Mance, Tormund and Styr: On Royal Power in Westeros and Beyond the Wall

Mance, Tormund and Styr: On Royal Power in Westeros and Beyond the Wall

by Bluetiger

Originally published on March 7, 2020 at FSGK in Polish as Mance, Tormund i Styr. O władzy królewskiej w Westeros i za Murem.

Johannes Gehrts - Ragnarok

Johannes Gehrts (1855 – 1921), Ragnarök (Wikimedia Commons).

When we look back on Jon’s first chapter in A Storm of Swords, we can readily reach the conclusion that in terms of plot development, the most crucial event in this portion of the book is Jon’s meeting with Mance Rayder and a conversation in the course of which Snow has to convince the King Beyond the Wall that he has genuinely joined the Wildlings. That is how matters stand as far as the storyline is concerned. Plot-wise, this chapter can be seen as quite uncomplicated.

However, A Song of Ice and Fire can be read on other planes too. While discussing Jon I, DaeL drew attention to several instances of foreshadowing, hints concerning future events which the author has left for us. The theme of guest-right can also be discerned and it shall be featured not only in ASOS, but also in the subsequent volumes, gaining special significance following the Red Wedding and later attempts to exact revenge on those who had prepared it.

Here I would like to focus on yet another aspect of this chapter. I am not sure how best to define it – it seems terms such as “mythical dimension” or “philosophical dimension” have suffice for the time being. What do I mean by this? Well, I suggest that in the aforementioned chapter, a scene which on the first glance serves a purely humoristic purpose is of vital importance. And yet, when we consider its deeper sense, we may get the impression that any comic elements aside, it also introduces a mythological reference. This in turn leads us to one of the most substantial questions which A Song of Ice and Fire poses to its reader, the one about the essence of power.


Please, let us cast our minds back to the said chapter. Jon Snow arrives at the camp of the Wildlings, who name themselves the Free Folk. The slayer of Qhorin Halfhand and – as he claims – a renegade from the Night’s Watch – is to stand before the King Beyond the Wall. When he enters his tent, canopied by furs of white bears and ornamented with antlers, he finds six people inside. A young, fair-haired woman and a dark-haired man are regaling themselves with mead. A pregnant woman is standing by a brazier, roasting two hens. A grey-haired man in a tattered cloak is lying back on a pillow, singing The Dornishman’s Wife.

In the room, there are also two men to whom Jon Snow pays more attention. One is heavily-built, has a snow-white beard and wears golden armbands with runes graven upon them. The second one is taller and muscular, has somehow lost both his ears and wears a two-handed greatsword across his back. The first man is enjoying a hen, the second contemplates a map. Jon concludes that both look like warriors and wonders “which was Mance Rayder”.

His choice falls on the earless man, whom he addressed as king. It turns out, however, that his behaviour merely elicits a general amusement. The inconspicuous singer is the true King Beyond the Wall.


As I have already mentioned, this scene might be purely comical. Nevertheless, I began to wonder if there might be more to it. What deeper meaning might lie behind this situation: a hero stands before several men and must choose which one is the king?

I have concluded that the answer is partially in the names of our two potential kings. The first one is, as the reader learns a bit later in this chapter, Tormund Giantsbane. The earless warrior is Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, chieftain of a tribe which view consider themselves the last rightful scions of the First Men.

Tormund momentarily brings to mind Thor. His byname – Thunderfist – can be seen as a translation of a name made up of Þórr, which comes from a Proto-Germanic word for thunder, and mund, which is “protection”, but in poetry has also the meaning of “hand”. There exists a Faroese name Tormundur, with Tormund as its Assusative¹. Furthermore, Giantsbane also evokes Thor, slayer of the jötnar, that is of giants. Curiously, Tormund is also known as the Father of Hosts, which in Norse mythology was a cognomen of his father, Odin.

What is more, the word Styr is similar to a name of another Norse deity – Týr, the one-handed god associated with justice and judgement. It should be noted that just like the Norse Týr, the magnar of Thenn is attacked by an enormous wolf. Týr loses his hand in the jaws of Fenrir, and it is foretold that during ragnarök he is to be devoured by Garm. As it happens, Jon’s escape from Styr’s group is successful because the Magnar and his men are suddenly set upon by Bran’s direwolf. We also read that according to Jon’s observations Styr was treated by his followers more like a god than a lord.

John Bauer - Tyr and Fenrir

John Bauer (1882 – 1918), “Týr and Fenrir” (Wikimedia Commons). In ASOIAF, Styr might be Týr’s counterpart.

Therefore, in our scene we have characters alluding to two Norse deities. We also see in it Jarl and Val, two further characters whose names seem to refer to culture and beliefs of the early medieval Scandinavia. Jarls were one of the three social strata which according to one of the Eddaic poems have been established by Heimdall, and Val is probably meant to evoke the Valkyries, Odin’s female warriors who brought souls of heroes who fell in battle of Valhǫll (Valhalla)². Based on one detail from Val’s plotline in A Dance With Dragons – the fact that once in Castle Black she took up residence in a high tower – one might suspect that Val is based on a specific Valkyrie, Brynhild from the tale of Sigurð Völsung.

Thus, in Mance Rayder’s tent we have seen gathered at least four characters evoking the Norse myths. It is no great surprise that, accordingly, the King Beyond the Wall himself might correspond to one of the deities – Odin. Mance wears a helmet decorated with raven wings, and the very same birds are univocally associated with Odin. He is a singer, and Odin is a god of madness and poetic inspiration, who has won the Mead of Poetry for gods and humans, thus enabling the poets to compose. Just like Odin, Mance delights in hiding his identity and wandering around the world incognito – he journeys to Winterfell twice, disguised as a minstrel from Robert Baratheon’s retinue on the first occasion (in A Game of Thrones) and as Abel the bard on the second (in ADWD). The spearwives accompanying him on this later journey can be compared to the Valkyries. Finally, the surname Rayder might have something to do with Odin’s names such as Atriðr, attacking rider, and Reiðartyr, god of riders.

Jon stands in front “Thor” and “Týr” and has to make a decision which of the two is the King Beyond the Wall. He chooses “Týr”, but it turns out that the singer, “Odin”, was the true ruler. Is there any deeper meaning to this sequence? Is the author’s intention to tell us something, to convey some information about the essence of royal power in A Song of Ice and Fire?


In my view, it is highly likely that this is indeed the case.

The so-called trifunctional hypothesis will emerge as crucial. It refers to the original societal organization of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, a people speaking in the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, which has later diverged into groups such as the Hellenic, the Romance, the Celtic, the Germanic, the Balto-Slavonic and others. This hypothesis was formulated by Georges Dumézil, an outstanding French philologist and scholar of mythology³.

Dumézil argued that the society of the PIE people was composed of three classes, with each associated with a specific function – a domain of human existence. The first of those groups were the ruler-priests who possessed “sovereignty”. Below them were those who wielded martial power – the warriors. Finally, there was the third class, governed by the remaining two, that is, the producers, who cultivated the land, herded the animals and engaged in craft.

The scholar proposed that such tripartite division had its reflection in the original religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and its traces can be discerned in later mythologies which descend from it. For instance, in the Norse mythology Odin would be the sovereign ruler, Thor the warrior and the producers would have their deities in the Vanir, figures associated with fertility such Frey or his father Njörð. The society was made up of three strata – the jarls, that is the nobles, the karls – the free farmers (who, if such need arose, would take up arms, and in some periods would participate in raids as vikings) and the thralls, the slaves. Of course, between those groups there were other classes, such as the freedmen or the húskarls (the monarch’s bodyguards). However, on the whole the society was based on the three main groups.

Arthur Rackham - Thor

Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939), Donnar (German version of Thor’s name), illustration for “The Rhinegold” and “The Valkyrie” by Richard Wagner (Wikimedia Commons). In PLIO Tormund seems to parallel Thor.


At this moment one might reasonably point out that in the division I have just described there are featured Odin, Thor and the Vanir, but there is no Týr. Obviously, it would be a major, and indeed a devastating, blow to my theory, according to which Styr parallels Týr and the entire situation with him, Mance and Tormund is supposed to be based on Dúmezil’s model. If the ASOIAF pattern was to mirror the Proto-Indo-European one, as I have presented it above, instead of “Týr” beside Tormund there should stand some “Frey” or “Njörð”.

But in actuality, Týr perfectly fits the Dumézilian template, since Indo-European sovereignty has two aspects and that is why I have mentioned the ruler-priests. A priest is someone whose power associated with the supernatural, ecstasy, inspiration, prophesying. Thus, this figure can be seen as someone who represents chaos, unpredictability – just like Odin, who constantly changes shape, breaks promises and tries to escape his fate with the help of arcane knowledge.

To counterbalance this, the other member of the pair of sovereign rulers is the one who introduces order – the law-giver and judge, who organizes all aspects of earthly life. In Norse mythology, Týr plays such role. It is worth to mention that originally his importance may have been greater (his name is a cognate of the name Jupiter) than in the later period and, consequently, in the Eddas.

Furthermore, even though the producers have their own deities – in Norse mythology the Vanir are such a group – those gods are figures of lower status than deities of rulers and warriors. The Vanir are less powerful than the Aesir such as Odin, Týr and Thor, just like producers are subordinate to priests, kings and warriors (and primarily to those first two groups, as warriors heed their orders), The warriors’ domain is power, but this is purely physical might, governing is the realm of someone else.

This tripartite division – Odin, Týr and Thorª – perfectly fits the situation from the chapter about Jon’s meeting with Mance. Interestingly enough, Styr and Tormund’s associations with monarchical power are not limited to Jon’s belief that one of them is the King Beyond the Wall. As we read in another chapter:

“Are you a true king?” Jon asked suddenly.

“I’ve never had a crown on my head or say my arse on a bloody throne, if that’s what you’re asking,” Mance replied. “My birth is as low as a man’s can get, no septon’s ever smeared my head with oils, I don’t own any castles, and my queen wears furs and amber, not silk and sapphires. I am my own champion, my own fool, and my own harpist. You don’t become King-beyond-the-Wall because your father was. The free folk won’t follow a name, and they don’t care which brother was born first. They follow fighters. When I left the Shadow Tower there were five men making noises about how they might be the stuff of kings. Tormund was one, the Magnar another. The three other I slew, when they made it plain they’d sooner fight than follow.” —ASOS, Jon IX—

Now let us examine more closely the sources of power of our three “kings”. Tormund, the Mead-King of Ruddy Hall, is above all else a warrior. People follow him because of his physical strength, not his deep wisdom or great cunning – as he himself admits, Mance surpasses him in that later respect. Styr is also a warrior, but of another kind – his men are more disciplined, better armed and he himself is more of a general than a common yeoman. In the first scene in which we see him he is standing over a map, while Tormund is sitting on a stool, devouring a roast hen. Styr’s power comes primarily from the law. “You don’t become King-beyond-the-Wall because your father was” – that is true. Yet, the title of the Magnar of Thenn is hereditary, following Styr’s demise it will go on to his son, Sigorn (who bears another name with an Old Norse element – sigr, which means “victory”), who will later become a husband of Alys Karstark. The Thenns see themselves as last rightful heirs of the First Men and their society is significantly more orderly than other tribal communities of the Wildlings. Thus, we see that just like Týr, the Magnar is a figure whose power touches upon the field of law and introduction of order.

Arthur Rackham - Brynhildr

Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939), Brünhilde (Brynhildr), illustration for “The Rhinegold” and “The Valkyrie” by Richard Wagner (Wikimeia Commons). In ASOIAF, the character of Val might be a reference to the Valkyries, and perhaps more specifically to Brynhildr.

What about Mance’s power? Well, in the symbolic sense he is the inspired bard, a seer and prophet who leads his people through a certain vision – the idea of crossing over the Wall. He is a warrior, but he is also characterized by cunning, captiousness and a kind of wisdom. Like Odin, he is filled with curiosity about the wider world and desires to know more. He seeks secret knowledge, excavating graves of giants in the Frostfangs in hope of finding the Horn of Joramun (another name which might be a Norse reference – to the Midgard-serpent Jörmungandr, king Jörmunrek – Gothic ruler Ermanaric, or both). Lastly, in A Dance With Dragons he changes shape – it is true that not through his own skills, but because of Melisandre’s art, but nevertheless, in he is still similar in this respect to the master skinchanger Odin.

Mance is not a priest of any religion, but as poet and singer he evokes a shaman or a seer, and as a counterpart of Odin – just like Bloodraven and Beric Dondarrion – in the symbolic sense he is connected with the Children of the Forest, the weirwood trees (which parallel Yggdrasil) and the greenseers.

George R.R. Martin might be alluding to Odin and the division of Norse society also through the lover of Val’s sister, Dalla – for whom he chose the name Jarl. According to the Elder Edda, jarls who fall in battle belong to Odin. We know that the author of ASOIAF has read this compendium of poems. Thus, we should not be surprised that it is Jarl who is so closely associated with Odin’s counterpart Mance. Moreover, from this perspective the significance of manner of his death is also easy to understand. While scaling the Wall, Jarl and his companions are swept off by an ice block detached from the cliff.

They found Jarl in a tree, impaled upon a splintered branch and still roped to the three men who lay broken beneath him. One was still alive, but his legs and spine were shattered, and most of his ribs as well. —ASOS, Jon IV—

In Norse mythology it was Odin who hung for nine long nights on a “windy tree”, pierced with a spear and sacrificed to himself – in this way he got to know the secret art of runecraft. It seems that GRRM is showing us here that he knows that it is Odin with whom the class of jarls is connected.

Now let us have a look on the following excerpt from a chapter in which Jon sets off with a band of Wildlings on a journey to south of the Wall:

Jarl was with the Magnar; Mance had given them joint command. Styr was none too pleased by that; Jon had noted early on. Mance Rayder had called the dark youthº a “pet” of Val, who was sister to Dalla, his own queen, which made Jarl a sort of good brother once removed to the King-beyond-the-Wall. The Magnar plainly resented sharing his authority. He had brought a hundred Thenns, five times as many men as Jarl, and often acted as if he had the sole command. But it would be the younger man who got them over the ice, Jon knew. —ASOS, Jon III—

Mance’s representative – Jarl – shares power with Styr. Meanwhile, Odin and Týr jointly occupy the same level, the one associated with sovereignty. Styr is not pleased about the prospect of having to co-rule – perhaps because it was Týr who might have been once the supreme god, but was dethroned by Odin.

Arthur Rackham - Odyn

Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939), Wotan (German form of the name Odin), illustration for “The Rhinegold” and “The Valkyrie” by Richard Wagner (Wikimedia Commons). In ASOIAF, characters such as Bloodraven, Beric Dondarrion, Mance Rayder and Euron Greyjoy exhibit some characteristics of Odin.


Returning to Jon’s first chapter in ASOS, I suggest we can read it in the following way: Jon arrives at a meeting with the Kind Beyond the Wall and stands before two “candidates”. One symbolizes rule stemming from the law, the other power arising from physical might. Jon rightly (if we consider Dumézil’s tripartite division) concludes that Styr is the more important one of the two. After all, Norse Thor is placed below Týr, who occupies the highest level – the one of sovereignty. However, Jon is not aware that sovereignty has two aspects. He picks earthly power, but altogether ignores the supernatural – he does not even consider the inconspicuous singer. And yet, it is revealed that this very singer is the second member of a pair of rulers of the highest strata, Odin’s counterpart. Curiously, it is the case in both Norse mythology and in ASOIAF that the priest-king is placed a bit higher than the judge-king. There are no two equal King Beyond the Wall – Mance has defeated Styr, who ultimately submitted to him. Týr is also not equal to Odin, at least in those sources which are available to us (some scholars suggest that Týr may have once been a vastly more significant figure, perhaps more important to Odin, a supreme god, just like his etymological cousins Jupiter and Zeus).

A similar “choice” features elsewhere in A Song of Ice and Fire – in one of Tyrion’s chapters in A Clash of Kings. The issue of various kinds of power and their sources is directly brought up. Here is Varys’ famous riddle:

“May I leave you with a bit of a riddle, Lord Tyrion?” He did not wait for an answer. “In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the three great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours,’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?” —ACOK, Tyrion II—

When Varys leaves, Shae asks Tyrion if it will be the rich man who survives. To this, the Lannister responds that “Perhaps. Or not. That would depend on the sellsword, it seems.”

In another chapter Tyrion and Varys return to the topic:

“Power is a curious thing, my lord. Perchance you have considered the riddle I posed you that day in the inn?”

“It has crossed my mind a time or two,” Tyrion admitted. “The king, the priest, the rich man – who lives and who dies? Who will the swordsman obey? It’s a riddle without an answer, or rather, too many answers. All depends on the man with the sword. (…)

Varys smiled. “Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”

“So power is a mummer’s trick?”

“A shadow on the wall,” Varys murmured, “yet shadows can kill. —ACOK, Tyrion III—

A King, a priest and a rich man… those two figures do not exactly correspond to Styr, Mance and Tormund, nor Týr, Odin and Thor. However, they can easily be placed within Dumézil’s pattern. Varys states clearly the source of the power of the king from the riddle – he is “lawful” – thus, he parallels the judge-king who represents one of the two aspects of sovereignty. The priest next to him stands for the supernatural power. The rich man might represent the producers, who in Norse mythology have their deities in the Vanir associated with fertility and abundance. The rich man does not belong to the same level as the other two “great ones”, he is more of a merchant, who boosted his status through financial prosperity. Theoretically, the rich man has no power, he is located at the bottom of the social ladder upon the highest spokes of which the king and the priest are located. And yet, Martin presents a world in which material commodities become equally, and perhaps even more important, than law and religion (or generally, everything that belongs in the sacrum). Finally, in Varys’s riddle there is also the sellsword, representative of physical and martial power. He is the one to make a choice. The power the king and the priests exercise over the producers, those who own material wealth, depends largely on whether they will have under their command those who enforce their will, that is, the warriors.


Part of “The Ash Yggdrasil” by Friedrich Wihelm Heine (1845 – 1921), (Wikimedia Commons).

Tyrion states, that everything depends on who the sellsword is. To this I would add that there is another equally important factor – when the choice is made. Let us examine the consecutive phases of plot development in A Song of Ice and Fire. On the onset of the War of the Five Kings, many pretenders allege that their right to rule stems from the law. Stannis declares that he is the sole rightful heir of Robert, Joffrey claims the Iron Throne is his by right, Robb Stark evokes the right of the Northerners to self-governance. Here the choice falls on “the king”. In contrast, Renly relies chiefly on military might – he is “the warrior”. (Interestingly enough, the number of the potential kings defeated by Mance was also five). Afterwards, the Lannisters allied with the Tyrells reign supreme for a time – that is “the rich man’s” triumph. However, following the death of Lord Tywin, the order forged by him begins to crumble and in many regions religious leaders rise in prominence – for instance, the High Sparrow and Melisandre. This is also the period of the ascendancy of Euron, a highly Odinic figure, who apparently bases his rule of magic, arcane forces and chaos, things associated with the Indo-European “priest”.


In this ASOS chapter, Jon becomes, in a sense, the sellsword from Varys’ riddle, the one who must “choose” the king. Curiously, by choosing Styr, Jon symbolically champions the cause of law – and Jon is the one who attempts to act justly and be guided by honour, thus defending the existing order, just like his “father” – Eddard Stark – who chose Stannis, “the rightful king”.

Yet, it turns out that Mance Rayder, “the seer” and “the priest”, is the true ruler. What does this mean? Perhaps George R.R. Martin is implicating that the spiritual and the supernatural have primacy over the material and the earthly. It is also possible that he is simply foreshadowing another “phase” of the game of thrones, in which religion will be brought to the forefront, just like magic, thus far marginalized. It might be the case that this is some clue as to the ultimate result of the conflict. I suppose this is closely connected with the weirwoods, which parallel the Norse World Tree, Yggdrasil, and the greenseers – symbolically associated with Odin, hanged on a tree, who through self-sacrifice won wisdom and arcane knowledge about runes. One can attempt to match various claimants to the Iron Throne and rulers of Westeros to the following four basic categories: kings (law), priests (religion and magic), warriors (military might) and “rich men” (material commodities). The group of three major deities, which represent two aspects of sovereignty and physical strength might also have some connection with GRRM’s idea of the three heads of the dragon.

At any rate, there is something deeply moving and beautiful in the fact that in A Storm of Swords, a book published on the threshold of the 21st century, we see a scene, which might recreate a tripartite division of the society and the deities which, according to scholars such as Georges Dumézil, existed among the primeval Indo-Europeans many millennia ago.

Thank you for your attention, I hope you have enjoyed this piece!



©2020 Bluetiger and The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire. Original Polish essay ©2020 Bluetiger and FSGK.PL

¹ Wiktionary: Tormundur

Having written this essay, in Tormund – Horned Lord of Winter by The Fattest Leech I came across information that there also existed the Old Norse name Þórmundr. Faroese Tormundur is apparently its descendant.

As for Styr, a character named Styrbjörn Sterki (the Strong in English, der Starke in German) is featured in several sagas and stories. However, I believe that even if GRRM is familiar with this figure, the name of his Styr is meant to evoke primarily Týr, who is much more prominent and well-known.

² Associations between Val’s name and the Valkyries have been noted before, for instance, they were discussed by The Fattest Leech in When was Val introduced into ASOIAF? – when an observation by Corvo the Crow is mentioned.

³ I was first acquainted with Dumézil’s theory in a book Wierzenia Prasłowian [Beliefs of the Proto-Slavs] by Jakub Zielina

ª It might be a coincidence, but I still find it interesting that we find the very same three deities – Týr, Odin and Thor – or rather, their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, in the names of weekdays in the English language (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). Wednesday being the day of Woden (Odin) might explain why in the first chapter of The Hobbit Bilbo invites Gandalf, the Odinic wanderer, for supper on Wednesday and writes down “Gandalf Tea Wednesday” in his engagement tablet. This also means that Thorin’s Company embarks on its journey on Thursday.

º Jarl being called “dark youth” reminds me of the so-called Fair Youth, a figure to whom many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are apparently addressed. “Dark youth” might be a play on two characters: the Fair Youth and the Dark Lady. (Perhaps in ASOIAF we should look for a “fair lady” to complement Jarl as the “dark youth”. Maybe Val is supposed to be that figure?)

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Advent Calendar 2018 – Entries

Bluetiger’s Advent Calendar 2018

All daily entries from December 2018, collected at my Twitter profile and gathered here in one post published nearly a year later.

Advent Calendar 2018 – Introduction

File:Ernst Gustav Doerell - Rothirsche im Winter (1875).jpg

Ernst Gustav Doerell (1832–1877), Deer in Winter (Wikimedia Commons).

The First Week of Advent 2018

2 December (First Sunday)

The Return of the Queen essay is published.

3 December (Monday)

Fëanor, the greatest Elven craftsman and creator of the Silmarils & Aerion Targaryen, the Mad Prince who drank wildfire, share some similarities. Aerion was called “Brightflame”. Just like Feanor: Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind: in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and subtlety alike: of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a bright flame was in him (from The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien).

4 December (Tuesday)

In LOTR, Isildur dies in an ambush at the Fields of Gladden, in AGOT, Beric Dondarrion’s party is ambushed in a similar manner, by the Mountain. Among Beric’s companions, we find Ser Gladden Wylde. (This skirmish is featured in the opening sequence of LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring movie). Isildur had a squire who saved the shards of Narsil, the Sword that Was Broken – at the Battle of the Mummer’s Ford, Ned Dayne pulled Beric from the river. Isildur was less fortunate.

5 December (Wednesday)

There are numerous parallels between ASOIAF House Durrandon and LOTR House of Durin. For example, Duran Godsgrief supposedly lived for millenia, just like Durin the Deathless. Another Durrandon monarch, Duran Ravenfriend, might be a reference to the famed friendship between House of Durin and sentient Ravens of Erebor (The Lonely Mountain).

6 December (Thursday)

oday, I’ll share one of JRRT’s poems. I believe many ASOIAF ideas about ‘weirwood stigmata’, ‘silent scream’ and MelanieLot7 ‘s ‘Silenced Women’ motif were inspired by Quickbeam’s lament for his rowan-tree.

7 December (Friday)

The First Circle of Minas Tirith was built from black stone with the use of lost Numenorean craft. At Oldtown, the Hightower’s foundations are made of mysterious oily black stone (The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Minas Tirith and the Hightower).

8 December (Saturday)

We find many references to The Tale of Beren and Luthien in ASOIAF – names like Daeron, Beren, Berena, Melian, or thematic parallels between Sansa & Luthien and Sandor & Huan the Hound of the Valar (The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Sansa & Lúthien).

File:Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski Der Wolf.jpg

Alfred Wierusz-Kowalki, “Wilk” – The Wolf (Wikimedia Commons).

The Second Week of Advent 2018

9 December (Second Sunday)

Eärendil, Bearer of Light essay is published.

The TWOIAF passage where Queen Rhaenys and Meraxes burn Planky Down is probably a reference to The Hobbit, where Smaug destroys Laketown (Esgaroth).

10 December (Monday)

There are some interesting parallels between The Titan of Braavos and Argonath, the Pillars of Kings from LOTR (The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Argonath and the Titan of Braavos).

11 December (Tuesday)

The Barrowlands of the North are likely a reference to Barrow-downs from LOTR, and GRRM’s wights might have been inspired by JRRT’s Barrow-wights.

12 December (Wednesday)

The Grey King and the tree-hit-by-lightning myth might have been influenced by The Silmarillion passage where Sauron defies Manwe, Lord of the Valar.

13 December (Thursday)

Some aspects of The Seven might have been inspired by Tolkien’s portrayal of The Valar, while the drowned god of the Ironborn might owe something to Ulmo.

14 December (Friday)

Castamere might be named after Castamir, the usurper king of Gondor You can learn more about Castamir from my A Brief History of Gondor essay.

15 December (Saturday)

The sigil of House Hightower, and the title of its head – The Beacon of the South – are probably references to LOTR and the Beacons of Gondor (The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire: Minas Tirith and the Hightower).

File:Pieter Kluyver - Winterlandschap met spookachtige bomen.jpg

Pieter Kluyver (1816 – 1900), Winter Landsape with Ghostly Tress (Wikimedia Commons).

The Third Week of Advent 2018

16 December (Third Sunday)

The Jade Empire essay is published.

Ser Theodan Wells of the Warrior’s Sons is likely named after King Theoden of Rohan from LOTR.

17 December (Monday)

Westeros and Essos have it mysterious “black oily stone”. Middle-earth has its black and gleaming stone used by Numenoreans and the Dunedain to build the Tower of Orthanc in Isengard (Saruman’s seat) and to raise the first circle of Minas Tirith.

18 December (Tuesday)

Did you know that there was a Long Night in Tolkien’s universe? The Long Night of Valinor was caused by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, who treacherously pierced the Two Trees with his spear.

19 December (Wednesday)

The creation of Coldhands the ranger might be GRRM’s response to JRRT’s Tom Bombadil. There are many parallels between the two… Or rather, inverted parallels.

20 December (Thursday)

It’s possible that Lord Hoster Tully’s funeral, described in “A Storm of Swords”, was inspired by Boromir’s funeral in “The Two Towers”. Whatever the case, I find the language very similar…

21 December (Friday)

In Westerosi history, there were two major ship burnings – Brandon the Burner’s and Nymeria’s. It’s possible they were based on Feanor’s burning of the Teleri fleet of Swan-ships in The Silmarillion (which, in turn, was based on Tuatha Dé Danann’s ship-burning upon their arrival in Ireland in Lebor Gabála Érenn – “The Book of Invasions”).

22 December (Saturday)

There are some interesting parallels between Tywin and Denethor II, the Steward of Gondor – Boromir would be Jaime, the favoured son, Faramir would be Tyrion, the second son and Finduilas would be Joanna after whose death the Hand of the King/Steward became bitter. Aerys’ pyre is probably supposed to echo Denethor’s funeral pyre.

File:Hillingford Yule Log.jpg

Robert Alexander Hillingford (1825-1904), Yule Log being brought in at Hever Castle (Wikimedia Commons).

The Fourth Week of Advent 2018

23 December (Fourth Sunday)

Aenar’s Aeneid essay is published.

Westeros has its pairs of extraordinary swords: Oathkeeper & Widow’s Wail and Blackfyre & Dark Sister. Middle-earth has its twin blades: Anguirel and Anglachel, forged by Eol the Dark Elf from black meteoric iron. Anglachel was later reforged as Gurthang, Iron of Death, and its owner was Turin Turambar the Blacksword. Anguirel was stolen by Eol’s wife Aredhel and their son Maeglin, who later became known as the traitor who betrayed Gondolin, the Hidden City, to Morgoth. Gurthang is in a way a Dark Lightbringer, for “though ever black [was the blade] its edges shone with pale fire (from The Silmarillion).

24 December (Monday, Christmas Eve)

In ASOIAF, the founders of House Dayne followed the trail of a falling star until it landed in a place where they’ve raised Castle Starfall. In “The Silmarillion”, the Edain followed the Star of Eärendil until they’ve reached the Isle of Elenna, where they founded the Kingdom of Numenor. I explore Tolkien’s symbolism based on Venus (The Star of Eärendil) and its impact upon ASOIAF in my Eärendil, Bearer of Light essay.

Thus, Advent Calendar 2018 comes to an end. Thanks for reading and sharing my tweets and essays, and for all kind words. Merry Christmas!

Yours, Bluetiger

File:Alfred Kowalski-Wierusz - Stado wilków.jpg

Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, “Stado wilków” – Wolfpack (Wikimedia Commons).



Advent Calendar 2019 – Entries

Bluetiger’s Advent Calendar 2019

Advent Calendar 2019 – Introduction

Julius Arthur Thiele - Deer in a Winter Woodland

Julius Arthur Thiele (1841–1919), “Deer in a Winter Woodland” (Wikimedia Commons)

The First Week of Advent 2019

1 December (First Sunday)

In my Polish Taniec z Mitami: G(r)endel and Gorne (A Dance with Myths…) essay I suggest that the Free Folk legend of Gendel and Gorne is a reference to the Old English epic poem “Beowulf”. Gendel parallels Grendel the monster, and the Starks who defeated and chased him away are a reference to Beowulf (Bee-wolf), the heroic warrior who defeats Grendel: “Gendel did not die. He cut his way free, through the crows, and led his people back north with the wolves howling at their heels” (A Storm of Swords, Jon III).

Following his encounter with Beowulf, Grendel flees to his underwater cave, whereas Gendel also escapes and enters the caverns underneath the Wall (made of frozen water). Neither Grendel nor Gendel ever emerge alive.

The Shire Calendar: The first month in the Shire Calendar from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is Afteryule, which corresponds to the period between 23 December and 21 January in the Gregorian Calendar. The name comes from Old English month Æfterra Gēola, = “after Yule”, with Yule being the Midwinter festival. Modern “after” descends from “æfter”, and “gēola” is Yule. In Saint Bede the Venerable’s account this month is called Giuli and the scholar gives “Januarius” as its Latin equivalent. It appears that Bede ommits “after” and “before” in all month names which have them.

2 December (Monday)

The legend in which king Rodrik Stark wins Bear Island from the Ironborn in a wrestling match is possibly another reference to “Beowulf”. Here the Stark King parallels Beowulf (Bee-wolf) and his Ironborn rival would be Grendel, the accursed descendant of Cain.

In the epic Beowulf defends King Hrothgar’s magnificent mead-hall Heorot, located on one of the Danish islands, and wrestles with the monster. It is also worth to mention that according to J.R.R. Tolkien “Beowulf” – wolf of the bees – might be a poetic description, a kenning, for “bear”. Thus, Bear Island is the perfect place for GRRM to include yet another reference to the Old English poem.

The Shire Calendar: The second month bears the name Solmath and is based on the Old English Sol-mōnaþ, which means “mud-month”. This second month of the hobbits corresponds to the period between our 22 January and 20 February. Saint Bede writes that to Anglo-Saxons, “Sol-monath” was the equivalent of Latin “Februarius”.

3 December (Tuesday)

The surname Mormont might originate from Irish mormónta, a borrowing from Middle English wermode, which in turn comes from Old English wermōd. Mormónta means “wormwood”, as in the plant, but also the star Wormwood mentioned in the Book of Revelation, where it turns a third of the waters bitter.

Elsewhere in ASOIAF we find House Wormwood, with only one known member, Ser Julian. This Julian Wormwood was a knight who supported Aegon II during the Dance of the Dragons, and in the final days of the claimant’s reign was dispatched across the Narrow Sea to hire sellswords for his monarch’s cause. It should be noted that wormwood oil is green in colour, which might be what GRRM is referencing here.

The Shire Calendar: The name of Rethe (21 February – 22 March), the third month in this calendar, comes from the Old English Hrēþ-mōnaþ, which – according to Bede – was named after the pagan goddess Rheda (Hretha). The scholar gives “Martius” as its Latin equivalent.

4 December (Wednesday)

Brandor the Shipwright, the Stark king who tried to sail across the Sunest Sea and never returned might be a reference to Saint Brendan the Navigator who – according to legend – had sailed across the Atlantic and encountered many wondrous islands and phenomena.

The Shire Calendar: The fourth month is Astron, which begins on our 23 March and ends on 21 April. Its equivalent in the Anglo-Saxon calendar was Ēosturmōnaþ (or Easter-mōnaþ), which according to Bede was named after the pagan goddess Ēostre. The monk gave “Aprilis” as its Latin counterpart. In later times the name might have meant “Easter-month”. The word “Ēostre” is related to such words as “east” and “Easter”, which ultimately derive from Proto-Indo-European word for “dawn”.

5 December (Thursday)

In my essay Taniec z Mitami: Krew Kvasira (A Dance with Myths: Kvasir’s Blood) I have suggested that the so called “Jojen paste” Bran drinks in ADWD is based on the Mead of Poetry (which turns the one who drinks it into a poet or a scholar) from Norse Mythology. This beverage was created when honey was mixed with the blood of the sage Kvasir, after he had been killed by the dwarves Fjalar and Gjalar. (Jojen Reed parallels Kvasir, and the Children of the Forest would be the dwarfs). It is also worth to mention that Bran’s paste tastes of honey as well: It tasted of honey, of new-fallen snow, of pepper and cinnamon and the last kiss his mother ever gave him. I have also noted that Tyrion’s “singer’s stew” – which tastes so good that it makes him want to sing – symbolizes both weirwood paste and the Mead of Poetry.

The Shire Calendar: The fifth month is Thrimidge, which begins on our 22 April and lasts until 21 May. Its Old English precursor was Þrimilcemōnaþ, which Bede provides as the equivalent of Latin “Maius”. Thrimylchi (or þrimilce) stands for “three milkings”, and thus the name of the fifth month meant “Month of Three Milkings”, apparently because it was believed that at that time cows could give milk three times a day.

6 December (Friday)

I have suggested that the character of Larra Rogare (the wife of King Viserys II) is based on Queen Berúthiel of Gondor. Both were foreign spouses of a monarch, and both were rumored to use cats as spies. Please compare the following passage:

Cats were seen coming and going from her chambers so often that men begun to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep. (Fire and Blood by GRRM)


She had nine black cats and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things ‘that men wish most to keep hidden’, setting the white cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. (The Unfinished Tales by JRRT, edited by Christopher Tolkien)

If you want to find out more about Berúthiel and her connections with Larra, please check out one of the later sections of my essay The Jade Empire.

The Shire Calendar: The sixth month (22 May – 20 June) bears the name Forelithe and is based on Old English Ærra Līþa. Lithe was the Midsummer festival which had its winter counterpart in Yule. Bede includes the month of Ærra Līþa as Lida and pairs it with Latin Junius. (As I have mentioned, Bede omits “Ærra” (before, ere) and “Æfterra” (after) in those month names which have them.

7 December (Saturday)

The actions of Aegon III during the Winter Fever are most likely a reference to Aragorn and the hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known motif from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (which in turn was based on a real custom practised in some European monarchies, to which GRRM might be also alluding). In Fire and Blood we read that:

To the horror of his Kingsguard, Aegon spent his days visiting the sick, and often sat with them for hours (…) Most of those he visited died, but those who lived would afterward attribute their survival to the touch of the king’s “healing hands”.

The Shire Calendar: Following Forelithe there come the Lithedays (Midsummer festivities), which do not belong to any month. 1 Lithe falls on our 21 June. Then comes the Mid-year’s Day itself, with its Gregorian calendar counterpart in 22 June. In leap years Mid-year’s Day is followed by the extra day of Overlithe. Finally, there is 2 Lithe (23 June). In Old English calendar, we find the word Līþa (which Tolkien developed into Lithe) in two month names.

File:Carl Hilgers Winterliches Wasserschloss.jpg

Carl Hilgers (1818 – 1890), Winterliches Wasserschloss mit heimkehrendem Jäger – “Castle with a moat in winter, with returning hunter” (Wikimedia Commons).

The Second Week of Advent 2019

8 December (Second Sunday)

In The Fate of Frey I explored the possible influence of one element of the Ragnarök story on the upcoming battle between Stannis Baratheon and Ser Hosteen Frey.

The Shire Calendar: The seventh month is Afterlithe, which begins on 24 June and lasts 23 July. Its name refers to the Old English Æftera Līþa, which Bede includes in his list as simply “Lida”, providing “Julius” as its Latin equivalent.

9 December (Monday)

This entry and the following four will be concerned with “the hinges of the world” which are mentioned in Melisandre’s ADWD chapter. Apparently, those hinges are places where magic is the strongest.

I have suggested that there are most likely four such hinges, and that each is linked with one of the four cardinal directions, that is: North, East, South and West. The word “cardinal” comes from “cardo”, which is Latin for “hinge”. The metaphor (and wordplay) of the four principal directions as four hinges was used by poets such as Thomas Creech and John Milton (who in Paradise Regained wrote: nor slept the winds / Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad / From the four hinges of the world, and fell / On the vexed wilderness).

It is also my belief that GRRM’s four hinges might be connected with seasons as well. In The Golden Bough Sir James George Frazer uses the metaphor of “the four hinges of the year” when he mentions: the four great hinges on which the solar year revolves, to wit, the solstices and the equinoxes.

Thanks to Melisandre we know that the Wall is one of the hinges, and in my view it is associated with the North and winter.

The Shire Calendar: Wedmath, the eight month in this calendar, corresponds to the period between 24 July and 22 August. Its Old English counterpart is Weōdmōnaþ, the month of weed/grass. In Old English, weōd referred to plants in general, but its descendant – the word weed – has a more specific meaning. Bede explains that Vueod-Monath is called so because it is the time when weeds (grasses, plants) grow most abundant. The monk gives “Augustus” as its Latin name.

10 December (Tuesday)

As for the hinge of the East, I believe Asshai is the place. Melisandre directly compares a confirmed hinge (the Wall) with it, and the City by the Shadow is one of the easternmost locations in the Known World. It is probably the hinge of spring as well. It might be hard to see what Asshai as we know it has to do with this season, but I believe we should turn our attention to Asshai’s Dawn Age past, when it may have been part of the Great Empire of the Dawn.

English “east” is a cognate of such words as Latin aurora (dawn), Easter and Ēostre, (goddess of dawn and spring in Anglo-Saxon paganism), so it makes perfect sense to associate the hinge of the East with spring as well. Possibly, Asshai is a “broken” hinge, and thus the seasons of the World of Ice and Fire are unhinged.

The Shire Calendar: The ninth month is Halimath (23 August – 21 September), with a name that comes from Old English Hālig-mōnaþ – “the holy month”.  Bede calls it Haleg-monath and explains that the name is derived from the times when Anglo-Saxons were still pagan and would sacrifice to their gods (which he calls idols) during this month. Its Latin equivalent he names as “September”.

11 December (Wednesday)

For the hinge of the South and summer I propose Valyria in the Lands of the Long Summer.

The Shire Calendar: Halmath is followed by the tenth month, Winterfilth, which is based on Old English Winterfylleth (Winterfylleþ). It corresponds to the period between 22 September and 21 October. Its name contains “winter” and “filling” (of the moon, that is a fool moon). According to Bede the Vuinter-fylleth was called so because the first full moon in that month marked the beginning of winter. Its Latin counterpart is “Oktober”.

12 December (Thursday)

The hinge of the West and autumn is, in my view, located on the shores of the Sunest Sea. I have suggested two most likely candidates. The first of those is Pyke, seat of the Lord Reaper of Pyke (a figure evoking harvest), it is also where we hear about Aeron Greyjoy’s “rusted hinge”. The other strong possibility is Oldtown, whence in ACOK came the ravens bringing the news about the arrival of autumn. In Fire and Blood a Hightower ship called Autumn Moon is mentioned.

I will also note that GRRM directly associates sunset with autumn in The Seasons of My Love song: I loved a maid as red as autumn with sunset in her hair. You might remember that we are never told the verse concerning the spring, I believe it goes more or less like this: I loved a maid as … as spring, with dawn-light in her hair.

The Shire Calendar: The eleventh month in this calendar is Blotmath, which begins on 22 October and lasts until 20 November. Its Old English predecessor is Blōtmōnaþ, the month of blót (sacrifices). Bede writes that Blod-monath (“November”) was the time when cattle would be slaughtered and some of the meat would be offered to pagan gods.

13 December (Friday)

In The Golden Bough Frazer writes that there are two major festivals which do not fall on any of the four great hinges of the year. Those are Allhallows’ Even and May Day. If GRRM is familiar with this book, he might have included two extra “hinges of the world” connected with the two. Winterfell would be the hinge of Allhallows’ Even (think of the crypts underneath the castle, the place where “the dead walk” according to Old Nan). The hinge of May Day (if such concept exists at all) is probably Highgarden, the old seat of Garth Greenhand with the enormous three-trunked weirwood tree. Just like Allhallows’ is the opposite of May Day and falls six months later, so Highgarden would be the inversed mirror image of Winterfell.

The Shire Calendar: The twelfth and final month in the calendar of the Shire-hobbits was Foreyule, which comes from Old English Ærra Gēola (before-Yule). Bede calls it Giuli (“December”) and then uses the same name for the first month of the New Year. As I have explained in the daily entry from 1 December, Bede omits Ærra (before) and Æfterra (after) before those month names which actually have them. Foreyule of the Shire Calendar begins on Gregorian 21 November and ends on 20 December.

14 December (Saturday)

I have suggested that one of the inspirations behind the name Winterfell might have been the tenth month in the Old English calendar, Winterfylleth, named so because winter began on the first “filling of the moon” during that month (on the first full moon to fall within it). It should be noted that Winterfilth (which I wrote about in my daily entry from 11 December), a month in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Shire Calendar, is based on the Anglo-Saxon month, and perhaps it is from LOTR that GRRM found out about this name. In “Appendix D” of that book it is mentioned that Winterfilth was the filling of the year before winter.

The Shire Calendar: Following Foreyule we have two days which, just like the Lithedays, are not numbered among any of the twelve month. These Yuledays – midwinter festivities – were 1 Yule and 2 Yule. festivities. 1 Yule (which falls on 21 December) was the final day of the Old Year, whereas 2 Yule (22 December) was the New Year’s Day. Yuledays were the central point of a longer holiday season (celebrating winter solstice as well as the transition to the next year), the Yule-tide, which began on 29 Foreyule (19 December) and lasted until 2 Afterfule (24 December).

File:Adolf Kaufmann - Sonnenuntergang in Winterlandschaft.jpg

Adolf Kaufmann (1848 – 1916), “Sunset in winter landscape” (Wikimedia Commons).

The Third Week of Advent 2019

15 December (Third Sunday)

Lady Ashara Dayne’s first name might be a reference to the Canaanite goddess of the sea shore, Asherah, whose titles include Lady of the Sea and She Who Walks on the Sea. Perhaps this is why in AGOT Ashara is first mentioned in the following lines: And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes.

The Bree Calendar: Now me move on from the Shire Calendar to the Bree Calendar, which was used in Bree-land (which included the town of Bree – with the famed The Prancing Pony Inn – as well as the neighboring settlements of Archet, Combe and Staddle). In many regards it was similar to the calendar used by the hobbits of the Shire, and the names of many months are the same.

In this calendar, the first month was called Frery, not Afteryule. Its name most likely comes from the Old English word frēorig, which means “frozen”, “freezing” and “cold”. Frery begins on 23 December and lasts until 21 January.

16 December (Monday)

Ashara Dayne might have been also inspired by another goddess – Astarte, worshiped by the Canaanites and the Phoenicians, who was often identified with Venus and Ishtar. In The Golden Bough Sir James George Frazer mentions that the spring festival of Adonis (Astarte’s lover) would begin once Venus (the planet) appeared in the sky. Most curious for us is his description of a tradition observed in a certain temple of Astarte, where the holiday would commence once a meteor seemingly fell form atop Mount Lebanon into the river called Adonis. It was believed that the meteor was in fact the goddess Astarte herself, coming down from heaven to greet her returning lover.

This custom might have inspired GRRM to create the story about Lady Ashara throwing herself into the sea from a tower at Starfall (we should keep in mind that Castle Starfall stands on an isle where the river Torrentine meets the Sunset Sea, and thus it can be said that Lady Dayne jumped into a river). A meteor can, of course, be described as a falling star – which we see in the Dayne coat-of-arms.

The Bree Calendar: The second month is Solmath, just like in the Shire. As I have explained in the entry from 2 December, Tolkien was probably inspired by the Old English month Solmónaþ (mud-month) here. Solmath corresponds to the period between 22 January and 20 February.

17 December (Tuesday)

In one of my Polish essays I have explored the possible influence of the Ishtar and Tammuz myth on ASOIAF – or rather, its Greek version, where the pair are called Aphrodite and Adonis. The tale goes that in order to protect her lover, Aphrodite put Adonis inside a chest and gave it to Persephone, queen of the underworld, for safekeeping. The later had no clue as to the contents of the trunk, and when she opened it out of curiosity, we found the handsome young Adonis inside and fell in love with him.

Some time later Aphrodite demanded to have Adonis returned to her, but Persephone refused. When asked to mediate, Zeus decreed that Adonis would spend half a year in the underworld with Persephone and the other half on earth with Aphrodite. Each year Adonis would emerge from the underworld in spring, but Aphrodite’s bliss would not last, as her other lover – Ares – would turn himself into a boar and slay Adonis, thus sending him back to the world of the dead for the other six months.

According to Frazer Adonis symbolizes vegetation, and especially corn. Thus, when he goes to the underworld, Adonis symbolizes the seeded corn which is buried in the earth, and his return in spring can be interpreted as sprouting and growing of the new plant.

I have proposed that in ASOIAF, Ashara parallels Aphrodite, and her lover – Brandon Stark (Ned’s brother) evokes Adonis. The name “Brandon” contains “bran”, which can refer to the broken coat of a seed. Thus, I suspect that the legendary Brandon of the Bloody Blade, progenitor of the Stark line and Garth Greenhand’s son, is a wordplay on this meaning of “bran” and in his epithet “blade” is a wordplay on “blade of grass” and “cereal blade”. In fact, the word blade comes from Old English blæd, leaf (I suspect the later meaning of blade was originally a poetic metaphor in which a sharp edge of a weapon was likened to a leaf).

It is interesting that Barristan Selmy, who also loved Ashara, is also associated with corn – the seat of his house is Harvest Hall, and his sigil shows three stalks of yellow wheat. The name “Barristan” reminds me of the word “arista” (plural: aristae), which is also connected with corn and cereal, and comes from Latin word for awn or ear of grain.

The Bree Calendar: Following Solmath, there comes Rethe. And again, in this case the Bree Calendar uses the same name as the Shire Calendar. Rethe begins on 21 February and ends on 22 March.

18 December (Wednesday)

If Ashara Dayne is supposed to symbolize Aphrodite, and Brandon Stark Adonis, then Brandon’s other lover – Barbrey Dustin – parallels Persephone, queen of the underworld who refuses to return Adonis to Aphrodite.

The Bree Calendar: The fourth month is another case where there is a difference between the calendar of Bree and the one used in the Shire. In Bree we find Chithing, not Astron. This month covers the period between 23 March and 21 April and its name seems to be based on the Old English word ciðing, which means “budding” and “germinating”.

19 December (Thursday)

The tale of Ser Clarence Crabb who would bring heads of the men he killed back home, where his wife would bring them back to life, whereupon they would provide the hero with counsel, might be a reference to the Norse story of Mimir. Mimir, a sage widely renowned for his unequaled wisdom, was beheaded by the Vanir due to a misunderstanding. His friend Odin took the head and using herbs and secret arts, endued it with the power to speak – and thus when faced with a difficult choice, Odin could consult with Mimir.

The Bree Calendar: Chithing is followed by Thrimidge, exactly as in the Shire. This name of the fifth month comes from Old English þrimilce (three milking), as it was believed that during this month cows could me milked thrice a day. Thrimidge begins on 22 April and its last day falls on 21 May.

20 December (Friday)

Rickard Stark, who kills Willem Lannister and Tion Frey, two boys held by Robb Stark in Riverrun, is most likely based on Richard III (or rather, on how the monarch is presented by Shakespeare in his play). The Karstark sigil and words – the Sun of Winter – might be a reference to the opening lines of the Bard’s The Tragedy of Richard the ThirdNow is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.

The Bree Calendar: The Bree-landers call their sixth month (22 May – 20 June) Lithe, whereas in the Shire the name Forelithe is used. Old English liþa apparently has the meaning of “mild”, most likely in reference to weather conditions.

The month of Lithe is followed by the Summerdays (which parallel the Lithedays of the Shire). 1 Lithe falls on 21 June, Mid-year’s Day is 22 June. In leap years, an extra day is added after Mid-year’s Day, and it is known as Overlithe2 Lithe‘s Gregorian counterpart is 23 June.

The seventh month in the Bree Calendar is not called Afterlithe as in the Shire – Mede (“meadow”) appears in its place. It begins on 24 June and ends on 23 July.

21 December (Saturday)

In Oak King, Holly King and Renly (the 9 December episode in my 2017 Advent Calendar) and the Polish essay W(r)enly I have theorized that Renly Baratheon’s first name is a reference to wren (Renly = Wren-ly, “wren-like”), and to be more precise – to the robin and wren folktale described by Robert Graves. On winter solstice robin would seek his rival, the wren, and cruelly slay the bird hiding in his green bush. According to Graves, wren symbolizes the Holly King (personification of winter), whereas robin is the Oak King (lord of summer). (The Green Knight from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight who duels Sir Gawain, is another such figure – he even holds a holly bough in his hand in the scene where he enters King Arthur’s hall at Camelot).

In The Golden Bough Frazer mentions the Wren Day custom, where on St. Stephen’s Day (26 December) people would hunt for the wren, either symbolically or literally. This might have been originally connected with the “wren as king of winter called on midwinter” tradition mentioned by Graves. As it happens, Renly and Stannis’ father was Steffon Baratheon, and the name Steffon, which is most likely based on Steffan, a variant of Stephen, as in the saint’s name.

The Bree Calendar: The eight month (24 July – 22 August) is called Wedmath, just like in the Shire. However, in Bree the following month (23 August – 21 September) is not called Halimath, but the name Harvestmath is used (the word itself was most likely developed from Old English Hærfestmonaþ). Harvestmath is followed by Wintring – “the wintry month” – (in the Shire the tenth month is Winterfilth). Wintring corresponds to the time between 22 September and 21 October.

File:Walter Moras - Winterwald.gif

Walter Moras (1856 – 1925), Winterwald (Wintry wood). Wikimedia Commons.

The Fourth Week of Advent 2019

22 December (Fourth Sunday)

Elements of Daenerys’ AGOT plot concerning her marriage to khal Drogo might be loosely based on the legend of Ildico, the last wife of Attila the Hun. In some versions, the mighty warrior dies because of nosebleed on the night of his wedding with Ildico, who might have been a Germanic princess. In other accounts she kills him to avenge her kinsmen who were slain by the Hun.

In some Norse sources Gudrun from the Sigurd and Brynhild story plays the role of Ildico. Gudrun is forced to marry king Atli (Attila), who later murders her brothers to steal their treasure. Taking her vengeance, Gudrun serves Atli the flesh of his sons, then kills him in his bed and at last, sets the entire hall ablaze.

The Bree Calendar: In the Shire the eleventh month is called Blotmath, but in Bree the term is Blooting. Both come from Old English Blōtmōnaþ, the month of sacrifices. Blooting begins on 22 October and lasts until 20 November.

23 December (Monday)

Khal Drogo’s fear of the sea (for which we could use the fancy term thalassophobia) might be a reference to his LOTR namesake, Frodo Baggins’ father, Drogo. The hobbits, just like the Dothraki, are suspicious of large bodies of water. Not Drogo Baggins, alas! Drogo and his wife Primula Brandybuck had the curious hobby of boating. In the year 1380 of the Third Age (when Frodo was twelve), Drogo and Primula drowned while boating on the Brandywine River. Presumably, having this other Drogo’s fate in mind, the khal mindfully keeps away from boats and ships.

The Bree Calendar: The final month bears the name Yulemath (in the Shire it’s Foreyule). Yulemath – the month of Yule (midwinter) – begins on 21 November and comes to an end on 20 December.

24 December (Tuesday, Christmas Eve)

I have noted some parallels between the thirteen children of Jaehaerys and Alysanne and the children of Garth Greenhand, though I am by no means certain they are intentional (please check out Children of Jaehaerys and Alysanne & Children of Garth Greenhand to find out more on this topic).

The Bree Calendar: Just like in the Shire, the midwinter festival consist of two days which do not belong to any of the twelve months. 1 Yule (21 December) is the last day of the Old Year and the New Year begins on 2 Yule (22 December). Thus we have covered all the months in both calendars, the one used by the hobbits of the Shire and the one followed in Bree.

Yule is mentioned in The Hobbit:

Anyway by midwinter Gandalf and Bilbo had come all the way back, along both edges of the Forest, to the doors of Beorn’s house; and there for a while they both stayed. Yule-tide was warm and merry there; and men came from far and wide to feast at Beorn’s bidding.

May Christmas be merrier still!

“Gode sȳ wuldor on hēahnesse and on eorðan sybb mannum gōdes willan” (from the West-Saxon Gospels, Luke 2:14)

With best wishes, yours


File:The Shepherds and the Angel.jpg

Carl Bloch (1834 – 1890), “The Shepherds and the Angel” (Wikimedia Commons).


Advent Calendar 2019

éala éarendel engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard monnum sended

Hail Earendel, brightest of angels
over middle-earth to mankind sent

– from the Old English poem “Crist I”

It has become something of a tradition that every year with the coming of Advent I start a series of short entries at this blog, and this format was inspired by the traditional Advent calendar. There were two previous editions, the original one in 2017 and its 2018 sequel… and thus, there was an Advent calendar ever since I’ve set up this blog – with the initial name of “The Amber Compendium”, subsequently changed to “The Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire”, as such was the direction in which my thoughts and then my essays turned. It stands reason that this emergent tradition should be maintained. Another consistent characteristic of my December series is the inconsistency of form between those yearly editions.

Julius Arthur Thiele - Deer in a Winter Woodland.png

Julius Arthur Thiele (1841–1919), “Deer in a Winter Woodland” (Wikimedia Commons)

My first Calendar – of 2017 – consisted of 22 daily posts, each devoted to a distinct topic. The topics themselves varied greatly. A significant portion of them concerned parallels between George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. Other posts focused solely on aspects of Tolkien’s mythology, such as the final Christmas Eve entry in which I discussed – rather briefly – the impact of the Old English poem “Crist I” (also known as The Advent Lyrics, and thus quite apt for my calendar series itself) on Tolkien’s mythopoeic endeavors. It should be noted that I later followed up on many leads merely hinted in the 2017 Advent calendar – for example, my Polish essay Tom Bombadil i Zimnoręki published at FSGK PL this July expands on ideas discussed in the opening post of the Advent calendar from 2017. Another such case is W(r)enly from October 2019, which was developed from the final section of the 9 December 2017 entry.

This way of presenting ideas – one post released every Advent day – proved perhaps too strenuous to the reader. Keeping in mind that many people simply don’t have that much free time to spare, the following year – in December 2018 – I made the decision to change the format. Thus, there were only four long posts, released one by one on the four Advent Sundays – The Return of the Queen, Eärendil, Bearer of Light, The Jade Empire and finally, Aenar’s Aeneid. There were also daily “posts” – but this time in the shape of tweets such as the following ones:

This year the format changes again – there will be short entries added to one post pinned at the top of this blog’s homepage, and the same short tidbits will be also released at my Twitter profile (@lordbluetiger). As for the topics, this year I will share with you those ideas I’ve been exploring in the past year. Almost all of my 2019 writings related to ASOIAF and Tolkien were in Polish – you can find them at the Polish fan-site FSGK.PL – most easily by looking at Of those only one was later released in English (The Fate of Frey). As not that many people know my native language, Polish, this Advent calendar series might be the perfect way to share those theories and ideas with a wider audience language-wise.

File:Charles James De Lacy - The Winter Carriage.jpg

Charles de Lacy (1856–1929), “The Winter Carriage” (Wikimedia Commons)

Since the series’ format is a reference to a calendar, I thought that it would be fitting to also explore how two calendars created by Tolkien – the Shire Calendar and the Bree Calendar – correspond with the Old English calendar, as described by Saint Bede the Venerable in “De temporum ratione”. Therefore, there will be actually two daily tweets (and corresponding entries added to the post pinned at the top of this blog) – one with a short tidbit from one of my ASOIAF or JRRT essays, and one with trivia about one of the months from those two calendars used in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

With that said, the 2019 Advent calendar begins,

Yours, Bluetiger

Link to the post in which daily tidbits will be collected:


For the previous editions of my Advent Calendar please check out:


The Advent Calendar 2017 – Introduction
The Advent Calendar 2017 – List of Episodes
Kalendarz adwentowy 2017 – Wstęp (The Advent Calendar 2017 – Introduction in Polish)
Kalendarz adwentowy 2017 – Lista odcinków (The Advent Calendar 2017 – List of Episodes in Polish


The Advent Calendar 2018 – Introduction
Four Weekly Essays published on Advent Sundays:



Listopad 2019: Teksty Bluetigera na FSGK


Taniec z Mitami: G(r)endel i Gorne 

2 listopada 2019 roku

G(r)endel i Gorne Grafika.png


Tolkienowska Pieśń Lodu i Ognia: Przedmowa

9 listopada 2019 roku

TPLIO Przedmowa Grafika.png


Poprawiamy Martina: Języki (wspólnie z DaeLem)

11 listopada 2019 roku

Poprawiamy Martina Języki Grafika.png


Shire i Rohan oraz Siedem Królestw, czyli inspiracje Anglosaską Heptarchią

16 listopada 2019 roku

Shire i Rohan Grafika.png


Zapowiedź Tolkienowskiego Q&A

17 listopada 2019 roku

Zapowiedź TQ&A Grafika


Tolkienowskie Q&A 1

23 listopada 2019 roku

TQ&A 1 Grafika


Tolkienowskie Q&A 2

30 listopada 2019 roku

TolkienowskieQ&A 2 Grafika.png



Kalendarz Shire’u J.R.R. Tolkiena – porównanie z kalendarzem staroangielskim

Stworzony przez J.R.R. Tolkiena kalendarz Shire’u opisany w dodatku D “Władcy Pierścieni” porównany z kalendarzem anglosaskim (staroangielskie nazwy miesięcy według “De Temporum Ratione” świętego Bedy Czcigodnego).

(opracował Bluetiger):

Miesiąc w kalendarzu Shire’u (stworzonym przez J.R.R. Tolkiena) Znacznie nazwy: Współczesny odpowiednik: Miesiąc w kalendarzu staroangielskim Znacznie nazwy: Współczesny odpowiednik:
2 Yule drugi z Yuledays (Godów), nowy rok 22.12      
1.         Afteryule „po Yule” 23.12 – 21.01 Æfterra Gēola „po Yule” Styczeń/January
2.         Solmath „miesiąc błota” 22.01 – 20.02 Sol-mōnaþ „miesiąc błota” Luty/February
3.         Rethe od staroang. „hreþmonaþ”,

w znaczeniu „rough-month”

21.02 – 22.03 Hrēþ-mōnaþ „miesiąc bogini Hrēþ (Rhede)” Marzec/March
4.         Astron od “eastre” (jak w „Easter”), od pragerm. „świt” 23.03 – 21.04 Ēosturmōnaþ „miesiąc bogini Ēostre”,

„miesiąc Wielkanocy (Easter)”

5.         Thrimidge „þrimilce” 22.04 – 21.05 Þrimilcemōnaþ „Month of Three Mikings”, miesiąc, gdy krowy dają mleko trzy razy dziennie Maj/May
6.         Forelithe „przed Lithe (Sobótką)” 22.05 – 20.06 Ærra Līþa „przed Lithe” (Śródleciem Czerwiec/June
1 Lithe „pierwszy dzień Lithe” (Sobótki, Śródlecia) 21.06      
Mid-year’s Day „dzień Śródlecia” 22.06      
Overlithe „nad-Lithe” dodatkowy dzień w latach przestępnych      
2 Lithe „drugi dzień Lithe” 23.06      
7.         Afterlithe „po Lithe” 24.06 – 23.07 Æftera Līþa „po Śródleciu” Lipiec/July
8.         Wedmath „miesiąc traw” 24.07 – 22.08 Weōdmōnaþ „miesiąc traw/roślin” (por. „weed”) Sierpień/August
9.         Halimath „święty miesiąc” 23.08 – 21.09 Hālig-mōnaþ „święty miesiąc” Wrzesień/


10.    Winterfilth „pierwsza zimowa pełnia ksieżyca” 22.09 – 21.10 Winterfylleth


„pierwsze napełnienie (księżyca) zimą” Październik/


11.    Blotmath patrz staroang. 22.10 – 20.11 Blōtmōnaþ „miesiąc blót” (ofiar) Listopad/


12.    Foreyule „przed Yule” (Godami) 21.11 – 20.12 Ærra Gēola „przed Yule” Grudzień/


1 Yule „pierwszy dzień Godów




1 Yule & 2 Yule = Yuledays, święto śródzimia, końca starego roku i początku nowego.

1 Lithe & Mid-year’s Day & Overlithe (w latach przestępnych) & 2 Lithe = Lithedays, święto śródlecia


Kalendarz Bree

Miesiąc w kalendarzu Bree Znaczenie nazwy: Współczesny odpowiednik: Odpowiednik w kalendarzu Shire’u
2 Yule „drugi dzień Yule” 22.12 2 Yule
1.         Frery od staroang. „frēorig”

(mroźny, lodowaty, zamarzający)

23.12 – 21.01 Afteryule
2.         Solmath „Solmónaþ”, miesiąc błota 22.01 – 20.02 Solmath
3.         Rethe „od staroang. „hreþmonaþ”,

w znaczeniu „rough-month”

21.02 – 22.03 Rethe
4.         Chithing „ciðing” (kiełkujący, wschodzący) 23.03 – 21.04 Astron
5.         Thrimidge „þrimilce” (miesiąc, gdy krowy dają mleko trzy razy dziennie) 22.04 – 21.05 Thrimidge
6.         Lithe „liþa” (czerwiec, lipiec) 22.05 – 20.06 Forelithe
1 Lithe (Summerdays) „pierwszy dzień Sobótki” 21.06 1 Lithe
Mid-year’s Day (Summerdays) „dzień śródlecia” 22.06 Mid-year’s Day
Overlithe (Summerdays) „nad-Lithe” dodatkowy dzień w latach przestępnych Overlithe
2 Lithe (Summerdays) „drugi dzień Sobótki” 23.06 2 Lithe
7.         Mede „łąka” 24.06 – 23.07 Afterlithe
8.         Wedmath „Wéodmónaþ” (miesiąc traw) 24.07 – 22.08 Wedmath
9.         Harvestmath „Hærfestmonaþ” (miesiąc żniw) 23.08 – 21.09 Halimath
10.    Wintring „zimowy, zimny” 22.09 – 21.10 Winterfilth
11.    Blooting „Blōtmōnaþ” (miesiąc blót – ofiar) 22.10 – 20.11 Blotmath
12.    Yulemath „miesiąc Yule (Godów” 21.11 – 20.12 Foreyule
1 Yule „pierwszy dzień Godów” 21.12 1 Yule

 Według rozdziału “De mensibus Anglorum” w dziele “De Temporum Ratione” Bedy Czcigodnego nazwy anglosaskich miesięcy to (w nawiasach podano łacińskie odpowiedniki): Giuli (Januarius), Sol-monath (Februarius), Rhed-monath (Martius), Eostur-monath (Aprilis), Thrimylchi (Maius), Lida (Junius), Lida (Julius), Vueod-monath (Augustus), Haleg-monath (September), Vuinter-fylleth (Oktober), Blod-monath (November), Giuli (December).

Najwyraźniej uczony podając nazwy grudnia i stycznia, oraz czerwca i lipca pominął przedrostki “przed” lub “po”, gdyż grudzień to Ærra Gēola (Przed-Yule), styczeń to Æfterra Gēola (Po-Yule), czerwiec to Ærra Līþa (Przed-Lithe) zaś lipiec Æftera Līþa (Po-Lithe).

Pisząc o pochodzeniu nazwy “Vuinter-fylleth” (Winterfylleth), Beda wywodzi ją od słów “zima” oraz “pełnia księżyca”: Unde et mensem quo hyemalia tempora incipiebant Vuinter-fylleth appellabant, composito nomine ab hyeme et plenilunio, quia videlicet a plenilunio eiusdem mensis hyems sortiretur initium. (…) Vuinter-fylleth potest dici composito novo nomine hyemeplenilunium. (Bede Venerabilis, De Temporum Ratione, Caput XV: De mensibus Anglorum).

Październik 2019: Cztery teksty Bluetigera na FSGK


Taniec z Mitami: (W)renly

5 października 2019 roku



Taniec z Mitami: Ashara Dayne

12 października 2019 roku



Taniec z Językami: Bran i Brandon

19 października 2019 roku



Taniec z Mitami: Zawiasy świata

26 października 2019 roku