Can i ask, what is up with the glass candles? Why are there four? Is it like for the 4 great heroes or something? Or is it something else?
Obsidian/dragonglass candles were used by the Valyrians to communicate long distances magically. This is very certainly a tribute by GRRM to Tolkien’s palantiri, but probably with a twist. (I’m sure that they’re activated with “fire and blood”, probably by cutting yourself on the sharp edges of the candle, and then the blood flames up like with Beric’s sword.) With the decline of magic and/or the death of dragons, they stopped working. With the return of magic and/or the rebirth of dragons, they started working again.
The Citadel has four glass candles, but there are many others in the world. (In Qarth for sure, almost certainly in Asshai, very definitely in the ruins of Valyria, and I’d bet any money there are some on Dragonstone as well.) Why four? Dunno, it probably doesn’t matter. Maybe there’s one glass candle for each cardinal direction, maybe the candles could only view a specific city/area so there needed to be several, maybe there were only four people interested in magic in Oldtown a thousand years ago when the candles were brought there, maybe whoever acquired them from the Valyrians could only afford four glass candles, maybe they bought a dozen or more but only four have survived over the centuries… or made it into the Citadel at least, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s at least one glass candle at the top of the Hightower.
What interests me particularly about the Citadel’s glass candles is the test for acolytes becoming maesters. The Citadel has them spend a night’s vigil with a glass candle that can’t be lit to teach them humility, to show them there are some things beyond the scope of knowledge. But if the candles actually worked back when the dragons were alive, a hundred-something years ago, what was their vigil like then? Was it to light the candle to see if they had aptitude for magic? (Although for that you’d think they’d’ve had a Valyrian steel link already.) And if the candles did work only a few generations ago, what kind of coverup was done to establish within the Citadel the new concept of what they symbolized, once the maesters killed the dragons? They’re definitely tied in with the maester anti-magic conspiracy, for sure.
As for what’s up with the glass candles now –
- the warlocks of Qarth are using them to communicate with each other
- Quaithe is very probably using one to send visions to Dany
- Archmaester Marwyn “the Mage” got at least one of the Citadel’s candles working, and has been using it to look at all kinds of things; one thing we know for sure was that he saw Sam traveling to Oldtown and sent Alleras to get to him before the other archmaesters did
Leo Tyrell, Alleras/Sarella Sand, and Pate/the Faceless Man formerly known as Jaqen H’ghar are students that Marwyn has shown the glass candles and may have taught how to use them
- Sam is probably going to learn to use a glass candle in TWOW
- I think they’re going to be very relevant in TWOW, ADOS, and the endgame war against the Others (like, does dragonglass have to be in candle form to produce a communication flame? or would a dragonglass knife work also?)
- I honestly can’t wait to see more
And if you’re interested, lots of interesting quotes about dragonglass candles under the cut: