thoth amon

Temple of the Goddess Isis at Philae,
detail from the back wall of the Inner Shrine of the “House of Birth” (the Mammisi):
the Goddess Isis suckling Horus the Child in the papyrus swamps, flanked by Thoth (at left) presenting the ‘Tyet’-knot and by Amon-Ra (at right) giving the 'Ankh’ (Life).
(Drawing from “Monumenti dell'Egitto e della Nubia” by Ippolito Rosellini, cfr. “The Gods of the Egyptians” by E.A.W. Budge)

kingbronnoftheblackwater  asked:

I was reading that Conan the Barbarian was an inspiration for Bittersteel. Would you know what are the parallels between the characters and could Bittersteel be a character deconstruction of Conan himself in the World of Ice and Fire?

Sure. So here’s GRRM’s description of Bittersteel (emphasis added):

His real name was Aegor Rivers, and he was the natural son of King Aegon IV by his fifth mistress, Lady Barba Bracken. Younger than Daemon Blackfyre, older than Bloodraven. Bittersteel was also a warrior, and looked the part. He was only half Tagaryen, so he got the purple eyes, but his hair was black. As a adult he wore a beard, cropped very short, little more than a shadow on his face and jaws. Somewhat of a Conanesque look to him, but not the Frank Frazetta Conan and definitely not the Arnold Conan, more the Barry Windsor-Smith version, or the one described by REH – he is tall and well made, but lean and lithe as a panther. And angry. No smiles here. Bittersteel was pissed off all his life, and had a special loathing for Bloodraven and his mother, who had displayed his own mother as the king’s favorite.

For reference, this is what Barry Windsor-Smith Conan looks like:

So where is the parallel/deconstruction? 

Personality-wise, Robert E. Howard described “Conan, the Cimmerian,” as “black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.” So Bittersteel certainly got the sullenness and the melancholies, if not the “gigantic mirth.”

However, I think there’s more to the parallel than that. Conan was a purely physical hero, who defeated evil wizards like Thulsa Doom or Thoth-Amon or supernatural monsters like Thog of "Xuthal of the Dusk" or the demon Khosatral Khel, by being impossibly fast, strong, resilient, and iron-willed. And Conan begat a whole series of musclebound “sword and sorcery” heroes who would vanquish puny wizards with a swing of the sword…which in the 1960s led Michael Moorcock to create Elric of Melniboné as the anti-Conan.

Where Conan was dark and muscled like a panther, Elric was a frail albino. Where Conan was a practical man imbued with unstoppable will and relentless energy, Elric was neurotic, introspective, and self-loathing. Where Conan was a warrior, Elric was a sorceror. The only time Conan got his hands on a magic sword, he promptly broke it across the head of one of his enemies; Elric’s story was defined by his struggle with the sword Stormbringer, a sentient vampiric blade that gave Elric strength and vitality but demanded souls in return. 

The old school SAT analogy is clear - Bittersteel:Bloodraven::Conan:Elric. Bittersteel is a dark-haired warrior who trusts in his own strength alone, Bloodraven is an albino sorceror with a magic sword.  And just as Conan and Elric represented duelling tendencies within the genre, Bittersteel and Bloodraven are set against each other form birth, born into an ancient blood-feud, competing over the love of the same woman, choosing opposing sides in a life-long civil war, and both of them extending their conflict into eternity - Bittersteel through his mercenary company and his deathbed vow, Bloodraven through the magics of the greenseers.