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Aves Noir | Truth & Myth: Crows & Ravens in The Game of Thrones

Truth & Fantasy: Crows & Ravens in The Game of Thrones

The sagas of Westeros, referred to as A Track of Ice and Hearth and adapted into the wildly reknowned Game of Thrones TV collection, makes frequent use of Crows and Ravens as omens, messengers and environment. The basis of the tales, plots and characters additionally draw heavily from real-world mythologies.  How a lot of this is fantasy and the way much is rooted in fact? Right here we look at the various sides of the Westerosi corvid and how it relates to the real-world counterpart – or doesn’t.

Warning: this publish incorporates delicate spoilers when you have not read the books!

Ravens vs Crows

The tales confer with Ravens primarily in the context of messengers, nevertheless afterward they appear to Sam and Gilly past the wall in an enormous flock perched in a weirwood tree.  The present additionally used “Ravens” in their promotional teasers, nevertheless the show typically interchanges crows for ravens. So how are you going to tell the distinction? Ravens are the most important corvids, and in addition the most important “songbirds.”  Twice the load of a standard crow at about Three kilos (1.5kg), they grow to be a mean of two ft (60cm) tall and have a wing-span of almost Three-3.5 ft (1m) . They also have a diamond shape tail fairly than the rounded sq. tail shape of the crow, and shaggy “beard” of feathers slightly below their heavier, hookier bill.


2The Three Eyed Crow

Ravens factor into virtually each recognized historic mythos. The Chinese language, Egyptian, Greek, Semitic and Siberian legends depict the raven as a messenger of storms or dangerous weather. In African, Asian and European legends, the raven is an omen of dying. In middle-European lore, ravens have been typically used as exponents of evil (for example in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Othello). In distinction, Norse mythology places ravens in a spot of power and worship, typically related to the god Odin.

Speaking of Odin, many theories and parallels have been drawn between Norse Mythology and the characters, plots and legends in A Track of Ice and Hearth.  One such principle compares the Three Eyed Crow, which Bran seeks throughout his story, and Loki, the Norse god.  From what we know of the Three Eyed Crow so far in the e-book collection, we will assume Brynden Rivers , also called “Bloodraven” or the” Night time’s King”, is the Three Eyed Crow.

So how does he examine to Loki? Dorian the Historian explains on his weblog that:

He is a particularly previous Targaryen bastard dwelling underneath the roots of a weirwood tree far beyond the Wall. (Loki lives amongst the timber)

He had been banished and condemned to the Night time’s Watch for what was in all probability the demise of Aerion Targaryen. (Loki was blamed for the dying of Baldr, an awesome Viking chief)

He can warg (Loki can shapechange into animals and into the mist)

Baldr’s dying(In the e-book represented by Aerion Targaryen in the World’s history, then repeated once more as Joffrey’s demise) is seen as the first in the chain of occasions which can finally lead to the destruction of the gods at Ragnaröokay. Baldr can be reborn in the new world, according to Völuspá. Sound familiar? This is similar to the prophecy of Azor Azhai, who show watchers assume is Stannis Baratheon. In order you possibly can see, the Three Eyed Crow is sort of an necessary image and character in both the guide and adaptation.

But let’s transfer on to the warging bit…


3Raven Warging

Warging, by definition, is mind control or mind-melding one other dwelling thing. Most mythologies involving Ravens also contain shapeshifting, which is conceptually comparable. Native American legend tells of Raven shapeshifting into a person, a pine needle and even a wolf.  Japanese mythology has spirits taking Raven type, or ladies shapeshifting into Ravens. Norse mythology is rife with shapeshifting lore, together with Loki as previously talked about.  While this can be a talent exhausting possessed by real-world human beings, who is to say it isn’t truly potential?

Both Bran and Jon Snow are related with crows and ravens using their warging potential. We will also assume that Bloodraven makes frequent use of Ravens as his eyes, each in the scene with Sam and Gilly, and as Mormont’s Raven.


4Mormont’s Raven

Lord Commander Mormont’s Raven(later turning into Jon’s Raven) stars opposite the Three Eyed Crow as the only different outstanding corvid-character in the collection. He’s abnormally giant, extraordinarily previous and instructions a assorted vocabulary.

Ravens reside a very very long time – from 40 to 80 years, so it isn’t unusual for Mormont’s raven to have been round so long as Maester Aemon.

Ravens are capable of probably the most complicated vocalizations in the hen kingdom. They make many various sorts of calls various from a low, gurgling croak to harsh grating sounds and shrill alarm calls. Because the show plainly demonstrates, Ravens might be taught a spread of phrases and phrases, and have even been taught complicated types of communication by way of reward methods training just like the strategies made well-known by Einstein the Parrot. Scientists have positioned their vocalizations into as many as 33 totally different categories based mostly on sound and context!



Crows and Ravens do love corn, so that is an apt request from the Ravens of this story. The Raven weight-reduction plan is sort of variable though, including fruit, nuts, seeds, fish, carrion, trash and an occasional french fry. Ravens will not be birds of prey – you don’t want to worry about your canine or cats roaming the yard unattended, simply their meals bowls, as Ravens are adept thieves.  Ravens will dig via snow, plastic luggage, bins or compost to seek out their dinner, and may comply with wolf packs,  hunters or fishermen for a meal. Ravens are recognized to steal the food of many birds and mammals, even from canine.

Michael S Quinton

Michael S Quinton

6Crows & Carrion

As the Game of Thrones is played out, the world is rife with conflict, plague and dying, and thus crows are seen all over the place preying on the spoils. They are seen consuming flesh, pecking out eyes and quite a few other deeds often reserved for vultures. This isn’t far from real looking – although just some sorts of Crow and Raven are recognized to eat carrion as a matter of course, primarily depending on their surroundings and choices.

Nowadays, we know that crows and ravens typically use their amazingly excessive IQ to control other species the place meals are involved.  They have been observed calling to canine, wolves or other predators to attract them to a corpse the Raven can’t scavenge or open on their own. This superior intelligence additionally allows them to share social and territorial spaces with these sorts of predators without turning into prey themselves.  Ravens and crows have been noticed working together to distract a person or animal away from a potential meal so the other can snatch it away.

Traditionally, crows have been depicted scavenging or circling the lifeless by means of many artforms, and have been used in Norse and Tibetan ritual to eat corpses in honor of the lifeless as vessels for rebirth.

Marino Thorlacius

Marino Thorlacius

7Darkish Wings, Darkish Words

This widespread idiom in our story refers to Ravens as omens of something dangerous.  This comparison is used throughout history and mythology as properly. Ravens and Crows are well-known symbols for dying, tragedy and misfortune, which is probably going the driving drive behind writer George R.R Martin’s use of them in the books to foreshadow and set the scene.


8Raven Messengers

The most outstanding position Ravens play in the collection is as messengers of their sage-type masters, the Maesters of every maintain or citadel, and by Sam and Master Aemon on the Wall. This serves each functionally, to get info from one location to a different, and figuratively as omens or bearers of typically dangerous news.

Whereas Ravens are super-intelligent, they have been probably not used as messengers at any point in history, contrary to the romantic notion put forth in the collection. As an alternative, service pigeons have been used for his or her unique navigation and magnetic sensitivity. As ravens aren’t migratory, they might not make one of the best homers, though they vary for very lengthy distances.

Nevertheless, Ravens have been noted as helpful spy instruments, purported as educated eavesdroppers capable of repeating back snippets of dialog overheard by the enemy, or retreiving gadgets.

white raven

9White Ravens

Among the many vast arsenal of messnger Ravens employed all through Westeros, the Maesters of the Citadel use a special white raven to differentiate messages coming from the Citadel from other messages.  To not be mistaken for an albino chook, white ravens are fairly actual, and are the outcome of Leucism, a genetic disorder whereby the pigmentation cells are erratically distributed, hence resulting in patches of feathers wanting paler, bleached wanting or present white. White ravens are the outcome of the mating of two widespread ravens with the same genetic defect. The similar pair might produce many generations of white ravens, since widespread black ravens are monogamous and long-lived.

White Ravens have additionally been revered in mythology, including the story of Noah’s Ark (later translated into a Dove, which was extra of a romanized romantic symbol). The significance of white ravens being used by Maesters of the Citadel could possibly be to symbolically differentiate the messages they carry as being peacful or good, or it might simply be a way for noting significance.


10Ravens & Wolves

Dire wolves and customary wolves are virtually as widespread as Ravens in A Music of Ice and Hearth, with both Nymeria and Ghost in shut companion ship with Crows and Ravens all through their wanderings.

This partnership is widespread in the actual world, too, as both Ravens and Wolves share widespread habitats. Apart from ravens enterprising on wolves as competent providers of food, Ravens are additionally extraordinarily playful, incomes them the legendary nickname of “trickster.” One of their favourite video games is tail-pulling, which has been noticed as perpetrated on larger birds of prey, wolves, massive cats and even individuals. In one account, ravens have been seen perching on the roof of an area supermarket, waiting for unsuspecting humans to walk by earlier than pushing a clump of snow over the sting to fall on their heads.

North of the Wall, it’s straightforward to think about Raven enjoying with Ghost in a lot the same approach.

In what other ways do you notice crows and ravens used in A Track of Ice and Hearth, and what significance, if any, do you assume they painting?

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