The Jade Compendium

▼ theories and thoughts by Sweetrobin's K-hole and the Gamer-Empress of Leng

Flames licked up the wrong character's legs

Originally posted on r/asoiaf circa 2021.07.31

In AGOT Bran VII, Bran has a vision of Ned in his tomb in the crypts, the night before they all find out that Ned is in fact dead. The chapter offers to the reader the idea that the dream world can be more real than the world of supposed "reality" as per the maesters. However, there is a snag.

Maester Luwin stepped toward the open sepulchre, torch in hand. "As you see, he's not here. Nor will he be, for many a year. Dreams are only dreams, child." He thrust his arm into the blackness inside the tomb, as into the mouth of some great beast. "Do you see? It's quite empt—"

The darkness sprang at him, snarling.

Bran saw eyes like green fire, a flash of teeth, fur as black as the pit around them. Maester Luwin yelled and threw up his hands. The torch went flying from his fingers, caromed off the stone face of Brandon Stark, and tumbled to the statue's feet, the flames licking up his legs. In the drunken shifting torchlight, they saw Luwin struggling with the direwolf, beating at his muzzle with one hand while the jaws closed on the other.

One of the recent Starks did die with flames licking up his legs but it was Rickard Stark, not Brandon.

Small catch, probably noticed before. Anyway, some further thoughts if you happen to be interested...

Incidentally, it is worth noting that conventional, adult, Maesterly opinion falls to that of superstition, dreams, magic and relatively unschooled youthfulness. This happens over and over again in the books, especially in Fire and Blood. Scenes such as this show that the stuff of dreams is not confined to the sleeping visions of the characters but also to the waking happenstances that populate their narrative. Yes, Bran has a dream of his father being dead (significantly, we are not actually shown that vision in text) but it is through the happenstance of his narrative that the truth of the matter is confirmed, i.e. it is Ned's tomb not being "empty" as Luwin insists it must be, but instead being "full" as by happenstance it is.

The symbol, the dream narrative, is thereby writ onto the "real", waking narrative by "accident". That accidents have meaning is an essential tenet of magic, be it interpreting the shape of tea leaves or whatever it may be. There is something of a "reading tea leaves" quality to ASOIAF analysis, depending on your take on the whole thing.

Future posts will touch on this and Rhaegar, who (as we are repeatedly told) did not die at the Trident.