A Game of Thrones: Prologue and 1-Bran

At my mother’s urging, Canadian Bacon and I started watching A Game of Thrones sometime after the first season aired.  We were sucked into the story quickly, and plowed through all ten episodes in something like a day (because we still had to raid, you know).  I hesitated to read the books, because the show was so damn good – and you know how it is, books are always better than movies, and I didn’t want to spoil it.  Once season two started, however, I gave in.  I couldn’t help it anymore.  I downloaded the ebooks and – slowly for me – devoured them all within about a month (hey, I was working full time and raiding, and I couldn’t do my normal marathon reading sessions).  Fortunately that did not ruin the show for me; actually, it made certain points and subtle nuances clearer.

Now I’ve become a full-blown fangirl, and I lust for new books with the same eager anticipation I have only ever shown before to JKR and Harry Potter.  And as I read more tidbits online, and participate in discussion forums, and discuss the episodes with my husband, it’s become painfully clear to me that I need to do a deeper read.  And because I know like, legitimately, only two other people who have ever read the books – and I know them online only – I have no one to discuss my theories with.  Thus, blogworld, I’m going to discuss them with you.

There are several things I’m reading for in particular:
R+L = J
Tyrion as a bastard Targaryen
Who is Azor Ahai reborn?
WTF Varys?
Prophecy of the Valonqar
Who will be the heads of the dragon?
Clues toward Sansa and Arya’s futures
What’s up with Jaqen and the Faceless Men?
and other things I can’t think of at this moment but will undoubtedly muse about as I read the books.

Disclaimer – A Song of Ice and Fire and all its contents and characters therein belong to GRRM.  These thoughts and theories and crazed fangirl ravings are my own.  I have read these books before and am doing this as an exercise in theorycrafting; there will be spoilers throughout from later books as I connect facts and half-cooked thoughts.

Prologue

In reading the series, with all of its politicking, it’s easy to forget the true and sinister enemies lying behind the Wall – the Others.  The prologue opens with 3 rangers of the Night’s Watch pursuing wildlings and being ambushed by Others.  They’re described as milky white, cold, with brilliant blue eyes and crystal weapons that gleam with moonlight.  They kill Ser Waymar Royce and when Will climbs down to take his sword and flee, Ser Royce rises as an Other and kills him as well.

Although it’s short, there’s bits of vital information in the prologue – Others have a superhuman appearance and apparently also zombie-like powers; those they kill turn into them.  Also, Ser Royce is described as having only been in the Watch for 6 months, yet he is given command over 40 year veteran Gared and 4 year veteran Will.  This shows that the Watch gives some merit to birth and/or rank, as Ser Royce is apparently a knight as well as rich.

Bran

Bran is 7 and it’s the 9th year of summer, so we know seasons in Westeros aren’t the same as our seasons.  They can apparently last for years.  I think it’s important that Bran is a child who only knows summer; with a loving mother and just father, he has had a happy and sheltered life without knowing real strife or trouble.

Robb is described as having the Tully look – red hair, blue eyes, big and broad.  Jon is slender and quick, with dark gray eyes and dark hair.  The brothers are there along with 19 year old Theon Greyjoy, who is Ned Stark’s ward.  They are all gathered to watch Ned execute a deserter from the Night’s Watch, who we can surmise is Gared from the prologue.  Robb says Gared died courageously and Jon says he died in fear; Bran and Ned talk and Ned tells Bran that only when a man is dying, “that is the only time he can be afraid” (16).

We also have some epic foreshadowing when Ned and Bran discuss the ethics of execution and why Ned performed the task – he says “If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look him in the eyes and hear his final words.  And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die” (16).  Obviously this can be applied to Ned’s own execution at the hands of Ser Ilyn Payne later in the book; I wonder if it will have anything to do with Bran himself later on – will we see him execute anyone?  Part of me hopes desperately that Bran is the valonqar prophesied to Cersei – it would be a beautiful circle as she pretty much cost him everything he held dear.

Moreover, we see what kind of man Ned Stark is – an honorable one who puts duty above pleasure.  This is, pardon the pun, a stark contrast to damn near every other house in the series.

Jon and Robb find a litter of direwolf pups; the mother has been gored through the neck by a stag.  This hushes the assembled men.  I didn’t understand the symbolism at first, but later on realized that while the direwolf is symbolic of House Stark, the stag is symbolic of House Baratheon.  Ultimately it’s King Robert Baratheon, Ned’s dearest friend, who gets him killed  by putting him squarely in the path of the Lannisters.  There can be so much meaning behind this one simple image, and it’s clear that the Starks and the Baratheons are tied together.  I wonder if this will have further bearing on the relationship developed by Stannis and Jon later on?

The men want to kill the direwolf puppies, and Theon enthusiastically supports that development (really Theon? you’re such a bitch – MORE foreshadowing!), but Jon manages to convince Ned that there is a pup for each true-born Stark.  We learn that Jon is Ned’s bastard son, and that he also has some of his father’s sense of honor – by doing this, he ensures he won’t have a pup of his own.  Robb shows some imperiousness here and is compared to Ned – “For a moment he sounded as commanding as their father” (19) – and we know how that turns out.  Fortunately as Ned decides they should save the pups and they ride off, Jon finds a 6th albino pup off to itself and declares it to be his.  We see this exchange from Jon and Ned – “He must have crawled away from the others” says Jon, followed by Ned’s ominous “Or been driven away” (21).  This is a definite echo of Jon’s place within the family – while it’s his decision to join the Watch, his status as a bastard and the enmity aimed at him from Catelyn are solid forces pushing him from Winterfell.

One more potential piece of foreshadowing at the end – Theon tells Jon in reference to Ghost, “This one will die even faster than the others” and Jon replies “I think not, Greyjoy… this one belongs to me” (21).  This could mean that either the other Starks will die before Jon (by where we are now, at the end of ADWD, one already has) or that perhaps literally the puppy and therefore Jon will outlast The Others.  If Jon is Azor Ahai reborn, which is a theory I am in favor of, then this is some super sweet foreshadowing from the first damn chapter.  Hell yeah.

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