In A Dance with Dragons, Bran has a conversation with a "Child" of the Forest he calls Leaf. Bran asks Leaf why all the Children disappeared from the world, and where they have gone, to which Leaf replies,
"Gone down into the earth... Into the stones, into the trees. Before the First Men came, all this land that you call Westeros was home to us, yet even in those days we were few. The gods gave us long lives but not great numbers, lest we overrun the world as deer will overrun a wood where there are no wolves to hunt them. That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling. The giants are almost gone as well, they who were our bane and our brothers. The great lions of the western hills have been slain, the unicorns are all but gone, the mammoths down to a few hundred. The direwolves will outlast us all, but their time will come as well. In the world that men have made, there is no room for them, or us". (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 34)
Notice, Leaf claims that the giants (who are attempting to flee from the Others along with Mance Rayder) are/were their "bane", which would imply the two races aren't exactly on the best of terms (which might explain why the giants are in the same boat as the humans). Similarly, Leaf is essentially saying that the Children cannot coexist with humans. But, it's Bran's reaction to this spiel that I think is telling.
Bran is troubled by how sad this seems to make Leaf, but resolves, "Men would not be sad. Men would be wroth. Men would hate and swear a bloody vengeance. The singers sing sad songs, where men would fight and kill".
Indeed they would... And, what, might I ask, is Bloodraven? What is Bran, for that matter? Are they not men? And, if Bloodraven is the Children's "Last Greenseer", is it possible he might sympathize with their plight?
But, what exactly is the "Last Greenseer"? We know what he can do, but what is his function in relation to the Children? If the ancient histories of the First Men are to be believed, the greenseers essentially functioned as the Children's generals, or battle commanders during their 2,000 year long struggle against those first human invaders who crossed the Arm of Dorne (which the greenseers subsequently "shattered" with their sorcery, turning what was once a land bridge into an archipelago). So, is it possible the title "Last Greenseer" is a euphemism for "the last general [who will ever be needed to war against humanity -- assuming the Children don't war amongst themselves]"? Perhaps. (A side note: I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence that the greenseer in the picture below happens to be conjuring fire, or what, but it certainly doesn't hurt my R'hllor theory).
But, then again, if the Children hate humans, why recruit one to be their greenseer?
Could it be, as evidenced by their past battles against mankind, the Children aren't exactly suited for warfare? Could it be they're a naturally pacifistic race that was pushed to violence against their will, due to circumstance? And, if so, could it be that they've adopted the strategy, "it takes one to know one"? If they have, they've certainly picked the right guy for the job, given Bloodraven's reputation as a tactical genius in warfare.
But what might possess Bloodraven to take up the Children's cause? Why should he go against his own kind to give Westeros back to the "little squirrel people" (which is what the giants call the Children)? And why should Bran be part and parcel to his plans?
Well, let's think about it. The life Bloodraven led prior to becoming the Last Greenseer was actually very similar to Tyrion's. Like Tyrion, Bloodraven once served as Hand of the King, and did a good job of it, but was hated by both the small-folk, and his own peers for his freakish appearance (something that was beyond his control). And like Tyrion, he also almost single-handedly defeated a rebellion against the crown (i.e. the Blackfyre Rebellion), and was rewarded with imprisonment and condemned to the Night's Watch. As we see in Tyrion's case, when he's put on trial for the death of Joffrey, he does not take this betrayal very well, thinking to himself, "I should've let Stannis' troops rape and kill you all" --paraphrasing. So, if Bloodraven's life mirrored Tyrion's in so many ways, is it unreasonable to assume he might've had a similar reaction when he was put on trial for whatever he was accused of? I think not. And what's more is, unlike Tyrion, Bloodraven actually had the power to do something about it -- that is, if his reputation as a sorcerer was the truth, which I think is safe to assume now that we know he's the Three-Eyed Crow. Similarly, there's another major difference between Tyrion and Bloodraven -- Tyrion is good-natured and doesn't seem to hold grudges, whereas Bloodraven was known to brood and carry grudges on till the bitter end (pun intended -- see Bittersteel). So, in Bloodraven we have a brooding outcast who carries grudges and was wronged by humanity, and the people he served. And, the kicker -- he has the means to take revenge against them.
Similarly, Bran has little reason to love humanity. They destroyed his home and murdered his family, and would've murdered him as well if he hadn't escaped their clutches. And, given the fact that he's still a child, he seems like he'd be fairly easy to persuade -- which is exactly what Bloodraven does.
"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". --Bloodraven to Bran (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 34).
And this is where Bloodraven's role as Loki -- the Trickster -- comes into play. Bloodraven has clearly tricked Bran into embracing the darkness, but in addition to that, I am of the opinion that the Children of the Forest are manipulating humanity in general in an effort to destroy them. They couldn't destroy them with their brawn, so now they're trying brains. And, since their greenseers can see the future, they are able to use humanity like chess pieces, positioning them where they need them for their own ends.
Take R'hllor, for example -- aka the Lord of Light. I'm assuming he's a ruse put on by the Children. The Red Priests are not communing with a god in their fires, they are communing with greenseers. Bloodraven personally commands the High Priest of R'hllor himself, and uses him as a tool to carry out his own plans. The TV show actually touches on this when Melisandre meets Thoros of Myr (a scene that isn't in the books). Melisandre asks Thoros about his "mission" that the High Priest had supposedly sent him on -- which was to convert Robert Baratheon to the Lord of Light -- a mission Thoros did not accomplish. Meaning, the High Priest is clearly set to a greater purpose. But, are they his own designs, or did his "god" command him? When we meet the High Priest of R'hllor in A Dance with Dragons, it is noted that his skin is corpse white -- just like Bloodraven's. Is he trying to emulate his "god" -- i.e. the face who speaks to him in his fires -- or is it just a coincidence? I might say the latter, if Bloodraven didn't appear to Melisandre in her fires later on in the book.
"A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment... but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf's face threw back his head and howled". (A Dance with Dragons, Ch. 31)
I remember when I first read that, I thought the Lord of Light was showing Melisandre a vision of Bloodraven. But I realize now, that's not what's happening at all. It was actually Bloodraven who had come to her. Because, even though he cannot take physical form in the world while bound in his cave, he can use nature and the elements as a medium to communicate with those above ground. Which, I imagine, the greenseers have been doing for countless generations -- however long "R'hllor" has been in existence -- the Children reveal the future to the Red Priests when it suits their needs. And I imagine that it was Bloodraven himself who persuaded Melisandre to attack the Wildlings, after showing her images in her fires, given the fact that the Wildlings are the only people in Westeros who know anything at all about the Others, and are the only ones who could warn the nations of the imminent threat they pose.
And, I'm guessing that's how the Azor Ahai legend was transmitted to Asshai. Because, think about it -- the Long Night was supposedly a battle fought in Westeros against the Others. Yet, for some strange reason, no one in Westeros knows anything about Azor Ahai. They do have a prophecy concerning the "Prince Who Was Promised", but Maester Aemon tells Samwell that the prophecy is only 1,000 years old, whereas the Long Night supposedly occurred some 8,000 years before the story takes place. So, how is it that people in the east -- in Asshai, far from Westeros -- know of a prophecy concerning a hero who defeated the Others during the Long Night in Westeros 8,000 years ago, and drove them back beyond the Wall, but Westerosis do not? Most easterners have never even seen a Westerosi, let alone been to Westeros, so why is it that they know more of Westeros' ancient history than the Westerosis do?
Could it be that it isn't their history? Could it be that the Asshai'i have been told a tale, meant to manipulate? Because, I ask, if the Long Night was a real event, and the Children banded together with the First Men in order to defeat the Others, why is it that the Children ended up on the wrong side of the Wall, in an ice world free of forests? That hardly seems fair. If they fought so bravely alongside mankind, and then raised the Wall with their sorcery to keep the Others out, why did they lock themselves out along with them? I'm guessing it didn't quite go down like that. If anything, it would seem to me the Children raised the Wall to keep humans out, rather than the Others. Because they didn't do a very good job of it, if they were going for the latter. And, granted, there are humans beyond the Wall as well (i.e. wildlings), but their numbers are relatively sparse, and, if their histories can be believed, they did not heed the Children's warnings to go south before the Wall was raised.
With that being said, I do not doubt the Others/White Walkers once attacked Westeros, but I get the feeling the Children were somehow behind it. For a time, I hypothesized the Others were weapons, conjured by the Children's sorcery... until I came across something Osha tells Bran in A Game of Thrones.
"North of the Wall, things are different. That's where the Children went, and the giants, and the other old races". (A Game of Thrones, Ch. 66).
Other old races? What other old races? I thought the Children and the giants were the only non-human inhabitants of Westeros... unless, of course, the Others can be counted as a "race" (which might lend credence to the story of the Night's King -- who supposedly married a female Other. Because, if there are female Others, that would mean there are also baby Others -- families and societies of Others -- an "Other race"). Which would imply they aren't merely a tool of the Children, but rather, elemental ice creatures, much the same as dragons are to fire (then again, the white-haired people Bran saw making human sacrifices near a weirwood tree in his visions may very well have had something to do with the Others. I also wonder what the significance of Craster's Sons are? Are the Others merely sacrificing the boys in connection to blood magic, or are they raising them as their own children to become Others? -- but that's for another post). And, just as the Valyrians found dragons in volcanoes, perhaps the Children discovered the Others in glaciers, or what have you? And, perhaps, the purpose of the Horn of Winter is not to summon giants, but rather, to bind the Others to their will, much the same as Valyrians used horns to control their dragons? If GRRM is indeed modeling his story on the Ragnarök mythology, then this would make sense, because, in Ragnarök, ice and fire do not oppose each other -- they mirror one another. So, if in ASOIAF, dragons are to fire, then there must be an equivalent ice creature similar to dragons -- i.e. the Others. And, since dragons are elemental beasts, rather than creatures created by sorcery, I'm inclined to believe the Others are as well.
So, with that in mind, could it be that the greenseers have intentionally fed the Red Priests misinformation about the Long Night, and the true designs of the Others? Why, you ask? Well, to rally the forces of fire (i.e. dragons) to their side, of course. So, Bloodraven can take control of them and use them, in concert with the Others, to scourge the land -- because, as we do know from Westerosi history, the Others could not defeat humanity on their own. And, of course, you can't very well tell the Red Priests to bring dragons to Westeros because you want to exterminate humanity. I doubt they'd go for that. So, in effect, the Children showed the Asshai'i glorious visions of Azor Ahai through their sorcerous fires, and convinced them that they were/are in fact working for heroic ends.
Why go to all that trouble? Because, as I mentioned, the forces of Ice were not enough to overcome humanity on their own. The humans drove the Others back beyond the Wall from whence they came. So, if the Children ever wanted to reclaim their land, something more would be needed. And, being a Targaryen bastard, Bloodraven was well-acquainted with a creature that did bring human armies to heel -- his ancestors' dragons. And, if Bloodraven & the Children can see the future, and knew that Danaerys would hatch dragons far in advance, they must've had some kind of scheme already in place to procure those dragons. Which is why Moqorro was sent to Victarion, with the knowledge of how to use a dragon horn.
The TV show has revealed that Bloodraven is in fact working with the Others (i.e. the "Sam the Slayer" scene -- when Bloodraven's flock signals the White Walker to Craster's Son, before Samwell kills it with dragon glass, and the ravens chase after he and Gilly in response -- a scene that plays out very differently in the books). And, if GRRM really is adhering to the Ragnarök mythology, then that is only half of Loki's arsenal. So, I imagine Bloodraven will get his fire, somehow. But, we will have to wait and see how it plays out.
And, finally, one last thing I've always wondered about Bloodraven -- if he's such a good guy, fighting for the forces of light against the Others, why didn't Maester Aemon ever mention him to Jon Snow, or Samwell, or anyone, for that matter? Not only was Bloodraven Aemon's great uncle, he was also sent to the Wall with him when Aegon (Egg) became king. Yet, Aemon never said a word about him. Which makes me think Aemon either believed him dead, or didn't speak of him for a reason. I tend to gravitate towards the latter, given the fact that Bloodraven's name does not appear in the annals of the Night's Watch, even though he was supposedly raised to the position of Lord Commander in his day. Was his name erased and never spoken again? Seems like that could be a possibility. But, even if he did somehow disgrace the Watch, why hasn't Bloodraven contacted Aemon, or anyone else in the Watch, if he's such a good guy? "Hey guys. It's me Bloodraven. I'm still alive, believe it or not, living with the Children of the Forest (who you don't even believe in). And you know those White Walkers and zombie-things that keep attacking you? I can tell you everything you want to know about them. Just go ahead and ask". Yet, there's only silence from his end. If anything, he's killed Night's Watchmen (or, Coldhands has, at least -- and, on a side note, I've always wondered if the name "Coldhands" is an allusion to Bloodraven's time as Hand of the King? Maybe not, but it could be), rather than helped them. So, something doesn't add up there... unless Bloodraven isn't quite the good guy he portrays himself to be. Then it would all make sense.
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