Septon Barth was always right!

The history of Westeros is written, in-universe, by the maesters of the Citadel. Like all historians, they’re not infallible. In particular, the maesters are focused on rational thought, evidence and reason, even in the face of evidence of magic in the world (such as dragons.)

Some of Westeros’ historians though are more open to the possibility of the arcane and inexplicable. In particular, the works of Septon Barth are referenced by others, especially in TWOIAF, usually so that the ‘author’ Maester Yandal can then scorn the theory. Which has led to the popular idiom amongst fans: “Septon Barth was always right.”

It’s GRRM’s way of telling us the truth, while showing us that the people of Westeros don’t believe it.

So what has Septon Barth actually said?

Continue reading “Septon Barth was always right!”

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What is the “Song” at the heart of ASOIAF?

I’ve thrashed around some ideas in the past putting forward the hypothesis that GRRM is telling two stories within ASOIAF: the Song of Ice & Fire, and the Game of Thrones.

By taking the dual series names, I’m not advocating for book wank over TV fanboys. (Although I am, in general, a proud book wanker – as far as ASOIAF goes. Some of the changes made by the TV show are perplexing and remain to be seen if they are editorial shortcuts or just very bad ideas…)

What I mean is that two complex stories are being told within the one field of war: a mystical story that we don’t understand yet about the Song of Ice & Fire, and the War for the Dawn; against the political shenanigans which we do understand, with a plethora of interested parties duking it out for absolute monarchical control of Westeros.

The Game doesn’t really require extensive analysis, because it’s familiar to us. It’s the political machinations of King’s Landing, the chaos of Littlefinger, the long game of Varys: we recognise it because we see it daily, or can reflect upon history.

But the Song…. what is the Song? Is the Song about magic in all its forms? Or is it specifically about the Others and the Long Night? Is it about balance between Fire (Valyrian/dragon magic) and Ice (Winter/Others’ magic)? Or is it something else entirely?

Now, despite a litany of hilarious suggestions for appropriate ASOIAF music choices on reddit, I didn’t actually mean this question quite so literally. I don’t mean “what is the Song?” as in who is singing it and why, I mean what is the story at the heart of the more magical and metaphysical side of ASOIAF.

Continue reading “What is the “Song” at the heart of ASOIAF?”