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.