After the epic failure of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, I didn’t even think I could read this book I’ve purchased in its prime.
But, I thought, the books were fine, the show went off the tracks, so why not see what these “hidden meanings” would be?
Section I: Puzzle Pieces Fitted Together
Chapter 1: You Know Nothing, Jon Snow: The Real Conflict of Fire and Ice
Chapter 2: Jon’s Mystery Mother
Section II: Born Again Amidst Smoke and Salt: Exploring Prophecy
Chapter 3: The Coming of the Chosen One
Chapter 4: Daenerys’s Prophecies
Chapter 5: Visions of the Future
Section III: The Influences of History Chapter 6: The Old Gods and the New: Religion Retold
Chapter 7: Henry Tudor, Prince Who Was Promised, and English History
Chapter 8: Women’s Roles in History and Westeros
The brutal truth about this book was that it was absolute crap. And for the money I paid for it, I expected better.
Take this for example:
“The singers of the forest had no books. No ink, no parchment, no written language…When they died, they went into the wood, into leaf and limb and root, and the trees remembered” (V:452). Just as little is known about the ancient druids, who left no written records. Their sacred places remain as stone circles, ancient caves, and patterns of oak leaves, much like the heart trees whose true origins have been lost to time. Theon smirks that Ned Stark “prayed to a tree” (II:75). Likewise, Celts saw the world around them as sacred and were particularly close to their holy trees: “Rocks, mountains, groves, and even individual trees were not only sites of worship but sacred in themselves.” 19
Druidic ceremonies took place under the open sky or in sacred groves. Pliny said of the Celts:
“They choose oak-woods for their sacred groves, and perform no sacred rite without using oak branches.” 20
They also revered yew, rowan, and mistletoe, whose red cones and berries echo the red leaves of the weirwood groves. Clearly the Old Religion is meant to be the druids, threatened by the coming of newer religions.
They believed that spirits could inhabit the bodies of people and animals, and even manifest themselves as the spirits of places like wells and caves. In fact, the mysterious Children of the Wood, Martin’s elves of a sort along with the mysterious greenseers, tie their souls to the trees and used them to watch the world. Their echo still lingers in trees and crows as He even visits the green men, who might or might not be the children of the wood. Bran has a vision of times long past, with the Starks offering human sacrifice in the Godswood like the druids, dangling entrails from the heart trees.
It is written:
The Celts made their sacred places in dark groves, the trees being hung with offerings or with the heads of victims. Human sacrifices were hung or impaled on trees, e.g. by the warriors of Boudicca. These, like the offerings still placed by the folk on sacred trees, were attached to them because the trees were the abode of spirits or divinities who in many cases had power over vegetation. 21
The old religions have their darker side, as they honor their gods with blood as well as peace and stillness. Shapeshifting was also common in Celtic legend. Werewolves of the region, known as faoladh or conroicht , were considered kindly protectors and guardians of mankind.
The entire book is constructed in a similar fashion, trying to theorize and provide a succinct truth and see how Game of Thrones lore can be shoehorned to fit the description.
I know it’s a world of fantasy which was massively inspired by medieval England, but come on. Pepper the text with quotes from both Game of Thrones and General knowledge and you have a student’s term paper. 60% of this book is quotes with references.
Through most of the book, Frankel supports her own beliefs about the direction the story will take with passages she pulls from the text like a televangelist quoting scripture.
It was so terrible that mid-through I had to stop and Google the author to just determine the age.. as the writing was high-school level at best. The results kinda proved what I wanted to know – fan fiction written to appease the general thirst for knowledge during the boom of Game of Thrones popularity and a massive cash grab. The insight gains by the hours spent reading was no more than one would gain by a conversation with another fan.