Tower of the Hand

Songs and Singers of Ice and Fire

SCOPE No books read

Note from msunyata, the editor: the current plan is to have our second essay book, Tower of the Hand: A Hymn for Spring, go on sale on April 15 at Amazon. This new ebook will contain a dozen original essays about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO's Game of Thrones, written by Tower of the Hand editors and contributors and a whole slew of special collaborators, including the kindly folks from Race for the Iron Throne, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, and the History of Westeros podcast.

April 15, of course, is our third (officially announced) release date, with the first stretching back nearly a year ago, all the way to June 19, 2014. Why the constant stream of delays? (And why is the ebook still not available for pre-orders, even though we promised they'd have gone up over this past weekend?)

The short answer is simple: my father. For all those who aren't aware, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly after his retirement almost exactly five years ago. While he beat it initially, it eventually came back with a vengeance, spreading first to nearly the entirety of his skeleton and then, just a few months ago, to his brain. Today, he is home with hospice care and is officially expected to live only for a few weeks more, at the very most. His illness has been a prohibitively extensive one, and the near-constant care it has required from both himself and my family has been, at times, all-consuming. (Not that I'm complaining, of course - I'd gladly give more of my time if it meant keeping him around for even just a little bit longer. I only make the statement to try and convey the seriousness of the situation, particularly over the past 12 months.)

When combined with a stream of other personal and professional crises, ranging from changes in employment for both my wife and myself to frozen/burst water pipes that have cost $10,000 worth of damages (and still counting!) to our house - plus the pleasant surprise that a second bundle of joy is on the way from the Westerosi stork - delays have, unfortunately, been an absolutely unavoidable side-effect.

But the day is almost here, and the Hymn for Spring authors and I can't be more excited to reveal the fruits of our labor. We sincerely believe this is the best damn companion book out there to any pop culture series, and we're happy to share this exclusive look at one of the essays, written by A Podcast of Ice and Fire co-founder and all-around ASOIAF guru, Amin Javadi.

Please to enjoy:

Songs and Singers of Ice and Fire

The fine line between music, history, and culture in Westerosi societies

Amin Javadi

This post discusses the fifth book of the series, A Dance with Dragons (published 2011). If you've completed the book, set your scope above to ADWD. Otherwise, we advise you to avoid reading this post as it may contain spoilers.

If you enjoyed this essay, please consider buying Tower of the Hand: A Hymn for Spring, a new ebook that includes this essay as well as many other original essays about George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO's Game of Thrones, , written by Tower of the Hand editors and contributors and a whole slew of special collaborators. A Hymn for Spring goes on sale April 15, 2015, exclusively at Amazon.

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Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.
  • 1 - The people living north of the Wall refer to themselves as free folk, while others refer to them pejoratively as wildlings.
  • 2 - A Clash of Kings, Jon VI.
  • 3 - Ibid.
  • 4 - Full lyrics in A Storm of Swords, Jon II.
  • 5 - A Clash of Kings, Jon VI.
  • 6 - Maester Yandel's work released in The World of Ice of Fire is just one example, itself referring to many other treatises written by earlier maesters.
  • 7 - A Storm of Swords, Samwell III. In contrast, whether by error or intentional design, HBO's Game of Thrones had no qualms about making open references to the Stranger.
  • 8 - Tywin used the song to stop one of his lords from making further trouble, by reminding him of the potential consequences. Jaime realized the same power of the song by having it played to Edmure in A Feast for Crows, amusingly by Tom of Sevenstreams.
  • 9 - Full lyrics in A Storm of Swords, Sansa I.
  • 10 - Depending on interpretation, Ser Hyle Hunt may also match that pairing with Brienne.
  • 11 - We know from The Hedge Knight and other Dunk and Egg short stories that "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" has been popular for at least the past century.
  • 12 - We know from The Hedge Knight and other Dunk and Egg short stories that "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" has been popular for at least the past century.
  • 13 - A Storm of Swords, Jon V.
  • 14 - Ygritte's own lack of experience with the "lord's kiss" is likely due to her youth and individual background, rather than indicating that this song's reference would not be understood by the free folk, in general.
  • 15 - The lyrics are dispersed throughout the series; no verses have been revealed yet for the season of spring.
  • 16 - A Storm of Swords, Tyrion X, Tyrion XI.
  • 17 - Other relevant tragic songs not reviewed explicitly here are listed in A Clash of Kings, Sansa VI and in A Feast for Crows, Sansa I.
  • 18 - See Mimi Hoshut's essay in Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows.
  • 19 - The Princess and the Queen; A Feast for Crows, The Soiled Knight.
  • 20 - A Game of Thrones, Eddard VII.
  • 21 - A Storm of Swords, Tyrion VIII.
  • 22 - Perhaps emphasizing the rarity of female singers, she is specifically referred to in the text as "a woman singer." See A Storm of Swords, appendix.
  • 23 - The Sworn Sword.
  • 24 - A Feast for Crows, Jaime II.
  • 25 - A Clash of Kings, Jon VI.
  • 26 - A Clash of Kings, Jon VII.
  • 27 - It is even possible that Melisandre may have used him for her sexual shadow magic, a longshot theory discussed in detail on A Podcast of Ice and Fire.
  • 28 - A Storm of Swords, Daenerys IV.
  • 29 - A Clash of Kings, Daenerys IV.
  • 30 - Yet another example of magical horns and their control of creatures is provided by a horn owned by House Celtigar that is rumored to be able to summon krakens; see A Storm of Swords, Davos V.
  • 31 - It is possible that there is an intersection between song and prophecy that predicts these events, if certain prophecies are preserved and transmitted via singing. However, Jorah Mormont, at the least, has not ever heard of a song by that name.
  • 32 - It is not surprising that the audio book renditions of Martin's series are quite popular, as many of these stories take on a transcendent form when listened to, rather than read directly.


Warning: Discussions are not subject to scope. That is, commenters can and often do discuss events from the most recent book. We recommend avoiding these discussions until you're caught up.

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