The Winds of Winter: Historic Recap (Season 6, Episode 10)

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Last night’s Emmy nominated episode paved the way for what may be Game of Thrones’ last battle: the battle against the Night King and the white walkers. Once again the rulers of Westeros’ houses have changed and new alliances have formed.

This recap looks at the history behind a few key scenes and their historical basis.

An explosive end for Cersei’s rivals

cersei-evil-queen

Cersei finally gets what she has always wanted: the iron throne. Cersei, the first of her name, as portrayed by Lena Headey. (C) HBO.

This year’s season finale did not disappoint in terms of its death toll. What was surprising is how Cersei escaped the axe. Last week, Tommen ruled that Cersei could not use trial by combat to avoid being tried by the Seven. It seemed certain to me that Cersei’s head would end up on the chopping block.

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Anne Boleyn

Given Cersei’s marriage to the Henry VIII-esque Robert Baratheon, it seemed likely that Cersei would follow in Anne Boelyn’s footsteps. (Also, like Anne, Cersei shared a rumored affair with her brother. In Anne’s case this was almost certainly false whereas in Cersei’s case… well, we all know the answer there.)
That was not the case in the season finale.

With Qyburn’s help, Cersei eliminated her enemies in with one kingdom-altering blast of wildfire.

While Cersei toasted her success, she left Tommen alone. To Tommen, it must have been patently clear why the Mountain stopped him from going to the Great Sept. Only one person could both control the Mountain and be motivated to orchestrate such a large loss of life: his mother. After Tommen realized how his mother burned the people he loved alive, slaughtered innocent bystanders, and snuffed out the faith he had newly adopted, he jumped out his chamber window and plunged to his death.

Given the massacre at the Great Sept and Tommen’s death,  Cersei has truly become the evil queen. Qyburn crowns her in a somber coronation ceremony. Without her children, the only element that made her at all human is gone.

The Wars of the Roses

After Rickon’s death and then Daenerys’ embarkment on her voyage to Westeros, the “Wars of the Roses” motif is winding down.

  • Robb (the young Edward IV), Robert Baratheon (the older Edward IV), and Tywin (Warwick) are all dead.
  • The Princes in the Tower have both died (Joffrey, Tommen), if that is what happened, and lost (Bran, Rickon). Now that Bran is the three-eyed raven, he is effectively “lost” to us as a human son of the Stark/York family. Unlike the real Elizabeth of York, Sansa ultimately did get to find out what happened to her brother.
  • At least one incarnation of Richard III is dead (Stannis).
  • Richard of York (Ned) — the father of Edward IV and Richard III — has been summarily executed.
  • The invader from across the sea — Daenerys Stormborn/Henry VII — has, as of the season 6 finale, finally set sail for her conquest of Westeros.

Jaime Dines with Walder Frey

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Jaime and Walder Frey celebrate Jaime’s success at Riverrun. (c) HBO.

Now that Jaime has saved Riverrun and returned it to Walder Frey’s hands, he joins Walder Frey for a celebratory feast.  Jaime is not happy with the Frey’s weak protection of Riverrun. It’s clear that Jaime doesn’t respect this sniveling worm who wins through treachery and not real chivalric battle. I was worried that Jaime might kill Walder Frey, but that was not the case.

Arya Stark: the Tudor Troublemaker

Arya arrived in Westeros, near Riverrun, and finally got her revenge on Walder Frey, by serving the rat a pie made of his own sons. As Phil Hallam-Baker mentioned to me ages ago, a very special “Fray Bentos” pie was all too likely to be the poetic justice served to the lord who betrayed guests under his own roof.

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Fray Bentos pies are a popular brand of canned pies in the UK. Naming a character who gets made into a pie “Frey” can’t be a coincidence.

After losing her family and legacy (family’s reputation) as a result of brutal, duplicitous treachery, Arya has always wanted revenge. For most of the past season, Arya has been sitting across the Narrow Sea, plotting ways to harm those who have wronged her almost completely annihilated family. And, in this way, she is like none other than Edward IV and Richard III’s York sibling: Margaret of Burgundy (nee York).

Edward IV’s married off his sister Margaret in 1468 to Charles the Bold, the fabulously wealthy ruler of Burgundy — a lowland duchy on the edge of France. Margaret was clever, independent, and spirited enough to take an active role in the decision about who she would marry. Born in 1446, Margaret was roughly four years younger than Edward IV and his only remaining unmarried sister once he became king.

Margaret_of_York

Margaret of York had the York/Stark grey eyes.

Margaret was likely close to her family. She was roughly three years older than her brother George (Duke of Clarence) and six years older than Richard. She was raised with them during early childhood. When Edward IV wanted to execute her brother Clarence (who parallels Theon in his betrayal of Edward IV), she begged for his life. Clarence was her favorite brother.

By 1485-6, Margaret’s family and legacy had been destroyed. In a few short years, her family had gone from ruling England to almost extinct. Although her niece Elizabeth of York sat on the throne with Henry VII, the Tudor king’s victory at Bosworth Field extinguished the York name and killed her brother Richard to boot.

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Henry VII

Contemporaries believe that Margaret channeled all of her rage towards Henry VII, causing him problems: she was a Tudor troublemaker. And, it is in this regard — Arya’s desire to make trouble for her family’s enemies, especially the Lannister regime — that Arya is like Margaret of York.

Margaret of York “openly longed” for the York family to reclaim the throne.1 .  Having a female niece on the throne was not good enough — Elizabeth now bore the name Tudor. Margaret wanted a male York claimant to seize the throne from Henry VII, as Margaret herself explained to Isabella of Spain in 1493  (( Ann Wroe’s The Perfect Prince p. 85 )) .
It seemed as though Margaret would do anything to cause trouble for Henry VII. Margaret backed imposter claimants to the English throne, like Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, who became thorns in Henry VII’s side. She publicly claimed Perkin Warbeck as her nephew, Richard of York. (Admittedly, in Warbeck’s case, however, it isn’t entirely clear he was an imposter.)

Tudor courtiers believed that Margaret spent her time thinking up “new and unheard of outrages” to hurt Henry VII, as the Tudor king’s poet laureate Bernard Andre wrote. With his prose dripping in sexism that was standard for the age, he implied that her “spite never dies” and “a woman’s anger is eternal.”2 Henry VII himself blamed Margaret for “contriving” and “maliciously setting” “another feigned lad” upon him  ((Wroe p. 86.)) .

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Perkin Warbeck

Virgil assumed that Margaret trained Perkin Warbeck herself to make him a hard imposter to discredit. Virgil claimed Margaret gave him an “intense grounding in family history mythology, and duty,” as Perkin Warbeck biographer Ann Wroe puts it.

Margaret drew up secret treaties with James IV of Scotland to allow safe passage for any of Warbeck’s supporters. She funded Warbeck’s invasion in England in 1495.

Like Arya learned in Braavos, Margaret knew how to plot secretly and keep her actions quiet. When she delivered rye to her tenants on her estates, she made those gifts anonymously. 3 The secrecy may have been because the lack of public acknowledgement would make her actions more deserving of “credit in heaven” as Wroe puts it.

Sending these imposters over to England weren’t insignificant blows against Henry. Extinguishing the Warbeck threat cost Henry VII over £13,000, which strained Henry’s wobbly state finances. (As an aside, its interesting that Martin chose to recreate the part of Margaret who plays with identities (the imposters) as Arya’s ability to play with her own identity and slip masks on and off.)

Henry could do little to stop Margaret. Declaring war against her was impossible since her powerful stepson-in-law, Maximilian would protect her and he became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1493.

Given Margaret’s secrets gifts to her peasants, it doesn’t seem likely that overweening pride fueled her actions. It’s hard to believe that Margaret’s strenuous efforts against Henry VII were driven solely by a desire to recoup her family’s name, royalty, and status. A desire for revenge against the man who struck the death blow against the last of her male kin seems possible.

Margaret only sailed across the “Narrow Sea” (English Channel) once after her marriage to Charles the Bold in 1480 — and this visit only lasted a few months. Will Arya’s return to Westeros last longer? Will she finally get the happiness she deserves, or will she forever be caught up in a cycle of revenge and hate?

Jon Snow’s Parentage

After Benjen Stark leaves Bran and Meera, Bran channels into a weirwood tree and has another vision of the Tower of Joy. Finally part of the mystery of Jon’s parentage is revealed!

Inside the Tower, Lyanna Stark gives Ned a baby and begs him to keep the baby safe. He must not reveal the baby’s identity to Robert or else Robert will kill him. The camera focuses on the babies face and then cuts to Jon Snow.

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Lyanna’s handmaiden hands Ned the baby we believe to be Jon Snow. (c) HBO.

Let’s assume the implication from the camera cut is true, the baby is Jon Snow. In that case, this scene only appears to confirm one thing: Jon Snow is not Ned’s biological son.

Presumably the child is Lyanna’s baby, but that isn’t certain despite all the blood. (Is this actually a childbirth scene? Lyanna looks like she has a massive stomach wound, which could be stab marks or a c-section.) If Lyanna bore the baby, who is the father? Nothing has been confirmed yet.

All we know is that Ned probably isn’t Jon Snow’s father.

But, what may be more important, is why Bran thinks this Jon’s parentage (or this scene?) is important enough to visit with his greensight. What is Jon’s real significance in the war to come?

  1. Ann Wroe’s The Perfect Prince p. 85 []
  2. Wroe p. 85. []
  3. Wroe 91 []

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

45 Comments

  • Reply June 27, 2016

    Jun

    I think this episode is beautifully done. During Daenerys’ scenes, I was yelling at the screen “Elizabeth I!”

  • Reply June 27, 2016

    Ambrosia

    I thought more of Titus Andronicus – sons served in a pie ?

    • Reply June 27, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      Yep. That Shakespearean ode was apparently the inspiration for the “Frey Bentos”. Speaking of Shakespeare, did Cersei seem to be mirrorring Macbeth? (She’s killed her first king, she’s power-hungry, maybe crazy, and she was lukewarm to the death of her beloved child).

  • Reply June 27, 2016

    Apocalyptic Queen

    Yes! Daenerys was the epitome of a combined Henry VII and Elizabeth I (with poor Daario as Dudley). LF had echoes of Thomas Cromwell and Tommen’s sad scene was reminiscent of the “what we do for love” line all the way back from season 1.

  • Reply June 28, 2016

    Starxist-Leninist

    You say the WoR allegory is winding down, but along with the Margaret of York parallel you pointed out, I think there are two more parallels to be made

    First off, I think the revelation that RLJ means Jon = Perkin Warbeck. It was only revealed to the audience, and all characters (inc. Jon) still assume Jon really is the bastard son of Ned. Whatever device they use to reveal RLJ to the characters, you have to expect many many people will wrongly call bullshit because it’s just a little bit too convenient. Bear in mind it’s not completely out the realms of possibility that Perkin Warbeck really was Richard of Shrewsbury. Just to mesh my theory with yours a little, remember how much Arya adored Jon.

    Second parallel is based on the fan theory that Jon and Dany will marry to seal the breach. Three events in the finale gave this theory credence. First off, Jon was proclaimed the King in the North. When making a pact with Yara, Dany told Tyrion that any of the kingdoms could ask to secede. She’s fully cognizent why her father was called the Mad King, so presumably knows about Rickard and Brandon. Finally, Tyrion’s compassion for Sansa.

    Second, RLJ was revealed to the audience. The dragon lords of Valyria practised dynastic incest in a way that really should have sterilised them all after two or three generations. Seriously, brothers and sisters biologically can’t keep reproducing.

    Third, and let’s be honest, they were whacking us on the head with it this time: Dany told Daario that she’ll need to make a dynastic marriage. Aside from the obvious choice being an actual bona fide king (yeah, I’m a Yorkshireman. That scene brought a tear to my eye) there’s a notable lack of unmarried high lords. Theon’s a eunuch; the Martells have been overthrown (seriously, they didn’t need to kill Tristane that boy was beaut) and their successors have declared decisively for Dany anyway; the only unmarried Tully man is about two; House Tyrell presumably got wiped out and the rump has declared for Daenerys. That leaves Robin, who’s declared for House Stark, and Jon. Possibly Gendry if he takes the Stormlands, but if they were going to do anything cool with him, presumably he wouldn’t have ducked out of two seasons

    Sorry, went off at a tangent there. So we have Daenerys’ claim: the last sion of the royal family, the entire legitimate male line wiped out. We have Jon’s claim should he find out his parentage and stake a claim: a claim through the illegitimate line (presuming Rhaegar and Lyanna didn’t marry. Apparently the Targs were sort of ok with polygamy and bastards have a higher status in Dorne) (also the North totallly jumped over Sansa which was kinda a dick move imo but that’s another discussion. Like ‘he’s the King in the North’ ‘Dude, you know he’d have been peeled like an orange if I didn’t call in Cousin Robin?’)

    Anyway, moving back to relevance, we have Elizabeth of York, the last sion of the royal family, the entire male line having been wiped out. We have Henry Tudor, from the illegitimate Beaufort line.

    We have Jon, the last known sion of House Stark (except Sansa. Again, dick move, Lyanna Mormont) who was never meant to lead his house. We have Elizabeth, the last known sion of the House of York, who was never meant to lead her house

    We have Dany, who lived in exile from infancy because her claim was a threat to the ruling house. We have Tudor, who lived in exile from infancy because his claim was a threat to the ruling house.

    • Reply June 28, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      I echo your sentiments about Sansa but in fairness, he initially supported her claim. Did she want to be QitN? Will Jon relinquish his title when he finds about R+L=J? Possibly, but will he contest Dany’s claim? I hope not. Bastard or not, he knows nothing of Southern customs.

      • Reply June 29, 2016

        Starxist-Leninist

        I think they kinda whacked us on the head with the likelihood of a Jon/Dany marriage tbh. But the last two seasons aren’t going to be so much politics.

        Vis a vis Sansa, aside from the fact it was her strategy to call in the Vale, and she could do so partly because, like the Lord of the Eyrie, she’s a Tully, and therefore could rally the Riverlands

  • Reply June 28, 2016

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I’m a vegetarian but I shall never be able to go past a Frey Bentos pie tin (can) in the shops in the same way again. There’s something in Greek mythology – which I’ll have to look up – about children served in pies as well as Titus Andronicus.

    I hope Jon Snow ends up more happily than Perkin Warbeck!

    The Ptolemies (ancient Egypt) practised incest if I recall correctly. Though a lot of European royal families had cousins marrying cousins (not siblings) to such an extent that the offspring became not very good physical or mental specimens.

    I thought of Henry VII as many people seem to have done with Dany setting sail for Westeros and also of William the Conqueror (also known as William The Bastard) the Norman Duke who invaded England and took the crown in 1066.

    • Reply June 29, 2016

      Starxist-Leninist

      TBH I’ll probably look at Fray Bentos pies with less disgust

      Anyway, a character can reflect several real historical figures (Cersei reflecting Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Boleyn) or several characters can reflect one figure (elements of Warwick in Ned, Tywin and Bolton)

  • Reply June 28, 2016

    Alayne Stone

    It feels like the Frey Pies were just an afterthought to Walder’s murder, not carefully planned out as they were in the books. And how dare they steal Wyman Manderly’s moment of awesome from him!

    • Reply June 28, 2016

      Jun

      Agree. I am fond of Lord Manderly of five chins (although four were sliced off in the dispute inside Winterfell). He should be the one to cook the pie. Lyanna Mormont is obviously based on Wylla Manderly.

  • Reply June 28, 2016

    Argie

    Starxist left out one very eligible male highborn for Dany. Jamie Lannister. Now that Cerci has gone mad, he may finally have lost her. If he doesn’t have to put her down himself, Arya will finish her- she is on th famed list. Dany cannot bear anymore children after the witch used her magic on her, ala QEI, so her lineage will not matter-maybe that will be the end game. No more thrones, no more bloodlines. She already has the people of Meerreen electing their new leaders. Tyrion loves his brother and knows he is changed.
    Tyrion could then pick up his marriage to Sansa and produce some heirs for the time being. There are many theories that Tyrion is half Targaryen. His mother was either raped or had an affair with the mad king, making him her half-brother. Tywin repeatedly said, “you are no son of mine” and that could easily be a true detail, not just an insult. That combination would combine Stark, Targaryen and even Lannister in a way to rule relatively peacefully. The newDorne martell alliance doesn’t feel terribly threatening and Varys has already put them in concert with Dany.

    • Reply June 28, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      I think that if Dany cannot bear children or if she dies, she could bequeath her dynasty to Jon – as Elizabeth I did with James VI of Scotland – thus uniting North and South for the first time. Bastard or not, I wouldn’t like to see Jon challenge Dany for the Iron Throne.

      • Reply June 28, 2016

        Jun

        The thought of Jon Snow as James VI (or the first) crossed my mind as well, particularly if Dany is to be the Virgin Queen. It could work out in the TV series, although I doubt GRRM will go this way.

    • Reply June 29, 2016

      Starxist-Leninist

      Tyrion’s demonstrably a very clever diplomat, but it might take a master stroke to convince Daenerys to marry the Kingslayer. Especially since Jaime’s a bit miffed at Tyrion for killing Tywin

    • Reply July 1, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      I don’t see Dany marrying Jaime. Kingslayers is a theme this season – Jaime, Euron and Walder. Because of her hatred of Kingslayers, she related to Yara. Must say though, I love the potential crossover of Dany/ Elizabeth of York and Jon/ Henry VII uniting the country through marriage

      • Reply July 2, 2016

        Apocalyptic Queen

        Actually, having re-watched the episode, I feel Dany is more representative of Henry VII – Jon (with the stronger claim but still tainted with bastardy, whether ultimately, he is or not) is more Elizabeth of York. They may marry or ally as Elizabeth I & James VI.

  • Reply June 28, 2016

    Jamie Adair

    Watcher, You make a good point about William the Conqueror. I keep thinking about him in the back of my mind when we talk Dany and conquest. But I dont think the thought has really made it to the surface.

    I’m not so sure that I like Dany very much these days. Conquest is rarely a good thing… as bad as Cersei may be, unless she starves them or something, do the smallfolk care who sits on the iron throne? (To borrow a great line from Jorah was it?)

    • Reply July 2, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      I think Cersei will starve them. While Dany can be ruthless, she’s no Cersei. She listens to her advisors, she understands hardship and she’s learnt from her experience of ruling. I think she could be a great leader & may unite with John akin to Henry VII (Dany) and Elizabeth of York (Jon).

  • Reply June 29, 2016

    Argie

    Tyrion is fond of Jon, so I can’t imagine there being a battle between Jon and Dany. They want the same things, but only Jon is aware of the threat from the white walkers, Dany does not yet know. Their alliance is inevitable.

    • Reply July 3, 2016

      Starxist-Leninist

      Really onto something there. Plus (I think it was season 2) where the Small Council was discussing a letter from the Nights Watch and Tyrion’s the only one to take it seriously

  • Reply June 29, 2016

    Princess that was promised

    Under the Jon’s Parentage section, you said Brynden Stark left Meera and Bran. I think you meant Benjen Stark… 😉

  • Reply June 30, 2016

    Jun

    R+L=J has been confirmed. Considering that Benioff and Weiss said Martin acknowledged their guess before the series were even commissioned, we can safely assume this was Martin’s version too.

    http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/got-connections-ned-promise-tower-of-joy-infographic

    Nevertheless, Prince Rhaegar was still married to Elia Martell when he abducted/eloped with Lyanna Stark so Jon Snow is still a bastard, unless we unearth a decree to legitimize him by … Aerys?

    • Reply June 30, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      So I heard a very intriguing theory that R+L does not equal J. I believe the theory was R+E=J and that the blood was because Lyanna cast a glamor over the baby using blood to alter his appearance and keep him safe. So, if R had violet eyes and L has grey eyes, how can J’s eyes be brown?

      • Reply July 1, 2016

        Jun

        In my personal opinion, that’s overthinking it. While GRRM likes to surprise readers, he doesn’t usually play mind games to this extent. The surprises are usually built up logically and, looking back, seem almost inevitable. There is zero build-up to any alternative theory to R+L=J.

        I’m also reminded of the issue of crown succession. How important is legitimacy? I suppose very to English crown, but not so much elsewhere (see modern Swedish and Norwegian royalty). The irony of Wars of Roses is that, while Henry VII may be sort of legitimate by blood, that’s because he killed the last, more legitimate heir to the throne, Richard III. Isn’t it odd? To make oneself legitimate to the throne, you just need to kill the more legitimate relatives. Instead of paying for your kinslaying, you are crowned.

    • Reply July 1, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      I feel it’d be very difficult, politically, for Jon to take the IT. Hardly anyone south of Riverrun have heard of him and they might be sceptical about his claim. I find it more likely they’d support Danaerys – she is at least known and has experiencing of hardships and ruling in Essos.

    • Reply July 5, 2016

      Phill Hallam-Baker

      Nope. Not confirmed. In fact quite the reverse.

      HBO carefully gave us absolutely no information we didn’t have from the books with the sole exception of Jon being there.

      We don’t know the cause of the blood, Lyanna looks much more like she was wounded than having given birth. And she only cried once. And my goodness, didn’t those midwives get the baby clean in the time it took Ned to run up a fairly short flight of steps.

      Of course people are saying ‘well it could be childbirth blood’, which is exactly the point. The books are hardly subtle about R+L=J. None of the many people arguing that it is a ruse are doing so because they don’t understand the evidence. They get the argument and it is too damn obvious for GRRM.

      The books even have a character Jon CONnnington who gives the only evidence against R+E=J and it is third hand at best. Like the pies, the name gives away the fact that it is misdirection.

      • Reply July 7, 2016

        Jun

        Phil, have you seen the diagram put out by HBO and I linked in my post above? It marks Jon Snow as the direct descendant of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark. It’s official from Benioff and Weiss, and since GRRM has told them they guessed right …

        Jon Snow’s mother cannot be anyone but Lyanna, for the simple reason that he is a warg. He is described as warging into Ghost in ADWD. GRRM has said all Stark children are wargs. Only (some) people descended from First Men can warg into animals. There is no signs that Andals and Roynars and Valyrians can.

  • Reply July 1, 2016

    Sean

    Anyone else getting Richard III vibes from Cersei? Historical Richard may not have been an evil plotter (unlike the Shakespearean character), but he made a controversial and bloody power grab, not unlike Cersei’s in 6×10. It would fit in neatly with Dany being set up as Henry Tudor.

    • Reply July 2, 2016

      Apocalyptic Queen

      Yes I certainly did get the Richard III vibes from Cersei. And all the more so that she is (likely) to be defeated by another claimant from a rival Westerosi house in Daenerys (Elizabeth Tudor/ Henry VII). I wonder whether we will see both women on the battlefield a la Bosworth?

    • Reply July 5, 2016

      Phill Hallam-Baker

      I would say bloody Mary rather than Richard III.

      Oh and that scene with Sister Unella, why does everyone assume the mountain is raping her?

      Cersei says that the last thing sister Unella sees before she dies will be Cersei’s face. The mountain walks towards her head. Seems fairly obvious to me that her eyes are being gouged out.

      • Reply July 24, 2016

        Apocalyptic queen

        Maybe. But although Mary could be a ruthless sadist, she was motivated by fanatic zeal. Richard III seemed to have been motivated by ruthless ambition, a trait I saw reflected in Cersei in the last episode.

  • Reply July 3, 2016

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    There’s something about cooking up a human pie under number 3 in this link. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/myths/tp/080707Cannibalism.htm Ambrosia mentions Titus Andronicus – the story of Philomela having her tongue cut out is not unlike what happens to Lavinia in Titus Andronicus.

    They don’t seem to have done the

    SPOILER FOR BOOK HOUSE OF THE UNDYING
    SPOILER FOR BOOK HOUSE OF THE UNDYING
    SPOILER FOR BOOK HOUSE OF THE UNDYING

    “one to bed, one to dread and one to love” foretelling of future partners for Daenerys (in the book HoTU) – or “Nissa Nissa” for that matter. There is a fan theory that Dany and Jon will fall for each other (in the books at least) but that Jon would be the one to love but he will have to kill Danerys to bring forth Lightbringer. (I think the understanding in this theory is that Dany would be a willing victim).

    • Reply July 3, 2016

      Jun

      I saw Julie Tamor’s movie “Titus” when it came out years ago. I was quite shocked by it and read up on the background. Philomela is generally agreed to be the basis of Lavinia. There is a lot of extreme and bizarre violence in the play, such as Titus cutting off his own hand and feeding her sons to the Goth queen in pies. Some critics believe that Shakespeare was either making fun of or riding the popularity of the absurd and extreme violence in the fashionable Jacobean revenge plays at the time. Whether Shakespeare meant for Titus Andronicus to be a straightforward or a funny and ironic horror show is unknown. I was, however, struck by the message about the futility and desolation of cycles of revenge and violence and his apparent sympathy for both sides, even the “evil black man” Aaron the Moor. Many critics dislike the play but I find it very powerful and resonant.

      So when the “Frey pie” story came up in ADWD, it never even registered in my brain. Of course it was a reference to Titus Andronicus. What else could it be?

      As I’m writing this, Jessica Lange’s face as Tamora the Goth Queen comes up in my mind and overlaps with that of Cercei. Her fierce will to protect and avenge her sons at all cost makes her one of the most memorable female characters in Shakespeare’s work. If you have to steal, steal from the best. 🙂

      • Reply July 4, 2016

        WATCHER ON THE COUCH

        I’ve never actually seen “Titus Andronicus” performed. It was the first Shakespearean play I read off my own bat i.e. not forced to read by school teachers. I’m afraid my reason for doing so (when I was just 14) was that I heard something on the radio to the effect that several people in the audience had fainted the last time it had been staged (I think by the RSC). Nowadays I tend to avoid the horror genre but I’m A LOT older than 14 now. I believe there is one school of thought that it may have been written by Shakespeare in collaboration with others. I remember I was late returning the book to the library and had to pay a fine – I was the first person to borrow the book for 14 years so I tried to reason with the librarian but he was a “rules is rules” jobsworth type.

        Getting back on topic, Apocalyptic Queen rightly notes a similarity between Lady MacBeth (sp?) and Cersei. Shakespeare could write a convincing bad woman – as well as Tamara, Queen of the Goths there are Goneril and Reagan, King Lear’s two less sympathetic daughters. There may be other Shakespearean “bad girls” but I can’t think of them offhand.

  • Reply July 7, 2016

    Anonymous

    Actually, Loras was never beheaded in the books. He was never taken into custody. He is still alive, though (allegedly) horribly injured.

    • Reply July 22, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks. I will fix that.

  • Reply July 10, 2016

    Argie

    Although the series is indeed called Game of Thrones, that is the basis for the show, not necessarily the end game. As in history, the majority of the kingdoms are naught anymore and different forms of goverments took over. There is no guarantee that there has to be only one leader in the end. The real finality is the war with the White Walkers, which will unite mankind, however briefly, or they will cease to exist. That could pave the way forward, as the League of Nations did in it’s time (yes, much later down the road, but there’s nothing to say GRRM will keep his references in that time period forver). Furthermore, Jon doesn’t really want to lead-that’s pretty important.

    • Reply July 12, 2016

      rossfisher88

      I’ve been thinking the same thing. The dynastic noble houses have now largely lost their male heirs. Dorne’s male heirs are gone, so have the Tyrells, the Baratheons, and the Starks (Jon is a bastard, and undead, and it seems unlikely that Bran will be claiming the title). The Lannisters are losing their heirs one-by-one. Edmure Tully might just survive with his son, but they are now unimportant. It seems unlikely that the Targaeryans will be having any more scions. Am I making this up, or is Robin Arryn actually Littlefinger’s lovechild? Either way, I can’t see him surviving the series.

      I always wonder about stories like this, ‘Why focus on this narrative if everything is going to revert to normal afterwards.’ Dany has shown some disinterest in being like the kings before her. Is the Game of Thrones going to end in a rudimentary democracy? The Small Council beginning to hold the ruler to account? Just some thoughts.

      • Reply July 24, 2016

        Apocalyptic queen

        Hmm interesting.. Dany made some mention to people electing their own leaders in Mereen, Jon was sort of “elected” KitN and Dany said Westerosi rulers could petition her for secession. So you might be onto something.. Maybe the breakup of the 7 kingdoms?

  • Reply July 13, 2016

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    I’ve thought of a British Queen who lost all her children – Queen Anne (lived 6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714 – reigned 8 March 1702 – 1 August 1714). She suffered from ill health and despite numerous pregnancies most of her children were either stillborn or died in infancy – one boy, the Duke of Gloucester died at the age of 11. Anne was overwhelmed by grief say the history books. Of course Anne was never a tyrant like Cersei and reading about her I feel rather sorry for her.

    Rossfisher – I don’t know if Robin is Littlefinger’s child – I got a feeling in the books

    AVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS

    that Littlefinger might be considering causing Robin’s demise (or could that be a red herring?).

    The republic of Westeros? Now there’s a thought. The absolute rulers haven’t done all that well so maybe there’s an idea.

    • Reply July 24, 2016

      Apocalyptic queen

      Really interesting about Robin Arryn. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is either LF’s love child or potential victim which would pave the way for a renewal of the Vale-Stark alliance. Could Sansa become Arryn’s heir to the Vale were he to fall?

  • Reply August 2, 2016

    WATCHER ON THE COUCH

    This observation is but tangentially connected with the above feature but I was watching a TV programme “Coast” about “the secret life of cliffs” this afternoon. It was mentioned that during World War II a contingent of GIs were stationed bear Burton Bradstock in Dorset (the cliffs there were similar to the ones to be climbed in the Normandy landings so the GIs did some practice there). A lady was interviewed who said she had been haymaking (the old fashioned way where people pitched in with a fork rather than the “combine”) in the summer of 1944 when her uncle called out from the top of the hayrick. She climbed up and they saw the Amerian soldiers leaving for their (obviously unannounced) DD landing. She said you couldn’t really see the sea – it was covered in boats – so that made me thhink of Dany’s armada (though of course it was headed the opposite way to William the Conqueror’s invasion force and they were a liberating force not an invasive one).

  • Reply August 3, 2016

    lasciagì

    What about Oldtown which is clearly, with the library and the lighthouse, an inspiration of Alexandria? Same Braavos’s Colossus is a clearly reference to Rodi’s Colossus. Some architectural allusions might are interesting to analyze.

    • Reply August 8, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      Ah, yes, I started writing an article about Alexandria. I’ve read books before about the library and Cleopatra, so it interests me. I never published the article because I think I got too down into the weeds. I have written about the Colossus before in recaps.

      I have written, BTW, at least one article about architecture on Harrenhal. See here.

      But, thanks for suggesting this. I love architecture and I hadn’t thought of marrying all of those things in an article.

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