What is Ragnarök? It is, quite literally, the song of ice and fire.
But what is a song? Is a song a battle? Do notes fight one another for dominance, with no care or concern for the overall sound? No. That is discord. A song is harmony -- notes working together in unison.
And that is Ragnarök -- the forces of ice & fire uniting as one to attack the world of gods and men.
And that is key to understanding what's really going on in George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, upon which the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones, is based (assuming my theory is correct, of course. If it's not, then I'm just delusional, but it should be entertaining either way, so, by all means, read on). The battle is not Dragons vs. White Walkers. It's Dragons & White Walkers vs. Mankind.
Prior to Ragnarök, the world is plagued by civil war, rampant immorality, patricide/fratricide and disease. A "long winter" then engulfs the world, known as Fimbulvetr (i.e. three simultaneous winters without end -- Winter Is Coming) before the ensuing apocalypse erupts. At Ragnarök, giants (i.e. jötnar -- not giants as we think of them, but elemental beings) who inhabit the realms of ice & fire unite under the leadership of the bound god Loki -- the trickster -- and his monstrous offspring -- Fenrir, the Bound Wolf -- Jormungandr, the World Serpent -- and Hel, the Queen of the Dead -- to do battle with, and slay the gods. All the major figures of the Norse pantheon are foretold to perish in the ensuing chaos -- Odin, the Mad God, shall be swallowed by Fenrir -- Thor, the Storm Lord who wields a mighty war hammer, shall fall to Jormungandr -- Tyr, the one-handed god of single combat, shall be torn to shreds by Garmr, Hel's Hound -- Freyr, the phallic lord of virility, shall fall to the fire giant Surtr, the Black, and his fiery sword -- and Heimdallr, the Watcher, shall die at the hands of Loki himself. When all is said and done, only the children of the gods shall remain, and Odin's son, Vidarr, in particular, whose name means Vengeance, shall tear Fenrir's jaws asunder and avenge his father, after which, the world shall be rejuvenated, and life shall start anew.
To see how this relates to A Song of Ice & Fire, we must first identify who is who and which side they're playing for. It's not quite as straightforward as you may think:
Odin - Aerys Targaryen
Thor - Robert Baratheon
Tyr - Jaime Lannister
Freyr - Walder Frey
Heimdallr - Samwell Tarly
Frigg - Cersei Lannister
Freyja - Margaery Tyrell
Idunn - Sansa Stark
Brynhildr - Brienne of Tarth
Njördr - Theon Greyjoy
Kvasir - Jojen Reed
Baldr - Joffrey Baratheon
Vidarr - Tommen Baratheon
Loki - Bloodraven
Fenrir - Bran Stark
Jormungandr - Danaerys Targaryen
Hel - Melisandre
Surtr - Jon Snow
Hati - Arya Stark
Fafnir - Tyrion Lannister
Garmr - Rickon Stark
Hrym - Victarion Greyjoy
At the heart of the story lies the trickster god, Loki. Although he's occasionally depicted favorably, he's generally a devious character in Norse mythology who works against the gods. He is a shapeshifter, and is able to take the form of birds, fish, insects and even the mist. In addition to this, he is the embodiment of fire (i.e. sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful), and is the father of "wargs" -- which is an old Norse word meaning, "monstrous wolf" (in reference to his son, Fenrir). Due to his part in murdering Baldr -- Odin & Frigg's favorite son -- Loki was banished from Asgard and bound in a cave as punishment, where he is to remain until he breaks free at Ragnarök. Also of interest, the mother of his three monstrous children, Angrboda, is a giantess who lives in an "ironwood", where she raises Fenrir.
If you have read up to the most recent book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, you might have already figured out that Lord Brynden, aka the Three-Eyed Crow, aka Bloodraven -- Bran's mentor -- is Loki. Bloodraven is an extremely old Targaryen bastard living under the roots of a weirwood tree far beyond the Wall. He had been banished and condemned to the Night's Watch for committing an unknown crime (I happen to think he was blamed for the death of Aerion Targaryen, much the same as Loki was blamed for the death of Baldr -- and Tyrion, in a case of "history repeating itself", was blamed for the death of Joffrey -- but GRRM has yet to reveal Bloodraven's "crime"), and possesses the ability to "warg" (which in GRRM's world essentially means "bodysnatching", rather than "monstrous wolf") with a whole host of animals, including a flock of ravens and many other creatures. It is even rumored by the peasants in the Dunk & Egg books that he can warg with the mist (exactly like Loki).
Bran, who Bloodraven is mentoring, represents monstrous Fenrir -- the Bound Wolf (Bran's dreams of the "bound wolf" make this pretty straightforward). The word Fenrir means "of the fens, or marshlands", and this is represented by Bran's relationship to Meera & Jojen Reed, who are bog people. Similarly, Fenrir is said to feed on the flesh of men in his cave, which would seem to confirm the theory that Bran cannibalized Jojen as part of the "weirwood paste" he was fed by the Children of the Forest.
And, the conflict upon which the whole story is centered on is between Bran & Jaime -- not Jon & his mother, or Daenerys and her "children". When Bran catches Jaime having sex with Cersei in the beginning of A Game of Thrones, and subsequently gets pushed from the window, it sets off a chain of events. The culmination is the loss of Jaime's hand to the mercenary Vargo Hoat (who was changed to the character Locke on the TV show -- a Bolton man, rather than a sellsword). These two incidents are representative of the story of Fenrir's binding by the god Tyr -- the one-handed god of single combat -- the champion of mankind (i.e. Jaime -- or, as the Asshai'i call him, Azor Ahai). When Tyr first binds Fenrir, he still has both of his hands. Fenrir bites off his hand as a result of his binding. And even though Bran isn't directly responsible for chopping off Jaime's hand, it does come about as a result of his crippling (i.e. a war was started over it). And in this sense, Bran's paralyzation represents Fenrir's "binding".
Side note: Jaime's role as Tyr is hinted at in the names of his [half] brother TYRion, and [foster] father TYwin (Ty is Norwegian for Tyr). And, the etymology of those names could be of possible interest (stress possible... Ok, probably not, but try to bear with me here). The word "ion" is of Greek origin, and once meant "the road to" or "the path to" in its ancient usage, making Tyr-ion "the road" or "the path to Tyr". Conversely, "win" is of proto-Germanic origin and has always meant pretty much the same thing, more or less -- "to gain by struggling" -- making Ty-win "to gain Ty[r] by struggling [with Aerys]". More etymological connections appear in the names TYRell and PeTYR Baelish. The root of the word "ell" in Greek means "length of the arm", making the name Tyr-ell "the length of Tyr's arm". Similarly, PeTYR Baelish could mean "Tyr's favorite child", as "pet" is of Scottish origin, meaning "favored" or "indulged child". Admittedly, I'm probably digging a little too deep there, but at the very least it shows how often the word "Tyr" is used in the names of characters.
But back to Loki's children -- Bran may not be Bloodraven's actual flesh and blood son, as Fenrir is Loki's, but he is under his influence. The relationship is not to be taken literally. Which leads me to believe Loki's other two children -- Jormungandr, the World Serpent -- and Hel, the Queen of the Dead -- will fall under Bloodraven's spell as well.
But who are they in relation to the books? And what is their connection to the bound trickster, Loki? It all comes down to fire. Not to be confused with Logi, who is a fire giant, Loki is similarly related to fire, as he is thought to have originated from a trickster/fire spirit, in the same vein as Lucifer and Prometheus. Mind you, his role and character have changed over time, so he is no longer the "god of fire", strictly speaking. But it is believed that he may have been exactly that when the religion was in its infancy -- a fallen "Light Bringer" figure. And this is key to understanding Bloodraven's role as the Lord of Light, and the role of the Red Priests in the coming battle.
Jormungandr -- the World Serpent -- is represented by Daenerys Targaryen, who is obviously linked to dragons/serpents, and is in exile, forced to wander the world (the TV show also makes note of how many different languages she speaks as well). Jormungandr is supposedly so massive, he can circle the world and swallow his tail, which is represented by Quaithe's prophecy to Daenerys -- "to go West, you must go East, etc". Another aspect of Jormungandr's character can be seen in Daenerys' relationship to Robert Baratheon, i.e. the Storm Lord with the war hammer -- Thor. In Norse mythology, Jormungandr & Thor are archenemies, slated to kill one another at Ragnarök, and in A Song of Ice & Fire, Daenerys & Robert Baratheon are archenemies (I happen to think Dany will meet her demise at Robert's ancestral castle, Storm's End -- i.e. Stormborn dies at Storm's End -- but that's for a different post). Dany's family was murdered and her throne usurped by Baratheon, and the enmity even followed her across the sea, as Robert tried to have her assassinated, contrary to honorable Ned's advice. What's more is Jormungandr is not just a serpent, but a sea serpent. Dany's relationship to the sea is represented by her need for ships, and future marriage to Victarion Greyjoy. But it is Victarion's Red Priest, Moqorro, who will bring Daenerys, and her dragons, to Bloodraven's side.
Which brings me to Loki's third child -- Hel, the Queen of the Dead. Hel rules over the dead in an icy underworld called Niflheim (reserved for those unfortunate souls who didn't get into Valhalla). She wears a face that is both half-beautiful, and half-dead, and in her role as Sinmara, she's the consort of Surtr, the fire giant.
Surtr, whose name means "the Black", lives at the Bifrost Bridge -- a bridge separating the world of giants from the world of the gods -- and wields a fiery sword, which he will use to set the world ablaze during Ragnarök. It is foretold that Surtr will break the Bifrost Bridge and lead the Sons of Muspell into the realm of the gods to do battle. The Sons of Muspell are fire giants who live beyond the Bifrost Bridge.
Hel & Surtr are represented by Melisandre & Jon Snow. Melisandre currently resides in an ice world, at the Wall (i.e. the Bifrost Bridge), and wears a glamor to hide the fact that she is either extremely old, or already dead (i.e. two faces). She is also an enemy of the Seven, and obsessed with death and sacrifice, constantly searching for king's blood to feed to her fires. And, up until this point, she has provided Stannis with his fiery sword.
Similarly, Jon Snow has "taken the Black" and lives at the Wall, which separates the realm of the Others from the realm of men. And, even though he too lives in an ice world, his relationship to fire is symbolized by Ygritte, who was "kissed by fire".
This probably means that Melisandre will raise Jon Snow from the dead, similar to the way Thoros resurrects Beric Dondarrion -- and Beric, in turn, raises Catelyn -- and convert him to the Lord of Light. She will then become his "wife", much the same as she was Stannis', and Jon will then assume his role as the Night's King (the Son of Craster Jon & Melisandre are holding will draw the White Walkers to them). And in that role, he will knock down the Wall and lead the "Sons of Muspell" (i.e. the Sons of Craster -- the Others -- White Walkers) into the realm to do battle with mankind (i.e. those who worship the Seven -- which is an allusion to Norse numerology -- although it should be noted, the Norse held the numbers three and nine holy, rather than seven. But it's a subtle difference).
We already know that Melisandre feels more powerful when she is at the Wall (closer to Bloodraven), and Bloodraven & Bran have already appeared to her in her fires (the exact quote from A Dance With Dragons is, "A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment... but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf's face threw back his head and howled" -- Ch. 31. I'm assuming that was the first time Bloodraven tried to contact her directly. But it seems likely he probably communes with the High Priest of R'hllor in a similar fashion). And now, she, and her counterpart, Moqorro, are in perfect position to wrest control of both the forces of Ice & Fire in the name of Bloodraven (i.e. the Lord of Light -- who is a sorcerer -- or rather, the "Last Greenseer". I'm assuming the title was passed down to successive generations of greenseers, and is somehow connected to the Asshai'i legend of Azor Ahai -- which they shouldn't even know, being that Azor Ahai was from Westeros, where the Long Night was fought, far from Asshai. I imagine "R'hllor" first started appearing to them in their fires around the same time the First Men started worshipping the Children and their "Old Gods". Or, at least, that's my best guess, at the moment. Because, I'm pretty sure Azor Ahai is a ruse -- at least in the context that the Asshai'i speak of him. Because, if the Children & Humans really fought the Others together, why did the Children end up on the wrong side of the Wall, with the Others?). Also a subtle clue -- in A Dance With Dragons we meet Benerro, the High Priest of R'hllor, whose skin is milk white (just like Bloodraven's -- perhaps he's trying to emulate his "god"?). He delivers a sermon in Volantis that Tyrion happens upon, and rails against Danaerys' enemies, who he singles out as those who "pray to false gods in temples of deceit" (i.e. those who worship the Seven in Westeros/Asgard -- human gods for humankind, rather than sorcerers and necromancers who grant their followers magical powers).
The role of the Red Priests in the upcoming battle is foretold in another prelude to Ragnarök -- the Three Roosters. It is said that three roosters will sound when Ragnarök begins -- a Crimson Rooster, a Golden Rooster (which will raise heroes from the dead) and a Red Rooster (which will crow at the gates of Hel).
In A Song of Ice and Fire, these roosters are symbolized by the 3 armies that remain in control at the end of the War of the Five Kings. The Crimson Rooster is symbolized by the Lannister army, which is in control of Westeros. The Golden Rooster (which raises heroes from the dead) is symbolized by the Golden Company, which is led by Aegon Targaryen & Jon Connington (i.e. heroes from the dead), and is contesting the Lannister army for power. And lastly, the Red Rooster that crows at the gates of Hel is symbolized by the Red Priests, who are working to control the forces of Ice & Fire (i.e. Jon Snow & his White Walkers by way of Melisandre, and Daenerys Targaryen & her dragons by way of Moqorro, respectively).
Also of interest, the first person to hear these roosters -- the first person to know that Ragnarök has begun -- is a herdsman and harpist named Eggther who is a "ward of giants". He is sitting on a mound, playing his harp when the roosters crow. He is represented by Mance Rayder -- a musician-king who rules over giants and attempts to herd them into the Realm after he sees the first signs of the coming conflagration.
Other Gods & Monsters Represented:
-Although Odin has many roles and epithets, one of them is the Mad God -- as he is associated with fits of madness & rage -- and is usually depicted as an old man with a long white beard, and shaggy white hair. In the earliest incarnations of Norse mythology, Odin wasn't even worshipped as a god. Tyr is equivalent to Indo-European Dyaeus (the god from which Zeus & Jupiter evolved), and was once the primary god of the pantheon, while Odin was probably a real king who only came to be deified and mythologized much later in the history. Because of this, Odin is not present in the earliest tellings of Ragnarök (same story for Thor). So, I believe it is in this capacity that Odin serves in the ASOIAF novels, and is represented by the Mad King Aerys (who was killed by Jaime -- i.e. Tyr -- another clever twist). Aerys, like Odin, is known as the Mad King, and dies before the events of Ragnarök take place. However, Odin was also known for fathering bastard children, which is the one legacy Aerys left behind. Jaime & Cersei are his bastard twins, by way of the rape of Joanna Lannister (which Barristan Selmy alludes to in his conversations with Dany). This is the real reason why Ilyn Payne had his tongue cut out (for witnessing the incident), and that's why Ilyn Payne laughed at Jaime when he admitted his love for his sister to him. This is also important to the story of Tommen -- the Prince Who Was Promised. Because, Tommen is all 3 gods in one: Odin, Thor & Tyr. Odin (Aerys) is his grandfather. Thor (Robert Baratheon) is his supposed father. And Tyr (Jaime) is his real father, making Tommen Vidarr -- Vengeance -- slayer of Fenrir (which is foreshadowed in A Game of Thrones, when Tommen & Bran spar with each other out on the training grounds of Winterfell).
-The Storm Lord with the war hammer who hates Jormungandr (Dany) is obviously Robert Baratheon. But in this regard, GRRM is following the same model as with Odin. Thor was not a part of the Norse pantheon when the religion was in its infancy. He was likely a real king who was only deified later in history, and would not have been present in the earliest tellings of Ragnarök. And for this reason, King Robert didn't survive the wild boar that gored him. But, in Robert Baratheon, GRRM also added another story from Norse mythology -- that of Hoenir and Mimir. Hoenir was a "large and powerful" king who was sent to rule over the Vanir after a civil war between the gods (FYI: the Norse pantheon is divided into two Houses -- that of the Vanir & that of the Æsir. Most of the major gods belong to the Æsir, so the Vanir were usually the losers in any kind of conflict or contest between the two). But, unfortunately for the Vanir, Hoenir never wanted to govern. He always wanted others to make decisions for him. And his responsibilities were often dumped on Mimir, his wise counsel, who was forced to rule in his place. Feeling cheated by this arrangement, the Vanir decided to behead Mimir and send his bones back to the Æsir. This is symbolic of the story of King Robert & Ned Stark. Robert was the large & powerful king who came to power after a civil war, but never wanted to rule, and Ned was his wise counsel, who often ruled in his place, but ended up getting his head chopped off after joining the Small Council in King's Landing. Clever how GRRM fit these subplots into the larger story.
-Freyr, the phallic deity of male virility, is represented by none other than Walder Frey and his many children (it's even in the name). This goes to show that GRRM has a good sense of humor, because there's very little about him that comes off as "godlike". He's a cruel, conniving weasel... but it's Cersei who says on the TV show that "The gods are cruel. That's why they're gods". That was a big hint as to what's really going on, because GRRM is portraying the gods as oppressive and the giants/monsters as oppressed, which I think is clever. Freyr is foretold to die at the hands of the fire giant Surtr, who is represented by Jon Snow. This makes sense because when Catelyn is resurrected by Beric Dondarrion and converted to the Lord of Light, she becomes obsessed with revenge against the Freys for carrying out the Red Wedding. So, it stands to reason that once Jon is raised, killing Walder Frey will become his primary concern as well (funny too that Jon & Cat will finally see eye-to-eye). Another clue can be found in Walder's ancestral castle -- "the Twins" -- which is an allusion to Freyr & Freyja.
-Heimdallr is the Watcher. He lives opposite Surtr at the Bifrost Bridge and is symbolized by the horn he sounds to warn the gods at the outset of Ragnarök. What's more is Heimdallr doesn't have a father (he was "born of nine mothers") and is described as the "whitest" or "palest of gods". Samwell Tarly lives with Jon Snow at the Wall and was born on Horn Hill. He was disowned by his father because he's such a cowardly momma's boy (fyi: to "turn white" or "turn pale" is an expression for cowardice). So, I'm assuming Samwell will be the first to notice the changes in Jon Snow, and might also come across some kind of lost information about Bloodraven & the White Walkers while doing his research. He may even find the Horn of Winter as well, which Jon Snow will steal from him and use to knock down the Wall, at which point Samwell will finally send his ravens and warn the people of Westeros of the danger. He will then go on to kill and be killed by Bloodraven, because he will feel guilty for having aided in his capture of Bran, by way of Coldhands (fyi: Heimdallr & Loki are foretold to kill each other at Ragnarök -- which is foreshadowed by the business with "Sam the Slayer". The TV show even took it a step further. Bloodraven's flock signals and draws the White Walker to Samwell, and subsequently chases him after he kills it).
Edit -- I should also clarify why I think Samwell has been portrayed as a "coward" (even though he most definitely is not, judging by the way he blindly charged that White Walker). I think this is largely due to the fact that Heimdallr is the first god to encounter Surtr after the Bifröst is broken, yet he fails to engage him in battle. Surtr bypasses Heimdallr in order to fight Freyr instead. So, if you're turning the figure of Heimdallr into a fantasy character, you've got to explain why exactly he shies away from Surtr. And, in my opinion, GRRM has done this quite well, by not only making Samwell a "coward", so to speak, but a friend of Surtr to boot. And as bold as Samwell was against the Walker, I simply can't see him turning on Jon, regardless of Jon's actions (I can see him warning the rest of Westeros about Jon, but I can't see him attacking Jon himself).
-Frigg is the Queen of Asgard who has the power of prophecy, which she chooses not to share with anyone. She begins to lose it when her son Baldr is killed, and is jealous of Freyja for being more beautiful than she is. She is represented by Cersei Lannister, who is the Queen of Westeros, and has never shared the prophecies she learned from "Maggy the Frog" with anyone. She is driven to madness when her beloved son Joffrey is killed, and is jealous of Margaery Tyrell's youth and beauty... so much so that she ends up framing Margaery for infidelity to Tommen.
-Freyja is the goddess of beauty, love, fertility, gold, death & war. She owns two cats, and wears a cloak made of falcon feathers. She is married to Odr, whose names means "madness" or "furious", or "the frenzied one", and is always absent, and her own name (i.e. fruvor) was also a title bestowed on noble ladies in ancient times. And, it is noted that the common people considered her to be the most approachable of the gods. Margaery Tyrell is both renowned for her beauty and is associated with love, as she's been wed and re-wed three different times. She gave Tommen kittens as wedding gifts, and likes to take her noble ladies out falconing. Similarly, she is associated with gold (the Tyrells are rich), death (she and her grandmother poisoned Joffrey) and war (her family saved the Lannisters from Stannis). Plus, in both Joffrey and Renly she married men very much like Odr -- the former a sadistic madman, the latter always absent. And, as is made clear on the Game of Thrones TV show, the small folk consider her the most approachable of the nobility, by far in a way. It should also be said, flowers were often used to symbolize Freyja -- and, of course, a rose is the sigil of House Tyrell. Another interesting connection can be seen in Freyja's often conflicting character -- i.e. according to certain myths, she's the goddess of fertility, whereas in others, she's related to virginity. And, in ASOIAF this is represented by Margaery's trial for infidelity to Tommen. Is she promiscuous or is she a virgin? A question often asked of Freyja.
-Idunn is a goddess of youth and beauty associated with apples. She is married to Bragi, who is the god of poetry -- the most eloquent of the gods. Bragi supposedly has the most "skill and fluency with words", but is accused of cowardice by both Loki, and his own mother, Frigg. The most well-known story relating to the pair is that of Thjazi (pronounced Theyazi) the giant, who kidnaps Idunn. With the help of Loki, Thjazi is able to lure Idunn out of Asgard with the promise of a fresh apple, before turning himself into an eagle and snatching her up, stealing her away, back to his mountain stronghold. The gods eventually force Loki to rescue her (which he does by transforming into a falcon) and they then kill Thjazi when he comes chasing after the two. And in another story -- the Lokasenna -- Loki accuses Idunn of marrying her brother's killer (the brother goes unnamed, but whoever he was, Bragi apparently killed him, because she does not refute the charge). Which set me on the trail of Sansa Stark. But I just couldn't figure out how she was related to apples (because that's a major aspect of Idunn's character -- she's always symbolized by apples). Until I googled "Sansa Apple". Bingo. Turns out, a "Sansa" is a type of apple, just like a Fuji or a Red Delicious. So there you have it, a youthful beauty, whose name means "Apple" marries her brother's/father's killer (or almost does), and is subsequently stolen away to a mountain stronghold (the Eyrie), which is symbolized by a falcon (granted, a Sparrow took her there, rather than an Eagle, but same idea). So, we know who Sansa is. And, while it's possible Littlefinger is Bragi (i.e. he uses words as his weapon), I'm pretty sure he's Thjazi. Thjazi is a giant who turns into a bird (i.e. an eagle) and kidnaps Idunn, hiding her away in a mountain stronghold. Similarly, the sigil of Littlefinger's House was a giant (i.e. the Titan of Braavos) before he changed it to a bird (i.e. a swallow). And likewise, he steals Sansa from King's Landing and hides her away in a mountain stronghold. As for her rescuer -- whereas it's possible Loki (in falcon form) is represented by Bloodraven, I'm pretty sure Harrold Hardyng (aka the Young Falcon) represents Sansa's "savior". And, this could mean that she'll eventually be returned to King's Landing (i.e. Asgard) to live amongst the gods (i.e. the Lannisters), and Littlefinger will die at their hands when they discover his treachery.
-Njördr is a god of the Vanir who was sent to live amongst the Æsir as a hostage following a civil war between the gods. He's a sea god associated with sailing but was sent to live amongst the "wolves" in the mountains, which he came to resent ("Hateful for me are the mountains, I was not long there, only nine nights. The howling of the wolves sounded ugly to me after the song of the swans". --Prose Edda). Similarly, in the Lokasenna, Loki calls Njördr a pervert, which was a major aspect of Theon's character prior to his imprisonment. And, Njördr's association with priesthoods can be seen in Theon's baptism into the cult of the Drowned God. What's more is Njördr is said to have coupled with his sister, which Theon unwittingly attempted to do with Asha, and was thoroughly humiliated for it. But, the problems with this connection arise with Theon's transformation into Reek. That could be related to the legend of the Danish hero Hadingus, who is basically Njördr personified, although there are some differences there as well (i.e. Hadingus was a hero, namely, which Theon clearly is not). Possibly of interest, Hadingus was said to have travelled to hell and ended up hanging himself in front of his subjects upon his return. And, in the earliest times, Njördr was thought to be a genderless god, related to the goddess Nerthus, and was neither male nor female, which could be a reference to Theon's castration. What this could mean for his future is hard to say. Hadingus, for one, married his sister and became a king, only to commit suicide in the end (as I previously mentioned). And, if nothing else, Theon definitely seems a likely candidate for suicide. But we'll have to see how GRRM works that out.
-Following a civil war fought between the gods, the Æsir and Vanir called truce, and affirmed their pact by spitting into a vat. From this spit, a being called Kvasir was born, already fully grown. Sound weird? Yeah. But, anyway, he was supposedly the wisest of the "gods" (although, it's not exactly clear whether he was considered a god or not. He's more akin to a godlike being -- and some texts even refer to him as a "man"), and could answer any question posed to him. He travelled throughout the world, spreading his knowledge, and acting as a teacher to both gods and men... that is, until two dwarves invited him into their home. Rather unwittingly, he accepted their invitation and was subsequently murdered by them upon entering (which, of course, was ironic, being that his knowledge was so vast, yet he was totally naive when it came to street smarts). The dwarves then drained his blood into a vat and mixed it with honey, creating the "Mead of Poetry", which conferred great wisdom upon those who drank it. In ASOIAF, Jojen Reed was a precocious boy who possessed wisdom far beyond his years, so much so, he was called the "Little Grandfather". He was born after Robert's Rebellion, and travelled beyond the Wall with Bran, acting as his teacher and guide along the way. Although not a greenseer like Bran, the gift of greensight was strong in him, and he answered all of the questions Bran posed to him about it. That is, until he was invited to the cave of Bloodraven and the Children of the Forest, where he was murdered and drained of his blood. The Children then mixed his blood with weirwood seeds, creating the wisdom-imbuing "weirwood paste" they fed to Bran. Or, at least, I think that's how (and why) it went down. Because, even though GRRM has yet to reveal Jojen's fate, all signs point to him being direwolf chow.
-Hati is a warg (i.e. a monstrous wolf) and a son of Fenrir. His name means "He Who Hates", and he is said to chase the moon through the night's sky. Come Ragnarök, he is foretold to swallow the moon. In ASOIAF, Hati is represented by Arya Stark, who is both a warg and a wolf. She clearly hates her enemies, more so than any of the other Stark children, as she recites a list of names of the people she wants to murder each night before she goes to bed. She is also "chasing the moon" in her quest to become a Faceless Man (FYI: a moon is carved on the door of the House of Black & White, which is where the Kindly Old Man trains her to become an assassin). So, her becoming a Faceless Man is a sign that Ragnarök has begun (i.e. she has finally caught the moon -- Valar Morghulis). On a side note, I believe Arya is destined to be killed in her sleep, while dreaming her wolf dream. Her soul will then be transferred to the body of Nymeria, who is stalking the Trident with a massive pack of wolves (i.e. the pack Arya has always wanted). Nymeria was a legendary warrior queen in Westerosi history who crossed the Narrow Sea with a fleet of ships in ancient times to conquer Dorne. Her relationship to Arya is symbolic in the sense that Arya's soul will transmigrate across the Narrow Sea into her wolf's body when she dies, to conquer the Riverlands and/or Winterfell. This will also be the opposite of what happens to Jon Snow, as his wolf -- Ghost -- will die when he is killed by the Night's Watch, as foreshadowed on the TV show, when Jon threatens the Wildling warg, Orell (i.e. "When I kill you, what happens to your eagle? Does it drop dead from the sky?" -- paraphrasing).
-Fafnir is a dwarf whose father is the richest man in the world. In an act of treachery, Fafnir murders his father and steals his gold. He then flees with the treasure and transforms into a dragon in order to protect it. And, although Fafnir is not involved in the Ragnarök mythology, he is the central antagonist in the tales of the legendary hero Sigurd (and, I have yet to identify Sigurd). So, it's difficult to say what role he will play in future events, but Fafnir is clearly Tyrion Lannister. Like Fafnir, Tyrion is also a dwarf who slays his wealthy father and then flees across the Narrow Sea to the protection of a dragon (Danaerys Targaryen). He then uses his supposed status as "heir of Casterly Rock" to join the Second Sons mercenary company, which in itself is a clue -- Tyrion is the heir of Casterly Rock... NOT a Second Son. He is Tywin's only son. But Jaime is a second son (second to Rhaegar), as is Jon Snow (second to Aegon), Bran (second to Robb) and Stannis (second to Robert). So, there is clearly something to that. But it's funny that the clues in both Tyrion's name (i.e. Tyr) and the Second Sons allude to Jaime rather than Tyrion. Perhaps Jaime is Sigurd? If GRRM used Thor as a platform for Hoenir, it's possible he could combine the stories of Tyr & Sigurd as well.
-[Edit: see post "Direwolves, Wargs & the Stark Children" for information about Rickon as Garmr. I had Garmr tentatively identified as Gregor Clegane in this post, but a commenter was able to make a much better connection to Rickon.] Garmr is the "bloodstained watchdog who guards Hel's gate". He is described as a massive dog, the "greatest of dogs", who will similarly slip his bonds at Ragnarök and attack the god Tyr. What's interesting about Garmr is that he was only added to the mythology in the 12th - 13th century by the Icelandic poet, Snorri Sturluson (inspired by the hellhound Cerberus, from Greek mythology) and was not present in the earliest tellings of Ragnarök. It is believed he is akin to Fenrir, and was substituted as an adversary for Tyr after Tyr was supplanted as the primary god in the pantheon by Odin. Prior to this switch, Tyr was foretold to prevail over Fenrir in his role as "the Mighty One" (i.e. Azor Ahai). And since Aerys & Robert Baratheon have already been killed off in ASOIAF, I believe GRRM is adhering to the earlier versions of the mythology. With that being said, we do seem to have a match for Garmr in Gregor Clegane -- the Mountain. While it's possible Garmr is Sandor Clegane -- the Hound -- Sandor is not quite as big as his older brother, and Garmr is described as the "greatest of dogs". Not to mention the fact that Sandor has a deep-seated fear of fire -- because of Gregor -- and is unlikely to back the Lord of Light under any circumstances (and, it appears he now walks in the light of the Seven, if we are to believe he's the monk Brienne sees on the Quiet Isle). However, Gregor is in perfect position to be converted to the Lord of Light, as he was killed by Oberyn Martell and subsequently resurrected by Qyburn. And, even though Qyburn is a disgraced Maester, rather than a Red Priest, the assumption here is that Gregor's zombified condition creates an avenue for the Lord of Light to manipulate. So, this could mean that Gregor will "slip his bonds" by breaking the hold that Qyburn & Cersei have over him and going rogue (not rogue, per se, since he's being controlled by Bloodraven, but rogue in the eyes of Qyburn & Cersei).
-Hrym is the captain of the ship Naglfar, which sets sail from the lands of the east to ferry hordes of giants into Asgard during the battle of Ragnarök. There isn't much to him other than that, but he's represented by Victarion Greyjoy, who has taken the Iron Fleet east to pick up Danaerys Targaryen and her dragons.
-The Kraken is a massive cuttlefish from Norse mythology that is foretold to surface during the events of Ragnarök. Though it does not figure prominently into the story, and was likely a later invention, much the same as Garmr, it is said to appear out of nowhere and pull ships into the sea off the coasts of Midgard & Asgard. And, it was said to be so large in size that the sailors who supposedly came across it often mistook it for an island. Obviously, House Greyjoy represents the kraken in ASOIAF. It is the sigil of their house, and they are raiders who live on an island off the coast of Westeros. Plus, they are infamous for their stealth tactics, having burned the Lannister fleet at Lannisport during the Greyjoy Rebellion. What's more is, unlike the other peoples of Westeros, they sail Viking longships rather than galleys and carracks, like the Lannister, Baratheon & Tyrell fleets. So, their "resurfacing", after Euron takes the Seastone Chair and invades the Reach, is a sign that Ragnarök has begun.
-The Norse believed women called Norns wove the fates of gods & men under the World Tree Yggdrasil. Each of their threads represented a person's life, and the patterns they wove represented the relationships people had with one another. In addition to weaving fate, the Norns were also responsible for watering Yggdrasil, so it wouldn't die. Because of this mythology, the Norse held spiders to be holy -- nature's weavers. It was believed they held the power to link the past to the future. In ASOIAF, the character Varys, who is called "the Spider", is a weaver of the fates of men, working behind the scenes to connect the past to the future (i.e. to install Aegon Targaryen upon the Iron Throne). And, even though he's not female, as the Norns always are, he was castrated in his youth. And, it's possible he "waters the World Tree" by warring against black/blood magic (which is a tool Loki will use to rot the World Tree). But then again, not all Norns were good. People who suffered calamity and misfortune were said to be under the thrall of bad, or evil Norns. And, when one considers the wild goose chase Varys sent Danaerys on (i.e. marrying her off to a brutal nomadic warlord, and subsequently commissioning Jorah Mormont to assassinate her), he may not be such a good Norn. However, if Dany represents the World Serpent, Varys may have been trying to preserve the World Tree by casting her into the Dothraki Sea (much the same as Odin casts Jormungandr into the sea).
-Now, this may seem cruel (because it is), but the ancient and medieval Norse used to force the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped to act as court jesters. They usually weren't overly abusive to these "fools", but they did find their humiliation amusing, and would force them to "perform" (i.e. to make fools of themselves) at feasts and festivals, and the like. We see this same practice in ASOIAF, as the court jesters of most of the major houses are either mentally ill or handicapped in some way (i.e. Moon Boy, Butterbumps, Patchface Jinglebell, etc.). The exception we see is in Dontos Hollard, who was a disgraced knight-cum-fool in King's Landing. But that fits the culture as well. Because, alcoholics and disgraced members of society were often employed as court jesters as punishment.
In any case, I've only just touched upon the surface of it. But I think this is enough info for my first post. Stay tuned for further details. Granted, I may be completely wrong about all of this, or certain conclusions that I've drawn from it, or what have you. So, take it for what it's worth. And don't let it discourage you from your own theories about the books/show. Your guess is as good as mine.
Fun Fact: It wasn't Tyr[ion] or Walder Frey[r] who clued me in to this theory. It was Hodor. In the story of the death of Baldr, Loki tricks Baldr's blind & dim-witted brother, Hodr (also spelled Hodur), who is noted for his strength, into killing Baldr. The name piqued my interest, and the somewhat similar description really got me curious -- dim-witted Hodor & blind Hodur, and the two are both associated with a shapeshifter -- Loki (i.e. Bloodraven). But it was initially nothing more than the name itself that put me on this trail and got me thinking.
I should also add that an anonymous commenter pointed out that the name Eddard Stark could be an allusion to the Prose Edda (i.e. our main source for Ragnarök mythology -- which is most definitely a grim, or a "stark" Edda). Similarly, commenter Southron brought it to my attention that the names for the books in the series are kennings (i.e. metaphors in Old Norse poetry -- i.e. A Game of Thrones = Power Struggle. A Feast for Crows = Armistice, etc.). I think both are right on the money, and pretty clever at that. Nice work.
FYI: I've posted a number of my theories on the message boards at Westeros.org under the screen name "BrosBeforeSnows", and on WinterIsComing.net under the screen name "Varamyr Fourskins", if anyone cares to look them up. I haven't posted on Westeros in a while, but I still drop by WiC on a fairly regular basis. However, I did post what essentially amounts to the building blocks, or the blueprints for this theory over at Westeros in a thread titled "Jaime & Bran" (there was another one as well, but I can't remember what it was called -- maybe, "A Guide to Norse Mythology" or "The Ragnarok Connection", or something like that). I'd identified a few of the characters and their significance back then, but it wasn't nearly so comprehensive as this. But, you can see the evolution of it, if you want to read more about it. I'd also recommend the "Heresy" thread. They've gone in a different direction than I have, but "Black Crow" first posted it around the same time I posted "Jaime & Bran", not long after A Dance with Dragons was released, and there's a lot of good stuff in there (I mentioned in the comment section below that it wasn't until after ADwD came out that we could begin to piece this together, since the identity and motives of the 3-Eyed Crow hadn't been revealed yet).
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