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Theory: the great other is R'hllor


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#1 Qyburn0896

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:00 PM

Martin loves his twists, and his favorites are the ones that hit the audience over the head and tell us our protagonists (whoever those are at the time) are completely screwed. That the Great Other has been lurking as the primary threat since the beginning is known (exclusively known) to all readers. But for five long books, we've been led to believe that there is an equal power out there preparing to face him while mortals go about playing their little games of thrones. Can you say, "complacency"?? When we try to predict what happens in the grand scheme, a little voice in the back of our minds will always pipe up saying "R'hllor should be able to hold off that Great Threat thing, at least for a little while, at least long enough to see if Tyrion/Euron/Jaime/whoever can blahblah Daenerys with blah blah Iron Throne blah blah". How much of an absolute pulverizing, would our hopes take, if we learned in one instant that there is no R'hllor, or rather that R'hllor is a sham, and that that sham's strings are being pulled by the Great Other? The followers that the Red Priests have raised are so Fanatic, that even if R'hllor himself came down and told this to them in the flesh, many of them would probably still do as they're told. So, here's what you'd be faced with: the Great Threat, no heroic God-figure to oppose it, and a large contingent of fanatics across the world prepped for the War For The Dawn, all of whom devoted to the wrong deity. Now that's a Martin-worthy twist in my opinion. The world would not be any more screwed.

Melissandre and Thoros. I'm going to split their powers into two different types. The first type is the one that gets things done. The highlight is her shadow birth. This is clearly a very dark power. And it sounds like the polar opposite of the type of thing someone called the "Lord of Light" would grant one of his priests. And what do you make of Thoros and his ability to resurrect Dondarrion (and by extension, Catelyn)? Who else do we know who's associated with the dead rising? While they're clearly not wights or Others, these gifts appear at least tainted, with Dondarrion fraying apart until he's so disenfranchised with this "gift" that he no longer wants it, and Catelyn coming across as - let's face it - ghoulish. I realize her ghoulishness can technically be explained away by her injuries and her understandable hatred, but it's still a curious writing choice.

Then there are the powers of prophecy. These are often misinterpreted by Melissandre. We've learned she's apparently not the scary know-it-all that she first appeared to be. So if the Great Other happens to be pulling a fast one on her ..... and it would be a fast one for the ages ... it won't be too surprising if she turned out to be a complete tool who put herself in that toolish position despite her age and years of "wisdom".

And speaking of tools, there's Stannis. No reader actually sees him as any Hero Reborn. And his sword? I think we're supposed to assume it's all part of Melissandre's bag of tricks. Just the way it's written whenever he brings it out and shows it off, the readers can sort of hear a "letdown sound effect".

Some other things I don't often see brought up. Valar morghulis and valar dohaeris. All men must die; all men must serve. Fine. But in that order?? Is it just me, or does that sound like it would make the perfect slogan for the Great Other. What is his goal, exactly? It's to kill every single living thing on the planet and then make them his eternal undead slaves, right? To win the Ultimate battle of good and evil by killing all life and replacing it permanently with un-life. How many pies does this guy have his fingers in? And what's with that House of Black and White. Quietly, people are offering their lives up as sacrifices to some god. And then their bodies are taken below to be hidden in some crypt where only really special priests are allowed to go. Living men and women somehow connived into a death cult, and walking the walk without even bothering to talk the talk. Do you realize how much effort it would take someone to get the world into that state, where people would filter in and sacrifice themselves to no great effect? And how valuable it could be? Assume for a second that this theory is true, that the Great Other successfully tricked every follower of R'hllor, and as of now still has influence over them. What would be the best way to use them in order to further his cause of wiping life off the earth? Wouldn't an overnight mass suicide somewhere in the future fit the bill perfectly?

Obviously some important things would have to happen before this revelation. There seems to be some magic not only keeping the Others from getting past the wall (like it's a [warded] obstacle), but dying in general south of the wall doesn't result in rising. Yet. Does anyone expect that to last? Why does everyone who dies north of the ward/wall become a wight, but when people are raised beyond that ward, there's some kind of problem. I can envision a world where the Great Other is working very hard to work his magic south of the ward. And it's sort of a limbo where it doesn't work the way he wants it to.

#2 Wings

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:23 PM

I am convinced R'hollor is the 'bad God' and the Great Other is the good God. I think there's something in the wall that limits the Others from coming through - and it is this 'something' that gives Melissandre her strength (which increased near the wall). Come to think of it, the Horn that wakes the giant my literally wake the Great Other (buried under the Wall). And the Night's Watch may actually originally have watched over the Great Other to wait for another long to free the Great Other.
The comet may be related to long nights and some epic clash of titans or something like that.

There is too much evidence for R'hollor and Azor Ahai not being nice guys. The fact that the priests are slaves is one thing. The raising of the dead another (I am quite certain all priests have been killed and resurrected as part of their initiation - since they seem to be able to control what remains of their personality, I think guilt and compassion have been removed from their personality). The shadow demons a third. And the legends surrounding AA make me want to stay far away from him. The dragons, related to fire, have proven to be not very nice or controllable creatures. Valyria and the Targaryens - related to dragons - are not known to be nice. We know this through the history of the kingdoms of Westeros, through the history told by the Faceless Men and from our own experience with the Targaryens (Dany caused a lot of death).
On the other hand, what do we know for sure about The Great Other? That he is a power of ice. That he is related to the Others. The Others are portrayed as cruel - why? Because they take Craster's sons - but what do they do with them? We don't know. They attack Wildlings and the Night's Watch - but what for? We don't know. They could have a really good reason. There is just too much we don't know and I am certain there is much more to this. There is a reason why GRRM keeps so much of the Others' history hidden.

I love your view on valar morghulis, valar dohaeris. It is an interesting order. Since it's High Valyrian, it may be related to what I think is the initiation ritual of the Red Priests.

Edited by Wings, 16 March 2013 - 02:24 PM.


#3 Fetch me a block

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:28 PM

Martin loves his twists, and his favorites are the ones that hit the audience over the head and tell us our protagonists (whoever those are at the time) are completely screwed. That the Great Other has been lurking as the primary threat since the beginning is known (exclusively known) to all readers. But for five long books, we've been led to believe that there is an equal power out there preparing to face him while mortals go about playing their little games of thrones. Can you say, "complacency"?? When we try to predict what happens in the grand scheme, a little voice in the back of our minds will always pipe up saying "R'hllor should be able to hold off that Great Threat thing, at least for a little while, at least long enough to see if Tyrion/Euron/Jaime/whoever can blahblah Daenerys with blah blah Iron Throne blah blah". How much of an absolute pulverizing, would our hopes take, if we learned in one instant that there is no R'hllor, or rather that R'hllor is a sham, and that that sham's strings are being pulled by the Great Other? The followers that the Red Priests have raised are so Fanatic, that even if R'hllor himself came down and told this to them in the flesh, many of them would probably still do as they're told. So, here's what you'd be faced with: the Great Threat, no heroic God-figure to oppose it, and a large contingent of fanatics across the world prepped for the War For The Dawn, all of whom devoted to the wrong deity. Now that's a Martin-worthy twist in my opinion. The world would not be any more screwed.

Melissandre and Thoros. I'm going to split their powers into two different types. The first type is the one that gets things done. The highlight is her shadow birth. This is clearly a very dark power. And it sounds like the polar opposite of the type of thing someone called the "Lord of Light" would grant one of his priests. And what do you make of Thoros and his ability to resurrect Dondarrion (and by extension, Catelyn)? Who else do we know who's associated with the dead rising? While they're clearly not wights or Others, these gifts appear at least tainted, with Dondarrion fraying apart until he's so disenfranchised with this "gift" that he no longer wants it, and Catelyn coming across as - let's face it - ghoulish. I realize her ghoulishness can technically be explained away by her injuries and her understandable hatred, but it's still a curious writing choice.

Then there are the powers of prophecy. These are often misinterpreted by Melissandre. We've learned she's apparently not the scary know-it-all that she first appeared to be. So if the Great Other happens to be pulling a fast one on her ..... and it would be a fast one for the ages ... it won't be too surprising if she turned out to be a complete tool who put herself in that toolish position despite her age and years of "wisdom".

And speaking of tools, there's Stannis. No reader actually sees him as any Hero Reborn. And his sword? I think we're supposed to assume it's all part of Melissandre's bag of tricks. Just the way it's written whenever he brings it out and shows it off, the readers can sort of hear a "letdown sound effect".

Some other things I don't often see brought up. Valar morghulis and valar dohaeris. All men must die; all men must serve. Fine. But in that order?? Is it just me, or does that sound like it would make the perfect slogan for the Great Other. What is his goal, exactly? It's to kill every single living thing on the planet and then make them his eternal undead slaves, right? To win the Ultimate battle of good and evil by killing all life and replacing it permanently with un-life. How many pies does this guy have his fingers in? And what's with that House of Black and White. Quietly, people are offering their lives up as sacrifices to some god. And then their bodies are taken below to be hidden in some crypt where only really special priests are allowed to go. Living men and women somehow connived into a death cult, and walking the walk without even bothering to talk the talk. Do you realize how much effort it would take someone to get the world into that state, where people would filter in and sacrifice themselves to no great effect? And how valuable it could be? Assume for a second that this theory is true, that the Great Other successfully tricked every follower of R'hllor, and as of now still has influence over them. What would be the best way to use them in order to further his cause of wiping life off the earth? Wouldn't an overnight mass suicide somewhere in the future fit the bill perfectly?

Obviously some important things would have to happen before this revelation. There seems to be some magic not only keeping the Others from getting past the wall (like it's a [warded] obstacle), but dying in general south of the wall doesn't result in rising. Yet. Does anyone expect that to last? Why does everyone who dies north of the ward/wall become a wight, but when people are raised beyond that ward, there's some kind of problem. I can envision a world where the Great Other is working very hard to work his magic south of the ward. And it's sort of a limbo where it doesn't work the way he wants it to.

I can certainly see the basis for this; No one really knows anything about R'hllor, and all of the Red Priests we have seen, bar Thoros of Myr, are extremely shady and clearly using the people they hold influence over for their own ends.

Though, I think the theology in ASOIAF is simply representative of the fight between Men and the Others/White Walkers and Wights - ie. R'hllor and the Great Other are bywords for this fight, 'the song of ice and fire', not vice-versa.

Edited by Fetch me a block, 16 March 2013 - 02:30 PM.


#4 davehate

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:08 PM

ive been pondering a theory:
i have to research this some more but seems very logical...
the great other is the the last greenseer( Targaryen Great Bastard, Brynden Rivers./three eyed crow) and bran is his right hand man..they are imo good, they will return the land to good times and rhllor is bad news..
why i came to this theory:

When gazing into the fires, Melisandre sees a wooden face, corpse white, a thousand red eyes, and a boy with a wolf's head beside him. She believes these to be the Great Other's champions, as Stannis is hers .

Edited by davehate, 23 April 2013 - 08:14 PM.


#5 A Man Has Said

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:16 PM

I like this theory, but I'm not ready to say that I support it yet. I'd actually had the impulse a while back to do a re-read of Melisandre comparing her to other worshippers of Rh'llor, because it doesn't strike me that she's anything like Thoros of Myr and I couldn't remember what kinds of magic was practiced by Moqqoro. So I'm not really up to speed on the subject, but I quite convinced that Melisandre is one of the most evil characters in this series of books for one reason or another. I haven't come close to figuring out what the story behind her is yet though.

The fact that she burns people alive is a big clue, and since I think the weirwood trees are beyond cool, the fact that she burns those too, even branches, is almost as disturbing.

Oh, and I just noticed a first post - Welcome to the forum davehate.

#6 The Mother of The Others

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:23 PM

They're going to need one of those crane cameras for when Mel finds this out.
So when she's yelling, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" the camera can be swirling around and around her from an overhead angle.

#7 thecryptile

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:24 PM

It would make alot of sense. I always thought the Red God reminded me alot of the Christian Devil.

#8 davehate

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:27 PM

I like this theory, but I'm not ready to say that I support it yet. I'd actually had the impulse a while back to do a re-read of Melisandre comparing her to other worshippers of Rh'llor, because it doesn't strike me that she's anything like Thoros of Myr and I couldn't remember what kinds of magic was practiced by Moqqoro. So I'm not really up to speed on the subject, but I quite convinced that Melisandre is one of the most evil characters in this series of books for one reason or another. I haven't come close to figuring out what the story behind her is yet though.

The fact that she burns people alive is a big clue, and since I think the weirwood trees are beyond cool, the fact that she burns those too, even branches, is almost as disturbing.

Oh, and I just noticed a first post - Welcome to the forum davehate.


thank you,im glad to finally join..ive been lurking on here way to long lol.

yeah i seriously need to dig a little harder for more info to support this..thats why i left it very vague..but I could see a serious twist with bran/bryden being on one side and rhllors champion on the other..a final good vs. evil battle that will make the entire story up to this point flip upside down..pitting everyone against everyone. depending on what side they choose we could see brothers fighting brothers,houses that had alligance to each other, fighting each other.

i really want to to do a better write up of this when i get some more time/info compiled.

#9 Rheagar Prime

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:09 PM

nice theory i've always thought it just like with the Templars worshipers just bring their own perspective of what they see in the flames much like mel. I mean in her pov she does see bloodraven and bran and automatically thinks they work dor the great other.

#10 Apple Martini

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:21 PM

I tend to think that the Great Other and the Red God are two sides to the same coin. They both represent extremes — one ice and one fire — and must be overcome. I don't think that one is "good" or one is "bad." They're reflections of each other.

#11 The Mother of The Others

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:31 PM

The movie Dark Crystal seems to be the inspiration for all things that have come after. Like how Kevin Bacon is connected to all things. Probably some schism happened way back in the deeps of time and it threw the planetary forces out of wack. The diety or planetary animus split into hot and cold magical creature manifestations. They don't necessarily need to both die, but they need to be harmonized back into synch so they're not toxic in their effects anymore. And the task of the last hero can finally be complete. In Dark Crystal the split souls of the original creatures manifested as all-good and all-evil twins for each soul, and they finally disappeared when the long split beings were merged back together again. iirc. I hope Martin's finale isn't marked by a Tolkein style end to the age of magic, because that leaves the world boring all of a sudden just because his saga is done.

Edited by The Mother of The Others, 23 April 2013 - 09:36 PM.


#12 A Man Has Said

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:34 PM

Seriously, look at the legend of Azor Ahai. The guy plunged a sword through his wife's (girlfriend's?) heart just so he could make a badass sword. Feck, if that translates to you as the act of a 'good guy' I would suggest that you should be in deep counseling or better yet locked up in a rubber room. Rh'llor is the 'red god of death' that Jaqen Hghar refers to Arya having stolen three lives from. Followers of Rh'llor are either evil monsters or stupid dupes.

Put me down as 'not a Rh'llor fan.'

#13 MercyTheBlindUglyLittleCat

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:16 PM

My view/theory has been for a long time that BOTH are good, and BOTH are bad. In other words they are dualistic only in their elements, neither is right or wrong. More importantly, the real conflict is that since the Dawn War, The Others have been shut out, and this destroyed the balance between Ice and Fire, creating the out of whack seasons. The original Long Night, what caused it, Im not sure, but I think it was of course that event that caused the First Men to turn on The Others and try to shut them out, seeing them as the cause. They began to rely on Fire magic for a time to fight them, including the power of Azor Ahai. When the war was over the Children of the Forrest tried to restore the balance by ending fire magic and building the wall, but it was never the same, and the seasons were forever out of whack. I think then when the Targaryens came to Westeros, bringing Dragons and Fire magic, they threw the balance off even further (though there is nothing to say the seasons got worse when that happened), but the Dragons died out before it became a massive problem. What is now causing BOTH sides, Ice and Fire, to suddenly reawaken, I have now idea, but I think this will all end with the balance being restored, and the seasons becoming normal.

#14 MasterJack

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:35 PM

This is the same God

R'hllor = Fire
Other = Ice

or

There is only 1 God who controls Heat /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

#15 Jabronius Maximus

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:52 PM

Some other things I don't often see brought up. Valar morghulis and valar dohaeris. All men must die; all men must serve. Fine. But in that order?? Is it just me, or does that sound like it would make the perfect slogan for the Great Other.


This bit is a brilliant connection. That is a handy slogan to have. It's a good theory, but we're still devoid of so much information it's really all speculation up to this point. Also according to GRRM we'll be seeing a lot more of the Others in the next book, so we'll likely get some answers from the 'ice' side.

Edited by Sgt. Rex Power Colt, 23 April 2013 - 10:53 PM.


#16 Apple Martini

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:54 PM

Seriously, look at the legend of Azor Ahai. The guy plunged a sword through his wife's (girlfriend's?) heart just so he could make a badass sword. Feck, if that translates to you as the act of a 'good guy' I would suggest that you should be in deep counseling or better yet locked up in a rubber room. Rh'llor is the 'red god of death' that Jaqen Hghar refers to Arya having stolen three lives from. Followers of Rh'llor are either evil monsters or stupid dupes.

Put me down as 'not a Rh'llor fan.'


To be fair I don't think that's actually what happened. I think he gave her up as his wife ("sacrificed" her), but I think the sword-through-the-heart thing is a misinterpretation. Now, you could argue what kind of culture in Asshai could come up with that interpretation ...

#17 DornishFroggy

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:29 PM

I think R'hllor and the Great Other are the two sides of the SAME coin! Neither is Good! I always thought that the Children of the Forest have the magic that would protect people against the Others!

#18 Dagon Greyjoy

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:38 PM

To be fair I don't think that's actually what happened. I think he gave her up as his wife ("sacrificed" her), but I think the sword-through-the-heart thing is a misinterpretation. Now, you could argue what kind of culture in Asshai could come up with that interpretation ...


Any culture that regularly practices human sacrifice, which Melisandre (as opposed to more mainstream priests like Thoros of Myr) is quite fond of.

#19 Zizou

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 06:19 PM

My view/theory has been for a long time that BOTH are good, and BOTH are bad. In other words they are dualistic only in their elements, neither is right or wrong. More importantly, the real conflict is that since the Dawn War, The Others have been shut out, and this destroyed the balance between Ice and Fire, creating the out of whack seasons. The original Long Night, what caused it, Im not sure, but I think it was of course that event that caused the First Men to turn on The Others and try to shut them out, seeing them as the cause. They began to rely on Fire magic for a time to fight them, including the power of Azor Ahai. When the war was over the Children of the Forrest tried to restore the balance by ending fire magic and building the wall, but it was never the same, and the seasons were forever out of whack. I think then when the Targaryens came to Westeros, bringing Dragons and Fire magic, they threw the balance off even further (though there is nothing to say the seasons got worse when that happened), but the Dragons died out before it became a massive problem. What is now causing BOTH sides, Ice and Fire, to suddenly reawaken, I have now idea, but I think this will all end with the balance being restored, and the seasons becoming normal.



Although slightly farfetched, this is one of the, if not the best, theory I've read on this forum. Count me in as a supporter of your claim

#20 OfTheLastHearth

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:13 PM

could it be that the Red Priests and their practices are the perverted fruits of a faith that was originally righteous, but that have been corrupted and brutalised over time? According to this theory, the lord of light exists but the Red Priests have interperated the legends and myths in the wrong way, and come up with the false conclusion that sacrificing human life will keep the Great Other at Bay. In other words: the faith and the deity is good and true, but the church and it's business has become wrong and false? Like others on this forum I cannot for the life of me believe that Melissandre's way is the way to go, but I would nonetheless be very surprised if the final battle was not one that stood between the forces of Ice and Fire, i.e. the forces of Death and Life.

Edited by OfTheLastHearth, 10 May 2013 - 12:13 PM.