hotweaselsoup, on 14 August 2012 - 09:25 AM, said:
See, I would agree with you if we were discussing real-world legends. But we're talking about a fantasy world. Where is the logic in dismissing stories from long ago as mere fabrications, when magical things are happening in the narrative right now? We have fire-breathing dragons and humans riding shotgun in direwolves, and yet you are assuming the story of Durran marrying his wind goddess is "almost certainly mythical". Why the magic now, and not then? You are analyzing the history of a fantasy world as if it were the real world, but we have evidence that the rules of our universe don't necessarily apply to the universe of ASoIaF. I'm not saying that the stories from the past should be swallowed whole - there is surely some embellishment going on - but I think it's a mistake to reduce these stories to mere tarted-up versions of pedestrian events, given the fantastical world in which they occurred.
GRRM's world isn't really that magical in the grand scheme of things. It's the least magical world I've encountered in fantasy (even accounting for the fact that there is a magical lull during ASOIAF), which is one of the reasons why I find it so appealing.
No matter how magical the world, the people of it will still create stories that exagerate the status quo. Got no dragons, you make up stories with dragons. Already have dragons, you make up stories about bigger ones, nastier ones, etc. Some of the stories you list probably have a grain of truth in them. Some of those grains may have had magical elements. But given the framework that GRRM has created, I see no evidence for cross-species/cross-being/cross-entity breeding. Everything we have points to humans in GRRM's world breeding the same way as they do in our world, with the same restrictions and practicalities. In fact the fundamental plot line of AGoT was built around genetics.
This is only my opinion. And I'm not saying there's no room to be wrong, but I think the odds of there ever having been a 'wind goddess' are low and the odds of a human copulating with one are miniscule. Ditto for the mermaid, giant and CotF (the copulating part, not the existence part). Not zero, I admit. But that doesn't matter because the point that was originally being made by Free Northman was simply that an awful lot of stuff is being built on a very flimsy foundation. Yes, the stories cannot be conclusively refuted, nor should they be outright dismissed, but I'm not convinced it's worth basing layer upon layer of theory on.