Lord Renly’s Magical Armor

In a recent brainwave, something occurred to me:

Renly Baratheon’s infamous green armor may have been magicked.

This is and will always be a hypothesis: I cannot prove it to you (heck I cannot prove it to myself). However, I do think I can get you to the point where it becomes a fascinating possibility.

To begin, it has never sat well with me how central Renly’s armor was to the victory on the Blackwater:

“Is it true that Stannis was put to rout by Renly’s ghost?”

Bronn smiled thinly. “From the winch towers, all we saw was banners in the mud and men throwing down their spears to run, but there’s hundreds in the pot shops and brothels who’ll tell you how they saw Lord Renly kill this one or that one. Most of Stannis’s host had been Renly’s to start, and they went right back over at the sight of him in that shiny green armor.”
— TYRION I, A STORM OF SWORDS

That’s a huge tactical change to hinge merely on a suit of armor. Furthermore, the armor appears to have a lustrous, ghostly quality to it.

“King Renly’s shade was seen as well,” the captain said, “slaying right and left as he led the lion lord’s van. It’s said his green armor took a ghostly glow from the wildfire, and his antlers ran with golden flames.”

Renly’s shade.
— DAVOS II, A STORM OF SWORDS

It’s incredibly conspicuous that the book describes the armor in terms of being Renly’s shade, or ghost. Why? Because that’s incredibly reminiscent of Rattleshirt’s bone armor—armor that Mance Rayder used with a glamor to disguise himself.

What comes to mind is something that Melisandre says with regards to such iconic garments:

“The bones help,” said Melisandre. “The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such things. A dead man’s boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man’s shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer’s essence does not change, only his seeming.”
— MELISANDRE, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

With this in mind, its entirely plausible that Renly’s iconic armor could have been enhanced with magic of some sort. But how? The answer to that lies in the of the craftsman who made Renly’s armor:

“I am Tobho Mott, my lord, please, please, put yourself at ease.” He wore a black velvet coat with hammers embroidered on the sleeves in silver thread. Around his neck was a heavy silver chain and a sapphire as large as a pigeon’s egg. “If you are in need of new arms for the Hand’s tourney, you have come to the right shop.” Ned did not bother to correct him. “My work is costly, and I make no apologies for that, my lord,” he said as he filled two matching silver goblets. “You will not find craftsmanship equal to mine anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms, I promise you. Visit every forge in King’s Landing if you like, and compare for yourself. Any village smith can hammer out a shirt of mail; my work is art.”

Ned sipped his wine and let the man go on. The Knight of Flowers bought all his armor here, Tobho boasted, and many high lords, the ones who knew fine steel, and even Lord Renly, the king’s own brother. Perhaps the Hand had seen Lord Renly’s new armor, the green plate with the golden antlers? No other armorer in the city could get that deep a green; he knew the secret of putting color in the steel itself, paint and enamel were the crutches of a journeyman. Or mayhaps the Hand wanted a blade? Tobho had learned to work Valyrian steel at the forges of Qohor as a boy. Only a man who knew the spells could take old weapons and forge them anew.
— EDDARD VI, A GAME OF THRONES

It’s all right there in the text:

  • Tobho Mott crafted Renly’s armor
  • Tobho Mott knows spells

I want to point out that Tobho also wears a gigantic gemstone necklace, much like Melisandre whom we know uses magic with armor.

Finally, Tobho even tries to coax Ned into buying from him with a peculiar offer:

“The direwolf is the sigil of House Stark, is it not? I could fashion a direwolf helm so real that children will run from you in the street,” he vowed.
— EDDARD VI, A GAME OF THRONES

Of course, to the casual reader this just seems like a talented armorer boasting of his craftsmanship. However… when you consider everything above, you have to wonder if there’s a little more than just art that goes into his work.

*   *   *

Given everything above, allow me to present my full hypothesis:

Renly’s armor was forged by Tobho Mott. Unlike Tobho’s offer to make fearsome armor for Ned, the armor he made for Renly was *magnificent* and *fearsome in battle*.

I believe these effects to be possibly magical, enhanced by Tobho’s knowledge of “spells”.

The idea that Renly would want a suit of armor that just inspired awe and loyalty in some and terror in others is wholly in line with the nature of his character. It makes sense.

As I said, I can’t prove any of this. I just hope to have shown the strongest case possible that there was more to Renly’s armor than meets the eye.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Lord Renly’s Magical Armor

  1. Riusma

    You forget that the armor show fate and destiny. ^^

    “Beside the entrance, the king’s armor stood sentry; a suit of forest-green plate, its fittings chased with gold, the helm crowned by a great rack of golden antlers. The steel was polished to such a high sheen that she could see her reflection in the breastplate, gazing back at her as if from the bottom of a deep green pond. The face of a drowned woman, Catelyn thought. Can you drown in grief?”

    [Note: if the armor was truly magical that was not enough against the Hound at the Hand’s tournament, and not enough against the blade of the shadow… perhaps more a ‘visual’ effect weaker than the one on Stannis’ Lightbringer]

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      Hey! Thanks for the reply.

      I definitely don’t mean to suggest that the armor had any sort of magical durability; it obviously lost a tine in the joust against the Hound, and the gorget was sliced liked butter by Stannis’s shadow. I only mean to highlight the mysterious—albeit cosmetic—effects the armor seems to exude. It seems wholly in-line with Renly’s character that he would love to own a suit of armor that helps to rally people to his cause and rout his foes.

      I forgot about the Catelyn bit. It’s interesting but I don’t know what to make of it, magical or otherwise. Symbolically you’re right, it certainly seems to foreshadow Catelyn’s fate. Magic? Maybe so.

      As I’ve written elsewhere a lot, I think Martin is a big fan of setting up these sorts of mysteries and just leaving them unsolvable on purpose; to make us think and wonder. It all goes back to his first novella “With Morning Comes Mistfall” in 1973, he’s always preferred mystery over outright answers.

      Reply
      1. Riusma

        Yes, I think it’s unsolvable on purpose, and with GRRM magic isn’t a bulletproof solution for solving problems (a literal magic sword is unlikely to be a solution for the “upcoming longnight”).

        There is also another magical “green” armor (in a scene which seems to be an illusion) for the record:

        “”We have knowledge to share with you,” said a warrior in shining emerald armor, “and magic weapons to arm you with. You have passed every trial. Now come and sit with us, and all your questions shall be answered.”” (Daenerys with the Undying ones) 😉

  2. Williamjames Hoffer

    “Around his neck was a heavy silver chain and a sapphire as large as a pigeon’s egg.” The sapphire could be significant if you buy into Yolkboy’s point about them being signifiers of deception. Love your work BTW. You have amazing insights into the materials.

    Reply
  3. Author

    I wonder if perhaps death by shadow baby could leave some residual magic lying around, if that makes sense? It’s an unconventional death, to say the least, and perhaps it has some kind of affect on the victim’s…soul, or energy, or something. A man has a right to vengeance…maybe death by shadow baby isn’t the perfect kill as we might be lead to believe (as in, you kill the person, but their specter lurks around and gets to mess you up in return).

    Reply
  4. lucifermeanslightbringer

    Hey Cantuse! There’s one other clue about this:

    “The king’s armor was a deep green, the green of leaves in a summer wood, so dark it drank the candlelight.” (ACOK, Catelyn)

    I’m not sure if you ever had time to check out my essays / podcast, but I have identified this “drinking the light” as an important key phrase, something like the opposite of “alive with light,” a description attributed to Dawn and the Wall and Stannis fake Lightbringer. Asshai drinks the light, the stone burnt black in the pit under the pyramid of Meereen drinks the light, the House of the Undying drinks the light, the black amethysts from Asshai in Sansa’s hairnet drink the moonlight, and Ned’s reforged swords drinks the sun and darkens the coloring from crimson to blood – and that’s Tobho again. The common thread here is shadow and magic, I believe. Tobho knows how to rework Valyrian steel, he knows spells, and Renly’s armor comes out drinking the light.

    Definitely possible that that armor is magic.

    Reply
  5. Preston Jacobs

    In Dying of the Light, GRRM spends a good deal of time describing glow stones – stones that drink light by the day and glow at night. I wonder if Renly’s armor was mixed with some of these stones making his armor glow in the dark. Of course, that doesn’t explain the antlers.

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      Funny you mention the glow stones. I’m not familiar with Dying of the Light, but I know that he describes Melisandre’s stone almost verbatim in that fashion during the Stannis-Renly meeting in ACOK. It’s hard to say if it means anything though… some times I think Martin *is* just plain guilty of reusing bits of prose.

      Reply
  6. DavetheWolf

    Damn that’s interesting. I always wondered if Rhaegar’s armor was magicked in some way also, I believed it was, but never made the link as to who might have made his armor. I thought some Red Priest might have glamoured Rhaegar’s armor but this changes things. Tobho probably crafted his armor and I think another might have worn it at the Ruby Ford. ASOIAF seems filled with examples of impostors in iconic armor, and well maybe that slightly leaves open the possibility of Rhaegar being alive.

    Reply
  7. Umar Mohammed

    If there is magic in the WOIAF, is it possible that Melisandre’s shadow baby that killed Renly was done with the cooperation of Tobho Mott, Thoros, and Melisandre? Is it likely that the hostility between Tobho and Thoros was feigned as they were both in service of the red god and wanted to keep it secret in King’s Landing? It might make sense if the magic armor Renly was wearing could be controlled by any of the servants of the lord of light. Just thinking.

    Reply

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