Spoiler Warning: This post contains MAJOR spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 5, entitled “The Door.” If you do not wish to be spoiled, turn back now!
With this past Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode, entitled “The Door,” we introduced a plot device that had been barely hinted at and previously unconfirmed in the world of Game of Thrones: time travel.
Bran warged into present day Hodor’s mind, simultaneously warging into past young Hodor’s mind. Our beloved character Hodor died “holding the door” to protect fleeing Bran and Meera from the onslaught of White Walkers and their undead army. Bran closed a causality loop, committing an act (warging into Hodor’s mind) in both the present and the past that had present consequences.
For the past few episodes, we have witnessed Bran, under the tutelage of the Three Eyed Raven, accessing the events of the past by “logging in” into the weirwood tree network. He saw his father Ned as a child sparring with his young uncle Benjen. We saw him witness young Ned Stark clash swords with Sir Arthur Dayne on the slopes of the hill of the Tower of Joy. Bran accidentally stumbles into the undead army, and the Night’s King “marks him,” allowing the undead army to invade the previously safe, protected haven beneath the weirwood tree cave.
While scouring the Internet for more theories regarding Bran’s abilities, time traveling, warging and how this may affect the eventual fate of Westeros, I suddenly remembered one of my favorite books from my childhood. I realized there were striking parallels between the newest beats of this Game of Thrones plot and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet, a story that also features a character named Bran (including several other characters with a variation of the name Bran), time traveling and kything, a process of entering someone else’s consciousness, a unique ability suspiciously similar to warging.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet comprises the third book in L’Engle’s Time Quintet, a series of books (the most famous of which is A Wrinkle in Time) that focuses on the adventures of the Murry children and feature many fantasy and science-fiction elements, including, you guessed it–time travel. While I do not believe this connection to A Swiftly Tilting Planet necessarily contains any overt clues to the eventual outcome of George R.R. Martin’s story or the HBO Show, the parallels are too striking to ignore so I wanted to explore them in this newest series of blog posts which I will sharing over the next week or so.
In the first, I wanted to simply share Patrick’s rune, which a young, warging time-traveler uses to influence the future by changing key historical events in the past (sound familiar?):
St. Patrick’s Rune
At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place,
By God’s almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
Throughout the course of the story, characters use this rune to call upon fire, lightning, wind and snow to change their circumstance, to defend themselves or rescue another in danger. With the imagery of fire, snow, wind, sea, earth, light and darkness, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Dany and her dragons, the North/Winterfell/Jon Snow, the forthcoming “Winds of Winter” book by George R. R. Martin. Heck, it even literally says “earth with its Starkness.” Could this be an alternate “song of ice and fire”?
Have any of you read A Swiftly Tilting Planet? What do you make of these parallels?