Winter Is Coming… doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Winter is not the season. Winter is the name of an enormous ice dragon. “Winter Is Coming” is an greater threat than the Lannister words “Hear Me Roar.”
“The things I do for love,” he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.
Screaming, Bran went backward out the window into empty air. There was nothing to grab on to. The courtyard rushed up to meet him.
Somewhere off in the distance, a wolf was howling. Crows circled the broken tower, waiting for corn.
-A Game of Thrones – Bran II
The circling crows were looking for a very different kind of seed than corn.
All crows are liars. And Bran is working for the biggest three-eyed liar of them all.
“You will never walk again, but you will fly.”
-Bloodraven to Bran.
In this post we will explore how Bran has already become the ice dragon I call The IceBrandon and he has done so by paying for his life with the “seed” of his own soul. It all happened extremely subtly.
Greendreams… and icedreams.
This happened in the first book, A Game of Thrones, in the passage where Bran is has his flying dream with the three-eyed-crow.
In this post we will explore how Bran may have already died once or twice. He died the first time after falling off the Broken Tower where he gives corn (his seed, his soul) to BR and a second time in a scene where “Brandon Stark could taste his blood” in a vision. and lastly how Bran is an “abomination” and potentially a part of the “Nights King” reborn prophesy that has been misappropriated as it truly belongs to a prophesy the King of Winter. As someone who controls Winter the ice dragon, Bran would be his king.
Bran is the only person thus far to go beyond the “curtain of light” to true darkness as opposed to shadow creatures of light. There is no shadow in darkness and translucent ice dragons cast no shadow. Brandon The Builder may also be the original Nights King/King of Winter as well as Bran’s namesake.
Let’s explore this passages from The World of Ice and Fire:
Of all the queer and fabulous denizens of the Shivering Sea, however, the greatest are the ice dragons. These colossal beasts, many times larger than the dragons of Valyria, are said to be made of living ice, with eyes of pale blue crystal and vast translucent wings through which the moon and stars can be glimpsed as they wheel across the sky. Whereas common dragons (if any dragon can truly be said to be common) breathe flame, ice dragons supposedly breathe cold, a chill so terrible that it can freeze a man solid in half a heartbeat. Sailors from half a hundred nations have glimpsed these great beasts over the centuries, so mayhaps there is some truth behind the tales. Archmaester Margate has suggested that many legends of the north— freezing mists, ice ships, Cannibal Bay, and the like—can be explained as distorted reports of ice-dragon activity. Though an amusing notion, and not without a certain elegance, this remains the purest conjecture. As ice dragons supposedly melt when slain, no actual proof of their existence has ever been found.
-The World of Ice and Fire – Beyond the Free Cities: The Shivering Sea:
And now let’s compare it to Brans POV in AGoT:
Bran remembered the way he shattered. “But I never fall,” he said, falling. The ground was so far below him he could barely make it out through the grey mists that whirled around him
“Grey mists” is the key word there. I think those grey mists may point to the icefyre breath of an icedragon. Bran is falling down screaming in this dream.
Now we will look at Bran potentially dying or giving of his soul to Bloodrave and the price he may have paid:
It was cold here in the darkness. There was no sun, no stars, only the ground below coming up to smash him, and the grey mists, and the whispering voice. He wanted to cry.
Not cry. Fly.
“Help me,” he said.
I’m trying, the crow replied. Say, got any corn?
Bran reached into his pocket as the darkness spun dizzily around him. When he pulled his hand out, golden kernels slid from between his fingers into the air. They fell with him.
The crow landed on his hand and began to eat.
“I’ll wake up when I hit the ground,” Bran told the bird.
You’ll die when you hit the ground, the crow said. It went back to eating corn.
You’ll die when you hit the ground. Bran did hit the ground. Bran died.
In giving the crow Bloodraven the corn in his pocket, Bran gave him his seed, and gave up his soul to become reborn. GRRM makes us assume that when a person gives their seed to someone that it is sexual, but it need not be. Dreams are symbolic.
The story of the Nights King and his Queen goes like this:
“and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.”
But as I point out here, that may not be the case. The woman was not his downfall. She may not have been who he gave his soul to either. Someone else may have Bran’s soul.
Bran was falling faster than ever. The grey mists howled around him as he plunged toward the earth below.
“What are you doing to me?” he asked the crow, tearful.
Teaching you how to fly. “I can’t fly!”
You’re flying tight now.
Every flight begins with a fall, the crow said.
Look down. “I’m afraid . . . ”
Bran spread his arms and flew.
Wings unseen drank the wind and filled and pulled him upward.
The terrible needles of ice receded below him. The sky opened up above. Bran soared. It was better than climbing. It was better than anything. The world grew small beneath him.
“The wings unseen” are the translucent ice wings of the ice dragon. Now look at the root of the word translucent; luce, latin for light. The name Lucifer (the devil) means Lightbringer. More on this in Azor Ahannister. If fire dragons are fire-made flesh, ice dragons are flesh-made ice.
“The terrible needles of ice” again refer to the icefyre cold mysts of grey. The fire equivalent of ice dragons.
Dragons are the only beings GRRM has described their wings as being translucent
As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils.
The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons. —
-A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X
Now let’s get back to Bran:
Bran felt along his shoulders, groping for feathers. There are different kinds of wings, the crow said.
There are “different kinds of wings?” Hmmm. Do tell.
What Other kind of wings are there? What Other kind of flying creature could possibly fly Bran not only to, the Lands of Always Winter but also far beyond them, past the curtain of light at the end of the world?
The wings are there, but we don’t see them. Where else have we encountered something like that? The Others sword.
Lets compare the description of Bran’s wings above to the description of the Others sword in the prologue of AGOT where the Other killed Ser Waymar:
“It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.” –Will.
The similarity is eerie. First there is the translucent reference like the “different” kinds of wings, but again a reference to moonlight. Recall ice dragons are described as having living ice, with eyes of pale blue crystal shine and vast translucent wings through which the moon and stars can be glimpsed. Those are almost identical descriptions of moonlight, translucent crystal with a faint blue shimmering glow with a ghostliness about them. Those are very different kinds of feathers indeed.
What is the curtain of light? I think Melissandre gives the best explanation by telling us what it isn’t.
“Shadow?” Davos felt his flesh prickling. “A shadow is a thing of darkness.”
“You are more ignorant than a child, ser knight. There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.”
-A Clash of Kings – Davos II
Beyond the curtain of light there is pure darkness, no light and no warmth, It is not where things man normally recognizes as living… lives.
The Ice Dragon is a constellation and is often mentioned in the context of the closest synonym to mists; clouds. When you look in the thesaurus for mist, the first answer is clouds. Clouds may be a subtle hint to the grey mists.
When they lost their way, as happened once or twice, they need only wait for a clear cold night when the clouds did not intrude, and look up in the sky for the ice dragon. -Bran II, ASOS
Bloodraven gave him new life and a third eye on his forehead. Perhaps Bran did die when he hit the ground below the tower. Bran may have sold his soul to be reborn. When you sell your soul, you lose agency over your own life and actions. Bran may be forced to do things sweet little climbing Brandon Stark would never even fathom doing.
Only after Bran gave his seed, and thus his soul and the crow finished eating it was Bran able to fly. And then he got to the Wall to see this:
Finally he looked north He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.
He saw Jon dying and becoming unJon. The memory of all warmth fleeing includes both Jons literal and metaphorical warmth. That is not a good sign.
The burn Bran felt on his cheeks was a different kind of burn. Freezer burn.
The real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you..and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires.
It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold.
-A Game of Thrones – Prologue
Bran’s flight continued:
Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.
“Why?” Bran said, not understanding, falling, falling.
Because winter is coming.
This gave me chills. Bran is Winter. Bran, together with Brynden, is the IceBrandon.
Bran looked at the crow on his shoulder, and the crow looked back. It had three eyes, and the third eye was full of a terrible knowledge. Bran looked down. There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears. He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points. He was desperately afraid.
-A Game of Thrones – Bran III
I think that those spikes may be ghost grass. Here is Jorah explaining it to Dany:
There are a hundred kinds of grass out there, grasses as yellow as lemon and as dark as indigo, blue grasses and orange grasses and grasses like rainbows. Down in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are oceans of ghostgrass, taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned. The Dothraki claim that someday ghost grass will cover the entire world, and then all life will end.”
-A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III
With the descriptions of the impaled dreamers and the ghost grass being taller than a man and milkglass is colored like an othersword, that may mean all those dreamers are impaled in a place all life has ended.
Back to Bran:
“The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.“
Why would GRRM add a line about Bran not being dead? Isn’t that obvious he is alive? GRRM has written 4,722 pages, but he doesn’t waste words. It is a subtle nod to Bran having been dead. You don’t fall out of a highrise tower into the hard ground and live. Just as Dany didn’t live through the flames. They were reborn.
Both came back different people after the experience. Dany was reborn amidst flames and Bran was reborn amidst earth atop weirwood roots.
“Never fear the darkness, Bran.” The lord’s words were accompanied by a faint rustling of wood and leaf, a slight twisting of his head. “The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.“
This darkness just made Bran strong enough to become the first Stark King of Winter in generations.
Not only may Bran have already died to “become” The Icebrandon but Bran may already have a second time after the fall when he gets visions from the present to the birth of the Winterfell tree:
And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.
Whose blood was Bran tasting? Was it the person being sacrificed or something darker? We have not had a POV of him since.
Bran was staring at his arms, his legs. He was so skinny, just skin stretched taut over bones. Had he always been so thin? He tried to remember. A face swam up at him out of the grey mist, shining with light, golden. “The things I do for love,” it said.
Bran screamed and grey mist appeared. When dragons scream, death comes out of their mouths. The mist is the icefyre encircling Jaime Azor Ahannister, reborn, the The Lord of Light. The valyrian word for “Lord of Light” Aeksiot Ono is almost identical to the word for “goldenhand” which is Aeksion Ondos. Jamie Lannister is Azor Ahai, his face “shining with light, golden.”
In a bed high in some chilly tower room, and the black-haired woman dropped a basin of water to shatter on the floor and ran down the steps, shouting, “He’s awake, he’s awake, he’s awake.”
Jaime woke him. Jaime woke the IceBrandon.
You never want to wake the IceBrandon.
The IceBrandon casts no shadow.
The IceBrandon would cast no shadow as he is translucent and would have the brightest blue eyes of anything introduced in the series thusfar.
He is the only “living” person to ever go beyond the “curtain of light” that he calls it. Melissandre is the most misunderstood character according to GRRM. We are hung up on her shadow babies. But shadows are servants of the light. Only Bran goes beyond the curtain of light to what Tyrion called the second wall, “a wall of darkness.” There are no shadows beyond the curtain of light, as there is no light.
Old Nan specifically told Bran that The Night’s King was a Stark. Bran won’t become an typical villain out to purposefully try to destroy all life. His focus is revenge on Jaime. Jaime is the only hope for humanity as he is Azor Ahannister. So by fighting Jaime, Bran fights the champion of light. But this is beyond good and evil, light and dark. Do not fear the darkness, readers.
This entire story is set in play by the conflict between Bran and Jaime. Their conflict begins the saga and it will frame its conclusion. The entire story came into motion when Jaime threw him from the tower. It led to the execution of Ned Stark, the War of Five Kings, the burning of Winterfell and the loss of The North… everything.
in Daenerys’ vision in the House of The Undying she sees
Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow
-A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV
Bran’s wolf is named Summer. And because of Bran, summer will die.
Winter Is Flying.
Additional parts in the IceBrandon series:
- The Ice Dragon Has Three Heads: Additional possible ice dragons are spotted. There may be 2 more riders.
- Winterfell: Fall of the IceBrandon: what happens when Azor Ahannister faces off with The IceBrandon in the coming Long Night.
- The Stone Dragon Is Made of Ice: The Dragon Melissandre wants to wake is Bran, not Jon.
- Flight of The IceBrandon: a line by line review of Bran’s chapter where he flew Winter the IceDragon where we go into more detail into the passage where Bran metaphorically flew as the IceBrandon.