Bloodraven is many things: a royal bastard, a master of whisperers, a Hand of the King, a Machiavellian politician, a sorcerer, a kinslayer, a lord commander of the Night’s Watch, and a greenseer. He is also the current mentor of Bran Stark.
But I don’t think he’s evil.
Spoilers for ADWD and Dunk & Egg below
I loved a maid as red as autumn
with sunset in her hair.
Sansa was a lady at three, always so courteous and eager to please. She loved nothing so well as tales of knightly valor. Men would say she had my look, but she will grow into a woman far more beautiful than I ever was, you can see that. I often sent away her maid so I could brush her hair myself. She had auburn hair, lighter than mine, and so thick and soft… the red in it would catch the light of the torches and shine like copper.
What if the wolves come?
I know that people often say “what about Bran!” and “what about Rickon!” when talking about Sansa’s apparent inability to inherit the North. Supposing that they come back (not convinced about Bran, but always a possibility)… would Bran or Rickon want to be Lord of Winterfell/King in the North. They would still both be children, essentially. Bran perhaps Robb’s age and Rickon still a child. Neither would have been raised with the thought of them inheriting—Bran is now coalescing with a tree and Rickon raised by wildlings with no concept/regard to the Westerosi power structure, and will only be treated as heir if (and that’s an if, there) Davos can get his hands on him and decides that Rickon is salvageable.
If they come back on their own free will, it may be in support of Sansa. Bran now has insider information on the events surrounding the beginning of the end of the Targaryens to the present, and is being taught to meddle and question the power structure. I think he’ll have also realized that he could have more power outside the political realm—his storyline is, after all, tied to the magical plot whereas Sansa’s is, at the moment, strictly political. Rickon also is tied to the mystical elements of the North, cannot read or write, and has no concept of ruling or governance and should not by any means be allowed to have power over thousands of people.
Which I guess boils down to: if these two boys do not have the means of securing political power, and will not want, will they return or be returned? And if they are, will they support their sister?
At the moment neither seems like they particularly wish like they want power within a feudal system. Neither was born to it (then again, neither was Sansa, however she aspired to be Queen, the most powerful—politically—woman in Westeros, whether she recognized it as such at the time is debatable) and neither was raised or given a skill set to do it.
Both are, however, gaining information that women are just as capable as men. In his greendreams, Bran sees the Knight of the Laughing Tree (probably Lyanna) and the She-wolves of Winterfell during the Regency. Rickon is being looked after by Osha, who as a wildling has significantly less internalized misogyny and does not conceive of patriarchy as a political system as the “natural order of things.” They do (as far as Bran is concerned) retain their identity as lesser sons of House Stark.
Adding in the anarchy that will soon arise with the invasion of the Others in the North and the greyscale plague in the South and the motherfucking DRAGONS PEOPLE and a female Queen coming to Westeros—
We may be looking at a woman king for the North.
Essentially, stop holding onto old political systems when playing the Game of Thrones. Politics and systems of inheritance when you account for variables like starvation, lack of physical security, and invading force, plague, and DRAGONS. Men will not care who gives them food and arms.
Sansa can be Queen in the North or Lady of Winterfell while Bran and Rickon live, especially if they (and they could, as we’re seeing) support her position as heir. A Song of Ice and Fire is about deconstructing medieval fantasy tropes, and there are going to be massive shake-ups and game-changers (pun intended) and I’m thinking the “divine right of kings” and the patriarchy are not necessarily going to survive them.
I just finished reading nobodysuspectsthebutterfly’s post about Bran warging into Hodor, and it hit me super hard—more than it has before—just how much the Stark kids are losing their identities:
- Robb—pre-shanking—was suffering from the trope of kingship in which one must put one’s duty before one’s self. (This, you could argue, is what gets him shanked. His duty as King was to marry Roslin Frey. His duty as Robb Stark of Winterfell won, though, when he married Jeyne Westerling).
- Jon—also pre-shanking—was suffering from that trope of “kingship” in which one must put one’s duty before one’s self. (Again, with the shanking arguably being caused by him putting his own desires before the needs of the Watch.)
- Sansa—Alayne, anyone?
- Arya—No one.
- Bran—I’m not going to summarize the post in the link above. Go read it. You’ll see what I mean. (Hint: Tree!Bran and other dark things)
- Rickon—I’m going to argue that he’s too young to know who he was to begin with, but that what sense of “Stark” he might have had he had to shove down deep inside him to survive the wilds.
Each and every one of these children has had to go through something dark, and terrible, and sad, and etc. Each of them has had to efface the self that they were raised—by Ned and Cat, Family, Duty, Honor—to be. And each of them is alone in the world, far away from those who know and love them best (again—Bran. But his is still a tricky situation).
The thing that gives me (some semblance of) hope is that, with a trope of “losing identity” that occurs in the first five books—of Sansa learning to lie and keep her face smooth, of Arya learning to do what she has to do to survive, of Jon examining what “honor” means, Tree!Bran—there will, ultimately be that moment when they have to regain their identities. There will be that moment when all that they have learned, all that they have suffered through, is going to propel them to a point where they are able to say “I am [x] Stark/Snow, and this is who I am and what I do because ME.” And it’s going to be more fulfilling than learning who killed Jon Arryn, seeing Lady Stoneheart for the first time, “in the end, Tywin Lannister did not shit gold.” Because it’s going to be the beginning of the badassery we’ve wanted from these kids ever since the first chapter of the first book.
My one nervewracking “oops, no hope, you’re going to never be you again” thought on this is that I think the only Stark who won’t have this moment is, in fact, Bran.
I have a lot of feels on the subject of Bran.
Oh Edmure. He always seems a bit hapless, doesn’t he.
Adorable Cat & Blackfish ARE ADORABLE.
Why is this a secret?! *scandalised* Say it loud, and say it proud!
"Making gravity his beyoch", I love it!
I don’t think wards are that particularly unpopular, even after the previous generation? But then, there seems to be two kinds of wards.
#1: Wards to help create/repay alliances: Of these, we have Brandon Stark (fostered by the Dustins), Petyr Baelish (fostered by his father’s friend Hoster Tully), Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon (fostered by their fathers’ friend Jon Arryn), the two Walders, Tristifer Botley and the other boys raised at Pyke to soothe Alannys Greyjoy, all those kids at the Dorne Water Gardens, and others. There’s also various assorted page/squire-type fosterings. (Jaime Lannister and Merrett Frey, squiring for the Crakehalls; “Red” Walder Frey, at Casterly Rock; Loras Tyrell, for Renly Baratheon; Edric Dayne with Beric Dondarrion; and so on — possibly Ethan Glover and Elbert Arryn fit in here too.) edit: And there’s also Harry Hardyng, of course.
#2: Wards to repay a debt / as a hostage: Of these, there’s Theon Greyjoy as a primary example, but there’s also Quentyn Martell (sent to the Yronwoods after Oberyn killed old Lord Yronwood), Hoster Blackwood (sent to KL as part of the Riverlands peace agreement), and two of Jaime’s three squires (Riverland hostages); and besides Myrcella, there’s also Alysanne Osgrey (D&E - sent to KL as hostage for her father’s deeds in the Blackfyre Rebellion), and one of the daughters of Jonos Bracken (also sent to KL for that Riverlands peace agreement).
And while it may seem that the previous generation had a lot of fostering going on — probably as some kind of agreement worked out during the Stepstones War, possibly something to do with “southern ambitions” — it’s not that uncommon in the current generation. It still seems to be popular for cousins to be raised with richer/more powerful relatives (Merrett Frey’s mother was a Crakehall, “Red” Walder is Genna’s son, and there’s various Lann-cousins all over). And it also seems to be a compliment, or a favor, for it to happen — I figure the only reason Taena Merryweather didn’t jump at the chance to have her son raised with Tommen is that Taena was never actually on Cersei’s side (and could also see where the wind was blowing).
The whole Lysa and Robert Arryn thing is a completely different story. There’s a minor mystery there, where some were told Robin was going to Tywin at Casterly Rock, and some were told he was going to Stannis at Dragonstone. Apparently the conflict there was between Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn, but either way, it would have been a compliment. The reason Lysa worked against it (to the point of poisoning her husband to prevent it happening) is that she was so clingy and desperately afraid of being separated from her only son. Which was pretty much the reason Jon wanted to foster Robert to begin with.
But in general, I don’t think Petyr or Ned and Robert acted as bad examples to prevent fostering in this generation. We just don’t hear about it as much these days, except in the case of hostages, or people who really object to it like Lysa or Mellario of Norvos. Mind you, Ned might have taken it as a bad example — since none of his kids were fostered out — but it’s also just as likely he didn’t do so as an excuse to keep Jon Snow in Winterfell (for “promise me, Ned” reasons).
Here are some of my thoughts on various parallels and characters in the first ASOIAF novel. Comments and thoughts welcome :) Not suggested for those who have not read all the books.
- Sansa and Arya show traits early on that they will succeed in the lives they are pushed into after their father, Eddard Stark, is killed. Sansa already shows great promise in her “lady skills” to sum it up. Arya repeatively shows her talent for sneaking, fighting, and how comfortable exploring the outside world. They both are naturals, and their skills are sharped by their teachers- Septa Mordane and Syrio. Now, BOTH of the girls, are fantastic observers. More so as the book goes on, obviously, as they become better at it. I feel like this could be a redundant point, but I’m going to keep talking about it anyways. Now, I stress this because blindness has been a huge factor is tons of problems-see the Lannisters. SO, observing. We have Sansa picking up small things, like how Joffrey is nothing like his father to how sheknew the Hound would win against Jamie Lannister. This allows Sansa, when alone in the lions den, (and eventually alone in the Vale) to learn from everyone around her and survive. Arya, on the other hand, observes which of her Fathers gaurds are easier to fool, where she can run and hide, and how to blend in. See with your eyes. Hell, observing is her day to day lesson with the Faceless Man! But I digress…. It’s not chance that these girls have survived so long, in places so dangerous, when older, wiser, and better trained people have failed and died.
- Stars and the Starks. When Catelyn reaches the Eyrie, she describes herself “so close to the stars she could touch them”. In the next chapter, Eddard leaves a Brothel in Kings Landing and walks “under a starless sky”. First, I see this as revealing how far a part these two truely are. Though, not only are they physically far away from one another, but they are in opposite worlds. One, in the Game of Thrones, and other, in the life of war and battle. Secondly, I see this as showing their security. I’m going out on a limb here, but the stars are a part of nature and a part of their security and guidance. Just like how the Starks worship the Old Gods, which are trees, a part of nature. This means, in my little jump, that Catelyn being so close to stars means that she is close to family and close to people that care about her. In this case, the Blackfish. Later on, her son Robb and the men sworn to her Winterfell, and finaly, her family in Riverrun. THESE PEOPLE MEAN HER WELL. Ned on the other hand is far from home in a place where people want his dead. Eventually, all his men are killed, and he has no one to help him, no one to turn to, no one one to guide him but Litterfinger and Varys which, come on, aren’t there to actuall help him.
- I believe Catelyn Stark is a very under appriciated character. One of her many amazing traits that seems to go unappriciated, is her cunning. How cunning is she? Well, Catelyn Stark is more cunning that Tyrion Lannister. To prove this, we must look at the only time these two go head to head without any interfierence. (I’m looking at you Lysa Arryn) The inn at the crossroads. Catelyn and Ser Rodrik are trying to not be noticed, and then Tyrion Lannister swags on in and notices them. Tyrion uses Wealth. It wins him a night at the inn. Catelyn uses Honor, to remind the men around her that they are sworn to serve her father. It is super effective. Catelyn then boasts loudly then she will be taking Tyrion back to Winterfell!…. only to take him to the Vale. (What a simple and wise move) Catelyn and Tyrion prove to be very cunning players in this game of thrones, but in the end, I believe Catelyn remains more cunning and wise. Tyrion said himself “All his life Tyrion had prided himself on his cunning, the only gift the gods had seen fit to give gim, and yet this seven-times-damned she-wolf Catelyn Stark had outwitted him at every turn.”
- The younger the Stark, the stronger the warg??? Hahaha, no. That thought lasted about 30 seconds in my head, but let’s have a quick chat about Rickton.”…but the Starks have wolf blood. Old Nan told him so. ‘Though it is stronger in some than in others,’ she warned.” Bran 1, ACOK. This is more of my thinking aloud, but from the little we see and hear of Rickton, could he be the strongest warg after Bran? Being so young, and eventually, more alone with most of his family scattered across Westeros, he obviously grows a very tight bond with Shaggydog. We’ve seen close bonds lead to warging. Thus, and this out there, with Osha as his protector, a woman with knowledge and acceptance of wargs, will Davos find in the 6th book a wilding boy with strong warging abilities???
- Directions. Khal Drogo was moving east and Daenerys convinced him to go west. Robb was going south and Osha told Bran he should be going north. Drogo dies before he can truly go west to Westeros, and Robb dies before he can return home, in the north.
- Daenerys’s treatment of the Sheep People gives us a glimpse of how she plans to use her power in the future. And it’s not looking good for her. As Khalessi she doesn’t have much power, and she even oversteps that. She believes she is saving women by taking them into her custody, so to speak, when in reality, she is just changing their owners. These woman have still lost their home, their families, their life, and Dany tries-oh how she tries!- to be just and fair and nice. You can’t blame her. She was sold/traded/given to Drogo as an object, she knows how it feels. She’s been raped and abused. She’s been powerless. And now she has power and she uses it to… wait for it… help women that are in her situation! If she existed in our world, she would probably be the head of a program that helps prevent violence against women. But I digress…. Daenerys tries to help people but it isn’t that easy. We see this when she frees the slaves in the free cities. Yeah, she frees slaves. But for many more complex reasons that I will not go to because countless other meta’s have explained it perfectly, chaos ensues and bad things happen. So while she should be heading to Westeros to clain her throne, she fighting for the rights of people and not going such a good job. It can only make me wonder what she will do when she reaches the shores of Westeros.
- Ned Stark is really good at many things. Playing the “Game of Thrones” is not one of them :( :( :( :( :( :(
- Bed Parallels. After Ned’s beheading, Sansa curls up in bed and does not leave until Joffrey commands her to. Meanwhile, after Daenerys gives birth to a dead child, and loses her husband, she remains in bed until she wakes and she commands to go see her comatose husband. This cool parallel, in my opinion, reflects how these characters deal with trauma at these points in their life; Sansa tries to block is all out. Daenerys faces it and keeps plowing forward. If I look back I am lost.
- When Daenerys becomes the new leader of the Khalesar after Drogo’s death, she doesn’t argue with all the people that tell her she can’t rule because she is a woman. She doesn’t argue that woman are just as strong, and have the same right to rule as a man. She just commands her people (she doesn’t really give them a choice) and then in an act of i-don’t-even-know what to call it, she proves that she is strong and worth following. I find this really interesting because she is trying to lead people in a very misogynistic society. We see other female’s with power comment of how they would be taken more seriously if they were male (Cersie and Catelyn, for example), but if my memory serves me correctly, we don’t get that fron Dany.
”You will never walk again, Bran, but you will fly.” -Bloodraven
Brandon Stark the Winged Wolf, Prince of Winterfell, heir to the North, skinchanger, greenseer, and warg of extreme power. His story moving forward is sure to be interesting, as through him we will be seeing the powers of the old gods of the North. If you were wondering just how much influence old Bloodraven may have? Bran’s going to be instrumental in finding out.
At the end of ADWD, Bran is enthroned in a Weirwood throne much like lord Bloodraven (called the last greenseer by the Children of the Forest), he has eaten of a “weirwood paste” to unlock his powers as a greenseer, and then he has several visions relating to the Starks, Winterfell and the old gods. I won’t go into what the visions themselves represent, except to say that it appears Bran may be the one to discover the secret of Jon’s parentage, and *crazy theory alert* maybe Howland Reed is just a red herring and Bran is the one to reveal R+L=J. (WoW Spoilers: Bran or Bloodraven is clearly messing with the ravens in the Theon WoW spoiler chapter, so expect something cool as hell to happen there.)
“I can’t fly,” Bran said. I can’t, I can’t…” How do you know? Have you ever tried?
Bran is heavily associated with flying imagery in all the books. Jojen dreams of a winged wolf bound in chains and a three eyed raven that tries to set the wolf free in ACOK, and it would seem Bran does lose his chains. He awakens from his near death experience and is still alive, but he loses the use of his legs. Even far into ADWD Bran dreams of having his legs restored, but his dreams are shattered when he reaches Bloodraven who says that he will never walk again, but he will fly. Can we take Bloodravens statement as true? I think so. We know that the trip to get to the Children of the Forest seriously weakened every single member of Bran’s party. We see how scarce game is in the area around the cave mouth through Summer’s perspective. They are not going to be able to sustain themselves from foraging on a journey back south. The caves they are currently in don’t have enough food for them to collect a ton of food and eat that all the way back, and even then none of them would be strong enough to carry the weight of all that food. Bran is certainly not leaving the caves, and personally I don’t see how the Reeds or Hodor can make it either.
So then how’s Bran gonna fly? Well he’s already skinchanged into a raven and flown around the caves, so technically he can fly. Personally I believe Bran’s in store for much much bigger things. I think he’s gonna warg a dragon. What for I’m not sure. Maybe to fight against the others? Maybe to help restore Winterfell? Who knows? Well.. GRRM does…… hopefully. One very small piece of evidence for my theory. In the last chapter of ACOK when Summer and Shaggydog watch Winterfell burn, Summer sees a, “great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame.” Summer bares his teeth and the snake disappears. Some see a wolf watching a fire, some a dragon being released from Winterfell, I see foreshadowing that says sometime in Bran’s POV there’s gonna be dragons!
So, Yes! Bran lives forever as a tree, and Meera, Jojen, and Hodor probably starve to death. Unless, and there is one way I can see that everyone can get out of the caves alive. Bran has to bring his skinchanged dragon up to the cave. And in a call back to LotR, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor with Bran on his back get on the dragon, and they all fly away in the sunset to live happily ever after. If you believe in that little tale, I’ve one thing to say to you…
O you sweet summer child you.
*Part 1 of a series on the fates of the Stark family, Intro can be found here.