GRRM speaks often about how Tolkien’s world lacks religion, despite Tolkien’s own devout Christianity. In A Song of Ice and Fire, we see GRRM’s response to this absence with a richness of religions, many of which are informed by his Catholic upbringing.
Aeron “the Damphair” Greyjoy is a character who cannot be separated from his religion or understood as a character without understanding his faith. His introduction in A Feast for Crows makes this clear by naming his chapter as “The Prophet,” immediately contextualizing him as someone who is supposed to speak on behalf of his god. Even Aeron’s name seems reminiscent of Aaron from the Bible, a prophet and brother of Moses.
But GRRM draws on more than just names to inspire the feeling of his characters’ fervor in his readers. He uses the lessons, stories and structures from his Catholic childhood to create this aura of the divine—or at the very least, the faithful—in his writing.
Same as Aeron’s first AFFC chapter, this tone begins with the chapter’s title: “The Forsaken.” The initial question would be, “Who has forsaken Aeron?”
Knowing the outcome of the kingsmoot, there are several candidates for who could have forsaken Aeron. Seeing how desperately Aeron clings to his mantra that “no godless man may sit the Seastone Chair,” and that he was the one who organized the kingsmoot, Aeron may feel that his countrymen, the other Ironborn, have forsaken him in choosing Euron. With Asha fleeing her marriage to Erik Ironmaker and Victarion going into Euron’s employ, we may also guess that Aeron feels abandoned by his family.
As we follow Aeron’s religious journey and questioning throughout his storyline, we see a clearer picture of why Aeron has been forsaken, hearkening back to David’s Psalm 22, quoted by Jesus on the cross: “My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?”
In this Psalm, we see this back-and-forth as David laments his hardships from his enemies and questions his God’s inaction at the beginning, while praising Him and asking for His aid. In his recent analysis, Attewell breaks down Aeron’s similar internal struggle with his religion through the story of Job.
But the other moment of this line, Jesus’s crucifixion, which bears much reference to this psalm, also provides significance and a frame that creates the feeling of devoutness. Throughout Aeron’s chapter, the text parallels the moments of Christ’s life not when he was victorious but tested.