A Prophecy of Assassin’s Fate

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers warning for all 16 books in the Realm of the Elderlings, especially the final one, Assassin’s Fate

I finished Assassin’s Fate last year in August, and I still cannot stop thinking about it on almost a daily basis. In particular, some of the prophecies have so much depth and nuance to them, I feel like I can keep finding interpretations for them forever.

Here I will talk about probably my favourite prophecy. The prophecy is stated twice in the book, I believe:

A piebald bird, a silver ship, oh what are you awaking One shall be two and two be one before the future’s breaking

There’s a related prophecy in the prologue that mentions ‘One comes as two’ (followed by ‘The Four shall rue’) and ‘Two come as one’ (followed by ‘Your reign is done’).

For interpretations, let’s start with the Piebald Bird.

The Piebald Bird’s obvious interpretation is that it refers to Motley the Crow. Interestingly, the feathers on Motley begin as black and white (the colours of the Black Man and (initially) the Fool, respectively), probably representing both the beginning and ending of an era (which is what the end of Assassin’s Fate is). Bonding with two dragons (one shall be two), (correct me if I’m wrong) the white turns into shades of red as the black turns into a blackish-blue.

This leads to my second interpretation of the ‘Piebald Bird’. From a distance, dragons may look like large birds far in the sky. IceFyre’s name sounds like a motley of elements, or a motley of colours (blue and red again). However, IceFyre himself is black. But who is the other dragon that arrives just before IceFyre does, to destroy the Servants’ abode? Heeby, the red dragon. Black and red, just like Motley the crow.

Onto the next part of the prophecy. LiveShips, as we find out beautifully at the end of the series, can also become dragons. So now, the interpretation of a ‘piebald bird’ (as dragons) can mix with the interpretation of ‘a silver ship’ (the dragon Paragon). Indeed, dragons can be thought of as flying ships that have consumed Silver, so this interpretation can apply to all of Motley, IceFyre, Heeby, and Paragon.

And what is being awoken? Paragon, but also Bee, and Fitz/Fool/Nighteyes (as one being). Paragon splitting into two dragons (‘One come as two’ and then ‘One shall be two’ apply here too) can be seen as Paragon awakening to his true fate. The same goes for Bee becoming the destroyer, and of course, for Fitz/Fool/Nighteyes becoming The Wolf of the West. (And both (counting Bee as the Destroyer) of those events could be seen as an ‘Assassin’ of sorts awakening to their true ‘Fate’. Ah, what a beautifully titled book.) Finally, I would call this an awakening too: IceFyre overcoming the magic of the Servants which caused him to act cowardly, and finally attacking the ones who wronged his species.

We already stated a few interpretations for the One/Two line, but before stating more of those, the ‘future’s breaking’ refers probably to the act that Bee did in the library. However, my headcanon is that Bee accomplished something more than she set out to do. In the chapter Vengeance, Bee wonders if there would ever come a White Prophet who would sever the cycle of revenge that she continues to witness, as she sees what the Dragons have done to Clerres. I think if Hobb continued writing out her Bee story, Bee (and the Fool, as ‘One shall be two’) would be the prophet(s) that finally severs that cycle, without knowing it.

Without knowing, she ‘burned the past’ (a different prophecy), and that allowed Dragons to return to full-strength and destroy Clerres. Now that dragons have returned, the the Fool accomplishes his goal from the beginning: first with stone dragons at the end of Assassin’s Quest, then serpents becoming dragons at the end of Ship of Destiny, then the return of IceFyre at the end of Fool’s Fate, and then the ships becoming dragons at the end of Assassin’s Fate. The fact that dragons are so OP and view humans the way that humans view ants means they can always keep humanity in check and prevent humans from accumulating too much power. This hinders the ability of humans to continue the cycle of vengeance. Ah, but dragons would also continue this cycle. I think this is where Mercor comes in: the relationship between humans and dragons will become more balanced. Mercor always seemed the equivalent of the ‘White Prophet’ to the dragons, as a Golden serpent and later Dragon with White false eyes. It’s possible that he was fully White when younger, and just like the Fool, becomes Golden by the time he’s more mature (and not black like the Black Man). I think the Golden represents the coming era as the ‘Golden Age’, but it required at least 4 prophets to accomplish (the Black Prophet, the Golden Fool, a reluctant White (Bee) Prophet, and a Serpent/Dragon (Maulkin/Mercor) Prophet) (could be 5 if you count the last one as two.)

Speaking of counting one as two, that’s one of the non-obvious ways that the prophecy refers to dragons in general. Dragons seem to have separate but connected identities as serpents versus dragons, so “One shall be two” and “two be one” could refer to the way that Dragon identities operate. Both one identity split into two, and two identities becoming one being.

Now, as for the interpretations of 1 -> 2 and 2 -> 1. As mentioned already, Paragon splits into two beings. In addition, Nighteyes was with Bee when she came to Clerres, but leaves her (one splitting into two) and rejoins with Fitz once Fitz arrives (and two be one). Another way to view this situation is Nighteyes and Fitz became two when Nighteyes left Fitz to be with Bee, and then later rejoined with him. And of course, two being one should also refer to Fitz merging with the Fool (and Nighteyes) by the end of the series.

I feel like I had more interpretations for the last part but I cannot remember them now. I may add them to this post later.

How did all of y’all interpret this prophecy, and the other prophecies in this last book and trilogy?

(this post also available on reddit)

Author: umersnotablog

Aspiring Writer, I am NOT a Blog (title stolen from GRRM)

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