In tales, they speak in riddles, including far-fetched stories of dragons riddling with them. They are also found as statues, often in female-male pairs flanking doors, entrances or gateways, such as the vast green marble sphinxes by the gates to the Citadel at Oldtown, with eyes of onyx.
Though the Valyrians carved sphinxes into the gateway to the Long Bridge of Volantis, they also had their own sphinxes, referred to as Valyrian sphinxes, with the bodies of dragons, and human faces.
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Feast for Crows
Samwell Tarly recalls some of Maester Aemon’s words during the sea voyage from Braavos, remembering that he said to Sam that "The sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler". Once in Oldtown Sam enters the gates of the Citadel, which are flanked by a pair of towering green sphinxes. They have the bodies of lions, the wings of eagles, and the tails of serpents. One has a man’s face and the other a woman’s.
A Dance with Dragons
While traveling, Tyrion Lannister and Illyrio Mopatis come across a huge Valyrian sphinx crouched beside the road. It has a dragon’s body and a woman’s face. However her king is missing, dragged off by the Dothraki back to Vaes Dothrak on wooden wheels. There is a smooth stone plinth where he once stood, grown over with moss and flowering vines. Tyrion considers this "dragon queen" sphinx a pleasant omen and her missing king an omen too, but not as hopeful.
The Long Bridge, which joins the two halves of Volantis across the mouth of the Rhoyne, has a gateway that is an arch of black stone carved with sphinxes, manticores, dragons and other strange beasts.
The Winds of Winter
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This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.
In visions seen by Aeron Damphair, after being forced by Euron Greyjoy to drink shade of the evening, Aeron sees Euron blow a great horn, causing dragons, krakens and sphinxes to come at his command and bow before him.
The sphinx is the riddle, not the riddler. Do you know what that means?
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 57, Tyrion XI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
- The Winds of Winter, The Forsaken