One of the biggest mysteries in A Song of Ice and Fire is the identity of the mysterious shadowbinder Quaithe, who is said to come from Asshai. I’ve read many theories on who she could be, and I’m going to break them down for you!
First, let’s start off with what we already know about Quaithe. She is said to be a shadowbinder from the mysterious land of Asshai. Quaithe is described as a woman with wet and shiny eyes who wears a dark red, lacquered wooden mask. When Daenerys sees Quaithe in a vision during A Dance with Dragons, she describes the mask as being made of starlight. Quaithe appears to Daenerys on multiple occasions throughout the books and usually comes with a prophecy or warning. To wit:
“I am no-one, but she is the Mother of Dragons. She needs true protectors, now more than ever. They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into the world, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.” —To Jorah Mormont in Qarth
“To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” —To Daenerys in Qarth
“The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and Griffin, the sun’s son and the mummers Dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware The perfumed seneschal.” —To Daenerys in the Great Pyramid of Meereen
“Remember who you are, Daenerys, … The dragons know. Do you?” —To Daenerys in the Dothraki Sea
I’ll do a separate piece on these prophecies later. In the meantime, who is Quaithe? What does she want?
Theory One: Quaithe is Ashara Dayne
Ashara Dayne is the beautiful sister of Arthur Dayne, the legendary knight of the Kingsguard. Like Quaithe, Ashara Dayne is shrouded in mystery, although she’s mentioned a lot in A Song of Ice and Fire, and when author George R.R. Martin mentions someone as much as he mentions Ashara, they probably have a big part to play in the story to come. Ashara was present at the great Tourney at Harenhall, which set the stage for our story.
House Dayne in general is shrouded in mystery. One of the oldest and most noble houses in Westeros, House Dayne’s sigil is a sword and a falling star. It’s seat is Starfall. When Quaithe, Ashara Dayne or House Dayne are mentioned in ASOIF, there’s usually a reference to the stars. This is why many people believe there is a connection between Quaithe and the Daynes of Starfall.
Daenerys on a couple of occasions hears “the whispering of stars” or as another quote says “the stars whispered in a woman’s voice” The stars whispering could be the Daynes as their sigil is a star albeit a falling star. Speaking of which Ashara Dayne is said to have thrown herself from a tower on a cliff in Starfall, this would make her a falling star, no? A theory is that a lot more happened than we think when Ned visited Starfall after the Tower of Joy, that Ned knew about the prophecy of The Prince that was promised and the fact that Ned knew that Winter is coming, so Ned explained this to the Daynes who are also very important to the prophecy.
The evidence for the Daynes being important to the prophecy is simply in their sword, the sword of House Dayne is called Dawn and the person who is noble enough to wield this sword is called The Sword of the Morning. The key words here are “Dawn” and “Sword of the Morning” and the reason for that is after the long night comes dawn or the morning. It’s logical and I know we all believe everything has to be complicated in ASOIAF but sometimes these things are actually simple and they’re there in the text for us all to see. But as the theory goes, Ned and the Daynes agreed that Ashara would watch over Daenerys. Some people believe that R+L=J & D, so Ned decided to take Jon back to Winterfell and gave Daenerys to the Daynes to take to Dragonstone. I’m not entirely sure about this because of timelines and of course Rhaella Targaryen is said to have died giving birth to her but this is what we hear from Viserys who was only a child when Daenerys was born.
Theory Two: Quaithe is Sheira Seastar
The last of Aegon lV’s great bastards, Shiera was said to be one of the most beautiful women of her generation, so beautiful that men across the realm fought to the death for her love. None succeeded including her half brothers Brynden ‘Bloodraven’ Rivers and Aegor ‘Bittersteel’ Rivers, who fought on opposing sides during the Blackfyre rebellion.
Shiera’s fate was never mentioned in the books. It was said that she was practiced in the dark arts and that she bathed in blood to maintain her youth and beauty. One of the reasons people believe Quaithe is actually Shiera is because Shiera’s name means ‘star of the sea’, ‘star’ again being the key word here. Quaithe’s wooden mask is said to shine like starlight when Daenerys has a vision on the Dothraki Sea. The fact that Shiera’s surname is “Seastar” is another clue—sailors used to follow a star called the Stella Maris, which means Star of the Sea. When Daenerys is on the Dothraki Sea, she asks what Quaithe wants, and Quaithe responds by saying “To show you the way.” Quaithe wants to guide Daenerys along her journey on the Dothraki Sea like the Stella Maris, Shiera’s namesake, guides sailors on the actual sea.
I personally do not believe that Quaithe is Shiera, my main reason being that Shiera is barely mentioned in the books, unlike Ashara. Shiera is mentioned a fair bit in the spinoff story The Tales of Dunk and Egg, but I don’t see how she’s relevant to the plot of ASOIF.
I do believe, however, that Ashara Dayne is Quaithe—the constant references to stars is what sways me. I know that stars may not be enough to go on, but the Daynes have a massive part to play in this story yet and I believe Quaithe is part of it. I’m not saying R+L=J&D, but I am saying that Ashara is Quaithe…it is known.