So, as is usually the case when I analyse ASOIAF, I was looking at the symbolism behind different fire colours and I noticed that Tobho Mott crops up in some very important places, specifically around Lightbringer symbolism. So I decided to file it away for future consideration. When I read Darry Man’s brilliant essay comparing weirwood and ebony and relating that to the persimmon tree (you should read it, it’s awesome) and, lo and behold, up pops Tobho Mott again. So, “future consideration” is now “today”.
Before I begin, I must say that I am a devoted acolyte of Lucifer means Lightbringer’s Church of Starry Wisdom. I think I can get through this essay without relying on his ideas too heavily, but I might mention something without thinking so here is a brief precis of his major thesis: he suggests that there were once two moons in the sky and that the (now extinct) second moon was struck and destroyed by a comet whilst in eclipse position, causing thousands of moon meteors to rain down upon Planetos. The resulting debris from the meteors landing was kicked up into the atmosphere causing the worldwide darkness remembered as the Long Night. These events are depicted in the in-world myths: the Qartheen myth of the origin of dragons describes the moon as wandering too close to the sun (that’s the eclipse position) and hatching dragons (those would be the moon meteors). The myth of Lightbringer’s forging also reflects the astronomical phenomena as Azor Ahai (the sun) wields Lightbringer (the comet) against Nissa Nissa (the second moon) to create a flaming sword (the moon meteors and the now-transformed Red Comet). There’s even moon breaking implied in the Azor Ahai myth, as Nissa Nissa’s cry of anguish and ecstasy “left a crack across the face of the moon”.
Even though you hopefully won’t need to know more of his ideas to understand this essay, I would highly recommend reading or listening to his work anyway (he produces a podcast version of his essays which has greatly improved my commute), because it is really interesting and has revealed a lot of interesting connections I had never thought about before. He even has a video discussing his major theory in brief, with excellent animation from Michael Klarfeld, whose work you should definitely check out.
Unpaid advertising for someone else over, let’s dive into the deep well that is Tobho Mott’s symbolism.
Ice, Ice Baby
We first meet Tobho Mott during Ned’s murder mystery tour of the capital, when he’s following the path set out by Jon Arryn’s servants. This is how Tobho Mott appears:
He wore a black velvet coat with hammers embroidered on the sleeves in silver thread. Around his neck was a heavy silver chain and a sapphire as large as a pigeon’s egg. (Eddard VI, AGOT)
So that’s a lot of silver and some sapphires, which are consistently associated with ice – think blue and white, like the Wall and the Others.
In fact, let’s take a look at that “sapphire as large as a pigeon’s egg.” It turns out that people’s eyes are described as eggs on many occasions:
Even Mord had scarcely believed it when Tyrion tossed him the leather purse. The gaoler’s eyes had gone big as boiled eggs as he yanked open the drawstring and beheld the glint of gold. (Tyrion VI, AGOT)
Ghost raced ahead at first scent of them. Jon squatted to let the direwolf close his jaws around his wrist, tugging his hand back and forth. It was a game they played. But when he glanced up, he saw Ygritte watching with eyes as wide and white as hen’s eggs. (Jon VI, ACOK)
Elmar’s eyes got as big as boiled eggs. Leeches terrified him, especially the big pale ones that looked like jelly until they filled up with blood. (Arya X, ACOK)
At the sound of her voice, the fat man opened his eyes. The skin around them was so red they looked like boiled eggs floating in a dish of blood. (Arya V, ASOS)
Ser Hyle Hunt laughed. “Now you’ve done it, septon. Poor Podrick’s eyes are big as boiled eggs.” (Brienne V, AFFC)
So this is could be implying that Tobho Mott has a third, massive eye, made of sapphire. You know what else has massive sapphire eyes?
Jon remembered Othor; he had been the one bellowing the bawdy song as the rangers rode out. His singing days were done. His flesh was blanched white as milk, everywhere but his hands. His hands were black like Jafer’s. Blossoms of hard cracked blood decorated the mortal wounds that covered him like a rash, breast and groin and throat. Yet his eyes were still open. They stared up at the sky, blue as sapphires. (Jon VII, AGOT)
Other- I mean, wighted OthOr – has sapphire eyes. It seems like George might be sneakily implying that Tobho Mott has a symbolic connection to the Others, with a third icy eye dangling round his neck and we all know that third eyes are related to magic. Or I could be reading way too much in to a description of a jewel.
I don’t think so though, because Mott does have other icy connections. The Street of Steel where he lives is based on Visenya’s hill and, as LmL shows in Visenya Draconis, Visenya and her hill are heavily ice associated. Just to give you a small sample, consider the Great Sept of Baelor which stands atop Visenya’s Hill, home to the Faith of the Seven. It is a magnificence of marble that is described as “cold” by Cersei before her walk of shame. Another white marble building is the Eyrie, which is also described as extremely cold.
The High Hall of the Arryns was long and austere, with a forbidding coldness to its walls of blue-veined white marble, but the faces around him had been colder by far. (Tyrion V, AGOT)
Sansa walked down the blue silk carpet between rows of fluted pillars slim as lances. The floors and walls of the High Hall were made of milk-white marble veined with blue. Shafts of pale daylight slanted down through narrow arched windows along the eastern wall. Between the windows were torches, mounted in high iron sconces, but none of them was lit. Her footsteps fell softly on the carpet. Outside the wind blew cold and lonely.
Amidst so much white marble even the sunlight looked chilly, somehow … though not half so chilly as her aunt. Lady Lysa had dressed in a gown of cream-colored velvet and a necklace of sapphires and moon-stones. (Sansa VII, ASOS)
The High Hall had been closed since Lady Lysa’s fall, and it gave Sansa a chill to enter it again. The hall was long and grand and beautiful, she supposed, but she did not like it here. It was a pale cold place at the best of times. The slender pillars looked like fingerbones, and the blue veins in the white marble brought to mind the veins in an old crone’s legs. Though fifty silver sconces lined the walls, less than a dozen torches had been lit, so shadows danced upon the floors and pooled in every corner. (Sansa I AFFC)
Heck, the iciest manmade structure of them all, the Wall, is described as “as smooth and white as polished marble and shining in the sun” at one point (Jon IV, ASOS). So the fact that white marble appears to share a lot of icy symbolism and that a huge building of cold white marble crowns Visenya’s Hill would appear to suggest that Visenya’s Hill is symbolically icy. That is just one example, but LmL details a whole load over at his essay, so I’d go check that out if you want some more convincing/just want to appreciate his awesome theorising.
So, not only does Tobho Mott wear a sapphire like a surprised Other’s eye around his neck, he also lives on a hill heavily associated with iciness. He is the most successful person on the street, having the largest building on the Street of Steel right at the pinnacle of the Street of Steel: that’s a status symbol that life really doesn’t get much better for the ice forger. The fact that it is at the top of the hill places it in the celestial realm. Think of the Greek gods living at the top of Mount Olympus, it’s a similar concept. This, in turn, suggests Tobho Mott as having some kind of dominion over ice.
So Tobho Mott has symbolism that suggests he is icy and godly – sounds rather like he’s a smith for the Others or something. I imagine smithing for the Others would require magic, so let’s see what we have here…
A Doorway to… Magic?
The man they wanted was all the way at the top of the hill, in a huge house of timber and plaster whose upper stories loomed over the narrow street. The double doors showed a hunting scene carved in ebony and weirwood. (Ned VI, AGOT)
Sounds relatively innocuous, right? Other than the weirwood, there’s not much magic obviously there. Until you remember where else has ebony and weirwood doors.
To her right, a set of wide wooden doors had been thrown open. They were fashioned of ebony and weirwood, the black and white grains swirling and twisting in strange interwoven patterns. They were very beautiful, yet somehow frightening. The blood of the dragon must not be afraid. Dany said a quick prayer, begging the Warrior for courage and the Dothraki horse god for strength. She made herself walk forward.
Beyond the doors was a great hall and a splendor of wizards.
She took a step forward. But then Drogon leapt from her shoulder. He flew to the top of the ebony-and-weirwood door, perched there, and began to bite at the carved wood. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)
At the top she found a set of carved wooden doors twelve feet high. The left-hand door was made of weirwood pale as bone, the right of gleaming ebony. In their center was a carved moon face; ebony on the weirwood side, weirwood on the ebony. The look of it reminded her somehow of the heart tree in the godswood at Winterfell. The doors are watching me, she thought. (Arya I, AFFC)
These are some of the most inherently magical places in ASOIAF – the House of the Undying, a rollercoaster of trippy magic drug prophecies revealed by Shade of the Evening junkies, and the House of Black and White, which teaches people magical disguises and is likened to the really very magical weirwood tree. So what on earth are they doing on the door of an armourer’s building?
I think it’s there to telegraph that what happens inside Tobho Mott’s forge is magical, at least symbolically. He does know how to reforge Valyrian steel and he can do some magic to change the colours of the steel, as he did when splitting Ice – ICE! – down in to Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, so there is even some literal magic going on behind the scenes. Moreover, his forge has associations with dragons, as Ned describes it as “walking into a dragon’s mouth” and says that it “stank of smoke and sulfur” – the exact same description of the Dragonpit under Meereen. That’s a score for the dragon locked in ice motif that LmL has been exploring recently.
The hunting scene also suggests magic because it is a depiction of the Wild Hunt. Now, I’m not a mythology expert and my knowledge of the Wild Hunt is restricted to what I’ve learnt from LmL’s mentions of it and a quick Google search so if anyone has more info, it would be a great addition. The Wild Hunt appears to have been a hunt led by spectral figures and Odin. Odin is heavily tied to the development of Martin’s ideas of greenseeing and weirwoods (see LmL and sweetsunray’s essays on this), so we immediately see a magical link here. The Wild Hunt was also, apparently, something that happened in midwinter, “the coldest, darkest part of the year”. In Martin’s world, we can equate this to the Long Night and the coming of the Others. Needless to say, the fact that a guy heavily associated with magic and ice has a magical scene that occurs in midwinter carved into his magical doors seems pretty suggestive of ice magic.
Behind said magical doors, Tobho Mott’s forge is in a “cavernous stone barn”. Wizz-the-SmithWizz-the-Smith has a truly excellent piece on the westeros.org forums linking caves and hollow hills to places of magic: think Bloodraven’s cavern system under the weirwood or the Hollow Hill where Beric Dondarrion acts like Azor Ahai, wielding a burning sword and all that jazz. So, seeing Tobho Mott’s forge being like a dragon hiding in a magical cave on a hill symbolising ice with an entrance designed like doors to other magical building… welp, it’s hella suspicious, is all I’m saying.
Tobho Mott and Lightbringer
“A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred fires, he summoned his wife. ‘Nissa Nissa,’ he said to her, for that was her name, ‘bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world.’ She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.” (Davos I, ACOK)
In essence, what Azor Ahai did was create a bloody and burning sword here. And, would you look at that? So does Tobho Mott.
First, the really basic stuff: Tobho Mott is working with Ice. He is literally using Ice to make swords. Ice-swords. Sound likes the Others, right?
The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor. (Prologue, AGOT)
Second, the bloody sword stuff. After Ice is stolen by the Lannisters, it gets split into the swords, Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail. Look at this description:
Most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black, as was true here as well. But blended into the folds was a red as deep as the grey. The two colors lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore. “How did you get this patterning? I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Nor I, my lord,” said the armorer [Tobho Mott]. “I confess, these colors were not what I intended, and I do not know that I could duplicate them. Your lord father had asked for the crimson of your House, and it was that color I set out to infuse into the metal. But Valyrian steel is stubborn. These old swords remember, it is said, and they do not change easily. I worked half a hundred spells and brightened the red time and time again, but always the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it.” (Tyrion IV, ASOS)
This next paragraph relies on the basic premise of LmL’s theory, that I outlined right at the start of the essay. If you skipped past that, I recommend checking it out first, because otherwise this next paragraph might not make much sense.
Oh, hey again! Are you back and ready for more? Yes? Good.
So, Tobho Mott actually uses spells to turn the Valyrian steel blood red – accidentally, yes, but he still made a bloody sword. The fact it turns red from “drinking the sun” is important, because that is part of the Qartheen “origin of dragons” legend.
“Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun.” (Dany III, AGOT)
LmL theorises that this is a mythological memory of the breaking of the second moon, and look! the moon meteors dragons “drink the sun” just like Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper do. This means they can kind of symbolise dragons too, making them bloody and burning swords – just like Lightbringer! And Tobho Mott (re)forged them! And he did it with Ice.
Tobho Mott has also done some more explicit Lightbringer forging, as he made Thoros of Myr’s burning swords.
[Gendry] “I was ‘prenticed to the master armorer Tobho Mott, on the Street of Steel. You used to buy your swords from him.”
“Just so. He charged me twice what they were worth, then scolded me for setting them afire.” Thoros laughed. (Arya VIII, ASOS)
More than being any old burning sword, Davos directly compares Thoros’s burning sword to Stannis’ Lightbringer.
A year ago, he had been with Stannis in King’s Landing when King Robert staged a tourney for Prince Joffrey’s name day. He remembered the red priest Thoros of Myr, and the flaming sword he had wielded in the melee. The man had made for a colorful spectacle, his red robes flapping while his blade writhed with pale green flames, but everyone knew there was no true magic to it, and in the end his fire had guttered out and Bronze Yohn Royce had brained him with a common mace.
A true sword of fire, now, that would be a wonder to behold. Yet at such a cost . . . (Davos I, ACOK)
So that’s Tobho Mott implicated in forging Lightbringer, again. So if we’re seeing Lightbringer, do we also see Azor Ahai?
Smithing for the Saviour
When Ned first goes to meet Tobho Mott, the armourer does a bit of name-dropping so that Ned can get a feel for the calibre of the clientele at Mott’s Magical Metalworking. Specifically, he names Renly’s green-and-gold armour and all of Loras Tyrell’s armour.
Renly wears his green and gold armour a fair amount, but probably one of the most important scenes he wears it in is for his own death. So let’s take a look at that description:
The king’s armor was a deep green, the green of leaves in a summer wood, so dark it drank the candlelight. Gold highlights gleamed from inlay and fastenings like distant fires in that wood, winking every time he moved. (Catelyn IV, ACOK)
This armour drinks the candlelight, just like Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper drank the sun, and just like the now extinct second moon drank the sun to create ‘dragons’. Tobho Mott has essentially forged Lightbringer in armour form. It’s even described as being on fire here (“Gold highlights gleamed … like distant fires in that wood.”), burning like Lightbringer. If you have read much of LmL’s work, you may recognise the ember in the ashes motif here, but an explanation of that requires quite an off-topic divergence, so I’ll just recommend you read these essays for more information. So, Renly’s armour is clearly mimicking some aspects of Lightbringer, and we all know what happens next…
The king stumbled into her arms, a sheet of blood creeping down the front of his armor, a dark red tide that drowned his green and gold. (Catelyn IV, ACOK)
“King Renly’s shade was seen as well,” the captain said, “slaying right and left as he led the lion lord’s van. It’s said his green armor took a ghostly glow from the wildfire, and his antlers ran with golden flames.” (Davos II, ASOS)
Renly’s armour gets covered in blood, like Lightbringer gets covered in Nissa Nissa’s blood when Azor Ahai kills her, in circumstances similar to the eastern myth of the Blood Betrayal that was said to usher in the Long Night. Later in the book, Renly reappears to us, seemingly resurrected, much like Azor Ahai was reborn, and his Lightbringer-esque armour is now on fire, like the burning sword Lightbringer. Tobho Mott just can’t help smithing stuff that gets set on fire, it’s incredible.
The Icy Knight of the Rose
I want to discuss Loras himself before moving onto his Mott-forged armour because he has some relevant personal symbolism. As the third Tyrell son, he has chosen to have three golden roses on green as his personal sigil. The unfurling of a rose is another metaphor for the moon meteor disaster, and three is a key moon meteor number: think the Targaryen 3-headed dragon sigil, with dragons representing the moon meteors in the Qartheen myth. So, with Loras Tyrell having personal symbolism relating to the moon disaster, which in turn relates to the Azor Ahai myth, it makes sense that Tobho Mott would decide to smith for him. “Hey, you seem to be representing Azor Ahai. Just wanted to introduce myself, I make magical weapons, thought you might like some? Or some magic armour? Call me anytime!”
I could find two suits of armour that Loras wears before entering the Kingsguard, which will be where the meaningful symbolism lives as it relates to Tobho Mott. Loras wears both of these suits of armour whilst jousting during the Hand’s Tourney. On the first day’s jousting, Sansa describes his armour like this:
“His plate was intricately fashioned and enamelled as a bouquet of a thousand different flowers, and his snow-white stallion was draped in a blanket of red and white roses.” (Sansa II, AGOT)
We’ve got the flowers as moon meteors motif again here, this time with the key “thousand” moon meteors (that number comes from the Qartheen myth of a thousand thousand dragons pouring forth from the moon). So, Loras Tyrell’s armour here is a fusion of these two ideas, with a thousand flowers, instead of a thousand dragons. And if Loras is wearing symbolically magic armour in this scene, like I’m proposing, then he should do something Azor Ahai-ish. The primary thing that is noted is that he gives Sansa a rose.
To the other maidens he had given white roses, but the one he plucked for her was red. “Sweet lady,” he said, “no victory is half so beautiful as you.” Sansa took the flower timidly, struck dumb by his gallantry. His hair was a mass of lazy brown curls, his eyes like liquid gold. (Sansa II, AGOT)
Sansa is one of the more important “moon maidens” in the series, i.e. characters who act like Nissa Nissa in some ways, or plays into the Nissa Nissa archetype. The fact that he gives her a red rose is an allusion to wooing or romancing Nissa Nissa, so that she “wanders too close” to the sun, and this plays into the love/pain inherent in Azor Ahai’s destruction of Nissa Nissa (indicated by her cry of anguish and ecstasy). Sansa receives this rose “timidly” and she is “struck dumb”, which plays into the shy maid motif that LmL has identified here. I won’t get into too much detail about it because, again, it is slightly off topic, but it is related to the ember in the ashes motif I mentioned earlier when talking about Renly’s armour. Needless to say, it’s Azor Ahai doing something to Nissa Nissa and making magic happen.
The second suit of armour Tobho Mott made for Loras that we know about is the one worn in his joust against the Mountain, again at the Hand’s Tourney. Man, it’s fancy.
Ser Loras Tyrell was slender as a reed, dressed in a suit of fabulous silver armor polished to a blinding sheen and filigreed with twining black vines and tiny blue forget-me-nots. The commons realized in the same instant as Ned that the blue of the flowers came from sapphires; a gasp went up from a thousand throats. (Ned VII, AGOT)
Much like when we’re introduced to Tobho Mott, Loras Tyrell is decked out in all the iciness of silver and sapphire. Loras even rides a snow-white courser in the first day’s events (with the rose-giving), which lends him a bit of iciness in that scene too. Note that this icy armour causes “a gasp from a thousand throats”, or a thousand tiny Nissa Nissa cries swelling the crowd.
There is also an indication that Loras Tyrell wields magic here. He’s wearing vines and flowers, a direct allusion to the clothing of the children of the forest, who are renowned for their magic. He’s also described as slender as a reed. If you capitalise that, to become “slender as a Reed”, it reminds us of the crannogman, their children of the forest-like descriptions and their magic, i.e. greenseeing. Finally, Loras is described as having “golden eyes” by Sansa twice: first in the scene where Loras gives her the rose at the Hand’s Tourney, and again when she sees him as a member of the Kingsguard as he escorts her to her meeting with Margaery Tyrell and Olenna Redwyne. There are not many things or people that get the golden eye description and all are distinctly magical: the direwolves, Viserion, the Naathi (who appear to have magical protection against the butterfly illness), the Lengii (who appear to have a skinchanger-esque bond with tigers and who practice blood sacrifice to the Old Ones) and, most importantly, the children of the forest. Needless to say, I think general associations with magic and the three specific associations with children of the forest in these scenes demonstrate that Loras has magical symbolism, specifically tied to the children of the forest which is a by-word for greenseeing.
So once again, we see icy magical stuff a-happening. I’ve been implying that this means Azor Ahai stuff is also a-happening, so where is the Lightbringer forging?
And suddenly it began. The Mountain’s stallion broke in a hard gallop, plunging forward wildly, while the mare charged as smooth as a flow of silk. Ser Gregor wrenched his shield into position, juggled with his lance, and all the while fought to hold his unruly mount on a straight line, and suddenly Loras Tyrell was on him, placing the point of his lance just there, and in an eye blink the Mountain was falling. (Eddard VII, AGOT)
Ser Loras Tyrell brings down the (Moon) Mountain that rides. This is a depiction of Azor Ahai breaking the moon and bringing it down to earth. There’s a few different lines of symbolism in this paragraph that I want to bring up.
Firstly, Loras Tyrell rigs the game by riding a mare in heat. This is gamesmanship and trickery that sounds a lot like Lann the Clever. Lann too has Azor Ahai symbolism, mainly by virtue of stealing the fire of the sun and using that to “crown” himself with. Trickery, betrayal and deception are also themes we have seen in the Renly scene, in which Renly’s act of treason is greeted with a magical fratricidal cold shadow willing to commit the cardinal sin of kinslaying – again, I point to the Blood Betrayal.
I also think Martin is doing a bit of tricky wordplay in this particular phrase, which he likes to do sometimes.
“…and suddenly Loras Tyrell was on him, placing the point of his lance just there, and in an eye blink the Mountain was falling.” (Eddard VII, AGOT)
“…in an eye blink” is kind of an odd turn of phrase, more usually worded as “in the blink of an eye”. To me, this suggests that Martin has changes it on purpose and I believe it is an allusion to one of the most prominent images of the Lightbringer disaster, the God’s Eye. So, remember when the moon wandered too close to the sun in the Qartheen myth (if not, just pop back to the start of the essay and quickly read my summary of LmL’s main thesis), and how this is probably a mythological representation of the eclipse? That is the God’s Eye: imagine the silhouette of the second moon against the sun as the pupil and fiery iris up in the sky, like the eye of god. Sauron’s eye is a similar thing (although you’re gonna have to look up BlueTiger for proper LOTR analysis, because LOTR just does not stay in my mind). In which case, “just there, and in an eye” is a reference to Loras lance piercing the God’s Eye, which is just another depiction of the comet hitting the moon and destroying it.
This is followed up by the Mountain’s fall, a depiction of the pieces of the broken moon falling to earth after being struck by the comet.
The Knight of Flowers reined up at the end of the lists. His lance was not even broken. His sapphires winked in the sun as he raised his visor, smiling. The commons went mad for him. (Eddard VII, AGOT)
And the comet doesn’t even appear to be broken! That’s the now transformed Red Comet whizzing past the disaster zone, wielded by Azor Ahai reborn. Note how the sapphires now “wink” in the sun, an allusion to one eye being blinded. (Holla to the one-eyed people of the story that also represent magical beings in ASOIAF and other world myths *cough*Odin*cough*.)
But then the Mountain rises again. Dun dun duuuuuuun….
In the middle of the field, Ser Gregor Clegane disentangled himself and came boiling to his feet. He wrenched off his helm and slammed it down onto the ground. His face was dark with fury and his hair fell down into his eyes. “My sword,” he shouted to his squire, and the boy ran it out to him. By then his stallion was back on its feet as well. (Eddard VII, AGOT)
Ser Gregor’s face is now dark, a depiction of the now darkened face of the destroyed moon (dark because it is no longer there) and of the rising cloud of smoke and ash that blotted out the sun to cause the Long Night. Loras Tyrell has to be our solar figure, because he wielded a lance against the Mountain of the Moon, so the Mountain should come after Loras. And that is precisely what he does.
Gregor Clegane killed the horse with a single blow of such ferocity that it half severed the animal’s neck. Cheers turned to shrieks in a heartbeat. The stallion went to its knees, screaming as it died. By then Gregor was striding down the lists toward Ser Loras Tyrell, his bloody sword clutched in his fist. (Eddard VII, AGOT)
Ser Gregor wields a bloody sword against the man that brought him low. We have already seen the bloody sword symbol this essay, when Tobho Mott forged one in imitation of Lightbringer. So we have a Lightbringer symbol being wielded by… technically Nissa Nissa Reborn I guess, but Lightbringer and its wielder are a product of both the sun and the moon, so saying “Nissa Nissa Reborn” is akin to saying “Azor Ahai Reborn”. They’re both beings transformed by the moons destruction and the fire of the gods coming to earth. This rebirth is accompanied by the classic Nissa Nissa cry of anguish and ecstasy, as the crowd’s cheers turn to shrieks. The same crowd that gasped from a thousand throats at the sight of the sapphire forget-me-nots.
The courser dashed away in panic as Ser Loras lay stunned in the dirt. But as Gregor lifted his sword for the killing blow, a rasping voice warned, “Leave him be,” and a steel-clad hand wrenched him away from the boy.
The Mountain pivoted in wordless fury, swinging his longsword in a killing arc with all his massive strength behind it, but the Hound caught the blow and turned it, and for what seemed an eternity the two brothers stood hammering at each other as a dazed Loras Tyrell was helped to safety. (Eddard VII, AGOT)
This is gonna be a bit info-dumpy because it’s not entirely relevant to Tobho Mott, other than being a “look what the man in Tobho Mott’s armour caused”. So, the (Hell)Hound turns up to save the day and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that hellhounds can also represent the moon meteors. I also think the fact that the two brothers “hammer” at each other is likely reference to the Hammer of the Waters, which LmL proposes as being a result of the moon meteors landing on or near the Arm of Dorne. Brother vs brother conflict is evident throughout ASOIAF, and probably reflecting the turning of the seasons nature mythology.
After the Hand’s Tourney, Loras Tyrell then only appears in the armour of the Kingsguard, as Lord Commander of Renly’s Rainbow Guard and as a member of the Kingsguard. These are probably not made by Tobho Mott, given that Renly made his claim to the kingdom when in the Reach and given the standardised armour of the Kingsguard. However, they do play into this motif of Loras wearing icy armour which appears prominently so, here goes.
This is a description of Loras’ armour during the melee at Bitterbridge, after he has been named Lord Commander of Renly’s Kingsguard:
She had never met Ser Loras Tyrell, but even in the distant north one heard tales of the prowess of the young Knight of Flowers. Ser Loras rode a tall white stallion in silver mail, and fought with a long-handled axe. A crest of golden roses ran down the center of his helm.
Two of the other survivors had made common cause. They spurred their mounts toward the knight in the cobalt armor. As they closed to either side, the blue knight reined hard, smashing one man full in the face with his splintered shield while his black destrier lashed out with a steel-shod hoof at the other. In a blink, one combatant was unhorsed, the other reeling. The blue knight let his broken shield drop to the ground to free his left arm, and then the Knight of Flowers was on him. The weight of his steel seemed to hardly diminish the grace and quickness with which Ser Loras moved, his rainbow cloak swirling about him. (Catelyn II, ACOK)
Given that Loras is wearing his rainbow cloak, we can suppose that he is also wearing with RainbowGuard armour. And it’s silver, just like his other armour (his Other armour *ba dun tss*). This makes him a match for the Warrior’s Sons, the defenders of the Faith and stand-ins for the Others.
The Warrior’s Sons wore rainbow cloaks and inlaid silver armor over hair shirts, and bore star-shaped crystals in the pommels of their longswords. (Cersei VI, AFFC)
Loras is also graceful and quick in his fight with Brienne, a match for the description of the Others in the Prologue of AGOT. All in all, pretty icy stuff.
Then he joins the Kingsguard, whose armour is described in terms like this:
One knight wore an intricate suit of white enameled scales, brilliant as a field of new-fallen snow, with silver chasings and clasps that glittered in the sun. When he removed his helm, Sansa saw that he was an old man with hair as pale as his armor, yet he seemed strong and graceful for all that. From his shoulders hung the pure white cloak of the Kingsguard. (Sansa I, AGOT)
The seven knights of the Kingsguard took the field, all but Jaime Lannister in scaled armor the color of milk, their cloaks as white as fresh-fallen snow. (Sansa II, AGOT)
She glimpsed Ser Preston near the stables with three others of the Kingsguard, white cloaks bright as the moon as they helped Joffrey into his armor. (Sansa II, ACOK)
Ser Mandon Moore rode at his side, white steel icy bright. (Sansa V, ACOK)
Clean as he had ever been, he rose, dried himself, and clad himself in whites. Stockings, smallclothes, silken tunic, padded jerkin, all fresh-washed and bleached. Over that he donned the armor that the queen had given him as a token of her esteem. The mail was gilded, finely wrought, the links as supple as good leather, the plate enameled, hard as ice and bright as new-fallen snow. His dagger went on one hip, his longsword on the other, hung from a white leather belt with golden buckles. Last of all he took down his long white cloak and fastened it about his shoulders. (The Kingbreaker, ADWD)
Once again, this armour has all the connotations of ice and snow as befits the guy who seems to just be wearing armour devoted to icy symbolism. And did you spot the sneaky reference to the Kingsguard being Others? Sansa glimpsing Ser Preston near “three Others of the Kingsguard”? LmL has written quite a bit on the Other symbolism of the Kingsguard, which I recommend you checking out, but that was a little sneaky one that I wanted to point out to you. In any case, this now suggests Loras has joined the other men of the KIngsguard and has become armoured in a different type of ice armour.
So, to summarise Loras Tyrell’s symbolism , he seems to be singularly dedicated to representing an icy, greenseeing/child-of-the-forest magical being who brings down the moon and romances the moon maiden (which is the same thing, symbolically). He does this all while wearing armour with very symbolic connotations, some of which is forged by an ice man atop the ice hill, whose forge is guarded by magical doors, who also spent his time forging Lightbringer symbols and who knows how to magically reforge Valyrian steel, the closest thing we have to Lightbringer in OTL. That is a LOT of symbolism.
So, no, this is not an exact replica of the actual Azor Ahai myth: Tobho Mott isn’t a smith and a warrior, like Azor Ahai supposedly was. However, he does seem singularly dedicated to forging Lightbringer symbols that are then wielded by Azor Ahai figures in very Lightbringer-y ways. What we’re seeing is two aspects of Azor Ahai embodied as two different characters, but because they’re representing the same overall archetype, they share some key symbolism.
A Direwolf’s Head for the King of Winter
After dropping names like a flurry of summer snow, Tobho Mott offers to forge Ned a fearsome new helm:
“I could fashion a direwolf helm so real that children will run from you in the street.” (Eddard VI, AGOT)
We now know what that means: some antics related to Azor Ahai must be afoot!
To understand the full implication of this, we have to understand Ned’s role as a King of Winter. In the story, the King of Winter is the ruler in the North, and this is a title that Robb, Ned’s son and heir, picks up later in the novel. However, there is a bunch of mythological symbolism that is also represented in this title, beautifully outlined by LmL here. One real-world ritual involves taking some leaves at the end of autumn (Samhain, actually) and fashioning a little man out of them. This man is known as the King of Winter, and you keep him in your house during winter to protect the essence of life (I think, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). The King of Winter then gets burned to death to bring the spring, at the Bealtaine festival. It’s a particularly loaded role for the Lord of Winterfell to play into, I’m sure you can agree.
Now, back to the direwolf helm. Given what we have seen of icy Tobho Mott forging armour for icy Azor Ahai re-enactor, Loras Tyrell, in some kind of symbiotic relationship, it is unsurprising that Mott is trying to encourage the King of Winter to commission some work. We later learn that a King of Winter with a direwolf’s head is a dead King of Winter – think of Robb’s posthumous head transplant thanks to the treacherous Freys.
We also know what happens to a King who gets killed wearing Tobho Mott’s armour because we’ve covered it already this essay:
“King Renly’s shade was seen as well,” the captain said, “slaying right and left as he led the lion lord’s van. It’s said his green armor took a ghostly glow from the wildfire, and his antlers ran with golden flames.” (Davos II, ASOS)
He gets set on fire. This is exactly how a King of Winter should die – by being burned. But, this death is also a resurrection, much like Azor Ahai was reborn. Which implies Azor Ahai as an icy magical greenseeing being who sought after the fire (of the gods), like Loras Tyrell wearing his icy armour when he romances the moon maiden and brings down the Moon Mountain, who has three dogs – er, hellhounds, as a sigil. What are the closest approximation to hellhounds in ASOIAF? Direwolves, of course.
Which brings us back full circle. So when Tobho Mott wants to give Ned a direwolf’s helm, what he’s really saying is that he wants the icy king to die and be resurrected again in the fire of the Lightbringer moon meteors, “slaying left and right”. And just after he makes this offer to Ned, Tobho Mott leads him down into the forge that is described “as though he [Ned] were walking into a dragon’s mouth”: that’s Tobho Mott leading the King of Winter into the dragon!moon meteor’s transformative fire. Tobho Mott wants Azor Ahai Reborn.
I’ve rattled through a lot of symbolism there and I am once again astounded at how much symbolism George can pack into such a small space. After all, Tobho Mott only makes two on-screen appearances and I have analysed only five pieces of his smithing work.
So, what do we appear to have learned?
- Tobho Mott has a ton of icy, magical smith symbolism
- Tobho Mott possesses the fire of the gods aka a dragon in his forge
- Tobho Mott uses this fire to create Azor Ahai’s armour and Lightbringer
- Tobho Mott spends his time trying to convince the icy King of Winter to be transformed by his fire of the gods powers
And this is where I get a tiny bit confused, because you can read this symbolism in multiple ways and I’m not sure where I stand.
- Tobho Mott is a man who forges weapons for the villain who broke the moon
- Tobho Mott is a man who forges armour for an ice prince or ice lordling
- Tobho Mott is a man who forges armour for the Last Hero/King of Winter figure
Initially, I was thinking more along the lines of the second bullet point, but I’m now leaning more towards bullet point 3 after reading LmL’s recent essays exploring the dragon-locked-in-ice motif (check out his The Blood of the Other series for more on this), given Mott’s attempt to resurrect the King of Winter with a direwolf’s head and his dragon-esque forge buried in the ice hill. Let me know which bullet point you think is more likely, or feel free to add your own ideas!
I hope you’ve enjoyed that coverage of Tobho Mott’s surprisingly extensive symbolism. If you enjoyed it, please do check out my other essays here and the essays I’ve referenced throughout: I truly am standing on the shoulders of giants with this analysis so all credit and thanks to them for their ideas.
- Archmaester Aemma