Memory and the Past Quotes in A Game of Thrones
How we cite our quotes: (Absolute Chapter, Character Name, Chapter.Paragraph)
He had been four years on the Wall. The first time he had been sent beyond, all the old stories had come rushing back, and his bowels had turned to water. (1 Prologue.11)
Because most of the characters in A Game of Thrones can't read, people often only know history through an oral tradition. And we might not always want to trust the stories people tell. (Heck, we might not want to trust the books they write, either.)
They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle's granite walls rise around them. It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea. (3 Catelyn 1.7)
If George R.R. Martin were writing a historical novel about the American Civil War, he might assume we know something about what was going on at the time. But since he is making up this world and its entire history, he has to tell us everything we need to know. This is why we often get little snippets of people thinking about history. Good strategy, Mr. Martin.
Yet sometimes Dany would picture the way it had been, so often had her brother told her the stories. The midnight flight to Dragonstone, moonlight shimmering on the ship's black sails. Her brother Rhaegar battling the Usurper in the bloody waters of the Trident and dying for the woman he loved. The sack of King's Landing by the ones Viserys called the Usurper's dogs, the lords Lannister and Stark. Princess Elia of Dorne pleading for mercy as Rhaegar's heir was ripped from her breast and murdered before her eyes. The polished skulls of the last dragons staring down sightlessly from the walls of the throne room while the Kingslayer opened Father's throat with a golden sword. (4 Daenerys 1.13)
Here we're faced with a character remembering the recent past – except these aren't her memories. These are just stories that Viserys has told to Daenerys. (Actually, they're not even his memories either; he certainly wasn't at the battle of the Trident when he was a baby.)