Euron Greyjoy shares a lot with the stereotypical (Disney) pirate. He has that patch over one eye. He has his crew of strange people, ‘exotic’ “others” as it is in the text. He has his ship with its black sails. He is a rather dark rendition of the Pirates of the Caribbean, showing the true, historical face of the pirate – that of plunderer, rapist and murderer. My question is, will Martin go a step further? Will he make Euron and his crew of mutes even more terrifying by making them literally a crew of cursed pirate zombies?
There is that one terrifying Thor comic book (Thor: Vikings (2003)) where Manhattan gets attacked from the sea by a single ship of immortal Viking pirate zombies and they go slaughtering from flat to flat. It is horrific. Thor cannot stop them because they are immortal. They even break Thor’s arm and he has to ask help from Dr Strange. It’s the only comic book I’ve felt afraid while reading.
This comic has tapped into the ‘butcher’ of our history, the unstoppable butcher with which we have had too much acquaintance collectively, as a species. He is Ivan the Terrible who butchers his own city of Novgorod he suspects of betrayal, he is Cesare Borgia who orders the slaughter of all inhabitants of a town (numbering in the thousands), an ordeal that lasts more than 24 hours, and at which even Leonardo Da Vinci, his (un?)willing accomplice, is disgusted at.
I think that Martin plans making Euron an incarnation of this terrifying immortal butcher. A butcher we have seen too often, but which still somehow escapes us, because he keeps repeating throughout history!
Disney has clipped the claws of the pirate-butcher image in its Disney pirate ride, introduced in the 1960s, and this PG portrayal of the ‘pirate’ concept especially took root in the vastly popular movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean (inspired by the aforementioned Disney ride), beginning with the The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) which features a zombie pirate crew on its black-sails ship called The Black Pearl. Now, that Thor: Vikings was published in the same year (2003) as this movie is probably significant, as is the way the pirate ship is introduced in this comic:
Please notice the guy who says “It’s a movie. Look at them, it’s gotta be a movie…“. This makes me think, along with the year of its release, that Thor: Vikings was directly influenced by The Curse of the Black Pearl, and is its deliberate subversion, showcasing the brutality of the historical pirate.
However, it is arguably not The Pirates of the Caribbean that have influenced Martin in creating Euron and his ship the Silence, or at least not in the same measure as Thor: Vikings probably has.
Thor: Vikings actually has more than a few similarities with Euron’s story from ASOIAF. Let’s make a list!
0. First and foremost, the (undead) pirates of this story are Vikings, which seem to be also the template on which Martin wrote his Greyjoys and their “Old Way” (or “We Do Not Sow”- that is, ‘We Do Pillage And Rape’). I put this as number zero because the reference might not necessarily be tied to this comic, but to historical Vikings in general.
1. A possible inspiration for Martin calling Euron’s ship Silence:
While in Thor: Vikings this ship is not called Silence, and this silence in the bubble refers to a crewman calling for silence for his captain Harald Jaekelsson, this is the image with which the Viking ship of terror is introduced. Also, Silence is a galley too. And please notice also its Dragon figurehead, which Euron’s Silence doesn’t have (it has a woman without a mouth instead) but could be tied to his obsession with dragons, or might signify that he will eventually acquire (an undead) one? Also, this ship flies later on in the comic.
2. Euron’s speech at the Kingsmoot + Haralad Jaekelsson’s design itself
Harald kind of looks like Euron (except for the patch) – he has black hair and a black beard (itself a reference, of course, to an actual historical pirate from the Caribbean, Blackbeard, tying the comic again to Pirates of the Caribbean).
3. Euron is just another ‘unearthly’ pirate sitting on a “mound of blackened skulls” (Winds of Winter, The Forsaken (Aeron’s vision under the influence of nightshade) – Harald is in the image below
4. We also have Aeron in the guise of a “wise man”, the only remaining survivor from a pillaged village who curses the pirates with immortality: “I curse you, Viking! You and the filth that crews yon dragon ship.”
Remember, in the books, Aeron, one of Euron’s younger brothers is a priest of the drowned god, and in The Forsaken chapter of The Winds of Winter he curses Euron and his crew:
Even this wise man’s position with outstretched arms is reminiscent of the position Aeron is in when tied to the figurehead of the Silence.
And also notice that the bloody rune the wise man holds looks a bit like writhing tentacles which evokes the Greyjoy’s squid (or kraken) as well as Euron’s face of “writhing tentacles” while he sits on his “mound of blackened skulls” in Aeron’s vision. A similar image is also Harald’s heart that is described in the image above as a “ball of maggots”.
This last probable influence is quite interesting, because it gives us some hints where Euron’s story might go. While Aeron does curse Euron, it is Euron in Martin’s story who wields all the magic.
My prediction is that Euron, spilling the blood of the priests he tied to the ships of his fleet, as well as many others, will “sail on a sea of blood” and cause a great tide on the city of Old Town – but this tide will also drown both him and his crew, making them, in a kind of power-reversal Martin seems to love, zombies of Aeron’s drowned god, but also immortal, because, as the Ironborn say:
“What is dead may never die… but rises again, harder and stronger.”
In this light, the chapter title The Forsaken is also quite interesting. It leads you to believe that Aeron is the forsaken one, as it seems his god has abandoned him and lets Euron torture him, but the form could also be plural.
While I know how the naming of chapters in ASOIAF works (the name of the chapter is the name of the POV character, or rather, their identity at the moment), it is just too fun to think that it is actually Euron and all that are with him that are “the Forsaken” (especially as this is also a name for a faction of intelligent undead in World of Warcraft (incidentally having the almost same acronym as The Winds of Winter – (T)WoW?)), about to pay a hefty price for what they have been doing. In the end, Aeron is not really forsaken in this chapter because he succeeds in sticking with his faith, which might just get confirmed in The Winds of Winter.
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[…] yesterday’s post, I wrote about the probable influence on the pirate image of Euron Greyjoy, while in this post I […]
[…] about the probable influences on the conception of Euron’s character in the ASOIAF books here and here, but neither of those influences foreshadow Euron’s probable massive blood sacrifice […]