Monday, October 21, 2013

Mumford of Thrones, Part 1

CAUTION: Contains SPOILERS! Please do not read this article unless you have read ALL FIVE Game of Thrones books!

Sorry for the dramatic capitalization and bolding...we don't want to spoil anyone's reading experience.

As Aaron and I listened to the Mumford of Sons album Sigh No More, we spoke many times of how the song Little Lion Man applied to Tyrion. It seemed so obvious, we wondered if the band members had done it on purpose! As we listened to the other songs, we found that many of the other lyrics could also apply to our favorite Game of Thrones characters and scenes. Although this may not have been the true intent of the band members, we thought it would be fun to write up our analysis and share them with all of you.

Again, if you have not read through all five books, please do not read through this article until you do! It contains many spoilers!

The Cave

Jaime has made peace between the Blackwoods and the Brackens, and as he makes his way to his forces at Riverrun, a messenger arrives with words that alter his future. Jaime has undergone massive character development, and is finally learning to leave behind his troubled past as a member of the Kingsguard.

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

Brienne is the only person who knows Jaime's regrets and his true motivation for the murder of the Mad King Aerys. She is the only person whom Jaime has ever been truly honest with, including himself. But Brienne and Jaime are now in the shadow of Lady Stoneheart.

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

Brienne has been captured by Lady Stoneheart, and is under the threat of hanging for collaborating with the Lannisters.

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

For a long time, Jaime and Brienne refer to one another as "Kingslayer" and "wench". They refuse to use each other's real names until they get to know each other. A name is an important part of one's identity, and Jaime and Brienne reveal their deepening respect when they call each other by their true names.

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Cersei has written Jaime a letter begging him to come to King's Landing to defend her in trial by combat, but Jaime burns the letter and decides to leave Cersei to her lies and rescue Brienne instead.

‘Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

Jaime is haunted by the accusations of oathbreaking that has followed him all his life, and how the noble ideals of knighthood contrast so sharply with his reality, full of death and violence.

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

Despite therir long history, Jaime refused to heed Cersei's cries for help, pursuing his truer relationship with Brienne. He sets off to what is likely his doom to uphold his vows to protect those who cannot protect themselves, for the second time in his life.

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

‘Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

"Jaime read it in the window seat, bathed in the light of that cold white morning. Qyburn's words were terse and to the point, Cersei's fevered and fervent. Come at once, she said. Help me. Save me. I need you now as I have never needed you before. I love you. I love you. I love you. Come at once. 'Does my lord wish to answer?' asked the maester after a long silence. Jaime rolled the parchment up again, as tight as one hand would allow, and handed it to Peck. 'No," he said. 'Put this in the fire'" (A Feast for Crows, 958). 

Little Lion Man

Tyrion Lannister at the end of Storm of Swords finds out that he was lied to about his first marriage, and this discovery causes him to murder his ex-lover and his father. He is at his lowest point, full of self-loathing and self pity.

Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep, little lion man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself
Take all the courage you have left
And waste it on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head

Tyrion has always been looked down upon by society due to his dwarfism. He has felt like an outcast within his own family ever since his birth slew his mother. The defining moment of his life was when he and his brother saved a young maiden from bandits, and they fell in love and married. His experience with Tysha haunts him even as he commits the murders. He blames himself for betraying her love, leading to her rape and exile.

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really f**ked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?

Tyrion is his own worst enemy. It is not his father or his sister or even his many foes at court. What kindness he shows to Sansa, to Bronn, to Shae, and to the smallfolk of King's Landing is swallowed by his consuming feeling of guilt. It is his own love of acting the martyr that leads to his imprisonment for the murder of Joffrey, as well as to the demise of Shae and Tywin. Unless Tyrion confronts his past and his self-conceit, his intelligence and quick wit will not save him.

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble, little lion man,
You'll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck

"Tyrion watched him go, striding on his long strong legs, and part of him wanted to call out, to tell him that it wasn't true, to beg for his forgiveness. But then he thought of Tysha, and he held his silence." (A Storm of Swords 1066).


Catelyn Stark has gone through what no mother should have to. Facing the death of her children and then left for dead in the freezing waters of the Trident, it should have been the end of her story.

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind

At the wedding of her brother, Catelyn insists that they eat of Walder Frey's bread and salt to protect them from treachery, but the Freys defy the laws of old gods and new, and murder their guests at a wedding feast. Catelyn's innocence is destroyed as she watches her oldest son slain in front of her, before her own throat is cut. "No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair. Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold" (A Storm of Swords, 705).

And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But there was a promise made, from a lightning lord to a bold child. Beric Dondarrion, the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, was resurected multiple times by the power of the god of Fire and Light, and he refuses to leave Catelyn to her plight. Bound by his promise to Arya, Dondarrion sacrifices himself so that Catelyn will not be left alone.

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand
And we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

Dondarrion's purpose in this act is to allow Catelyn a second chance at reuniting with her few remaining children.

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life

However, the Catelyn that is resurrected is not the same as the one who was butchered. She is obsessed with a vision, the vision of her baby boy being killed in front of her. She is posessed with seeking the only thing she believes she has left, vengeance.

And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

The Brotherhood, including Thoros of Myr, Lem Lemoncloak and Tom Sevenstreams accept Lady Stoneheart as their leader and pledge to serve her in her quest. Where before the Brotherhood sought justice for the smallfolk, not they exist only to wreak bloody retribution on all those who have been percieved to have harmed the Stark family.

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand
And we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

The Brotherhood can help Catelyn take her vengeance, but they'll never be able to repair her broken family.

And I will tell the night
And whisper, "Lose your sight"
But I can't move the mountains for you

Awake My Soul

Petyr Baelish is seen by many in the Seven Kingdoms to be a villain. Responsible in great part for the death of Eddard Stark, his actions plunge the kingdoms into a vicious civil war. However, his actions must be viewed through the lens of a life spent toiling in service to his inferiors in acumen, but superiors by accident of birth. Nothing better exemplifies the conflicted heart and supressed agony of Littlefinger than his love for Catelyn Stark.

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Littlefinger falls in love as a yong man with a woman far above his station, whom he believes loves him as well. However she is betrothed to a powerful lord, Brandon Stark, with whom Littlefinger fights a desperate duel with to win Catelyn's hand. He fails.

When Catelyn is lost to him forever, Littlefinger again manipulates events for his own good by convincing Lysa Arryn that he has ever only loved her. However, he reveals the truth about his own heart when she threatens to murder Cat's daughter, Sansa Stark. "'Just let go of Sansa's hair...I know, love.' He took another step. 'And I am here. All you need to do is take my hand. Come on'" (A Storm of Swords, 1114). When Lysa gives him her hand, he lets her fall through the Moon Door to her death.

Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free

Littlefinger feels like he has a second chance at love with Catelyn through Sansa, although he has been so cynical and bitter for so long that he forgets what it's like to play the game of love for himself instead of playing the game of thrones.

Awake my soul
Awake my soul

All his life Littlefinger has been working for the day when he could take Catelyn back from her highborn captors. He has invested his entire life in his love for Catelyn, and now she is dead.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

After the Storm

Despite her royal birth, Daenerys Stormborn has suffered a difficult existence. Hounded from her home by the Usurper and sold as a bride at 13, despite all odds she finds happiness with her barbaric husband, Khal Drogo. All is ripped away from her though after the death of her first and last true love. .

And after the storm
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up
On my knees and out of luck, I look up

Daenerys has lost everything, and is largely responsible for the Khal's death, as it was her decision to return to Westeros and seek the Iron Throne, leading to the Khal attacking the Lhamean people to take slaves to sell in return for ships. The Khal takes a wound, and then is poisoned by a healer that Daenerys recommends. Daenerys has made her first sacrifice to her ambition and she bitterly regrets it.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot

Dany longs for a home she never knew, the elusive red door that holds the promise of peace. She longs for Westeros, the fabled land that she does not remember, and puts her heart and soul into returning to her homeland and kingdom by rights.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall
And remembered our own land
What we live for

"If I look back I am lost" (A Game of Thrones, 800). Dany's attitude helps her survive, although whether or not it is the healthiest way for her to deal with tragedy is debatable. However, it does enable her to move forward, and continue moving forward, looking to the future.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears
And love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see what you find there
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair

Dany holds on to the only truths of life that she knows, from her Targaryen heritage given to her by Viserys, to how love can change all given to her by Drogo. What these two taught her will influence all her decisions for the rest of her life.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more, that's why I hold
That's why I hold with all I have, that's why I hold

Daenerys is barren at this point, cursed never to bear a living child. She is full of fear, but follows the sign of the red comet into the fire, and into a rebirth that will make the world tremble. All she wants is to go home, yet she knows that she has no place to call home in the world.

And I will die alone and be left there
Well, I guess I'll just go home, oh God knows where
Because death is just so full and man so small
Well, I'm scared of what's behind and what's before

Dany is able to push away her fear and hatch three dragons, avenging in some way the death of Drogo. His kingly power enters the fire of the funeral pyre, and allows three stone eggs to bring forth life. Dany takes a risk when she places the eggs with Drogo's body, yet her risk leads to the greatest success she has ever experienced in her life. "The heat beat at the air with great red wings, driving the Dothraki back, driving back even Mormont, but Dany stood her ground. She was the blood of the dragon, and the fire was in her" (A Game of Thrones, 804).

Written in collaboration with Aaron Cooke

Image via HDWallpaper 

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