III. Now I am become Death: Legacy of a Toy Soldier

In Part 1 we talked about how the death’s Martin writes are consequential, and deal with the depersonalization of war. And in Part 2 we went over how R’hllor resurrection is essentially false, and discussed the glaring evidence that Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart, much like Coldhands, are being subconsciously animated by the Bloodraven, the Lord of Corpses. And we also talked about how Jon and Jaime have parallel crypt dreams, where something terrible is waiting for them in the darkness of death.

Remember how I said the second Act was the darkest? well I lied. This is going to be way, way darker. Most of you are not going to like this theory. You are going to have the urge to rage quite, call me crazy, and downvote. I only ask that you try to keep an open mind and remember that we’re just talking, and try your best to read the whole thing before forming an opinion. Just let the wave of horrible, devastating hype wash over you.


 

I’ll jump into your grave and die
And on my words you’ll give up your whole life for me
And you’ll be reborn bigger and stronger
and less alive…

– Laura Marling

 

Central Questions:

  1. What did it mean when Frodo claimed the Ring of Power?
  2. How will Jon be resurrected?
  3. What is Bran’s story really about?
  4. When Brandon Stark died, what happened to Ned?
  5. What is Azor Ahai?

 

The Ring is Mind

frodoring
The Ring effects Frodo more like crack than anything else, but it’s really supposed to be absolute power.

“You know what I’m saying, I love Tolkien. I want to stress that here because I don’t want to come across like I’m slamming him. But I am responding to him.” – GRRM, TIME

In Martin’s response to the Lord of the Rings, the parallels between Jon Snow and Aragorn are hard to ignore. Both are Northern Rangers and secret heirs to a seemingly severed line of kings. Both were fostered and both are being supported by a wizard during a time of war with a supernatural force. And both wield magic swords which can kill that which cannot be killed otherwise. They even look alike. And if Jon is King Aragorn, then Bran is Frodo, the Ring Bearer. Frodo who is plagued by visions and being carried on a secret quest, taking absolute power into the territory of the enemy to save all of mankind. Both characters at first wield this power accidentally, and it seems like no big deal, yet both eventually succumb to the temptation to wield it on purpose.

Bran’s version of the One Ring is his own telepathic power.

Yet the One Ring in LotR strongly evokes The Ring of Gyges, Plato’s allegory for absolute power, which in Tolkein’s view; “corrupts absolutely.” When Frodo reaches Mount Doom, he succumbs to the lure of the Ring of Power and claims the ring for himself. When Frodo put on the Ring, did he not symbolically succumb to the temptation of absolute power? Do we not all remember how devastating it was to witness Frodo finally reaching the end only to lose sight of himself and claim the Ring? Has Bran not also reached his own Mount Doom? Are Bran’s powers of mind control not also allegorical to absolute power? What does this all mean?

Well… something devastating.

BranWagsJon1
From the season 6 teaser. #theravenbringstheHYPE

I promised controversy at the beginning, and so let me come right out with some.

Whatever part of Jon’s consciousness that jumped into Ghost, is going to remain in Ghost for the remainder of the story. Yes, I don’t think that part of Jon will really make it back. I believe Ghost has been named Ghost because he will permanently act as the ghost of Jon. A second life worthy of a king. The shell for Jon’s Ghost.

There would be a second life worthy of a king. He could have done it, he did not doubt. The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it. – Varamyr, ADWD

Whatever part of Jon that jumped into Ghost was likely not all of him. It was his soul. It was his consciousness. But everything we know about warging indicates that it is a telepathic link. The warg’s consciousness enters the wolf, but they only bring so much of themselves. The reason they forget who they are over time is that memory is stored in the body. Each day of Jon’s second life inside Ghost, he will forget more and more of himself because the link to his memories is severed. His body is dead. He cannot access his memories.

healwayscomesback
What if this isn’t D&D making fun of plot armor? What if like “keep reading Samwell Tarley” and “You have no idea what people will do. All of your books and still you don’t know,” D&D are making fun of everyone’s presumption that anyone can really always come back.

 

Still Jon will be resurrected. The story demands it. But we remember Khal Drogo. We saw what life really means, when all else has gone. Jon needs more than a heartbeat.

 

Kill the Boy: The Abominable Snow Man Reborn

snow_3507981b
so very Christ-like…

The show will likely have Melisandre giving Jon the kiss of resurrection, which she specifically learned was possible from Thoros in season 3. But in the books, though it could be Melisandre, I strongly suspect it will be Lady Stoneheart, as I really doubt that spark of life will end with her. Catelyn rising from the dead isn’t likely meant to simply result in a face off with Jaime and Brienne, as undead Catelyn has been planned as early as Martin’s original trilogy pitch.

Jon’s resurrection isn’t happening right away. It’s likely not coming till the end of TWOW. Given the realization that Stannis is going to burn Shireen, we can actually plot out Jon’s path from death to resurrection. We can safely assume that if Melisandre were to bring Jon back to life, she would immediately see Jon as Azor Ahai reborn, and thus would have no reason to burn Shireen with Stannis. Meaning, Jon cannot be resurrected by, or in front of Melisandre, until AFTER she reaches Stannis and they burn Shireen.

 

Let me break it down step by step:
Step 1: After reading the Pink Letter to the Watch and announcing his intent to march on Winterfell, Jon is seemingly stabbed to death by the Night’s Watch in front of a rampaging Wun Wun. The Pink Letter is a lie, book Stannis is alive.

Step 2: Chaos ensues. The Watch has betrayed the Lord Commander who ensured the wildlings safety, and they believe Stannis to be dead and the Boltons to be making demands. The Watch are currently being threatened by the Boltons unless they give up (f)Arya, Selyse, Shireen, Melisandre, Val, Reek, and “Mance’s son“. Two of them they don’t even actually have.

Step 3: Selyse and Melisandre can no longer stay at the Wall, nor can Val and the wildlings. Stannis’ faction and the wildlings find common cause, leave the Wall, and take Jon’s body with them. We know this has to happen, because Stannis has to burn Shireen, and Stannis isn’t coming back to the Wall without taking Winterfell.

Step 4: Stannis battles the Bolton forces, likely with the aide of several Northern Houses, Mountain Clans, maybe the wildlings, and the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have likely moved on to the other perpetrators of the Red Wedding.

Step 5: Eventually Stannis and Melisandre burn Shireen. We know this will happen. It could be because the Wall has fallen and Others are coming, or it could be because the Northerners have betrayed Stannis. It could happen before taking Winterfell, but I suspect the burning will likely happen at Winterfell, maybe even the broken tower.

Step 6: Meanwhile Jon’s body will be brought to the crypts. With the Brotherhood at Winterfell, Lady Stoneheart, [who has Robb’s crown], goes into the crypts and crowns Jon before passing her life to him. He is now King in the North and Lord of Winterfell. A dragon has awoken from stone[heart]. Azor Ahai, the Son of Fire has been reborn. Is Lady Stoneheart his mother?

“Sometimes I think I was born on the bloody grass in that grove of ash, with the taste of fire in my mouth and a hole in my chest. Are you my mother, Thoros?” – Beric Dondarrion (Arya VII, ASOS)

Step 7: Jon is risen. It’s seen as a miracle by Stannis’ R’hllor worshiping followers, who proclaim him Azor Ahai. The wildlings also choose to follow Jon, as they also witnessed his death, and they follow strength. The Brotherhood without Banners are working with Howland Reed, and also among them is Lem Lemoncloak who knows R+L=J, and so they acknowledge Jon as the King they must serve. This is the beginning of the forces who will face the Others.

Step 8: Jon will be able to ride a dragon and the Free Folk will call him the Winged Wolf.

WAIT A SECOND

… isn’t Bran the Winged Wolf?

Just like Bloodraven is the one using his consciousness to animate Coldhands and Beric and Lady Stoneheart, Bran will be the one to animate Jon.

“lol ya right, tinfoil alert” – you, denial

I know you don’t believe me yet. Stay with me.

Bran’s mind will animate Jon and the dragon he rides. He will become Jon through the abomination of human skinchanging. The dragon has three heads. THREE. HEADS. And in doing so he will start to lose himself and become Jon. Not Jon’s personality, but his identity. His political function. His “destiny.” When the corpse of Lady Stoneheart passes her fire on to wake the corpse of Jon Snow, she will really be looking at her own Bran one last time.

This will mirror the events of Jon saying goodbye to a comatose Bran, and Catelyn remarking that it “should have been [Jon].” It’s not unlike the Dance of the Dragons actually, with Lady Stoneheart playing the part of Queen Alicent, Bran playing the part of Aegon II, and Jon playing the part of the motherless Rhaenyra. A Dance of the Wolves, if you will.

Azor Ahai is reborn from his own mother, taking her life.

Azor Ahai is an abomination.

If that sounds morbid that’s because it is. It’s all going to be incredibly morbid.
We’re all going to be like Sam:

ringon
This is your face while reading this essay.

Bran will become Jon, and Jon will be seen as Azor Ahai reborn. The Lightbringer. Yet Jon is dead, and Bran will have taken his place. The thing in the darkness in Jon and Jaime’s crypt dreams is in fact Bran the Body Statcher. That’s why in Jon’s first wolf dream which awakens his warging ability, the weirwood with Bran’s face smells of death. That’s why Jaime answers that the doom in the crypts is neither a bear nor a lion, but does not deny that it’s a direwolf. Because it is a wolf.

 

For Fear of the Big Bad Wolf

shaggydogcrypts

“he doesn’t like chains”- Rickon Stark AKA Thug #1

In part 2 I talked about how both Jon and Jaime have crypt dreams where they fear something waiting for them in the darkness of the crypts.  Using both crypt dreams to interpret each other we can see that the darkness of the crypts is death, as Jaime knows it to be his doom with certainty. And the thing waiting for them in the crypts? Well it’s shown to us in Bran VII, AGOT, when Bran, Osha, and Maester Luwin actually go into the crypts of Winterfell.


I dreamed about the crow again last night. The one with three eyes. He flew into my bedchamber and told me to come with him, so I did. We went down to the crypts. Father was there, and we talked. He was sad.”[…] “It was something to do about Jon, I think.” The dream had been deeply disturbing, more so than any of the other crow dreams. “Hodor won’t go down into the crypts.” – Bran VII, AGOT


After the execution of Eddard Stark, yet before finding out about it, Bran has a dream that the 3 Eyed Crow took him into the crypts where he spoke to his father, who was sad about Jon. It should be noted that Martin has specifically stated in an SSM that this is the only time that Hodor is afraid of the crypts.

[Maester Luwin] thrust his arm into the blackness inside the tomb, as into the mouth of some great beast. “Do you see? It’s quite empt—”

The darkness sprang at him, snarling.
Bran saw eyes like green fire, a flash of teeth, fur as black as the pit around them.
Maester Luwin yelled and threw up his hands. The torch went flying from his fingers,
caromed off the stone face of Brandon Stark, and tumbled to the statue’s feet, the flames
licking up his legs. In the drunken shifting torchlight, they saw Luwin struggling with

the direwolf, beating at his muzzle with one hand while the jaws closed on the other.” Bran VII, AGOT


Bran is instead carried by Osha, and they go to Eddard’s future tomb, and when Maester Luwin reaches into it, he is savaged by Shaggydog, who has been brought by Rickon, (who also dreamed their father, indicating that it may have actually been Ned’s consciousness). A wolf was in the crypts.
The thing in the darkness of the crypts is a wolf.

“That . . . that beast,” Luwin went on, “is supposed to be chained up in the kennels.” – Bran VII, AGOT


Summer gets Shaggydog off of him, and Maester Luwin comments that Shaggydog is supposed to be chained. But he’s now been unchained.


“I dreamed of a winged wolf bound to earth with grey stone chains,” he said. “It was a green dream, so I knew it was true. A crow was trying to peck through the chains, but the stone was too hard and his beak could only chip at them.” – Jojen Reed (Bran IV, ACOK)


 

When Jojen dreams of Bran, Bran is constantly depicted as a chained wolf. Until Jojen unchains him.
The wolf in the crypts is Bran.


“Bran,” the maester said firmly, “I know you mean well, but Shaggydog is too wild to run loose. I’m the third man he’s savaged. Give him the freedom of the castle and it’s only a question of time before he kills someone. The truth is hard, but the wolf has to be chained, or …”


 

Rickon remarks that he doesn’t like being chained. Luwin says that he is the third person Shaggydog has savaged. Luwin then tells Bran that the wolf must be chained, which Bran doesn’t like hearing.
Bran will seize the bodies of three people. Hodor is the first. Robert Strong (maybe Jaime) is the second. Jon is the third.

It should be no surprise that Bran is the the wolf in the darkness. Not only does Jon dream that BranTree™ likes darkness, and not only does Bloodraven keep Bran in darkness, and tell Bran that darkness will make him strong, but Bran literally hides in the crypts during ACOK.

BranWagsJonHYPE3
Seriously go back and watch the season 6 teaser. Just watch it.

Oiwho8a8UKSHNDKU NO, no no NO! No. that’s NOT what this story is Jon needs to find out his parentage and he needs to be himself so he can save the universe + have a happy ending and he is the main character  and he needs to slay the Night’s King + marry the Other Queen and be King and Sam will be Grand Maester and..” – you, anger

Resist the urge to rage quit. Resist. We’re just talking here. STAY WITH ME.

It’ll be better to flame me when you’re done reading.

 

You think it’s a coincidence, but you still don’t believe me. You aren’t ready to embrace the hype because the hype is an abomination.

So let’s keep going.

 

What if I told you, that Bran’s entire story has been setting this up?

Actually, what if I told you that the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire has been setting this up?

 

Let’s talk about Bran…

 

Bran the Body Snatcher

BranLord

A Song of Ice and Fire truly opens on Bran. After the prologue, it is Bran, not Ned, not Daenerys, and not Jon, who is our first POV character. Early in the story, Bran experiences a fall which changes his life, and from that moment forward Bran’s story becomes plagued with the fundamental power dynamic at the heart of Westeros.

“No one wants to hurt you, Hodor, he said silently, to the child-man whose flesh he’d taken. I just want to be strong again for a while. I’ll give it back, the way I always do.” – Bran, ADWD

Bran is an innocent, well meaning, high born boy who cannot be what he wants, unless he subjugates someone else.

What we also have in Bran, is a main character that not only has the capacity to warg another person, and not only has done it already, but who has every reason to want to do it to escape his disability.

You will never walk again, Bran,” the pale lips promised, “but you will fly.” – (Bran II, ADWD)

Despite the first quote, Bran continues to seize Hodor’s body and walk around in his skin.

Meera began to cry. Bran hated being crippled then. ‘Don’t cry,’ he said. He wanted to put his arms around her, hold her tight the way his mother used to hold him back at Winterfell when he’d hurt himself. She was right there, only a few feet from him, but so far out of reach it might have been a hundred leagues. To touch her he would need to pull himself along the ground with his hands, dragging his legs behind him. The floor was rough and uneven, and it would be slow going, full of scrapes and bumps. I could put on Hodor’ s skin, he thought. Hodor could hold her and pat her on the back. The thought made Bran feel strange…” – Bran, ADWD

Within the fandom we spend a lot of time talking about the inevitability of Bran warging a dragon, or Bran having a vision quest and revealing Jon’s parentage, as these are both satisfying things which are very very likely to happen. We want answers about Jon and we want to see Bran being a badass without it being at the expense of anyone we care about, so we have sort of accepted Bran’s story working around his handicap through becoming a “knight of the mind.” We spend more time thinking about how Bran can boost up Jon, and little time thinking about what Bran will do for himself.

Yet that is sort of ignoring Bran himself, and everything he wants in life. It’s sort of like how many fans expect Arya to lose her identity and become No One, until they actually start paying attention to the fact that everything about who Arya is and what she is thinking is telling us that she cannot give up her identity. Similarly, if we actually listen to Bran, he is sending us a very clear message that most of us aren’t listening to.

If I had a poleaxe with a big long haft, Hodor could be my legs. We could be a knight together. – (Bran VII, ACOK)

hodowned
Ser Hodor is metal as fuck.

SEE. EVERYONE PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT BRAN IS SAYING.

OR ELSE.

“… sooner die than live like that,” muttered one, his father’s namesake Eddard, and his brother Torrhen said likely the boy was broken inside as well as out, too craven to take his own life.

 

It’s really heart breaking. Bran is totally obsessed with knights, and knights are mentioned constantly in Bran’s chapters. Before his fall being a knight was all Bran ever dreamed of, and before his fall he was going to go to King’s Landing with his father and squire for his hero Ser Barristan the Bold. Even up until now, Bran has never really let go of that hope.

In case you felt like having a good cry, here is every mention of knights in Bran’s chapters.

Yes, Bran is being trained to be a tree person, and yes he will probably be able to warg a dragon at some point. But these things parallel Arya’s training to become a Faceless Man. They aren’t what the kid really wants. Likely due to Bran’s age, the show doesn’t continually emphasize this as much (though the show pretty much has had Jojen spell out that Bran is chosen to stop the Others, and pretty much everyone ignores this scene completely because Jon isn’t in it), but a big part of Bran’s story revolves around escapism and feelings in inadequacy resulting from his disability. In Westeros, particularly among the more martial culture, a cripple boy is essentially seen as a waste of life, and Bran is actually called a coward by the other kids for not having killed himself already. He can neither be a knight, nor produce an heir, nor join the Watch let alone the Kingsguard, nor be a normal person.

Branratherbedead
JON IS DEAD. WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE, BUT RISES

Bran doesn’t truly want to be a a tree. Bran doesn’t want to be his broken self. Bran doesn’t even really want to be Hodor.

Bran wants to be a knight.

“All the tales agreed that the green men had strange magic powers. Maybe they could help him walk again, even turn him into a knight. They turned the little crannogman into a knight, even if it was only for a day, he thought. A day would be enough.” – Bran, ASOS

Bran wants to be a hero.

“I’d sooner be a wolf. Then I could live in the wood and sleep when I wanted, and I could find Arya and Sansa. I’d smell where they were and go save them, and when Robb went to battle I’d fight beside him like Grey Wind. I’d tear out the Kingslayer’s throat with my teeth, rip, and then the war would be over and everyone would come back to Winterfell. If I was a wolf . . .” He howled. “Ooo-ooo-oooooooooooo.” – Bran I, ACOK

Bran wants to be with Meera.

Part of him wanted to shout at [Jojen and Meera] for leaving him, and another part wanted to cry. He was almost a man grown, though, so he said nothing. But after they were gone, he slipped inside Hodor’s skin and followed them.” – Bran, ADWD

Bran wants to not be broken anymore.

“What was he now? Only Bran the broken boy, Brandon of House Stark, prince of a lost kingdom, lord of a burned castle, heir to ruins. He had thought the three-eyed crow would be a sorcerer, a wise old wizard who could fix his legs, but that was some stupid child’s dream, he realized now. I am too old for such fancies, he told himself. A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. That was as good as being a knight. Almost as good, anyway.” – Bran, ADWD

Unfortunately for Bran, not being broken anymore comes at a terrible cost. The cost of violating another person’s agency, subjugating another person, and losing himself. Bran’s abilities are Martin’s version of the Ring of Power, and serve as an allegory for power at it’s most basic. I have to hand it to GRRM, as the relationship between Bran and Hodor is a microcosm of feudal power dynamics, and perhaps the most empathetic possible illustration we could have gotten of the relationship between the ruling class and their subjects. Bran is a kind hearted boy of privilege and the best possible representation of the ruling class, and Hodor is a simpleton without education or ambition who could accomplish nothing on his own. Bran needs Hodor’s services for the most sincere of reasons, but it still requires the subjugation of Hodor’s will. Yet we have to wonder if Bran’s possession of simple Hodor is not often times for the greater good.

azorahailaying
KILL THE BOY. WAKE THE DRAGON. BRING THE HYPE.

Abomination, abomination, abomination. To eat of human meat was abomination, to mate as wolf with wolf was abomination, and to seize the body of another man was the worst abomination of all. Haggon was weak, afraid of his own power. He died weeping and alone when I ripped his second life from him.” – Prologue, ADWD

But it’s not going to stop at Hodor. In fact, I strongly believe that Varamyr and Haggon parallel Bran and Jon here. Jon/Haggon resists their power, and Bran/Varamyr exult in it. It’s funny that I’ve seen people suggest that Bran will play Jon’s Nissa Nissa, but Bran’s entire story has been filled with people being sacrificed for him. The Miller’s boys die in Bran’s place. Bran has likely eaten human meat passed off as pig and even later Jojen (Jojenpaste) to help awaken his powers. And in Bran’s very last scene in ADWD, Bran tastes the blood of a human sacrifice.

“And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.” Bran III, ADWD

 

I know. You still don’t believe me. You’re thinking:

“FINE! Bran wants to be someone else, or a knight or whatever… But Bran and Jon both have their own stories to live out! Jon has to save the world, and Bran has to… give exposition about Jon… maybe he can warg Robert Strong or something? … someone less important. Not Jon. Anyone but Jon.” – you, bargaining

But I suspect it has to be Jon. It being Jon may be the whole point.

Passing On: The Ultimate Hand-Me-Down

gotfirstshot
The very first shot of Bran, Jon, and Robb. Two of these characters are dead.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

– William Shakespeare

When Brandon Stark rode off to challenge the crowned Prince and was subsequently executed by the Mad King, what happened to Ned? Well, Ned was sentenced to death for Brandon’s crime. Ned marched off to fight Brandon’s war. Ned went to Riverrun to marry Brandon’s fiancé. Ned found Lyanna on Brandon’s behalf. And Ned became Lord of Winterfell in Brandon’s place.

“Brandon had been twenty when he died, strangled by order of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen only a few short days before he was to wed Catelyn Tully of Riverrun. His father had been forced to watch him die. He was the true heir, the eldest, born to rule.” – (Eddard I, AGOT)

Ned became his older brother.

Not his brother’s personality. Not his love of horseback riding or womanizing tendencies. Not his brother’s soul or humanity. Not the things of Brandon which really made him Brandon on a personal level. But a shell of Brandon. He took on Brandon’s sociopolitical and military function. Whatever hopes or dreams or plans Ned had in life, be they to win the heart of Ashara Dayne or what have you, none of that mattered anymore. The world and the war needed an heir to Winterfell, and Ned had no choice but to play the part.

And now the Westeros “needs” Bran’s dead “brother” to be “Azor Ahai.

RenlyShade
Renly’s Ghost at the Blackwater. #GhostintheShell

What did Garlan Tyrell do when Renly Baratheon died and the Tyrells went to fight at the Blackwater? Did he not put on Renly’s armor and march in to battle, confusing Stannis’ troops? It didn’t matter that Garlan was not really Renly. The battle didn’t need Renly’s soul or his humor. It didn’t need Renly’s personality or his personhood. War doesn’t care about your soul. The battle needed a shell of Renly in the most literal sense, and it worked. Garlan played the part, and “Renly’s Shade” was among the great heroes of the battle.

When Jon Arryn dies, Ned is pushed to leave his home and his family to take over for his mentor as Hand (though to be fair Ned also wanted to solve the murder). When Ned left Winterfell, Robb did his best to emulate his lord father. When Robb marched off to war, Bran did his best to emulate his oldest brother as Lord of Winterfell (which technically, Bran is still the rightful Lord of Winterfell).

That night she dreamt that she was Rhaegar, riding to the Trident. But she was mounted on a dragon, not a horse. When she saw the Usurper’s rebel host across the river they were armored all in ice, but she bathed them in dragonfire and they melted away like dew and turned the Trident into a torrent. Some small part of her knew that she was dreaming, but another part exulted. This is how it was meant to be. The other was a nightmare, and I have only now awakened.” – Daenerys III, ASOS

Then there is Daenerys. Daenerys is all about taking up the cause of the dead. When Viserys dies she takes to pushing Drogo to war. Her brother Rhaegar “The Last Dragon” was obsessed with abstract prophecies and being or creating a messiah figure. And Dany repeatedly dreams herself in Rhaegar’s armor, and becomes “the Last Dragon” herself. When her husband and son dies, she takes up their roles as well. She tries to lead Drogo’s khalasar, and in place of her stillborn son Rhaego, Dany seems set up to become The Stallion That Mounts The World.

Perhaps some small part of Bran will know he is dreaming too. But will he want to wake up?

“Aegon has been shaped for rule before he could walk. He has been trained in arms, as befits a knight to be, but that was not the end of his education. He reads and writes, he speaks several tongues, he has studied history and law and poetry [….] Tommen has been taught that kingship is his right. Aegon knows kingship is his duty, that a king must put his people first, and live and rule for them.” – Varys (Epilogue, ADWD)

What has Varys done in response to baby Aegon’s apparent death? Has he not prepared a lookalike and indoctrinated him with the belief he is Rhaegar’s [dead] son to lead an invasion and reclaim Aegon’s throne? Is Young Griff not living out a dead boy’s life? Sure it may offer more glory than any life he could have hoped for as whoever he really was, but the same could be said about the life of a cripple. The point stands that Young Griff has been made to live out someone else’ life because a political cause needed him to.

And what of King Tommen?

bran-and-BR
when one king dies…

I think it’s funny that in all the talk of “bad poosay” and “20 goodmen,” there has been next to no discussion on this incredibly significant season 5 scene on Tommen and Margaery’s wedding night.

Tommen: King Tommen… still sounds strange to me. Does Queen Margaery sound strange to you?
Margaery: So strange… husband.
Tommen: Wife. [both laugh]
Tommen: Sometimes it feels odd. I’m the king. I’ve married the most beautiful woman in the world. And it’s all because my brother died.

Margaery: I understand, but it’s not your fault. You know that, don’t you? You mustn’t feel guilty.
Tommen: I don’t feel guilty. That’s what’s odd.

Besides showing us that Tommen in fact knew his brother was awful, the boy King is making an astute observation about the nature of feudalism. Before Joffrey’s funeral was even over, Tywin began grooming Tommen to take his brother’s place. Like Ned, the feudal order has required that Tommen jump into the life that was meant for his older brother, and he is reflecting on his own lack of guilt over it. Now this is a significant realization, and considering how naive and simple Tommen is, we can only assume that having sex with Natalie Dormer completely blew Tommen’s mind.

 

natalie-dormer-game-of-thrones-wallpaper-1
I’m surprised Tommen didn’t kill Joffrey himself. #worthit

I believe that this dialogue is not simply about Tommen, nor about Jon and Robb, but is foreshadowing the big twist with Bran. Not only are the parallels set up between Tommen and Bran, but it’s Bran, not Jon who has survived his two brothers, and is most set up to jump into the life of another person.

“At Winterfell Tommen fought my brother Bran with wooden swords. He wore so much padding he looked like a stuffed goose. Bran knocked him to the ground.” Jon went to the window. “Yet Bran’s dead, and pudgy pink-faced Tommen is sitting on the Iron Throne, with a crown nestled amongst his golden curls.”

For Bran it’s really the same, (unfortunately for Bran he gets a magic tree rather than Natalie Dormer, as if he hasn’t suffered enough…) It should be abundantly clear that Bran doesn’t actually like his life, or having to be himself. He doesn’t like being under the tree with the rotting Bloodraven. He doesn’t like being broken. He doesn’t like being left behind. He doesn’t like being Bran. He wants to be a knight. He wants to be a hero.

Someone like Jon. Someone like Azor Ahai.

Bran’s older brother has just died when the Realm needed him most (or at least, that’s how it’s been set up). But the Realm doesn’t need Jon’s personality. Not his insecurity. Not his humanity. Not his love for Ygritte, or his guilt over her death, or his friendship with Samwell Tarly. The Realm doesn’t need him to have a sweet reunion with Arya. Westeros needs someone to fulfill a political and military function. To be a symbol, a hero, a messiah, a Prince That Was Promised. But not to be a person.

This is what society, and more specifically war, does to people.

War, like feudalism, is inherently depersonalizing. It reduces people to their military and political function. When one soldier, lord, or king dies, the next person in line takes their place, and carries on the charade. It makes us question who is really driving society when the kings and leaders are themselves being played by their own game. We often look at Kings and Presidents as being these all powerful puppet masters, but people become slaves to their political power, and all of the responsibility and history they are bound to. It’s as if the strongs between puppet masters and their puppets work both ways.

Perhaps it’s not really about pawns and players. Perhaps we don’t play the game. Perhaps the game plays us.

Well, he will not want it said that Stannis rode to the defense of the realm whilst King Tommen was playing with his toys. – Samwell I, AFFC

Thus the War for the Dawn needs Jon to be reborn amidst salt and smoke, and consequently convince mankind he is their savior, but not to be whole or happy. It needs him to declare the political implications of his true parentage, but not for him to deal with the painful realization that he is adopted and never even knew his real parents. The War needs him to ride a dragon as if he and it are of one mind. Not for the joy of flight, but to kill things. The War needs him to marry Daenerys to unite the Kingdoms, but not to genuinely experience love or joy. The War for the Dawn needs Jon, but it doesn’t need Jon.

“but…. but Jon is the song of ice and fire…” – you, sad

To that I’ll just say that if you insist upon the symbolism that Jon is the song, then the song needs someone else to sing it. Jon is the dream, and Bran is the dreamer. Also I’d say that Bran dreamed he was the comet of burning ice way back in book 1. Anyways…

The War for the Dawn needs it’s Azor Ahai. And what is Azor Ahai but a symbol? A legacy? A vicarious fantasy? A child’s toy?

 

War In Heaven

kalki_avatar_slaying_demons_by_fridolinfroehlich-d3gr9zp
Lord Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of the Lord Vishnu and harbinger of the end times. Come with his blazing sword to slay demons and replace Kali Yuga (the Age of Vice) with Satya Yuga (the Age of Truth) in which mankind is governed by the gods. 

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

– J. Oppenheimer,

(from The Bhaghavad Gita)

Remember, Martin has a very cynical outlook on war. And war heroes are in no way exempt from that cynicism. See: ‘The Hero’ by GRRM.

All of that dialogue about losing oneself inside a wolf wasn’t foreshadowing Jon struggling to remember himself inside Ghost. It was foreshadowing Bran’s struggle not to lose himself in Jon.

Jojen: Summer was eating. You’re body can’t live on the food your wolf consumes. Spending too much time in Summer’s skin is dangerous. You’re not a direwolf Bran. It must be glorious though. To run. To leap. To hunt. To be whole. I know it’s tempting, but if you’re trapped in Summer for too long, you’d forget what it was to be human.

Meera: You’d forget us Bran. You’d forget your mother and father, you’d forget your brothers and sisters, you’d forget Winterfell. You’d forget you. And if we lose you, we lose everything.

– S4Ep2, written by GRRM

Look at it this way. Jon’s struggle not to lose himself inside Ghost, though internal, is really totally dependent upon what is external. It’s merely a question of whether or not Jon remembers being Jon long enough till someone can work their resurrection magic. Jon doesn’t actually want to be a wolf. It’s forced upon him by death.

You have to wake, he would tell himself, you have to wake right now, or you’ll go dreaming into death. Once or twice he pinched his arm with his fingers, really hard, but the only thing that did was make his arm hurt. In the beginning he had tried to count the days by making note of when he woke and slept, but down here sleeping and waking had a way of melting into one another. Dreams became lessons, lessons became dreams, things happened all at once or not at all. Had he done that or only dreamed it?” – Bran III, ADWD

Bran’s struggle to remember himself while playing Azor Ahai is genuinely internal. It’s not just an arbitrary question of how long he is stuck in Jon before a wizard pulls him out, but rather it’s a question of whether Bran even wants to come out at all. Is there any reason for Bran to want to go back to being Bran the Broken? Is there any reason for him to want to wake up from his hero dream? from being the knight who slays the monsters?

BONUS Show Prediction: We are not going to get a scene where Bran, having witnessed the reveal of Jon’s parentage at the Tower of Joy then explains it to Jon. S6Ep1 ‘The Red Woman’ ended with Melisandre staring into the mirror, taking off her glamor, and looking at her true self, an old feeble woman. I predict that Jon will be resurrected and we won’t actually know that it’s Bran who is animating him. Jon will fight against the Boltons in the much anticipated Battle of Snow, and take Winterfell. There, in the season finale, hoping to pocket himself a claimant to the throne, Littlefinger will approach Jon in the Godswood to reveal Jon’s true parentage. To Littlefinger’s surprise, Jon will say that he already knows. Later, like Atreyu staring into the Magic Mirror Gate, Jon will stare at his reflection to reveal Bran Stark. His true self is a crippled boy.

jonsnowseason6
A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises! Ride now!… Ride now! Ride! Ride to ruin, and the world’s ending! Death! Death! DEATH!

Yet we really have to ask ourselves, when Jon is resurrected, who will that person be? will it be Bran? will it be Jon? is it Bran playing Jon? is it both? is it like the Father, Son ,and Holy Ghost? is it neither? is it Azor Ahai? It’s like asking ourselves who is Bran when he wargs Summer? (furthermore, for everyone wondering how a formerly crippled 10 year old will fight a war, I’d argue he will do it as seamlessly as he becomes a direwolf with absolutely no learning curve.) But is he still himself if he is in another body, with the instincts and impulses of another body? if he has the memories of another man? if he can’t really remember himself? if he is slowly losing himself in a child’s fantasy? in living out a game of toy knights?

burning skeleton
A sword day… a red day… ere the sun rises! Ride now!…. Ride now! Ride! Ride to ruin, and the world’s ending! Death! Death! DEATH!!!

And that’s all Azor Ahai is isn’t it? a fantasy. A story we tell ourselves over and over until we forget that it’s a lie. That it’s hollow, empty propaganda. Just like the War for the Dawn. The dead leading the living against the living leading the dead. A war on earth between the forces of heaven and hell. And which side are we? Which side, are we?

“Maester Aemon, wake up.”

Aemon’s blind white eyes came open. “Egg?” he said, as the rain streamed down his cheeks. “Egg, I dreamed that I was old.” – (Samwell I, AFFC)

I don’t think we really know. But I suspect that like Bran Stark, we can either go dreaming into death, or we can wake up.


 

In Review

  1. What did it mean when Frodo claimed the Ring of Power?
    – Symbolically it meant succumbing to temptation and claiming absolute power. The power of Kings.
  2. How will Jon be resurrected?
    – Lady Stoneheart will pass on her life force to him like Beric before her. Bran will animate Jon through the power of human skinchanging. 
  3. What is Bran’s story really about?
    – Escapism and feelings of inadequacy. All Bran ever dreamed of was being a knight, but now through no fault of his own he cannot even be a normal person. The only way out for Bran is seemingly by subjugating someone else.
  4. When Brandon Stark died, what happened to Ned?
    – War and the feudal order demanded that Ned jump into his brother’s life, becoming a shell of his brother. Ned became Brandon. This de personalizing nature of succession and war is a theme throughout the story, from Renly’s Ghost, to (f)Aegon, to Daenerys, and next to Bran.
  5. What is Azor Ahai?
    – An abomination of human skinchanging. A human weapon of war. A symbol. The burning dead leading the living against the frozen living leading the dead. A fiery corpse riding to death, and the world’s ending. A child’s toy living out a hero fantasy. 

 


 

Whether I’m right about any of this or wrong about all of it, thanks for reading.
Play us out Laura Marling…


 

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38 thoughts on “III. Now I am become Death: Legacy of a Toy Soldier

  1. Absolutely wonderful essay here. I am truly afraid that you have spoiled the biggest twist in the series for me right now.

    While I was reading through your analysis, I wondered if the same was bound to happen to that other character perceived to have plot armor and a hero complex: Daenerys.

    I can imagine this as the very last chapter in ADOS, happening after BranJon and Daenerys are married claimed as King and Queen. During the bedding, BranJon chokes Daenerys to death and Bloodraven wargs into her permanently, making sure she won’t be a loose cannon or try to redirect her kingdom into wasting time abolishing Essosi slavery. It would be the perfect ending to sum up what had defined ASOIAF from the beginning: sex, violence, tragedy, politics, betrayal, the death of a main character and a significant wedding. In fact, if this ever happens, call it the White Wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make a couple of fair points concerning Bran, but I tend not to trust analyses on Jon that don’t take into account R + L = Lightbringer, specially part II where all the parallels between Jon and Mithras appear, as well as the references to Catharism and Zoroastrianism (just as GRRM keeps teasing in his SPM).

    If you don’t know it yet,you ought to read it. It may even complement your essay in some ways, and inspire you to make a fourth part . Just the title says a lot if you think about the consequences of your own conclusions. Here’s the link to part 2, just scroll a bit on page 7:

    http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/103266-r-l-lightbringer-updated-with-part-ii/&do=findComment&comment=5468583

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  3. Great theory. Maybe the best one I’ve read yet, honestly.

    In a theory this brilliant, I was surprised to see a reference to Jojen paste, as I have long since filed the Jojen paste theory under “crackpot”, far far away from Frey pies and Brienne of Tall. Is there actually some Jojen meat on that bone? Got a link or an argument as convincing as this series was?

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  4. I just wanted to say 2 things:

    1- HOLY SHIT. This theory is amazing, I liked it a lot. And the best thing about it is taht we will probably know if it is confirmed at the end of the season.

    2- With all this talk about dreams, it just came to me, the last book is supposed to be called A Dream of Spring. I just wanted to leave this addendum.

    Once again, really good theory. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was fascinated and horrified at reading this, as I am a Jon Snow fan, that said, Jon Snow is dead. I have no idea if Jon’s Targaryen blood will play a part in this, but there is no getting away from the fact that Martin did indeed kill his darling(and mine the bastard lol) and now I’ll get to my point. In Season Five where Shireen tells Davos the story of the Knight, the shield and the dragon, I never understood that story, until now, perhaps. Though the Knight shines his shield like a mirror the dragon is not fooled and the Knight is burnt to death….So my question is, though Bran may try and be Jon he simply is not, no matter how hard he tries, he is Bran, he is not Jon.

    Bran also has no military training, therefore how can he take over Jon’s body, make battle decisions, fight like a warrior when he has had almost no training to do so? If Bran does this, then will the Nights King win in the end, because Bran simply does not know how to fight him?

    It is one thing to see into the past, the present & the future & quite another to take over his brother’s body without Jon’s experience as a Commander or have Jon’s military knowledge? Or does Bran gain Jon’s mind? If not, then I cannot see how a boy can beat the Nights King and become Azor Ahai…..Am I making sense here? Thanks:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fascinated and horrified is what I was going for, so whether I’m right or wrong I’m glad I’ve opened up a discussion for such a bizarre theory.

      But in terms of Bran’s ability to emulate Jon, I would point you to read Bran and Arya’s wolf dreams. When Bran and Arya become Summer and Nymeria, they don’t think of themselves as Bran and Arya, and they don’t need reintroduced to everything. They are in the minds of wolves, and they are immediately able to do everything that a wolf can. They know their pack, they know how to hunt, and leap, and navigate their surroundings.

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      1. I get your point, but entering a wolf who relies on its instincts and entering another human being is quite a different matter. Bran is able to warg into Hodor because he is feeble minded, but Hodor doesn’t like it & lets Bran know. We know Jon is dead, therefore his ability to comprehend facts and make decisions is gone & if Jon’s conscience mind has gone into Ghost, then Jon himself is simply an empty shell. Bran may be able to re-animate Jon’s body, but will he also gain the knowledge that Jon had acquired at Winterfell and as Lord Commander? I doubt it.

        Bran has no experience at warfare, I doubt he even knows how to hold a sword properly, let alone lead an army against the Nights King and the Wights. I know if Bran does this, then he will forget he is Bran, but he is also not Jon as Jon’s conscience mind is gone….Unless it is Bloodraven who takes over Jon’s body. Brynden Rivers has fought in a war & one on one combat, he is a battle hardened Commander & he knows how to fight, though his preferred weapon is the arrow(I think?).

        Perhaps rather than Bran taking over Jon’s body, it will be Bloodraven? What do you think?

        BTW: You have come up with an absolutely brilliant theory, even though deep down, I hate it! lol

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      2. I don’t see a reply button under Marie’s reply to this reply, so replying here. “Know how to hunt…navigate their surroundings” and “know their pack” directly prove Bran would know what Jon knows and remember what he remembers if the rest of this theory proves accurate. Further evidence is found in Arya. Arya gets some memories just by putting on someone’s face long after that person has died and that’s just a face. I think slipping into Hodor might be hiding what Bran can do as a human skin changer. Hodor may not have much in the way of knowledge or memories for Bran to take note of (plus, Hodor ‘hides’ deep in his own subconscious when Bran is in there, basically making room in his body but trying to keep his mind and Bran’s from mixing).

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    2. I really enjoyed reading this theory too but I was thinking the same thing. Though the world needs Jon as a shell to save the world and what not, Jon is still the leader. Jon was able to convince the wildlings to move south, Jon became lord commander. Bran has been scared ever since he was a child. He couldn’t look at Ned killing someone and even on the trip to the wall, the wildling was being the leader not Bran. To save the world from the others, the world needs a leader and Bran simply isn’t.

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      1. I think you may be underestimating Bran, and overestimating Jon. Bran is able to take on abilities and skills of the beings he skinchanges, as each vessel he takes on contains the vessel’s memories.

        On the other hand, Jon is actually young himself, and far from being the best leader in Westeros. People tend to presume that Jon is going to stop the Others, and it’s going to be because he is the single best leader in the Seven Kingdoms. But even Jon has been helped along at every step of the way by those around him, and he is still a teenager. he would not have been elected without Samwell, and he would not have risen to the status he was if he had not been set up to save Mormont in AGOT, (which frankly, Ghost did most of the work, and Mormont’s raven told him what to do.) Even peace with the Wildlings came with the help of Stannis. Then Jon ended up getting himself killed because he wasn’t able to pick his battles as a leader and pick up on unrest among his own men.

        Jon is a really good leader for his age, but there are better leaders than Jon.

        I don’t think it’s about who is the best leader at all. I think it’s about a leader who is able to inspire people through supernatural means, and able to listen to talented advisors. Bran has the omniscience of the Weirwoods, and the wisdom of the Old Gods.

        In terms of his magical abilities, Bran is simply more powerful than Jon. Like Varamyr compared to Haggon.

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  6. I like this theory, but got a few questions:

    1) What exactly is Dany and Tyrions part in this story?
    2) Who are the white walkers and what do they want?
    3) Any thoughts on how it will all end?
    4) If Bran is reanimating Jon, how does he do that if he also does other things? And if Bran is controling Jons corpse, how will he learn all the fighting skills?
    5) Any thoughts on this theory? https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/23p48r/the_true_nature_and_purpose_of_the_others_and_the/

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    1. 1.) I don’t think this necessarily changes anything about Dany or Tyrion. Dany will still invade Westeros and eventually likely be faced with the Others, while Tyrion will probably still be a part of that, though I suspect some vengeance in Tyrion’s future.
      2.) You should check out my Cold War essay series! I wrote a series on this.
      3.) Sort of, but nothing concrete. I think it could go a few ways.
      4.) I think the quote there at the end foreshadows a blurring between Bran’s waking life and his dreaming life. When UnJon sleeps, Bran will wake, and when Bran sleeps UnJon will wake.
      5.) I have read it. I have my own series on the Others. That said, I think if anyone is marrying an Other it’s Dany.

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  7. I hate to be that guy, but after reading the comments I figured you might be a bit disappointed if nobody flamed you for your crackpot theories. So, here goes:

    You suck. You’re completely wrong, you just want to make us unhappy, Jon will live and climb the iron throne and marry Dany and Bran will be heir to Winterfell and Meera will give him sons and you will sink into the abyss of the internet or will be remembered as the crackpot who read the books while on shrooms! Get a life you fucking nerd!

    You’re welcome.
    (Personally, I loved the essay, I think your reasoning is sound and if that actually happens – holy brilliance Batman!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes! We came to the same freakin conclusions pretty much (Jon is Bran’s new home; Jon is dead; I just ask “what does death mean in current Westeros really?” (With the faces having memories, like weirwoods).

    Of course I struggle fitting Dany in anywhere; I’m stuck in Essos with her no matter which way I turn, though she should at least hit KL.

    Regardless, very enjoyable! Wrote this last night when I was checking my blogs. Still loving that GIF!

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  9. Wonderful theory…. but…. let us pretend Bran does enter Jon and take over his reaninated corpse. How does that stop Jon’s consciousness (hiding out in Ghost) from reentering his body at some point? Obviously Bran would like to play Lord Commander, but if he senses Jon trying to return wouldn’t he back off? Am I missing something fundamental that would disallow this? Jon can warg. If he made it to the dire wolf he could probably get back to his body or am I forgetting something from Varamyr’s chapter and how the Second Life works? (Even if there is a rule that you cannot take another body after losing your original body, perhaps this changes if your original body is brought back… I doubt such a case comes up very often where it gets tested and we have a definitive yay or nay to that type of move)… just saying it is a unique situation. Technically it is his original body….

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    1. Or what if GhostJon gets super pissed that his body is walking around without his permission, and attacks him eventually? If Jon is in Ghost and Bran is in Jon, will GhostJon be aware of what is going on?

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  10. I read another theory a while ago, that made parallels with ASOIAF and the Ragnarok. Essentially the theory read that the Starks were the real Vilans of the story, and the final confrontation was between the living and the dead ( users of magic) I’m not nessecarily sold on your theory, but I think it holds up.

    Blood Raven essentially hijacking the wildling army and having them invade for the walkers as a vanguard seems to make sense.

    I’m still sticking with the theories that Tyrion = TPTWP and Jamie = AA for now

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  11. Awesome collection of essays. It definitely seems Martin is going to throw some twists in that could Be a lot like this, so I could see this happening. Your ideas also seem to link in with the whole Ragnarok theory that a few people have mentioned, in which bloodraven/children of the forest/weirwoodnet manipulate the forces of ice and fire to his/its own end and probably attempt to destroy mankind.

    One question, do you see bloodraven completing his plans , or do you think someone will stop him, and if yes who and how?

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  12. -Warning: bad english-

    Brilliant work, but I think I’ve found a flaw. You say:
    “(Bran) is most set up to jump into the life of another person.”
    Jon Snow is DEAD. There’s no “life” to live here.
    And while warging is the main point of your essay, we have no examples of warging dead corpses: Thistle, wolves, eagles, Hodor, they’re all alive when warged.
    The only example of resurrections from the dead we have are: wights (but we don’t know if they’re warged or a sort of automat killers), and Beric/SH, which are NOT warged but remain in control of themselves -while changed in personality-.
    Of course D&D can do everything they want, but this business of “stealing” a dead corpse inhabited by nobody is something new and never happened before. Also, we know a warg can’t go back in his dead body (right because it’s dead), so I don’t understand how Bran could do it.

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    1. Barbara, did you read part 1 and part 2 of these essays or just part 3. Part 3 is pretty much only about Bran and Jon. (If it says “Now I Am Become Death: Legacy of a Toy Soldier at the top of the post, you are reading the third part of these essays.) Part 1 and 2 of these essays “Now I Am Become Death” explain everything that you are saying is a flaw and are questioning. Part 1 and 2 explains every example of resurrection that you have mentioned (wights, Beric, Stoneheart). If you read parts 1 and 2 of these essays, everything that you are questioning is given a very logical answer and is deeply explained. Read parts 1 and 2 and then read this part 3 again and you will better understand what is meant by Bran coming back as Jon.

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  13. I’ve read your entire blog & this Now I Am Become Death series stopped my in my tracks. I lost sleep over it. Fantastic stuff. If this is not the endgame of the books/show, I’m wagering it’s very very close. Well done!

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  14. One thing jumped out at me in Part II, and I’d be interested to see where it fits with the idea of Bran warging Jon’s body. A resurrected Jon, without Bran’s involvement, should be like Beric and Catelyn: a being of purpose, on a mission. And if someone knew that Jon would be resurrected, or could put the pieces in place to make that a likely outcome, they would get a powerful asset by controlling that purpose, by getting Jon resolved to go after a goal shortly before his death just as Cat and Beric were… which the Pink Letter does nicely. If someone were to do this, I think they would either be helping Bran by giving Jon a default state to fall back on when Bran isn’t in direct control, kind of an autopilot, or they’re going to be in conflict with Bran for control of the body – just as the wolves are often driving when the kids warg into them, Bran may find himself a passenger in Jon’s body unless he can figure out how to take the wheel.

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    1. I actually think it still is. Bran has been warned over and over about forgetting himself in warging something else or staying in a vision too long, both this season and in season 4. And now he can warg people in the past.

      I wrote a response to the most recent episode titled “the Door to Infinite Sadness” so I get into it there!

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      1. Right. Essentially just like how Hodor’s is a backwards in time warging.

        Of course I could be wrong, but I still think Jon’s resurrection on the show is incredibly suspicious. Mel’s ruby didn’t glow, she didn’t seem to know what she was doing, Ghost didn’t notice anything till everyone was out of the room, and the episode ends on the exact same composition as the end of episode 5.

        It reminds me of the moment at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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    2. Oh and one more thought (I might have to do a write up on this). But this episode really drove home the idea that Bran is the thing waiting in the crypts that Jon and Jaime are afraid of in their dreams. The other character who is shown to fear the crypts is Hodor, further connecting Bran to the fear of the crypts.

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  15. You’ve put a lot thought into your theory, and I appreciate that. But leaving out fantasy stuff and focusing on the characters’ motivation…

    Why would Mel and co would take Jon’s body with them? Why not burn it or leave it? Mel would have to be already convinced that Jon is special, in which case she would give him the kiss of life much sooner than Stannis bites the dust.
    LSH would never crown her husband’s bastard while she knows/suspects her daughter Arya still lives. Most likely, she wouldn’t do it anyway. She couldn’t get over her distaste for Jon while she had a mostly kind and sane lady, so the likelihood of her changing opinion now is miniscule.
    Similarly Richard Lonmouth may serve as a window to Rhaegar’s mind regarding Lyanna, but it doesn’t mean he knows or cares Lyanna gave birth to Rhaegar’s child or who the child is. When the push came to shove, he chose Robert over Rhaegar after all. He may know what Rhaegar’s intentions had been, but he is likely entirely ignorant of the Tower of Joy events.

    Overall, I must say I’m not overly fond of your Big Picture theory, though I guess you may put that down to a subjective taste. I find the idea of some guys playing gods due to their magical powers intrinsically arrogant; something which should come to bite them in the ass. Especially now as we’ve found out CotF are hardly infallible. They’ve actually fucked Westeros more than humans ever could.
    Regardless, GRRM has not portrayed puppetmasters in a good light so far (looking at you, Varys and Littlefinger), and your theory would make Bran and Bloodraven into hidden manipulators on a much larger scale. I couldn’t see that ending well for them.

    Hmm, since you seem interested in complex theories, have you read some of LuciferMeansLightbringer’s stuff? His/her take on the legend of Azor Ahai is very untraditional, and I suspect they are right.

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    1. I think Mel and co would take Jon’s body under the pretense that he belongs in the Winterfell Crypts. Perhaps Mel would receive a vision from Bloodraven, but the idea that a body would be transported isn’t all that hard to believe. Since the books will likely have Jon warging into Ghost, I don’t think his resurrection will be as sudden in the books. If Mel brought him back from the dead she would jump onto the Jon=AA bandwagon, so I don’t suspect his resurrection till after the burning of Shireen.

      As for LSH, I think she absolutely would. LSH is not Cat, as she has sort of been reduced to the impulse of revenge. I don’t think old grudges like that necessarily matter anymore. If Robb’s will named Jon, she would absolutely carry that will out. Furthermore, if you read part 2, I basically believe BR is animating LSH (weirwood cave and all). It’s not entirely ckear why Beric have his life for Cat, and LSH could have a similar moment with Jon. Perhaps she would know who is really going to be King.

      As for Richard, I don’t think we can assume he doesn’t care. If you’re on board with Richars Lonmouth being with the Brotherhood, then planting such a character with the potential for such significant knowledge is likely no accident, otherwise there would be no point in the secret identity. If he isn’t going to transfer information Richard Lonmouth would know, there is no point in him benign RL.

      As for the big picture theory, I don’t think BR fully wins. I think Sansa sits the throne. I just think that manipulator a like BR are very true to Martin’s writing, and I don’t think they have to be evil.

      I’ve read his stuff actually. I really love his ideas on astronomical phenomenon affecting real history. That said, I don’t know if I’m on board with his ideas about Dawn Age lore, but at the same time I don’t know if it really matters. I don’t think Martin is going to give away what happened in ancient times. I think it’s more about the present day characters.

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      1. Well, I believe the ice cells have been established for a reason – it’s the place where Jon’s body will be stored. I think Mel will continue having visions of Jon, which will convince her he still has a part to play, but she’ll be forced to put off the resurrection due to… erm, turbulent events taking place.
        I wouldn’t entirely reject the notion that Stannis burns Shireen on his own. Mel has spoonfed him enough information he may come up with this solution himself.

        LSH has Cat’s memories and feelings. She mourns for Robb over his crown and she has sent members of BwB to look for Arya. She still loves her children, and she has always viewed Jon as a possible danger to them.

        I believe Richard Lonmouth will serve as a window to Rhaegar’s motives for kidnapping/eloping with Lyanna, but nothing more. It’s a question that bothers great many readers because Rhaegar is described as a kind, dutiful, intelligent young man, but all the evidence points to him acting selfishly and shortsightedly. I don’t believe Lem has any idea who Jon is, though.

        Sansa? That’s a surprise. While I believe that GRRM will do better by her then he had in his original outline (not sure if you’re familiar with it?), I don’t believe she’ll be *it* in the end. After all, he’s been saying he has known the “rough strokes” ending since the start, and his Outline Sansa seems to have died with the son she bore for Joffrey (much like Elia died with Aegon) while Evil Jaime was cleaning the house. He had excluded her from the 5 core characters, for sure. In my book, that puts her in the awkward spot where characters more important than her as well as characters less important than her have a far bigger chance to wind up with up on the throne.

        I do find the idea that Azor Ahai is in fact the Bloodstone Emperor and Nissa Nissa his sister-wife, the Amethyst Empress, fascinating. The twist that forging of the Lightbringer is truly the Blood Betrayal which brought about the Long Night seems like something Martin would do, imho. He sets up a guy as a hero, but it turns out he’s more of a villain instead, points of view and all. It’s something that could play out in interesting ways in regards to Jon’s resurrection, since resurrected people generally return worse for wear.

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      2. I don’t think there is any logical reason for Melisandre to stay at the Wall if Shireena and Selyse leave. Everyone named in the Pink Letter basically has to leave the Wall right now, and if Mel has a vision of Jon in the crypts, that’s where she will take him.

        As for LSH, yes, but not completely, Beric remembers very lite of himself, and similarly LSH likely has lost the aspects of her that aren’t essential to her purpose, as Martin has said about resurrection.

        And if you are going by Martin’s original outline, remember that UnCat was originally part of Bran’s story, and Bran is for some reason the only Stark POV yet to find out about Catelyn’s death. The relationship between Catelyn and Bran is very significant in the beginning. I don’t think her spark of life ends with her. I think it will be passed on once more. The books haven’t really set up Melisandre and reusrrection like the show has.

        And ye, I definitely think it’s Sansa. I think after the initial pitch he came up with some major plot points (Jon’s death, Cersei’s existence, Arya not being a romantic interest). I think the real beginning is while he was writing AGOT.

        Of course I could be wrong. But the past episode really drove home the ‘wolf in the crypts’ thing.

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      3. I can’t find the reply button on another level, so I’ll put it here.

        I don’t think the Wall situation is as clear cut as that. Great many things can happen. And GRRM paid the ice cells much attention. Why would we need to visit the place where the NW store their meat unless… you know.

        I have trouble envisioning LSH getting North. Bran can see her in a vision, I suppose, but logistics of her moving north seem difficult.

        I disagree on Sansa. From what we’ve seen of the girl so far, she excells at many soft skills, but I can’t buy her as a leader of men. Taking care of her husband’s/father’s household and making Sweetrobin eat his porridge is a far cry from administrating an entire kingdom including troublesome vassals, leading men to war etc. Unless GRRM puts her on a leadership arc as he had done with Dany or Jon in ADwD, it would a total asspull if she suddenly emerged as a capable ruler without any experience to speak of. Ned certainly hadn’t taught her anything (let’s remember his reaction when he had seen her in the courtroom when smallfolk from the village scourged by Gregor Clegane had come to give witness), and Littlefinger is teaching her to become a hidden power that secretly manipulates others from shadows, not to be the responsible person in the spotlight. It could happen in future, but so far I cannot imagine she wouldn’t be a total disaster. Look at Dany and Jon, how badly they fared with their first taste of power and responsibility, and they are much more better suited for it than Sansa, imho. Dany is very charismatic and seems to have a natural talent for tactics, while Jon has been taught by Ned for most of his life. Still, they failed. Ruling is hard.

        Well, that was unseemly long. 🙂

        For that matter, have you read Robin Hobb’s Fitz books? You seem knowledgeable about GRRM’s other work, and she is one of his friends and favorite fantasy writers. It appears possible that one of her plot points inspired Jon’s fate in ADwD.

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      4. I don’t think it’s really about who makes a “better” ruler. I don’t think that Jon, or Dany or Sansa are the best rulers in the Seven Kingdoms. I love Dany, but she is really better suited to conquest than rule, while pre-death Jon is far too heroic an altruistic to be a successful king (post death Jon is another story). We aren’t really following POVs who are the best in their fields for the most part, but rather developing characters placed into challenging and crucial situations by merit of their birth and status.

        I think Sansa will be a different kind of Queen than Dany would have been. Not necessarily a better or worse one, but more subversive in the way she uses her skills, and the period of time she presides over. I think Sansa is a big analogue to Queen Elizabeth I.

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  16. Something to add when it comes to Bran possibly skinchanging into Jamie. Instead of this possibly happening in the FUTURE, what if its ALREADY happened? What if future Bran skinchanged into Jamie and pushed himself out of the castle? If your essays are close to the truth, then Bran falling out of the castle and gaining his abilities is HUGE and couldn’t have happened by accident. Just a thought.

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    1. Hah, I’ve been having that thought lately too; it’s just so curious how the 3 eyed raven keeps telling Bran not to think of his being pushed out of the window. Very curious.

      A spanner in the works though: I did go have a look at Jaime’s thoughts regarding the incident and he doesn’t seem to have ‘blacked out’ or have forgotten anything about it, so it seems less likely.

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  17. This a great theory, no question about that! But I don’t see Bran taking over Jon and them being a blended consciousness. The only way I can see Bran warg into Jon, hear me out; There HAS to be something special/different about Jons ice and fire blood. Probably something that combats the Night King/something the NK wants/or maybe Jon simply cannot be killed by him! And no matter how that plays out, there will come a time when Jon or someone will have to meet/find the NK and that person cannot be Bran bcuz he has already been marked by him. And bcuz of Brans greensight, he wargs into Jon so the NK can’t warg Jon. Effectively rendering the NKs warging power useless. Thus forcing the Nights King to fight Jon 1 on 1, in a sword fight aka a trial by combat of sorts!

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