The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Argonath and the Titan of Braavos

‘Seek for the Sword that was broken’

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


This extra episode of The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, the series where I explore the parallels between George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and various aspects of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium, will provide my thoughts on the theme of broken swords, giant statues and the characters of the Grey King of Ironborn legend and Azor Ahai. Before you read it, I heavily recommend watching Ironborn Myth and Legend: Broken Swords, the latest episode of The Disputed Lands series by Crowfood’s Daughter.

If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll probably remember the Sansa & Lúthien episode from August 2018, where I shared my ruminations on the topic of Sansa and bats, and how that connects her to Luthien from The Silmarillion. That short post was inspired by LML’s Sansa Locked in Ice essay. Similarly, this time I’ll explore how GRRM’s motif of the Grey King and the Titan of Braavos, with his broken sword, might have been inspired by certain aspects of Professor Tolkien’s world building.

In her great video on the Grey King and Azor Ahai monomyth, Crowfood’s Daughter presents multiple scenes from ASOIAF books where broken swords make an appearance, such as:

  • the legend of the forging of Lightbringer, which Salladhor Saan shares with Davos in A Clash of Kings. According to that tale Azor Ahai desired a perfect weapon, a ‘hero’s blade’, fit to oppose the darkness which ‘lay heavy on the world’. Thus, he labored for thirty days and thirty nights. But when the sword was done and the smith attempted to temper it, it broke: ‘when he plunged it into water to temper the steel it burst asunder’. Then the hero labored for another fifty days and fifty nights, but again, as he was about to temper it, in a lion’s red heart, ‘the steel shattered and split’.
  • the story of the Last Hero, as retold by Old Nan, where his sword ‘froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it’.
  • the duel between Ser Waymar Royce and the Other from AGOT Prologue: ‘The Other’s parry was almost lazy. When the blades touched, the steel shattered. (…) He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof’.
  • the trial by combat between Lord Beric Dondarrion and Sandor Clegane the Hound: ‘Lord Beric blocked the cut easily . . .”Noooooo,” Arya shrieked. … but the burning sword snapped in two, and the Hound’s cold steel plowed into Lord Beric’s flesh’.

Many fans came to the conclusion that broken swords, and especially broken flaming swords, are strong symbols of Azor Ahai and Lightbringer. Crowfood’s Daughter points out that at various points in the story, weapons other than swords break and play a similar symbolic role. For example, at the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion uses a broken spear: ‘Men came at him. Some he killed, some he wounded, and some went away, but always there were more. He lost his knife and gained a broken spear.

Crowfood’s Daughter presents another instance where the broken sword symbol appears. From A Feast for Crows:

But dead ahead the sea had broken through, and there above the open water the Titan towered, with his eyes blazing and his long green hair blowing in the wind.
His legs bestrode the gap, one foot planted on each mountain, his shoulders looming tall above the jagged crests. His legs were carved of solid stone, the same black granite as the sea monts on which he stood, though around his hips he wore an armored skirt of greenish bronze. His breastplate was bronze as well, and his head in his crested halfhelm. His blowing hair was made of hempen ropes dyed green, and huge fires burned in the caves that were his eyes. One hand rested atop the ridge to his left, bronze fingers coiled about a knob of stone; the other thrust up into the air, clasping the hilt of a broken sword.

In one of her previous episodes, (Garth Greenhand & The Grey King: Fratricidal Clues), Crowfood’s Daughter explained that there are multiple hints that the Grey King and Garth Greenhand were in fact brothers – and not just any brothers, but rival siblings. Garth the Green seems to be based on the archetypal Oak King figure, the ruler of the fertile half of the year, while the Grey King shares the characteristics of the Holly King, lord of winter and death. In many myths that follow this archetypal pattern, one brother slays the other, and thus the seasons turn. But in some legends, the fratricidal ‘Cain’ brother, who kills his ‘Abel’, is cursed and becomes a Grim Reaper figure.

Crowfood’s Daughter proposes that we see the same theme played out in ASOIAF – for example, when Stannis kills Renly (or at least has some role in his demise’, and becomes ‘half a corpse’. When we read that:

A curse was placed on the Great Barrow that would allow no living man to rival the First King. This curse made these pretenders to the title grow corpselike in their appearance as it sucked away their vitality and life.

in The World of Ice and Fire, we might hear about the origins of the Grey King, who – in legends – is described thusly:

His hair and beard and eyes were as grey as a winter sea, and from these he took his name. (…) He ruled the Iron Islands for a thousand years, until his very skin had turned as grey as his hair and beard.

Crowfood’s explains that this curse might be seen as punishment inflicted on the Grey King for killing his brother Garth.

Thus, the Titan can be seen as an image of the Grey King (and Azor Ahai, if the two are the same person or archetype, as LML suggests in The Grey King and the Sea Dragon essay).

Later in the Broken Swords episode, Crowfood’s explores real-world giant statues that might have been the inspiration behind the Titan of Braavos: Colossus of Rhodes, the enormous image of Helios, the Greek sun god, and Talos, the giant bronze statue from Argonautica.

In Ironborn Myth and Legend: The Grey King’s Merling Wife Crowfood’s presents another archetypal figure connected with the Grey King monomyth – that of Nissa Nissa as his mermaid wife. Maris the Most Fair from TWOIAF is one of such characters:

Maris the Maid, the Most Fair, whose beauty was so renowned that fifty lords vied for her hand at the first tourney ever to be held in Westeros. (The victor was the Grey Giant, Argoth Stone-Skin, but Maris wed King Uthor of the High Tower before he could claim her, and Argoth spent the rest of his days raging outside the walls of Oldtown, roaring for his bride.)

Argoth Stone-Skin, the Grey Giant unites the Titan of Braavos parallels with Talos from Greek mythology, as that bronze giant appears in the Argonautica. Thus, we can see that Grey King, Azor Ahai the Warrior of the Sun (keep in mind that Helios, on whom the Titan of Braavos is based, was a sun deity), and Talos comes from the Cretan dialect word for sun, talôs. Azor Ahai is the Titan of Braavos, and the Titan’s broken sword is Lightbringer. But the Titan looks exactly like an aquatic deity, like the Storm God of Ironborn legend, or the Grey King.

‘The Merling King’ figure is simply another name for this monomyth. From A Dance with Dragons:

Inside was a cobbled square with a fountain at its center. A stone merman rose from its waters, twenty feet tall from tail to crown. His curly beard was green and white with lichen, and one of the prongs of his trident had broken off before Davos had been born, yet somehow he still managed to impress. Old Fishfoot was what the locals called him. The square was named for some dead lord, but no one ever called it anything but Fishfoot Yard.

Petyr Baelish, whose house sigil depicts the Titan’s head, also has a connection with broken swords. From A Storm of Sword, the description of Petyr’s ancestral seat, the damp tower by the sea known as the Drearfort:

Above the hearth hung a broken longsword and a battered oaken shield, its paint cracked and flaking.
The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. “My grandfather’s shield,” Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. “His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted.”

To bring the point home, GRRM decided to name the ship on which Littlefinger sails… ‘The Merling King’. As you can see, Crowfood’s Daughter is one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people in the fandom, and all her essays and videos offer such deep insights into the deeper meaning of ASOIAF scenes and legends. And again, I wholeheartedly recommend watching all episodes of The Disputed Lands.

Few days ago Crowfood’s has sent me this question:

Hey BT awhile back we were talking about we were talking about Talos, the Colossus of Rhodes and you mentioned The Statues of Argonath… what connections did you see between the three and how would you say the statue might relate to Azor Ahai or the Grey King?

And of course, she was right. It appears that Argonath (note the similarity to ‘Argoth’ the Grey Giant), the Pillars of Kings from The Lord of the Rings were another source of inspiration for GRRM, when he was crafting his Grey King monomyth.

Argonath

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argonath_by_kreetak-d49tvk7

Argonath by Kreetak at Deviantart


In LOTR, Argonath, the Gate of Kings, or the Pillars of Kings, was famous for its two monumental statues, carved into rock in the likenesses of Elendil’s sons, Isildur and Anarion. They were built by Minalcar Rómendacil II, the 19th monarch of Gondor, on the northernmost border of Gondor. The statues stood on the opposite sides of Anduin, the Great River, which flowed between them. Each king held an axe in his right hand, while his left hand rose, pointing north, in defiance of the enemies of the realm of Gondor.

The scene from The Fellowship of the Ring, where our heroes sail between the two pillars, is quite similar to the chapter where Arya sails into Braavos, underneath the Titan.

In the mid-morning the clouds drew down lower, and it began to rain heavily. They drew the skin-covers over their boats to prevent them from being flooded, and drifted on: little could be seen before them or about them through the grey falling curtains.

The rain, however, did not last long. Slowly the sky above grew lighter, and then suddenly the clouds broke, and their draggled fringes trailed away northward up the River. The fogs and mists were gone. Before the travellers lay a wide ravine, with great rocky sides to which clung, upon shelves and in narrow crevices, a few thrawn trees. The channel grew narrower and the River swifter. Now they were speeding along with little hope of stopping or turning, whatever they might meet ahead. Over them was a lane of pale-blue sky, around them the dark overshadowed River, and before them black, shutting out the sun, the hills of Emyn Muil, in which no opening could be seen.

Frodo peering forward saw in the distance two great rocks approaching: like great pinnacles or pillars of stone they seemed. Tall and sheer and ominous they stood upon either side of the stream. A narrow gap appeared between them, and the River swept the boats towards it.

`Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings! ‘ cried Aragorn. `We shall pass them soon. Keep the boats in line, and as far apart as you can! Hold the middle of the stream!

As Frodo was borne towards them the great pillars rose like towers to meet him. Giants they seemed to him, vast grey figures silent but threatening. Then he saw that they were indeed shaped and fashioned: the craft and power of old had wrought upon them, and still they preserved through the suns and rains of forgotten years the mighty likenesses in which they had been hewn. Upon great pedestals founded in the deep waters stood two great kings of stone: still with blurred eyes and crannied brows they frowned upon the North. The left hand of each was raised palm outwards in gesture of warning; in each right hand there was an axe; upon each head there was a crumbling helm and crown. Great power and majesty they still wore, the silent wardens of a long-vanished kingdom. Awe and fear fell upon Frodo, and he cowered down, shutting his eyes and not daring to look up as the boat drew near. Even Boromir bowed his head as the boats whirled by. frail and fleeting as little leaves, under the enduring shadow of the sentinels of Númenor. So they passed into the dark chasm of the Gates.

Sheer rose the dreadful cliffs to unguessed heights on either side. Far off was the dim sky. The black waters roared and echoed, and a wind screamed over them. Frodo crouching over his knees heard Sam in front muttering and groaning: `What a place! What a horrible place! Just let me get out of this boat, and I’ll never wet my toes in a puddle again, let alone a river! ‘

`Fear not! ‘ said a strange voice behind him. Frodo turned and saw Strider, and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skilful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land.

‘Fear not! ‘ he said. `Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur’s son heir of Elendil, has nought to dread! ‘

Then the light of his eyes faded, and he spoke to himself: `Would that Gandalf were here! How my heart yearns for Minas Anor and the walls of my own city! But whither now shall I go? ‘

As you see, the similarities to the Titan of Braavos are quite apparent.

Now, Crowfood’s Daughter asked me whether the two brothers, whose likenesses were for ever engraved at Argonath quarreled. Well, Tolkien never mentions any feuds between the two, and it seems they got along quite well.

When Elendil the Faithful and his loyal followers fled from the drowning Numenor, they founded two Dunedain realms in exile, Arnor in the North and Gondor in the South. Elendil reigned as King of Arnor, and the High King of the Dunedain. Meanwhile, Isildur and Anarion ruled Gondor together, and their thrones stood side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath, under the famed Dome of Stars.

But Anarion (whose name means Devoted to the Sun, by the way, so again, we have a gigantic statue of a solar figure, like with the Colossus of Helios or Talos) was slain during the siege of Barad-dur, Sauron’s Dark Tower in the land of Mordor – and Elendil was killed when he and Gil-gald, the High King of the Noldor, fought Sauron together, and defeated him, but at the cost of their own lives.

After the war eneded, Isildur returned to Gondor, where he proclaimed himself the High King of both Arnor and Gondor, ignoring the claim of Anarion’s son Meneldil. So in a way, Isildur betrayed the memory of his brother, and usurped his son’s throne. But then Isildur deiced to ride north, and as he was crossing the Great River Anduin at the Gladden Fields, his party of knights was ambushed by orcs. Isildur tried to escape, using the One Ring’s power of making its bearer invisible. But the Ring betrayed him, and slipped of his finger. You can find out more about the origins of Gondor and Arnor, and their history by reading my The Brief History of Gondor, Its Rise, Zenith, Decline and Fall of Kingship.

At the Council of Elrond, this story is retold:

‘But the Ring was lost. It fell into the Great River, Anduin, and vanished. For Isildur was marching north along the east banks of the River, and near the Gladden Fields he was waylaid by the Orcs of the Mountains, and almost all his folk were slain. He leaped into the waters, but the Ring slipped from his finger as he swam, and then the Orcs saw him and killed him with arrows.’

Gandalf paused. ‘And there in the dark pools amid the Gladden Fields,’ he said, ‘the Ring passed out of knowledge and legend’.

Now, GRRM might be hinting that we should look into the Disaster of the Gladden Fields story from Tolkien, as he named one of his characters Ser Gladden Wylde. This knight was Beric Dondarrion’s companion, when the Lightning Lord rode west at Ned Stark’s command. It will come as no surprise that this party was, just like Isildur’s men, ambushed nearby a river, at Mummer’s Ford. And Isildur drowns, which probably should remind us of the Grey King and his connection with the Drowned God.

Thus far, we’ve uncovered some hints that GRRM’s Titan of Braavos, and the entire Grey King/Azor Ahai monomyth might be at least partially inspired by LOTR. But it goes much deeper than that, as Isildur, just like the Titan and Azor Ahai, has a connection with a broken sword!

As Elrond tells us in LOTR:

I was the herald of Gil-galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor, where we had the mastery: for the Spear of Gil-galad and the Sword of Elendil, Aiglos and Narsil, none could withstand. I beheld the last combat on the slopes of Orodruin, where Gil-galad died, and Elendil fell, and Narsil broke beneath him; but Sauron himself was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father’s sword, and took it for his own.’ (…)

From the ruin of the Gladden Fields, where Isildur perished, three men only came ever back over the mountains after long wandering. One of these was Ohtar, the esquire of Isildur, who bore the shards of the sword of Elendil; and he brought them to Valandil, the heir of Isildur, who being but a child had remained here in Rivendell. But Narsil was broken and its light extinguished, and it has not yet been forged again.

And Narsil is not just some random sword. Oh no… it’s special.

Its name is an in-universe reference to en elven poem entitled Narsilion, The Song of the Sun and the Moon, which describes how the Valar (angelic powers, whom men often called ‘gods’) created the Sun and the Moon to end the Long Night of Valinor, which was caused by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord.

The host of Gil-galad and Elendil had the victory, for the might of the Elves was still great in those days, and the Númenóreans were strong and tall, and terrible in their wrath. Against Aeglos the spear of Gil-galad none could stand; and the sword of Elendil filled Orcs and Men with fear, for it shone with the light of the sun and of the moon, and it was named Narsil. (…)

The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor. Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.

As I explained in my The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire Episode II essay, the unity of the sun and the moon is a very important theme in Tolkien’s writing. Basically, to defeat the darkness of the Dark Lord like Morgoth and Sauron, one has to wield (at least symbolically) the united power of the Sun and the Moon ‘the chief heavenly lights, as enemies of darkness’. For further reading on this topic, which is very interesting, and in my view, crucial to understand GRRM’s own symbolism, I recommend my The Unity of the Sun and the Moon section.

Basically, Elves are always connected with the Moon and Stars, and Humans with the Sun. Thus, a child that is half-elven, half-human, unites their symbolism, and becomes… Lightbringer. This is how Eärendil, the son of Tuor, a mortal warrior, and Idril, the elven princess of Gondolin, is greeted upon his arrival in Valinor:

‘Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope! Hail Eärendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!’

Later, Eärendil becomes the steersman of Venus, the Mornigstar and the Evenstar. In Tolkien’s mythology, Venus was created by the Valar from Eärendil’s famous ship Vingilótë, and it shone so brightly, because Eärendil wore one of the Silmarili jewels on his brow.

Now, the Silmarils are, symbolically, the same thing as Eärendil, as they were created from mingled light of the Two Trees of Valinor – one of them had solar symbolism, and the Sun was created from its fruit, and the other was lunar, and the Moon is its flower. Thus, in Tolkien’s writings, Venus is the ‘child’ of the Sun and the Moon, their union.

Narsil, the broken sword of Isildur, was named to honor this unity. In fact, Isildur was a descendant of Eärendil, via Eärendil’s son Elros (who was Elrond’s twin brother and the first King of Numenor). The device of seven stars traced on the reforged blade of Narsil, is another reference to Venus, as the ‘Seven Stars of Elendil’ had five rays, and originally, symbolised the stars on the banners of Elendil’s ships that bore a palantir when Elendil and his sons fled from the drowning Numenor. Numenor has tons of Venus-based symbolism, as I explained in my second essay.

As I wrote in TolkienicSOIAF Episode II:


It’s easy to see why GRRM would choose to draw from this ‘unity of the Sun and the Moon = Lightbringer/Venus’ theme in Tolkien’s writing. After all, the title of his series speaks of harmony and unity, of Ice and Fire, which is not that far away from ‘A Song of the Moon and the Sun’. (…)

And if LML’s theory is true, and I think it is, then his own Lightbringer is the child of the Sun and the Moon as well, and the child of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa. Only this child or weapon can bring peace and harmony and end the Long Night – the Long Night of Valinor ends when the Sun and the Moon are created, the darkness that followed the fall of the Two Lamps ends when the Two Trees are created, Morgoth’s reign to terror comes to and end when Earendil, the Child of the Sun and the Moon, sails to Valinor. And in the darkness, the days ‘without dawn’ caused by Sauron sending clouds, smoke and vapours, Aragorn fought with Anduril, which was once Narsil. And as Tolkien explains in one of his letters, Narsil referred to the Sun and the Moon, as ‘chief heavenly lights, as enemies of darkness’.

Only the unity of the Sun and the Moon – and possibly an alliance of Men and Elves (in ASOIAF the Children of the Forest) – can bring an end to the Long Night. This is Narsilion, the Song of the Sun and the Moon, the Song of Ice and Fire… And, as I’m happy to announce, it’s quite likely that this concept of GRRM’s was heavily inspired by the works of his great predecessor, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Yet, even a Morningstar/Evenstar figure can fall, and Lightbringer can be used to work dark deeds, and plunge the world deeper into darkness. Who will prevail in A Song of Ice and Fire? People like Jon Snow and Daenerys? Or someone like Euron, the Bloodstone Emperor come again? A faithful and honorable leader like Elendil or a bloody tyrant like Ar-Pharazon?

(The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire Episode II: The Unity of the Sun and the Moon)


It seems that Isildur and Narsil, the Sword that was Broken, were the inspiration (one of many inspirations) behind GRRM’s Azor Ahai and Lightbringer… and it’s also likely, that the Titan of Braavos – a reference to Argonath, where statues of Anarion and Isildur stood side by side – is in fact a statue of Azor Ahai the Grey King, with his broken sword being a nod to Narsil. Although at Argonath Isildur was depicted with an axe, his most famous weapon was Narsil, the sword with which he cut the One Ring off Sauron’s hand.

Crowfood’s Daughter suggests that ‘the Titan represents BOTH brothers, Isildur and Anarion, which is why he roars at both sunset and dawn’. What this means for ASOIAF? Well, CD’s decided that Argonath stuff should be featured in another episode of The Disputed Lands… Be sure to subscribe to that awesome channel, so you won’t miss that video when it comes out. You can find the link here.

Thanks for visiting The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please check out my other episodes. You can find a list at the top of my page. Have a nice day!

– Bluetiger


* Another important sword from Tolkien lore, Gurthang, the black blade of Turn Turambar, forged of meteoric iron, also breaks, upon Turin’s funeral pyre. You can read more about this sword in TolkienicSOIAF Episode II section Orion: The Swordsman of the Sky.

** As I was watching Crowfood’s video about the Grey King and Garth, I remembered a scene from LOTR, where a ‘Cain’ figure kills his relative ‘Abel’ and turns into a miserable creature – Gollum.


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Gollum kills his friend and kinsman, and just like Cain, is forced to flee. Maybe that’s why Theon Greyjoy, the ‘kinslayer’ and turncloak, who echoes the Grey King in the main story, becomes Reek, so similar to Gollum?

*** Another broken sword belongs to Boromir. As Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli prepare their friend for his final journey, down Anduin in a funeral boat, we get this line: ”His helm they set beside him, and across his lap they laid the cloven horn and the hilts and shards of his sword; beneath his feet they put the swords of his enemies.”

Just like Isildur’s body, Boromir ends up in water. From the Lament for Boromir:

‘Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.’
‘O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.’

Another stanza of that song provides more aquatic death symbolism for Boromir:

From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
‘What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.’
‘Ask not of me where he doth dwell –so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!’
‘O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth.’

By the way, I really recommend the amazing rendition of this J.R.R. Tolkien poem by Clamavi de Profundis.

Boromir had a younger brother named Faramir, and it’s possible that they follow the Holly King/Oak King pattern, which manifests in ASOIAF as the Grey King and Garth the Green. Although Boromir and Faramir are not rivals, their father Lord Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, favours Boromir and neglects Faramir, so maybe we can view them as ‘rival brothers’ in the sense that they compete for their father’s favour (at least in Denethor’s view).

Here’s Boromir’s description from The Fellowship of the Ring:

‘There was a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance. His garments were rich, and his cloak was lined with fur and he had a collar of silver in which a single white stone was set; his locks were shorn about his shoulders. On a baldric he wore a great horn tipped with silver that now was laid upon his knees’.

And here’s Faramir’s introduction from The Two Towers:

‘If they [Frodo and Sam] were astonished at what they saw, their captors were even more astonished. Four tall Men stood there. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues, as if the better to walk unseen in the glades of Ithilien. Green gauntlets covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes, which were very keen and bright. At once Frodo thought of Boromir, for these Men were like him in stature and bearing, and in their manner of speech’.

(…)

The tall green man laughed grimly. `I am Faramir, Captain of Gondor,’ he said. `But there are no travellers in this land: only the servants of the Dark Tower, or of the White.’

`But we are neither,’ said Frodo. `And travellers we are, whatever Captain Faramir may say.’

 

8 thoughts on “The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Argonath and the Titan of Braavos

  1. I don’t think we can say that Isildur claiming the title of High King would betray the memory of his brother. In fact that Meneldil as Isildur’s nephew was by him appointed to be ruler of Gondor, would be honoring his brother (if Isildur so wished he could have taken all the power for himself as rightful heir) in a way Isildur wanted to recreate the arrangement from the time when Elendil lived. He was the High King above the sons, while they ruled Gondor jointly. So Isildur wanted to be like his father, had his capital in the north in Annuminas, while Meneldil would be under his authority delegated ruler of south kingdom. The High Kingship signifies that the two Realms-in-Exile were joined political entities, they were not truly separate realms. I think though that what best hints at possible relations between Meneldil and his uncle Isildur would be those fragments in The Unfinished Tales:

    “It is said that when Isildur returned from the War of the Last Alliance he remained for a time in Gondor, ordering the realm and instructing Meneldil his nephew, before he himself departed to take up the kingship of Arnor. With Meneldil and a company of trusted friends he made a journey about the borders of all the lands to which Gondor laid claim; and as they were returning from the northern bound to Anórien they came to the high hill that was then called Eilenaer but was afterwards called Amon Anwar, “Hill of Awe.” That was near to the centre of the lands of Gondor. They made a path through the dense woods of its northward slopes, and so came to its summit, which was green and treeless. There they made a level space, and at its eastward end they raised a mound; within the mound Isildur laid a casket that he bore with him. Then he said: “This is a tomb and memo­rial of Elendil the Faithful. Here it shall stand at the mid-point of the Kingdom of the South in the keeping of the Valar, while the Kingdom endures; and this place shall be a hallow that none shall profane. Let no man disturb its silence and peace, unless he be an heir of Elendil.”

    They made a stone stair from the fringe of the woods up to the crown of the hill; and Isildur said: “Up this stair let no man climb, save the King, and those that he brings with him, if he bids them follow him.” Then all those present were sworn to secrecy; but Isildur gave this counsel to Meneldil, that the King should visit the hallow from time to time, and especially when he felt the need of wisdom in days of danger or distress; and thither also he should bring his heir, when he was full-grown to manhood, and tell him of the making of the hallow, and reveal to him the secrets of the realm and other matters that he should know.

    Meneldil followed Isildur’s counsel, and all the Kings that came after him, until Rómendacil I (the fifth after Meneldil). In his time Gondor was first assailed by Easterlings; and lest the tradition should be broken because of war or sudden death or other misfortune, he caused the “Tradition of Isildur” to be set down in a sealed scroll, together with other things that a new King should know; and this scroll was delivered by the Steward to the King before his crowning. This delivery was from then onwards always performed, though the custom of visiting the hallow of Amon Anwar with his heir was maintained by nearly all the Kings of Gondor.”

    “After the fall of Sauron, Isildur, the son and heir of Elendil, returned to Gondor. There he assumed the Elendilmir as King of Arnor, and proclaimed his sovereign lordship over all the Dúnedain in the North and in the South; for he was a man of great pride and vigour. He remained for a year in Gondor, restoring its order and defining its bounds; but the greater part of the army of Arnor returned to Eriador by the Númenórean road torn the Fords of Isen to Fornost.

    When he at last felt free to return to his own realm he was in haste, and he wished to go first to Imladris; for he had left his wife and youngest son there, and he had moreover an urgent need for the counsel of Elrond. He therefore determined to make his way north from Osgiliath up the Vales of Anduin to Cirith Forn en Andrath, the high-climbing pass of the North, that led down to Imladris. He knew the land well, for he had journeyed there often before the War of the Alliance, and had marched that way to the war with men of eastern Arnor in the company of Elrond.

    It was a long journey, but the only other way, west and then north to the road-meeting in Arnor, and then east to Imladris, was far longer. As swift, maybe, for mounted men, but he had no horses fit for riding; safer, maybe, in former days, but Sauron was vanquished, and the people of Vales had been his allies in victory. He had no fear, save for weather and weariness, but these men must endure whom need sends far abroad in Middle-earth.

    So it was, as is told in the legends of later days, that the second year of the Third Age was waning when Isildur set forth from Osgiliath early in Ivanneth, expecting to reach Imladris in forty days, by mid-Narbeleth, ere winter drew nigh in the North. At the Eastgate of the Bridge on a bright morning Meneldil bade him farewell. “Go now with good speed, and may the Sun of your setting out not cease to shine on your road!”
    ….
    “10 Meneldil was the nephew of Isildur, son of Isildur’s younger brother Anárion, slain in the siege of Barad-dûr. Isildur had established Meneldil as King of Gondor. He was a man of courtesy, but farseeing, and he did not reveal his thoughts. He was in fact well-pleased by the departure of Isildur and his sons, and hoped that affairs in the North would keep them long occupied. [Author’s note.] – It is stated in unpublished annals concerning the Heirs of Elendil that Meneldil was the fourth child of Anárion, that he was born in the year 3318 of the Second Age, and that he was the last man to be born in Númenor. The note just cited is the only reference to his character.”

    We know little about the reign of Meneldil, we only learn from an essay The Rivers and Beacon-Hills of Gondor that a geographical treatise was written down during his reign titled ‘Ondonóre Nómesseron Minaþurie’ – “Enquiry into the Place-names of Gondor” which was a sort of study of geographical regions of Gondor and a bit of etymological and historical treatise about it’s names and so on.

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  2. Good afternoon Fantasywind!

    When I wrote about that Isildur-Meneldil conflict, I thought about this line (Note 10 on The Disaster of Gladden Fields)

    Meneldil was the nephew of Isildur, son of Isildur’s younger brother Anárion, slain in the siege of Barad-dûr. Isildur had established Meneldil as King of Gondor. He was a man of courtesy, but farseeing, and he did not reveal his thoughts. He was in fact well-pleased by the departure of Isildur and his sons, and hoped that affairs in the North would keep them long occupied.

    And when the news of Isildur’s demise traveled to the east, Meneldil proclaimed himself King of Gondor, and severed the ties between his realm and Arnor. After the northern line has dwindled, there were some in Gondor who would use the (supposed) hostility between the two Houses for their own political gain. Like Denethor:

    Gandalf Mithrandir, I will not be thy tool! I am Steward of the House of Anárion. I will not step down to be the dotard chamberlain of an upstart. Even were his claim proved to me, still he comes but of the line of Isildur. I will not bow to such a one, last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship and dignity.’”

    But the ‘conflict’ between Isildur and Anarion (and their lines) is chiefly symbolic. They’re often set in opposition. One has lunar symbolism, the other solar, and it’s possible that they are supposed to evoke the ‘Oak King’ figure, who rules over summer (Anarion) and the ‘Holly King’ (Isildur) who rules over the north. Tolkien’s friend Robert Graves was the one who named these two archetypes, and the ‘winter’ king vs. ‘summer’ king motif is explored in Sir James G. Frazer’s ‘The Golden Bough’ as well, and it seems that JRRT knew that book – he discussed it with C.S. Lewis. (+ Tolkien was a prominent Sir Gawain and the Green Knight scholar, and that theme appears in that poem as well).

    It’s similar with Faramir & Boromir, I think. They were not rivals, but if we look at their symbolism, they are often assoicated with opposing concepts.

    But in Tolkienic symbolism, I think, the main idea is that the sun and the moon have to be united/combined to defeat the darkness. Men (Children of the Sun) and Elves (who cherish the Moon) have to band together against the Dark Lords. Houses of Anarion and Isildur have to be reunited, just like Arnor and Gondor. Narsil is the symbol of that unity. The sword that shines redly with solar light, and coldly with moonlight. The sword named after Narsilion, the Song of the Sun and the Moon, which describes how the Valar created those celestial bodies, chief enemies of darkness…

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    • Jesli chodzi o utratę wpływów i realnego znaczenia tytułu tzw. Najwyższego Króla Dunedainów (High King of the Dunedain) to moim zdaniem wszystko wynikło z polityki, po prostu po śmierci Isildura, jego syn Valandil był za młody by uzyskać wpływy w Gondorze, a co za tym idzie królowie Gondoru uniezależnili się, ale wciąz litera prawa obowiązywała, nie było jedynie egzekwowane, to jest właśnie podstawa legitymacji pretendentów do tronu czy to Arveduiego (odrzucona bezprawnie przez radę pod przywództwem Namiestnika Pelendura) czy wieki później Aragorna. Jako ciekawostkę jeśli chodzi o symbolikę słońca i księżyca, elfowie choć właśnie bardziej związani z gwiazdami i księżycem, mają także pewne powiązania ze słońcem (dla nich oczywiście symbolizuje przemijanie), szczególnie widoczne w Lorien:

      w oryginale: “`It’s sunlight and bright day, right enough,’ he said. `I thought that Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more elvish than anything I ever heard tell of. I feel as if I was inside a song. if you take my meaning.'”

      Ogółem ciekawe są te podobieństwa. Ponadto Władca Pierścieni czy inne dzieła z legendarium dotyczące Śródziemia dają mnóstwo materiału do interesujących rozważań. Wielu nawet się nimi zajmuje, jak autor wielu esejów Michael Martinez, który napisał wiele analiz i intrygujących spekulacji :). Argonath na pewno można uznać za jeden z cudów Śródziemia hehe, i to na pewno wiele wspólnego z tytanem z Braavos, hehe można by powiedzieć gdyby Śródziemie i świat Lodu i Ognia były na tym samym globie, to księga ‘Wonders Made by Man’ Lomasa Langstridera miałaby wzmiankę ;). Swoją drogą ciekawy materiał na ‘crossover fanfic’ (nawet jest jeden interesujący 🙂 Hear Me Roar: Lannisters in War of the Ring).

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      • 7 Cudów Śródziemia… Taka lista byłaby ciekawa, ale chyba konieczne było by zrobienie osobnej listy dla każdej Ery, i rozbicie tego na cuda naturalne i zbudowane przez Dzieci Iluvatara i krasnoludów…

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      • Moja propozycja:

        Siedem Cudów Ardy – Pierwsza Era:
        Naturalne (przez to rozumiem dzieła sił natury i owoce pracy Valarów, obiekty przy których tworzeniu nie miały udziału Dzieci Iluvatara):

        1. Dwa Drzewa Valinoru, Telperion i Laurelin
        2. Taniquetil (Oiolossë/Amon Uilos/Elerrína), najwyższa góra Ardy [na wzmiankę, pewnego rodzaju ‘drugie miejsce’ zasługuje Kalormë w ziemi Oronto, w Krainie Słońca na Najdalszym Wschodzie
        3. Nan-tathren, Kraina Wierzb u ujścia Sirionu
        4. Hithaeglir, Wieżycze Mgły (Góry Mgliste)
        5. Wielkie Jezioro i Wyspa Almaren
        6. Helcaraxë
        7. Jezioro Cuiviénen, zatoka Morza Helcar

        Dzieła Dzieci Iluvatara:
        1. Gondolin, Ukryte Miasto i jego Siedem Bram
        2. Menegroth, Tysiąc Grot
        3. Nargothrond
        4. Alqualondë
        5. Tirion na Wzgórzu Túna
        6. Belegost i Nogrod, wielkie miasta krasnoludów
        7. Vinyamar

        Druga Era:
        Dzieła Dzieci Iluvatara: (Valinor nadal jest częścią fizycznej Ardy, większość cudów naturalnych się nie zmienia – może dodałbym Wielki Zielony Las, wyspę Tol Eressea, Elennę, Meneltarmę i kilka innych obiektów w miejsce zniszczonych/zatopionych obiektów.

        1. Khazad-dûm (w czasach świetności)
        2. Armenelos
        3. Andúnië
        4. Port w Rómennie
        5. Mithlond, Szare Przystanie
        6. Hirilondë (wspaniały okręt Aldariona)
        7. Imladris/Rivendell (lub Ost-in-Edhil)

        Trzecia Era:
        Dzieła Dzieci Iluvatara (i krasnoludów)

        1. bliźniacze miasta Minas Anor i Minas Ithil (w czasach świetności, powstały już w Drugiej Erze)
        2. Osgiliath, Cytadela i Kopuła Zestępu Gwiazd, Wielki Palantir
        3. Orthanc w Kręgu Isengardu
        4. Erebor
        5. Argonath
        6. Annúminas (lub Fornost)
        7. ? (Białe Wieże? Helmowy Jar? Amon Sul? Kurhany? Amon Hen i Amon Lhaw?)

        Naturalne:
        1. Lothlorien
        2. Rauros i Wielka Rzeka Anduina
        3. Las Fangorn
        4. Ithilien
        5. Góry Mgliste, zwłaszcza Caradhras
        6. Jezioro Zwierciadlane (Mirrormere, Kheled-zâram)
        7. ? (Samotna Góra? Białe Góry Gondoru?)

        Czwarta Era: Błyszczące Groty/Aglarond

        Celowo nie umieszczałem na liście miejsc związanych z Sauronem i Morgothem, które choć mogą wydawać się imponujące, były jednak przesiąknięte złem, i nie zasługują na miano cudów: Barad-dur, Świątynia w Armenelos, Thangorodrim i Angband, Utumno, Minas Morgul, Orodruina… Góry Mgliste zostały wzniesione przez Morgotha, ale w ich przypadku zrobiłem wyjątek, z racji na późniejszą historię. W przeciwieństwie do np. Thangorodrimu, Góry Mgliste są piękne, choć surowe.

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  3. O tak mnóstwo interesujących miejsc, mimo iż to w końcu sprawa do debaty :), ja bym gdzieś tam wstawił ten wielki smukły biały filar z Umbaru z wielką kryształową kulą która zbierała światło słońc gwiazd i księżyca, widoczne aż na wybrzeżach Gondoru i daleko na morzu. W oryginale po prostu nazwane ‘great white pillar of Umbar’, i co ciekawe według Thorina Dębowej Tarczy rynek z zabawkami w Dale także zasługiwał na miano cudu północy hehe :). Chociaż nie mamy opisu tej budowli, jest też wzmianka o Tirith Aear, Morska Wieża (Sea-ward Tower) w Dol Amroth, kto wie może była tak imponująca że mogłaby znaleźć się na liście ;). Mówi się o niej jedynie w wierszach w tomie Przygody Toma Bombadila. Białe Wieże z Emyn Beraid z pewnością zasługują na miejsce na liście, wysokie błyszczące w świetle słońca i księżyca. Możliwe że to ostatnie z wielkich dzieł Noldorów i najwyższa z nich Elostirion, i choć znajdują się mile od brzegu podobno można zobaczyć z jej szczytu morze :). Jeśli chodzi o konkretne dzieła Krasnoludów to powiedziałby że oprócz całości Khazad-dum należy wspomnieć o Nieskończonych Schodach i Wieży Durina to prawdziewe cuda krasnoludzkiej inżynierii i budownictwa, praktycznie schody prowadzą z najgłębszych poziomów prawie na sam szczyt góry Celebdil a legendarna wieża Durina w częsci wykuta ze skał samej góry ale też zbudowana ponad szczytem z wielkim oknem, musi to być niesamowity widok :), chociaż wieża ta pewnie kryje niejeden sekret. Dlaczego Krasnoludowie ją zbudowali, czemu służyła? Dosyć interesujące. Sam główny most Osgiliath także mógłby zasłużyć na miano cudu świata, most który podtrzymuje domy i wielkie konstrukcje jak Kopuła Gwiazd.

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