Over the weekend, George R.R. Martin gave fans yet another glimpse at The Winds of Winter, reading a never-before-seen Aeron Grey chapter, "The Forsaken," for the crowd at Balticon on Sunday. Martin's apparently had the chapter in his back pocket for a while now — he offered it as a reading option at another convention all the way back in 2011 — and he warned listeners that they were in for some horrors. "This [chapter] is similar in character to Ramsay Bolton," he told the crowd after they'd voted to hear it. "You are some sick motherfuckers."
Modern fandom being what it is, a slew of summaries soon went up around the web, and a group of fans have since banded together to create a complete transcript of the new chapter. What did we learn? Mostly that "sick" was an understatement.
Aeron Greyjoy's life has gone from bad to worse.
When last we left the drowned priest, he was leaving the kingsmoot in the hopes of stirring up resistance to his big brother Euron's rule. As it turns out, that didn't happen: Aeron was quickly kidnapped by Euron's mute goons, and he's been rotting away in a series of dungeons ever since. Oh, and sometimes Euron shows up to torture him.
Yes, Euron really is an abuser and a kinslayer.
Aeron's previous chapters closely associated Euron with the sound of a door opening in the night, which led some fans to speculate that he may have been sexually abused by Euron as a child. "The Forsaken" confirms this, as Euron taunts Aeron about raping him: "I could hear you praying from outside the door. I always wondered: Were you praying that I would choose you or that I would pass you by?" Euron also brags about killing not just Balon, but two more of their brothers besides.
The 'Euron the Dark Lord' theory appears to be correct.
For years, the conventional wisdom on Euron was that he was a campy diversion from the main action of the series. But thanks to the efforts of bloggers like Made in Myr and Poor Quentyn, that interpretation has now shifted, and he's viewed as a dark sorcerer who conquers and absorbs the world's various ideologies for his own evil ends. A vision in "The Forsaken" makes this clear. After Euron feeds Aeron liquid hallucinogens stolen from the warlocks of Qarth — demanding all the while that his brother name him a god — Aeron sees Euron sitting on the Iron Throne, with various gods impaled upon it: "the Great Shepherd and the Black Goat, three-headed Trios and the Pale Child Bakkalon, the Lord of Light and the butterfly god of Naath. And there, swollen and green, half-devoured by crabs, the Drowned God festered with the rest, seawater still dripping from his hair."
And 'Euron the New Night's King' may well be, too.
Brief visions in Theon and Daenerys chapters have symbolically linked Euron with the White Walkers, leading some fans to assume that, like the Night's King of the books, he will try to forge a pact with those ice-zombies. Another vision might support this, as Aeron sees his brother accompanied by "a shadow in woman’s form, long and tall and terrible, her hands alive with pale white fire." Could this be a reference to the Night's King's bride of legend? Or, as others have argued, is it a hint that Euron will soon be coming into contact with Melisandre?
Valyrian-steel armor exists, and Euron has some.
Fans have never known whether or not to believe Euron's boasts that he visited Valyria on his travels, but the new chapter offers more evidence that he may have been telling the truth, as he shows up wearing strange black armor "edged in red gold," with "whorls and glyphs and arcane symbols folded into the steel." It's Valyrian steel, baby! That's not just a sign that Euron is an anime villain come to life — it might also come in handy during a battle against the White Walkers.
Euron's got some sort of terrible black-magic trick up his sleeve.
The chapter ends with Euron preparing to do battle against a fleet that's been sent by the Iron Throne. He's massively outnumbered, but he seems very confident he'll succeed — probably because he's just tied a bunch of priests of various religions to the prows of his ships. (Aeron himself ends up on Euron's flagship.) Some sort of massive human sacrifice seems in the cards. Scary! But Aeron hasn't quite lost faith in the Drowned God yet: In a bit of symbolism in the chapter's closing line, "He licked his lips, and tasted salt." The Winds of Winter can't come soon enough.