The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore


III: 491-492 - The Dead Kings

"The king is dead, is that sour enough for you?"
Arya's heart caught in her throat.
"Which bloody king is dead, crone?" Lem demanded.
"The wet one. The kraken king, m'lords.I dreamt him dead and he died, and the iron squids now turn on one another. Oh, and Lord Hoster Tully's died too, but you know that, don't you? In the hall of kings, the goat sits alone and fevered as the great dog descends on him."

The kraken king is of course Balon Greyjoy, dead in A Storm of Swords. The ghost may have realized that her dream of a faceless man on a swaying bridge meant the impending death of Greyjoy, or she may have had a second dream that was clearer. The goat in the hall of kings is Vargo Hoat in Harrenhal, and the great dog is Gregor Clegane.

"I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no one heard his grief," the dwarf woman was saying. "I dreamt such a clangor I thought my head might burst, drums and horns and pipes and screams, but the saddest sound was the little bells. I dreamt of a maid at a feast, with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs. And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow." She turned her head sharply and smiled through the gloom, right at Arya. "You cannot hide from me, child. Come closer, now."

Most of her words accurately detail the Red Wedding, from the cacophony of the music and screams, to the bells of Jinglebell. The maid at the feast is Sansa, with the venomous snakes in her hair representing the poison she unwittingly carried in her hair net. The slaying of the giant in the snow castle by Sansa is much disputed, however. We prefer to think that it is a fairly mundane vision of Sansa tearing apart Robert Arryn's giant doll in the castle. However, many think that in fact the snow castle may represent Winterfell and that Sansa will kill Gregor Clegane there. Others have suggested that the stone giant may instead refer to Littlefinger, referencing his grandfather's shield bearing the stony Titan of Braavos.

The main reason we are not firm on our preferred theory is that the latter explanation would fit our interpretation of Bran's dream of the stone giant, if the figure is supposed to have an important impact on Sansa's fate. So far, Gregor Clegane has provided only the most indirect impact on her life, with his role as a primary instigator of the war.

The dwarf woman studied her with dim red eyes. "I see you," she whispered. "I see you, wolf child. Blood child. I thought it was the lord who smelled of death . . . " She began to sob, her little body shaking. "You are cruel to come to my hill, cruel. I gorged on grief at Summerhall, I need none of yours. Begone from here, dark heart. Begone!"

This is a complex statement. The diminutive ghost of High Heart may in fact be related to Jenny of Oldstones, the (probably common-born) lover of the Prince of Dragonflies (probably Prince Duncan Targaryen, known as Prince Duncan the Small, the son of King Aegon V) who is the subject of the song that the crone demands to hear again and again as the price for her dreams. If Prince Duncan was known as the Prince of Dragonflies and "the Small" due to being dwarfish, it might follow that Jenny of Oldstones could also be similarly small. In any case, the crone certainly seems to feel very emotional about the ruin of Summerhall where King Aegon, and possibly Prince Duncan and Jenny of Oldstones, died.

Another important feature of this statement is what the ghost calls Arya: "blood child" and "dark heart". She knows of all the grief that Arya has gone through, and perhaps knows that more grief is to come. Most importantly, it makes it sound as if these sorrows will turn Arya into a darker and less kind figure than she has so far been. Given the likelihood of her falling in with the Faceless Men of Braavos, this does not seem unlikely.