Sunday’s Wisdom #186: Proverbs of Ice and Fire

I have finally done it. I have read the entire series, to date, of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I officially join the throng which waits in demanding anticipation for the next novel in the series, as well as the one after that, the conclusion. If Martin dies before he finishes it, he will leave many unhappy fans in his wake. I include myself in that now.

In honor of this, I have decided to depart a little from my usual formula this week. Instead of a single quote and my thoughts on it, I present a collection of quotes, much like proverbs, drawn from all sorts of characters from all across the books (not the Game of Thrones show). There are many more to be found, of course. These are just a small sampling, the ones which most stood out to me as I was reading. I may draw on some of these for later use, but, for now, here they all are together for your enjoyment.

Mr. Martin, you have given us many quotes, and I salute you!

Oh, just in case someone out there has a photographic memory or word searching software, I readily admit, I have altered a handful of these, slightly, to apply more generally than they do in the specific situation in which they are mentioned. Like when the speaker mentions the name of whoever they’re talking to, I edited the names out, that sort of thing. 😉

And now, without further ado, and in no particular order, I present the Proverbs of Ice and Fire!

“History is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again.”

“The unseen enemy is always the most fearsome.”

“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”

“Killing should never be easy.”

“When your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all.”

“What is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom? Everything.”

“Only a starving man begs bread from a beggar.”

“Always keep your foes confused.”

“A harp can be as dangerous as a sword, in the right hands.”

“We are born to suffer, that our sufferings might make us strong.”

“Words are like arrows. Once loosed, you cannot call them back.”

“The more you give a king, the more he wants.”

“Knowledge is a weapon. Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle.”

“When the cold winds blow the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”

“It was you who taught me that tears were a mark of weakness in a man, so you cannot expect that I should cry for you.”

“How much can a crown be worth, when a crow can dine upon a king?”

“Men of honor will do things for their children that they would never consider doing for themselves.”

“When a dog goes bad, the fault lies with his master.”

“Sometimes there is no happy choice, only one less grievous than the others.”

“Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.”

“You’ll find truth in your looking glass, not on the tongues of men.”

“A maid has to be mistrustful in this world, or she will not be a maid for long.”

“In the game of thrones, even the humblest of pieces can have wills of their own.”

“Keep friends at your back and foes where you can see them.”

“We all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe.”

“False light can only lead us deeper into darkness.”

“Dying is not dead.”

“Only a fool makes threats he’s not prepared to carry out.”

“Valor is a poor substitute for numbers.”

“War makes monsters of us all.”

“It does not matter how a man begins, but only how he ends.”

“The world is one great web, and a man dare not touch a single strand lest all the others tremble.”

“Good men and bad, heroes and villains, men of honor, liars, cravens, brutes… we have plenty, as do you.”

“Trust no one. And keep your dragon close.”

“When treating with liars, even an honest man must lie.”

“Would that lambs had teeth. That would make the wolves more cautious, no doubt.”

“It was never wise for a ruler to eschew the trappings of power, for power itself flows in no small measure from such trappings.”

“Power tastes best when sweetened by courtesy.”

“I do not require men to kneel, but they do need to obey.”

“So long as men remember the wrongs done to their forebears, no peace will ever last.”

“If every woman had a direwolf, men would be much sweeter.”

“I would choose freedom over comfort every time.”

“The most insidious thing about bondage was how easy it was to grow accustomed to it.”

“Men’s lives have meaning, not their deaths.”

“There has never been a slave who did not choose to be a slave. Their choice may be between bondage and death, but the choice is always there.”

“You kill men for the wrongs they have done, not the wrongs that they may do someday.”

“Not all men are meant to dance with dragons.”

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

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