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HERESY 50


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#1 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:14 PM

Welcome to Heresy 50; the Dirty Half Hundred edition of the fast moving thread that offers an alternative interpretation of the Song of Ice and Fire. Its been quite a ride getting here after starting out in November 2011 as The Wall, the Watch and a Heresy; challenging the easy orthodoxy that the Others are evil incarnate and that the Wall was built all of 8,000 years ago to hold them at bay. But its also been a lot of fun.
/communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' />
GRRM in an interview once stated …it was always my intention: to play with the reader’s expectations. Before I was a writer I was a voracious reader and I am still, and I have read many, many books with very predictable plots. As a reader, what I seek is a book that delights and surprises me. I want to not know what is gonna happen. For me, that’s the essence of storytelling and for this reason I want my readers to turn the pages with increasing fever: to know what happens next. There are a lot of expectations, mainly in the fantasy genre, which you have the hero and he is the chosen one, and he is always protected by his destiny. I didn’t want it for my books.

So essentially what Heresy is all about is trying to look behind those easy expectations in the hope of figuring out something of what’s really going on. Thus we question above all the long established assumptions that the Children of the Forest will teach Bran Stark how to defeat the Others, that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai, and will use this knowledge to save Westeros while riding astride one of Dany’s amazing dragons before taking his rightful place alongside her on the Iron Throne as Jon Targaryen First of his Name.

So what have we established instead, or at least theorised (with reasons) from the wealth of textual clues, easter eggs and cookies - and a study of the source material?

Well for a start we’ve identified some of that source material. Its widely recognised that a lot about the game of thrones being played out here is loosely based on characters and events from the 15th Century Wars of the Roses, but we’ve gone further in identifying some of the mythological sources which underpin the magic, especially in and around the Wall, leading us through the Arthurian Legends, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Irish Tain bo Culaidh and the Norse Eddas amongst others, to discover Bran the Blessed, Tam Lin, Cu Chulainn and above all the Morrigan – the Crow Goddess, associated with death and exhibiting three human aspects as maiden, mother and crone.

All of this very largely stemmed from picking up GRRM’s reference to the Others being like the Sidhe made of Ice, together with the House Morrigen cookie, bringing us into the mainstream of Irish mythology as well as Welsh (Bran the Blessed) and Norse (Odin, and the Wall itself) mythology. However that Sidhe reference is also significant in another way because this is the Song of Ice and Fire and if the Others/Sidhe are Ice made Flesh it surely follows that their opponents, like dragons, are Fire made Flesh and that’s exactly what we’ve discovered in looking closely at the Mel POV and at Moqorro and Victarion, all three of whom are thus revealed as fire demons, exactly equal to and opposite those of Ice – the Others.

There’s also a further, related, theory that this warging business may be overrated and that the ravens and crows (as represented by the Morrigan) who figure so ubiquitously throughout the story are not the tools of Bloodraven or anyone else, but are players in their own right who can understand the speech or song of the children and of men and presumably the song of Ice as spoken by the Others/Sidhe in the prologue as well.

And then there’s the Wall, not at all unlike the Bifrost bridge in the Norse Eddas, and which we have come to believe is not a defensive structure at all but the boundary between the realms of men (which the Watch are sworn to protect) and the Faerie realms beyond, linked until the Nights King business only by the magic portal under the Nightfort. In Ragnarok the bridge is broken and likewise we suspect that the magic Wall must come down to achieve a resolution and restore the balance.

In doing that, Jon (apparently soon to be found being pursued alone through a forest near you) seems destined to be King of Winter, while Danaerys Targaryen, once tipped as his partner, may have to venture into the hell of Valyria to sort out the Fire.

All of these theories are just that and matters of controversy rather tenets of faith. We think we’re reaching a better understanding of what’s really going on, but as heretics we neither promote nor defend a particular viewpoint, in fact we argue quite a lot which is what makes this thread cycle so much fun, but we do reckon that the Starks’ role in all of this is a lot darker and more ambiguous than once it seemed and that the children are not so cuddly as they pretend.

I’d like to wrap this up by thanking everybody, including the sceptics, who have made this the most thoughtful, dynamic, and as it is becoming increasingly hailed, awesome, thread on the board. It would be nice to name names but that would take far too long and we all know the guilty parties anyway.
/communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' />

If you’re already actively involved in the Heresy business it needs no further introduction. If you’re new, or simply intimidated by the sheer scale of it all, not to mention the astonishing speed with which it moves, and wonder what we’re talking about and why we’ve come to these peculiar ideas, just ask. We’re friendly and we don’t mind going over old ground again, especially with a fresh pair of eyes.

All that we ask as ever is that the debate be conducted by reference to the text, with respect for the ideas of others, and above all great good humour.
/communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' /> /communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' /> /communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' />

Edited by mormont, 05 April 2013 - 01:25 PM.


#2 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:16 PM

And now to kick off Heresy 50 properly, as we polish off the drinks and donuts, I give you the first of a series of short essays expanding on some of these themes with a couple of thoughts on the Morrigan :

As ever Google is our friend when looking at the “real” one: http://en.wikipedia....i/The_MorrĂ­gan

The Morrigan, who now figures so heavily in some of our heretical discussions first came into the equation when I recognised the connection between a crow with three eyes and a crow goddess with three aspects. (maiden, mother and crone) That in turn led to recognition of the House Morrigen cookie: Storm Lords whose seat is the Crow’s Nest and whose sigil is a crow in flight against a storm green sky. In terms of subtlety that’s about nuanced as a train crash, given that Damphair distrusts ravens because they belong to the Storm God and the Crow Goddess is also associated with storms and in particular with the wind, hence bean sidhe, or banshee.

Now leaving out the possible sidhe connection this identification of the three-eyed-crow as the Morrigan obviously cuts across the received wisdom that Bloodraven and the Crow are one and the same, but it is consistent with his curious vagueness when directly questioned on this by Bran.

“Are you the three-eyed crow?” Bran heard himself say. A three-eyed crow should have three eyes. He has only one and that one red. Bran could feel the eye staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in the torchlight. Where his other eye should have been, a thin white root grew from an empty socket, down his cheek, and into his neck.
“A… crow?” The pale lord’s voice was dry. His lips moved slowly, as if they had forgotten how to form words. “Once, aye. Black of garb and black of blood.” The clothes he wore were rotten and faded, spotted with moss and eaten through with worms, but once they had been black. “I have been many things, Bran. Now I am as you see me, and now you will understand why I could not come to you…except in dreams.”

Its ambiguous because although he has been watching Bran and coming to him in dreams – supposedly long before he fell – he effectively denies at the outset that he is the Crow; “Once, aye” is the opposite of yes. He was “Black of garb and black of blood” he was a crow of the Nights watch, not a three-eyed crow.

Yet at the same time he has visited Bran in his dreams, but as he has effectively denied being the three-eyed-crow, might it not be more accurate to deduce that it was the three-eyed-crow who showed him what Bran was doing and who facilitated contact in the same way that weirwoods do. After all, we have discussed the theory that the crows are the go-betweens, the interpreters who understand the various songs of Earth and songs of Ice and songs of Bronze and of Iron.

Bran is of course not the only one to have been visited by the Crow. Jojen was seemingly instructed to seek out Bran and guide him to Bloodraven, while Euron Crows Eye although not explicit does talk of dreaming of flying in a way which echoes Bran’s early experience, but there’s also Jon Snow:

The raven which he “inherited” from Mormont is popularly assumed to be a puppet of Bloodraven, but in the light of the above that isn’t necessarily so and if we turn to the three human aspects of the Morrigan; maiden, mother and crone we find Ygritte the maiden (ok technically she wasn’t but Jon was until he met her) who told him he knew nothing, a lesson he still seems very conscious of. Old Nan is the crone who has told him everything if only he realised it, and the mother is of course who he is forever seeking.

#3 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:17 PM

The second essay concerns Fire Demons and Ice Demons.

The true nature of Melisandre, Moqorro and Victarion was explored in Heresy 49er, but its of such importance, together with the realisation that this also points to the true nature of the Others, that it bears repeating as the second of our summaries:

First Mel’s POV in ADwD:

The red priestess shuddered. Blood trickled down her thigh, black and smoking. The fire was inside her, an agony, an ecstasy, filling her, searing her, transforming her. Shimmers of heat traced patterns on her skin, insistent as a lover’s hand. Strange voices called to her from days long past. “Melony” she heard a woman cry. A man’s voice called, “Lot Seven.” She was weeping, and her tears were flame. And still she drank it in.

Closely followed first by one of Dany’s amazing dragons:

Black blood was flowing from the wound where the spear had pierced him, smoking where it dripped on to the scorched sands. He is fire made flesh, she thought, and so am I.

In both we have examples of fire made flesh, or perhaps in Mel’s case the other way around. Then Victarion provides another: In a sea fight off the Shields he gets a relatively minor cut to his left hand which ought to have been shrugged off but instead turns badly infected and notwithstanding constant debridement and disinfection is getting steadily worse. Then in the chapter entitled The Iron Captain along comes Moqorro, still apparently alive and well after 10 days drifting in the ocean clinging to a spar. I can help you says he, but it will hurt. Victarion, being ironborn, says he can take it.

Now this is a Victarion POV but quite suddenly the perspective changes:

The iron captain was not seen again that day, but as the hours passed the crew of his Iron Victory reported hearing the sound of wild laughter coming from the captain's cabin, laughter deep and dark and made... Later singing was heard, a strange high wailing song in a tongue the maester said was High Valyrian. That was when the monkeys left the ship, screeching as they leapt into the water.

Come sunset, as the sea turned black as ink and the swollen sun tinted the sky a deep and bloody red, Victarion came back on deck. He was naked from the waist up, his left arm blood to the elbow. As his crew gathered, whispering and trading glances, he raised a charred and blackened hand. Wisps of dark smoke rose from his fingers...

There are two points of interest here, first and perhaps most obviously we have the fire made flesh thing (or perhaps the other way around) which is also evident in the later Victarion chapters, and secondly there's that curious switch in perspective. as far as I can recall the only other time it happens is at the end of the last Catelyn POV when it switches as she gets her throat cut.

In other words Victarion may no longer be human and as we see in his next POV although his arm has been “healed” and is stronger than ever his skin is like pork crackling and sometimes splits and smokes. Somehow he appears oblivious to this.

As to Moqorro :

The firelight made his black skin shine like polished onyx, and sometimes Victarion could swear that the flames tattooed on his face were dancing too, twisting and bending, melting into one another, their colours changing with every turn of the priest's head.

Clearly a glamour in operation here, like Mel's, and, perhaps crucially the Others. GRRM has described them as like the Sidhe made of Ice, so if we apply the same principle as for the red lot and explore the possibility of their being flesh made Ice or Ice made flesh, the comparisons are compelling.

Here’s their description in the prologue to AGoT:

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took…

They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them… four… five…

Looking like twins would be so very consistent with their being Craster’s sons, and that stealth armour on reading afresh sounds so very like the glamours worn by Mel and Moqorro as described above. And then there’s that remark of Tormund’s:

“They’re never far you know. They won’t come out by day, not when that old sun’s shining, but don’t think that means they went away. Shadows never go away. Might be you don’t see them, but they’re always clinging to your heels.”

We have tended in the past to suppose that they can travel as a mist before solidifying into corporeal form, but on the basis of the above I’d propose a different theory; namely that they are corporeal in form and nature, but being flesh made ice they naturally shun the sunlight, fires and any other source of heat likely to melt them. As to being present but not seen except when they want to be, I propose that this is not because they can dissolve into mist, but because they’re hidden by a glamour.

In other words the non-human protagonists in this song of Ice and Fire are a small band of former humans transformed by magic into Ice (Craster’s sons) or into Fire; Mel, Moqorro, Victarion and no doubt a few others besides, making use of glamours which hide their true appearance and in the case of Craster’s boys can even render them invisible for short periods.

Edited by Black Crow, 05 April 2013 - 01:51 PM.


#4 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:18 PM

For the third essay a look at the Wall. This is the same one I published in Heresy 49er but is included again here for the sake of completeness.

At 700 feet high and 300 miles long, stretching from one side of Westeros to the other, the Wall dominates both Westeros and its history; seemingly for generations men willingly or otherwise have gone north to join the Nights Watch and stand guard on it against the day when the Others come south out of the Land of Always Winter; yet it figures neither in Maester Luwin’s history lesson, nor in the very similar introduction to the Sworn Sword.

Maester Luwin does at least refer to the Long Night in passing, but the curious thing about the Wall is that we don’t really know when, by whom or how it was actually built. That statement might seem a little surprising but at no point are we actually told the story. Conventionally the Wall is said to have been raised by Bran the Builder after the Others were defeated in order to prevent their return, and here’s AGoT Bran 4:Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall. Bran knew the story, but it had never been his favorite. Thus we never actually hear the story although there is a reference in the forthcoming World Book to Brandon seeking the help of the children of the Forest. We also have GRRM’s statement in an old SSM that it originally it was lower and took a long time to build, and Mormont’s claim that once upon a time ice was quarried from lakes in winter and that each Lord Commander tried to leave it higher than before.

On the one hand these scattered references can be, and have been, pieced together to create a coherent story, but on the other we have no way of knowing whether all or indeed any of these fragments are true, and a shrewd suspicion from other clues we’re given, including that SSM suggesting that Brandon may never have existed, that the story is mince: Much of those details [how the Wall was built] are lost in the mists of time and legend. No one can even say for certain if Brandon the Builder ever lived. He is as remote from the time of the novels as Noah and Gilgamesh are from our own time.

That reference to Bran the Builder does however point to magic being required and that is consistent with both Melisandre’s statement in ADwD Jon:1 – “Great was the lore that raised it, and great the spells locked beneath its ice. We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world” and also with a rather more sober assessment found by our mistress of whisperers: A scientific look at the Wall In short the Wall not only couldn’t have been raised by mortal men, even if they had the assistance of giants, it was magic built it and magic which keeps it up and given the importance of blood in dark magic generally – and Ygritte’s describing it as evil and built of blood – one has to wonder if GRRM is remembering Jennet Clouston’s cursing of the House of Shaws at the beginning of Kidnapped: “Blood built it, blood stopped the building of it and blood will bring it down – black will be its fall.”

In the meantime its hard to believe that the magic required to build that massive wall of Ice and keep it standing is not having an effect on the weather and that the magic is responsible for the strange seasons.

Which of course raises the question of who really built, when and why, and why also there is that secret portal under the Nightfort which predates all the other castles by a long way – and which by definition means it was originally the only portal between what increasing looks like two different realms; the realm of men and the realm of faerie, which in turn raises the possibility it was originally raised as a barrier between those realms to provide a last refuge for the Children and their allies.

#5 armidil0

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:26 PM

How long til heresy 100? /communist.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':commie:' /> Our little mascot.

#6 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:33 PM

If we keep up the current rate of a 20 page thread every week - this time next year, just in time for Season 4

#7 Little Wing

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:41 PM

I'm so happy for Heresy, my favourite place on W.org... Here's to another 50 and more /cheers.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':cheers:' /> Keep up the scholarly madness!

#8 xRobbStarkx

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:44 PM

I had a crackpot idea a few days ago, I thought I would share it here. I think the common consensus here for the most part seems to be that we won't see the appearance of an actual ice dragon, that it is instead a metaphor for JS. Some things about the inconsistency of what we have heard the Horn of Joramun will do when it's blown have bothered me. It was said to "wake giants from the earth", while the wildlings seemed to think the horn would destroy the wall. This lead me to wonder how those two ideas could be linked. The only other horn we know of is the dragon-binder currently in Victarion's possession. We also know that GRRM has created a story focused on oppositions.

My thought is that maybe the Horn of Winter will awake a single or multiple actual giant ice dragons preserved inside/under the wall when it is blown. The power of these beings was harnessed to create the hinge we now refer to as the Wall. When the horn of winter is sounded, the giant ice dragon(s) will wake, bursting through the wards keeping them under the wall and the wall will cease to exist (either shatter or dissolve). Not trying to use the show as canon at all but the line "the horn that wakes the sleepers" was added to the oath of the Night's Watch, and this could have been done for a reason.

I started following heresy around 39 so if this was already suggested before that I apologize!

#9 armidil0

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:46 PM

On the whole "what did Bran see in the Heart of WInter?" I really don't think it was the future. I don't like the idea of just seeing the future like that. It has always been with vague prophecies and lots of hints and foreshadowing. Stuff you wouldn't normally jump to until it happens. Also, it seems like everything is predetermined in this world. <--I like that idea. Is everything predetermined?
I don't think Bran saw the future outright. I personally think it was a passage of lovecraftian horror. We won't ever really get a descritpion of what he saw besides vagueness.
Unless the heart of Winter is where all greendreams/prophecies originate? Like hte source of all magic. Then maybe he saw hte future.

I have to get to class now.

#10 Mace Cooterian

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 01:47 PM

If we keep up the current rate of a 20 page thread every week - this time next year, just in time for Season 4


Sounds about right, which would mean H150 will roll around in 2015 just about the time TWoW is hitting the stands.

#11 jon rr stark

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:04 PM

As to essay one above. Could the is the three eyed crow be the balance to the three heads of the dragon, with Bloodravens eye being one, perhaps Eurons eye being another. Leads to a question why a dragon has three heads. One dragon but three aspects, one crow but three aspects, not always in agreement. The idea had resonance with the Celtic mythology as well as the Christian trinity both of which we believe to have influnced GRRM. Another thought is since Bloodraven has a foot in each camp could he be both eye and head of dragon. He does seem to bridge a lot of divides. Trag and first men, game of thrones and game of ice and fire, either side of the wall, ruler and prisoner. At some point all these threes have to come together to achieve a balance. Could bloodraven be the pivot?

#12 Tyryan Lannister

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:19 PM

As to essay one above. Could the is the three eyed crow be the balance to the three heads of the dragon, with Bloodravens eye being one, perhaps Eurons eye being another. Leads to a question why a dragon has three heads. One dragon but three aspects, one crow but three aspects, not always in agreement. The idea had resonance with the Celtic mythology as well as the Christian trinity both of which we believe to have influnced GRRM. Another thought is since Bloodraven has a foot in each camp could he be both eye and head of dragon. He does seem to bridge a lot of divides. Trag and first men, game of thrones and game of ice and fire, either side of the wall, ruler and prisoner. At some point all these threes have to come together to achieve a balance. Could bloodraven be the pivot?


Har--all this time everyone's been looking for Jon to assume the role of Balancer, when it's actually BR through Bran (and possibly with the help of Euron) who serves the role

#13 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:29 PM

I'm not at all convinced as to Bloodraven being the "pivot" but I do like the notion of the three-eyed-crow being the direct counterpart of the three headed dragon.

...and it does very much put Bloodraven and the children in the opposite camp to Azor Ahai, the dragons and the rest of the Red menace

#14 Iceborn

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:40 PM

Do we know if dragons are good or bad? It is stated that magic is coming into the world because of them, however the old magics of warging appear to be fine before, as do the glamors of the FM, so is the return of the dragons causing this increase in magic or is it the other way round? Just throwing it out that three-sided gods/spirits are quite common in polytheistic religions (and Christianity come to think of it.)

#15 jon rr stark

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:40 PM

I'm not at all convinced as to Bloodraven being the "pivot" but I do like the notion of the three-eyed-crow being the direct counterpart of the three headed dragon.

...and it does very much put Bloodraven and the children in the opposite camp to Azor Ahai, the dragons and the rest of the Red menace

Perhaps pivot is not the right word. But he certainly has been in both camps, maybe more a connection or line of communication for the two sides to achieve the balance rather than come together through direct conflict. By this I mean an end game where it is not the 'easy' final climatic battle, partly because I dont see there been enough space or time in the remaining two volumes to move all the pawns in place while tackling the outstanding issues and partly because it just not GRRM

#16 Iceborn

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:45 PM

Perhaps pivot is not the right word. But he certainly has been in both camps, maybe more a connection or line of communication for the two sides to achieve the balance rather than come together through direct conflict. By this I mean an end game where it is not the 'easy' final climatic battle, partly because I dont see there been enough space or time in the remaining two volumes to move all the pawns in place while tackling the outstanding issues and partly because it just not GRRM

He is talking about "a battle in the snow" but it may just be the political one, I think that BR is more of a chessmaster, or perhaps adjudicator in the conflict.

#17 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:46 PM

Remains to be seen of course, but I do share your view that this will not end in some great climactic battle of the Trident or anywhere else. Its going to be settled by a handful of protagonists doing something like destroying the magic, rather than by flinging tens of thousands of wights against the Royal Targaryen Air Force.

#18 Black Crow

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:48 PM

Do we know if dragons are good or bad? It is stated that magic is coming into the world because of them, however the old magics of warging appear to be fine before, as do the glamors of the FM, so is the return of the dragons causing this increase in magic or is it the other way round? Just throwing it out that three-sided gods/spirits are quite common in polytheistic religions (and Christianity come to think of it.)


We have certainly reckoned in the past that the dragon eggs were able to be hatched because the potency of magic was increasing rather than the act of their hatching causing the increase.

#19 wolfmaid7

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

This crackpot was inspired by a statement from BC about the possible origin of Dragons.

"When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone”( Melessandre ASOS). The Red Star we all know is a comet or a Meteorite- depending on if it broke off .A Comet is a celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a “tail” of gas and dust particles pointing away (literally a composite of fire and ice).
In many ancient myths Comets were called red or firey Dragons. (Draig) a Welsh word today is translated to mean Dragon, but in the past it was called (Maen Mellt) the word used in reference to Meteorite.

It should be noted that ( Maen) in Welsh means stone and Mellt means lightning-so put together lightning-stone. For some comparisons the ancient Chinese called Comets Firey Dragons and even the Bible spoke of The Red Dragon falling from the heavens like a Star. Clearly ancient people made a connection that these celestial objects were Dragons come to Earth and that Dragon was a person per se.


1. Seeing as the comet was already on its path before it was seen,could it be the reason Magic was returning it was the only thing that consists of the four elements and three different states ( solid,liquid and gas)

2. Also comets were seen as heralds to the birth or reincarnation of someone very important.

So could the combination of all these elements in one person be the reason magic returned,because this person came of age?

#20 The Chequered Raven

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:29 PM

Seven Hells! These threads are running fast...
Thanks to all of you, who gave my brain the necessary wheatstones.

Some thoughts about the Walker's armour beeing a glamour or a kind of stealt-armour - my guess is still the latter.

The glamour of the red lot seems to cover the whole body (mel appears young but is most likely very old, no slave-tattoos are seen), the Walkers are described as having milk-white skin, only their armour seems to change colour while moving.
These shifting patterns resembles me suspiciously at Valyrian Steel - which is spell-forged steel.
Could this armour be a kind of equivalent of valyrian steel? A kind of "spell-forged" ice?

Which leads to a somewhat related question:
Why is there no Valyrian Steel armour? VS is said to be stronger and lighter than regular steel - which made it the perfect material for an armour: strong and light, which would not tire the bearer as quick as a steel armour.
Yes, VS is rare stuff, but I would surely not expect such an armour at every second sellsword, but maybe as a heirloom of the Targaryans, for example...