Hey there friends, patrons, and fellow mythical astronomers! It’s your friend LmL, here with another Moons of Ice and Fire episode to chill you to the bone… because it’s time to talk about Night’s King. Last time we hung out with Aegon the Conqueror and his dragon queens of ice and fire, and we essentially led up to the grand hypothesis that that Night’s King seems to have been a blood of the dragon person of the line of Azor Ahai, and that the story of Night’s King and Night’s Queen seems to be the origin story of the Others, as opposed to something which took place some time shortly after the Long Night as is commonly believed. Clearly, I am going to have to back up those assertions, and that’s what we’re here to do today.In terms of archetypes and legends, I suggested that Azor Ahai’s moons of ice and fire love triangle seems to cast Nissa Nissa as his fire moon bride and Night’s Queen as his ice moon bride. At some point in between his two ‘weddings,’ Azor Ahai would have become the Night’s King, seemingly through his use of the profane blood magic which played a part in bringing on the Long Night. As Azor Ahai, he seems to have cracked the moon with a blood magic rite performed with Nissa Nissa, most likely against her will in my opinion… and as Night’s King, he gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen and produced cold children who were transformed into the first White Walkers through a process we don’t yet entirely understand.
One of the main ways we arrived at this conclusion – or at least the way that I arrived at it, and have hopefully persuaded you to consider it as a plausible hypothesis – is by the discovery of the Other-like symbolism of the Kingsguard and the Warrior’s Sons. Both of them are tied to Visenya, because Visenya created the Kingsguard, and because the Warrior’s Son’s make the Sept of Baelor on Visenya’s hill their home base. This creates an important parallel between Visenya and Night’s Queen as icy moon queens who play the “mother of the Others” role.
The Kingsguard in particular were created to protect King Aegon, who, with his night-black armor, his Blackfyre sword, and his “Black Dread” dragon, makes for the ultimate prototype of the dark solar king. I’ve begun to make the case that “Night’s King” is part of that same dark solar king archetype, highlighting the fact that both Night’s King and Aegon the Conqueror take one of these “mother of the Others” figures to wife. I also highlighted the fact that King Stannis seems to possess fairly clear parallels to both Night’s King and Azor Ahai, and as we’ll see today, he’s not alone in the combination.
Ultimately, it is that thing called RLJ, the combination of Stark and Targaryen which made Jon Snow, is what explains the deepest meaning of this first leg of the Moons of Ice and Fire series. Jon is the Prince That Was Promised, and his song is the “song of ice and fire” in part because of his Stark / Targaryen heritage, so of course this is in many ways going to come to a head with him. Jon is the most important ice dragon in the story! Even if another ice dragon comet comes around, Jon will still be more important. He’s the special snowflake!
But before we can get to RLJ, and before I can begin to draw more conclusions from the theory that Night’s King was a blood of the dragon person, I want to provide more evidence to support my Night’s King theory itself. I also want to show you more moons of ice and fire love triangles to help support my theory that there were two moons in the first place, and that these so-called “love triangles” are symbolizing a sun and two moons.
Here’s the good news: it’s hardly going to be a slow episode. We’ll be starting with our first character to play the Night’s King role, Stannis Baratheon, and finishing up with the most important Night’s King character of the final act of our story, a character many of you have been waiting for me to discuss… and that’s none other than Mr. Pirate Odin on Bad Acid himself, Euron Crow’s Eye. In between we’ll visit some dear friends of mythical astronomy such as Jon, Melisandre, Ygritte, and Gilly; we’ll say hello to some fresh faces too, such as Selyse Baratheon, Val the Wildling ‘Princess’, Craster, Ser Waymar Royce, and Euron; and I’ll even throw a few Targaryens, Starks, and Daynes from ages past. We’ll have some stellar mythical astronomy metaphors, naturally, and an excellent dragon-on-dragon battle featuring Vhagar, and I might even offer you some shade of the evening when the moment is right. And by ‘when the moment is right,’ I mean that we will be visiting the House of the Undying and those shady, blue-lipped warlocks.
Oh and one other note; this episode will contain spoilers for the Forsaken chapter of The Winds of Winter which George has read aloud at a con, and the transcript of which can be found in several places online. History of Westeros also offers a great review of the chapter, by the way. I know a few of you guys and gals are holding off on reading Winds spoiler chapters, however I feel that you can and should make an exception for The Forsaken because George actually did intend for it to be a part of ADWD, only to have it cut for length. It doesn’t reveal any major plot twists; it’s really just taking what we already know about Euron (he’s crazy, uses sorcery, and has delusions of grandeur) and turns the dial up to eleven. The chapter is basically interaction between Aeron Damphair and Euron, interspersed with nightmare visions, so it’s mostly the symbolism in the nightmares I am after as it relates to Euron. Hopefully that’s not a problem for anyone, but fair warning. I don’t think this podcast will lessen anyone’s experience when Winds comes out; if anything, it will give you a hazy, shade of the evening-like glimpse into the horrors that await which will only wet your taste for more. However I did leave that section to the end, so if you really don’t want to be spoiled, you can stop at the Euron section and miss everything I have to say about him.
It’s going to be a very character-driven episode, which everyone seems to like, but the overarching mission will be to discover the nature of the Night’s King. We’ll also continue to explore the ice and fire dichotomy that runs through the story, as will every episode in the Moons of Ice and Fire series, so just sort of keep those ideas in the back of your mind as we go – Night’s King, ice and fire dichotomy. We will flesh out the Night’s King archetype by doing what we usually do – by identifying characters who seem to be playing into that archetype and then examining their symbolism and comparing them to each other, and by thinking about them as metaphors for flying space rocks. As we do all of that, we can compare what we find to what we’ve already learned about Aegon the Conqueror, Rhaegar, Night’s King, and of course, Azor Ahai. .
Stannis is the logical place to begin, since I’ve already cited him as an example of someone who shows us both Azor Ahai and Night’s King Symbolism. So let me quickly say thanks to George R. R. Martin for writing the novels, to John Walsh of the John Walsh Guitar YouTube channel for our theme music, and let’s all welcome back Martin Lewis who has once again given us his amazing vocal performances for the book quotes. Thanks to all of our Patreon supporters, who have gobbled up all the available zodiac slots and most of the guardian of the galaxy slots with their tremendous support, and as a result, I have created some new Patreon reward tiers. You can now join the Long Night’s Watch and be resurrected as a green zombie, you can become an Other and walk the woods as a cold white shadow, or you can even become the envy of every half-mad Targaryen and transform yourself into a dragon. Check out lucifermeanslightbringer.com and click on the patreon tab, and as always that’s also the place to find the matching text to this podcast.
A Blue-Eyed King Raised a Red Sword
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I’ve been mentioning this curious mystery about Stannis in pretty much every Moons of Ice and Fire episode – why is this guy who’s running around with a burning sword and calling himself Azor Ahai reborn acting so much like Night’s King? You guys are familiar with the basics: Stannis wields a burning sword he calls Lightbringer and did the little faux-Lightbringer forging ritual on Dragonstone, and of course, he’s straight-up named as Azor Ahai Reborn himself by Melisandre. Throughout the entire story, Stannis wears “a crown of red gold with points fashioned in the shape of flames,” and as we saw last time, he dreams of of a man he believes to be himself wearing a crown of actual fire. Both of these are clear allusions to the origin of the golden king’s crown as a symbol of the sun’s rays and of the king wielding the divine authority of the sun god.
As the story progresses, we also find Stannis focused on fighting the Others with a sincerity matched only by Jon Snow and the true brothers of the Night’s Watch, and all of this matches the myths of Azor Ahai as a warrior who fought against the dark.
On the other hand, Stannis is a rebel king who set himself up at the Wall (at least according to everyone not loyal to Stannis), just as the Night’s King of legend set himself up as a rebel king at the Nightfort. Stannis, infamously, takes the Nightfort as his seat, just as Night’s King did, and just to make sure we notice the parallels. Legend says Night King’s was thrown down by the Stark of Winterfell and the original Joramun, the first King Beyond the Wall, or said another way, Night’s king was said to have warred against two people, the Lord of Winterfell and the King Beyond the Wall. And so too does Stannis, though with better results so far. That’s right, Stannis first wars against Mance Raydar when he was King Beyond the Wall, and when last we left him, he was headed south to fight the temporary Lord of Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton.
Most importantly, and this was the subject of Moons of Ice and Fire 1, the succubus-like process by which Melisandre draws from Stannis’s life fires to make the black shadows with burning hearts that we like to call the shadowbabies seems to be a temperature- and color-inverted facsimile of Night’s Queen taking the seed and soul of Night’s King to make white shadow Others.
The most straightforward way to explain Stannis’s blend of Azor Ahai and Night’s King symbolism is that ‘Azor Ahai the guy with the burning sword’ is also Night’s King in some sense. And when I say “in some sense,” I mean of course that it could be a father / son or brother / brother relationship, or they may simply be of the same line and thus share the same archetype. I think the relationship must be very close though, or else it doesn’t make sense to show us characters who manifest both night’s King and Azor Ahai reborn symbolism.
Now, with all this in mind, let’s take a look at the first description of Stannis that we get in the books, from Cressen’s prologue chapter of ACOK:
There was a single chair in the room, carefully positioned in the precise place that Dragonstone occupied off the coast of Westeros, and raised up to give a good view of the tabletop. Seated in the chair was a man in a tight-laced leather jerkin and breeches of roughspun brown wool. When Maester Cressen entered, he glanced up. “I knew you would come, old man, whether I summoned you or no.” There was no hint of warmth in his voice; there seldom was.
Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone and by the grace of the gods rightful heir to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, was broad of shoulder and sinewy of limb, with a tightness to his face and flesh that spoke of leather cured in the sun until it was as tough as steel. Hard was the word men used when they spoke of Stannis, and hard he was. Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head, circling behind his ears like the shadow of a crown. His brother, the late King Robert, had grown a beard in his final years. Maester Cressen had never seen it, but they said it was a wild thing, thick and fierce. As if in answer, Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.
Despite his solar king status, his voice has no warmth, and despite the red gold crown of twisted flames he likes to wear, we can see here the implication of another crown – the shadow crown of the dark solar king, which is an inversion of the golden sun ray symbol. Stannis has a blue-black shadow on his face, and his eyes are a blue as dark as a sea by night – again, this is all implying darkness and night, and there’s a companion line a few chapters later when Stannis and Mel burn the Seven that says “Stannis watched impassively, his jaw hard as stone under the blue-black shadow of his tight-cropped beard.”
The description of Stannis’s blue eyes as open wounds implies blue blood, and blue blood reminds us of the Others. The combination of all this shadow talk with the color blue also reminds us of the Others, absolutely, and so we can see that Stannis’s Night King symbolism was there right from the beginning, even before Melisandre called him Azor Ahai reborn and had him draw a sword from the fire.
The other noticeable thing is the description of Stannis as hard; his skin is like steel and his jaw as hard as stone. I think the description of Stannis’s fake Lightbringer from ADWD actually encapsulates Stannis’s personal symbolism nicely:
Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.
The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel.
We know what it means for the sun to be made into steel – that’s when the moon drinks the fire of the sun gives birth to the sun’s fiery meteor sword children. Since those black Lightbringer meteor are the children of the sun and moon, they can be thought of a transformed or reborn sun, and thus, the sun made into steel and stone. This is why the “second sun / son” symbolic motif works so well – the Lightbringer meteors light up the sky like a second sun, and on a symbolic level, they represent the son of the sun. The sun made steel.
The description of the Red Temple in Volantis complements this idea perfectly:
Three blocks later the street opened up before them onto a huge torchlit plaza, and there it stood. Seven save me, that’s got to be three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor. An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock, the Temple of the Lord of Light loomed like Aegon’s High Hill. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange met and melded in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twisted ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reached for the sky. Fire turned to stone.
Fire turned to stone – it’s basically another way of saying “the sun made steel,” and obviously it makes sense to see these descriptions pinned on Stannis’s Lightbringer and the Red Temple, since those two things define a large part of who Stannis has become. Stannis is a reborn solar king turned hard as stone and steel – but as we’ve said many times, the reborn sun is a dark sun – the dark solar king figure. That’s who Stannis is. His incarnation of the archetype emphasizes the solar king’s turn towards darkness.
As we discussed at the beginning of the last episode, the dark sun or night sun symbolizes two related things: the dark, sunless sky, and the black moon meteors which brought the darkness of the Long Night. If the regular sun wields Lightbinger the comet as his sword, then the dark sun can be thought of as wielding the black moon meteors as his sword. But you can also think of black sun and black meteor as the same person, since sword and swordsman are one in the same.
In regards to Stannis, the symbolic descriptions of his being like stone and iron and steel basically make him the black meteor version of the dark, reborn sun. Imagine his crown of fire and shining sword as the ring of fire that engulfs a falling meteor, essentially. His shadow crown and the other shadow language, meanwhile, tells us the truth about the meteors as darkness bringers.
Something that we will learn today is that one of the main features of the combined Azor Ahai / Night’s King figures is that they tend to combine ice and fire symbolism, and Stannis certainly does this. We just saw that Stannis pairs the flaming sword and fiery crown symbols with blue blood and blue shadow symbols that remind us of the Others, and then we have Dany’s vision of Stannis from the House of the Undying:
Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow.
Glowing red swords and red sunsets are recognizable Azor Ahai symbols, while blue eyes can only remind us of the Others. And yes, Stannis’s eyes are a natural blue, but people’s appearances in dreams and visions are usually defined by their personal symbolism. The blue-eyed king with a red sword is a kind of archetype, and it is vaguely suggestive of an Other wielding Lightbringer. It might compare to Jon dreaming of being armored in black ice with a sword that burns red. Both visions combine ice and fire in a tantalizing way that we don’t quite understand yet. But we will certainly try to figure it out!
Whatever it means, we can at least see that once again, Stannis likes to pair Azor Ahai / dark solar king symbolism (sunset and the red sword) with Night’s King / Other symbolism (blue eyes, ‘shadowless’ from creating magical shadow children), and again I will say that I think the reason is that it was the guy with the burning red sword whom we think of as Azor Ahai who was also responsible for creating the Others.
Now, ask yourself, does Stannis do anything that might symbolize the creation of the Others?
Well, as we’ve said many times, his creation of the shadowbabies with Mel is a temperature and color-inverted version of making the Others. But if you’ve read the Weirwood Compendium series, you know that there is at least one more depiction of Stannis making the Others. It happens during the Battle for Deepwood Motte, when Stannis attacks Asha’s Ironborn with the warriors of the Mountain Clans of the North. Those mountain clan warriors dressed up like trees, and this caused Asha to serve up the all important line about the “tale she had heard as a child, about the children of the forest and their battles with the First Men, when the greenseers turned the trees to warriors.” This is a legend which might be part of the origin story of the Others, one which refers to the weirwood / children of the forest part of the equation of creating Others, as we’ve mentioned before.
When Asha encountered her final Northmen, his axe “shivered” her shield, if you recall, as if the axe were made of ice. That Northman turned out to be Morgan Liddle, whose house sigil is a green treeline on a snow white background with three pine cones. The sigil’s combination of snow and trees complements the idea of “turning the trees into warriors” as a description of making the Others, since it associates Morgan of the chilly axe with both trees and snow. Taken together, the impression is created that Stannis has turned the trees into cold northern warriors, like the Night King creating the Others. These cold northern tree-warriors fight for the blue-eyed king with the red sword, sending us the message that is was indeed Azor Ahai who played a part in the creation of the Others.
Alright, now let’s have a look at Stannis’s lunar queens of ice and fire, and it’s not hard to tell who is who. Naturally, Melisandre serves as his fire moon queen, which makes Selyse his ice moon queen, and indeed, the symbolism agrees with this. The following line is from Asha’s ADWD chapter titled “The King’s Prize:
Asha would have called them king’s men, but the other stormlanders and crownlands men named them queen’s men … though the queen they followed was the red one at Castle Black, not the wife that Stannis Baratheon had left behind at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
Melisandre is Stannis’s red queen – that seems straightforward. And there’s a matching passage from Jon Snow in ADWD:
Lady Melisandre wore no crown, but every man there knew that she was Stannis Baratheon’s real queen, not the homely woman he had left to shiver at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Talk was, the king did not mean to send for Queen Selyse and their daughter until the Nightfort was ready for habitation. Jon felt sorry for them. The Wall offered few of the comforts that southron ladies and little highborn girls were used to, and the Nightfort offered none. That was a grim place, even at the best of times.
As you can see here, Stannis is thought of as having two queens, and Mel is the red one who is obviously associated with fire. As I mentioned, Selyse is not happy being left behind to “shiver” at Eastwatch and wants to move on to the Nightfort, Stannis’s official seat, as quickly as she can. That’s a good start for Selyse’s icy Night’s Queen symbolism, and of course it goes further.
The sigil of House Florent, which is the House of Selyse’s birth, is certainly noteworthy: “A red fox in a circle of blue flowers on ermine.” Blue flowers obviously remind us of Lyanna’s blue winter roses, and they are even in a ring or crown shape like Lyanna’s blue rose crown, helping to reinforce the identification of Selyse as Stannis’s ice moon queen. We also notice that it’s a circle of a dozen blue flowers, to be specific, representing, perhaps, the first group of 12 Others? The red fox would be for the Night’s King Azor Ahai (Stannis in this case), since red and black are the colors of Azor Ahai and the black dragon archetype. Consider this to be like when Rhaegar had Lyanna’s wreath of blue roses on the end of his black lance… it’s the same image, except swapping black for red. One blue rose crown is penetrated by a red fox, one by a black lance, in other words.
In ADWD, when the wildlings come through the Wall, there is a feast and a bit of a dance breaks out. I think this is one of those occasions where George is slyly making a double entendre of the word “others” to talk about the white walkers. Check it out, see what you think:
Between courses, Ser Axell Florent led Queen Selyse out onto the floor to dance. Others followed—the queen’s knights first, partnered with her ladies. Ser Brus gave Princess Shireen her first dance, then took a turn with her mother. Ser Narbert danced with each of Selyse’s lady companions in turn.
Ice Queen Selyse goes on to the floor to dance, and “others followed,” those others being her knights. A moment later, Axel Florent is pressing Jon about the whereabouts of Val, as this is the period of time when she is gone, north of the Wall.
Florent’s face grew flushed with anger. “So it is true. You mean to keep her for yourself, I see it now. The bastard wants his father’s seat.”
The bastard refused his father’s seat. If the bastard had wanted Val, all he had to do was ask for her. “You must excuse me, ser,” he said. “I need a breath of fresh air.” It stinks in here. His head turned. “That was a horn.”
Others had heard it too. The music and the laughter died at once. Dancers froze in place, listening. Even Ghost pricked up his ears. “Did you hear that?” Queen Selyse asked her knights.
Others heard it too – the dancers that froze in place, that is. Recall the dancing language is used when Ser Waymar fights the Others in the prologue of AGOT. That horn blast is the one which heralds the return of Val, who as we are about to see is another ice queen (spoiler alert), so naturally it makes everyone freeze.
The point is that Selyse’s knights should stand in for the Others, so the potential “others” double entendres here are highly suspicious. The fact that her “Queen’s Men” worship R’hllor, but are ‘the others’ who ‘froze in place,’ might be intended as a clue about the Others having a fiery heritage, as I have been suggesting.
In ACOK, when Axell Florent’s brother Alester is imprisoned beneath Dragonstone, he asks for the help of ice queen Selyse and the Others in the same breath, and we get more clues about the symbolism of House Florent:
“Axell,” the prisoner said desperately, “for the love you bear me, unhand me! You cannot do this, I’m no traitor.” He was an older man, tall and slender, with silvery grey hair, a pointed beard, and a long elegant face twisted in fear. “Where is Selyse, where is the queen? I demand to see her. The Others take you all! Release me!”
The long, elegant silvery-grey Alester Florent of the dozen blue flowers sigil is asking for the ice queen to save him, and then, failing that, he’s asking the Others to strike down his enemies. That actually makes perfect sense, according to our theory about the icy Corpse Queen making the Others.
When Jon and Val go to see Seylse in her temporary chambers at Castle Black, Jon notes the commander of Selyse’s guard:
Commanding them was Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain, clad in his knightly raiment of white and blue and silver, his cloak a spatter of five-pointed stars.
Ser Patrek is apparently symbolizing an Other, with his white and blue and silver coloring – the three colors of the ice moon, essentially – and his blue star decorations. They are even “spattered,” like blood – blue blood, that would be, like the Others have. That means that his standing guard outside of Selyse’s chambers is roughly equivalent to the Kingsguard outside the Tower of Joy, guarding their ice moon queen Lyanna. Ser Patrek is immediately besotted with Val, which is understandable, as she is, like Selyse, a Night’s Queen figure. Check the next lines about this:
When presented to Val, the knight sank to one knee to kiss her glove. “You are even lovelier than I was told, princess,” he declared. “The queen has told me much and more of your beauty.”
“How odd, when she has never seen me.” Val patted Ser Patrek on the head. “Up with you now, ser kneeler. Up, up.” She sounded as if she were talking to a dog.
The Others are something like the dogs of the Night’s Queen – perhaps the wolves of the Night’s Queen is more apt – and so Val is treating this Other-like knight as her dog, to hilarious effect. Jon has to try hard not to laugh, as a matter of fact.
Anyway, that’s the deal with Stannis’s two queens, Melisandre and Selyse. One is very hot, and one very cold. Stannis himself is a dark solar king, showing us both Azor Ahai reborn and Night’s King symbolism, and he fits the pattern of a solar king with lunar queens of ice and fire. He wields Lightbringer and creates the Others in different symbolic ways. He starts of ruling at Dragonstone, symbol of the fire moon and former seat of dragonlords, then later takes the Nightfort as his seat, the first castle on the Wall whose oldest history is the story of Night’s King.
Based on what we have learned of how Martin uses his archetypes and how he creates echoes of the past in the characters and events of the present, Stannis’s symbolism seems to be leading us toward the conclusion that there is some serious overlap between Night’s King and Azor Ahai, particularly the death-associated, post-transformation Azor Ahai. That’s the same conclusion we drew from the parallels between Aegon the Conqueror and Night’s King, and we’re only going to find more evidence for this as we go. That’s especially true with our next Azor Ahai reborn / Night’s King figure, who is literally a blood of the dragon person.
Mayhaps His Name Was Azor
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Now before you throw down your headphones and say “the Night’s King was a Stark! Mayhaps his name was Brandon, you idiot!” …yes, I agree. I suspect that just as Jon is both Stark and blood of the dragon, so was the Night King. Even Stannis has a little dragon blood, for that matter, and in fact, if we consider further, House Baratheon was formed when a blood of the dragon person from Valyria, Aegon’s probably bastard brother Orys Baratheon, joined up with a First Man house from the Dawn Age, that of Durrandon. The Starks may a similar tale, one that combines the blood of the dragon with the blood of the ancient First Men.
Just like Stannis, Jon is a dark solar king (black was always his color) who combines the symbolism of Azor Ahai and Night’s King, and he too has a pair of symbolic lunar wives of ice and fire. We’re going to consider Jon as the product of Rhaegar and Lyanna in the next episode, but right now we are just going to think about Jon on his own.
First off, Jon’s Azor Ahai reborn bona fides are well established in what has come to be called his “Azor Ahai dream” from ADWD:
Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again.
It’s not just the simple fact that he dreams of wielding a burning red sword; it’s the fact that he dreams about slaying his love Ygitte with that burning sword; about being a Night’s Watchman defending the Wall with that burning red sword, and defending it against foes who need to be killed “again” (like the wights) and who “scuttle up the ice like spiders” like Others climbing the Wall with their ice spiders. When a guy with a hero’s journey arc like Jon dreams of something like this, I think you can take it at face value: it’s an indication of Jon’s destiny as one of the primary heroes of the story, and more specifically, that he’s the mostly likely candidate to wield a true Lightbringer sword before the story is over, if anyone is.
Then we have the clue about Melisandre seeking glimpses of Azor Ahai reborn in her fires – thinking that that is Stannis – but seeing only Jon Snow instead. It’s a pretty clear hint to Melisandre (and us readers) that Jon Snow is indeed R’hllor’s chosen, Azor Ahai reborn. As always, I’ll add the caveat that the same applies to Dany of course, as I see them as the two most important Azor Ahai reborn people in the story. Maester Aemon seems to sense it about Jon as well, encouraging Jon to read the passages of Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium which speak of Azor Ahai.
Prophecy aside, there’s the simple reality that Jon is the number one person concerned with stopping the Others and fighting the Long Night. Whatever you think of prophecies, visions, and the hunches of old blind men, Jon is simply the man in charge of the Wall and the Watch… at least he was until he was murdered by his brothers.
We haven’t seen Jon’s resurrection in the books yet, but you can be sure it’s going to be packed with Azor Ahai reborn symbolism. That’s one of those scenes from Winds of Winter which we mythical astronomers will be extra jazzed to read, knowing what kinds of things to look for. I bet as you read it, you’ll be hearing my voice in the back of your head… “oh, there’s the burning black blood to indicate fire transformation, and there’s the second sun symbolism…” that sort of thing.
As for Jon playing the Night’s King role, well, he’s the Lord Commander of the Watch, which is a good start, and he arguably breaks many of his vows throughout his plot arc – specifically the one about not taking a wife (and please don’t disrespect Ygritte’s memory by saying Jon didn’t take her as a wife, because he did). Yes, that’s right, Jon and Night’s King are both commanders who are notoriously bad at not falling in love with women they find north of the Wall. As Jon muses to himself in ACOK, “It was easy to lose your way beyond the Wall. Jon did not know that he could tell honor from shame anymore, or right from wrong.”
Cersei also declares Jon a rebel to the throne, and although that’s obviously a political move on Cersei’s part, it still matches the Night’s King story of a rebellious Lord Commander of the Watch. And if you ask the mutineers who killed Jon, he was breaking the vows in spirit by letting the wildlings through the Wall and by planning to take them to attack Winterfell.
Moving right along, we know that Night’s King made white shadows with Night’s Queen; Aegon the Conqueror was followed around by his white shadow kingsguard which Visenya made for him; and Jon too is followed around by a white shadow – his direwolf Ghost, who is called a “white shadow” or “pale shadow” on several occasions. Ghost has some important differences from the Others – notably, red eyes and not blue – but he is nevertheless a white shadow guardian of Jon the black-clad solar king. That’s a match for Night’s King as well as Aegon and Rhaegar and all the other Targaryen kings, all of whom liked to be surrounded by white shadows.
Jon’s Night King symbolism really kicks into gear in this passage from ASOS when Jon is sent North of the Wall against his will to try to kill Mance Raydar:
The wind was blowing wild from the east, so strong the heavy cage would rock whenever a gust got it in its teeth. It skirled along the Wall, shivering off the ice, making Jon’s cloak flap against the bars. The sky was slate grey, the sun no more than a faint patch of brightness behind the clouds. Across the killing ground, he could see the glimmer of a thousand campfires burning, but their lights seemed small and powerless against such gloom and cold.
A grim day. Jon Snow wrapped gloved hands around the bars and held tight as the wind hammered at the cage once more. When he looked straight down past his feet, the ground was lost in shadow, as if he were being lowered into some bottomless pit. Well, death is a bottomless pit of sorts, he reflected, and when this day’s work is done my name will be shadowed forever.
Bastard children were born from lust and lies, men said; their nature was wanton and treacherous. Once Jon had meant to prove them wrong, to show his lord father that he could be as good and true a son as Robb. I made a botch of that. Robb had become a hero king; if Jon was remembered at all, it would be as a turncloak, an oathbreaker, and a murderer. He was glad that Lord Eddard was not alive to see his shame.
Turncloak, oathbreaker, murderer, wanton and treacherous, name forever shadowed: this could be the Night’s King we are talking about as Jon is lowered into the abyss. His inner monologue of shame and regret may have even fit well in the mouth of Night’s King at some point.
As for Jon’s brother Robb, not only is he a hero king, he is specifically the King in the North / King of Winter. Once again I will remind you that according to legend, Night’s King also had a brother who was the King of Winter, Brandon the Breaker, one of the two men who brought down Night’s King. I would say it could just as easily be a father / son relationship between Night’s King and Brandon the Breaker as brother / brother, but the safe bet is that there is some sort of blood relation there, and the point is that having a brother who is a Stark King is another parallel between Jon and Night’s King.
The other person to help throw down Night’s King was of course Joramun the King Beyond the Wall, and the person Jon is on his way to try to murder while he thinks of his brother the King in the North is.. Mance Raydar, the King Beyond the Wall. Mance, incidentally, is a bit of father figure to Jon for a time, and famously shares some amount of symbolism with Rhaegar, Jon’s biological father. Down, tinfoil, down. Shush. Sit.
Actually, there’s an even more clear match to the Night’s King myth than that – Jon does the same thing as Stannis in that he actually fights or plans to fight both the King Beyond the Wall and the Lord of Winterfell. In ASOS, Jon is among those leading the defense of the Wall against the wildling army of King Beyond the Wall Mance Raydar. This is where he is first told “the Wall is yours, Jon Snow” by Aemon Targaryen, in fact, so even though he isn’t Lord Commander yet, he’s effectively the acting Lord Commander during this battle against the King Beyond the Wall, who, by the way, claims to have the same horn that Joramun carried.
As for fighting the Lord of Winterfell, well, you will probably remember that right before he was mutinied, Jon was trying to lead a force against Winterfell and the impostor King in the North, Ramsay Bolton, as Stannis did before him – so there you go. During his ‘armored in black ice / Azor Ahai dream,’ Jon also sees himself decapitating Robb and declaring himself the Lord of Winterfell, which again places Jon as a Night’s Watch commander warring against the Stark in Winterfell.
Now, check out this angle. Of Night’s King it is said that “with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will,” so we have to think, does this apply to Jon, or Stannis for that matter? Well, ask yourself, do either of them use any kind of magic to win the loyalty of their followers?
Actually… yes, they both do, although neither is, you know, using mind control or something like the myth seems to imply. However, Stannis is quite obviously using magic to not only impress, but to motivate his followers, who see his struggle for the throne as an existential one where the ultimate players are gods and demons and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Stannis, with his magic sword and magic red priestess, has convinced his followers that he is not only the rightful king and a good commander and all that, but that he is in fact the “Lord’s chosen,” the man to fight the darkness and the Others with a magic sword, and even dragons, if they could just perform the right kind of horrible blood magic sacrifice to wake them from stone.
As you can see, Stannis could certainly be said to using sorcery to bind his followers to him and to establish his authority. Then we have Jon, who won the election for Lord Commander when a talking raven flew out of a kettle and landed on his shoulder and basically declared him the winner. Everyone knows he’s a warg, and wise rangers like Qhorin Halfhand and Lord Commander Mormont are quick to encourage or even make use of Jon’s gifts. He’s a warg descended of an ancient, magical bloodline with a giant magical white wolf and a magical black sword – don’t forget all Valyrian steel swords are made with sorcery and are therefore ‘magic swords’ – and you better believe all of that plays into everyone else looking at Jon as the logical one to lead the watch.
So, it’s somewhat similar in both cases, though Stannis is more obvious – both Jon and Stannis use magical powers and magical artifacts to establish their authority. This is certainly the kind of thing that could, hundreds and even a few thousand years later, be remembered in myth as “binding their brothers to their will with strange sorceries.”
Alright, so let’s talk about Jon’s ladies, the lunar queens. As a proper solar king, dark though he may be, Jon does have two lady loves that fit the love triangles of ice and fire pattern. The fire moon bride would be Ygritte of course, with her kissed by fire hair and tragic death via an arrow to the heart, which is similar to Nissa Nissa taking Lightbringer to the heart, and you’ll recall that although it wasn’t Jon’s arrow that killed her, in his nightmares it was. Of course I just mentioned that Jon kills her with a flaming red sword in his Azor Ahai dream, reinforcing the message.
You will also recall the scene in the Frostfangs from ACOK where Jon first met Ygritte; her campfire with the wildlings in the pass looked like a “red star” to Jon and company at the base of the mountain. When he climbed to meet the red star, he did a bunch of Lightbringer forging stuff with Ygritte; namely, he came very close to executing her with Longclaw, but instead did something that was later interpreted as stealing Ygritte and thus implying his intent to marry or partner with her. That’s the sex and swordplay dual-edged Lightbringer motif that we have been pointing out since episode one, so I assume everyone is well familiar with it.
We’re actually going to talk a bit more about Ygritte’s death in the future when we are thinking about weirwoods again, but for now we can stick with only a brief mention of her as we have covered her several times before. She is Jon’s first love, she’s only described as kissed by fire a thousand and one times, and she is Jon’s fire moon queen.
Jon’s ice moon bride is not as obvious, but consider that when Stannis offers Jon the chance to become legitimized as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, he is offered Val’s hand in marriage. And Val is an obvious winter queen, as we see in ADWD:
Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.
They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.
“Have you been trying to steal my wolf?” he asked her.
Jon just asked Val the ice moon queen if she was trying to steal his ghost – his wolf is named Ghost after all. That’s a very Night’s Queen sort of thing to do, since it is said that Night’s King gave her his soul when he gave her his seed. I don’t know about you, but I thought that was a really clever one by George.
Val really does make for a stunning ice queen – she has blue eyes, and the rest of her is white except for her hair, including the white polar bear skin she wears. The weirwood broach is a nice touch, and seems a clue about Night’s Queen and weirwood magic, which I definitely think is a thing.
Consider what’s happening here: Jon is the Lord Commander, as Night’s King was, and although Jon didn’t spy Val from atop the Wall, he is standing right in front of the Wall when he sees this lovely, pale woman with blue eyes who might have designs on stealing his ghost. That’s a pretty good Night’s King reenactment!
Now that last description of Val came when she was returning from a journey to find Tormund and the surviving Wildlings from the battle with Stannis north of the Wall, and when she sets out on that journey a couple of weeks earlier, there is more icy moon maiden symbolism, and preceded by a mention of an ice dragon!
The road beneath the Wall was as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon and as twisty as a serpent. Dolorous Edd led them through with a torch in hand. Mully had the keys for the three gates, where bars of black iron as thick as a man’s arm closed off the passage. Spearmen at each gate knuckled their foreheads at Jon Snow but stared openly at Val and her garron.
When they emerged north of the Wall, through a thick door made of freshly hewn green wood, the wildling princess paused for a moment to gaze out across the snow-covered field where King Stannis had won his battle. Beyond, the haunted forest waited, dark and silent. The light of the half-moon turned Val’s honey-blond hair a pale silver and left her cheeks as white as snow. She took a deep breath. “The air tastes sweet.”
“My tongue is too numb to tell. All I can taste is cold.”
“Cold?” Val laughed lightly. “No. When it is cold it will hurt to breathe. When the Others come …”
Night’s Queen had “skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars,” and also “skin as cold as ice.” Shuffle the words around ever so slightly, and we have these descriptions of Val, whose cheeks are white as snow in the moonlight. Both ladies have skin compared the moon and to snow and ice, in other words, and Val even talks about the Others in this scene – and only a few lines after the mention of the ice dragon in Jon’s inner monologue, no less! The implication of Val being impervious to cold is interesting, and it continues a few lines later as Val rides off. This is Dolorous Edd speaking:
“I don’t care what she says,” muttered Dolorous Edd, as Val vanished behind a stand of soldier pines. “The air is so cold it hurts to breathe. I would stop, but that would hurt worse.” He rubbed his hands together. “This is going to end badly.”
‘So cold it hurts to breathe’ is the signature language of the presence of the Others. Val uses the phrase here to describe the presence of the Others, that phrase is used when Sam and Gilly are attacked by wights, and Tormund uses it to describe fighting the Others, which he says is like fighting “Shadows with teeth… air so cold it hurts to breathe, like a knife inside your chest..” Edd is saying it is already this cold, and that this portends Val failing in her mission, but Val is unperturbed and in fact returns successful from the mission. She’s less affected by the cold than the rangers, and she also seems to be able to wander the Haunted Forest and the lands beyond the Wall with relative ease and safety, that’s kind of the picture being painted here.
Now if you’re picking up on the patterns here, you might see that Jon has this excellent winter queen / Night’s Queen figure in Val and wonder, “does Jon do anything with Val that symbolizes the creation of the Others, like Stannis does with the Northmen dressed like trees in the Wolfswood?” Oh man. Boy does he ever. It’s pretty well hidden, so don’t feel bad if it’s not leaping to mind… …alright I’ll tell you.
So Val has these two scenes playing the Night’s Queen role, both revolving around this deal Jon wants to make with the wildlings to let them through the Wall. The thing is… when these wildlings actually do come through the Wall, there is a megaton of symbolism implying some of the wildlings as the Others. I mean, it’s actually really over the top – just the way we like it. First, Jon observes the hostages – 100 boys between eight and sixteen:
The boys were going to a place that none had ever been before, to serve an order that had been the enemy of their kith and kin for thousands of years, yet Jon saw no tears, heard no wailing mothers. These are winter’s people, he reminded himself. Tears freeze upon your cheeks where they come from. Not a single hostage balked or tried to slink away when his turn came to enter that gloomy tunnel. Almost all the boys were thin, some past the point of gauntness, with spindly shanks and arms like twigs.
Alright, so winter’s people, with frozen tears and no fear. We see the trees-turned-into-Others motif as winter’s people have “spindly shanks and arms like twigs.” Then begins the parade of double entendres with the word “other”:
Other lads had bear- paws on their boots and walked on top of the same drifts, never sinking through the crust.
That part about not sinking through the crust of the snow is noteworthy because, as Coldhands says, “The white walkers go lightly on the snow, you’ll find no prints to mark their passage.” We’ll see this again in a moment.
Other hostages were named as sons of Howd Wanderer, of Brogg, of Devyn Sealskinner, Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, Morna White Mask, the Great Walrus … “The Great Walrus? Truly?”
“They have queer names along the Frozen Shore.”
The other hostages were from the frozen shore, and TWOIAF tells us that the wildlings of the frozen shore worship “gods of snow and ice,” which sounds like white walker worship, perhaps along the lines of what we see with Craster. Thus it makes sense to label their children as ‘Others,’ just as the Craster’s wives call the Others Craster’s Sons. Notice also that these are the sons of at least two people with names that allude to weirwoods or tree-people: Morna Whitemask, who wears a white weirwood mask, and Kyleg of the Wooden Ear, with a wooden ear kind of implying a wooden face. We actually see the rest of the folk from the Frozen Shore a moment later, and again we have an others double entendre:
After the riders came the men of the Frozen Shore. Jon watched a dozen of their big bone chariots roll past him one by one, clattering like Rattleshirt. Half still rolled as before; others had replaced their wheels with runners. They slid across the snowdrifts smoothly, where the wheeled chariots were foundering and sinking. The dogs that drew the chariots were fearsome beasts, as big as direwolves.
Once again we see it is the chariots labelled as the others which go lightly on the snow, without breaking the surface, like the Others. The implication of direwolves pulling the chariots of the Others is pretty cool, perhaps implying a link between Starks and the Others, which is like, tell me something I don’t know, right? I’ll also mention that Rattleshirt, whom the bone chariots are compared to, seems to symbolize a white walker himself, and one of the people he’s with when Jon meets him threatens to make a cloak out of Jon’s white shadow wolf, just so, you know, he can dress us like a white shadow for Halloween.
The next Others wordplay again mentions Rattleshirt:
A few were clad in stolen steel, dinted oddments of armor looted from the corpses of fallen rangers. Others had armored themselves in bones, like Rattleshirt. All wore fur and leather.
This is all from the same chapter, let me remind you. The next one is, frankly, disturbing:
Amongst the stream of warriors were the fathers of many of Jon’s hostages. Some stared with cold dead eyes as they went by, fingering their sword hilts. Others smiled at him like long- lost kin, though a few of those smiles discomfited Jon Snow more than any glare. None knelt, but many gave him their oaths.
Weird, Jon and the Others are long-lost kin? Well, yeah, if there is any sort of connection between House Stark and the Others, then yes, Jon and the Others are like long lost kin. In fact I’d call this line a pretty good clue about the others having a blood tie to House Stark… and we are going to do an entire episode on how I think that happened very soon, as a matter of fact, so start getting hyped for that.
If you’re keeping count, that’s five ‘Other’ double entendres with strong supporting clues around them. Here are number 6 and 7:
By afternoon the sun had gone, and the day turned grey and gusty. “A snow sky,” Tormund announced grimly. Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds. It seemed to spur them on to haste. Tempers began to fray. One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others who had been hours in the column. Toregg wrenched the knife away from his attacker, dragged both men from the press, and sent them back to the wildling camp to start again.
The second others line – One man was stabbed when he tried to slip in ahead of others – simply labels the wildlings in line as the symbolizing the Others, which we have already established anyway. The first one is especially creepy – while Jon and Tormund are looking at a “snow sky,” we are told that “Others had seen the same omen in those flat white clouds.” You bet the Others see a snow sky as a time to attack! There might be a clue about Jon’s birth triggering the awakening of the Others – they see a grey “snow sky” as an omen which spurs them on to haste. Well, relative haste. Like hasty for a glacier. Anyway.
Snow sky aside, just think about what we are seeing here: Jon Snow making a deal through Val the Night’s Queen that enabled all these symbolic Others to pass through the Wall! And isn’t that what I am claiming about the Night’s King and Queen? Not only that they made Others, but they made the Others that invaded during the Long Night, the ones who white-walked all over the armies of men like we are told.
I believe that is the importance of this unbelievable Others wordplay in this chapter: Jon is the rebellious Lord Commander Night’s King, and through a pact negotiated with a Night’s Queen figure, he has facilitated the Others’ invasion of the lands of the living. Not only that, but Martin specifically set up Val as Jon’s Night’s Queen in the two scenes that lead up to this one where Jon lets the Other-like wildlings pass the Wall, and he had Val be the one that Jon gives his offer to.
Alright! I bet you didn’t expect Jon and Val’s symbolism to run that deep, did you? Well neither did I! You never know what you’ll find when you go digging into ASOIAF symbolism. In this case, we found more evidence for our theory about the Night’s King and Queen making Others during the Long Night, which is nice.
Just to sort of put a bow on Jon’s two lunar ladies, here’s a nice passage where Jon compares them to one another:
The outside air seemed even colder than before. Across the castle, he could see candlelight shining from the windows of the King’s Tower. Val stood on the tower roof, gazing up at the Wall. Stannis kept her closely penned in rooms above his own, but he did allow her to walk the battlements for exercise. She looks lonely, Jon thought. Lonely, and lovely. Ygritte had been pretty in her own way, with her red hair kissed by fire, but it was her smile that made her face come alive. Val did not need to smile; she would have turned men’s heads in any court in the wide world.
There you have it, Jon’s two queens. It’s especially cool to see ice queen Val staring up at the Wall, since the Wall is, like Val, an analog of the ice moon. Notice also the theme of Val being locked away in a castle at the Wall by a Night’s King – Stannis in this scene, and earlier Axell Florent accused Jon of locking Val away for his own purposes. Remember the words of the Night’s King legend: “fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her,” and then “brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen.” That is absolutely what happens with Val – she is taken captive by Stannis and declared “the wildling princess” by Stannis’s men, even though the wildlings don’t have anything resembling Westerosi concepts of royalty and Jon thinks to himself that he told Stannis half a hundred times that she wasn’t a princess. They even slap a bronze crown on Val’s head! The line is “They had crowned her with a simple circlet of dark bronze, yet she looked more regal in bronze than Stannis did in gold.” Stannis quite literally took her captive and declared her a princess, which is very close to declaring her a queen.
Alright, so I think you can see that Jon, like Stannis, has distinct lunar queens of ice and fire. Like Stannis, Jon has some pretty outstanding Night’s King parallels, and he’s combining those with trademark flaming sword Azor Ahai reborn symbolism. As I pointed out in Bloodstone Compendium 2, the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, Jon also has several clear parallels to the Bloodstone Emperor myth, and that too sends us the same message: the Bloodstone Emperor, Night’s King, and the reborn version of Azor Ahai are all part of one archetype, the dark solar king, and this is why we see all of them expressed in Jon.
Let’s wrap us this Jon as Night’s King section by talking about the mythical astronomy of Night’s King for a moment. Like I said at the top, the dark solar king has two components: the eclipsed and darkened sun, and the black meteors which are like the dark sun’s sword or seed or child. Jon and Stannis, as very important dark solar king / Night’s King figures, play both of these roles. In the Stannis section, we saw that Stannis described as stone and hard rock several times (and there are more I didn’t list), which is Stannis playing the role of the black meteors. Jon does this too, as we’ll see in a minute, but first check out this awesome passage from Melisandre which compares Stannis and Jon to each other as eclipsed people standing in someone else’s shadow – just like the sun was eclipsed to start the Long Night:
They crossed the yard together, just the two of them. The snow fell all around them. She walked as close to Jon Snow as she dared, close enough to feel the mistrust pouring off him like a black fog. He does not love me, will never love me, but he will make use of me. Well and good. Melisandre had danced the same dance with Stannis Baratheon, back in the beginning. In truth, the young lord commander and her king had more in common than either one would ever be willing to admit. Stannis had been a younger son living in the shadow of his elder brother, just as Jon Snow, bastard-born, had always been eclipsed by his trueborn sibling, the fallen hero men had called the Young Wolf. Both men were unbelievers by nature, mistrustful, suspicious. The only gods they truly worshiped were honor and duty.
It’s fun to think about Jon walking around with black fog just rolling off of him and following him around, like a black ice version of the white mist that follows the Others… but the serious point to make here is that Jon and Stannis are both eclipsed, shadowed people. They are both solar kings, but their symbolism is telling us about the eclipsed sun, the darkened sun of the Long Night.
Also notable is the fact that Melisandre is looking to form the same sort of relationship with Jon she has with Stannis, and in another scene, suggests making a shadowbaby with Jon. That’s Night’s Queen, succubus behavior, and it again places Jon in the Night’s King role. In that scene where she propositions Jon, the light of the moon kisses Jon and casts his shadow huge and black against the ice. Casting shadows and making shadowbabies with a sorceress at the Wall? That’s a definite Night’s King parallel, and we will break down those scenes at the Wall with Jon and Mel in more detail in the RLJ episode.
Alright, so Stannis and Jon are both eclipsed solar kings. Stannis’s stone and iron descriptions show us Stannis as meteor, and Jon has something similar going on. Meteors can be referred to as the hearts of fallen stars, and course meteorites can be thought of a stones, so it’s interesting to see that Sam actually implies a connection between Jon and Lady Stoneheart in this line from AFFC:
He could not blame Gilly for her grief. Instead, he blamed Jon Snow and wondered when Jon’s heart had turned to stone. Once he asked Maester Aemon that very question, when Gilly was down at the canal fetching water for them. “When you raised him up to be the lord commander,” the old man answered.
Perhaps it’s just a turn of phrase to indicate Jon’ hardening himself for command with no double meaning, but comparing Jon to Stoneheart does make a lot sense if Jon is to resurrected via fire magic. Catelyn has bone-white hair and eyes like “two red pits burning in the shadows,” and that’s just how I think Jon might come out of his resurrection – white hair and red eyes, bone and blood, the coloring of his wolf and of the weirwoods.White hair would also make him look more like a Targaryen, too.
Burning stone hearts are also potential meteor-talk, as I mentioned, however it’s not stone Jon is most often compared to, but dragonglass. It happens several times, most notably in ASOS when Stannis tells Jon
“You may lack your father’s honor, or your brother’s skill in arms. But you are the weapon the Lord has given me. I have found you here, as you found the cache of dragonglass beneath the Fist, and I mean to make use of you. Even Azor Ahai did not win his war alone.”
So not only is Jon compared to a dragonglass knife, he’s made analogous to a weapon that should be used in the fight against the Others by a would-be Azor Ahai figure. In this scene, Stannis plays the part of the dark sun, with Jon as the dark sun’s black meteor sword, but as I said sword and swordsman are both part of the same “dark solar king” figure, so what we have is two dark solar kings forming like Voltron to create the entire picture.
This is going to important when we get to the RLJ: A Recipie for Making Ice Dragons episode, which is all about the dragon locked in ice motif. The Night’s King is like that black fire moon meteor dragon flying away from the explosion that darkened the sun – specifically, it’s the one which strikes the ice moon and embeds itself in the ice, or you might say that it impregnates the ice moon, since the ice moon is analogous to the Night’s Queen. As I mentioned in Dawn of the Others, this black meteor dragon impacting the ice moon is what creates ice moon meteors – which are analogous to the Others – just as the Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen created the real Others.
That’s why Night’s King people like Stannis and Jon are often described in language that suggests them as stone, steel, dragonglass, and as knives or swords, all of which end up frozen or lodged in ice somehow: it’s a symbol of Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen. That, I believe, is the explanation for Martin describing Stannis with all the blue shadow and blue-black language when we first see him; it reflects the reborn dark solar king being frozen. Jon expresses this in many ways, such as by being armored in black ice in his Azor Ahai dream, by going to live at the Wall at the very beginning of the story, or by his appearance in Bran’s coma dream flyby of the known world, which ends with Jon, the Wall, and then the Heart of Winter:
He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him.
Even Robert and Ned’s famous AGOT clue about Jon’s royal heritage – “kings are a rare sight in the north” / “more likely they were hiding under the snow” – places Jon as a dragon king hidden under the snow. This is the dragon locked in ice motif, and it runs through Jon’s entire storyline.
I said at the beginning that the Night’s King figures have some sort of ice and fire unity thing going on, and now you can start to see what that means: he’s a fiery guy who gave his soul to an icy sorceress and became a bit frozen in the process.
Dancing Dragons Teach Astronomy
This section is sponsored by Queen Cameron, lady of the twilight, keeper of the astral cats, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Aries, and by Ash Rose, Queen of Sevens, Mistress of Mythology, earthly avatar of Heavenly House Taurus
Our search for more Night’s King figures and more love triangles of ice and fire leads us to a peculiar place: hundreds of feet above the ground, and in great peril. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for another dragon-on-dragon battle from the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. These things are always full of mythical astronomy, and I try to slip them in when it fits the topic of discussion. This dragon fight will support the general two moons hypothesis by giving us a pretty great two moons diagram, and it will end with the crowning of the Night’s King; so after much thought, I’ve decided that this is the place for it. I almost crammed it into the last episode, Visenya Draconis, because it will involve hoary old Vhagar, but that episode had a lot going on already and it fits better here.
Vhagar, in this dragon dance, will be ridden by Aemond One-Eye, he of the blue star-sapphire eye. That pairing creates a smashingly good ice dragon symbol, if you recall, by virtue of Aemon’s blue star eyes and the fact that the “hoary” descriptor implies Vhagar as a snow-white or frosty white dragon. The other two dragons in this fight are surprisingly easy to identify, so it’s primed for mythical astronomy. As you probably guessed by now, this isn’t going to be so much of a love triangle as it will be a triangle of dragon carnage, but it works basically the same way.
The fight takes place at Rook’s Rest in the Stormlands, where the Lord of House Staunton, who is loyal to Rhaenyra and the blacks, is besiged by the armies of Ser Criston Cole, who is loyal to the greens, which is the side of King Aegon II and his brother Aemond One-Eye. Lord Staunton’s requests for support arrive in the form of a dragon and dragonlord:
Nine days after Lord Staunton dispatched his plea for help, the sound of leathern wings was heard across the sea, and the dragon Meleys appeared above Rook’s Rest. The Red Queen, she was called, for the scarlet scales that covered her. The membranes of her wings were pink, her crest, horns, and claws bright as copper. And on her back, in steel and copper armor that flashed in the sun, rode Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was.
Ser Criston Cole was not dismayed. Aegon’s Hand had expected this, counted on it. Drums beat out a command, and archers rushed forward, longbowmen and crossbowmen both, filling the air with arrows and quarrels. Scorpions were cranked upwards to loose iron bolts of the sort that had once felled Meraxes in Dorne. Meleys suffered a score of hits, but the arrows only served to make her angry. She swept down, spitting fire to right and left. Knights burned in their saddles as the hair and hide and harness of their horses went up in flames. Men-at-arms dropped their spears and scattered. Some tried to hide behind their shields, but neither oak nor iron could withstand dragon’s breath. Ser Criston sat on his white horse shouting, “Aim for the rider,” through the smoke and flame. Meleys roared, smoke swirling from her nostrils, a stallion kicking in her jaws as tongues of fire engulfed him.
Here we have a red dragon whose name, Meleys, has the same phonetic root as Melisandre, and Melisandre is of course one of our most important and vivid fire moon queens. Meleys the red dragon’s nickname, the Red Queen, has also been applied to Melisandre, who is called Stannis’s red queen by his soldiers. Meleys is also compared to Meraxes, the dragon of Queen Rhaenys, who are both fire moon symbols. Don’t look now, but the rider of Meleys the Red Queen is… another Rhaenys, so we are right back to fire moon symbolism once again. All in all, I’d say the fire moon identification for Rhaenys the Queen Who Never Was and Meleys the Red Queen is fairly ironclad. Let’s see what happens next:
Then came an answering roar. Two more winged shapes appeared: the king astride Sunfyre the Golden, and his brother Aemond upon Vhagar. Criston Cole had sprung his trap, and Rhaenys had come snatching at the bait. Now the teeth closed round her.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the King is riding the dragon named after the sun, making him the solar king. Aemond Blue Star Eye on Vhagar is an ice dragon symbol, so he’s the ice moon. The gang is all here: fire moon, solar king, ice moon. Then, the action heats up:
Princess Rhaenys made no attempt to flee. With a glad cry and a crack of her whip, she turned Meleys toward the foe. Against Vhagar alone she might have had some chance, for the Red Queen was old and cunning, and no stranger to battle. Against Vhagar and Sunfyre together, doom was certain. The dragons met violently a thousand feet above the field of battle, as balls of fire burst and blossomed, so bright that men swore later that the sky was full of suns.
The crimson jaws of Meleys closed round Sunfyre’s golden neck for a moment, till Vhagar fell upon them from above. All three beasts went spinning toward the ground. They struck so hard that stones fell from the battlements of Rook’s Rest half a league away.
Cutting in briefly, notice that the fire moon dragon and the sun dragon collide first, and the sky is full of suns – this is the second suns symbolism again. That’s Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, copulating to make dragon children, little Azor Ahai rebornlings, the sons of the sun.
Those closest to the dragons did not live to tell the tale. Those farther off could not see, for the flame and smoke. It was hours before the fires guttered out. But from those ashes, only Vhagar rose unharmed. Meleys was dead, broken by the fall and ripped to pieces upon the ground. And Sunfyre, that splendid golden beast, had one wing half torn from his body, whilst his royal rider had suffered broken ribs, a broken hip, and burns that covered half his body. His left arm was the worst. The dragonflame had burned so hot that the king’s armor had melted into his flesh.
The fire moon dragon and rider die, which is sad in terms of the story but appropriate in terms of symbolism, since the fire moon seems to have been destroyed. The sun dragon and rider are gravely wounded and weakened – that is the darkening and dimming of the sun during the Long Night. Check out the description of Sunfyre when he later turns up at Dragonstone:
Sunfyre’s scales still shone like beaten gold in the sunlight, but as he sprawled across the fused black Valyrian stone of the yard, it was plain to see that he was a broken thing, he who had been the most magnificent dragon ever to fly the skies of Westeros. The wing all but torn from his body by Meleys jutted from his body at an awkward angle, whilst fresh scars along his back still smoked and bled when he moved. Sunfyre was coiled in a ball when the queen and her party first beheld him. As he stirred and raised his head, huge wounds were visible along his neck, where another dragon had torn chunks from his flesh. On his belly were places where scabs had replaced scales, and where his right eye should have been was only an empty hole, crusted with black blood.
Don’t look now, but it’s more one-eye symbolism for a solar dragon figure – this time an actual dragon. It’s kind of the dragon equivalent to our one-eyed friends Beric and Bloodraven, essentially. He’s broken, but still deadly – this does seem to be one aspect of the transformed Azor Ahai character. That might also describe Jon Snow when he comes back from resurrection, and Jon is also a one-eyed figure, because he has that eagle-claw wound across one eye (though his eye wasn’t actually lost). Even weirder, Sunfyre’s wounds actually match the wounds that Jon takes at his assassination nearly perfectly, save for the fact that Jon doesn’t have wings. Call it the Jon Snow stigmata!
Here’s what I mean, and this will be a tiny sidebar to the dragon battle, which we are not quite finished with. So, Jon already has the scar across his eye to match Sunfyre’s wounded eye. Sunfyre has a neck wound, which matches Jon’s first knife wound during the mutiny, the neck wound that almost certainly struck his jugular vein:
When Wick Whittlestick slashed at his throat, the word turned into a grunt. Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin. He cut me. When he put his hand to the side of his neck, blood welled between his fingers..
Sunfyre’s wounds across the belly are a match for Jon’s next wound:
Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.
Sunfyre has smoking and bleeding wounds across his back, and that’s a match for Jon’s third knife wound, and check out Jon’s blood smoking like a dragon’s here:
Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow.
Sunfyre’s wounded eye socket is described as “crusted with black blood,” and of course Jon and all Night’s Watchmen are euphemistically said to bleed black blood. You guys know that hot, smoking black blood is the hallmark of one who has undergone fire transformation, as the solar king does when he turns into the dark solar king or is reborn as the dark solar king. In other words, both Jon and Sunfyre, with their identical wounds, are described as having hot, smoking black blood, as dark solar king dragons should.
It’s worth noting the timing implied here with both Jon and Sunfyre as it concerns the fall of the Long Night. Sunfyre received his “Jon Snow stigmata” wounds when he killed the fire moon dragon, Meleys, an act which symbolizes the beginning of the Long Night. Jon was assassinated just as winter falls, and just as the Others are poised to begin their invasion. I know they’ve been “poised to begin their invasion” for years now, but the next book is called Winds of Winter, so I assume it will actually be happening in short order. Consider also that Jon is killed as a direct result of his letting those Other-like wildlings through the Wall, which also symbolized the invasion of the Others. It’s the same message: the solar king transforms when the Long Night falls.
But as I said at the end of the last section, the Night’s King version of the dark solar king seems destined to become locked in the ice and frozen, and we all remember the last line of this chapter concerning the last knife wound Jon took:
He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …
Jon’s dead body seems foreshadowed to be placed in the ice cells – this is a depiction of the sun being frozen and hidden during the Long Night. There’s a line in one of Jon’s wolf dreams in ADWD which refers to the sun hiding in a “cave of night” when it isn’t in the sky, and that’s a good way to think about the reborn sun becoming lodged in the ice. Recall that Jon thinks of the tunnel through the ice at castle Black as being “as dark and cold as the belly of an ice dragon,” and the ice cells are very similar. Essentially, the Wall is a symbol of the ice moon, so being inside the Wall or inside the belly of the ice dragon is like being trapped inside the ice moon, and this is where Jon’s corpse is symbolically headed… into one of those ice cells in the Wall. Why? Because he represents that black meteor that lands in the ice moon. Hopefully this is beginning to make sense to you. He’s the crow in the snow.
Returning the dragon battle at Rook’s Rest, we find that Sunfyre and his rider, King Aegon II, each mimic Jon being frozen and hidden in their own way. Sunfyre is literally hidden – everyone believed he was dead, actually, though it later turned out he has been hiding out on the far side of Dragonstone. And say… since Dragonstone is a symbol of the fire moon, Sunfyre being on the far side of Dragonstone is basically like being eclipsed by Dragonstone… anyway. As for King Aegon, he loses himself in pain and milk of the poppy:
King Aegon II did not die, though his burns brought him such pain that some say he prayed for death. Carried back to King’s Landing in a closed litter to hide the extent of his injuries, His Grace did not rise from his bed for the rest of the year. Septons prayed for him, maesters attended him with potions and milk of the poppy, but Aegon slept nine hours out of every ten, waking only long enough to take some meagre nourishment before he slept again. None was allowed to disturb his rest, save his mother the Queen Dowager and his Hand, Ser Criston Cole. His wife never so much as made the attempt, so lost was Helaena in her own grief and madness.
The description of dying of hypothermia is given to us in the prologue of AGOT: it’s “like sinking into a sea of warm milk,” Gared says. So, sinking into a sustained milk of the poppy dream state could serve as a good metaphor for a solar king being frozen. Note also the bit about Aegon II being “carried back to King’s Landing in a closed litter to hide the extent of his injuries” – it’s a clear implication of the the sun being hidden and weakened.
So, what happens when the fire moon dies and the sun is weakened and hidden? What happens when the Long Night falls, according to my developing theory? The Night’s King should take power, right?
And indeed, the only ones to rise unharmed from the ashes of the impact zone are Vhagar and Aemond One-Eye. The ice dragon and its rider. Not only does Aemond rise unharmed – he takes the place of his brother, the wounded solar king:
“You must rule the realm now, until your brother is strong enough to take the crown again,” the King’s Hand told Prince Aemond. Nor did Ser Criston need to say it twice. And so one-eyed Aemond the Kinslayer took up the iron-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conquerer. “It looks better on me than it ever did on him,” the prince proclaimed. Yet Aemond did not assume the style of king, but named himself only Protector of the Realm and Prince Regent. Ser Criston Cole remained Hand of the King.
That’s right, the hand of the King was also a white shadow Kingsguard. Of course he thought the rider of the ice dragon should wear the crown! Kidding aside, here’s what’s going on. Sometimes we see one character transform from a bright solar figure to a dark one, but Aegon and Aemond are actually combining to show us the bright solar king and dark solar king duality. Aegon, rider of Sunfyre the golden dragon, represents the bright solar king, and Aemond, who just so happens to wear “night black armor chased with gold,” represents the dark solar king, the Lion of Night or Night’s King.
If you’ve ever heard me talk about the actual Great Empire of the Dawn dual Pantheon of the Maiden Made of Light, who turned her back on the world and hid during the Long Night, and the Lion of Night who ravaged the earth during the Long Night, you will know that I interpret this pair in exactly the same way as Aegon and Aemond. The Maiden Made of Light is the bright face of the sun, and her disappearance during the Long Night represents the disappearance of the sun, while the Lion of Night inverts the usual solar lion symbolism and thus speaks of a dark sun and it’s black meteor children – exactly the ones who ravaged the earth during the Long Night.
So, just as the Maiden hides when the Amethyst Empress is killed and the Lion of Night and Bloodstone Emperor take power, Aegon the bright solar king is wounded and hidden and sinks into a sea of warm milk of the poppy when Rhaenys and Meleys are killed and Aemond One-Eye of the night-black armor takes up the black crown. All hail King Ice Dragon!
So Aemond is the Night’s King, and he’s riding the ice dragon. What does this mean? Well, simple. Vhagar is playing the ice moon role, and when black-armored Aemond rides Vhagar, that can be seen as the black dragon meteor becoming lodged in the ice. It’s the same thing as Night’s King joining with Night’s Queen – and this is when Night’s King declared himself King, when chased and caught her and made her his queen.
We can see this timing spelled out by the fact that Aemond One Eye originally lost his eye – the one later filled with a blue star sapphire – on the same day he claimed Vhagar the ice dragon. Again, Aemond riding Vhagar is like Night’s King giving his seed to Night’s Queen, so this sequence is like Night’s King’s eyes turning blue when he copulates with Night’s Queen, essentially. It’s not hard to interpret that symbolism: Night’s King transformed himself when he gave his seed and soul to Night’s Queen.
Remember Mel’s line about Jon and Stannis both being eclipsed in the shadow of the elder brothers? Well, add Aemond to the mix, as he’s another second son who takes up his brother’s crown (Stannis declares himself king after Robert dies, and Jon will eventually be the King of Winter like his older brother Robb). There’s also a kinslaying motif here – Aemond One-Eye is also called Aemond The Kinslayer, because he killed his nephew Lucerys Velaryon at the start of the Dance of the Dragons. Stannis killed his brother Renly through the use of the shadowbaby, and Jon has a fainter echo of this in that he dreams of killing his brother Robb, though of course Jon is not a kinslayer in real life… yet. If he comes back to life and murders any of his Night’s Watch “brothers,” perhaps that counts.
That leads to our next Night’s King figure, and to a whole lot of eye-gouging talk. That’s right, it’s time for another one-eyed kinslayer, Euron Crow’s Eye. What, you didn’t expect Euron Crow’s Eye to run up on our Moons of Ice and Fire? Well, he’s a pirate, and pirates don’t ask permission and surprise is kind of their thing. They’re like the Spanish Inquisition – nobody expects them, and amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as fear and surprise.
The Face of the Dark God
This section owes a debt of gratitude to Ser Cletus Yronwood reborn of the Never-Lazy Eye, wrestler of bulls and Guardian of the Celestial Stallion and the Horned Lord, and to Ser Morris Mayberry the Upright, climber of Jacob’s Ladder and Guardian of the Celestial Ghost, whose words are “I drink, and tweet things”
As we’ve discussed while referencing Horus mythology, the Egyptians saw the sky as the face of Horus, and the sun and moon his eyes. George is playing on this idea with his idea of a “Gods Eye” which is a conjunction of sun and fire moon that looks like a great eye… one which is then blinded by the comet. You may recall that line a Catleyn chapter of ACOK where she saw that “the comet traced a path across the deep blue sky like a long scratch across the face of god,” with the face of god obviously being the sky itself, and of course there are several great quotes about the moon being like an eye or even the R’llorists’ perception of the sun as the fiery eye of R’hlllor.
But the Lion of Night / dark solar king is also like Horus – his face is the sky too, but specifically the nighttime sky, and his eyes would presumably be the two moons when they both existed. The shadowcat, whose name is basically another way of saying “lion or cat of night,” shows this exact mythical astronomy diagram to Jon in ACOK:
Off in the darkness a shadowcat screamed in fury, its voice bouncing off the rocks so it see med as though a dozen other ‘cats were giving answer. Once Jon thought he saw a pair of glowing eyes on a ledge overhead, as big as harvest moons.
This shadowcat is like a Night’s King cat – a dozen “other” cats are created when the shadowcat’s voice bounces of the rocks. Jon does not see the body of the shadowcat, only the eyes which are like a pair of moons – this is exactly how I am describing the sky face of the Lion of Night of dark solar king, the night sky with the two moons for eyes. It’s also like the representation of the Stranger of the Faith of the Seven that Catelyn sees in a Riverlands Sept before Renly’s murder: “a black oval, a shadow with stars for eyes.” The Stranger is clearly labelled as a death god, so he’s certainly an equivalent figure to the Lion of Night, and his “wanderer from far places” moniker implies him as a comet, a wandering star from far off places.
I’ll also mention the only other character with eyes like a pair of moons – Roose Bolton, who has “eyes as pale and strange as two white moons” which are also called “two chips of dirty ice,” “pale cold eyes,” or simply eyes that “were ice.” That’s ice moon talk, for sure! Roose and his son Ramsay are both Night’s King / evil Azor Ahai figures, and though we don’t have time for the Boltons in this episode, Roose’s moon eyes help me make an important point: Night’s King and other dark solar king figures (like the shadowcat or the Stranger) are the right ones to have eyes like the two moons, because their face is the night sky – it’s the face of the dark god, in other words. Night’s King is associated with the ice moon, and that’s why Roose’s eyes are like strange moons and also like ice.
It’s one thing to have eyes like a pair of moons, but where things really get interesting is with the one-eyed Night’s King people. These folks have the opportunity to tell us about each moon individually, should Martin choose to do that sort of thing. chuckles to self
So look again upon the face of King Ice Dragon, Aemond One Eye.
The blue star gemstone in his right eye would stand for the ice moon and the Others, of course, while his left eye is traditional purple of Targaryen eyes and would therefore seem to stand for the fire moon which was the birthplace of dragons. If that’s the case, the story of Aemond gaining a blue star eye when he claimed the symbolic ice moon dragon, Vhagar, also tells us something about the ice moon. It tells us that it was “awakened” or “activated” when it was “ridden” by the Night’s King, and yeah, insert your dirty jokes here. But the picture really is clear… Vhagar and Aemond’s blue eye both represent the ice moon, so the story actually tells us about the impregnation of the ice moon from two angles. Aemond’s ice moon eye is transforming into a blue star eye depicts the ‘activation’ of the ice moon, as does the very act of his riding the symbolic ice dragon Vhagar, and of course they both happen at more or less the same time.
There are two other characters in the story whose eyes tell the story of the two moons: Ser Waymar Royce and Euron Greyjoy, and they will be lending support to our analysis of Aemond One-Eye (or else I wouldn’t have included them, naturally). We’re going to spend more time on Euron, so let’s talk about Waymar first. Euron is a definite Night’s King figure, while Waymar is more of a last hero type, journeying into the frozen lands and confronting the Others by himself, with his sword breaking like the last hero’s. Of course some believe that the last hero and Night’s King are one in the same, but I plan to dive into that question in a different episode, so for now we simply observe that Waymar’s face is doing a sky-map thing which matches Aemond One-Eye and Euron.
Ser Waymar Royce can only be found in the prologue of AGOT, of course, and although his tale is surprisingly tragic in retrospect, it does do a fabulous job depicting the awakening of the Others after the fire moon was destroyed. First, Waymar’s sword snaps against the parry of the Other, and loses his eye:
When the blades touched, the steel shattered.
A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers.
Arya could tell you that needles can be swords, so this rain of needles is really a storm of swords, a recognizable moon meteor shower symbol. A moment earlier when the Other draws first blood, it says that Waymar’s blood “steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow.” In other words, when he is first wounded and then when his eyes are struck by one of the needles from his shattered sword, this is a fire and blood event, and therefore represents the destruction of the fire moon.
We find out later when Waymar rises that only one eye was put out by the sword-needles:
Will rose. Ser Waymar Royce stood over him.
His fine clothes were a tatter, his face a ruin. A shard from his sword transfixed the blind white pupil of his left eye.
But his other eye…
The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.
So, the left eye would be the fire moon, put out with a sword needle when Waymar’s blood was still like fire. The other eye, the right eye, would represent the ice moon, and indeed it opens burning blue when the first moon eye is put out. By the way, I really think Martin chooses his wording very precisely here – Waymar’s “other eye” is the blue one, just like the Qarthine tale speaks of the moon which wasn’t destroyed as “the other moon” which “will one day kiss the sun too.” The ice moon is the Other moon, dig?
Clever wording aside, we can see how the eyes once again show us a sequence: the fire moon eye is blinded and bloodied by the broken sword needles, and shortly after, his other eye lights up with that cold blue star fire. It’s almost like the activation of the other moon is a part of the fallout of the fire moon incident, just as the Others came in the darkness created by the fire moon meteors impacting on the Planetos… and just as Aemond gained the black crown after the fire moon dragon and fire moon queen were killed at Rook’s Rest, and just as Aemond’s eye turned into a blue star when he claimed the ice moon dragon Vhagar. And let’s not forget Stannis – he claimed the crown only after his brother, Robert the Summer King, was sliced open and killed.
It’s much the same with Euron Crow’s Eye. I covered some of this in the “Caverns of Dragonglass” YouTube video with History of Westeros, so again I will refer you to that, but Euron’s face is an even better sky-map than Waymar’s, and it shows this same sequence.
First of all, Euron is easily established as a moon character in a line from the Forsaken chapter of TWOW, where Aeron Damphair recalls that “he had seen the moon floating on a black wine sea with a leering face that reminded him of Euron.” As it turns out, the name Euron seems likely to have been derived from Europa, who is both a Greek moon goddess and the name of one of the most famous moons of Jupiter. As it happens, ‘Europa the real moon of Jupiter’ – what scholarly people would call a Jovian moon – is a real ice moon, as I will talk about in more detail in a future episode. Long story short, it’s a moon covered in very cold water and ice – and that’s what Euron is named after. Roose Bolton has eyes like icy moons, and now we know that Euron is literally named for an ice moon. Indeed, his face seems to tell the tale of the two moons.
His right eye is blue, so we know which moon that is, and his left eye is his ‘crows eye,’ although it is also called his “blood eye.” That’s the one he keeps covered with a patch, and as we’re about to see, that’s definitely the fire moon eye. You’ll notice Waymar’s blue eye was also his right one, and the same goes for Aemond One Eye. Not sure if that’s intentional or an accident, but I thought I would point. If it’s intentional, it may be alluding to certain occult beliefs about magic having a “left-hand path” and the “right-hand path,” with fire magic seeming to be aligned with the left-hand path. I know of at least one fantasy author – Raymond Feist – who makes overt use of this concept, so it could be that Martin is doing something similar, but with more subtlety.
Or it could be coincidence, who knows.
What I am more convinced of is the idea that the eyes of these three folks are showing us the two moons, and though the theory doesn’t depend on the right and left eyes being consistently associated with specific moons, it does seem to work out that way, for these three at least.
In any case, let’s talk about Euron’s eyes. The patches Euron wears over his ‘crows eye’ / ‘blood eye’ are either black or red, and the eye itself is implied as being either black or red in a couple of ways. It’s implied as a black eye because the eyes of real crows are black; because Theon thinks of Euron’s crowseye as “a black eye shining with malice,” and because Moqorro sees Euron’s shadow in a dream as “a tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.” Meanwhile in that Forsaken chapter, it says that Euron “showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible.” That last line could be implying dark red blood or black blood, and either works well.
As you can see, the symbolism of his left eye is red and black, crows and blood. This is the familiar waves of night and blood symbolism which represents the waves of darkness, bleeding stars, and metaphorical moon blood that comes from the fire moon when it wanders into Gods Eye eclipse position and cracks open. We see this waves of night and blood symbolism most strongly in Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail and Melisandre’s visions of a black and bloody tide sweeping over towers by the sea, and fittingly, this theme is echoed elsewhere in Euron’s symbolism. Not even echoed, really, so much as dripping from all of his pores.
Euron sometimes appears accompanied by the waves of blood motif, such as that line from Moqorro about Euron’s black-eyed, squid-like shadow sailing on a sea of blood (literally ocean waves of blood there), or such as in the Forsaken chapter when Aeron has a nightmare vision of Euron and sees “the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood-red sea” (again, oceans of blood). This vision occurs moments after Euron appears wearing a blood-red cape and a red leather eye patch. And let’s not forget Euron’s ship, the Silence, of which Aeron thinks “The decks of Euron’s ship were painted red, to better hide the blood that soaked them.”
I think you’d agree; Euron has waves upon waves of waves of blood symbolism. How about the waves of night? Well, for starters, Euron drinks liquid darkness – the Shade of the Evening wine of the warlocks, which is bluish-black in color. In the quote where the moon leered with Euron’s face, it “floated on a black wine sea” – so again, not only waves of darkness, but oceans of darkness. He likes to wear that black sable coat of Baelor Blacktyde – and of course a black tide brings us right back to ocean waves of darkness. His black hair is also described as “black as a midnight sea” – ocean waves of darkness, yet again. Also… midnight sea.. midnight sea… where have we heard that phrase before?
Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.
That’s right. See what I mean about Stannis and Euron sharing this blue-black shadow symbolism? Here you can see how close it is, with copious references to a midnight sea or nighttime sea and the colors black and dark blue. And since Stannis’s nighttime-sea-blue eyes are described as “wounds,” thereby implying blue blood as we mentioned earlier, there is also the suggestion of a dark blue blood ocean here.
Stannis comparisons aside, all of Euron’s waves of blood and night eye symbolism comes together with Euron’s sigil, which Sam sees as he sails near to Oldtown, asking:
“Who would be so mad as to raid this close to Oldtown?”
Xhondo pointed at a half-sunken longship in the shallows. The remnants of a banner drooped from her stern, smoke-stained and ragged. The charge was one Sam had never seen before: a red eye with a black pupil, beneath a black iron crown supported by two crows. “Whose banner is that?” Sam asked. Xhondo only shrugged.
The red eye with the black pupil is the gods eye symbol, with the black pupil being the fire moon which turns into a black hole in the sky and the red iris being the sun. That is of course the image I use for all of my logos, an image I assembled simply by visualizing what the myth implies when it says the moon wandered too close to the sun, and by thinking about the sun and moon as the eyes of god – and that was before I found the Crows Eye sigil, at which point I was like “hot damn! There it is! A diagram!”
Most importantly, it’s not just a matching image, but the right surrounding symbolism – the standard Sam sees is smoke-stained, further implying the Long Night events, and the black crown symbol is featured prominently on the standard. Stannis has that fringe of hair that looks like a shadow crown, Aemond One-Eye wears the black crown of Aegon the Conqueror, and Waymar actually has a different sort of black crown, as implied by the line from the prologue which says “His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin.” A sinful black crown, that’s excellent! Euron is also spotted with a black crown in the Forsaken chapter, fittingly:
When Euron came again, his hair was swept straight back from his brow, and his lips were so blue that they were almost black. He had put aside his driftwood crown. In its place, he wore an iron crown whose points were made from the teeth of sharks.
Let that be the next replica item from Valyrian Steel, a black iron crown with sharks teeth. Okay okay, shark’s teeth with little laser beams on them, fine. Get on it Valyrian Steel. And I am still waiting for my complimentary book-accurate Damascus steel Oathkeeper with the fashionable waves-of-night-and-blood coloring to the blade. It might be worth lots of free advertising on a certain podcast, just saying.
The Crow’s Eye banner also makes an appearance in the Forsaken chapter:
And so, Aeron Damphair returned to the salt sea. A dozen longships were drawn up at the wharf below the castle, and twice as many beached along the strand. Familiar banners streamed from their masts: the Greyjoy kraken, the bloody moon of Wynch, the warhorn of the Goodbrothers. But from their sterns flew a flag the priest had never seen before: a red eye with a black pupil beneath an iron crown supported by two crows.
Well, the gang is all here: the bloody moon sigil, connected to the word “Wynch” (“winch”) implies pulling down the moon and bringing on the waves of moon blood, while the warhorn of Goodbroother which looks just like Euron’s dragonbinder horn and evokes things like the binding of meteor dragons, waking giants in the earth, and the hammer of the waters event which in my opinion involved meteor dragons waking giants in the earth by causing land collapse at the Arm of Dorne. The kraken is a thing which pulls things down into the darkness of the sea, which compliments the Wynch bloody moon sigil. And above, we have a picture of the Gods Eye eclipse, wrought it the colors of blood and night.
There is a developing pattern of Euron hiding his crow’s eye / blood eye in the waking world showing it when he appears in dreams and visions. We already mentioned how Moqorro sees Euron in a fire vision as a squid-like shadow with one black eye, and this is continued in the two shade of the evening-induced nightmares Aeron Damphair has in the Forsaken chapter. In the first, Euron appears thusly:
When he laughed, his face sloughed off, and the priest saw that it was not Urri but Euron, the smiling eye hidden. He showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible. Clad head to heel in scale as dark as onyx, he sat upon a mound of blackened skulls as dwarfs capered around his feet and a forest burned behind him.
This is the first time we’ve seen what’s under Euron’s eye patch in any sense, and though we don’t learn much, we now know that it’s a dark and terrible blood eye, whatever that means. Wait! We know what that means – waves of blood and night, coming from the Gods Eye eclipse. Euron even mentions the comet in the next paragraph, saying that “The bleeding star bespoke the end.”
In Aeron’s second nightmare, it goes like this:
The dreams were even worse the second time. He saw the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood-red sea. He saw his brother on the Iron Throne again, but Euron was no longer human. He seemed more squid than man, a monster fathered by a kraken of the deep, his face a mass of writhing tentacles.
This is basically Euron’s Cthulhu face, and it’s very similar to Moqorro’s visions of a the one-eyed black squid shadow. Given that his face is like a leering moon earlier in this chapter, we are given the image of a moon which has turned into a vortex of black tentacles. This is a slightly more aggressive depiction of the waves of night (the black clouds of smoke and debris) which would spread outward from the Gods Eye eclipse in the sky when the moon explodes. Imagine the smoke spreading outward like black tentacles, and think that’s how the moon turns into a black eye and a black squid.
In summary, Euron’s crows eye sigil looks like an eclipse, and it is a mirror image of the Gods Eye lake and the Isle of Faces. The gods eye symbolizes the eclipse which occurred when the fire moon exploded, and thus it corresponds with Euron’s left eye, which is either his crows eye or his blood eye and which is covered by either a black or red patch. This is really vivid mythical astronomy folks, I hope you are digging this. Martin is basically giving us a detailed diagram here between Euron’s sigil and his crow’s eye.
And then we have his other eye, which is called his smiling eye. I would tend to think the smiling thing refers to a smiling Cheshire Cat moon, but it’s hard to say for sure. It’s described by Victarion in AFFC as “blue as a summer sky,” which is kind of a confounding description because summer is almost always symbolized by gold and green. There’s another line about Euron having “seduced them with his glib tongue and smiling eye and bound them to his cause with the plunder of half a hundred distant lands,” and of course Vic often repeats that “all Euron’s gifts are poisoned,” so perhaps the idea of the smiling blue eye being compared to summer is that of a false promise or poisoned gift? One thinks of summer snows, or simply of the idea that winter is coming but it isn’t here yet. Funny that Lyanna’s blue winter roses in the sky are “as blue as the eyes of death,” while Euron’s deadly, seductive blue eye is like a summer sky.
Labeling the blue eye as the blue of a summer sky might also be a continuation of the blue star / cold sun / burning cold imagery. In two other scenes, Euron’s smiling eye is “glittering,” which is a word that kind of makes us think of gems and starlight. In the Forsaken, there’s a line which says “His brother’s smiling eye glittered in the lantern light, blue and bold and full of malice.” Full of malice – that’s more like it. I told you the smiling eye thing was bullshit! Anyway, the point is the glittering, and it also happens when Victarion sees Euron before the Kingsmoot in AFFC:
“As it happens I have oft sat upon the Seastone Chair of late. It raises no objections.” His smiling eye was glittering. “Who knows more of gods than I? Horse gods and fire gods, gods made of gold with gemstone eyes, gods carved of cedar wood, gods chiseled into mountains, gods of empty air . . . I know them all.”
This encourages us to see his glittering blue eye as a gem – like a sapphire, or better yet a star sapphire, like our friend King Ice Dragon Aemond One-Eye. Euron seems set up to parallel the Bloodstone Emperor – which we are about to discuss – so the reference to golden gods with gemstone eyes here is notable (because they sound like idols from the Great Empire of the Dawn). Euron’s blood-and-black crow’s eye makes us think of the Bloodstone Emperor anyway since the Bloodstone Emperor was remembered as having caused the Long Night, and thus triggering the waves of blood and night, the storm of bleeding stars which bespoke the end.
We know that the Others came during the Long Night, and I am proposing that ‘Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai’ became the Night’s King in some sense, and I think that’s why we keep seeing the blue star eye symbol paired with a destroyed fire moon eye symbol. Waymar has a blue star eye, Aemond One-Eye has a blue star sapphire eye, and now Euron has a blue smiling eye that ‘glitters,’ like a gem or a star, and in the same paragraph that he speaks of golden gods with gemstone eyes.
The Bloodstone Emperor Reborn
This section is brought ot you by the Patreonsupport of two members of the Sacred Order of the Black Hand: Ser Dale the Winged Fist, the last scion of House Mudd and captain of the dread ship Black Squirrel, and Ser Stoyles of Long Branch, Seeker of Paleblood
Much to my great delight, more and more people are coming to think of Euron as either a would-be Night’s King figure or a would-be Bloodstone Emperor figure – and I think he’s both, of course. Let’s consider the obvious parallels Euron has to the story of the Bloodstone Emperor, starting with the simple fact that he’s seeking after Daenerys, who parallels the Amethyst Empress. Euron is actually the one to refer to Daenerys in language that cats her in this role, calling her “the fairest woman in the world” whose “hair is silver-gold, and her eyes are amethysts.” Like the Bloodstone Emperor stealing the throne of his sister (and probably sister-wife) the Amethyst Empress, it’s safe to assume Euron is mostly interested in stealing Dany’s power and Dany’s dragons.
It’s certainly clear Euron thinks he is the type of dude who can ride a dragon. He brags of having been to Valyria, and has the magic horn to lend credence to his claim. In the Forsaken chapter, he even appears with a suit of Valyrian steel armor, and by all means you should be reading this as a vision of the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, the pirate lord from Asshai, sailing to Westeros:
Euron Crow’s Eye stood upon the deck of Silence, clad in a suit of black scale armor like nothing Aeron had ever seen before. Dark as smoke it was, but Euron wore it as easily as if it was the thinnest silk. The scales were edged in red gold, and gleamed and shimmered when they moved. Patterns could be seen within the metal, whorls and glyphs and arcane symbols folded into the steel.
Valyrian steel, the Damphair knew. His armor is Valyrian steel. In all the Seven Kingdoms, no man owned a suit of Valyrian steel. Such things had been known 400 years ago, in the days before the Doom, but even then, they would’ve cost a kingdom.
Euron did not lie. He has been to Valyria. No wonder he was mad.
Like I said, there is no question Euron thinks of himself as one who can ride a dragon. “Delusions of grandeur” doesn’t even begin to describe Euron’s monumental ambition, really, as Euron aims to make himself a new god-on-earth, just as the first emperor of the Great Empire of the Dawn was called the God-on-Earth and the Yi-Tish continue to use this title in imitation of their ancestors of the Great Empire of the Dawn. This next bit is from Aeron’s first nightmare, when he saw Euron showing his blood eye and sitting atop a pile of blackened skulls:
“The bleeding star bespoke the end,” he said to Aeron. “These are the last days, when the world shall be broken and remade. A new god shall be born from the graves and charnel pits.”
Then Euron lifted a great horn to his lips and blew, and dragons and krakens and sphinxes came at his command and bowed before him. “Kneel, brother,” the Crow’s Eye commanded. “I am your king, I am your god. Worship me, and I will raise you up to be my priest.”
This is basically the darkest version of Azor Ahai reborn we’ve seen yet, the new god who’s born from the grave when the bleeding star remakes the world. This is Euron’s true ambition – not just the Iron Throne, but some sort of twisted, yet deified state. This is a match for the most important aspect of the Azor Ahai character – the Luciferian action of challenging the gods and seeking to become like god by stealing the fire of the gods. Euron is the very personification of this, as you can see. He’s quite open about it – about as open as his bathrobe when he’s being all creepy and shit with his brother Victarion:
The Crow’s Eye had taken Lord Hewett’s bedchamber along with his bastard daughter. When he entered, the girl was sprawled naked on the bed, snoring softly. Euron stood by the window, drinking from a silver cup. He wore the sable cloak he took from Blacktyde, his red leather eye patch, and nothing else. “When I was a boy, I dreamt that I could fly,” he announced. “When I woke, I couldn’t . . . or so the maester said. But what if he lied?”
Victarion could smell the sea through the open window, though the room stank of wine and blood and sex. The cold salt air helped to clear his head. “What do you mean?”
Euron turned to face him, his bruised blue lips curled in a half smile. “Perhaps we can fly. All of us. How will we ever know unless we leap from some tall tower?” The wind came gusting through the window and stirred his sable cloak. There was something obscene and disturbing about his nakedness. “No man ever truly knows what he can do unless he dares to leap.”
“There is the window. Leap.” Victarion had no patience for this. His wounded hand was troubling him. “What do you want?”
“The world.” Firelight glimmered in Euron’s eye. His smiling eye. “Will you take a cup of Lord Hewett’s wine? There’s no wine half so sweet as wine taken from a beaten foe.”
“No.” Victarion glanced away. “Cover yourself.”
That scene doesn’t need a lot of breakdown; it’s a pretty visceral example of Euron, drunk on warlock wine and lust for power. Victarion’s not-at-all-amused routine provides a humorous counterpoint to Euron’s lewdness, which is what keeps this scene grounded in Martin’s signature “realistic fantasy” style. Euron’s own brother isn’t even sure whether or not to take this sort of “visionary” talk seriously at this point. Victarion thinks he can “steal” Daenerys from Euron, but I think everyone knows Euron is thinking several steps ahead and that Victarion double crosses Euron at his own peril.
Some people also think that Euron will have something to do with triggering the new Long Night, if such a thing is possible. Like, you know, he’ll drink so much shade of the evening that he’ll actually bring on the Long Night or something. At the least, it definitely seems clear that he is set to be primary human villain of the third act of the story, which will soon be moving into the Long Night. But there are clues about him having some more direct connection to the new Long Night, beginning with these parallels to the Bloodstone Emperor, who was credited in the far east with bringing on the Long Night with dark magic. There’s also that excellent little nightmare monologue about the bleeding star and the world breaking and the end of days, plus his tooting on the horn and being able to command dragons, krakens, and sphinxes.
I for one tend to think that dragonbinder horn is the most important horn in the story, despite the allure of Sam’s old broken horn being the true horn. I’m curious to see if dragonbinder really binds dragons, or whether it might be for some other purpose, or both. But one thing is for sure. If Euron, as a one-blue-eyed Night’s King figure, were to steal a dragon, there’s only one dragon it can be: Viserion, the whitish-colored dragon. He’d be essentially emulating ice dragon king Aemond One-Eye riding Vhagar, which would be pretty sweet, you have to admit. At that point, Night’s King figures riding dragons would be a pattern one could easily point to (and don’t forget Stannis has been trying to figure out the way to hatch a stone dragon). The other leading contender to ride a dragon would be Jon, another Azor Ahai / Night’s King figure, so… it really seems like Night’s King – the original one – being a dragon person is being implied from many directions.
I really would not be surprised if Euron actually gets Viserion – call it an official prediction, if you will, and expect other parallels to be drawn to Aemond One-Eye if that happens.
Even without a dragon, Euron seems set to attack Oldtown in TWOW. That’s an important potential echo of the dragonlords from Asshai, led by the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, attacking Oldtown and Battle Isle during the Long Night, or perhaps just before. This battle would of course be the long-lost battle which gave Battle Isle its name before vanishing from the historical record, a mystery alluded to by the maesters in TWOIAF. It’s especially important because this is where the rubber meets the road, where east meets west, where the flaming sword dragon hero from the east intersects with the Westerosi events of the Long Night.
The fused stone fortress on Battle Isle is the oldest structure at Oldtown’s location, and perhaps the oldest surviving structure in all of Westeros. And as we all know, fused stone can only be created by dragonlords using sorcery and controlled dragonfire, so we can conclude that the fused stone fortress at Battle Isle was built by dragonlords who came to Westeros before the Long Night. This would be the logical place to begin invasion from, and we have a couple historical parallels that suggest it besides Euron’s attack.
..Such as these three, and this is from TWOIAF:
As Oldtown grew wealthy and powerful, neighboring lords and petty kings turned covetous eyes upon its riches, and pirates and reavers from beyond the seas heard tales of its splendors as well. Thrice in the space of a single century the city was taken and sacked, once by the Dornish king Samwell Dayne (the Starfire), once by Qhored the Cruel and his ironmen, and once by Gyles I Gardener (the Woe), who reportedly sold three-quarters of the city’s inhabitants into slavery, but was unable to breach the defenses of the Hightower on Battle Isle.
Notice how the idea of pirates attacking Oldtown is kind of a thing. I’ve half-jokingly called Azor Ahai and his crew “pirates from Asshai,” for the simple fact that they came from Asshai and seem to have attacked Westeros. Euron isn’t from Asshai of course, but it’s easy to see how his having sailed to Asshai and then to Westeros to conquer, beginning with an attack on Oldtown and the Reach, serves as a great plot echo of the “pirates from Asshai” invasion of Azor Ahai.
As for these three named here, it’s easy to see how Samwell “Starfire” Dayne could be an Azor Ahai figure, since Daynes seem to descend from those ancient dragonlords from Asshai and the “Starfire” Dayne sounds especially like a meteor landing. Qhored the Cruel is another pirate, and he’s of the “black blooded” line of House Hoare – and of course the Ironborn are another civilization with strong clues about a far-eastern, non-First Men origin. Gyles “the Woe” Gardener might not be obvious at first unless you’re familiar with the Sacred order of Green Zombies series, in which case you will know that House Gardener, descended of Garth’s firstborn son, implies the stag man symbolism, and a Gardener named “the Woe” who sacked Oldtown and sold of three-quarters of its population into slavery would be some kind of evil stag man, which is part of Azor Ahai’s back story.
There’s also an odd little bit of Oldtown lore involving the Isle of ravens, which is the oldest part of the citadel – you might remember Sam going here to meet Archmaester Walgrave and his white ravens. Alleras the Sphinx tells Sam that “In the Age of Heroes it was supposedly the stronghold of a pirate lord who sat here robbing ships as they came down the river.” It’s not quite the same thing as a pirate attacking Oldtown, but it’s possible Azor Ahai ruled there for a time, and that this legend is a garbled account of that. The other “pirate lords” we have in the series tend to set themselves up in the Stepstones, with its Bloodstone Island, the place Daemon Targaryen took as his seat when he declared himself “the King of the Narrow Sea,” which is really a glorified pirate lord.
Finally, Obara Sand, one Oberyn Martell’s “sand snake” daughters, suggests burning Oldtown, something Lady Nym characterizes as Obara wanting to “make Oldtown our father’s funeral pyre.” And yes, you should be thinking of Drogo’s funeral pyre, because Drogo and Oberyn are both wicked Azor Ahai / dark solar king figures. Making Oldtown Oberyn’s pyre makes Oberyn sound like a falling sunspear landing on Oldtown and setting it on fire, much like Samwell Starfyre Dayne – and like the Bloodstone Emperor, the guy named after a bleeding star (the one that bespoke the end, to be sure). So, little bit of a detour there, but the point is that if and when Euron attacks and / or burns Oldtown, he will probably be echoing the actions of the Bloodstone Emperor version of Azor Ahai during the Long Night.
This final section is brought to you by four members of the Priesthood of Starry Wisdom: Black-Eyed Lily, the Dark Phoenix; The Orange Man; The Venus of Astghik, starry lady of the dragon stones; and Lady Danelle Bulwer, the Soaring Bat of BlackJack Mountain
The other thing which suggests Euron may be connected to the fall of a new Long Night is his implied connection to the Others. Implied connection to the Others, you ask? Yes. Behold these quotes about Euron, the first one from his first on-page appearance in AFFC as he banters with Victarion before the Kingsmoot:
“On that we can agree.” Euron lifted two fingers to the patch that covered his left eye, and took his leave. The others followed at his heels like mongrel dogs.
The others followed Euron, aye? Very interesting. This next one is from a bit later in AFFC, after the Ironborn have won a sea battle, and this is Victarion musing:
Aye, he thought, a great victory for the Crow’s Eye and his wizards. The other captains would shout his brother’s name anew when the tidings reached Oakenshield.
The other captains, huh? Then we have this line from Theon in ADWD, speaking of Victarion and then Euron:
“The kingswood crowned his brother Euron, and the Crow’s Eye has other wars to fight.”
Yes, the Crow’s Eye has other wars to fight. Very interesting, Sounds like good material for The Winds of Winter or A Dream of Spring.
It happens again when Tristifer Botley sneaks away from Euron’s fleet in ADWD. After saying that Tris lacked the courage (or madness) to “defy Euron to his face,” it says that
When the Crow’s Eye took the fleet to sea Tris had simply lagged behind, changing course only when the other ships were lost to sight.
Well hot damn. Or rather, cold damn. Euron’s fleet of other ships rears it’s ugly head again. And what about the crew of Euron’s ship, Silence?
The men upon the shore had spied their sails. Shouts echoed across the bay as friends and kin called out greetings. But not from Silence. On her decks a motley crew of mutes and mongrels spoke no word as the Iron Victory drew nigh. Men black as tar stared out at him, and others squat and hairy as the apes of Sothoros. Monsters, Victarion thought.
There are Others on Euron’s ship – Others who are monsters. What was the name of Gilly’s baby who was supposed to be turned into an Other? That’s right, Monster.
There are other examples of this kind of language around the Ironborn, though Euron isn’t specifically on hand. This is from Aeron Greyjoy’s “The Prophet” chapter of AFFC as he comes ashore from praying in the ocean as he is wont to do and is greeted by one of the soft, mainlander Ironborn who were only ever sprinkled with a few drops of saltwater and not actually drowned and resuscitated like a real fanatic.
“Such tidings as we bear are for your ears alone, Damphair,” the Sparr said. “These are not matters I would speak of here before these others.”
“These others are my drowned men, god’s servants, just as I am. I have no secrets from them, nor from our god, beside whose holy sea I stand.”
It’s pretty great how they repeat it twice – these others are the drowned men. Obviously the baptism-like ritual of drowning and resuscitating that makes one a drowned man is a kind of transformation which might stand in for the process of turning a human or human baby into an Other, and eventually we’ll talk about the symbolism of cold lakes and ponds and seas and what that has to do with the Others. There are actually a whole slew of quotes like this casting the drowned men as the Others, in this chapter especially – I was playing coy with you, to be honest. I’m saving those for our discussion of aquatic symbolism, but take my word for it that the drowned men are often used to symbolize the Others.
Now like I said, Euron isn’t here, but he basically inherits all of the Ironborn, including most of the drowned men, once he consolidates his power. In another sense, all Ironborn are drowned men in that they are all at least ritually baptized, even if they aren’t actually drowned.
So look – I don’t know what actual, literal connection Euron might have with the Others. Feel free to speculate – the one thing that he has that I could see being involved in some sort of magic ritual that help bring on the new Long Night is that horn, like I said – but what I can tell you is that I think there must be an inherent connection to the Others will all the people who portray this Bloodstone Emperor / Night’s King / evil Azor Ahai archetype. That connection could be my theory about Night’s King – that he was Azor Ahai or his son or brother, and that he created the Others with Night’s Queen.
Here’s what I will say: look for Euron and the invasion of the Others to interact with each other in some kind of meaningful way, or look for Euron to commit some act which enables the invasion of the Others, either intentionally or accidentally.
The final thing – and it’s a pretty big thing – that we need to speak about in regards to Euron is something that both ties him to the Others and the Bloodstone Emperor and Night’s King archetypes, and that’s his connection to the warlocks and the shade of the evening they brew up.
Right off the bat, we know a few things about shade of the evening: its name implies nighttime and darkness, it’s very dark in color, and it famously stains the lips of those who drink it blue. Euron’s lips are described as “blue and bruised,” and all the warlocks we see, as well as the Undying themselves, have dark blue lips. On the most basic level, it makes sense to associate blue lips with cold and ice, since staying out in the cold too long does indeed turn your lips blue. Blue has also been pretty consistently associated with the Others and icy symbolism – the Others basically have two colors, white and blue.
There’s a creepy clue about warlocks and ice symbolism in a dream that Dany has of Hizdahr as a warlock in ADWD, the night before she is to wed him. Some think this dream foreshadows Dany hooking up with Euron:
Beneath her coverlets she tossed and turned, dreaming that Hizdahr was kissing her … but his lips were blue and bruised, and when he thrust himself inside her, his manhood was cold as ice. She sat up with her hair disheveled and the bedclothes atangle.
It’s not clear why Dany’s subconscious merges Hizdahr with the warlocks – perhaps they are both simply threats to her a the moment – but whatever the reason, we see that there is an implied connection between warlocks and ice. If this is meant as a foreshadowing of Euron, it sounds as creepy as one might imagine a romantic encounter with Euron would be, so for Dany’s sake I’ll hope this isn’t the case. But if it is, it simply adds to Euron’s ice and darkness symbolism which he shares with the warlocks anyway.
We actually find a lot more evidence encouraging us to associate the warlocks and their warlock wine with the icy side of things when Dany marches straight in to the middle of their dusty-ass temple with Drogon and burns the place down.
When Daenerys finally gets to the center of the maze, she finds that the “Undying” of Qarth are basically blue shadows. This is from ACOK:
Through the narrow door she passed, into a chamber awash in gloom.
A long stone table filled this room. Above it floated a human heart, swollen and blue with corruption, yet still alive. It beat, a deep ponderous throb of sound, and each pulse sent out a wash of indigo light. The figures around the table were no more than blue shadows. As Dany walked to the empty chair at the foot of the table, they did not stir, nor speak, nor turn to face her. There was no sound but the slow, deep beat of the rotting heart.
Blue shadows aren’t quite white shadows, but they’re close – very ancient shadow beings associated with blue, and as it turns out, cold. This is later in the scene, after Dany sees a series of visions from them, ending with her foreseeing the freed slaves reaching their hands up to her…
They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them … But then black wings buffeted her round the head, and a scream of fury cut the indigo air, and suddenly the visions were gone, ripped away, and Dany’s gasp turned to horror. The Undying were all around her, blue and cold, whispering as they reached for her, pulling, stroking, tugging at her clothes, touching her with their dry cold hands, twining their fingers through her hair. All the strength had left her limbs. She could not move. Even her heart had ceased to beat. She felt a hand on her bare breast, twisting her nipple. Teeth found the soft skin of her throat. A mouth descended on one eye, licking, sucking, biting … Then indigo turned to orange, and whispers turned to screams. Her heart was pounding, racing, the hands and mouths were gone, heat washed over her skin, and Dany blinked at a sudden glare. Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his open jaws, bright and hot.
It’s easy to perceive this dark, cold blue heart as an analog to the Heart of Winter, and these cold blue shadows as the Others… and so it makes a certain amount of sense to see Drogon torching them. They are like a little bit of practice for the real fight for young Drogon here. Looks like his instincts are pretty good.. cold blue shadows = dracarys.
So, considering Dany’s experience with the Undying as a whole, there are several things to take note of. First, you can see that the symbolism of the Undying and the warlocks and their wine seem to be associated with icy symbolism and, obviously, darkness and evening and shade, and thus Euron’s blue lips and his taste in wine further aligns him with icy symbolism and Long Night symbolism. Both Euron and the Undying in the dusty warlock temple want to steal Dany’s dragon and Dany’s power, and very possible her life – definitely so in the Warlocks’ case, and possibly so in Euron’s case. Given Euron’s delusions of grandeur, use of blood magic, and knowledge of ancient legend, he very well might see Daenerys not only as an Amethyst-eyed empress worthy of one such as himself, but as a Nissa Nissa to use in a blood magic ritual.
One other thought: take a look at the warlock temple itself:
In this city of splendors, Dany had expected the House of the Undying Ones to be the most splendid of all, but she emerged from her palanquin to behold a grey and ancient ruin.
Long and low, without towers or windows, it coiled like a stone serpent through a grove of black-barked trees whose inky blue leaves made the stuff of the sorcerous drink the Qartheen called shade of the evening. No other buildings stood near. Black tiles covered the palace roof, many fallen or broken; the mortar between the stones was dry and crumbling. She understood now why Xaro Xhoan Daxos called it the Palace of Dust. Even Drogon seemed disquieted by the sight of it. The black dragon hissed, smoke seeping out between his sharp teeth.
“Blood of my blood,” Jhogo said in Dothraki, “this is an evil place, a haunt of ghosts and maegi. See how it drinks the morning sun? Let us go before it drinks us as well.”
A stone serpent – especially a dark grey one which drinks the light – seems like an obvious black meteor symbol. Everything else which drinks the light is associated with those black meteors, like Ned’s sword and the oily black stone of Asshai, but inside are blue shadows and that cold blue heart. I believe the message is simple: this building is indeed a black meteor symbol, and it’s showing us that the Others were created by one of these becoming frozen. The ice moon meteors that the Others symbolize came from the ice moon when a black meteor lodged inside it, in other words, the same message we are seeing everywhere else.
Another place we see that pattern is when moon faced Euron… drinks shade of the evening! That’s a pale, icy moon face, drinking liquid darkness. Euron’s transformation into a blue, magical being seeking after a kind of immortality evokes the creation of the Others, as symbols of the ice moon swallowing a black meteor should.
Thinking further on the warlock’s beating blue heart, there’s another possible ramification. If that blue shadow heart in this black meteor temple represents the Heart of Winter, is the message that a black meteor lies at the Heart of Winter? If the Heart of Winter parallels the ice moon, as I believe it does, then it too might have a black dragon lodged in its ice, just like the ice moon. I’ve proposed this idea before, and I think it’s a definite possibility. It’s also possible the pale meteor Dawn was made from comes from the Heart of Winter, though I don’t think it can be both. But as we go forward and develop the dragon locked in ice motif, you’re going to see that pretty much every ice moon symbol has a black meteor symbol embedded inside it, so if the Temple of the Others deep in the Heart of Winter has a big black meteor obelisk in the center of it, I won’t be the least be surprised. It will be surrounded by cold shadows, just as the blue heart in the House of the Undying is, and hopefully, Dany will march in and start setting things on fire, as she did at the House of the Undying.
Alright, so you might be asking: does Euron have two wive? Well, I think so, yes. His fire moon bride is represented by the iron maiden on the prow of his ship, Silence, and this quote is from Victarion’s “The Iron Captain” chapter of AFFC:
And then he saw her: a single-masted galley, lean and low, with a dark red hull. Her sails, now furled, were black as a starless sky. Even at anchor Silence looked both cruel and fast. On her prow was a black iron maiden with one arm outstretched. Her waist was slender, her breasts high and proud, her legs long and shapely. A windblown mane of black iron hair streamed from her head, and her eyes were mother-of-pearl, but she had no mouth.
Mother-of-pearl and regular old pearls are both widely recognized moon symbols, suggesting this iron maiden as some kind of moon maiden. Her black iron body and the blood red ship she sails on (with black sails like a starless sky, no less) would seem to align her with the waves of blood and night that come from the fire moon’s death. I also think that the mouthless iron maiden implies that the women Euron mutilates by removing their tongue work as parallel symbols of this slain fire moon, and indeed, in the Forsaken chapter, Euron ties one such victim, Falia Flowers, to the prow of the Silence next to the iron maiden. Even more horrifically, Falia Flowers was Euron’s “girlfriend” for a short time, and she is pregnant with Euron’s child when she is tied to the prow of the ship. it’s really dark stuff, for sure, and in terms of symbolism, you can see what’s going on: a pregnant moon, blood magic, and fire moon death.
As for Euron’s ice moon bride, well, he doesn’t have her yet. I believe we will see it in two forms: Viserion the whitish dragon, whom I think Euron might steal with the horn, and the “hands of white fire lady” from the Forsaken chapter. Aeron Damphair catches a glimpse of dream Euron on the iron throne, and it says “Beside him stood a shadow in woman’s form, long and tall and terrible, her hands alive with pale white fire. “ I don’t know who this shadow woman with white fire hands is, but I know that white fire can be associated with the idea of cold fire, and the woman next to a Night’s King figure like Euron should be a Night’s Queen figure. So whoever she is, expect her to have some sort of white dragon / ice dragon symbolism.
Heck, it could be that this white fire hands lady is a representation of Viserion – wouldn’t that be strange. Some have suggested that it could be Cersei, which makes a certain amount of sense (she actually has a couple of instances of icy symbolism I have been perplexed about, such as being carved of ice or having eyes of ice). I favor the idea that it will be Malora Hightower, known as the Mad Maid, who is reportedly studying the Hightower family books of spells with her father Lord Leyton atop their Hightower. She’s not a character we’ve heard anything else of other than that, but the Hightower’s white tower crowned with flame sigil and possible dragon heritage gives them a kind of white dragon symbolism which could fit the bill. Malora is already a magic user, it would seem, and her name even sounds like Mel’s name.
Euron, however, has different ideas about who his queen will be of course. This line is from Falia Flowers, before Euron turns on her, as she fills in the imprisoned Damphair a bit of news concerning the whereabouts of Victarion and the iron fleet:
“East,” she said, “with all his ships. He’s to bring the dragon queen to Westeros. I’m to be Euron’s salt wife, but he must have a rock wife too, a queen to rule all Westeros at his side.They say she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, and she has dragons. The two of us will be as close as sisters!”
Now, is it possible for Daenerys to transform from a fiery moon queen into an ice moon queen? Yes, absolutely, and we will find that seems to be what Sansa does when we cover Sansa and the Eyrie in an upcoming episode. I don’t think Dany will be Euron’s queen, for what it’s worth, but the line here about Falia being Euron’s salt wife and someone else being his rock wife, and them being like sisters, is noteworthy. It implies Euron as having wives who are sisters, like Aegon, and it highlights the fact that the Ironborn actually have an ancient tradition of a kings with multiple wives that dates back thousands of years!
Overall, I think Euron’s clearest two moons symbolism, after his eyes of course which are amazingly detailed, will turn out to be the black ship Silence and the white dragon Viserion, but we will just have to wait and see who hands-of-white-fire lady is and whether or not Euron gets a dragon. We’ll also have to wait and see what the horn actually does, and whether Euron has any sort of greenseer ability and/or was some sort of failed Bloodraven pupil as some theorize, and of course we’ll have to wait to see what these apparent clues linking Euron to the Others actually mean in practice. There’s no question Euron is one of the characters people are more excited to see more from in the Winds of Winter.
And now, thanks to our analysis of him in the context of an evil Azor Ahai / Night’s King figure, you will have an idea what his actions and symbols mean when you read his new chapters in Winds!
Alright, so what have we learned today? A lot, think, and more than anything, I think we have greatly strengthened the conclusions laid out in Visenya Draconis about the Night’s King and Queen; namely, that there is a direct link between Azor Ahai and Night’s King; Night’s King reigned during the Long Night and not afterward, and Night’s King and Night’s Queen created the Others during the Long Night. I honestly did not have a strong gut opinion on any of these issues before analyzing the symbolism, but I think the symbolic clues are pretty clear, and pretty consistent, and they seem to point to those conclusions.
In the next episode, “RLJ: A Recipie for Making Ice Dragons,” we’ll be drilling down to the deepest level of meaning of Jon as the song of ice and fire . We’ve seen today that Jon has some strong ties to the Others, and indeed, we have to understand why Jon is the Song of Ice and Fire in order to grasp the true nature of the Others.