One of the more misunderstood characters in A Song of Ice and Fire is Patchface, the fool who capers and cavorts for the amusement of Stannis' court. Patchface was originally brought to Westeros by Stannis' father, Lord Steffon Baratheon, and was the only survivor of a shipwreck that took the life of Steffon, along with his wife and the entire crew. The tragedy of it is that their ship broke up within sight of home, in Shipbreaker Bay, and that Stannis saw the ship go down. In fact that's one reason that Stannis gives for his dismissal of the Seven as worthy of his worship. The thing is though that Patchface went down with the ship, and was only recovered days later when he washed ashore. What happened to him under the waves- for days?
This post will have spoilers for the books.
So Patchface is a character that I did not really appreciate until I became familiar with fan theories and speculation. The first couple times I read the books I thought oh he's weird, must be something there, and moved on. I now have a much greater appreciation for Patchface and the role he plays in predicting (quite accurately) a lot of very important events. Throughout the series, whenever we see Stannis (and his daughter Shireen) there is often Patchface as well. First of all, why is he called this? It's due to the facial tattoos that cover his face- green and red squares- as per the custom in Volantis, the slave city he's from.
When he washed ashore and was found his skin was said to be cold and white. A rumor among fishermen was that "a mermaid had taught him to breathe water in return for his seed." Regardless of whether that's true, there are a lot of theories, including that he may have been saved by the Drowned God and returned to life and land for some unknown reason. Whatever happened to him, he now issues rhymes that seem to be prophetic. Here are some examples.
"The shadows come to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord," he sang, hopping from one foot to the other and back again. "The shadows come to stay, my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord."
This could be a reference to the shadow babies that Melisandre gives birth to.
"Fool's blood, king's blood, blood on the maiden's thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye."
This seems to refer to the Red Wedding, with Edmure chained and Greatjon Umber captured as well.
"Under the sea, men marry fishes." Patchface did a little dance step, jingling his bells. "They do, they do, they do."
This one's a little less clear. Personally I think it refers to the Deep Ones, the hybrid creature that are said to mate with human women, as referenced in the World of Ice and Fire book.
"The crow, the crow," Patchface cried when he saw Jon. "Under the sea the crows are white as snow, I know, I know, oh oh oh."
A reference to the Others or the wights? Or maybe a prediction that Jon will die.
Melisandre is unnerved by Patchface. That creature is dangerous.
Frankly if Melisandre is worried about him then I may be terrified of him! But I think even as Melisandre seems to misinterpret her own visions, I think she's missing the point about Patches too. The jester clearly seems to have some awareness of what is happening and I think as the series progresses we're going to see more and more of that.
GOT is so popular on HBO, but I wonder what the stats are on the success of the books? Do people who read the books watch the program, or vice versa? You do a great job of reviewing the novel. Hugs...ROReplyDelete
Don't want to bump into those spoilers so I skipped to the comments. Just wanted to say hi:)ReplyDelete
I need to read this series but now I'm starting to think I need to read it more than once to catch all the little things.ReplyDelete
I've pretty much given up on reading the books. I just enjoy the show now. :(ReplyDelete
I just kind of ignored him in a Clash of Kings as I found him pretty annoying!ReplyDelete
Oooh - I have to say I haven't read any Patchface theories before and when I do go back to rereading these books I'm going to be watching him with a far keener eye now! I love how you've investigated those lines!ReplyDelete
I'm ashamed to say... I completely forgot about him. I started to vaguely remember him when I read the quotes and I remember thiking "okay this guy's weird" but I never put too much thought about into it. I'm so glad you did this post, it's so interesting (of course now I want to reread the books and watch him very closely but even then I'm pretty sure I'd miss some stuff).ReplyDelete
This is pretty fascinating, I have to admit I pretty much just brushed this character off as I was reading because there were so many other characters to focus on. Perhaps I should have given him a closer look, especially based on Melisandre's comment. Love your GOT posts!ReplyDelete
The more ASOIAF posts I read from you, the more I realize just how much I've forgotten about these books. I barely even remember Patchface, to my chagrin! Great point about Melisandre though -- if she's afraid of someone, then I'm practically wetting my pants. LOL!ReplyDelete
I don't think this character is in the TV show right?? I don't remember him!ReplyDelete