In the quest for the Iron Throne, knowledge is power. And as was seen in ‘The Winds of Winter,’ the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones, one character in particular found a wealth of knowledge inside a great archive containing the massive history of Westeros and perhaps a few of its secrets as well. The character in question was Samwell Tarly, man of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow’s bff, special guy friend to Gilly, and (apparently) adoptive father of her young son. After a brief layover to steal his ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Sam found his way to the Citadel, to study and become a maester now that winter has come and the White Walkers aren’t far behind.
When you stop to consider all that ‘The Winds of Winter’ had to deliver – what with its Septs blowing up, kings jumping out of windows or being named in the North, and hearts of sellswords being broken – the brief stopover in Oldtown might have seemed a tad out of place. After all, this was an entirely new location for the series; there was no war to be fought, nor were undead ice zombies or dragons threatening its relatively quaint environs. But even though Sam and Gilly’s journey wasn’t exactly fraught with danger – at least until the lens-wearing librarian barked that no women or children were allowed inside – there was something important within the Citadel that went beyond the hundreds of thousands of pages waiting to be read.
That would, of course, be the “gyroscopes” hanging from the ceiling that resemble the astrolabe from the series’ remarkable animated opening sequence. The fixtures didn’t require eagle-eyed fans to spot, either; they were positioned front and center for all to see and, along with the lenses worn by the brusque librarian, seemed to offer a hint of sorts as to the nature of the story being told. As it stands, even John Bradley, the actor who plays Sam, thinks there might be something more to the Citadel’s fixtures and reading implements than a mere nod to the series’ credit sequence.
In an interview with THR, Bradley said:
“I only became aware of that after I saw the episode. On the day, it was all green screen. It’s only after I saw the episode and people started telling me about the gyroscope. I think it could mean any number of things. One theory is that what we’re seeing now and how we’re experiencing Game of Thrones is Sam telling the story of Game of Thrones. If you take the logic of the story now, the story of Westeros and the story of the battle for the Iron Throne, it would be a book in that library. The visual motif of that is you’re about to be told a story — the sense of an idea of being told a story, and people gaining that knowledge, the way Sam is absorbing knowledge in the library.”
While it’s true that the “gyroscope” could mean any number of things, there is something reassuring to the idea that Samwell is the one recounting the story of Game of Thrones – or perhaps that it’s young Sam doing the retelling, as the incredible tale was passed down to him from the man who raised him. While that could be something of a spoiler in terms of Sam’s chances, now that the series is headed into the last two seasons, there seemed to be little chance the proxy for George R.R. Martin was going suffer a horrible fate before the series ran its course. After all, this was a character whose own father threatened to murder him if he didn’t renounce his claim as heir to House Tarly by taking the black, so it stands to reason that, like many other characters on the series, Sam’s days of suffering are behind him, as now he’s tasked with doing something to ensure the future.
Maybe part of that task is to take good notes on all that he’s seen and to tie it in with all that he’s about to learn. And maybe that’s reading too much into things. Maybe those “gyroscopes” are just ornamentation put in to give the audience something cool to look at. Given how meticulous Game of Thrones (and Martin’s novels, of course) has been in its storytelling choices thus far, however, it stands to reason that reading into such details is exactly what the show wants the audience to be doing.
Game of Thrones season 7 will premiere sometime in the spring of 2017 on HBO.