mystery.

In contrast, the maesters often have a very thorough but sterile knowledge of topics. A particular limitation is that they often discount the importance or value of those things which cannot be studied academically. This is strongly reminiscent of the scientist’s attitude.

This clash between pedantic knowledge and the necessity of uncertainty is a core theme in Martin’s work, resurfacing in various other works of his such as And Seven Times Never Kill Man! and A Song for Lya. I have extensive analysis of these stories elsewhere on this blog.

*   *   *

A Familiar Theme

There is ample evidence to suggest that Martin has almost literally transplanted the idea of Mistfall‘s mysterious beings that lurk in mist or in dusk; essentially at the edge of perception. He has invoked the idea of ghostly, supernatural spirits that persist in Westeros after death.

I emphasize the word idea because Martin doesn’t want readers to conclusively determine whether or not such ghosts exist. This is consistent with the excerpt above, as well as the important preface that Martin put at the beginning of Mistfall:

If you could go to Loch Ness tomorrow and prove or disprove conclusively the existence of the monster, would you? Should you? When all the questions are answered, when all the superstitions are stilled, when science has unraveled all the mysteries, what will we do? Would you want to live in such a time? Would we be able to live then?
With Morning Comes Mistfall

There are many, many references to these concepts throughout A Song of Ice and Fire:

The nightfires had burned low, and as the east began to lighten the immense mass of Storm’s End emerged like a dream of stone while wisps of pale mist raced across the field, flying from the sun on wings of wind. Morning ghosts, she had heard Old Nan call them once, spirits returning to their graves.
   — CATELYN IV, ACOK

The mists were so thick that only the nearest trees were visible; beyond them stood tall shadows and faint lights. Candles flickered beside the wandering path and back amongst the trees, pale fireflies floating in a warm grey soup. It felt like some strange underworld, some timeless place between the worlds, where the damned wandered mournfully for a time before finding their way down to whatever hell their sins had earned them.
— THE PRINCE OF WINTERFELL, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

“Last night I dreamed of that time Lysa and I got lost while riding back from Seagard. Do you remember? That strange fog came up and we fell behind the rest of the party. Everything was grey, and I could not see a foot past the nose of my horse. We lost the road. The branches of the trees were like long skinny arms reaching out to grab us as we passed. Lysa started to cry, and when I shouted the fog seemed to swallow the sound. But Petyr knew where we were, and he rode back and found us . . .”
— CATELYN VII, A CLASH OF KINGS

 “Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come.”
BRAN III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

As I will show in the next section, there is much, much more to the concepts of spirits and mist in A Song of Ice and Fire.

*   *   *

Those Who Bridge the Gap Between Science and Mystery

One of the most insightful groups of people are that select few who stride the fence between what can be dissected and what can only be pondered. Most notable are Qyburn and Marwyn, the two maesters who are most known for their questioning of the dogma of rigorous study and the academic strictures that render full access to understanding impossible.

What’s interesting about them is that they have precisely expressed interests in the novelty of ghosts in Westeros:

“Do you believe in ghosts, Maester?” he asked Qyburn.

The man’s face grew strange. “Once, at the Citadel, I came into an empty room and saw an empty chair. Yet I knew a woman had been there, only a moment before. The cushion was dented where she’d sat, the cloth was still warm, and her scent lingered in the air. If we leave our smells behind us when we leave a room, surely something of our souls must remain when we leave this life?” Qyburn spread his hands. “The archmaesters did not like my thinking, though. Well, Marwyn did, but he was the only one.”
— JAIME VI, ASOS

Between the often curiously accurate myths of Old Nan and the reasoned observations of Qyburn and Marwyn, doesn’t it seem like they could be on to something?

As I noted, however, none of these people give readers the tools to definitively answer these questions, to verify the existence of such spirits. But this is most likely deliberate, given Martin’s expressed interest in the value of mystery. Given that he is in some ways the “folklorist” sharing the tale of A Song of Ice and Fire with readers, it’s entirely reasonable to believe that he does this because of the thoughts, poetry and introspection such mysteries engender.

In short:

A Song of Ice and Fire has established the mystery of spirits that may linger in the world.

The veracity of these ghosts is intentionally ambiguous.

However, the existence of these mysteries is deliberate and observable.

*   *   *

DEAD MOTHERS, ABANDONED SONS


“A mother can’t leave her son, or else she’s cursed forever. Not a son.”
Gilly — JON II, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Related to notion spirits (‘wraiths’) lurking half-seen in mist is another distinct concept: the idea that mothers who abandon sons are damned to wander in sort of purgatory afterlife.

An Eerie Musical Choice

After Lysa Tully’s defenestration, a disturbing mood settles over the Eyrie. Marillion, having been made a patsy for Lysa’s death, is condemned to a sky cell where he seems to play the most striking music. It’s particularly unsettling because it is most prominent at night and just before dawn:

That night the dead man sang “The Day They Hanged Black Robin,” “The Mother’s Tears,” and “The Rains of Castamere.” Then he stopped for a while, but just as Sansa began to drift off he started to play again. He sang “Six Sorrows,” “Fallen Leaves,” and “Alysanne.” Such sad songs, she thought…

After “Alysanne” the singer stopped again, long enough for Sansa to snatch an hour’s rest. But as the first light of dawn was prying at her shutters, she heard the soft strains of “On a Misty Morn” drifting up from below, and woke at once. That was more properly a woman’s song, a lament sung by a mother on the dawn after some terrible battle, as she searches amongst the dead for the body of her only son. The mother sings her grief for her dead son, Sansa thought, but Marillion grieves for his fingers, for his eyes. The words rose like arrows and pierced her in the darkness.

Oh, have you seen my boy, good ser?

His hair is chestnut brown

He promised he’d come back to me

Our home’s in Wendish Town.

— SANSA, A FEAST FOR CROWS

It’s quite striking that Marillion is playing a song (“On a Misty Morn”), about a mother searching for her son. She searches for him among the dead. Notice that this once more brings up the imagery that in mists spirits of the dead can be found wandering. Also note, that Marillion is playing Misty Morn despite the fact that Sansa knows it is really a woman’s song.

The other song I’ve highlighted is “The Mother’s Tears”. In A Storm of Swords, Tom o’Sevens plays it as one of his ‘rain songs’, so there is a presumed affiliation with rain. That said, the ‘concept’ of a mother’s tears will emerge as a potent symbol of a mother’s presence, as I soon hope to show you.

*   *   *

The Mystery of Dead Mothers

I’ve often thought (and hopefully not alone) that there was something … supernatural … about the Eyrie after Lysa’s tumble. Between the creepy descriptions of the howling winds and the sleepless nights caused by Marillion’s almost compulsive singing, I was quite sure something was ‘up’. Ask me to prove it and I’d look at you blankly or point at some queer turn of phrase or choice of words and shout ‘You see!?’

I think it’s not uncommon to think that something was up at the Eyrie. But given a reader’s inability to prove it, it lays unresolved and unresolvable. And that’s fine – I don’t think it’s meant to be entirely elucidated… however, I do think it’s fair game to point out when these ‘ghostly, unresolvable’ situations are presented in the books: it is fair game to point out when the ‘mystery’ of the supernatural or surreal might be present in the books.

To keep things on track, I’ll get straight to it: There are several other ‘instances’ where it seems like a spiritual or ghostly power might be at play, but in a fashion that is impervious to logical attempts to verify or discount it’s existence.

Specifically, I believe there are such ‘ghostly’ scenarios out there for many of the dead mothers who have left children behind (sons in particular).

  • Lysa Tully — Obviously I already indicated this one. Most notably, it seems like there is some sort of creepy ‘air’ that seems to compel Marillion’s song choices (which are disturbingly apropos if they were viewed as being sung by her – think about “On a Misty Morn” in that context). There’s also a few notable tears that happen at the Eyrie, snowflakes and an odd bit of porridge. Notice that he sleeps in a sky cell, exposed to the night air.
  • Joanna Lannister — She appears to visit Jaime in a dream in A Feast for Crows. However she insists it is not a dream, something Jaime subsequently agrees with. After a brief conversation, she appears show regret as the dream fades. Jaime then finds himself in his chambers, the wind having blown his windows open and snow drifting in. When Jaime reads the letter from Cersei, a single snowflake lands on the message and blots the ink (akin to a tear).
  • Allanys Harlaw — Asha makes several comments about how Allanys seems more like a ghost than her mother, indeed Allanys would wander the towers at Pyke during the night, calling out for her lost sons.
  • Minisa Tully — While Catelyn is praying at the sept the night prior to Renly’s assassination, there is a moment where a gust of wind briefly flies through the chamber. Immediately after this, Catelyn sees her mother’s visage in the charcoal drawing of The Mother. Additionally, she observes that the cracks in the wall make it look like The Mother is crying.
  • Lyanna Stark — Ned has several ominous dreams where he is back in the crypts at Winterfell, standing before Lyanna’s tomb. Her statue weeps blood from the eyes. Jon has additional dreams about something terrifying in the crypts, but is unable to fully resolve them.
  • Catelyn Stark / Lady Stoneheart — Stoneheart only appears at dusk or in Hollow Hill (notice that she’s wearing a grey cloak ‘three sizes too big’ in the Epilogue of A Storm of Swords, only revealing her face after the sun sets). Additionally, we know her face and death were famously associated with red tears. She also seems to be quite literally undead, perhaps cursed.

Nobody can explain any of these, but I think its fair to say that all of them have eerie, supernatural qualities to them. And isn’t it rather peculiar how strongly these mysterious characters or encounters are associated with the wind, open air, mist, twilight and the coming of dawn? Quite prominently, these motifs align conspicuously well with the observed traits alluded to in the previous section’s examination of ‘ghostly beings that exist, shrouded in mist’ both in A Song of Ice and Fire and in Martin’s With Morning Comes Mistfall.

*   *   *

Abandoned Sons

One of the trends that emerges when you scour the text for these plausible ‘ghost mysteries’ is that they are almost exclusively women. I say ‘almost’ only because I have trouble finding evidence of sustained ghostly male possibilities.

Further, they are almost exclusively mothers, in particular to sons.

Notice how incredibly strong this ties into Gilly’s assertion (cited at the beginning of this section) that a mother can’t abandon a son, else she will be cursed. Gilly’s quote specifically says that it’s about sons, not sons and daughters both.

Now consider Gilly’s proposed curse in light of the already cited passage from Theon where he ruminates on what might lurk in mist:

The mists were so thick that only the nearest trees were visible; beyond them stood tall shadows and faint lights. Candles flickered beside the wandering path and back amongst the trees, pale fireflies floating in a warm grey soup. It felt like some strange underworld, some timeless place between the worlds, where the damned wandered mournfully for a time before finding their way down to whatever hell their sins had earned them.
— THE PRINCE OF WINTERFELL, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

In light of all these ideas about mothers abandoning sons and being cursed or damned, morning ghosts, the damned who lurk in mist, creepy surreal possible encounters with dead mothers… …it seems fair to say that a general motif exists:

The spirits of mothers who have abandoned their sons may linger in some sort of state of purgatory afterlife.

The truth of this is an intentional mystery.

The manifestations of these possible spirits is often associated with rain or snow, wind, mist, the night air, and twilight.

I’m fully aware that none of this is certain. In fact, I would say I’m more aware of this than most other than most other theorists. This is because I’m openly citing Mistfall and the ambiguity that Martin defends in that story as a central influence on his world-building in A Song of Ice and Fire.

*   *   *

Ghostly Manifestations

If the above idea is true, or at least worth of consideration, then its worth taking a moment to examine how these spirits may interact with the world of Westeros and its inhabitants.

There are a number of observed, mysterious events that suggest the involvement of such spirits:

Undead: In all cases these spirits are apparently ‘dead’ after a fashion. Some are ‘undead’ (Catelyn), some are seemingly incorporeal (Lyanna, Joanna, Lysa), and some are living but characterized as being non-living (The Ghost of High Heart, Allanys).

Dream Visitation: We see that Ned, Jon, Jaime and perhaps others are visited in dreams by powerful experiences often strongly associated with one of these prospective ‘dead mothers’.

Wind: Lysa, Minisa, and Jaime’s experiences are all book-ended by events notably characterized by wind, such as windows blowing open or torches fluttering in an unexpected-but-brief gust. It’s also applicable to the howling winds that Sansa experiences at the Eyrie after Lysa’s death; winds that are often personified as howling, moaning, wailing, and attempting to ‘get in’ to the castle.

Twilight, Mist, the Barrier between Sleep and Wakefulness: As shown in later sections, the experiences of these possible spirits is often associated with dawn or waking from sleep (Jaime, Ned, Jon, Lyanna), or the appearance of some sort of aversion to light (Catelyn).

Tears: An almost ubiquitous feature of these mysterious happenings is the presence of tears or an allusions to tears (snowflakes, rain, etc.) in their manifestations. Tears of blood, snowflakes blotting on paper, cracks on walls resembling tears, and so forth. It’s a seeming commonality.

Thus we see a general idea emerging:

These possible spirits often manifest in ways that are thematically shared.

These are shared attributes that help establish the ‘group identity’ of these spirits.

*   *   *

THE GHOST OF HARRENHAL


I think I’ve done a fair job establishing the general idea of ‘ghosts’ in Westeros. You may not be convinced that they actually exist, but hopefully you can see the logic in the belief that the mystery of ghosts is quite real.

With that in mind, I think it’s high time I discussed what is likely the most well-known of all prospective ghosts in Westeros: the ghost of Harrenhal.

First we need to examine the text surrounding Harrenhal to establish context supporting the idea of a ‘ghost mystery’ at the castle. Keep in mind I’m not trying to prove the existence of a ghost, I’m trying to show the existence of the possibility of a ghost.

The Wailing Tower

The ground floor of the Wailing Tower was given over to storerooms and granaries, and two floors above housed part of the garrison, but the upper stories had not been occupied for eighty years. Now Lord Tywin had commanded that they be made fit for habitation again. There were floors to be scrubbed, grime to be washed off windows, broken chairs and rotted beds to be carried off. The topmost story was infested with nests of the huge black bats that House Whent had used for its sigil, and there were rats in the cellars as well . . . and ghosts, some said, the spirits of Harren the Black and his sons.

Arya thought that was stupid. Harren and his sons had died in Kingspyre Tower, that was why it had that name, so why should they cross the yard to haunt her? The Wailing Tower only wailed when the wind blew from the north, and that was just the sound the air made blowing through the cracks in the stones where they had fissured from the heat.
—ARYA VII, ACOK

Notice that the Wailing Tower is strangely associated with ghosts, despite no mention of anyone significant dying there. Arya even points out that there shouldn’t be any ghosts in the Wailing Tower.

*   *   *

The Striking Comparison to Mistfall

Ruins are specifically cited in Mistfall as being a seeming home for the ‘wraiths’ central that story.

Taken directly from Mistfall:

And the legend of the mist wraiths was born, and began to grow. Other ships came to Wraithworld, and a trickle of colonists came and went, and Paul Sanders landed one day and erected the Castle Cloud so the public might safely visit the mysterious planet of the wraiths.

And there were other deaths, and other disappearances, and many people claimed to catch brief glimpses of wraiths prowling through the mists. And then someone found the ruins. Just tumbled stone blocks, now. But once, structures of some sort. The homes of the wraiths, people said.
— With Morning Comes Mistfall

So the ruins are characterized as ‘tumbled stone blocks’ and considered the homes of the wraiths, or as the scientist called them ‘ghosts’. Compare to the following description from Harrenhal:

The Tower of Ghosts was the most ruinous of Harrenhal’s five immense towers. It stood dark and desolate behind the remains of a collapsed sept where only rats had come to pray for near three hundred years. It was there she waited to see if Gendry and Hot Pie would come. It seemed as though she waited a long time. The horses nibbled at the weeds that grew up between the broken stones while the clouds swallowed the last of the stars…

…The boys picked their way toward her over tumbled stones.
— ARYA X, A CLASH OF KINGS

A striking parallel use of terms and motifs, ghosts, tumbled stones, ruins… Refer to my analysis of With Morning Comes Mistfall for more similarities that support the strong connection between ruins and ‘ghosts’ in ASOIAF.

*   *   *

The Mother’s Tears

As I noted earlier, the presence of possible ghosts was sometimes indicated by tears, appearing typically in some metaphorical or allegorical sense.

To this end there is a very deliberate, heavy-handed use of this same device at Harrenhal. It happens when Arya leads the escape from the castle. This is a long excerpt to give full context, scan for the bolded lines to see the revelant sections:

Alone, she slid through the shadow of the Tower of Ghosts. She walked fast, to keep ahead of her fear, and it felt as though Syrio Forel walked beside her, and Yoren, and Jaqen H’ghar, and Jon Snow. She had not taken the sword Gendry had brought her, not yet. For this the dagger would be better. It was good and sharp. This postern was the least of Harrenhal’s gates, a narrow door of stout oak studded with iron nails, set in an angle of the wall beneath a defensive tower. Only one man was set to guard it, but she knew there would be sentries up in that tower as well, and others nearby walking the walls. Whatever happened, she must be quiet as a shadow. He must not call out. A few scattered raindrops had begun to fall. She felt one land on her brow and run slowly down her nose.

She made no effort to hide, but approached the guard openly, as if Lord Bolton himself had sent her. He watched her come, curious as to what might bring a page here at this black hour. When she got closer, she saw that he was a northman, very tall and thin, huddled in a ragged fur cloak. That was bad. She might have been able to trick a Frey or one of the Brave Companions, but the Dreadfort men had served Roose Bolton their whole life, and they knew him better than she did. If I tell him I am Arya Stark and command him to stand aside . . . No, she dare not. He was a northman, but not a Winterfell man. He belonged to Roose Bolton.

When she reached him she pushed back her cloak so he would see the flayed man on her breast. “Lord Bolton sent me.”

“At this hour? Why for?”

She could see the gleam of steel under the fur, and she did not know if she was strong enough to drive the point of the dagger through chainmail. His throat, it must be his throat, but he’s too tall, I’ll never reach it. For a moment she did not know what to say. For a moment she was a little girl again, and scared, and the rain on her face felt like tears.

“He told me to give all his guards a silver piece, for their good service.” The words seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Silver, you say?” He did not believe her, but he wanted to; silver was silver, after all. “Give it over, then.”

Her fingers dug down beneath her tunic and came out clutching the coin Jaqen had given her. In the dark the iron could pass for tarnished silver. She held it out . . . and let it slip through her fingers.

Cursing her softly, the man went to a knee to grope for the coin in the dirt, and there was his neck right in front of her. Arya slid her dagger out and drew it across his throat, as smooth as summer silk. His blood covered her hands in a hot gush and he tried to shout but there was blood in his mouth as well.

“Valar morghulis,” she whispered as he died.

When he stopped moving, she picked up the coin. Outside the walls of Harrenhal, a wolf howled long and loud. She lifted the bar, set it aside, and pulled open the heavy oak door. By the time Hot Pie and Gendry came up with the horses, the rain was falling hard. “You killed him!” Hot Pie gasped.

“What did you think I would do?” Her fingers were sticky with blood, and the smell was making her mare skittish. It’s no matter, she thought, swinging up into the saddle. The rain will wash them clean again.
— ARYA X, A CLASH OF KINGS

So you see there is almost all of the supposed signs that suggest a possible ghost at play: rain, nighttime, ruins, etc.

If ghostly spirits could actually exist in Westeros, then Harrenhal almost certainly has one.

But who might that ghost be?

Assuming you readers are trying to guess ahead, I’m sure the other obvious question is this:

How can you be sure any such spirit –if one even exists– is tied to a dead mother, in lieu of something else?

*   *   *

THE TRAGEDY AT SUMMERHALL
THE DEATH OF JENNY OF OLDSTONES


High in the halls of the kings who are gone, Jenny would dance with her ghosts . . .
Merrett Frey — EPILOGUE, A STORM OF SWORDS

At this point I need to establish the connection between the aforementioned ghosts and Jenny of Oldstones, and explain the relationship between the two.

A House Decimated

One of the most interesting things about the Tragedy of Summerhall is that almost all of the Targaryens died that day. We obviously know about Duncan and Aegon V. But sources indicate that Rhaegar was born at Summerhall that day as well, strongly suggesting that Aerys II and Rhaella may have been at risk also.

We don’t know if Jaehaerys II was there, but in any case the entire Targaryen line could have been exterminated.

And this was all because of the vision made by a woods witch, the friend of Jenny of Oldstones.

And yet there’s no mention that Jenny of Oldstones, Duncan’s spouse, was actually there. She is never mentioned among those who perished, when even the woods witch who made the prophecy was said to have died. Obviously this is no proof, but it seems like had she died at Summerhall, it would have been mentioned. Call it the theory of survival-by-omission.

Why is all of this important? Think of the significance of the death of most of the Targaryens, particularly if Jenny was still alive and if people came to the conclusion that the woods witch may have been deliberately incorrect. People, be they surviving Targaryens or noble loyalists, might see Jenny as someone who is unfairly profiting from their deaths. It also could simply be a witch hunt.

Indeed, given the relationship between Jenny and the woods witch, people may have seen a political agenda in an ‘accidental’ termination of most/all of the Targaryens while Jenny survived.

*   *   *

“My Jenny’s Song”

So where was Jenny? How did she die?

I think explaining these concepts requires a journey into song, particularly into “My Jenny’s Song”. This is the song that the Ghost of High Heart repeatedly asks Tom to play for her in the books. We presumably hear it again at the end of A Storm of Swords, hearing only the first verse in its entirety.

High in the halls of the kings who are gone, Jenny would dance with her ghosts . . .
— Epilogue, ASOS

Tom is singing this song at Oldstones when Merrett Frey shows up.

What is the importance of this verse? Can we glean anything from it?

I believe we can. To start, let’s take a close look at the core elements of the verse:

the halls of the kings

The Ghost of High Heart actually invokes this same term in one of her prophecies:

“In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him.”
— ARYA VIII, ASOS

Here she is referring to Harrenhal.

There is one other reference to a ‘hall of kings’. Catelyn says it while talking to Robb at the tomb of Tristifer IV, and in fact its to Oldstones and the old castle of House Mudd.

However, since The Ghost of High Heart has been shown to use the term ‘hall of kings’ to refer to Harrenhal, and the fact that there is no such hall at Oldstones any more, Harrenhal is what we’ll use.

High in the halls of the kings

Continuing with Harrenhal, this would mean some place high above the ground. There are plenty of towers at Harrenhal, it could be any one of them.

But which one?

Jenny would dance with her ghosts . . .

So which tower might be most associated with ghosts??

The ground floor of the Wailing Tower was given over to storerooms and granaries, and two floors above housed part of the garrison, but the upper stories had not been occupied for eighty years. Now Lord Tywin had commanded that they be made fit for habitation again. There were floors to be scrubbed, grime to be washed off windows, broken chairs and rotted beds to be carried off. The topmost story was infested with nests of the huge black bats that House Whent had used for its sigil, and there were rats in the cellars as well . . . and ghosts, some said, the spirits of Harren the Black and his sons.

Arya thought that was stupid. Harren and his sons had died in Kingspyre Tower, that was why it had that name, so why should they cross the yard to haunt her? The Wailing Tower only wailed when the wind blew from the north, and that was just the sound the air made blowing through the cracks in the stones where they had fissured from the heat.
— ARYA VII, ACOK

This ties rather well to the previously noted connection between Mistfall, ruins and ghosts.

This seems to establish the idea that Jenny –may have– some sort of relationship with the Wailing Tower at Harrenhal.

But what kind of relationship? What could be meant by ‘wailing’?

In my mind, wailing sounds like it could be from one of two potent things: grief particularly over a loss, and pain, particularly the pain of childbirth. Or rather it could also be the sound of wailing infant.

*   *   *

Flying from the Tower like a Bat

Going along with the speculation that Jenny of Oldstones is possibly some sort of ghost at Harrenhal, particularly associated with the Wailing Tower, how might she have died?

I strongly believe that Jenny of Oldstones jumped from the Wailing Tower.

Before reading the following excerpt, keep in mind Jenny’s friendship with the diminutive woods witch (likely the GoHH) who made the seemingly disastrous prophecy that led to Summerhall:

“I forgot, you’ve been hiding under a rock. The northern girl. Winterfell’s daughter. We heard she killed the king with a spell, and afterward changed into a wolf with big leather wings like a bat, and flew out a tower window. But she left the dwarf behind and Cersei means to have his head.”

That’s stupid, Arya thought. Sansa only knows songs, not spells, and she’d never marry the Imp.
— ARYA XI, ASOS

Notice the striking similarities, presuming my guess is correct:

She ‘flew’ out a tower window to her death, but the woods witch (described as a dwarf) survived.

The Wailing Tower is uniquely associated with bats that fly out the tower window.

Additionally, one could see how Jenny and the witch might be accused of killing king Aegon V with a spell (Barristan says that Summerhall ended in ‘sorcery, fire and grief’).

What’s always been odd about this dialogue is that it’s coming from Polliver. It seems like an awful lot of romantic prose for a dull cretin.

I’m confident that Polliver is playing on someone else’s words here: I strongly suspect that those words are from “Jenny’s Song”, for reasons to be explained momentarily.

I admit it is completely absurd to base such speculation off of an assumed interpretation of an unrelated scene.

However, I strongly believe that there is a secret ‘code’ in the text that actually lampshades the real significance of songs and Arya’s thoughts.

Quite often, when Arya declares something is stupid –especially in association with songs–, it instead highlights the importance of a song.

We must necessarily segue for a moment to explain this concept of ‘stupid songs’ in order to provide the context that helps justify my hypothesis regarding the manner of Jenny’s death.

*   *   *

Songs are Stupid


Singing is stupid
Arya — ARYA II, A STORM OF SWORDS

As I just said, I believe that there is something of a code or significance to when Arya says or thinks something is stupid. Particularly with regards to songs and the more fanciful, heroic songs.

Arya’s Stupid Songs

Here are some of the most prominent examples:

A Floppy Fish

“It’s not music he hates,” said Lem. “It’s you, fool.”

“Well, he has no cause. The wench was willing to make a man of him, is it my fault he drank too much to do the deed?”

Lem snorted through his broken nose. “Was it you who made a song of it, or some other bloody arse in love with his own voice?”

“I only sang it the once,” Tom complained. “And who’s to say the song was about him? ’Twas a song about a fish.”

“A floppy fish,” said Anguy, laughing.

Arya didn’t care what Tom’s stupid songs were about.
— ARYA IV, A STORM OF SWORDS

This is a prominent example because Arya lacks the context to realize that this song was about Edmure’s inability to perform sexually. It’s further a huge bit of storytelling that allows careful readers to later realize that it’s Tom O’Sevens who has attached himself to Jaime at the end of A Feast for Crows and is likely the informant who is telling the Brotherhood without Banners about the Frey/Lannister movements in the riverlands. So despite Arya calling it a ‘stupid song’ it’s actually a hugely important song.

A Lady’s Jump from a Tower

“My father was Ser Arthur’s elder brother. Lady Ashara was my aunt. I never knew her, though. She threw herself into the sea from atop the Palestone Sword before I was born.”

“Why would she do that?” said Arya, startled. Ned looked wary. Maybe he was afraid that she was going to throw something at him. “Your lord father never spoke of her?” he said. “The Lady Ashara Dayne, of Starfall?”

“No. Did he know her?”

“Before Robert was king. She met your father and his brothers at Harrenhal, during the year of the false spring.”

“Oh.” Arya did not know what else to say. “Why did she jump in the sea, though?”

“Her heart was broken.”

Sansa would have sighed and shed a tear for true love, but Arya just thought it was stupid. She couldn’t say that to Ned, though, not about his own aunt. “Did someone break it?”
— ARYA VIII, A STORM OF SWORDS

Obviously this isn’t a song or a clear reference to a song. However, it does almost literally tie into a later Arya passage that does involve a song:

When Cat slipped inside the brothel, though, she found Merry sitting in the common room with her eyes shut, listening to Dareon play his woodharp. Yna was there too, braiding Lanna’s fine long golden hair. Another stupid love song. Lanna was always begging the singer to play her stupid love songs. She was the youngest of the whores, only ten-and-four. Merry asked three times as much for her as for any of the other girls, Cat knew.

It made her angry to see Dareon sitting there so brazen, making eyes at Lanna as his fingers danced across the harp strings. The whores called him the black singer, but there was hardly any black about him now. With the coin his singing brought him, the crow had transformed himself into a peacock. Today he wore a plush purple cloak lined with vair, a striped white-and-lilac tunic, and the parti-colored breeches of a bravo, but he owned a silken cloak as well, and one made of burgundy velvet that was lined with cloth-of-gold. The only black about him was his boots. Cat had heard him tell Lanna that he’d thrown all the rest in a canal. “I am done with darkness,” he had announced.

He is a man of the Night’s Watch, she thought, as he sang about some stupid lady throwing herself off some stupid tower because her stupid prince was dead. The lady should go kill the ones who killed her prince. And the singer should be on the Wall.
— CAT OF THE CANALS, A FEAST FOR CROWS

There is no clear indication that this song is specifically about Ashara, but that’s not really important, only that it reinforces Arya’s insistence that songs are stupid. Indeed, Ashara was not a princess and her paramour not clearly known to be a prince. Additionally, you would think that there is tremendous historical importance to any princess’s suicide and a prince’s death based on the political implications alone.

Sharna’s Inn

Sometimes she thought she might go back to Sharna’s inn, if the floods hadn’t washed it away. She could stay with Hot Pie, or maybe Lord Beric would find her there. Anguy would teach her to use a bow, and she could ride with Gendry and be an outlaw, like Wenda the White Fawn in the songs.

But that was just stupid, like something Sansa might dream.
— ARYA XII, A STORM OF SWORDS

Another reference to songs being stupid. Ironically funny because Sansa doesn’t dream of being an outlaw, and the amusing references to the Brotherhood and the White Fawn, a pairing that resurfaces at the Epilogue of A Storm of Swords when Merrett Frey (a former White Fawn captive) meets his end at the hands of the Brotherhood.

*   *   *

If Arya Thinks it’s Stupid, it’s Probably Important

Given the fledgling support for the idea that ‘songs are stupid’ is a clue of sorts, I’d like to point out a trick I’ve already pulled on you:

I’ve already cited two other instances where Arya conspicuously thinks something is stupid.

Specifically:

Arya’s thoughts about the Wailing Tower in Harrenhal.

And her thoughts regarding Sansa’s supernatural ‘escape’ from King’s Landing as teased by Polliver.

Refer back to the earlier citations to see what I mean.

With these observations in mind, I find it especially notable in Polliver’s case that Arya focuses on how stupid Polliver’s explanation is, and establishes a contextual connection to songs.

This means that Polliver’s line may have been a bastardization of a verse from a song. Given that “Jenny’s Song” has some fairly strong connections to the Wailing Tower already, I feel that my guess that Polliver stole the lines from that song is well-founded.

*   *   *

A Stupid Prince and A Stupid Princess

In reviewing the many excerpts in this section, notice that Arya mentions a song about a stupid prince who dies and a stupid princess who jumps from a tower in grief. Prince Duncan Targaryen certainly could be the prince, as he died at Summerhall. Since Jenny was married to him and likely didn’t die at Summerhall, she –could– be the princess. The idea is plausible at least.

We quite literally know that “Jenny’s song” is likely about Jenny of Oldstones, since the Ghost of High Heart is almost certainly the same woods witch who was once Jenny’s friend.

And since Jenny is apparently “high in the halls” with her ghosts, the Wailing Tower at Harrenhal seems an almost superlatively appropriate place (particularly given the Ghost’s vernacular of calling Harrenhal the “halls of the kings”).

Given the Wailing Tower’s association with bats that would fly out the window, it then seems like a perfect match for Polliver’s statement about Sansa’s transformation and flight out of the Red Keep.

If these observations are true, it seems entirely plausible that the song Arya hears is indeed “Jenny’s song”.

Arya’s observations about Polliver ‘stupid’ statement about Sansa and Dareon’s ‘stupid love song’ may actually highlight their applicability to Jenny of Oldstones.

This is because both of them are plausible and ideal, given the association with bats, towers, ghosts, and stupid princesses and princes.

It also establishes that Dareon knows “Jenny’s song”, an idea that I revisit much later in this essay.

*   *   *

CURSED FOREVER


So, assuming that I’m perhaps correct that Jenny died at Harrenhal by jumping from the Wailing Tower there are some obvious questions:

  • Why did she leap from the tower?
  • Why does her spirit appear to –possibly– linger at the castle?

Why the jump?

There may be no more simple answer than Jenny committed suicide out of grief, despair at the loss of Duncan.

After all, they married for love despite Aegon and Jaehaerys’s attempts to arrange Duncan’s marriage. Such a marriage for love is certainly congruous with Dareon’s “stupid love song” as described by Arya.

However, that may be an incomplete explanation.

*   *   *

A Lingering Spirit

So why does it seem like a ghost may persist in the Wailing Tower?

In case you’ve been wondering just why the heck I started this essay with an examination of ghosts, let me now tie Jenny and the mystery of ghosts together:

Jenny’s ‘ghost’ might persists at Harrenhal because like the many other ‘ghost mysteries’ she was a mother to a son.

A son that she abandoned.

Notice how immediately applicable this idea is:

It dramatically ties into Gilly’s assessment that a mother who abandons her son is cursed forever.

It’s quite literally compatible with the only verse from “Jenny’s song” that we know, establishing that Jenny was a spirit that shared a relationship/connection to other ghosts.

As noted, most of the observed ‘ghosts’ are dead or not-quite-living mothers who have lost sons exhibit shared features in their purported manifestations. Since Jenny is purported to ‘dance her ghosts’, it would suggest that she is a member of some sort of ghostly ‘community’.

Since this established idea of thematically similar ghosts concerns dead mothers, it would seem possible that she would likely have the same quality in order to participate.

It would perhaps also explain why she wasn’t at Summerhall, perhaps she was in labor, nursing or just about to deliver when the Tragedy occurred.

*   *   *

Why the Jump? – Revisited

Given the idea that Jenny may have had a son, there is perhaps a secondary motive for the leap: to protect her son.

The are a few plausible reasons:

Given that the Tragedy of Summerhall could have been perceived as ‘a spell that killed the king’ and could have killed the rest of the Targaryen family, it could have rendered her son the de facto heir to the throne. If a person suspected malicious intent behind the woods witch’s prophecy and thereby Jenny, her son would forever be a threat and suspect.

Alternatively, if Jenny suspected foul play on the part of others, aimed at the entirety of House Targaryen, she may have opted for the leap as a means to conceal the survival of her son.

Jenny may have leapt from the tower in order to end any search for her son.

*   *   *

Protecting her Son

Just how does committing suicide protect her son?

First it makes it impossible to gather information from her. As long as she lives, her life itself poses a threat to her son.

Second, if she hands the child off to someone whom nobody might suspect, be able to find, etc. then her son will be safe.

*   *   *

The Allegory of a Tattered Cloak


“Did you think only crows could lie?”
Mance Rayder — JON X, A STORM OF SWORDS

The reason I cite Mance’s statement about lies is because I believe he has often been deceptive with Jon himself. After all, he deceived and/or withheld information about the Horn of Joramun. And if it’s true as Mance says that he ‘never trusted’ Jon, then why would he confess very private details about his personal life to Jon arbitrarily, when he’s expressly interrogating Jon to assess his proclaimed loyalty.

Thus I believe that Mance’s tale about his cloak was deceptive, but a deception that was rich in symbolism. After all, who in their right mind decides to change their whole life because of a cloak, just because it had some nice silk? There must have been other factors.

As Mance intimates to Tormund in that same scene, Mance was regularly saying things to Jon that weren’t about gleaning ‘truth’ about Jon so much as taking Jon’s ‘measure’. I feel that it’s very likely the tale of Mance’s cloak was such an effort.

The End of House Targaryen

Intentional or not, Mance’s tale regarding his red-and-black cloak has potent allegorical significance, especially as a symbolic encapsulation of Robert’s Rebellion and other elements of recent history.

“I did. I do. That’s closer to the mark, yes. But not a hit.” Mance Rayder rose, unfastened the clasp that held his cloak, and swept it over the bench. “It was for this.”

“A cloak?”

“The black wool cloak of a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch,” said the King-beyond-the-Wall. “One day on a ranging we brought down a fine big elk. We were skinning it when the smell of blood drew a shadow-cat out of its lair. I drove it off, but not before it shredded my cloak to ribbons. Do you see? Here, here, and here?” He chuckled. “It shredded my arm and back as well, and I bled worse than the elk. My brothers feared I might die before they got me back to Maester Mullin at the Shadow Tower, so they carried me to a wildling village where we knew an old wisewoman did some healing. She was dead, as it happened, but her daughter saw to me. Cleaned my wounds, sewed me up, and fed me porridge and potions until I was strong enough to ride again. And she sewed up the rents in my cloak as well, with some scarlet silk from Asshai that her grandmother had pulled from the wreck of a cog washed up on the Frozen Shore. It was the greatest treasure she had, and her gift to me.” He swept the cloak back over his shoulders. “But at the Shadow Tower, I was given a new wool cloak from stores, black and black, and trimmed with black, to go with my black breeches and black boots, my black doublet and black mail. The new cloak had no frays nor rips nor tears . . . and most of all, no red. The men of the Night’s Watch dressed in black, Ser Denys Mallister reminded me sternly, as if I had forgotten. My old cloak was fit for burning now, he said.

“I left the next morning . . . for a place where a kiss was not a crime, and a man could wear any cloak he chose.”
— JON I, A STORM OF SWORDS

Notice that the tale recounts felling a stag, but losing the opportunity to skin it; because of a shadowcat that emerged to fight him and his companions. This seems like a striking metaphor for Robert Baratheon’s entrapment at Stony Sept and ‘rescue’ by Ned Stark, Hoster Tully and Jon Arryn (the shadowcat).

What you see is that Mance’s alleged conflict with the shadowcat caused a metamorphosis, the emergence of red in black, red silk from Asshai, very much like the red silk of Melisandre’s garments that give her the characteristic fiery appearance.

Notice that Mance points out that his cloak was slashed three times, a point I mean to revisit later. So too will I revisit the bits regarding an old wisewoman and her daughter.

*   *   *

A Glass Candle, Newly Afire

As mentioned, notice the visual of Mance’s cloak. At first all black, and then after a transformative experience it is colored with red ‘slashes’.

Given the in-world premise that the Valyrian word for obsidian means “frozen fire”, would could see potential symbolism in his black cloak and the subsequent ‘red’ as being a metaphorical glass candle beginning to burn.

After all, if the Night’s Watch is supposed to defend against the Others and dragonglass is the only known weapon against them, then their characteristic black coloring could very easily be a symbol of obsidian.

As with the possible connection to Robert’s Rebellion, I revisit this metaphor in the later section “Weaving it Together”.

*   *   *

WHAT’S IN A NAME?


“The free folk won’t follow a name, and they don’t care which brother was born first.”
Mance Rayder — JON X, A STORM OF SWORDS

It’s always struck me as odd that Mance has a last name. If he’s truly a common born wildling it doesn’t make sense.

I would wager that upwards of 95% of all common folk (non-nobles) in Westeros do not have last names other than attributed titles like Cleftjaw or Halfhand, etc. The few exceptions are almost always affiliated with landed knights, foreign origins, or merchant/guilded families.

Not a Corruption

Often readers will dismiss the notion that Mance’s last name signifies anything, typically on the basis that Rayder is simply a permutation of the word raider.

However even that doesn’t make much sense:

Martin has always allowed at least one breach of the limited point-of-view perspective in the books: readers are always entitled to the correct spelling of character names. This is true even if the name is outlandish (Hizdahr zo Loraq), or appears phonetically incorrect (Moqorro).

As such, Rayder is specifically how Mance’s surname is spelled. The notion that his name has a particular spelling implies that someone (either himself or his forbears) was literate enough to be concerned with the spelling of the name. This is of course extremely odd to associate such literacy with a man who was supposedly born and raised by wildlings.

Otherwise you’re left with the scenario that Mance either acquired his second name or just chose to grant it to himself, yet was particular enough to care about it’s spelling. After all, most ‘acquired’ surnames earned by common folk simply reflect accomplishments, and thus little care is taken for how they are spelled (Giantsbane, Cleftjaw, Halfhand, etc). Thus, the idea that Rayder is some variation of raider makes little contextual sense.

On the other hand, there are no established families that go by the name Rayder, north or south of the Wall. This would imply that Rayder was indeed a name he chose or was given to him, despite its self-evident specificity with regards to spelling, in spite of a lack of relationship to any accomplishments or family name.

*   *   *

Dracarys and Frozen Fire

We know that the Valyrian word for ‘dragon fire’ is dracarys.

We also know that obsidian is colloquially referred to as dragonglass.

Melisandre informs us that there is a Valyrian word for obsidian/dragonglass and that it’s translated meaning is ‘frozen fire’.

Unfortunately/conspicuously Melisandre does not give us that Valyrian word.

With these notions in mind, recall the idea that Mance’s cloak may symbolically represent obsidian/dragonglass beginning to burn.

*   *   *

A Penchant for Anagrams

When Mance visits Winterfell, he leverages the ideas in the tale of Bael the Bard, and enters the castle under the alias Abel.

Abel is an anagram for Bael. This is a brazen use of an anagram and further highlights Mance’s literacy and familiarity/precision with regards to spelling and pronunciation:

Bael consists of two consonants separated by a diphthong.

Abel also has two consonants, but the vowels are separated and no longer sound like a diphthong.

Only a fairly literate person would know that you could rearrange the letters thusly.

*   *   *

An Anagram for Frozen Fire?

Is it then possible that Mance’s name is itself an anagram for something else, another source of inspiration – a song sung by better men?

It is impossible to definitively answer at this point.

However I find it very interesting that a partial rearrangement of the letters in Mance’s name allows for the following:

MANCE RAYDER = DRACARY + (N,M,E,E)

If you’ll allow some extreme conjecture, consider the idea that ‘draca-‘ might be some sort of word element that suggests fire, then the suffix ‘-rys’ may mean dragon. This could be valid, considering the number of Targaryens whose names end in this fashion.

Thus perhaps some rearrangement of the remaining letters could mean something analogous to ‘frozen’, ‘glass’, or the like.

If Mance’s name was an anagram for obsidian, it goes a long way to surreptitiously reinforcing the idea that he is figuratively some form of dragonglass, or frozen fire. Perhaps some dragonglass that is just now starting to burn.

*   *   *

WEAVING IT TOGETHER


There are a number of interesting observations that don’t properly fit into the previous categories. Here is just a run-down of the other interesting observations.

Slashes, Arrows and Targaryens – Oh My!

One arrow took Mance Rayder in the chest, one in the gut, one in the throat. The fourth struck one of the cage’s wooden bars, and quivered for an instant before catching fire. A woman’s sobs echoed off the Wall as the wildling king slid bonelessly to the floor of his cage, wreathed in fire.
— JON III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

After “Alysanne” the singer stopped again, long enough for Sansa to snatch an hour’s rest. But as the first light of dawn was prying at her shutters, she heard the soft strains of “On a Misty Morn” drifting up from below, and woke at once. That was more properly a woman’s song, a lament sung by a mother on the dawn after some terrible battle, as she searches amongst the dead for the body of her only son. The mother sings her grief for her dead son, Sansa thought, but Marillion grieves for his fingers, for his eyes. The words rose like arrows and pierced her in the darkness.

Oh, have you seen my boy, good ser?

His hair is chestnut brown

He promised he’d come back to me

Our home’s in Wendish Town.

— SANSA, A FEAST FOR CROWS

These passages are notable because both make rather interesting use of ‘arrows’:

The three arrows that hit Mance.

First of all it’s interesting that Martin went to the lengths to describe in detail the killing of Mance with arrows, such that he specified where each arrow hit.

One hits Mance in the throat.

One hits him in the chest.

One hits him in the gut.

I find it striking that the first two hits are verbatim the body parts injured in the deaths of Aerys II and Rhaegar. Could these arrows somehow symbolize the deaths of the Targaryen heirs during Robert’s Rebellion? I’m not sure how the blow to the gut might tie to Aegon VI, but in any case it’s an interesting idea.

The fourth arrow that ‘quivered’ before bursting into flame.

So if the three arrows represent the deaths of three of the Targaryen males in line to the throne, then what about the fourth arrow?

Using the same logic, this would indicate a fourth male in the Targaryen line. One that is not felled in Robert’s Rebellion. Indeed one that quivers (is held or stowed away) for some time only to burst into flame later.

While a person might take this extremely literally and think that if anything it meant a Targaryen was going to burn at the stake, it metaphorically ties brilliantly into the idea of Mance being a symbol of a glass candle starting to burn. After all, none of the other arrows are described as bursting into flames.

I must admit a person might argue that an equally possible conjecture is that the fourth arrow symbolizes Aegon’s resurgence.

The words that pierced her heart like arrows.

If Mance is indeed a son of Jenny and Duncan then he would indeed be a viable candidate in line for the throne.

His hair is brown (chestnut) and his mother’s possible ghost seems to wail presumably for him. Such then the song “On A Misty Morn” could easily be about Jenny and Mance as well.

The three slashes in Mance’s cloak.

If the idea that Mance’s cloak held allegorical/symbolic connections to Robert’s Rebellion, then it’s interesting to note that Mance specifically says it has *three* slashes in it: “Here, here, and here”.

It might further enhance the idea of the cloak, and that the slashes represent the deaths of the other males who stood to inherit in House Targaryen that were killed in the Rebellion: Aerys II, Rhaegar, and Aegon.

One interesting thing to note about the arrows in both Jon and Sansa’s chapters is that they happen at roughly the same time in the story, which can be best visualized by looking at the chapter order in the Boiled Leather combined AFFC/ADWD chapter list (they are chapters 19 and 23).

*   *   *

Our Home’s in Wendish Town

Further intriguing is the observation that Wendish Town is almost right next-door to Oldstones. Thus “On a Misty Morn” has a strong connection to the region of Jenny’s birth. Check the ASOIAF Wiki entry for Wendish Town and look at the proximity on the map.

*   *   *

Born to a Common Woman

If the idea that Mance is the son of Duncan and Jenny holds any water whatsoever, it lends some hilarious irony to the following passage:

“Gerrick is the true and rightful king of the wildlings,” the queen said, “descended in an unbroken male line from their great king Raymun Redbeard, whereas the usurper Mance Rayder was born of some common woman and fathered by one of your black brothers.”
— JON XIII, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

If this turns out to be true it would be an ironic phrase on the same level as Jon’s declaration that “bastards aren’t allowed to strike princes” in A Game of Thrones.

Jenny of Oldstones would be his common mother. As for the ‘fathered by one of your black brothers’, I think this ironically might also be true in the sense that Mance was perhaps looked after by Bloodraven.

*   *   *

A Weary Heart

“For him. The Bran boy. I was born in the time of the dragon, and for two hundred years I walked the world of men, to watch and listen and learn. I might be walking still, but my legs were sore and my heart was weary, so I turned my feet for home.”
— BRAN II, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

I think a possibility is that Leaf was the one who ferreted Jenny’s infant son north of the Wall. It’s further interesting to contemplate the idea that Leaf is the daughter of the Ghost of High Heart, because it establishes a mother/daughter ‘wise-woman’ relationship that fits with the “Allegory of the Tattered Cloak”.

*   *   *

Giant Bats

As Hodor he explored the caves. He found chambers full of bones, shafts that plunged deep into the earth, a place where the skeletons of gigantic bats hung upside down from the ceiling.
— BRAN III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Although Bran’s narrative dramatically changes when he wargs into Summer, it does not generally do so when he skinchanges into Hodor. What I mean is that Martin does not suddenly assume the same sort of highly lyrical and visual language that makes the commonplace seem extraordinary, as he does with Summer.

This is relevant because I think it’s unlikely that Bran is dramatically misinterpreting something in this passage: he definitely sees a creature hanging from the ceiling, one that resembles a gigantic bat.

What’s the significance of gigantic bats?

Harrenhal, and the Wailing Tower in particular are associated with giant bats:

The topmost story was infested with nests of the huge black bats that House Whent had used for its sigil, and there were rats in the cellars as well . . . and ghosts, some said, the spirits of Harren the Black and his sons.
— ARYA VII, A CLASH OF KINGS

“My old ma used to say that giant bats flew out from Harrenhal on moonless nights, to carry bad children to Mad Danelle for her cookpots. Sometimes I’d hear them scrabbling at the shutters.”
— BRIENNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

So it’s an intriguing similarity that both places are seemingly alone in their shared affiliation with giant bats.

*   *   *

The Singer Should be on the Wall

Ever since I first pondered the idea that Mance was Jenny’s son, I’ve found an amusing subtext in one of Arya’s ‘stupid song’ observations:

He is a man of the Night’s Watch, she thought, as he sang about some stupid lady throwing herself off some stupid tower because her stupid prince was dead. The lady should go kill the ones who killed her prince. And the singer should be on the Wall.
— CAT OF THE CANALS, A FEAST FOR CROWS

This is the scene where Arya is venting her anger about Dareon in Braavos. The references to Dareon suddenly become ambiguous here, as he is only described as a man of the Night’s Watch and as a ‘singer’. Substitute in Mance, another renowned singer and member of the Night’s Watch, and you have an interesting commentary about Mance, especially if you consider the idea that he too may have sung the song about a stupid prince and princess and/or has some relationship to them.

*   *   *

A Red Sun Rose and Set and Rose Again

In one of Bran’s chapters we have a very conspicuous motif that repeats:

A pale sun rose and set and rose again. Red leaves whispered in the wind…

A red sun rose and set and rose again, painting the snows in shades of rose and pink…

Outside the cave the sun rose and set, the moon turned, the cold winds howled.
— BRAN III, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

Each instance is using a play on words to conceal interesting references to characters in the books.

The pale sun is Theon. The mention of his rising, setting and rising again refers his life, apparent death at the hands of Ramsay, and later re-emergence for Ramsay’s wedding. The ‘red leaves whispering’ is a pretty spot-on reference to Theon’s queer interactions with the Winterfell heart tree.

The sun that only rises and sets is a reference to a son that is born and dies, his death perhaps punctuated by the turning of the moon (a new moon?), and also howling… of the wind or a wolf perhaps. This could be a reference to Jon. Perhaps someone else.

What’s most interesting (and relevant) is the red sun. A son that is born, dies and reborn again… and a red son at that. It’s a striking symbol that almost immediately calls to mind Aegon/Young Griff.

However, what doesn’t make sense is the following fragment about painting the snows. ‘Painting the snows in shades of rose and pink’ is too perfectly a metaphor for Jon and Ramsay to be ignored. The entire context of the sentence implies that this ‘red sun’ will be responsible for ‘painting’ (identifying, coloring, etc.) Jon and Ramsay in hues associated with their respective families: pink for Ramsay obviously and rose (presumably blue winter roses) for Jon. Aegon/Young Griff seems worlds away from being relevant to this idea, which suggests perhaps that there is a more locally available ‘red sun’ who is in a position to ‘paint’ these identities.

Given Mance’s presence in Winterfell and his interest in the Winterfell crypts, it seems like he is at least in the best position to do this, red sun or not. However if he is some sort of ‘red son’ then it all fits.

Additionally, consider the rising, setting, rising again in the context of Mance’s faked execution and later resurfacing in the Pink Letter.

*   *   *

The Glass Candles are Burning

As I’ve more or less indicated, I think that the idea of ‘glass candles’ burning is more than just a literal reference to the obsidian Valyrian candles we see in the story. It’s often a reference to characters that symbolize ‘frozen fire’ coming to life and burning anew.

One interesting note about Mance Rayder’s hypothetical association with dragonglass is that if he was a Targaryen, his location north of the Wall is a highly metaphorical example of a frozen fire.

There are also several suggestive observations about the glass candles:

Quaithe’s line about the candles:

“The glass candles are burning.”
— DAENERYS II, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

What’s interesting is that this chapter is the first chapter after Mance’s death by fire (albeit faked).

Four candles, one of them different:

Pate knew about the glass candles, though he had never seen one burn. They were the worst-kept secret of the Citadel. It was said that they had been brought to Oldtown from Valyria a thousand years before the Doom. He had heard there were four; one was green and three were black, and all were tall and twisted.
— PROLOGUE, A FEAST FOR CROWS

What’s interesting here is the specific detail about one being green and the others black.

First of all green and black are synonymous with the Dance of Dragons, a famous internecine Targaryen war for ascension to the Iron Throne. Thus the colors themselves could be viewed as a symbol of such internal conflict.

If my belief about many mentions of glass candles actually being references to symbolic fire come to life, perhaps then the candles somehow symbolize the various Targaryens that exist currently and/or perhaps can vie for the throne. Perhaps Daenerys, Aegon and conceivably Jon and/or Mance.

If that was the case, then perhaps the green and black motifs act as a dividing line segregating the Targaryen candidates. What seems entirely possible is that the three black candles refer to those born of Aerys II and Rhaella’s line, and the sole green represents Mance, born of Duncan and Jenny. The green could perhaps be related to the idea that Bloodraven may have watched-over/fathered Mance in some fashion.

Additionally/Alternatively, as with the notions about four arrows, three slashes, and so forth, the three black ones could symbolize those Targaryen kings and heirs who ostensibly died during the Rebellion, Aerys, Rhaegar and Aegon VI.

*   *   *

EMERGENT SPECULATIONS


Just some random, even more baseless ideas that stem from the previous arguments.

The Ghost of Harrenhal versus the Faceless Men

I’ve often wondered why Arya experiences the tears one might associate with a ghost as she’s departing Harrenhal, just before killing the guard. It’s as if our mysterious, uncertain ghostly mother is aiding Arya.

But why?

I’m something of a believer in the general idea that the Faceless Men may be behind some of the calamitous events in history, to include Summerhall.

Indeed, if the Faceless Men did in fact cause Summerhall, then they are responsible for Duncan’s death.

What I find intriguing is if we return to Arya’s thoughts about Dareon’s song:

He is a man of the Night’s Watch, she thought, as he sang about some stupid lady throwing herself off some stupid tower because her stupid prince was dead. The lady should go kill the ones who killed her prince. And the singer should be on the Wall.
— CAT OF THE CANALS, A FEAST FOR CROWS

If Dareon’s song is about Jenny and Duncan and the idea about the Faceless Men is true, then any such ghost of Harrenhal/Jenny could be apt to aid her in bringing revenge to the Faceless Men.

Quaithe’s Prophecy

I’m also a believer that prophecies (especially in A Dance with Dragons) can have multiple targets and/or manifestations.

As such I believe Quaithe’s famous prophecy has an alternate interpretation:

The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.
— DAENERYS II, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

I believe that this vision could apply to Ramsay, or perhaps Mance himself (although I don’t like that version). I’ve already argued elsewhere that some of Melisandre’s visions and one of Jon’s dreams are more appropriately targeted to Ramsay.

Let me explain this alternative vision:

I’ve already suggested the idea that Quaithe’s reference to glass candles may in fact refer to the emergence of hidden Targaryens, especially if they were previously ‘frozen fire’. Under this essay’s central argument of course Mance is a perfect candidate.

The Pale Mare is Barbrey Dustin.

The Kraken is Theon.

The Dark Flame is Mance himself (dark flame as in burning obsidian).

The Lion is actually a lizard-lion: Howland Reed.

I frankly don’t know who the Griffin is, perhaps some intermarried Mallister or the like.

The Son’s Sun is Arnolf Karstark’s son, who I strongly believe will be leveraged by Stannis as a part of faking Stannis’s death.

The Mummer’s Dragon is Stannis himself, as Melisandre has been long using glamors and deception to sustain the idea that he is the true manifestation of Azor Ahai.

The perfumed seneschal is Hother Umber, the seeming steadfast companion to Ramsay. Hother is whom I suspect is the most likely to kill Ramsay if anyone does.

 

19 thoughts on “The Red Sun Rises, The Glass Candle Burns: The Lost Targaryen Prince

  1. Cash

    You don’t know who the griffin is? Now perhaps, Jon Connington, whose sigil is, you know, a griffin? And who was on his way to Dany at one point but is now attacking Westeros instead?

    Reply
    1. Cash

      I will also admit I skipped to the end and saw that, now I actually have to set aside time to try and read this massive article.

      Reply
  2. Kuruharan

    It is plausible, although I find the Harrenhal connections to be a bit iffy as well as why Leaf was the one to bring Mance north. I also don’t totally buy into the idea that Ramsay is such a significant personage that somebody like Quaithe would be prophesying about him. I’m just not convinced that Ramsay is such a “global” actor, if you will.

    All this poses a question; assuming D + J = M, what is the ultimate significance of it and what does that mean Mance’s role will be in the endgame? His branch of the family gave up its rights to the crown so technically he could not pose a threat to either Dany or if R + L = J (if that is true).

    Or could he..?

    Reply
      1. cantuse Post author

        I’ll try and talk about both your posts in this reply.

        I definitely grant you that the Harrenhal connections are really … ‘far out’ perhaps. One other element I’ve always found intriguing is that bit about “Jenny’s Song” that goes “High in the halls of the kings who are gone…”

        I know I used it in the essay to suggest Harrenhal. However, if you recount the various *possible* ghosts I threw out, many of them can be prominently associated with a similar “high hall”. The Eyrie has a chamber literally called the High Hall, and the Eyrie was once the seat of the Griffin King and the later Kings of the Mountain and Vale. Lyanna is on the highest level of the halls in the Winterfell crypts. Joanna appears in Jaime’s dream at the Sept of Baelor, where the bones of deceased kings are interred. Catelyn / Lady Stoneheart is literally at the ruins of the old castle in Oldstones, at the crypt of Tristifer IV, a castle once described as a ‘hall of kings’. Allanys Harlaw had long been wandering the castle at Pyke, the seat of the one-time Iron Kings.

        It was this rather noteworthy similarity between the various ‘possible ghosts’, coupled with the significant omission of Harrenhal that made me take note of it.

        Finally, recall the one time Dareon attempts to soothe Gilly’s ‘baby’ with a song:

        Even Dareon had no good to say about the wildling girl. Once, at Sam’s urging, the singer played a lullaby to soothe the babe, but partway through the first verse Gilly began to sob inconsolably. “Seven bloody hells,” Dareon snapped, “can’t you even stop weeping long enough to hear a song?”

        The first verse of Jenny’s song is “High in the halls of the kings who are gone, Jenny would dance with her ghosts”.

        Her real son is back with Val, in upper floors of the **King’s Tower** at Castle Black. Isn’t this almost too conspicuous to dismiss, given everything I’ve shown?

        This amazing ‘coincidence’ is why I’m quite sure that Dareon was singing Jenny’s song when Arya makes her observations about a stupid prince and princess, and helps me tie it to Harrenhal.

        In addition to Gilly’s quote about being cursed for abandoning a son, there’s another fun rumination from Sam in AFFC: “You would weep as well if you had a son and lost him, Sam almost said.”

        So much focus and meaning seemingly attributed to the ideas of cursed mothers, abandoned sons, and most especially that one verse of Jenny’s song.

        I admit I can’t sit here and say “I’m 100% correct!!”, but these are indeed some pretty striking coincidences, if that’s really all they are. And generally speaking, Martin’s prose is rife with interconnected meaning, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that its not coincidence, but deliberate.
        —–
        As for the ideas about Mance’s significance and endgame. It’s hard to say.

        I’m somewhat considering that Bloodraven may have had a strong hand in getting the wildlings across the Wall. I posted on reddit recently an alternative explanation of Melisandre’s ‘three eyeless heads’, one that she specifically didn’t know about. We see from her visions that she thinks Bloodraven ‘sees’ her. I sometimes wonder if he intentionally ‘played’ her by fulfilled the heads vision so that Jon would release Mance. Coldhands after all would be a viable explanation of who killed the rangers – after all he already killed Night’s Watchmen. Remember that Bloodraven may likely have helped get Jon elected LC (Kettle!), and you can reasonably say that he has been manipulating things.

        In this hypothetical scenario, Bloodraven is manipulating things such that Mance would be able to visit Winterfell. He may also be manipulating events at the Wall such that the wildlings would be ready to march when/if Mance is ‘outed’.

        Perhaps it’s because Mance would likely be the true candidate for a Targ king because Jon has taken the black. And after all, by popular opinions Jon just needs to be a promised prince, not a promised king.

        Just a far-fetched idea I’ve had.

        I also think Mance may know about R+L=J because I suspect Mance was interested in Jon for some time, perhaps a likely motive for his visit to Winterfell when Robert arrived in the first place.

  3. Annika

    I absolutely love this series of articles! They are incredibly well thought-out and I’m just perpetually amazed at everything you manage to put together, of all the connections between books and chapters. Incredible. You never cease to amaze me. 🙂
    Also, since you mentioned On A Misty Morn up there, I wrote the song and recorded it. I think it pretty much fits with everything you wrote around it. 🙂

    Keep up the incredible work!

    Reply
  4. AeroDoe

    What about the Estermont mother of Robert, Stannis and Renly? Was she cursed because she left her children to search for a good match for X (was it for Rhaegar?)? Did she possess Proudwing and that’s why she wouldn’t fly far from Stannis? We don’t get a pov for any of the Baratheon brothers, do we? In all seriousness, I want the Jenny is Mance’s mother to be true. It’s just that the draco root means dragon in English and Latin and Greek (spelled with a K, not C). The -rys is the fire qualifier. I think that’s why some of the names of Targaryens have -rys ending or a Rha, Rhy, Rae (also denote fire) beginning. The herb tarragon means dragon leaf or dragon breath or something, which might possibly mean that names like Aegon also have dragon as their root.

    Reply
  5. Bryan

    Just a thought love to hear ur opinion. Assuming Mance is a lost Targ prince he instantly becomes a serious contender to be tPtwP. I think back to the story of Rhaegar becoming a warrior. We’re told that Rhaegar was “bookish to a fault”, and like other bookish Targs (BR and Aerys I immediately come to mind) he had an obsession with prophecy. The story goes that Rhaegar read something in his scrolls that led him to initially believe he was tPtwP. We have no indication of what he read but I have a theory completely inspired by ur writing about Rhaegar’s harp, and like ur theory is completely based on conjecture and depending on the reader runs from certain truth to tinfoil. What if the scroll that sent Rhaegar on a warriors path pertained to music? Maybe fortelling of a future hero in the warrior bard vein. Anything remotely similar to that would certainly lead Rhaegar to see himself in the prophecy. His harp was his passion as u so expertly prove above. If I’m correct there’s a huge problem unbeknownst to Rhaegar. Again assuming ur postulation about Mance is correct Rhaegar wouldn’t be the only Targ to fit the warrior bard description. In fact Mance is the textbook example of warrior bard. I don’t think that’ll require citations for proof. Mance has always been presented to us as both a warrior and a musician from literally the moment we first laid eyes on him. I wish I had just a little textual reason to back this up, but I’m not sure I believe it myself. I do though believe that it’s as sound a guess as any other with so little proof available for any theory about this. There’s not even a commonly accepted theory as to what made Rhaegar seek training at arms. I think this guess is as likely as any I’ve heard. Whatcha think?

    Reply
  6. Lady Dyanna

    Looking at the fourth arrow… Since the possibility exists that Aegon VI actually didn’t die during RR, maybe it symbolizes the most recent Targaryan death, that of Viserys? Just struck me as similar to the description you provided.

    Also I just wanted to let you know that I just recently found your blog and have been greatly entertained reading your thoughts. Your obvious hard work is much appreciated! 😊

    Reply
  7. The Shameful Narcissist

    The black and red cloak that Mance has represents the Targaryen colors. Also the glass candles are fascinating. I can’t remember what side is represented by the blacks and the greens in the Princess and the Queen, but if the true Targs are blacks and the “false” ones are green then Jon, Dany, and Mance could be black while Aegon is green? I’m sure you’ve heard the “Faegon” theories by now. Also with the glass candles, the fact that there are four with one of different color I think heavily implies a reference to the candles on the Advent Wreath (three pink one purple…I hope I didn’t mix that up). ASOIAF’s overarching idea is the second coming, the prince that was promised come again, the prophesied savior. It’s an Advent story, but we know Martin loves playing with paradigms so I think we’ll definitely see false Advent paradigms manifest…and we have already with Stannis.

    Reply
  8. James

    I must say, I am incredibly impressed! These essays are all constructed using logic, sound reason, and restraint when necessary. Thank you for your hard work and attention to detail!

    If the central motif of “ghosts” in the ASOIAF world involves:

    The spirits of mothers who have abandoned their sons [and then] may linger in some sort of state of purgatory afterlife.

    And

    The manifestations of these possible spirits is often associated with rain or snow, wind, mist, the night air, and twilight.

    Then one additional example should also be mentioned:

    Alyssa’s Tears

    I understand that this is simply a waterfall, but once the story surrounding the cascade is analyzed, the parallels are undeniable.

    We are introduced to the waterfall in the following passage:

    “Looming over them all was the jagged peak called the Giant’s Lance, a mountain that even mountains looked up to, its head lost in icy mists three and a half miles above the valley floor. Over its massive western shoulder flowed the ghost torrent of Alyssa’s Tears. Even from this distance, Catelyn could make out the shining silver thread, bright against the dark stone.”

    A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.

    Not only should the close proximity of the words “ghost” and “tears” pique our interest, but this chapter is also told from the Catlyn perspective on her journey to the Eyrie with Tyrion whom she believes tried to kill her son…

    More on that line of thought shortly… But first we also get this additional description of Alyssa’s Tears… Along with the history behind the waterfall.

    “The eastern sky was rose and gold as the sun broke over the Vale of Arryn. Catelyn Stark watched the light spread, her hands resting on the delicate carved stone of the balustrade outside her window. Below her the world turned from black to indigo to green as dawn crept across fields and forests. Pale white mists rose off Alyssa’s Tears, where the ghost waters plunged over the shoulder of the mountain to begin their long tumble down the face of the Giant’s Lance. Catelyn could feel the faint touch of spray on her face.

    Alyssa Arryn had seen her husband, her brothers, and all her children slain, and yet in life she had never shed a tear. So in death, the gods had decreed that she would know no rest until her weeping watered the black earth of the Vale, where the men she had loved were buried. Alyssa had been dead six thousand years now, and still no drop of the torrent had ever reached the valley floor far below. Catelyn wondered how large a waterfall her own tears would make when she died.”

    A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.

    As pointed out in your essay, several of the themes established are reinforced in the above passage

    Dawn
    Rose and gold
    Black and green
    Mist
    Tears
    Ghosts
    The loss of children and
    A tower

    Interestingly enough, the only other time we see Alyssa’s Tears are seemingly from the exact same vantage point… But this time via a different, albeit, appropriate POV… Alayne:

    “The stone was cold beneath her feet, and the wind was blowing fiercely, as it always did up here, but the view made her forget all that for half a heartbeat.

    Maiden’s was the easternmost of the Eyrie’s seven slender towers, so she had the Vale before her, its forests and rivers and fields all hazy in the morning light. The way the sun was hitting the mountains made them look like solid gold.

    So lovely. The snow-clad summit of the Giant’s Lance loomed above her, an immensity of stone and ice that dwarfed the castle perched upon its shoulder. Icicles twenty feet long draped the lip of the precipice where Alyssa’s Tears fell in summer. A falcon soared above the frozen waterfall, blue wings spread wide against the morning sky. Would that I had wings as well.
    She rested her hands on the carved stone balustrade and made herself peer over the edge.”

    A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.

    Here we learn that this vantage point is actually in the Maiden’s Tower which seems very apropos. We also again receive similar textual clues including:

    Maidens Tower
    Dawn
    Wind
    Gold
    Ice

    The preceding passage also fits nicely since it is in the same chapter where Sweetrobin is complaining about Marillion’s posthumous singing…

    Although Alyssa’s Tears are not mentioned again, Alyssa is… During Tyrion’s trial by combat at the Eyre:

    “A bell tolled loudly below them. High lords and serving girls alike broke off what they were doing and moved to the balustrade. Below, two guardsmen in sky-blue cloaks led forth Tyrion Lannister. The Eyrie’s plump septon escorted him to the statue in the center of the garden, a weeping woman carved in veined white marble, no doubt meant to be Alyssa…”

    “The brief flurry of fighting ended as swiftly as it had begun when Bronn sidestepped and slid behind the statue of the weeping woman. Ser Vardis lunged at where he had been, striking a spark off the pale marble of Alyssa’s thigh…”

    “But Bronn jerked back. Jon Arryn’s beautiful engraved silver sword glanced off the marble elbow of the weeping woman and snapped clean a third of the way up the blade. Bronn put his shoulder into the statue’s back. The weathered likeness of Alyssa Arryn tottered and fell with a great crash, and Ser Vardis Egen went down beneath her…”

    A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.

    The passage above is interesting since Tyrion was on trial, in part, for his involvement in the assassination attempt upon Bran… An event that aligns nicely with the arguments presented in the essay… Further, due to the fact that the innocence of the accused (Tyron) during this trial is to be decided by the “gods”… Which is not that far from “ghosts” all things considered… It seems oddly fitting that the statue of Alyssa was pivotal in the outcome of the battle… Since we as readers know Tyrion was innocent of the charges levied against him…

    I’m sure there is much and more to this, but I figured I would throw out this example for further discussion.

    Once again, thank you for all you efforts, and I am excited to read through the remainder of your essays!

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      I always suspected Alyssa’s Tears would fit somewhere in here. Indeed, I believe I spent some time considering them as possibly being suited to Lysa’s ‘ghost’ until I felt that other possibilities existed. Thanks for the refreshing idea.

      Reply
  9. Cheryl Dow

    Have no idea if this is significant–but when I read your article and about the glass candles–green and black–what else is green and black? Tyrion Lannister’s eyes–one green and one black. . . . . . .

    Reply
  10. jesselandman

    I’m obsessed with trying to figure out the anagram of Mance’s name (which I 100% believe it to be). I went on a ‘Dayne’ expedition but your Valyrian idea got me going again on a different tangent… off I go digging!

    Reply
  11. Janice Hill

    About a week ago, I read your essay 1-and-a-half times and thought it was all over the place. But tonight, I read it again. Wow! First, I like that you’re quite clear that the theory “might be true” You don’t claim to be a magician who can see into Martin’s thoughts and know for sure what will happen. Second, it was painstakingly researched, and very carefully pieced together with solid textual evidence. Not every part of your long essay is airtight. The part about Bran and the bats isn’t linked back to your main argument as much as you need to. I’m just not seeing the connection. But most of it is compelling. That idea that Mance has Targaryan blood has been thoroughly discussed in many fan theories; if it’s true, fan’s have been right. But they assumed the wrong Targaryan. And where you picked up on Arya calling songs “stupid” and parts of Jenny’s song that may be coming up unidentified in the series is highly skillful analysis. I want it to be true just to know you got it right.

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      Fair question. It is based on the fact that the mountains of the Vale seem be infamous for their shadowcats. The idea here is that Arryn emerging to join the fight is like a shadowcat descending from the mountains to attack its prey.

      Granted I wrote this essay some time ago and I’m well aware that its pretty far-out in terms of its overall assertion about Mance. On the other hand I do think this essay’s constituent parts are all very interesting by themselves.

      Reply
      1. Illyrio Mo'Parties

        Oh sure. I always wondered whether, symbolically, a shadowcat was the same thing as a lion…

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