Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Loki's Tricks & the Children of the Forest

If George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is in fact based on the Ragnarök mythology of the ancient Norse, then we know the coming battle cannot be between Dragons and White Walkers, as we've been led to believe all along. So, what is going on? What's the catalyst? What's driving the story if not the Others?

In A Dance with Dragons, Bran has a conversation with a "Child" of the Forest he calls Leaf. Bran asks Leaf why all the Children disappeared from the world, and where they have gone, to which Leaf replies,

"Gone down into the earth... Into the stones, into the trees. Before the First Men came, all this land that you call Westeros was home to us, yet even in those days we were few. The gods gave us long lives but not great numbers, lest we overrun the world as deer will overrun a wood where there are no wolves to hunt them. That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling. The giants are almost gone as well, they who were our bane and our brothers. The great lions of the western hills have been slain, the unicorns are all but gone, the mammoths down to a few hundred. The direwolves will outlast us all, but their time will come as well. In the world that men have made, there is no room for them, or us". (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 34)

Notice, Leaf claims that the giants (who are attempting to flee from the Others along with Mance Rayder) are/were their "bane", which would imply the two races aren't exactly on the best of terms (which might explain why the giants are in the same boat as the humans). Similarly, Leaf is essentially saying that the Children cannot coexist with humans. But, it's Bran's reaction to this spiel that I think is telling.

Bran is troubled by how sad this seems to make Leaf, but resolves, "Men would not be sad. Men would be wroth. Men would hate and swear a bloody vengeance. The singers sing sad songs, where men would fight and kill".

Indeed they would... And, what, might I ask, is Bloodraven? What is Bran, for that matter? Are they not men? And, if Bloodraven is the Children's "Last Greenseer", is it possible he might sympathize with their plight?

But, what exactly is the "Last Greenseer"? We know what he can do, but what is his function in relation to the Children? If the ancient histories of the First Men are to be believed, the greenseers essentially functioned as the Children's generals, or battle commanders during their 2,000 year long struggle against those first human invaders who crossed the Arm of Dorne (which the greenseers subsequently "shattered" with their sorcery, turning what was once a land bridge into an archipelago). So, is it possible the title "Last Greenseer" is a euphemism for "the last general [who will ever be needed to war against humanity -- assuming the Children don't war amongst themselves]"? Perhaps. (A side note: I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence that the greenseer in the picture below happens to be conjuring fire, or what, but it certainly doesn't hurt my R'hllor theory).

But, then again, if the Children hate humans, why recruit one to be their greenseer?

Could it be, as evidenced by their past battles against mankind, the Children aren't exactly suited for warfare? Could it be they're a naturally pacifistic race that was pushed to violence against their will, due to circumstance? And, if so, could it be that they've adopted the strategy, "it takes one to know one"? If they have, they've certainly picked the right guy for the job, given Bloodraven's reputation as a tactical genius in warfare.

But what might possess Bloodraven to take up the Children's cause? Why should he go against his own kind to give Westeros back to the "little squirrel people" (which is what the giants call the Children)? And why should Bran be part and parcel to his plans?

Well, let's think about it. The life Bloodraven led prior to becoming the Last Greenseer was actually very similar to Tyrion's. Like Tyrion, Bloodraven once served as Hand of the King, and did a good job of it, but was hated by both the small-folk, and his own peers for his freakish appearance (something that was beyond his control). And like Tyrion, he also almost single-handedly defeated a rebellion against the crown (i.e. the Blackfyre Rebellion), and was rewarded with imprisonment and condemned to the Night's Watch. As we see in Tyrion's case, when he's put on trial for the death of Joffrey, he does not take this betrayal very well, thinking to himself, "I should've let Stannis' troops rape and kill you all" --paraphrasing. So, if Bloodraven's life mirrored Tyrion's in so many ways, is it unreasonable to assume he might've had a similar reaction when he was put on trial for whatever he was accused of? I think not. And what's more is, unlike Tyrion, Bloodraven actually had the power to do something about it -- that is, if his reputation as a sorcerer was the truth, which I think is safe to assume now that we know he's the Three-Eyed Crow. Similarly, there's another major difference between Tyrion and Bloodraven -- Tyrion is good-natured and doesn't seem to hold grudges, whereas Bloodraven was known to brood and carry grudges on till the bitter end (pun intended -- see Bittersteel). So, in Bloodraven we have a brooding outcast who carries grudges and was wronged by humanity, and the people he served. And, the kicker -- he has the means to take revenge against them.

Similarly, Bran has little reason to love humanity. They destroyed his home and murdered his family, and would've murdered him as well if he hadn't escaped their clutches. And, given the fact that he's still a child, he seems like he'd be fairly easy to persuade -- which is exactly what Bloodraven does.

"The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong". --Bloodraven to Bran (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 34).

And this is where Bloodraven's role as Loki -- the Trickster -- comes into play. Bloodraven has clearly tricked Bran into embracing the darkness, but in addition to that, I am of the opinion that the Children of the Forest are manipulating humanity in general in an effort to destroy them. They couldn't destroy them with their brawn, so now they're trying brains. And, since their greenseers can see the future, they are able to use humanity like chess pieces, positioning them where they need them for their own ends.

Take R'hllor, for example -- aka the Lord of Light. I'm assuming he's a ruse put on by the Children. The Red Priests are not communing with a god in their fires, they are communing with greenseers. Bloodraven personally commands the High Priest of R'hllor himself, and uses him as a tool to carry out his own plans. The TV show actually touches on this when Melisandre meets Thoros of Myr (a scene that isn't in the books). Melisandre asks Thoros about his "mission" that the High Priest had supposedly sent him on -- which was to convert Robert Baratheon to the Lord of Light -- a mission Thoros did not accomplish. Meaning, the High Priest is clearly set to a greater purpose. But, are they his own designs, or did his "god" command him? When we meet the High Priest of R'hllor in A Dance with Dragons, it is noted that his skin is corpse white -- just like Bloodraven's. Is he trying to emulate his "god" -- i.e. the face who speaks to him in his fires -- or is it just a coincidence? I might say the latter, if Bloodraven didn't appear to Melisandre in her fires later on in the book.

"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". (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 31)

I remember when I first read that, I thought the Lord of Light was showing Melisandre a vision of Bloodraven. But I realize now, that's not what's happening at all. It was actually Bloodraven who had come to her. Because, even though he cannot take physical form in the world while bound in his cave, he can use nature and the elements as a medium to communicate with those above ground. Which, I imagine, the greenseers have been doing for countless generations -- however long "R'hllor" has been in existence -- the Children reveal the future to the Red Priests when it suits their needs. And I imagine that it was Bloodraven himself who persuaded Melisandre to attack the Wildlings, after showing her images in her fires, given the fact that the Wildlings are the only people in Westeros who know anything at all about the Others, and are the only ones who could warn the nations of the imminent threat they pose.

And, I'm guessing that's how the Azor Ahai legend was transmitted to Asshai. Because, think about it -- the Long Night was supposedly a battle fought in Westeros against the Others. Yet, for some strange reason, no one in Westeros knows anything about Azor Ahai. They do have a prophecy concerning the "Prince Who Was Promised", but Maester Aemon tells Samwell that the prophecy is only 1,000 years old, whereas the Long Night supposedly occurred some 8,000 years before the story takes place. So, how is it that people in the east -- in Asshai, far from Westeros -- know of a prophecy concerning a hero who defeated the Others during the Long Night in Westeros 8,000 years ago, and drove them back beyond the Wall, but Westerosis do not? Most easterners have never even seen a Westerosi, let alone been to Westeros, so why is it that they know more of Westeros' ancient history than the Westerosis do?

Could it be that it isn't their history? Could it be that the Asshai'i have been told a tale, meant to manipulate? Because, I ask, if the Long Night was a real event, and the Children banded together with the First Men in order to defeat the Others, why is it that the Children ended up on the wrong side of the Wall, in an ice world free of forests? That hardly seems fair. If they fought so bravely alongside mankind, and then raised the Wall with their sorcery to keep the Others out, why did they lock themselves out along with them? I'm guessing it didn't quite go down like that. If anything, it would seem to me the Children raised the Wall to keep humans out, rather than the Others. Because they didn't do a very good job of it, if they were going for the latter. And, granted, there are humans beyond the Wall as well (i.e. wildlings), but their numbers are relatively sparse, and, if their histories can be believed, they did not heed the Children's warnings to go south before the Wall was raised.

With that being said, I do not doubt the Others/White Walkers once attacked Westeros, but I get the feeling the Children were somehow behind it. For a time, I hypothesized the Others were weapons, conjured by the Children's sorcery... until I came across something Osha tells Bran in A Game of Thrones.

"North of the Wall, things are different. That's where the Children went, and the giants, and the other old races". (A Game of Thrones, Ch. 66).

Other old races? What other old races? I thought the Children and the giants were the only non-human inhabitants of Westeros... unless, of course, the Others can be counted as a "race" (which might lend credence to the story of the Night's King -- who supposedly married a female Other. Because, if there are female Others, that would mean there are also baby Others -- families and societies of Others -- an "Other race"). Which would imply they aren't merely a tool of the Children, but rather, elemental ice creatures, much the same as dragons are to fire (then again, the white-haired people Bran saw making human sacrifices near a weirwood tree in his visions may very well have had something to do with the Others. I also wonder what the significance of Craster's Sons are? Are the Others merely sacrificing the boys in connection to blood magic, or are they raising them as their own children to become Others? -- but that's for another post). And, just as the Valyrians found dragons in volcanoes, perhaps the Children discovered the Others in glaciers, or what have you? And, perhaps, the purpose of the Horn of Winter is not to summon giants, but rather, to bind the Others to their will, much the same as Valyrians used horns to control their dragons? If GRRM is indeed modeling his story on the Ragnarök mythology, then this would make sense, because, in Ragnarök, ice and fire do not oppose each other -- they mirror one another. So, if in ASOIAF, dragons are to fire, then there must be an equivalent ice creature similar to dragons -- i.e. the Others. And, since dragons are elemental beasts, rather than creatures created by sorcery, I'm inclined to believe the Others are as well.

So, with that in mind, could it be that the greenseers have intentionally fed the Red Priests misinformation about the Long Night, and the true designs of the Others? Why, you ask? Well, to rally the forces of fire (i.e. dragons) to their side, of course. So, Bloodraven can take control of them and use them, in concert with the Others, to scourge the land -- because, as we do know from Westerosi history, the Others could not defeat humanity on their own. And, of course, you can't very well tell the Red Priests to bring dragons to Westeros because you want to exterminate humanity. I doubt they'd go for that. So, in effect, the Children showed the Asshai'i glorious visions of Azor Ahai through their sorcerous fires, and convinced them that they were/are in fact working for heroic ends.

Why go to all that trouble? Because, as I mentioned, the forces of Ice were not enough to overcome humanity on their own. The humans drove the Others back beyond the Wall from whence they came. So, if the Children ever wanted to reclaim their land, something more would be needed. And, being a Targaryen bastard, Bloodraven was well-acquainted with a creature that did bring human armies to heel -- his ancestors' dragons. And, if Bloodraven & the Children can see the future, and knew that Danaerys would hatch dragons far in advance, they must've had some kind of scheme already in place to procure those dragons. Which is why Moqorro was sent to Victarion, with the knowledge of how to use a dragon horn.

The TV show has revealed that Bloodraven is in fact working with the Others (i.e. the "Sam the Slayer" scene -- when Bloodraven's flock signals the White Walker to Craster's Son, before Samwell kills it with dragon glass, and the ravens chase after he and Gilly in response -- a scene that plays out very differently in the books). And, if GRRM really is adhering to the Ragnarök mythology, then that is only half of Loki's arsenal. So, I imagine Bloodraven will get his fire, somehow. But, we will have to wait and see how it plays out.

And, finally, one last thing I've always wondered about Bloodraven -- if he's such a good guy, fighting for the forces of light against the Others, why didn't Maester Aemon ever mention him to Jon Snow, or Samwell, or anyone, for that matter? Not only was Bloodraven Aemon's great uncle, he was also sent to the Wall with him when Aegon (Egg) became king. Yet, Aemon never said a word about him. Which makes me think Aemon either believed him dead, or didn't speak of him for a reason. I tend to gravitate towards the latter, given the fact that Bloodraven's name does not appear in the annals of the Night's Watch, even though he was supposedly raised to the position of Lord Commander in his day. Was his name erased and never spoken again? Seems like that could be a possibility. But, even if he did somehow disgrace the Watch, why hasn't Bloodraven contacted Aemon, or anyone else in the Watch, if he's such a good guy? "Hey guys. It's me Bloodraven. I'm still alive, believe it or not, living with the Children of the Forest (who you don't even believe in). And you know those White Walkers and zombie-things that keep attacking you? I can tell you everything you want to know about them. Just go ahead and ask". Yet, there's only silence from his end. If anything, he's killed Night's Watchmen (or, Coldhands has, at least -- and, on a side note, I've always wondered if the name "Coldhands" is an allusion to Bloodraven's time as Hand of the King? Maybe not, but it could be), rather than helped them. So, something doesn't add up there... unless Bloodraven isn't quite the good guy he portrays himself to be. Then it would all make sense. 

Disclaimer: Not for commercial use. Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire are registered trademarks and copyrights, as are the images used in this post. I do not own them, nor do I stand to profit from this site. For educational purposes only.


  1. I would be very excited it this would be the twist in the last book. that fire and ice dont oppose each other, but work together to kill all men. it would be something I expect GRRM to do.

    and we all know what "valar morghulis" means

    1. The "al men must die" meaning or there's another meaning to Valar Morghulis?

  2. At first I thought your grand theory was insane and over-reaching, but after 24 hours I'm starting to think it's plausible. Unlike, say, Tolkien, GRRM has invested basically zero time building up a great evil bad guy for the good guys to face off against. There's no Sauron. The Great Other is barely touched upon. Even Bloodraven's history is presented obliquely, and mainly in the Dunk and Egg stories. It would make a lot more sense for GRRM's big bad guy to turn out to be someone we already know, and it would even more GRRM-ey if fans had trouble deciding if the big bad guy was even bad. And it would be the height of GRRMitude for him to make Jaime Lannister the savior of humanity. So I think you are on to something by saying that while Bloodraven/the Children are the enemies, their tools will be Jon and Dany. Does this mean Jaime is going to stab Brienne in the heart with Oathkeeper? BTW if you turn out to be right about all this, I want to paypal you the cost of a beer.

    1. If we all do this, he will certainly drown in beer - LOL

      I love that theory, it's absolutely fascinating, since so far ASOIAF didn't make much sense to me, and this would make a perfect sense. Though personally I'd have liked the Dragons and the White Walkers to terminate each other, it might be, they're indeed both on the 'magical' side against the 'rational-human' side.

      The part with the Asshai'i and Azor Ahai and that they'd remember a Westerosi-story, didn't surprise me that much. There was Bran the Shipwright who sailed off and got lost, that's why Bran the Burner burnt the last ships.
      Perhaps he ended up among the Asshai'i...

    2. Trust me, at first I thought I was insane. I wondered if I was just seeing what I wanted to see, and forcing the pieces to fit, or if this was something other people would pick up on too. But, at a certain point, there were just too many connections for it to be a coincidence. I could write off a couple characters perhaps, but when you see just how many matches there are, it gets pretty hard to ignore (plus, you've got to figure, I don't have all the answers. So, there must be even more characters who match up than I even realize).

      But thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. And, if I am right about all this, I'll definitely take you up that beer. It would be nice to get something out of it, at least. LOL.

    3. Me, second anonymous again ;) Thought a bit more: Bloodraven is a deserter. He changed sides, he left humans and turned his favours towards non-humans, what better reason to put him to damnatio memoriae?
      And he IS communicating. I think he is the voice that makes the ravens speak. First I thought it was Mormont, but I think it's Bloodraven, who wants to give Westeros back to the children. And actually the choice of words, that the ravens pick for repeating throughout the story is very interesting: it's prophetic, and scary. On the fist of Men they tell Mormont 'dead' in front of Aemon and Jon Snow they stick to 'king' Bloodraven is quite talkative, but the realistic non-magical-people choose not to listen to him, and complain about these stoopid birds.

  3. Hi, first anonymous again. How do you think the Doom fits into all this? Is there anything in the Norse mythology that would provide a basis for speculation about it? Slaves in volcanic mines rising up against their dragon-riding masters certainly is an evocative image, but I am not familiar enough with the Norse legends to make a connection. While I can accept that the Faceless Men are agents of the Children/Bloodraven now, why would they have wanted to destroy Valyria? Are we to assume that Ice and Fire used to be in conflict, but now they've joined forces, perhaps due to whatever the Maesters did to suppress magic?

    1. Funny you ask, because I plan on writing my next post about exactly that -- Blood Magic.

      And, yes, there is a connection to Norse mythology, but it's a subtle one. I'll get to that in the post.

      All I'll say is this, the only event we see in Westerosi history that is in any way similar to the Doom was when the Children shattered the Arm of Dorne with "dark magic" (according to the First Men). That's the only other event we know of in which a geographical landmass was destroyed by something other than nature. What exactly did the First Men mean by "dark magic"? We're not entirely sure. But it seems likely to me that they were referring to blood magic.

      Now, consider the Faceless Men. How exactly does their sorcery work? Could it have something to do with all those faces they cut off of corpses? Think about how grisly that is. They literally chop faces off heads, and then use them in their sorcery. I don't know, but that sounds pretty "dark" to me.

      But how is that connected to the Children? Well, firstly, faces are sacred to the Children. They carve them onto their trees. Their most sacred place is even called the Isle of Faces. Similarly, we know for a fact that the Northmen adopted the Children's "Old Gods" (whatever they are) after warring against them. So, I think it's safe to assume much of Northern culture was influenced by the Children, in their earliest times. Which makes me wonder why the sigil of House Bolton is a flayed man. That is, by far, the craziest sigil of all the Houses. And what about the Stark's words -- Winter Is Coming? Those are unique too. Several characters in the books make mention that the Starks are the only House in Westeros whose words are a warning, rather than a boast. But what if they are a boast? Winter Is Coming. What if that's a threat? A battle cry? i.e. "We Bring the Winter" (who else "brings the winter"? The Others). And, what if the flayed man of House Bolton is not merely a symbol of their cruelty, but a symbol of blood magic -- a threat of it? Then, that would mean the two greatest Houses of the North were built upon blood magic in their most ancient times -- it was Stark's words, and the Bolton's sigil. And, when you consider that the First Men are seemingly the only people with the ability to warg (fyi: Bloodraven is half-Blackwood -- a House descended from the First Men of the Riverlands), you have to wonder what's in their blood.

      And, it seems likely to me that the Children taught these practices to the First Men, since there is no mention of sorcery in the annals of humankind, until much later in the histories (the First Men warred with bronze, not sorcery). Which leads me to believe, all blood magic in the world emanates from the Children. And consider, the Valyrians didn't come about until much later in history (for example, the First Men came to Westeros 12,000 years prior, whereas the Targaryens only showed up 300 years ago -- which must seem like no time at all to the Children, since their lifespans last for hundreds of years at a time). By the time the Faceless Men were formed, the Children had been gone from Westeros for thousands of years. Where did they go? According to Leaf, deep into the earth. Where were the Faceless Men enslaved? Supposedly, deep under the earth. Hmm...

      As for why the Children would've wanted to destroy Valyria -- That's the mystery. Were they simply trying to prod dragons westward, or did they view all-powerful, uber-aggressive, dragon-riding humans as a threat? If they didn't like fighting the Andals and the First Men, I can't imagine they would've relished the thought of facing off against an Empire of dragon-riders. But then again, if anything, the Doom is what brought the dragons to Westeros. So, it's hard to say. I think more has to be revealed about the Children's motives before we can say for sure.

    2. And just one last thing about the Maesters -- I always thought Luwin's death foreshadowed something -- i.e. the Stark's Maester, killed under a weirwood tree by a Wildling who worships the Old Gods. It almost seems like Osha was unwittingly sacrificing Luwin to Bloodraven. Blood magic, perhaps?

    3. Could the CoF have been attempting to attack the actual dragons themselves on behalf of the Others? Or could it be possible that the CoF are in fact tools of the Others, and used by the Others to neutralize the dragons and prevent mankind from entering Westeros, a task the Others couldn't perform themselves because the climate south of the Wall is inhospitable to them? Are we ever told how far south the Others managed to make it during the Long Night?

      Also, I hypothesize that if obsedion (dragonglass, product of volcanoes) can kill an Other, then the Others ice weapons probably have a mirrored effect on dragons.

      My head is starting to hurt,but I love it.

    4. when you were talking about dragonglass killing the others and ice weapons having an effect on dragons...
      i may be forcing a connection that isnt there, but Ned's stark sword was literally named "ice".... that name was passed down for thousands of years...

  4. I'll be reading your blog regularly from now on.

    Glad I stumbled upon this. Like I said prior, I have nowhere near the level of knowledge and study you have, but I've always had a sort of fascination and liking of Ragnarok. I've always been searching for adaptations or stories of it or similar to it.

    If you are right, little did I know my favorite book series may be mirroring it already.

  5. First off, fantastic blog, you've literally ruined my productivity over the last two days. I'm with many others in agreeing with your theory as the most complete and plausible of all the theories out there. I have read several norse mythological stories and am currently reading Loki by Mike Vasich. So, it was only by chance that I found this blog by searching out stuff online regarding Ragnarok!

    So, I guess because of what I read in the books regarding how the crows and Coldhands save Sam and Gilly from the wights/Others, I interpreted that scene in the show to be the ravens giving warning to Sam & Gilly. Then after Sam kills the Other, the ravens fly with them, seemingly to me to give them direction on where to go. So, I'm certainly not saying you're wrong and I'm unclear on who Coldhands is (but I'm still in the camp that think he is Benjen Stark) but what I am saying is that's how I viewed it. Also, Coldhands fights the wights outside of the cave when Bran/Jojen/Meera/Hodor are trying to get there. If the three-eyed crow/Brynden is in control of the wights/Others why would he have them attack them at the cave? That doesn't quite add up to me.

    I really want to thank you for your blog, this is one of the best asoiaf commentary/research/opinion I have found and I will continue to check in. I'm also going to brush up on some old books of Norse mythology that I have on my shelves!!!

    1. Hey thanks. Glad you like it. That's cool you're reading about Ragnarök while season 3 is airing. Perfect timing.

      As for the wights outside the cave -- you've got to remember, if this theory is correct, that means the Others are like dragons (far more sentient than wights -- but still wild and dangerous). They are controlled with a horn (i.e. the Horn of Winter -- which doesn't summon giants -- it binds the Others to the will of whoever blows it -- i.e. Jon Snow). And, the wights that they create (which are essentially draugr) behave in a similar fashion, though far more base. In other words, having a bunch of wights around a cave entrance would be like having a hive of hornets around it (or, in the case of the Others, it would be like having Dany's dragons standing guard outside). They'd try to eat Bran too -- and Coldhands, and the Children of the Forest, and anyone else around, save their "mother", etc... That's because, in the case of the Others, they're elemental beings (or, in the case of wights, they're created by whatever elemental force the Others wield) and can only be controlled through the spells that are set in the horns (Valyrian dragon horns in the case of the dragons -- fire -- and the "Horn of Winter" in the case of the Others -- ice). What exactly makes these horns work -- we don't know (blood magic, perhaps?). But I think that's the key to controlling the forces of ice & fire. And, perhaps, Bloodraven is to the Others as Dany is to her dragons? What if Bloodraven had something to do with their reemergence in the world, similar to Dany and her dragons? Because, like dragons, the Others were said to have vanished from the world -- only to have reawakened in recent times, for unknown reasons. So, what if, like Dany and her dragons, he holds some kind of exalted status amongst them, similar to the status he holds amongst the Children? Could be -- it would parallel Dany at least (i.e. what is to fire, is to ice).

      But as for the Sam the Slayer scene -- that's the way I read it to. It didn't occur to me that Bloodraven may have been orchestrating the whole thing until I got on this Ragnarök tangent. But, in my humble opinion, the TV show didn't make the ravens seem all too friendly. And, I know GRRM is really big on both perspective (point of view), and false protagonists/antagonists (he even wrote a letter to a comic book publisher when he was a kid because he was so enamored with the idea, after a "hero" in one of his favorite comic books turned out to be the villain). And, if I'm not mistaken, it's a theme he's explored in past works. So, such a resolution wouldn't be completely out of character for him. Then again, I could be wrong about all of this, so take it with a grain of salt.

    2. To clarify my first point -- we know Dany's dragons wouldn't attack her, but they had no qualms whatsoever with attacking Quentyn Martell (or anyone else who is so foolish as to approach them as he did). Perhaps it's the same for Bloodraven in regards to Others/wights? They know not to attack him, but that's all they know.

      Just throwing it out there.

    3. Also, I should add -- the Children seem to have tapped into whatever force is creating "wights" with their sorcery (since they can manipulate the elements). But the Others seem to do it naturally -- and much more absolutely. Coldhands, Lady Stoneheart, Beric Dondarrion, and the other "wights" the Children/Red Priests have created don't seem to be under quite as deep as the wights created by the Others. And my best guess is that has something to do with the elemental forces at work (i.e. ice & fire -- and, keep in mind, even though the forces of ice & fire work in concert with one another during Ragnarök, they still serve opposite functions. Fire is used to symbolize energy, whereas ice is used to symbolize death).

  6. Like Old Nan said, crows are liars...

  7. While in general I like your idea, there are a few spots I disagree with something or other.
    For one, in Norse mythology there are three distinct groups that are generally translated as "giants" into English, the Jotnar, the Thurses and the Risis, and as I recall only one of those groups actually participates in Ragnarok (specifically the Fire Jotnar led by Surtr). Most of the other "giants" seem to have lived in relative "peace" with the gods, seeing as several of them married or were parents to the gods (Skadhi was a jotunn, both Loki and Odin have a god and a jotunn as a parent, Thor and Loki go fishing with a jotunn).

    The second has to do with Loki and Ragnarok. As you mention that one of the possible reasons Odin and Thor were removed from the story early on is that they are later additions and probably didn't play a part in original Ragnarok stories. As I understand the only references to Ragnarok come from 13th century sources, and Iceland was Christianised in about 1000, so some 10 generations earlier. From what I have read there is a belief that the whole Ragnarok story was invented by the 13th century authors and inspired by the Christian Armageddon. The reason I mention this is that Ragnarok is the only place where Loki is straight up "evil" instead of just being a trickster. According to wikipedia (which agrees with what I have observed in my own reading and what I had heard in anthropology classes) trickster god's/spirit's mischief generally has either an ultimately good result, equalising, or simple entertainment. Most of the time Loki's mischied can definitely be described as having a positive net outcome (he is directly responsible for the creation of several artefacts such as Draupnir, Freyr's boar, Mjolnir and Sif's golden hair, the fortifications of Valhalla and Sleipnir), and he plays the role of entertainment when he makes Skadhi laugh by tying a goat's beard to his own balls and then played tug-of-war. In relation to Baldr's death there is a 10th century poem which specifically uses the word for a sacrifice to describe Baldr. As such if Martin is using "older versions" of Gods, Bloodraven's actions may well be for the greater good of the Gods, it is just they need to lose something before they may gain something better.

    1. The jötnar have a complex relationship with the gods. They are sometimes friendly, and some of the gods, including Loki himself, are even said to half-jötnar. But they are often enemies as well, and are the only beings capable of challenging the gods' authority. The fire & ice jötnar particularly aren't giants in size as we think of "giants", they're elemental beings that rival the gods in power. And, at Ragnarök, they finally attack them and defeat them (presumably).

      Loki (who is thought to be half-jötnar) has a similar relationship with the gods. He often helps them in stories (he's even called Odin's blood brother, and shares many similarities with him), but his help usually comes in recompense for problems he's caused them (take the story of Idunn & Thjazi for example).

      And, legends of Ragnarök predate the Christian-era by a long way. Snorri Sturluson wrote the Prose Edda in the 13th century, but based his writings on earlier texts. A few of the earlier poems have been preserved, but only in fragments (i.e. those that reference "the Mighty One" as Fenrir's adversary, for example). And archaeologists have found depictions of Fenrir swallowing Odin dating all the way back to around 900 AD. The earliest poems we have don't mention Odin or Thor, but they do mention Fenrir (who possessed the characteristics of all the wargs back then -- he filled the roles of Garmr, Hati & Sköll combined). And Fenrir is, without a doubt, Loki's son, as is Jormungand -- the World Serpent. We're not exactly sure when the story of Loki's binding came about, but it's probably as old as the story of Fenrir. So, even though Loki could be helpful, the gods possessed prophecies warning them he and his children would cause their downfall.

      And, as for the earlier tellings, I'm not so sure if GRRM is following that anymore. A commenter pointed out that we do seem to have a match for Odin in the current cycle in the form of Euron Greyjoy. So, it could be the GRRM plans to tell Snorri's version of Ragnarök. But we shall see (assuming this is even what he's doing). But thanks for your comment. Good questions.

    2. And, as you point out, some of the jötnar (like Skadi, who was either half-jötunn, or full) were elevated to the status of god. And many of the males gods fathered children with female giants. However, it rarely happened in reverse. As friendly as the gods could get with the jötnar, they weren't exactly willing to share their goddesses with them. For example, many of the stories concerning Freyja involve jötnar trying to marry her (a prospect the gods are none too please with). Similarly, Idunn is kidnapped by a jötunn, etc. So, even though they could have relations, it was still an adversarial one at its core.

      And, what makes Norse mythology unique is their gods were far from all-powerful. There were a number of creatures and beings who could challenge them. So, they had to be diplomatic and compromise much of the time, since they could exert their will over everything/everyone. That may seem strange to us now, but it was a far more common motif in paganism than it is in monotheism. Yet, even so, the Norse really took it to an extreme. Even Odin was fairly weak in power compared to Zeus or Jupiter.

    3. edit: "couldn't" exert their will over everything/everyone

  8. I'm still having a hard time believing that Bloodraven is working against mankind in this. I could be convinced, but I'm not yet. You say that Bloodraven is against the Night's Watch, because Coldhands, acting for Bloodraven (I think probably even controlled by Bloodraven), has killed Night's Watchmen. Well, that's true, but the men that we know he killed were some of the ones who betrayed and killed Mormont at Craster's Keep. Surely Bloodraven is aware of these events, that Mormont is dead, and the Night's Watch is in shambles. I think Bloodraven sent Coldhands to kill those men because they were deserters and murderers, and because he remains loyal to the Watch and to the race of men.

    Also, you say that, in the show, Bloodraven's ravens lead the white walker to Sam and Gilly. I don't think this is true. I think Bloodraven is watching Sam, through the ravens, but the idea that the ravens (who, in the book, accompany Coldhands) are working with a white walker goes against everything we've read in the books. Plus, I think it's dangerous to assume that something that happens in the show is automatically going to happen that way in the book universe. There are too many little differences between the two.

    Also, think about the other things we have seen ravens do in the books. At the ceremony to name the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Mormont's raven bursts out of the kettle chanting "Snow! Snow!" This is probably Bloodraven, directly influencing the choosing of the new Lord Commander. Now, I'm sure you could argue that this was all part of his plan to destroy the Watch, by giving them a boy commander. But I think it is just the opposite. He's working in the best interest of the Watch and of men in general, by choosing the only candidate for Lord Commander who understands that the real enemy is not the wildlings, but the White Walkers.

    In short, Bloodraven and the Children of the Forest are working with men, to fight the Others. This is my interpretation, and, as you have also said, I could absolutely be proven wrong in time. I love all your analysis, and there are definitely many links to Norse Mythology here. But I think you're using that to extrapolate too far into GRRM's world. He has a history of usurping fantasy tropes. I think he could be doing the same thing with the events of Ragnarok. He could be twisting them around and changing them to fit his own mythology.

    1. All good points, and you could be right.

      But as for the Night's Watch -- I don't think Coldhands was sent to kill them because they were deserters (because, after all, Bloodraven was most likely a deserter from the Watch as well). Rather, I think Colhands killed them because he didn't want anyone following Bran (just like he didn't want Samwell to tell Jon about where Bran was going -- because Bloodraven knew that anyone who cared about Bran would've tried to prevent him from becoming a "corpse in a tree").

      But, Aemon is the far bigger question mark for me. He's Bloodraven's great-nephew and was sent to the Wall with him when Aegon V became king. So, if BR is not only fighting against the Others, but is a friend to the Night's Watch, why hasn't he let the Night's Watch, and Aemon in particular, know about it? Did they have a falling out? Is it because Aemon is a maester (which begs the question, why exactly did Aemon become a maester in the first place if he knew his great-uncle was such a great sorcerer?) Why is BR keeping everyone "in the dark"? Is Bran the only person in the world he trusts with his "secrets"? Does he think the rest of the world can't handle the truth? What exactly is he afraid of? Because, not only does he have the ability to warn the Watch, but the whole of Westeros to boot, yet he remains silent. At the very least, he could teach them to use dragon glass, even if he doesn't want to tell them about the Children of the Forest. As for communication, if he couldn't communicate with ravens, he could always send Coldhands to the Watch as his emissary (they could even meet at the weirwood grove beyond the Wall). But he doesn't. What he does do, however, is use his crow to manipulate the Watch. So, I'm guessing there's more here than meets the eye.

      Similarly, Samwell never mentions any record of a "Brynden Rivers" serving as Commander of the Night's Watch when going through the annals. But we know for a fact, according to the histories, Bloodraven was a Lord Commander. So, did Sam just overlook the name, or was his name erased? Is it possible BR might have done something to disgrace the watch and get his name stricken from the records... like desertion, for example? That could explain why Aemon doesn't mention him (i.e. "Hey Jon & Sam, I have an uncle living in a weirwood tree who is preparing to fight the Others and can tell you everything you'd ever want to know about them. Just go ahead and ask"). He either believes him dead (and BR hasn't bothered to tell him otherwise), or he doesn't mention him for a reason.

      Could it be that BR believes that Aemon & the Watch would screw everything up if he revealed his secrets? Perhaps. But what about Ned Stark (when he was alive)? Or Mance Rayder? Or anyone else for that matter? Of all people, the wildlings were more hep to the threat than anyone. Yet they have no clue that their "Last Greenseer" even exists. Hmm... All I'll say is it seems awfully fishy to me that the only person in the entire world BR trusts, other than his non-human attendants, is a crippled 8 year old who is severely traumatized... especially if the fate of the world is at stake.

      But again, this is just my interpretation. I could easily be wrong about it, and it wouldn't be the first time. So we will see. But thanks for commenting. Glad you found the blog of interest. Feel free to comment any time.

    2. I'll also add, about Ragnarök -- while I acknowledge it's possible GRRM is only using bits and pieces of the mythology, I honestly believe he's adapting the mythology in whole (granted, I think he's changed certain aspects of it in order to make it more realistic, and a better fit, but it's all there, if you ask me).

      Why do I think that?

      The setting matches, firstly. Winter is Coming, civil war, patricide, fratricide, incest, whoredom, etc. The forces of ice & fire are gathering, and there's a Bifröst Bridge that separates an ice realm (instead of a fire realm) from the realm of "gods and men". There are monstrous wolves, and messenger ravens, and serpents and krakens -- a sword age, a wind age, a wolf age, etc. We even have a Bound Wolf, and a World Serpent and a Queen of the Dead (Loki's Children). And The conflict that kicks the story into motion is the binding of a "warg" by the greatest swordsman in all the land, who just so happens to lose his hand as a result of his actions (i.e. Fenrir & Tyr).

      Plus -- commenters have brought to my attention just how many clues are scattered throughout the series (I had caught some of them myself, but I'd only just scratched the surface). For example, the very name Eddard Stark could be an allusion to the Prose Edda (which is our main source for Ragnarök mythology -- a Stark, or a Grim Edda). And, the titles for the books just so happen to be kennings (i.e. Old Norse metaphors -- as in, A Game of Thrones = Power Struggle, or A Feast for Crows = Armistice, etc). Not to mention names like Tyr[ion], Frey[r], Hod[o]r, Thor[os], etc., and words like "warg", and "wight", etc.

      Could it all be a coincidence, or am I just trying to force the pieces to fit? Possibly. But, there are an awful lot of coincidences here.

      And as for tropes -- I would contend that the very idea of turning Ragnarök into a fantasy series pretty much turns the genre on its head. Because, the vast majority of fantasies are heroic epics. Yet, Ragnarök is most definitely a tragedy, and an apocalyptic one at that... especially if written through the eyes of the "monsters" (i.e. the Cripples, Bastards & Broken Things) who are portrayed as having valid reasons for attacking the gods -- i.e. they were wronged (whereas the jötnar in Ragnarök mythology are largely unprovoked). So, it's basically the opposite of LotR or the Wheel of Time, or those kinds of series. There are no heroes and pretty much all of the characters we care about die in the end. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anything like that has been done before in fantasy.

      So, that's what I base it on. It's not just this or that -- it's a combination of everything added together.

    3. Great stuff, thanks! I will admit, I know nothing (Jon Snow) about Norse Mythology, so I have really been enjoying learning about it from you, and how it connects to this series.

      As far as Bloodraven goes, maybe he was actually unable to communicate with the rest of the world until now. Bran has an unnatural ability for skinchanging, so maybe he was the only person who was in tune enough for Bloodraven to contact via dreams (with the possible addition of Jojen). Bloodraven himself tells Bran that he has never been able to communicate through the trees or ravens, he is only able to watch. Now, though, it seems that Bran is learning to do what Bloodraven could never do. People are hearing whispers in the weirwoods. Ravens seem to say peculiar things, or even know people's names. These things have never happened before. So maybe Bloodraven had to wait for Bran in order to communicate with Aemon or anyone else.

      And maybe Bloodraven has been communicating, just in the only ways he is able. Maybe he led Ghost to find the cache of dragonglass on the fist of the first men.

      I honestly don't know why he never sent Coldhands to talk to the Watch. I agree, the whole thing is fishy, and doesn't seem quite right.

    4. It's worth noting that, although Ragnarok is the story of the apocalypse and humanity is virtually wiped out (save two souls), anything that happens to humanity is pretty much just a side effect of the events. My current understanding of how Martin could adapt this is that the Jotnar (the monsters) and the Gods (the politicians) have an all-out cage match so wild as to cause the end of humanity. From this point of view, Bloodraven is not against the realms of man, but rather, he is on a quest for vengeance against the contenders for the Iron Throne. His motives may be entirely FOR the realms of man, as far as we know.

      Consider, at the very least, how decidedly unMartin-like it would be to have a straight-up villain in the series. Whatever Bloodraven's motivation, allegiance, or goals may be, I expect him to be as squarely in the grey as Jaime, Jon, or Dany come the grand confrontations.

    5. @Bram

      All good points, and I mostly agree with your assessment, as usual. When I call Bloodraven/Loki a "villain", it's only for the sake of convenience. I don't mean it in the sense of a "dark lord", or anything like that. I mean it in the sense that he's not on our side (i.e. he's on the wrong side of the Wall -- playing for a different team)... which is a philosophical point GRRM tries to hammer home -- not all enemies are villains. The other side has good people fighting for them as well (as we see in the wildlings, and with characters like Podrick Payne -- who fought for the Lannisters even though he was nice guy). Because, at the heart of it, I think Bloodraven is/was a pretty decent guy, based on what we know about his life. As Hand of the King, it sounds like he was a lot like Tyrion, and was a just/effective governor. So, I don't think he's necessarily bad. What he's doing is bad.

      Which leads me to the possibility -- perhaps it's not the characters themselves who are "good & bad" (a majority of the characters are good some of the time, and bad at others -- like most people in real life). It's the situations they find themselves in that are either "good or bad". Meaning, we could end up with inherently good/innocent people who mean well (i.e. Bran, Jon Snow, Tyrion & Dany) fighting for a bad cause that is ultimately against their interests (just like Podrick Payne fighting for Joffrey), whereas the bad people who are guilty as sin (i.e. Walder Frey, Jaime Lannister, Euron Greyjoy, etc.) end up fighting for a good cause (like the Stark bannermen Brienne killed for raping and murdering the tavern girls who "laid with lions")... with poor old Samwell caught in the middle of it. So, I don't think Bran, Jon Snow, or Dany needs to be "turned to the dark side", per se. I think it will be presented in such a way that we'll be convinced they're doing the right thing (because, as readers, we're not looking at the bigger picture. We see the story through the eyes of individuals. So, we'll selfishly root for them, and will only realize our mistake once we see the aftermath -- "villains" disguised as "heroes", which, mind you, are terms I'm using very loosely).

      Plus, in Ragnarök mythology, there really isn't an explanation as to why the jötnar attack the gods. It's just foretold that they will. But, the monsters in this telling were obviously provoked. Not only do they have reason for attacking the "gods", but they have good reason at that. Bran & Dany's families were slaughtered wholesale when they were defenseless children, and they were forced into brutal lives of exile -- so we can sympathize with them -- we can understand their plight, and actually want them to do something about it -- to take their vengeance, regardless of how destructive and counterproductive their actions might be. But, the reverse is true for the jötnar in Ragnarök mythology. We see them as mindless villains hellbent on destruction, because we don't understand what's motivating them (if anything). So, it's not as if Bran, Dany & Jon will destroy the world "just cuz". In their minds, and in the minds of the readers, they'll be doing the right thing, especially if they're manipulated into doing so (i.e. they won't fully understand the consequences of their actions).

      But again, I'm just raising the possibility. It will definitely be interesting to see how GRRM resolves it (assuming this theory is on the right path in the first place, of course).

    6. Yep. I just wanted to reiterate the immense amount of grey surrounding all of this speculation. Tying Bloodraven to Loki, as you mentioned, doesn't give us any clues about his motivations. It just shows us what role he's playing in the grand scheme of things. Like any good adaptation, we expect the roles, factions, etc. to be mixed up a good bit, but the mainstays - Loki and his four wolves, Surtr and his elemental purge (fire in mythology, ice in SOIAF), Hel and the forces of death - are what we look for and expect. Good and Evil has nothing to do with it (and this we know from Martin).

      Take Arya and Jon. These are two fan favorites whose entire storylines have been full of either acts of hatred, or acts of treachery. Arya has murdered, or caused the death of, more than a handful of people; meanwhile, Jon has broken more oaths than he has made. And yet these two characters remain firmly in the good guy category, and correspond to figures on the side of evil in the story of Ragnarok.

      So, in closing: Bloodraven is not evil because we tie him to Loki. Rather, we expect Bloodraven to fill Loki's role in Ragnarok. Playing the Martin metagame means throwing morality out the window, because we all know that Martin doesn't care the slightest bit about having something as cliche as morality influence the story.

      Hopefully this perspective is useful to someone.

    7. doing a quick google search on Ragnarok, and thinking about what GRRM recently said that this story will have a bittersweet ending... ragnarok says that there will be 2 people left and they will repopulate the world. do you think it will be 2 people? if so, who?
      arya and gendry maybe? grey worm and missandei?

  9. "Which would imply they aren't merely a tool of the Children, but rather, elemental ice creatures, much the same as dragons are to fire[...]

    I like the idea of elemental creatures.

    CoF == earth

    Dragons == fire

    Others/(Kraken also, maybe?) == water/ice

    ??? == air

    1. I'd also be interested in what you think lies beyond the curtain of light in Bran's dream.

      "North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep intot he heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of the tears burned on his cheeks."

    2. Pretty sure that's Martin beyond the curtain of light. Bran is seeing the end of the whole series, and can't help but be terrible depressed about the crazy ordeal.

      Sorry, couldn't help myself. I'd be surprised if the curtain of light is anything important, it sounds like a pretty stereotypical end of perception. Similar to how the Dothraki don't think the sea ever ends, Bran thinks (or sees, or whatever) that the world ends in a curtain of light.

    3. If we are on the right track with all this Ragnarök business, then Bran saw what the Norse referred to as "Ginnungagap", or the "Yawning Void". It is the place where they believed all creation began (and where Ragnarök will begin as well -- when ice & fire mix). The southern half is a "curtain of light" and the northern half is the "heart of winter".

      From Gylfaginning, Prose Edda:

      Ginnungagap, the Yawning Void ... which faced toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspelheim.

  10. In the comments, I think it was on the Jamie post, you mentioned that Bloodraven would have to trick or use Bran, Jon and Dany for them to work for the forces of magic against mankind. You said that Bran was already being tricked by Bloodraven and that after Jon has been resurrected he too would be able to be manipulated by Bloodraven. Leaving Dany still needing to be tricked.

    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned but I believe this trick may have already been prophesied. In the house of the undying Dany is told 'three treasons will you know: once for blood and once for gold and once for love'. What if the treason for blood isn't the treason by the maegi that killed Drogo but a future betrayal by Bloodraven or his agents either for her blood, (it would hold a lot of power being Queen's Blood) or the blood of mankind in the coming battle.

    1. once for blood - the wine maker trying to poison her because she is a targayen.
      once for gold - her handmaiden selling her out to the king of quarth for gold.
      once for love - jorah mormont spying on her maybe?

    2. I just recently found a fascinating and potentially explosive prediction about the three betrayals. It casts doubt on what Dany thinks with good reason, because POV characters are more than likely wrong about things like this. I'll leave a link, but the gist of it is that none of what Dany thinks are betrayals are actual betrayals. The wine maker wouldn't be a betrayal, because she never trusted him in the first place. The handmaiden one is possible, but though Jorah is in unrequited love with her, he didn't betray her for love but rather a pardon, and it's arguably if it's a betrayal since he didn't now Dany before he agreed to it, so it's not really a betrayal. The theory I found suggested it might be Dany's dragons/children who will betray her.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I've read through most of the comments and haven't seen anyone posting about a certain topic. So, it's possible I've missed where it was discussed, but what of Melisandre burning the Godswood Trees? I understand her zealotry, but if BR is the TEC and the LoL and using the weirwoods, why would he tell Melisandre in her fires that she should burn the weirwoods? That just doesn't quite add up for me if BR and Melisandre are in league (or Mel being under his influence).

  13. If BR has the weirwoods cut down, he can't see. He still has the ravens, but he can't watch everything. It would defeat his own purpose.

    Also, there's the question of why men cut down the weirwoods in the south to begin with. What were they trying to protect themselves from, and why?

    I really hope Martin gives us a glimpse of the Isle of Faces.

    One last thing...someone asked about the elemental creatures of air. Those would be Odin's ravens, although harpies are also considered elemental air and wind creatures.

  14. A very interesting theory, no doubt.

    My knowledge of Norse mythology is almost null, admittedly, though I had reached similar conclusions (BR is playing Bran, the CoF are behind the Others, and both are planning to destroy the world of man, so on and so forth), nonetheless.

    That said, if this is what GRRM has in mind, I don't see BR/CoF/Others as villains (in any possible understanding of the word). Quite the contrary, in fact, if this is the real end game scenario that GRRM has planned, I think it's perfect.

    Now, I have a tendency to look at ASoIaF from a very different perspective than most other folk. I don't know why, but it is what it is. So please, bare with me as I try to explain my theory.

    First off, to avoid any confusion that may stem from the words "gods", "monsters" or "giants", based on modern Western archetypes (let's face it, the mere mention of "Gods vs. Monsters" will inevitably lead the reader to believe that the former are heroes and the latter villains, even if/when that isn't the intent), I will call the "monsters" here Supernaturals and the "gods" Highborns.

    From this perspective, Supernaturals are not human. This is rather obvious concerning the CotF, Others and their Wights, and dragons, but I think people are making the mistake of perceiving some Supernaturals (Jon, Bran, Arya, etc.) as human.

    They might be superhuman, given their special abilities and all, but in order to understand what I'm trying to say here, it's important to see that they are past human. And I don't think it's coincidence that the theory explored in this blog happens to compare all these Supernaturals with the "monsters/giants" in Ragnarök and the Highborns with the "Gods".

    But aside from this, the Supernaturals share something else in common (at least the sentients included in this group, if not the elementals like Others and Dragons): they know the meaning of mercy.

    Bloodraven was a good, just Hand who was wronged. Dany Targaryen (whom I actually believe to be capable of surviving fire because of the magic in her blood, which is not the same as blood magic) has dug a deep hole for herself in her efforts to free every single slave in Essos. Melisandre doesn't strike me as obsessed with blood magic and human sacrifice alone; she also seems to be obsessed with saving mankind (whether manipulated from afar by BR or no).

    Jon Snow was stabbed to death because he decided to risk going out on a limb so that the Wildlings could move freely across the Wall. Bran is obviously a good-natured kid, who's seeking to save the realms of men (like Melisandre, whether manipulated or no). And the CotF are basically "tree-hugging" creatures, who may have been forced to act by a mere instinct of self-preservation (and not vengeance, which as noted in this blog already, is the main motivation for humans included in the Supernatural group).

    Now, unless Tyrion does turn out to have Targaryen blood in his veins and ends up a dragon rider (as popular theory seems to suggest), that would make him a Supernatural, too. Though one way or the other, he is a "broken thing", nonetheless, apparently on the side of the Supernaturals.


    1. By comparison, Highborns such as Littlefinger, the Boltons, the Greyjoys, Walder Frey, Cersei Lannister, Randyll Tarly, and the Tyrells (up to a point), are not only destroying the realm already all by themselves; they deserve to answer for their despicable crimes. And most importantly, they are totally devoid of mercy, human or no.

      But it's the part about them destroying the realm that I find as the key to all this. In yet another typical Martin-esque twist, it's the Highborns who are destroying the world. GRRM has gone out of his way to show us this throughout the novels (and IMO, the existence of the Brotherhood w/o Banners (led by Supernaturals, not coincidentally) is proof enough of this.

      So, while I cannot vouch for the Supernaturals by claiming that their war is against the Highborns only (though, so far, it certainly seems that way to me), I cannot say that the land and the people of ASoIaF's world would be much better off if their current lieges win the upcoming war (assuming that this is what Martin has in mind, of course).

      Now, in the LotR the Hobbits had to kill many humans under Saruman's influence to save the Shire. Tolkien call that chapter "The Scouring of the Shire". Well, I think this is the "Scouring of Westeros and Essos"; the same scenario, only at a much grander scale.

      I believe we shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that, just because a character is human, he/she is doing something for the sake of all humankind. In other words, the small folk of both continents is already screwed and that cannot be helped anymore. What's done is done and to them, it's a "pick your poison" scenario already.

      IMO, theirs is the only tragedy involving humans in the story (let's face it, I don't think many readers shed a tear for Joffrey or Tywin, just like I'm sure they won't feel for Walder Frey or the Boltons, in case they get their due). So with that in mind, I don't think this is a bad thing at all. Quite the contrary, IMO, this is just nature's way of balancing itself.

  15. A splendid bit of work. I'm not in agreement with all of it and would suggest that Celtic mythology is also playing a very big part in what's going on as well as the Norse stuff - Bran for example is a very clear re-imagining of Bran the Blessed from the Mabinogion, not just in name or in the raven connection, but also in his head being placed under a hill to watch over the Island of Britain/Westeros.

    May I invite you across to the long-running Heresy thread on the Westeros site - we're to be found on the A Dance with Dragons page, where you will find extensive discussion of many of the issues raised here.

    Black Crow

    1. Hey, thanks Black Crow. Don't know if you remember me, but I'm BrosBeforeSnows on Westeros, and started a thread about this around the same time you started the Heresy thread. Granted, I haven't commented in a while, but I always check in on Heresy whenever I'm on the site. There's some very interesting stuff on there (and I can't believe how long it's been going. It's truly remarkable). I actually recommend your thread to my readers at the bottom of my main Ragnarök post, fyi.

      So thanks again for the comment. I'll definitely have to chime in on your thread sometime soon.

  16. Hi!

    I have really enjoyed reading this theory. I had summoned a theory of my own about the elementals being at war, and that being the endgame. But this seems much more likely. I'm reading "dreamsongs" by GRRM at the moment and in a commentary he states that he read a lot of Norse Mythology, including the Edda's when he was in college. Not so far fatched that he would like to include that in his own epic story. In the stories I have read of his, the main theme seems to be that heroes turn out to be villains and vice versa.
    What if the "evil"is man? It really seems that way in his story. He has said that in the next books we will see what really lies North. What if the land of the Others is one of peace? That their claim on the land is a more honest one? Humans only bring death and destruction...wage constant wars against each other. The Children of the Forest may have once been opposed to Ice, or had it seem so, but could just as well be in league to defeat the humans.
    GRRM used to be a big hippie...adds up for him to send this message.

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  17. I thought about it for a while, and am now less sure about all magic ganging up on the humans. Could be still, but Rhllor and the Others seem very real...and very different as the Children of the Forest. I do think they could use some of the Icemagic on their own to create Coldhands for instance...since magic seems to be like "the Force". Mel gets a surge of extra magic abilities when she arrives at the wall, built by Earth-magic. And all magic seems to benefit from dragons being present. But I dont see the Others as the same as Dragons...Think they do have their own agenda. And what do the Children have to gain by destroying humanity? They are just a few. dont think they want all of Westeros back. I feel like the Drowned God, (water) Rhllor, ( Fire) Wind ( Great Other) and The Old Gods ( Earth) will fight out an Epic battle resembling Ragnarök. But with humans caught in between...used as their puppets. Rather than being the target. I have a pic illustrating this:) I have no idea if you follow that link! Else I can email it to you.

  18. Great theories, although I don't necessarily agree with them all, your logic seems pretty sound and I understand how you came to your conclusions.

    However, one little wrench to throw, and there were too many comments to read through to see if this was brought up already...Dragonglass - obsidian, a volcanic rock - is what Sam uses to kill the Other. This is an instance you overlooked where fire and ice do NOT work together. Thoughts?

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  20. Here's the thing, Ragnarok is not really supposed to result in the elimination of humanity. I too have wondered whether Bloodraven's alliances are with the Others or not, as we see he can control a wight himself, and is awfully pasty looking, but the point of Ragnarok is that even the gods cannot try to manipulate it. Loki, the figure most commonly depicted as setting Ragnarok into motion, ends up dead as a result of his own scheming. I suppose you could make the claim that Bloodraven's death will be necessary to the removal of all humanity, but I think you're misinterpreting Ragnarok, as well as GRRM's desire to get back in touch with actual folklore.

    You seem to be interpreting the Children of the Forest to be the "elves" (and I mean that in the Norse sense, not the Legolas sense), when GRRM has already come out and welcomed a comparison between the Others and the Sidhe, a fey creature of Celtic origin. So while you are grasping on something very real as to the Others simply being anOther race, I think you're off base by making the same comparison to the Children. He wants you to look at them, and see elves, but that's too simple, and not really in keeping with Norse beliefs regarding elves. Anyway, would love to hear some more thoughts on this.

  21. Hey, love this theory, not sure if it has been mentioned yet, but what about the link between Dragonglass (the product of volcanoes and Valyria, perhaps the children got this from Valyria somehow and Dragonglass (why do they call it that?) kills Others and Dragons...)

  22. Hey, just wanted to ask if you are aware of the Jojen Paste" theory. It would seem to fit your ideas about cannibalism, blood magic, and the COTF. The theory (if you haven't heard it) is essentially that Jojen was killed off-screen by the Children and fed to Bran in the paste which makes his see visions... here' a link to the basics of it:

    Interesting read btw, obviously there is a range of analysis here, some being more speculative than others, but I think you've done some good work and it will be interesting to see how much of the speculation ends up turning out. Again, it's a testament to the genius of Martin to weave a tapestry so complex that many different outcomes can seem to make sense. :)

    1. I actually meant to leave this comment on the other thread, about bloodmagic and the COTF. Apologies.

  23. Sorry, I am a little late to the game here but I just discovered this site and its blowing my freaking mind apart.

    I've considered everything you've said in the blog and it makes a ton of sense - there are a few weak links that I think we won't be able to clear up on our own, but you're definitely onto something here. The first thing I thought of when reading about the conflict between "monsters" and "Gods", is when Jorah Mormont says "The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

    This theme that the high lords (Gods) are happy to let the land and everyone in it suffer so long as they get what is theirs by right is a little less than subtle here (see also: the four little rats & the woman in the House of the Undying). He obviously makes a clear point that Dany's intentions are good in that she wants to end slavery and make herself someone who is worthy of being a queen, but she's still driven by a blind ambition that leaves destruction in her wake. She's also resolved to use dragons, which cause mass destruction, to get what she wants. They all would be. And perhaps this is the reason for the children's fight, as you believe is coming. And I think you're right - I think GRRM's negative worldview is going to rear its ugly head.

    What stands out to me about this series is the stark contrast between the fantastical elements vs. the political/realist elements. The parallels with mythology are just as obvious as the parallels with our real history. They are juxtaposed in such a way that it seems like they shouldn't have anything to do with one another, but your theory here connects them very neatly in a way that I don't think anyone was able to even vision before.

    [ Going a little off topic here, I think its intentional in the TV series that not as much attention is given to what Bran is doing... its like, ok what Bran is discovering with the warging is kind of cool, but there's not nearly as much interest in it from us as viewers because its not chock-full of action and its unfolding so slowly. I think thats intentional, like we're being reminded this is going on, we're aware of it, and at the same time we're all asking ourselves "How on earth are all these loose ends going to tie together in 2 more books?" And I think once his story comes to light we'll all be going back and re-watching the Bran parts to see what we missed. ]

    Now that you've pointed out that the Ice & Fire are in unison vs. opposing forces, I think the whole "warging Ice Dragons" theory floating around makes much more sense. The Others obviously have a highly advanced warging ability - that is how they re-animate corpses, and why the wights' eyes glow blue too. Jojen tells Bran when he wargs into Hodor that "no one can do that" (quoting TV series). It makes sense to me now that the Starks are descendents of the Night's King and "the Other woman" (as I like to call her), juxtaposed against Danaerys and the Targaryens who are obvious descendents of the dragon. So I think something significant about the Starks & the Targaryens is important here, which is why the eye is so heavy on Jon Snow and I feel like he's going to have a bigger part to play than what you're suggesting here. If he really is the son of Rhaegar & Lyanna, that is obviously extremely important and is just a little glossed over when we're looking at it only through the lens of mythology vs. GRRM's creative genius.

    That is all.

  24. Just a quick follow-up to this, going off of the discussion about good vs. evil - its very clear there is no good or evil force here even if the theories presented make it seem as though the Children are going to ultimately end up being the Big Bad. I think all the violence and backstabbing and betrayals etc. in the world of the "Gods" makes it impossible for us to root for them completely, esp. if Daenarys, arguably the biggest fan fave next to maybe Tyrion, does end up being on the other side of it as you hypothesize. I think that's exactly why GRRM lets our favorite characters die - to ween us of this "good vs. evil" mentality that plagues fantasy literature and force you to really examine who should actually win this battle.

    I'm having crazy epiphanies all over the place right now - thank you again for this blog!

  25. Just came across this site. Really wonderful theory. Reading this reminds me of some years ago, during the break between season 3 and 4 of Lost. It was the first time I came across the theory that there are two forces in battle against each other(Jacob & TMIB), and I thought to myself, no, no way, really? It was so out there to me at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was possible. Lo and behold, that's exactly how things turned out. I am getting the same vibe reading this post. Well done OP. Even if it isn't how things turn out, it's still an excellent well-thought, well explained post.

  26. I certainly love this theory/plot and hope it turns out to be the case (should George finish the books, of course).

    My question would be - assuming this all is true, that the CoF are orchestrating everything (via Bloodraven, etc) and are using a bunch of forces to wipe out humanity - would it be ALL humanity? I guess I'm asking about the fate of the Starks and the North. The descendants of the First Men, who still use the old ways and believe in the Old Gods. Who warg, who worship at the heart trees. Who tell their children about the Children.

    Do they intend to spare them and co-exist with them? Perhaps with at least the Starks. It seems significant to me, first off that the Starks are obviously the main characters of the entire series and the focus, but also that they appear to be the special focus of the CoF, if your theory be at all true. Bran, Jon and Arya are all being made special use of, and not in a bad way or exactly exploitative way - they're being given great powers. All the Stark kids were given great powers of warging and the direwolves. It does not seem as if the CoF, if they've orchestrated all this, have it in for them.

  27. Also, one possible problem with this interpretation that I just thought of - Melisandre toppling and burning the Seven on Dragonstone makes perfect sense under your theory, but when they entered the North didn't she also start burning weirwoods? Frankly I can't imagine that the CoF or an agent of theirs would order that done or allow it to be done under any circumstances - the destruction of weirwoods was a major part of the original grievance and the original wars.

  28. Bloodraven on the TV show now obviously calling all the shots. Where is he taking everyone??

  29. I have only two doubts so far. One is, if the White Walkers and Dragons are supposed to be on the same side, how come obsidian, "Dragonglass", can kill the White Walkers? And on the Others as a separate society, in the TV show, we see on of Craster's sons taken by the Walkers and him apparently turning into one... Is that because there are no She-Walkers, or Craster's Sons have something special about them that the Walker's need?

  30. Man, this is the Grand Unifying Hypothesis I've been looking for. Absolutely brilliant! It has everything GRRM's been addressing all along. Repetition of History. Religion. Magic. Duality of Man/Life and the consequent Balance needed. Mortality. etc.

    I don't believe humanity will be completely wiped out though. I think state of affairs will be inverted between the CotF and Humanity; where Jon Snow, the human incarnation of Ice and Fire, (assuming R+L = J, which by thematic reasons alone makes sense) will manage to obtain mercy from The Children. Like the seasons, it's a cycle. So it goes.

    Some people might be enraged that The Game is going to be rendered pointless, but that's the whole message. There are bigger things at play then our petty affairs, and if we don't have the perspective to see that, we will be destroyed.

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  32. I do believe GRR Martin said that the Others are !misunderstood. That being said: Great Theory!

  33. Awesome posts. I'm learning a lot and I'm enjoying ASOIAF books better!
    About that last paragraph, you've seem to pass from thinking Bloodraven is good to Bloodraven is bad. I think he looks good and bad constantly. That's the nature of the character. He seems to have his purposes and means. The point is, he might have been chained by the Children of the Forest, but, let’s says Bloodraven is Bloodraven, loose or chained. If he was double-crossed, he will double-cross them better. He will be no tool and he will trick them all. That is what he has done before; he did what he thought that was got to be done. It is his nature and the Children can chain him but not his nature. Bloodraven will screw them over because he has his own agenda and I think even with all his flaws, he does love his family but the people he knew are gone now. By the way, about the communication issues: What about the Old Bear's Raven. Bloodraven seems to be behind the bird and its influences.
    I see him as a kind of Frankenstein or Jaime Lannister, he got cynical because people treated them badly for no reason or for wrong reasons. After all, in Bloodraven's mind he tries to do good. But he ends up being creepy because he goes too far sometimes. And he doesn't do well recognizing his own mistakes. The typical, but maybe prosaic, issues with pride and anger.

  34. I think GRRM has given us Littlefjnger to parallel what's happening with Bloodraven. Baelish told Samsa (I believe in the show) the stiry shout how he couldn't beat Brandon with brawn so he has slowly gathered ways to manipulate and control using wits. This sounds like exactku wgat the Children are doing only on a much much longer scale. It's just wheels within wheels, and I think we've been shown it all; we just may not know it yet.

    1. Sorry for all the typos. I was answering this on my phone, which currently has a cracked screen.

  35. Nice article in Esquire Magazine holding up your blog as the meaning of Game of Thrones. ta

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. *Actual definition. Sorry for typos.

  37. I have always heard Ragnarok translated as "The Gods' Twilight". Where do you get the Song of Ice and Fire translation? These are certainly primordial forces in Norse mythology and are part of the creation story, as well as being involved with Ragnarok, but I don't know about that being the actual definition of the name.
    Interesting article, I actually became intrigued about these books due to the reference to the old Ice and Fire forces of Norse cosmology.

  38. I think you're right! I'm trying to remember where I read that little snippet. I think it was on someone else's blog, and that's where I picked it up. Oddly enough I'm currently in the midst of The Poetic Edda right now, and I plan to read The Prose Edda at some point in the future. I do know Song has a great deal of Norse Mythology in it, and there's some similar symbolism of ice and fire in both narratives.

    I wish I could remember where I read that.

    Oh! Here it is! It was on this very blog lol. The article linked below. The author of this work himself makes this claim at the beginning of this post, and then elaborates. I knew I was making things up :)

  39. I don't know much about Norse mythology but I've wondered if there was more of a connection between the great other and the lord of light, I think the trees are connected to both; the weirwood and the ironwood I think it's called (the black tree with blue leaves) both awaken visions. I think it interesting that the weirwood has red leaves and bone whit bark; red signifies life blood the others blood is blue; the lord of light uses black shadows and the others are called white shadows. I'm only a few hundred pages into Asia and from one of brans chapters bran...because they're diffrent, like night and day or ice and fire, jojen....if ice can burn then love and hate can mate. I think this is a bit of foreshadowing but we'll find out.

  40. Nice article in Esquire Magazine holding up your blog as the meaning of Game of Thrones.
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