It's mentioned several times that Arya Stark is the one of Catelyn's children that looks like Jon Snow, thus seemingly confirming their sibling status. But it's also said that she, despite her homely appearance, looks a lot like her paternal aunt Lyanna Stark when she was her age. It's a good thing that Jon looks like Lyanna or there'd be trouble. At least having them both look like her made Ned's cover story more believable.
Sansa is frequently described as a "little bird," because she's kept in a gilded cage, always says sweet things and repeats back whatever is expected of her. She's taken under the wing of Petyr Baelish, masquerading as his natural daughter. Baelish changed his sigil to a mockingbird, which also repeats noises made by others.
There's some definitely Stealth Pun humor with the Kettleblack brothers. Their accusing others of their own crimes fits with the proverb about what the pot called the kettle.
There's likely a heraldry Stealth Pun in Stannis' coat of arms that has a the Baratheon stag enclosed in a flaming heart. A hart is another word for a stag.
The sigil of house Baratheon is a stag—the term "horns", refering to being cuckolded, is derived from the stag's custom of giving up its mate after losing a fight. House Baratheon is plagued by all kinds of adultery. Robert is constantly cheating on Cersei and is in turn cuckolded by her, Stannis makes shadow babies with Melisandre, and Margaery Tyrell is only "officially" a virgin on marrying Renly.
Maps of the world◊ show that many coastlings and the land across from them fit together, such as the Sea of Dorne and that headland in the Disputed Lands, or Shipbreaker Bay and that headland north of the Sea of Myrth, or the Sea of Myrth itself and the headland Rain House is on. This is in accordance with real-world plate tectonics, such as how South American and Africa fit together.
Combined with Fridge Horror. In a lot of aspects, Theon is shown to be a foil to Jon Snow. Because of this, its interesting to note that while Jon performing oral sex on Ygritte is one of the most romantic scenes in the story, Ramsay forcing Theon to perform oral sex on Jeyne Poole is one of the most horrific.
Jalabhar Xho is an analogue to Viserys, another exiled "beggar king." Just like Viserys, he is powerless to do anything but beg those more powerful to return him to his throne. Jalabhar, however, is apparently more content to wait.
Dorne was the one Kingdom able to resist the Targaryen invasion enough to manage to bargain with them, and thereby capitulated only with marriage and cultural concessions none of the others could manage. Dorne has both tricky mountains and sheer expanses of baking hot sand to work with and making it naturally tough to invade, but it was also settled by a large contingent of Rhoynar who arrived as refugees from Essos after fleeing Valyria. In fact, the Valyrians very likely specifically targeted the Rhoynars because they had found some effective ways of countering Valyrians' dragons and they kinda might not have wanted them getting too much better at that. This could go a long way to explain why the Dornish were so difficult to conquer with both conventional armies and dragons; some know-how has survived.
The Baratheons are known for their stubbornness, which is reflected in their sigil the stag. Two Baratheon bastards, Gendry and Mya Stone, are likened to a bull and a mule respectively, which are animals known for their stubbornness, thus hinting at their parentage without being actual stags.
The Ironborn worship the Drowned God, whose eternal enemy is the Storm God. The Iron Islands first fought against the Stormlands for dominion over the Riverlands and the Greyjoys later get crushed by Robert/Stannis Baratheon, who are Stormlords. Currently Aeron, a zealot, is increasingly preaching about the struggle between the two gods and it turns out that a Baratheon is coming for the Ironborn yet again and pushing them back. Both Victarion and Stannis are the younger brothers in charge of two of the biggest fleets in Westeros, are in the shadow of their older brothers, known for their lack of sense of humor, were in direct conflict with each other and ultimately ended up turning to the Red God.
It seems odd that certain Houses have endured for thousands of years and yet there aren't as many members of that House as would be thought. However, looking at Northern Houses explains this. Like with Brandon the Daughterless' grandson, who was a bastard but became the Stark in Winterfell, and Beren Tallhart, who could have taken the Hornwood name from his mother's side, it shows people may have taken the names of the ancient rulers to keep prestige. Meanwhile other branches took the names of the families they married, or started their own house like the Karstarks.
Lord Frey is Lord of the Crossing, which means the bridge that spans the River between the twinned castles either side (the Twins). He is, in short, the Lord of the Double Crossing, which he is also adept at doing. He's arguably more adept at making people uncomfortable for his own amusement - in other words, Lord Frey is also a BridgeTroll. An ugly one, too (he was no easier on the ears or eyes as a kid, either; just ask Dunk).
The Baratheons are called Storm Lords. Robert Baratheon's weapon of choice is a hammer. Combined, it's a reference to Thor.
The fall of the Starks begins when a pair of twins brings harm to one of the Stark family. The culmination happens at a castle named The Twins.
One for Tales of Dunk and Egg: The young Aegon V is nicknamed "Egg" because of his bald head, or because it sounds like the first syllable of his name, but it could also be a reference to his young age and immaturity. After all, an egg contains a baby animal that hasn't hatched yet, just as Aegon has yet to grow from a prince into a king.
Unlike the other lords in the series, Tywin Lannister is always called "Lord Tywin", but almost never "Lord Lannister". There were many Lords Lannister before him, but he wants people to fear him specifically and know that House Lannister under him is not to be trifled with (re: the Reyne-Tarbeck incident). Hence, "Lord Lannister" is not The Dreaded, but "Lord Tywin" is.
In AGOT, Cat reflects that "sometimes she felt as though her heart had turned to stone." In ASOS, she dies and is resurrected as the vengeful Lady Stoneheart.
The Old English name for the month of October was Winterfylleth, meaning "Winter full moon"; speakers of Old English considered winter to begin the day of that month's full moon. Thus, Winterfell is likely named for a literal time in which "Winter is Coming."
The Velaryons, who have a seahorse motif, being closely related to the Targaryens, who have a dragon motif, may relate to the Japanese word for "seahorse" being tatsu-no-otoshigo, roughly meaning "dragon's child."
A Game of Thrones
When Ned is searching for a lead on Jon Arryn's killer, Varys tells him: "There was one boy. All he was, he owed Jon Arryn, but when the widow fled to the Eyrie with her household, he stayed in King's Landing and prospered." Varys is talking about Ser Hugh, Jon's squire, but the exact same thing can be said of Littlefinger. And while Ned suspects that Ser Hugh had a hand Jon's death, it was actually Littlefinger who ordered the murder.
Ned has a fever dream of his sister's death and her crown of blue roses. The description is "A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death". Who has also such blue eyes? The Others, the original death-bringers. So death having blue eyes fits perfectly in Westerosi collective imagination, especially for a Northman.
Arya jokes about her hypothetical coat-of-arms, wondering if it would be a wolf with a fish in its mouth. Later on Arya, warged into Nymeria, pulls Catelyn's corpse out of the river.
Theon is described joking about Hodor that whatever else you could say about his intelligence, he definitely knows his own name, though he apparently forgot that "Hodor" isn't Hodor's name. Theon then becomes so tortured that he's been conditioned to forget his own name.
Ned is surprised to see a direwolf south of the Wall. With the Others rising, it's an early indication that the land north of the Wall is becoming uninhabitable. Mance Rayder and the wildlings eventually reveal a similar intention to flee south.
When Daenerys asks her handmaids if they've ever seen dragons, Doreah tells her a story about the moon cracking open like an egg and releasing dragons after wandering too close to the sun, while Irri and Jhiqui claim that the moon is a goddess, wife to the sun. All three of them are right: Drogo is the sun (Dany's sun and stars) and Dany is the moon (the moon of Drogo's life), wife to the sun. Her three dragon eggs hatch when she steps into the flames of his funeral pyre.
A Clash of Kings
Melisandre justifies her morality to Davos by claiming "if half of an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion." Much later, Sam receives an onion at Craster's Keep that is half black with rot. He simply cuts out the rotten portion and eats the rest, inadvertently destroying Melisandre's justifications.
Selyse Baratheon has fertility problems and a moustache that she's constantly plucking out. This sounds a lot like she could be experiencing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
When Jon Snow first meets Ygritte, he takes her captive and asks if she and her wildling friends were watching for the Night's Watch in the mountains. She responds, "You, and others." Because the chapter is told from Jon's POV, "others" is uncapitalized. He doesn't get it: Ygritte means a capital O.
After Theon captures Winterfell, he fakes the murder of Bran and Rickon, implying first to Maester Luwin that he will kill them. We then hear that Bran and Rickon are "dead" when news reaches Tyrion in King's Landing. However, just prior to that, we are given a hint that they are still alive. While searching the Skirling Pass with Qhorin's party, Jon has a wolf dream, in which he sees and talks to a weirwood tree that is clearly meant to represent Bran himself, though Bran's name is not mentioned. In the same dream, as in others, it's shown that the wolves can tell who from their pack is alive and who is dead. Bran is alive in the dream, and in fact has his "third eye" open and helps to open Jon's as well. Therefore he is alive in the real world, even though we are told just a few pages later he is dead.
A Storm of Swords
Tyrion thinks: "There was this to say about weddings over battles: it was less likely that someone would try to cut off your nose." As two particular weddings in that book proved, weddings are worse than battles sometimes.
After The Reveal about Lysa and Littlefinger's years-long affair , the joke he told in A Game of Thrones"When you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman, the best thing to do is close your eyes and get on with it" is pretty much a confession about how he really feels about being intimate with Lysa (and how he managed to ehm...stay strong during their wedding night).
Catelyn thinks about her family's funerary customs that "The Tullys drew their strength from the river, and it was to the river they returned when their lives had run their course". After the Red Wedding her corpse is thrown into the river as a mockery of House Tully's traditional funeral, but it's from the river that her corpse is taken back and revived as the vengeful Lady Stoneheart.
Dany "pointedly" asks Missandei whether Unsullied could be used against her if she decides to resell them. Later it becomes clear that Dany had no intention of selling slaves. She was trying to discover if the Unsullied could be turned against Astapor's Good Masters.
At the Red Wedding, the musicians are described as terrible, then revealed shortly thereafter to be crossbowmen, explaining why their musical talents are lacking.
The Stark family Valyrian steel sword Ice is melted down into two new swords, Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail. While the people who named these swords didn't realize it, the names allude to the Stark parents. Ned was haunted by a promise he swore to his sister on her deathbed and Cat was widowed at the end of the first book.
The murder of Tywin at the hands of his son Tyrion is in several ways poetic justice.
Tywin was found on the privy with his breeches down and took a shit as he died. When Tyrion was young Tywin had forced him to work in Casterly Rock's cisterns and drains to humiliate him.
A dead whore was left in his bed. Tywin had previously expressed disgust over Tyrion's whoring and threatened to hang the next whore he found in his son's bed. It's also worth noting that Tywin publicly humiliated his father's mistress in part because she wore his dead mother's jewelry. Shae wore and was killed with his own jewelry, the Hand of the King necklace.
Tywin accused Tyrion of killing his mother, though Tyrion's birth was obviously not his fault. When Tyrion does become guilty of murdering his parent, Tywin is the victim.
Tyrion killed Tywin over what he did to Tysha. His great victories and atrocities, his family name and lineage, his power and reputation — all the things that mattered most to him in life — had no significance at all in regards to his death, only a young peasant girl whose name he didn't even remember.
In A Clash of Kings, Sansa receives a silver and amethyst hairnet from Ser Dontos who instructs her to wear it to Joffrey's wedding to Margaery Tyrell. By A Storm of Swords Sansa learns that the "amethysts" from her hairnet were really a crystallized version of the Strangler, used to kill Joffrey at his wedding feast when Olenna Tyrell slipped one of them into his wine. The ironic brilliance is that throughout history people believed that amethysts would protect the wearer from getting drunk or poisoned, both of which happened to Joffrey in his last moments alive.
Possibly coincidental, but a possible Portmanteau Couple Name for Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling would be "Reyne". As in the Reynes of Castamere, the song that plays just before Robb is murdered as a direct result of his marriage to Jeyne. Foreshadowing much?
Oberyn threatens to hunt the Mountain "through all seven hells" if the latter dies before saying Elia's name. Considering that Oberyn was rumored to have been studying dark arts, it's all too possible that he was dead serious and capable of backing up the threat.
A Feast for Crows
Out of all the mothers in the series, Cersei has the least qualms about having other children killed, despite being very protective of her own brood. She orders all of Robert's bastard children in King's Landing massacred after his death, threatened to have Mya killed if he brought her to court (and considers Catelyn an Extreme Doormat for not smothering Jon in his cradle), and was rumoured to have killed two of his bastards and sold their mother to a slaver. This possibly ties into the Animal Motif of her house; real lionesses will readily kill foreign cubs if given the chance, even though they are very good mothers to their own. Also, when a male lion takes over a pride, he kills every cub that is not his own to prevent the spread of his rivals' genes and pave the way for his own offspring; this could relate to Cersei's frustration with the societal limitations of her gender and her belief that things would be easier if she were male. When ruling as Queen Regent in A Feast for Crows, many of her decisions are based on what she thinks her lord father would do in her place.
Cersei's thoughts, while imprisoned in ADwD: Oh, for a sword and the skill to wield it. She had a warrior's heart, but the gods in their blind malice had given her the feeble body of a woman.
A couple of lines from Maggy the Frog's prophecy to Cersei are worded in such a way that they would be likely to come true regardless of any outside circumstances.
"You will wed the king": Whether Cersei married Rhaegar after Aerys' death or married Robert after he took the throne, this line would come true.
"A younger, more beautiful queen shall come to cast you down and take all that you hold dear": No matter how beautiful Cersei is, her looks will inevitably start to fade at some point as she grows older. And of course she will eventually be succeeded by a younger queen, when her sons marry or her daughter comes of age. What does Cersei hold most dear in the world (besides herself and Jaime)? Her children. When her son gets married, making his bride the new queen, that can be viewed as taking away what Cersei values most. This line seems like a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: when Cersei hears about a younger, more beautiful queen coming to take what she holds dear, she lives in fear of that queen (or any woman she thinks is that queen) and take action against her, in turn giving said queen more motivation to take her down. And if that queen is highborn and from a powerful family (which she almost certainly will be), that will only make Cersei's downfall more inevitable and more painful.
"Gold shall be your children's crowns, and gold their shrouds": The line about "golden crowns" could refer to literal crowns of royalty, or simply to having golden Lannister hair. No matter who Cersei married, her children world probably end up being fathered by Jaime, considering she doesn't care too much about fidelity in her marriage. The prophecy doesn't say when or how they die, but as highborn Lannisters, they will surely be given lavish funerals. When Joffrey is laid out on a bier at his funeral, he is wearing gilded armor.
"The valonqar shall wrap his hands about your throat and choke the life from you": This one is not necessarily inevitable regardless of circumstances, but allowing for a bit of stretch, Cersei's tendency to treat nearly everyone around her terribly leads to her making a lot of enemies, even her own family members. Her Irrational Hatred of Tyrion, believing he is her valonqar, has led to him becoming her worst enemy. As of A Dance of Dragons, it seems her All Take and No Give treatment of Jaime has turned him against her and made him another candidate for the valonqar, as seen when he reads her letter pleading for help when she's imprisoned by the High Sparrow and throws it in the fire.
A Dance With Dragons
Hizdahr hates being called "your grace", because in Meereen the Graces are priestesses and prostitutes. In Hizdahr's eyes, every time Ser Barristan calls him "your grace", it's insulting his masculinity at best or implying he's a prostitute at worst.
The bloody flux is also called "the pale mare". In the story of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death rides a pale horse. Daenerys, the woman responsible for the conditions that brought about the disease, rides a literal pale mare, her silver.
Barristan tells Daenerys to show mercy often; this is because he would be dead if it weren't for Robert's mercy after his rebellion.
In retaliation for the Red Wedding, Wyman Manderly killed three Freys and had their flesh served to their unsuspecting kinsmen during Ramsey Bolton's wedding feast, but there's more to this method of revenge than sheer gruesomeness. Ramsey had kidnapped Wyman's cousin, Donella Hornwood, and starved her to the point that she tried to eat her own fingers. His sack of Winterfell resulted in Rickon Stark being stuck on an island inhabited by cannibals. Roose's sabotage of the Northern forces got Wyman's son Wylis imprisoned at Harrenhal, where he was forced to eat human flesh. The Freys slandered Robb Stark by claiming he turned into a wolf and ate people. Lord Manderly in turn tricked the Boltons and Freys into committing cannibalism because they had forced it upon/used it against the people he cared about. The legend, lore, religion, and law is that a lord who murders an invited guest is condemned to eat the flesh of his kin until his bloodline is wiped out.
It's never explained, but Jon Connington's alias "Griff" is a reference to his family arms, which feature griffons.
The white raven sent by the Citadel to announce the arrival of winter, the one that Ser Kevan sees right before his death, carries symbolism far more ominous than a simple changing of the seasons. As Varys explains to him as he lays dying, without him, Tommen will have no one to help him secure his hold on the Iron Throne and stabilize the Seven Kingdoms, leaving them ripe for conquest by either Aegon VI or Daenerys. And no matter who gets there first, like as not, they'll be more than ready for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the family that murdered their relatives and helped oust them from the throne. Winter is coming for House Lannister, and oh, what a brutal winter it's going to be.
Dany's surreal vision of a wolf-headed king reigning over a feast of dead men. It's not even as metaphorical as it first seems.
Patchface's song: "Fools blood, kings blood, blood on the maidens thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye."
Theon's nightmare after conquering Winterfell. In his dream Theon is sitting by a table that is surrounded by people who are dead. Theon wakes up when Robb Stark and Greywind enter the room covered with savage wounds. Theon sitting by the table foreshadows Theon's fate. In book five, Theon often reminds himself that Theon Greyjoy died in Winterfell and that only "Reek" remains.
And the Ghost of High Heart: I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no one heard his grief. I dreamt such a clangor I thought my head might burst, drums and horns and pipes and screams, but the saddest sound was the little bells."
Sandor promises to take Arya to her uncle's "bloody wedding," which turns out to be prophetic.
Petyr claims that he's slept with Catelyn, but we later learn that it was actually Lysa who slept with Petyr after a feast while he was passed-out drunk, and he thought at the time that she was Catelyn. (He later knowingly sleeps with Lysa after the duel, when he's not in the best state of mind either.) The fact that he's been making this claim for years afterwards shows how psychologically damaged he is over Catelyn.
Shae recognizes a disguised Varys because she says a whore has to learn to see the man, not his appearance, or she ends up dead. This is ironic given that she vastly misreads Tyrion when he confronts her after her betrayal, causing her death.
Oberyn says that he'd sooner die with a breast in his hand than a weapon. He dies in battle soon afterwards.
In A Clash of Kings, Bran, Rickon, and their Frey wards are playing a game in Winterfell called "The Lord of the Crossing", which they learned at the Twins. One player is the Lord of the Crossing, who stands in the middle of a bridge with a staff. The player who wants to cross must swear oaths to the crossing, which they must keep unless they say 'mayhaps' without the Lord noticing. In A Storm of Swords, Walder Frey, the real Lord of the Crossing, swears oaths to the Starks immediately prior to the Red Wedding, but sneaks the word 'mayhaps' into his phrasing. He even reminds them that he's given them leave to make the crossing at the Twins on many occasions, "and you never said 'mayhaps'" — which, according to the rules of the game, is an immediate disqualification for anyone who manages to disarm the Lord and cross the bridge.
Ned mentions Barra, one of Robert's bastards, in front of Robert and Cersei. In the next book, we learn Cersei has had her killed. She might not have even known about Barra if Ned hadn't mentioned it.
It is heavily implied that Theon has been gelded by Ramsay. Then there is the line: "Lord Ramsay never took anything but skin unless you begged for it."
On the suggestion of 'Reek' Theon has a pair of miller's children killed so he can pass the bodies off as belonging to Rickon and Bran. Theon reflects that he slept with the miller's wife a few times. Given that one of the boys is young enough to pass for Rickon, Theon may well be guilty of Offing the Offspring on top of everything else.
Littlefinger tells Ned that Starks melt when they come below the Neck. This makes sense with the whole "Starks as ice" thing they've got going, but also remember that Ned's father was burned alive when he went to King's Landing. Also the Stark Greatsword, Ice, is melted in the South. Not to mention both Ned and Robb are beheaded, so what happens to them below the neck...
There are numerous references to weirwood groves being cut down and burned when people change faith. It doesn't look like a big deal (just some religious warfare), right? Then we learn, when Bran is being trained by the One-Eyed Crow, that weirwood groves contain the minds of all the greenseers, and record all the history they've ever witnessed. In other words, burning a weirwood grove is like burning a thousand-year-old library composed of sentient beings.
Combined with Fridge Brilliance. Almost every major castle in Westeros still has a godswood, most of which have at least one weirwood tree. Also, both public and secret messages are usually sent by messenger ravens. Now take note of the fact that this Three-Eyed Crow a.k.a. Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers was one of the most successful and ruthless Masters of Whispers that the Iron Throne has ever had, and that his partial descent from the First Men most likely means he has access to both warging and greenseeing.
The parallel between the Baratheon brothers' health after they become king. Both Robert's and Stannis's health declined drastically once they donned a crown and people are remarking that they have become shadows of their former selves. Both went down a slow self-destructive path with a lot of self-loathing, which is especially hard to swallow for them since, like most members of their house, they were born with great physical prowess and as gifted warriors. Ironically, Renly, who was in his physical peak, was enjoying life in general and didn't care as much for fighting, got a quick death once he became king in his own right.
The Mad King put enough wildfire beneath King's Landing to burn the city and not all of it has been discovered. If a fire breaks out in the wrong place one day...
Or one or more of the caches could be discovered by the Flea Bottom's disreputable types and hit the black market. This way, someone like Walder Frey or Roose Bolton may be revealed to possess wildfire from one of Aerys' caches, and use it against the good guys with disastrous effect.
Sandor Clegane mentions that he first killed someone at the age of twelve. That would put it around the time of Robert's Rebellion. His house was sworn to the Lannisters, who avoided taking part in the war up until the sack of King's Landing. His first kill wasn't on some field of battle the stories would say was glorious, it was probably in the city his side was rampaging, murdering and raping through while their leader was ordering children murdered. Between that and his brother, it's no wonder the guy is so disgusted with everything.
Ramsay married Jeyne Poole/"Arya" so he could have a "half-Stark" child with her and secure the Boltons' claim to Winterfell, but when he decided to torture and rape her, he shot himself in the foot by ensuring that the chances of her carrying a healthy child to term were practically zero (the resulting stress and mental trauma would all but ensure a miscarriage or other problems with a pregnancy). Even if she did manage to get pregnant, the resulting childbirth might have killed her anyway, considering that she's barely 12-13 years old. Not that he would care.
He was a respected warrior, but was corrupted by a supernatural woman, who drained life from him when they made love and converted him to another religion. He and his brother were both kings (though few other than himself supported his claim to be a king), and were enemies of each other. His Moral Event Horizon was/will be committing human sacrifice to appease his new god(s). He was ultimately defeated by an army from Winterfell. Now are we talking about Stannis Baratheon or the Night's King?