Mysteries of ASOIAF: The House of the Undying prophecies.
Second volume in my series of text posts on the prophecies, theories and unanswered questions of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Leave comments and questions at will and don’t hesitate to correct me or fill in missing gaps!
Okay, so lets examine the House of the Undying prophecies.
The House of the Undying (or the Palace of Dust as it is sometimes known) is a ruined building in Qarth that houses the “undying ones”, ancient and elite warlocks of Essos.
In one of the darkest and most creepy chapters of the series Daenerys Targaryen visits the house to seek their counsel, where she is met with some crazy shit.
Before she begins her journey she is given a few rules. She must always take the door to her right, not enter any room until she reaches the undying chamber, and always travel upstairs if she comes across them.
Inside she will see visions of things that have been, things that will be and things that may have been.
I’ll go through the prophecies one by one and think about what they might mean. In place of quotations (which are lengthy) I am simply summing up the important points of each vision. If you want the exact quotations you have only to ask.
SEEN THROUGH THE DOORS
1) A vision of four little rat faced men raping a beautiful woman sprawled on the floor.
This image is believed by many to be a representation of the state of Westeros (the beautiful woman) at the time of the war. The four rat faced men represent four ‘kings’ fighting over the kingdom: Joffrey (the Lannisters), Robb, Stannis and Renly. As Renly is actually dead at the time that Daenerys witnesses the image it is possible that the fourth man may either represent Balon Greyjoy or even herself. Another theory has been put forward that one rat may represent the antagonistic forces beyond the wall.
2) A “feast of corpses”. The bodies lie on and around the tables amongst the food in pools of their own blood. On a throne sits a dead man with the head of a wolf wearing an iron crown. His eyes follow Daenerys’ in “mute appeal”.
A vision of the Red Wedding. The feast is of course Edmure’s wedding feast at the Twins. the man in the iron crown with the wolf’s head is Robb Stark. After Robb was the killed the head of his direwolf Grey Wind was sewn to his body.
3) Willem Darry beckoning Daenerys into the house with the red door from her childhood.
Exactly as it sounds. A vision of her past and a time when she was happy. Daenerys associates the red door with happiness and her childhood in a safer, more peaceful time.
4) In a great hall full of dragon skulls, an old man with long grey hair sits on a barbed throne and declares “let him be the king of ashes”.
The old man is Daenerys’ father Aerys Targaryen giving the order to destroy King’s Landing during the sack. The event is one from the past and is confirmed by Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords. The “king of ashes” Aerys speak of is Robert Baratheon.
5) A man resembling her brother Viserys, but taller and with darker eyes. He speaks to a woman holding a newborn child. “Aegon” he names the child. “Will you make a song for him?” the woman asks. The man replies “he has a song. He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire”. The man’s eyes meet those of Daenerys and he says, either to Dany or the woman, “there must be one more…the dragon has three heads”. Finally he begins to play a harp.
This vision is extremely meaningful. Whether it is a literal portrayal of the past or merely a representation of the past it is difficult to say. The man with silver hair is Rhaegar Targaryen, the woman in the bed Elia Martell. Rhaegar once believed his son Aegon to be “The Prince That Was Promised” (for more information on that prophecy see here). He says that “his is the song of ice and fire”, significant if only because it is the title of the series. It is also known that Rhaegar had begun to fashion his family after the original conquerors of Westeros, naming them after Aegon and his sisters. An often repeated phrase in the series is “three heads has the dragon”. It has several connotations but the most obvious is that Targaryen generations often have three children. Rhaegar announces that he must have another child. This vision is often cited when talking about the R+L=J theory, which I will write about at a later date. The fact that his eyes meet Daenerys’ suggest that the fact he must have another child is important information.
6) Pyat Pree tells Daenerys that the journey has finished and tries to get her to follow him into a garden.
This is a distraction. Part of the ‘rules’ of the House Of The Undying is to stay on course: always taking the door to the right, always going up the stairs and not down etc. Daenerys’ recognises the danger in this false vision and flees it.
7) Another false vision. Warlocks sitting in splendour claiming to be the Undying of Qarth entice Daenerys by promising to teach her the secret language of dragons.
Daenerys recognises this as another false vision and flees.
SEEN IN THE UNDYING CHAMBER.
Daenerys finally reaches the chamber of the Undying. The figures inside are shadowy and appear not to be breathing. Above them floats a human heart which appears “corrupted” and “blue”. The shadows whisper to her.
1) Mother of dragons…child of three…three heads has the dragon…mother of dragons…child of storm.
Repeating Rhaegar’s phrase from the vision of him with Elia, again reinforcing the idea that the number three is extremely significant for Daenerys. In fact pretty much all of the visions in the chamber of the Undying are given in sets of three.
2) “Three fires must you light…one for life and one for death and one to love…”
The interesting thing about this is that the third fire is “to” love and not for love. If Daenerys will love this fire it must be for something important, perhaps to destroy something/someone that she has long wanted gone or to save something/someone that she loves. The fire for life is often taken to mean Drogo’s funeral pyre. In lighting that fire she brought life to her three dragons. There have been many fires for death in Daenerys’ story, but I believe that there will be a more significant one later in the series to count as this part of the prophecy.
3) “Three mounts must you ride…one to bed and one to dread and one to love…”
The word mount has two connotations. It can mean literal mounts, like a horse or a dragon, that Daenerys would literally ride. Or it can mean her sexual partners, which she would of course “ride” so to speak. If we take the first interpretation, that they are literal mounts, then the “one to bed” seems obviously to be the silver horse given to her as a wedding gift. She rode that horse to her first sexual encounter with Drogo, or “bed”. The mounts to dread and love are les obvious, perhaps because they have not happened yet in the series. Her escape from Meereen on the back of Drogon may be her mount to dread, as she has surely ridden him into danger. The mount to love I believe will be the last one revealed to us.
If we take “mount” to mean sexual partners then it is slightly more muddled. Surely she rides all three of those mounts to bed? Surely she will have more than three sexual partners? At the end of A Dance With Dragons we can count Drogo, Hizdahr and Daario as men she has slept with and all three could mean more than one of the “bed…dread…love” prophecies.
4) “Three treasons you will know…once for blood and once for gold and once for love…”
This is the most talked about prophecy from the House of the Undying chapter, and the one most thought of by Daenerys herself. The treason for blood is almost wholly accepted as Mirri Maz Duur “betraying” Daenerys when it came to healing Drogo. The treason for gold may have been Ser Jorah selling information on Daenerys back to King’s Landing in return for a pardon. Daenerys is often confused about that treason, sometimes associating it with gold and sometimes with love. Again, as her story is not yet finished I believe we have yet to see at least one of the treasons. Furthermore it is strange to think that she will only be betrayed three times. Perhaps it is Daenerys herself that will do the betraying, which fits in much more neatly to the betrayal for love. I imagine that she will at some point give in to her “gentle heart” in the face of something more serious and encompassing.
5) Viserys screaming as he dies, a tall “lord” with copper skin and silver hair with a banner displaying a fiery stallion, rubies flying from the chest of a dying prince in the water as he mutters a woman’s name. “Daughter of death”.
This vision comes as a set of three relating to the phrase “daughter of death”. The first vision is of course the death of Daenerys’ brother Viserys. The second is most likely a vision of what might have been; the tall lord with copper skin and silver hair is Rhaego, her son by Drogo who died, his banner being a representation of the “stallion who mounts the world” prophecy.
The third vision in this set is Rhaegar dying at the Trident. He wore rubies in his armour. The woman’s name uttered is widely believed to be “Lyanna”, which feeds in to the R+L=J theory. Daenerys would not recognise this name and so it is merely written down as “a woman’s name” in the text. The “daughter of death” part signposts these as being important deaths in Daenerys’ life. Ones that perhaps have shaped her and will continue to affect her as her story continues.
6) A glowing red sword in the hand of a blue eyed king that casts no shadow, a cloth dragon swaying on poles amongst a cheering crowd, a stone beast taking wing from a tower as it breathes shadow fire. “Slayer of lies”.
The blue eyed king holding the sword is widely believed to be Stannis Baratheon. Baratheon’s have blue eyes and the red sword would be his “Lightbringer”. The fact that he casts no shadow is likely an allusion to the shadow children/assasin/fucking weird thingys he fathered with Melisandre, or as has been suggested before a sign that he will not be remembered in the history of Westeros.
The cloth dragon swaying on poles relates to the extremely popular theory that the Aegon Targaryen that we are introduced to in A Dance With Dragons is in fact a fake. Perhaps a Blackfyre. He is the “cloth dragon” and the poles that hold him up are Varys and Illyrio (amongst others). The cheering crowd suggests that Westeros will initially believe and support his claim to the throne.
The stone beast taking wing from the tower is an event that has not clearly occurred at this point in the story, although it most directly matches to Melisandre’s belief that a stone dragon will awaken when Azor Ahai is reborn.
These visions come with the tag “slayer of lies”. These three visions are lies that Daenerys will or must prove to be false. Stannis holding the red sword describes the belief that he is Azor Ahai reborn, but we know that there are many problems with this theory (see here). Aegon being a fake is something else that she may prove in the course of the series, as is the idea that a literal stone dragon will awaken.
7) Dany’s horse trotting towards a stream at night, a corpse on the prow of a ship “grey lips smiling sadly”, a blue rose in a wall of ice. “Bride of death”.
The “bride of death” part suggests that these are three of Daenerys’ husbands, all of whom will die. The horse almost undoubtedly represents Khal Drogo. The corpse on the ship is more of a *ahem* grey area. The grey lips smiling sadly could mean Greyjoy, and we all know Victarion is on his way to her by ship.
The blue rose in the wall of ice, assuming R+L=J (x), is almost certainly Jon Snow. Lyanna loved blue roses and Jon is currently at a literal wall of ice. Having just been murdered he also satisfies the “death” part of the prophecy, however as I believe that Jon is Azor Ahai (x) then a rebirth, so to speak, is on the cards. Will he die a second time?
The main problem is that Daenerys does have a second husband already, and Hizdahr doesn’t really yet correspond to either the corpse or the blue rose.
8) Terrible shadows dancing inside a tent.
Two possible meanings so far. A: the shadows inside the tent in which Dany gave birth (most likely meanings) or B: the shadow that killed Renly. This vision is probably one of the past, unless in a future book we see a more appropriate matching event.
9) A girl running towards a house with a red door.
Almost definitely the house that Daenerys remembers from her childhood. The little girl is Daenerys herself. Again a vision of the past, unless the event reoccurs in the future (perhaps Daenerys will have a daughter?).
10) Mirri Maz Duur screaming as dragons burst from her body.
Clearly a representation of Drogo’s funeral pyre.
11) A corpse dragged behind a silver horse.
Probably Daenerys’ horse. This is exactly the punishment given to the wine seller who tried to poison Danerys. Could also mean that wherever Daenerys goes she brings death with her, or even a representation of the disease “the pale mare”.
12) A white lion running through tall grass.
Quite an ambiguous vision even taking note of the fact that Daenerys was given a white lion pelt as a gift from Khal Drogo. As most of the other visions in this section are of events from Dany’s life then that is the most likely explanation, but the lion could represent a member of House Lannister. Maybe Tyrion as the grass seems very tall around the lion, or maybe even Jaime as its white colour matches that of Jaime’s kingsguard armour.
13) A line of naked crones emerging from a lake beneath the Mother of Mountains and bowing to her.
The dosh khaleen proclaiming Dany’s unborn child to be the stallion who mounts the world, or another possible future event.
14) Thousands of slaves shouting “mother!” as Daenerys rides past on her horse.
The freeing of the slaves in Yunkai.
Daenery’s visions become nightmares as she is consumed by the undying. She is saved as Drogon rips the floating heart to pieces. As she runs from the burning building she is attacked by Pyat Pree, who is stopped by Jhogo’s whip.
This is my favourite chapter in the series so far. Reading it for the first time was so creepy and exciting and I can’t wait to see how the visions play out.
Feel free to comment!