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  1. You know, that chapter starts with the ravens feeding on Maester Tothmure. And its weird the way Tywin has three maesters at Harrenhal, and then when Roose is at Winterfell, he has three maesters. Not two or four. Although here, there are no maesters, only Qyburn Another thing that is strange is that when Qyburn produces the letter that is supposedly from Lady Walda. There is the parallell of Arya, with her eyes shining bright with unshed tears as she burns the letter uncomprehendingly, and Roose with his eyes shining bright as he burns the book he clearly isn't reading (the room is too gloomy to start with, and his turning the pages also indicates he is distracted by thoughts not directly connected with what is written in it). But more than that, just before 'Lady Walda's ' letter, Ser Hosteen is singing the same song as Goodwife Amabel - Tywin is coming, he is coming back, we have to make peace with the Lannisters, or we will be undone. It is only after the hunt, after the wolfcubs were skinned for gloves and after dinner, after the spiced wine, after the barley bread and boar, when the dark has fallen and the storm is rising, THAT is when the Frey voices are raised in anger and Elmer is crying because he won't marry a princess and he has been dishonoured. It seems odd that a raven had come from the twins so much earlier and Lady Walda had not thought to mention the marriage of her King. Their talk is all of Winterfell, how Robb's home has been taken and Bran and Rickon's tarred heads have been hung at the castle gate (like Tothmures). Unlike Bolton's Frey goodbrothers, we the readers know that Ramsey had the most to do with the burnt millers boys. Ramsey was raised in a mill, he was the get of a miller's wife. If a mill holds secrets, he would know them. And, “You know that old mill, sitting lonely on the Acorn Water? We stopped there when I was being dragged to Winterfell a captive ". What if he had been able to send a message from that mill to his father, far away in Harrenhal? And maybe that was why the miller's wife had to die, cut down by Gelmarr while begging Theon for mercy. Ramsey flayed the boys heads, a peculiarly Bolton thing to do. Also, it seems to me that Arya might not know the real reason Tothmure's head was flayed and tarred. Her reasons for why Lucan, Harra, and the steward were gone, but the cook was spared, seem poorly informed to me. They all seem to me to be quite as willing to serve Bolton as Lannister or Whent, Lucan in particular seems, if Gendry has read him right, ready to serve any master, and just concentrate on his trade. They all seem to be neutrals, and if they have something in common, its that they served at Harrenhal when Lady Whent was there, and probably know its secrets. Qyburn, the producer of 'Lady Walda's' letter is a Brave Companion, and it is the Brave Companions that do most of the foraging around Harrenhal. They are split into four parties, with Hoat taking the largest one to the friends they knew when they fought for Lord Tywin. But Qyburn would know where the other three went. Then, when Bolton hears the letter, he decides then to send Tallhart and Glover to Duskendale. Glover and Tallhart thought Bolton's order came from Robb, their king. Robb can't believe they would do anything as stupid and pointless as march on Duskendale. (although it wasn't pointless for Randyll Tarly, and Lord Tywin seemed strangely prescient about the whole thing too.) Edmure thought it was a great idea to get the Tallharts out of Darry, although Catelyn had some reservations. But it seems odd that he waited two days since the rider came. Why wait 48 hours? Was he waiting on a sign, or a message? then, there is the hunt where Bolton got a chill. I'm guessing the signal or message has to do with the way rivers run, because the way the river runs is the secret that might be shared by a mill, and Darry castle, and Bolton might need to go to the dank, chill inducing autumn river to find what he was looking for.
  2. Well, there was Ser Jacelyn Bywater, the commander of the Gold Cloaks that Tyrion appointed to replace Janos Slynt. Among the Black Brothers, Donal Noye has lost a hand, and the wighted Jafer Flowers (that is the hand Ser Aliser takes to Tyrion in Kings Landing). Qhorin half-hand still had half his hand, and for the sake of the point you were making re the stranger losing a hand in the fire, it is worth recalling Jon himself has a right hand that was burnt to the elbow in the fire that killed Jafer the wight.
  3. I suspect that you misheard a quote from the show: "Always the artists" Mance, to Jon, as they survey the carnage in the aftermath of the Fist of the First Men, Season 3, episode 3 'Walk of Punishment' The Others in the books don't chop up otherwise usable horse corpses and arrange them like Steve McQueen inspired installations.
  4. Perhaps, in the free cities, where everyone speaks Valyrian after their local fashion, Viserys was more concerned about keeping his Common tongue fluent? After all, he was only six when he left Westeros, and formal lessons don't usually begin earlier than that. It is not like languages stay with you if you don't use them. In real life, because kids have to learn a whole lot of other things before they have the attention span and the fine motor skills they need to read and write and comprehend, it is rare for a child to be reading and writing much before this. In Westeros, the youngest child we see being taught by the maester is Rickon, aged four - and really, he is tagging along with Bran because his mother and Robb etc are not there. Both he and Bran are really pestering Maester Luwin while he tries to do other stuff, not participating in any formal studies. the way Shireen, Edric and Daven do. Although we know from things they say that Bran, Arya, Sansa, Jon, Robb, and Theon have all had formal tutoring from Maester Luwin. As High Valyrian is usually taught as a written language, by maesters, Viserys might have missed out on it, or simply not applied himself the way Dany did. Or maybe he is speaking High Valyrian to Dany most of the time, and he only switches to the Common Tongue when it is stated that is what he is talking in. Maybe he figures the Dothraki know enough of the low dialects to guess he is impolitically insulting them. Except that he really doesn't give a damn what his inferiors think of him, and is forever insulting servants and threatening them for just doing their jobs. Also, Dany constantly turning in her saddle to look anxiously at the people he is talking about, might clue them in well enough without them having to understand a word of any language he speaks.
  5. I thnk Jorah had three gos at Dany and one at Viserys. Before the wineseller thing, where he demonstrated to Dany that he would protect her from threats, the caravans came in from the west to Vaes Dothrak, and he went straight to them when they arrived to check his mail. He kept that to himself, but he had this conversation with Dany when he returned: (AGoT, Ch.46 Daenerys V) Thing is, Viserys shows no interest in Dany's dragon eggs (although he is obsessed with his army). The person who is keeping his eye on the eggs and knows how much money they are worth and wants them to go with him to Asshai and keep him and his new squeeze in money is...Jorah. Viserys doesn't know any sellswords at the Western Market. The person who could introduce him to sellswords is...Jorah. Who knows it is death to show a blade in Vaes Dothrak, and also that there is a price on Viserys' head. And also that when you get Viserys good and soused, he will act recklessly. As Dany has noted, as his sworn man, Jorah should be protecting her brother while he is out drinking with sellswords. It would be too easy to mention that Dany was giving the Khal the Stallion that Mounts the World, and so the Khal will be in no hurry to move, and by the way just one of those eggs...too easy, too, to cover his role with a small self-serving lie when he raises the matter with her in a way that would set her against her brother, So much for the king he swore to protect. And there is no doubt he is trying to get between the brother and his sister While he builds on her importance to the Dothraki, Viserys is making his way back to Dany, having meditated on who she is and who he is and the army he should have got for her. He has also found a longsword somewhere. Dany tells Ser Jorah to settle him, tell him he can have the eggs, but we don't actually know what Jorah is saying - except that it doesn't calm Viserys down. Viserys addresses Drogo, who predictably insults him But Ser Jorah is at hand Dany choses to see Jorah as 'her devoted bear' , and interprets this as Mormont attempting to forestall her brother. However we can clearly see, Mormont was the proximal cause for her brother drawing his sword. Viserys' belief that he could draw a blade but they could not, the slavers notion that Daenarys was bought but not paid for, the discovery that the only warriors he can get at Vaes Dothrak are the ones that promised him...Jorah could have set all that up. The manicore - someone in Qarth paid the Sorry man for that. and then, Jorah didn't seem to identify the threat, and pushed Dany towards the manitcore after Arstan had knocked it from her hand while this could be put down to Jorah believing that the threat was Belwas and Arstan and not knowing about the sorry man, it could also be that Jorah was well aware of the manticore, and had paid good money for it. I'm thinking he might have received a goodly sum from Illyrio to look after the King of Westeros, enough to pay for a sorry man. He certainly doesn't want to go back and face Illyrio. That could be the reason they go to slavers bay for an army. He certainly talks up the demon road (careful not to call it that) - 'it will take longer' but apparently the risks will be 'different, but not greater' than the risk of pirates, storms, and being pulled under by krackens, if they were at sea. Yeah, I think he knows what a load that is. Then there is Mero. Jorah didn't see any need to alarm Dany with the news that he had escaped. Not Dany, and not the unsullied. He claimed he had offered a reward - I think Dany's freedmen would have killed Mero for free, if they had known what he looked like, and what he planned to do. As it happened, the only person who really knew what Mero looked like was his old mate Jorah. Again, Jorah was not around when the assassination attempt happened. But, note his reaction when he hears that Mero attempted to murder his Queen, the woman he adores. (ASoS,Ch.57 Daenerys V) This is a cold man. This is a slaver. This is a Lord that felt entitled to the wives and daughters of his leiges, and that his first wife was only doing her duty when she died in childbirth. His second wife was a trophy, and an excuse for his determination to lead an expensive life he couldn't afford. He abandoned her in Lys, and came back without the means to pay for the debt-bondage she was in. He fled the city rather than go into debt bondage himself, called the situation she was in 'infidelity', thereby freeing himself from any responsibility for paying out those debts and getting his wife back. Then he meets Daenerys. She started out as strictly business. He regards her as a little fool. He was making money from Varys as a spy, and from the Magisters of Pentos by ensuring the Dothraki kept the peace, he was probably getting paid by Illyrio to guard Viserys, whom he betrayed. I don't think Jorah ever met a woman he couldn't sell, for a good price. I'm thinking he could even be the three treasons: One for blood - the attempt to have her killed by Viserys (Robert wanted blood), One for gold - (Xaro would pay for dragons) and One for love (of his mate Mero), something like that.
  6. He wondered how much they [Quentyn et al] understood of what was being said. Even he could not always make sense of the mongrel Ghiscari tongue the slavers spoke, especially when they were speaking fast. (ADwD, Ch.59 The Discarded Knight) and The Shavepate muttered something in Ghiscari, then said, “As you wish. Though we will rue your old man’s honor before this game is done, I think. (ADwD, Ch.67 The Kingbreaker) So, not fluent, but passable. Unless he is listening to the Shavepate, where it would be better he were fluent. GRRM has already made it clear that Ghiscari is a dead language, so I think he means for us to interpret the people who call spoken language 'Ghiscari' as being culturally distant - the way a north American might describe other Americans as 'Latino' regardless of the language they speak. There are two spoken languages 'Ghiscari' could be - the type of low Valyrian spoken in Slaver's bay (called Meereenese, Yunkaii, Astapori to people like Tyrion, but just 'Valyrian' to Dany and Missandi) and the slaver argot, which is most likely a colloquial version of the low Valyrian filled with trade jargon, and unintelligible to both people who don't understand the Valyrian of Slaver's Bay and people who are not involved in the slave trade. We know Ghiscari survives as a written language, and that the unsullied can read it: (ASoS, Ch.23 Daenerys II) It is the only reference to Ghiscari glyphs rather than Valyrian ones, which Dany can read. It interests me because there are a lot of horns with glyphs on them, and people who can't read them claiming they are Valyrian glyphs. Like Valyrian, the 'pure tongue' of Ghis also survives in song: (ADwD, Ch.50 Daenerys VIII) So it possibly still exists as a language of learning amongst the educated, as High Valyrian survives in Westeros. Also, we know at least one word remains in common use:- 'Mysha'. Westerosi, and the low Valyrian sellswords of the Windblown, seem to have difficulty with the guttural and buzzing sounds (that I infer sound 'pure' to the ears of Slaver's Bay natives). But perhaps the difficulties are with the slaving culture rather than the pronunciation. Barristan pointedly insists on using the Westerosi style 'his grace' for the King of Meereen - not because he lacks the fluency to pronounce 'radiance', but from cultural resistance. He recognises Hizdhar only as the consort of his Westerosi queen, does not regard himself as a liege of the Meereenese King. Tyrion has less of the language of Meereen, but quite as much resistance to it. Even when mastery does not seem to be an issue, Missandei is practically the only character that refers to the languages of Slavers Bay in neutral and politically correct terms. Bizarrely, the Windblown, who come from places where slavery exists, have no interest in knowing the names of their current employers (ADwD, Ch.25 The Windblown) Perhaps because their company culture is in some ways libertarian, and maybe because they accept escaped slaves (ADwD, Ch.06 The Merchant's Man) or maybe their nick-naming is due to a company naming system that makes the one the Unsullied use seem sane (ADwD, Ch.25 The Windblown) And it is an open question how much Quentyn really comprehends. He seems oblivious to the problems his lack of linguistic ability (and general failure to fit in and maintain a low profile) are causing. Wherever they go, Drinkwater, Yronwood, and Quentyn are identified as exactly what they are, by their accents, their linguistic inabilities and abilities, their ignorance of the jargon of their putative trades - three highborn Dornishmen from Westeros pretending to be something they are not, going east on a highly questionable mission that they imagine is a well kept secret. Quentyn thinks the recruiter for the Windblown adressed him in Volentene Valyrian, because he was in Volantis, but the recruiter can tell straight away that Quentyn speaks the common tongue, so addresses him fluently in that. We can be fairly sure the recruiter would understand Quentyn's High Valyrian too. (ADwD, Ch.25 The Windblown) But this thread isn't about the inconsistencies of Quentyn, the Windblown, and ADwD. Here is what I've got to answer the OP Daenerys 13 (5) Missandei 24 (15) Jorah 13 (5) Viserys 8 (3) Mellissandre 5 (3) (the number in brackets are what you get if you count all Low Valyrian dialects as one language (that is, of Tyrosh, Lys, Myr, Braavos, Pentos, Volantis, Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen - although I am sure we are going to find Tolos and Mantarys, and Norvos and Lorath also speak some variety of Low Valyrian that Dany and Missandei comprehend readily) Also not counting any kind of magic or prophecy as languages. If you count trade talk as a language, add two or three to Missandei's totals, and at least one to Jorah - I'm sure he knows the slaver's argot.) Daenarys The thing that strikes me about Daenarys and languages, is the narrative emphasis on what she doesn't know (ACoK, Ch.27 Daenerys II) (AGoT, Ch.11 Daenerys II) (AGoT, Ch.64 Daenerys VIII) (ACoK, Ch.48 Daenerys IV) (AGoT, Ch.61 Daenerys VII) (ASoS, Ch.23 Daenerys II) (ASoS, Ch.42 Daenerys IV) Daenerys speaks the common tongue and High Valyrian as mother tongues. She comprehends the low Valyrian of Pentos, Braavos, Myr, Tyrosh, Volantis, and Lys with native fluency - to her they don't seem like different languages. The same as Viserys, (ADwD, Ch.50 Daenerys VIII) Whatever his deficiencies as a history teacher, Viserys did well as a teacher of languages - especially considering he was only eight years older than her, and what he knew of Low Valyrian (and High, if it was not taught as a mother tongue) could not have been that much when he found himself orphaned in Braavos (or wherever they were), with a baby sister in tow. Dany's fluency in language might be a bit of first book weirdness. Learning a language becomes a harder task in Dance than it had been in Game. Maybe, between the publication of Game of Thrones and that of Dance with Dragons, George RR Martin spent some time in non-English speaking countries, and became aware of how little his schoolboy Latin equipped him for comprehending Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, French, or Spanish. Perhaps the need to create the Dothraki language for the show, and for the actors to speak the languages he had created, made him more appreciative of the realities of living with multiple languages. While Arya's lack of comprehension of language isn't explicitly mentioned as often as Dany's, she clearly has a harder and longer time learning to speak Braavosi and trade talk - and having done so, still isn't able to comprehend the dialects of other cities, any more than a person fluent in Italian would be able to understand Croatian on the strength of Latin roots. Tyrion's struggles are even harder, and he has studied and spoken his languages for decades. Points of view are not necessarily the best judges of their own linguistic abilities. Dany does seem to be a bit of a savant, though. Between marrying Drogo and arriving at Vaes Dothrak, she learns to speak Dothraki, apparently fluently. Jhiqui being apparently an excellent language teacher. (Irri's horse riding lessons don't appear to have gone to waste either.) Although it might be that being queen makes everybody act as if Dany speaks fluently - the broken English that represents Jhiqui and Irri's speech might indicate that they are seeking the simplest words in their vocabulary to include her in their conversation, or that they speak to her in the Common tongue or some variety of Valyrian that they do not know as well as Dany does. Still, Dany's comprehension is quick enough. After crossing the red waste (ACoK, Ch.12 Daenerys I) and (ASoS, Ch.23 Daenerys II) Here it is possible Kraznys is speaking his best High Valyrian, demonstrating he has received a gentleman's education, and so is not speaking the common Astapori dialect of Low Valyrian. Still, (ASoS, Ch.42 Daenerys IV) and Daenarys has no difficulty negotiating with Prendhal na Ghezn, who does not appear to have received a gentleman's education, nor with Grazdan mo Eraz's Yunkaii dialect. And the Masters of Meereen understand her perfectly when she tells them she will crucify 163 of them. Dany might not know what Mhysa means the first time she hears it, but she quickly learns the word in several tongues (ASoS, Ch.42 Daenerys IV) (ADwD, Ch.36 Daenerys VI) From the similarities, I think "Qathei" might be the Asshaii for mother, and the root of Quaithe's name. It is through Dany, we learn that Asshai, Qarth, and Lhazarene have their own tongues. She stayed long enough in Qarth to have acquired some Qartheen, and might have addressed the Thirteen in their own language when she asked them for ships. Missandei We assume that Missandei speaks all the languages Daenarys knows, with perfect fluency, plus the languages of Naath, and of the Summer Isles, Qarth, Asshai, Lhaarene, the trade talks of the Summer and the Jade seas, the slavers argot, and perhaps the Pure Tongue of Old Ghis. She might also speak the tongues of Jogos Nhai, Yi Ti, Bayasabhad, Shamyriana, and Kayakayanaya. As traders from those lands can be found travelling overland as far west as Vaes Dothrak, they might be found in Slaver's Bay as well. I don't know if she speaks Ibbenese. They seem to be a whaling based culture, in an era before steel toggling gromet harpoons, and without the demand for lubricating oil that an industrial revolution full of steam driven pistons and tappets and rocker valves and metal gears, pullys and capstans would require. So, their main (apparently sole) industry is dangerous, poorly paid, and localised to the cold waters around the Port of Ibben where whales spend their summers. Brown Ben Plum is the only even part-Ibbinese person we find east of the Merchant's House in Volantis. The ships of the Ibbenese are more commonly found in colder climes - Lordsport, Braavos, Pentos. Whaling is skilled work, not well renumerated, and not work that boys can be trained to do in Slaver's Bay, so it seems more likely that a Whaling ship owner would source their crews at Ibben, than bring slaves from half way across the world. Although the high attrition rate might make such a strategy worthwhile, if the slaves were cheap enough. I don't think it likely that Missandei speaks the Old tongue, or the True Tongue (of the Children of the Forest - unless she is one, in disguise), or the tongue of the Others, or the dead tongues spoken by the undying of Qarth. But give her a scroll and a couple of evenings to peruse it, and doubtless she will pick them up quickly enough. We don't witness her speaking many of these languages. Jorah Seems to speak as many languages as Dany. More than her bloodriders (ACoK, Ch.27 Daenerys II) If Tyrion's estimate that (ADwD, Ch.14 Tyrion IV) is accurate, then Jorah somehow managed to make his way into the better educated half, even if he spent the first three decades of his life on Bear Island with a father who attributes his dental health to lemon juice in his daily breakfast beer. Coincidently, Tyrion is implying that half the lords of Westeros received a better education than Young Griff. Would it do to be better educated than Joffrey and Lord Karstark combined, but not quite as learned as Mace, Roose, Littlefinger, Stannis, and Jon Snow? Jorah speaks and reads the common tongue and High Valyrian, presumably educated by a maester on Bear Island. He might also have learnt something of Low Valyrian. His preference for exile in Braavos might be the consequence of a Grand Tour of them in his youth, as Tywin and his brothers had done, and Tyrion had longed to have done. and Davos had fondly imagined doing with his sons after the war. At any rate, Jorah knew enough to find and do business with the Tyroshi slaver, understand the Lysene that took his wife in debt bond, find employment in the disputed lands. He knows his way around Volantis, he has been speaking Dothraki since the early summer, so at least three years or so ago. He has expositional information to offer Dany, like (ASoS, Ch.23 Daenerys II) but that contemptuous assessment is probably gained from his selling slaves Drogo's Kalassar had harvested to them, rather than his superior knowledge of Ghiscari. Jorah seems to be only Dany's equal, linguistically, in spite of being three times her aged and better travelled. Viserys High Valyrian, the common tongue, the low Valyrion of Pentos, and very probably of Braavos, Tyrosh, Myr, Lys and Volantis. He draws the line at Dothraki, but he seems to pick up the languages he wants to learn quickly. At the very least, he has been a great tutor for Dany, even if his history lessons were a bit stuck on the Usurpers dogs and his anticipated revenge. Mellisandre (ACoK, Ch.10 Davos I) In addition to these three tongues (which she speaks fluently), Melisandre considers the flames she reads constitute another language (ADwD, Ch.31 Melisandre I) She also has the ability to speak in tongues. (ADwD, Ch.31 Melisandre I) Melisandre's speech is flavoured with the music of the Jade sea - and we know there are islands in the Jade sea (as well as some part of Essos the Dothraki can reach on horseback) so Melisandre might speak more languages than we know - we might not even know her native language. ~ Random Points Arya and Tyrion, when they get to Essos, receive tuition in languages and have lots to say about them. Catelyn and Lysa had their own secret language, Silent sisters might know a language that allows them to speak to the dead Margaery is learning the Summer Tongue Euron, in spite of his globe trotting, does not speak a word of Tyroshi (AFfC, Ch.45 Samwell V) Nature Languages There are lots of 'nature' languages mentioned in ASoIaF. For instance, Dany hears the language of the grass on the Dothraki sea in her last chapter of ADwD. The Greyjoys seem to hear the voices of nature better than most - Aeron listens to the sea and begs his god (AFfC, Ch.01 The Prophet) and at Deepwood Motte (ADwD, Ch.26 The Wayward Bride) although Asha is not the only one to hear the trees. Sam also (ASoS, Ch.46 Samwell III) and Theon, of course. Bran hears the language of the direwolf (ACoK, Ch.04 Bran I) But the one that stopped me in my tracks was Maester Luwin's (AGoT, Ch.53 Bran VI) (ACoK, Ch.64 Arya X) And ravens could speak to the dead in more than one tongue. They could sing the sweet songs of the Children (ADwD, Ch.33 Bran III) And they could say 'snow' to them in the common tongue of Westeros.
  7. Not quite: (AGoT, Ch.37 Bran V) And when you do a keyword search of his wry smile for the source of that secret joke, out it comes (ACoK, Ch.11 Theon I) The joke behind Theon's smile is that he is destined to become the King of the Iron Isles and from there, of Casterley Rock, and then Theon smiles when he reminds himself that one day, all this will be his. That he will one day be King, sitting in the High Seat of Winterfell, with Ice laid bare across his lap, and the eyes of the world beseeching him in his iron-priced glory. ~ (ACoK, Ch.24 Theon II) As you point out, Theon is a fool. But I'd like to point out that Full-Strength Theon is as much a fool as Reek. At the time he utters those words, he is his own sister's dupe - he has failed to recognise her true identity, or to detect any false note in her assumed identity (eg. the reaction of Wex, of the Ironborn who hailed her along the way, the dogs. He muses on this unlikely match for Sigard, who he had not known had married, and notices that she does not look like she is with child, yet continues on his merry way) Also, Reek is a fool's role. The original Reek might have been more a counsellor or steward (although the drinking of the perfume recals a fool's antics), but Ramsay played Reek as a comic role, and Theon humbles himself when he plays Reek, as a survival strategy. He has found it safer to sleep with the dogs, than in the bed of the Lord of Winterfell. The cocky Lordling full of insatiable ambition, that imagines himself the Prince of Winterfell and the rightful claimant of the Seastone Chair, is the alter of the fawning thrall, and they are both the fool. Wow. I think you have nailed it. He is gollum (and gollum is also a fool's role, the eternal dupe of those tricksey hobbitses, with the darkly comic chatter of his fractious personalities). We see that in the very scene The Three Eyed Cow quotes from, where Theon's two identities quarrel with each other: (ACoK, Ch.24 Theon II) The naming of Theon by the heart tree (ADwD, Ch.46 A Ghost in Winterfell) suggests that Bran will be the Ringbearer. Hodor is Samwise Gamgee. Like Sam, he lugs the Ringbearer up Mount Doom, gets Frodo out alive, and was a ring-bearer himself, sort of. I think in Hodor's case, that old sword of his is going to be used in a magical and non-killing way, that reveals he is the Last Hero. Just like Samwise, when he critically spares Gollom on the way up Mount Doom. Hopefully Hodor dies a hero at the climax, rather than returning to his former role like Sam does, because masters bum isn't going to wipe itself. For the LotR analogy to ring true, Theon can't grow into a better person. He must rediscover his insatiable abition, his private joke, that one day he would be King on the Iron Throne (the only way of reconciling his duel ambition of sitting the Seastone Chair and the High Seat of Winterfell at the same time). He can't heal either - he must keep his fawning thrall persona, that he has possessed for as long as we have known him, the one that eagerly waited on Lord Stark's order to kill the direwolf puppy in chapter one of Game of Thrones. There were places where it looked as if Gollum was growing, becoming a better person, but if he really had done, we would not have got our big Baradur-shaking climax. Theon has to stay divided and a fool, for this plot to work.
  8. The Weeper. The hearsay of his enemies is not proof beyond reasonable doubt, and he has shown himself to be a brave and able commander who knows the territory in the war against the wights. Mance trusts him, the respect and admiration of the other wildlings towards him seems remarkably universal - on the one occasion that we meet him, they seem to be falling over themselves to talk with him, and Jarl has listed raiding on the Weeper's team prominently on his curriculum vitea. Jon has been imbued with 'Southron' (ie. Northerner) prejudices against wildlings, at least since he was old enough to comprehend Old Nan's stories. Still, the one time they met, the Weeper does and says nothing to deserve the reputation Jon knows him by: (AGoT, Ch.19 Jon III) I submit that the worst evidence Jon can offer of the Weeper from his first-hand knowledge is that he talked about him rather than to him, and made personal remarks he didn't much care to hear. His later opinion that cannot be taken even as evidence that the Weeper differs from Tormund in any way other than Jon likes Tormund. If being disliked by Jon was a capital offence, there would be fewer men in the Night's Watch. So let us take a look at the other charges the Weeper is being indicted on. According to the tales the black brothers told (ASoS, Ch.07 Jon I) according to Thistle, who may be speaking ironically or with dismay, a (ADwD, Prologue) I'm willing to concede this is true, because it is backed up by testimony stronger than hearsay Jon was told before he ever met the guy. Jarl has personally been led across the wall on raids led by the Weeper. (ASoS, Ch.41 Jon V) Jon is keen to associate the Weeper's name with that of Alfyn Crowkiller, quick to smear them both as murderers, without evidence that the Weeper had killed so much as a dog. Alfyn was dead before Jon ever thought of him, one of a dozen killed by Qhorin half-hand on his way to the fist of the first men. Jon knew what sort of man Qhorin was before he ever met him, too. He was 'half a legend in the Watch' and had lost three fingers catching a willdling's axe. (ACoK, Ch.43 Jon V) That is a hero. The Weeper was possibly sighted, at least believed to be at Icemark, possibly climbing, hacking or 'massing' at the Wall there according to Donal Noye (ASoS, Ch.48 Jon VI) Jon's first meeting with him does establish that the Weeper is a henchman of Mance's, not just a refugee or fugitive. (ASoS, Ch.69 Jon IX) The Night's Watch does act as if they own the lands and make the rules beyond the wall, when strictly their realm and their law ends at it. Acting Commander Bowen Marsh might be justified in turning the retreat of the free-folk army into a rout, if he could. After all, the Wildlings had joined in battle against the Night's Watch at Castle Black, a clear threat to the wall he had sworn to watch from and the realm he had sworn to guard. Whether the Night's Watch is justified in taking the fight up the Milkwater or into the Gorge is less certain, but they don't see it that way. Jon talks of the Weeper 'provoking' attacks, per Mance's instruction. If he was, he did it in a way that did no harm worth mentioning to any man of the Night's Watch, any person or property in the realm. His methods are a lesson in restraint that Catelyn Stark and Tywin Lannister could have profited from, had they survived to hear of it. Marsh took the offensive along with whatever paltry bait the Weeper had given him, attacking people who are not part of the realm or the wall he is charged to protect, in land that does not belong to it. While Jon attributes all to the cunning of Mance, I'm not sure that the Weeper had the choice of avoiding battle at the Bridge of Skulls. It seems to me that his forces were too weak and broken to fight at Icemark, so he made the best kind of retreat he knew how, while sending riders out for reinforcements further west, because he knew he could not keep running forever. Bowen Marsh might have been 'provoked' by the knowledge that the terrain was funnelling the fleeing wildlings into a situation where they must either hold the Bridge of Skulls, or be slaughtered by the Night's Watch, or starve in some cranny of the Gorge. Perhaps Bowen Marsh had not anticipated the number of defenders, armed with scythe and stick and rope and guile, would so nearly match the conventionally organised and properly provisioned troops he attacked them from the heights with. The deaths of Ser Endrew Tarth and Ser Aladale Wynch and the 98 fighters of the Night's Watch are not murders, but deaths in a battle for the wildling's lives, and all Jon knows about them suggests they should lie heavy on Bowen Marsh's conscience. All we know of the Weeper's part of that battle, was that he was there. There is a strong presumption that he was leading the battle, Bowen Marsh's wounds are consistent with a glancing blow with a scythe. But we don't have clear evidence that the Weeper made that near-fatal swing at Bowen Marsh in an heroic do or die last stand on the bridge. All we know for sure is that the Black Brothers saw him on the Bridge and were trying to kill him. The most heroic (or desperate) command decision the Weeper made was just after that, when he decided to retreat into the Valley formerly of the Thenns, but now of the wights. It says a lot about the loyalty, discipline, and courage of his forces, that they would follow him through the Frostfangs, up the Milkwater, into the maw of death, to fight against the undead and the White Walkers, or live free in spite of them. Note too, this is the last positive sighting we have of the Weeper. Mance, when he has knelt in fealty to Stannis, and gave his bond to Melisandre, unintentionally does an injustice to his former henchman when he attempts to interpret Melisandre's vision. (ADwD, Ch.31 Melisandre I) This was in reply to Melisandre asserting There is no hint in this that the rangers will be dead, that only their heads will return. And until that point, the reader could suppose the Weeping Man got his nickname from his chronically rheumy eyes. This statement sets the Weeper up to take the fall for a crime that he seems to have a water-tight alibi for (he wasn't there, or anywhere near there). Worse, it is a crime that has not even been committed. But when the heads of Black Jack Bulwer, Hairy Hal, and Garth Greyfeather are found, there is no attempt to consider other suspects. (ADwD, Ch.62The Sacrifice) These were only three of nine rangers in the sorty, and what has happened to the half-dozen others is as yet not known. The black brothers are curiously incurious as to the fate of those still living. Perhaps after the thing at Craster's keep, it isn't so respectable to survive your commander, but still, one would think the brothers would show more interest in the fate of the men who are possibly still living. We don't really know how the ones that died, met their fate. Were they alive or dead when their eye sockets were emptied? What were they doing when they died, how were they killed...and by whose hand? All we really know for sure is that one look at the three heads is enough for every brother at Castle Black to blame the Weeper for murdering the lot of them. Whoever did that must have known that. Which makes it difficult for me to suspect the wights, or the white walkers - as they don't seem to be that bothered with individual personalities, don't seem that aware of what the men say to each other about each other, don't speak the common tongue. I suspect the heads were mutilated by someone who does know what those at Castle Black say about the Weeper. Whether that person knows where the bodies are buried or not. While I have no positive evidence that links any specific person to the killing of the three, it seems to me that everyone who accuses the Weeper is equally bereft. It is not beyond belief that Black Brothers might have killed their own and cut out the eyes, in order to recruit rangers to an anti-wildling faction. It's not like a wildling killed the Lord Commander that Bowen Marsh was acting for. It's not as if there are a lack of murderous faction commanders that would like to be able to blame a wildling for their crimes, as this infusion of kneelers and Kings Men and Queens men melds with the mix of Northerners and Southerners, Baratheon and Targaryen supporters, former Goldcloaks and former prisoners, that were the population of Castle Black before them. There are mutineers from Crasters Keep, and from the failed Stewards breakout at the fist, that made their way back with the loyalists, and blame innocent wildlings for their crimes already. And beheadings are more reliably done with swords that scythes. Well, more cleanly, anyway. The spears that support the heads are made of Ash, and there is a big Ash tree half a mile south of Castle Black on the road to Moles town, with a branch broken off to make a nose for the face newly gouged in it. Again, not something a scythe does well. There is another face in a chestnut and a third in an Oak, on the same road. Three for three. There are wildlings that might steal the Weeper's trademark to menace the Night's Watch for various reasons, and Molestown locals, and Northern clanspeople as well. To persuade the inhabitants of Castle Black that the Weeper is there and alive, south of the Wall, to rouse popular hatred against the kneelers, as a feint by other wildlings in Mance's broken army...but there is nothing to put the Weeper at the scene of the crime. The closest thing to a definite charge on the Weeper is the Old Flint's answer to Othell Yarwyck's leading and loaded question: I'll just note here, that Othell and Old Flint are posing these questions to argue that the Weeper would not keep a loyal oath, before we move on to examining the substance of this claim. It sounds like a serious charge, but it is vaugely worded. We do not know if the three 'of his ilk' are men or women, if they were murdered or raped, or taken hostage, or just missing presumed taken. He doesn't specify if the three were taken by the Weeper personally, or by wildlings in raids or a raid he had participated in, or if the three of the Flint clan had been harmed or taken by persons unknown, and the damage attributed to the Weeper when the Old Flint was approached for justice. His second claim that the Weeper blinds girls is even less specfic. Framing it in the present continuous tense implies it is an habitual behaviour. I don't think the Old Flint had three daughters who had their eyes gouged out - the casual ease with which he speaks of the Weeper's alleged attacks on girls generally is not consistent with a person who has a close personal relationship with a victim of such an horrific crime. And 'ilk' does not imply a close relationship. He could mean as little as 'In the last twenty years, three Flint girls have run away to join the Wildlings, and we discourage girls from doing this by telling them the weeper will blind them and leave them behind." We don't know what the Old Flint means by 'blinded'. This could mean anything from 'deceived' to 'blindfolded' to 'eyeballs gouged out of defenceless, terrified child in an unprovoked attack designed only to ensure that the last thing she saw was the slaughter of her protectors'. He isn't clear what he means by 'left behind' either - oddly gendered, maximumly sinister, the more so because we are not hearing of or seeing any number of blind Flint women, who were left behind by the Weeper in their youth. We know that the Old Flint is arguing that he doesn't want the Weeper as a neighbour, in the Gift. At the same time as he argues the Weeper is too savage to be trusted, he promises that if he encounters wildlings south of the gift, he will execute them. He even implies that he would break guest right, rather than apply it to wildlings, and makes it clear he doesn't care what happens to wildling children, and that as far as he is concerned, wildling girls, and their mothers and grandmothers, are all spearwives, entitled to no quarter. It is in his interest to argue that the Weeper, and consequently all wildlings, are a monstrous threat to him and his kin, that he and his kin would be justified in their decision to orphan wildling girls and let those they don't kill along with their mothers starve, freeze, be wighted at the very doors of castle black. The Flint uses the comparatively equal status of girls in wildling culture, to justify slaughtering orphans with the same savage prejudice as for warrior commanders. Wildlings allow female warriors, and wildlings don't share the realm's fetishism of female virginity (no bedding ceremonies, and perhaps no formal marriage ceremonies, acceptance of women leaving men they don't wish to partner with, and no intrinsic inequalities for base-born wildlings, no primogeniture of succession to legitimate the lines of wildling kings). The wildling culture is not so focused on restricting and controlling women as they are in the realm. So when the Old Flint talks of 'the girls he leaves behind' it makes me wonder what treatment a Flint girl or woman who survives a wildling raid might endure from her own family, if (for instance) they thought she had been 'despoiled'. And what evidence of violence to their own womenfolk the Flints might prefer to attribute to wildlings. What would a wildling like the Weeper make of a culture where, if a man steals a woman, he gets her lands, title, and takes charge of her bannermen, who, like all the neighbours, mope around uneasily pointing out that, well, they are married, as he flays her slowly and starves her to death. The Night's watch is largely made of men like Chett and Daeron, who were found guilty of crimes against women, and Craster was not the product of immaculate conception. Further south, the anointed knight Gregor Clegane considers eye gouging as a good way of dealing with insufficiently attentive scouts - except that he proposes tearing out the eyes of his own men, not his enemies. The Huntsman has three eyeless corpses on grisly display when Arya comes to Stoney Sept, to the approval of the whole town, as they see them as some kind of ward against the enemies that would attack them. Beric Dondarrion does not approve, but he does not call the huntsman to a trial to answer for his depredations. So even Sothron worshippers of the seven are capable of doing things quite as vicious as they accuse the Weeper of, without being regarded as committing a crime they need to answer for. Especially when these acts are committed as part of a war, or in defence of their own. Independent of the vagueness or the veracity of the Old Flint's accusations, in context he is slandering the Weeper, because he is offering them as evidence that the Weeper is an oathbreaker, and therefore can't be trusted to keep an oath of allegiance. What we know of the Weeper is that he swore allegiance to Mance and kept his oath when others, including Tormund, fled. Everything suggests that he is a staunch ally that serves his commander fearlessly, even heroically, to the death if needs be. The Flints, including Old Flint, don't enjoy such an impeccable reputation on that head. Jon admits to Stannis that the Flints, along with the other mountain clans were 'quarrelsome folk' and Benjen reminds him that historically, (ASoS, Ch.55 Jon VII) From Asha we learn that (ADwD, Ch.26 The Wayward Bride) (ADwD, Ch.42 The King's Prize) The Old Flint himself reminds us of how far previous Kings had trusted their Flint allies: (ADwD, Ch.54 Cersei I) Not that the Night's Watch are paragons for honour, as Jon points out when Tormund attempts to give him female hostages (ADwD, Ch.58 Jon XII) As Leathers, who probably knows the Weeper better than any other character in the narritive, notes: (ADwD, Ch.53 Jon XI) The defence rests, your honour. ETA TL;DR @Bernie Mac? Very well. Pure supposition is the only thing that links what Mance says about the Weeper to the deaths of Jack Bulwar etc. The Old Flint only claims to know of three people carried off/died in raids led by the Weeper. His unsupported assertion about blinding girls was added as justification for him and his 'ilk' to serve the little kneeling girls of the Gift and the men of the Night's Watch the same as Jack Bulwar, if Jon should accept the Weeper's oath.
  9. No quarrel with your theory, but re. your sources - was that ^ really Marwyn's description? In the World of Ice and Fire, Marwyn's quote is only the first paragraph, the rest is a continuation of the text of Yandal or Gyldayn, not Marwyn. It seems to consist of the cursory observations of an historic traveller who did not know anyone in Asshai, or linger there long enough to, as interpreted by a parochial Oldtowner keen to portray Asshai as inferior to the Seven Kingdoms, confident his little king would have no more need of its ancient wisdom than he did himself. We know Mirri Maz Duur was in Asshai at the same time as Marwyn (was indeed his student) and that she learnt birthing songs there from a moonsinger of Jogos Nhai. It seems unlikely to me that midwives would travel to a place where there are no children to learn their trade. The notion that every native of the town has 'a furtive air' when they step into the street is idiotic, the kind of impression a tourist, fearing they will be robbed or harmed while alone in a strange place, would form without much justification (although, of course, being a tourist, and hanging around the docks looking around for taverns and women, do increase the likelihood of being ripped off anywhere in any world). The account given of Asshai reminds me strongly of the account of the Azores given in William Guthrie's 1770 New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar, and Present State of the Several Kingdoms of the World. Guthrie had been a political hack in London, until he was pensioned off by the government. He then supplemented his income by writing inaccurate histories, an inaccurate peerage (which became even more so after emendation by aristocrats whose families were in it), and this geography book. Some of what was in it came from medieval sources, and just about all of it could have been corrected if he had chosen to consult with people who had been there - of which there were many in London, and easily enough accessible to him through the Navy etc. Guthrie's type of history is called 'conjectural history' now - it takes the view that history progresses in stages, and looks to the natural history of the area to explain historical, geographical and even social phenomena. He remembers to mention that the islands are volcanic, but elides the real mystery of when Europeans first discovered the Azores (they appeared on medieval maps for a hundred years before their 'official' discovery, and were a haven for pirates long after). He also ignores their significance in the history of colonization (firstly as the most westerly known Portuguese port in the treaty of Tordesillas, and later their importance as a port of call for ships going to the American colonies and the African ones, and ships going down the coast of Africa on their way to the East Indies.) Although he would not have seen colonisation as history - he was writing nearly a century before peak colonisation, after all - he would have known how important the port was for trade, especially the slave trade. But those things didn't fit his notions of the moral lessons that can be gleaned from history. This discussion of the waters of Asshai seems to be of the same kind - an assurance to King Tommen that Asshai is inferior to the Seven Kingdoms, a dying race. Everything we know about Asshai except this account, is that it is the world centre for blood magic. Marwyn knows this. Marwyn went to Asshai to learn magic and was not disappointed. He knows how to light a glass candle, the other archmaesters call him 'the mage' and he calls them 'the grey sheep'. I'm pretty sure this is the narrative of a grey sheep, not a mage. * On the OP's question My guess would be, ground temperature and geographical barriers.(mountains and seas limiting their ability to grow, and a dearth of migrating animals to carry the grass seeds - one reason why some grasses have evolved to be edible is so that they can spread via animals, but ghost grass is emphatically inedible.) Soil salinity, acidity, lack of specific micro-nutrients, and lack of water are all things that keep weeds in check, but Ghost grass seems to be well able to survive in poor soils, and poisoned waters. Most weeds are adept at exploiting disturbed soils - they pop up where the natives have been dug up, and grab the advantage of them by emerging sooner, growing faster, seeding more etc. So, I would guess that the ghost grass would get a move on when climate change makes the Dothraki sea parched and dry (from sub-zero temperatures) and the waters were poisoned by some volcanic means that weakened the other grasses. Or perhaps the ghost grass has a foothold in places that were scorched and poisoned by dragonfire, and when the dragons come again, the ghost grass will be all that will still grow in the Dothraki sea. On the OP's first question: There is no good evidence that ghost grass is an invasive weed. The Dothraki claim it 'murders' other grasses, and that it will one day take over the world, but Dany has never seen it, nor Jorah, who tells her of its existance in the Shadowlands beyond Asshai, where he has never been. Xaro's claim that there was ghost grass in the gardens of Gehane seems to suggest that the ghost grass invasion has begun, but Xaro is an inherently unreliable narrator, and he knows the beliefs of the Dothraki, that this is an effective way of telling Dany that he had lied about the powers of the Warlocks, and she would unleash an apocalypse if she stayed in Qarth longer. The glass candles, phantom tortoises, tailess rats, and the mad woman seem equally important to him as signs - and, as signs, equally superstitious. If there is ghost grass growing in a warlocks garden, it logically had germinated before Dany arrived in Qarth, it just hasn't suited Xaro to mention it (or any of these superstitious omens) until then. It did not suit him to mention ghost grass and warlocks later, in Meereen. They didn't seem to trouble his thoughts then. The Dothraki have a passionate hatred of blood magic and everything connected with it, they believe the ghost grass holds the souls of the damned. I'm guessing from that that ghost grass has magical properties, hence the sinister reputation with the Dothraki. Co-incidentally, it is the grass that grows in the Shadowlands, where the blood mages come from. That doesn't make it an invasive weed. To be considered an invasive weed, a plant has to invade an area, and I don't think growing in the garden of a mage (who might have obtained it from Asshai and cultivated it especially) constitutes an invasion.
  10. (AGoT, Ch.40 Catelyn VII) This is the first time I have noticed - Coleman didn't just happen along as the subject turned to his young charge, he had wanted to hear what Catelyn needed to talk about to her sister "Now", and he had stayed because he was particularly interested in hearing whether Catelyn thought the Lannisters had done it. His interruption shows he was keen to turn the subject at that point, too.
  11. (AGoT, Ch.12 Eddard II)
  12. I looked into this last month (for a reply in Richard Hoffman's 'For the Watch' thread). In Ch.10 Jon III Stannis converts the wildlings and burns their king, and Jon has learnt that Lord Tywin is dead. So Jon III in ADwD is roughly the same time as Cersei III in AFfC. Cersei's order to send the men to the wall is given in Feast for Crows Ch.17 Cersei IV, before she seduced Kettleblack into acting as an unlikely honeytrap for Margarey, before she gave Qyburn the puppeteers, before she sent Balman to deal with Bronn, before Ser Gyles died. At the same meeting, they drop a lot of time-line cues for the arcs of other povs, including the mention that Slynt has informed them that Stannis is trying to convert the wildlings at the wall, and that, 'just this morning' they had received a letter from Lord Manderley informing them that he had received and imprisoned Davos, asking them what he should do with the prisoner. Cersei sends back the order to remove his head. This is long before her arrest by the faith, so it is very likely her order to send the 100 insurgents to the wall had been put into action before Cersei was arrested. Cersei also mentions "“Lord Eddard’s younger daughter is with Lord Bolton, and will be wed to his son Ramsay as soon as Moat Cailin has fallen." and “Lord Eddard’s younger daughter is with Lord Bolton, and will be wed to his son Ramsay as soon as Moat Cailin has fallen.” and "I have decided to defer our repayment of the sums owed the Holy Faith and the Iron Bank of Braavos until war’s end.” so they can build their Royal Navy. This places Cersei's information a little after Jon's in Ch.17 Jon IV of A Dance with Dragons. He notes Ramsay and Bolton have not marched on Moat Calin, but Ramsey has gone south with Hothor umber. At the wall they have heard no word from Davos, don't know if he has arrived at Whiteharbor Arnolf Karstark has seen fierce storms on the narrow sea, Balon is spoken of as alive, Deepwood Motte as taken by Ironborn. In Ch.24 Cersei V, Feast For Crows, Cersei hears about the progress of her first three dromonds, and of Davos's head and hands displayed on the walls of White Harbor. She dispatches Wendal to his father. Roose and Ramsey are converging on Moat Cailin from the North and South, Ironborn still hold Deepwood Motte, although Cersei believes the Boltons are goign to attack there and Torrhen's square next. Lord Gyles refuses payment to Noho Dimittus of the Iron Bank. Loras gets her nose out of joint by instructing Tommen, Jaime puts it further out by suggesting it is a good notion. She gives Qyburn his puppeteers, and Ser Balman the quest of putting down Bronn. The sparrows still infest Kings Landing, but there is no mention of the High Sparrow. In Ch.28 Cersei IV, Cersei meets with the High Sparrow. In Dance with Dragons Ch. 21 Jon V: Eastwatch reports shipwreck on Skagos "Whether the broken ship was Blackbird, one of Stannis Baratheon’s sellsails, or some passing trader, the crew of the Storm Crow had not been able to discern." One possibility among the many is that this is what has become of Cersei's hundred men destined for the wall. Dance with Dragons Ch.28 Jon VI: Jon gets his wedding invite from Ramsay, informing him Moat Cailin is taken, and Roose summons "all leal lords to Barrowton, to affirm their loyalty to the Iron Throne and celebrate his son’s wedding" From Ch.32 Cersei VII, the hints connecting her to the Wall time-line are vaguer, and the timeline works more and more on co-ordinating with time-lines like Sansa's, Theon's and Sams, that are also kept hazy when it come to making connections between events at King's Landing and the Wall. We learn the Iron Fleet have descended on the Shield Islands. The Freys and half a dozen Northern houses have rallied to the Boltons, Loras leaves in Sweet Cersei, Falyse tells of her husband's end and is taken away by Qyburn. In Cersie VIII, Euron is in Whispering Sound, Loras is victorious at Dragonstone, and a ship delivers oranges from Dorne. The merchants of Kings Landing are complaining that the Iron Bank is closing on them, Ser Gyles is too weak to leave his bed. By Cersei IX he is dead. The Vale is too unsettled for Cersei to consider recalling Petyr Baelish to King's Landing, Jamie and Ser Illyn Payne have left for the Riverlands. Cersei is finally snared by the High Sparrow in Ch.43 Cersei X of Feast for Crows. Ser Harys and Pycelle call Kevan to King's Landing to be Regent, and dismiss that part of Cersei's council that hasn't fled. Qyburn tells Cersei that Pycelle believes Aurane is now a pirate in the Stepstones, and the Merryweathers have returned to Longtable. In Dance with Dragons, the time-line links are concealed, even obliterated, by the narcississm of Cersei's point of view. We learn from Kevan that Jamie has refused to answer his sister's summons, the way Kevan promptly answered Pycelle's. Thanks to Kevan we learn Jaime went off with Brienne on his way back from Raventree; The gold company and Aegon begin thier assult, landing at Tarth, Stepstones, Cape Wrath; Mace is in King's Landing, Randyll Tarly too. He even tells Cersei Myrcella has lost her ear, Arys is slain, Qyburn is still in charge of the dungeons. In the second Cersei chapter, we have no such expository character to help us along. There might be subtle things to pick up from the people who block her path and sell pies or whatever, but all that I can pick up is that Boros and Meryn have reappeared at Kevan's Red Keep (they had mysteriously disappeared in the previous Cersei chapter, last positively sighted by Cersei in her final chapter in AFfC, Meryn in the yard of the Red Keep, and Boros at the head of Cersei's tail, left with his sword outside the Great Sept.) I suppose these at least provide context for clues in other PoV's that mention things that allow us to link them to events at the wall...eg. Kevan sees Cersei some time after her walk of Shame, and witnesses the white winter raven in King's Landing the same day- presumably a white winter raven was sent to the Wall as well, although if that happened before Jon was stabbed, Clydas had not informed Jon, and Jon had not noticed. From A Dance with Dragon's Jon VII, the action at the wall heads North and all his broad strategic vision is taken up in issues that prevent him looking below the Neck and giving us direct links to what is happening in King's Landing. We learn that Stannis has taken Deepwood Motte and Alysanne Mormont has burnt Balon's fleet in the North. Roose is heading to Winterfell for the wedding, but has not got there yet. In Jon VIII, Val goes off on what is apparently a month-long mission to find Tormund (at least, they will meet again under the 'first night' of the next full moon). Selyse announces she is travelling from Eastwatch to the Nightfort. In Jon IX, Selyse arrives with Tycho Nestorious, and suggests they send a raven to Stannis at Deepwood Motte to say she will be at the Nightfort. She only intends to stay a few days. Nestorious tells Jon Cersei has failed to pay the Iron Throne repayments. Jon tells Tycho "“When last we heard, His Grace was marching on Winterfell to confront Lord Bolton and his allies. You may seek him there if you wish, "...“I can provide you with horses, provisions, guides, whatever is required to get you as far as Deepwood Motte. From there you will need to make your own way to Stannis.” Tycho had not seen Sam at Braavos, has heard of strange ships sighted in the Stepstones (perhaps the Golden Company, not Salladhor Saan)"No, these other sails … from farther east, perhaps … one hears queer talk of dragons.”. "Lord Redwyne’s war fleet creeps through the Broken Arm [of Dorne] as well." It is far from definitive, but it is possible this information matches Ch.32 Cersei VII in Feast for Crows. In Jon X, Stannis has left Deepwood Motte, and Tycho has left Castle Black in search of him, but Selyse is still there, perhaps delayed by the weather. Whether Melisandre is looking for Stannis or Mance she sees “The same, I fear. Only snow.” Snow. It was snowing heavily to the south, Jon knew. Only two days’ ride from here, the kingsroad was said to be impassable. Melisandre knows that too. And to the east, a savage storm was raging on the Bay of Seals. Also, confusingly, a raven arrives from Eastwatch to assure them there were "Calm seas today. Eleven ships set sail for Hardhome on the morning tide." Jon is troubled to learn that Glendon Hewett is in command of Eastwatch now because the guy is a friend of Alisers, and "a crony of sorts with Janos Slynt" Val returns with Tormund, so presumably this is the night of the full moon. In Jon XI, with a distinct lack of positive information, Jon wonders about where people are to himself. Cottor Pyke might be at Hardhome by now, Mance might have found Arya. Ser Denys writes of great camps of Wildlings massing near the Shadow Tower. We do learn that Tormund will be coming to Castle Black in three days time. Jon XII starts before dawn three days later, when Tormund arrives. The day dawns bright, warm and sunny, the wall weeps. But in the afternoon the clouds roll in, and it is snowing by the time Borroq, the last of them, comes through and they close the gate at dusk. A letter from Cottor Pyke confirms he is at Hardhome, and the Braavosi vessells Tycho loaned them are still with him. He mentions the seas are wracked by storms. Jon XIII back to wondering "Where is Stannis? What of Rattleshirt and his spearwives? Where is my sister?” There are no answers. Between this and the last Jon chapter, Tormund has had enough time to establish himself and his men at Oakenshield. Selyse is still there, planning more marriages. Weather is heavy snow and rising wind at Castle Black that day, but not before a wet raven delivers the Pink Letter and all it's glorious contradictions. As you can see, there is plenty of time for Cersei's men to have got to the wall (especially by ship, so much faster than overland) but there have been plenty of storms and pirates and so on to delay them as long as their author needs them delayed on the Narrow Sea. There is also room for them to have arrived without Jon's knowledge. The Castellan of Eastwatch is a friend of Alliser and Slynt, and they might be ready to secure Castle Black (or at least Eastwatch) against the Wildlings and Stannis and so on, and ensure that Alliser becomes the 999th Lord Commander. Or Jon might have no hint of their coming, or of their arrival, because his timeline could have finished well ahead of Cersei's - up to two or three months ahead (because the wall gets colder sooner than King's Landing). --- I have long suspected that the book is Malleon, but I have never realised it would point fingers at Cersei. Which of course it would, after her Walk of Shame and Stannis's pamphlet, whether it was actually evidence against Tommen's legitimacy or not. Malleon is described as a tome five times. Other books are described as tomes only once or twice: -Erotic Adventures in a Lysene Pillowhouse once, -Blood and Fire/Death of Dragons once, unless it is also the huge tome about dragons that made them seem as dull as newts to Arianne. Sansa calls The Lives of Four Kings a tome twice in the one chapter. Davos generically labels the books he is learning to read from 'tomes', regardless of their size or contents. He unironically describes King Daeron's book as 'a slender tome' (although I detect heavy irony in his author). Malleon's book is described also as 'ponderous', 'great', 'massive': these are synonymous with/identical to 'great'.; Arya notes it is 'bound between faded leather covers'. These attributes are not so strongly associated with Malleon as the word 'tome' does, though. Even 'tome' is not uniquely definitive. 'Tome' typically implies a scholarly book of some heft, one that usually also has superior binding. Expensive leather-bound books are far more common than books in boards or wooden covers, in Westeros. Malleon is also a tome that we know is in Pycelle's possession (in fact, the only tome we know him to have possessed). However, we could assume the Grand Arch-Maester, would have a whole library of great leather-bound tomes of varying dustiness, given the many quotes he makes of books. I wonder how Malleon came to be returned to Maester Pycelle after the demise of the lenders - did Eddard sent it back via Vayon Poole as soon as he had jotted down the references he felt he needed? Did Janos Slynt deliver it to Petyr Baelish to return to Pycelle with a smirk and a mischievous lie? Or did Cersei return it? Or one of her servants? I don't think Tyrion would simply give it to a servant to take back, if he found it in Ned's solar - he is too interested in books himself, and was looking for devices to help him manipulate Pycelle. Maybe one of Vary's little birds swooped in to claim it? They are like that, and Varys clearly has at least as much covert access to Pycelle's solar as Tyrion, or rather more. Maybe Pycelle retrieved it himself. It isn't the first time he has got the book back from a dead man. That is the other thing that is strongly associated with Malleon - read it and die. Petyr Baelish seems to be the only person that is still alive after turning the first page. The scenarios I have come up with to explain the deadliness of this book rationally all seem unnecessarily convoluted - we know there are little birds around this book all the time, but it seems a bit much that they would be obliged to kill everyone they saw reading it. Poisoned powder on the pages a la Name of the Rose is a real possibility when Varys is involved, with his well powdered hands that smell like funeral flowers. But Lysa confessed to giving Jon Tears of Lys and while Jon's symptoms seem more like Hoster Tully's than what we know of Tears of Lys, both Varys and Pycelle seem to believe Tears of Lys were a likely option, and both of them have had experience on their side, and first hand knowledge. Ned's head was definitively chopped off. He might also have been poisoned (that leg that woudn't heal right, the fever, etc.) but it seems excessively subtle and contrived to have him poisoned as well. Pycelle seems in reasonably good health - although his beard won't grow back and his forarm is flabby, and Cersei noticed he was looking really old when he came in to announce the death of Gyles Rosby. I would have thought Pycelle might be difficult to poison, because he knows poisons, suspects Jon Arryn was posioned, and seems cautious and particular about his food. That was before Tyrion supposedly (and actaully) raided his supply, before Joffrey's demise, that might have put him further on guard (although Tyrion's actual theft of the laxative was never detected, and the theft Pycelle fingered Tyrion for, was committed by Varys) Yet he still eats it in the same chamber where he (still!) stores his unlocked neatly labelled poisons on open shelves. And the 'sweet child' that prepares his milk and honey was likely one of Varys's birds all along (although, I suppose Kevan is not to know if Pycelle's servant is the same girl as always, or another. Kevan wasn't observant enough to see anything odd about small common children swathed in furs that were not only too big for them, but too sumptuous for them to have gained honestly - only Nobles and wildlings can afford to wear fur). But just like Ned Stark's death, the hit to the head with the candle-stick seems a perfectly sufficient explanation for Pycelle's untimely end. There doesn't seem any need to disguise a slow poisoning. Also, unlike Ned and Jon, Pycelle has possessed the book some time - it isn't likely he has just reached the bit the children have to kill him for, for the first time, today. And how would they know what he had or had not read? He is old and might have read Malleon back to back twenty times before they were even born. He might have had Malleon before Varys arrived from across the Narrow sea. And in order to know that Malleon had a bit worth dying for, Varys and/or his birds would have had to have read it themselves. But I do think Ned was reading Malleon to a different purpose than Jon Arryn. Ned was looking for guilt, and we know that neither Gared nor Lady strictly deserved the punishment he gave them, in spite of his looking into their eyes, hearing their pleas, passing their sentence, and swinging his sword. Jon was not looking for a murderer, He had brought Cersei and Robert together and saw the value of keeping them together. He had seen at least one, and far more probably, several, of Robert's bastards for himself. He was not looking for reasons to exile Lannisters. Sansa was able to see Eddard's 'proof' of Malleon's book without ever reading it, and it seems unlikely she would be the only or the first person to observe that Joffrey looked nothing like Robert Baratheon, or any Baratheon, while Edric and Renly looked like carbon copies of Robert, and people of Pycelle's age could affirm that Robert was the exact likeness of his grandparents and great-grandparents. Jon Arryn was interested in breeding and desperately wanted a spare for his heir. He might have suspected the heir he had was not his natural child. We learn from Malleon that in Westeros the colour of your eyes and hair can be a sign you are endowed with supernatural properties. For the blue eyed black haired Baratheons it is superhuman strength. For the brown eyed and fine brown haired Strongs too. The emerald eyes and curly gold hair of the Lannisters are associated with greensight. The purple eyes and inhuman beauty of the Targaryens with dragon riding and their own types of vision, and terrible tempers. Arryns might also have an ancestral superpower. Still, as Eddard saw, Malleon makes Cersei look less innocent - and people are ready to seize on anything that makes her look more guilty. But Pycelle might not be reading it for that. Pycelle might be consulting Malleon to determine the merits of the various claims to the Rosby inheritance (he says there are six known claims. The ones I know of are -Cersei claiming it for the Tommen and the Crown, -Rosby's ward, -Bronn via Lollys Stokeworth, - Lord Perwyn (and if he dies, Olyver Frey, and if he dies, Roslin Tully). Falyse mentions her mother is third cousin to Gyles Rosby, which hints that his nearest blood-heirs descend from the great-great-great-grandparent they share (and perhaps there are other pretenders to the inheritance from one of the fifteen great-great-great-grandparents that they don't have in common, too.) Falyse also mentions Rosby had two wives, but if he did not gain Rosby by marriage to one of them, their relatives should make no difference. If he did, perhaps there is some unusual kind of heir of tailzee situation that makes Lady Tanda being the aunt of his second wife as significant as Falyse seems to think it is. But Pycelle, staunch son of the Patriarchy that he is, is more likely to pull out his Malleon and work his way through the tails of all the Rosby heirs that died in the Great Sickness of 209, or lived in the age of Aegon the Unworthy. Malleon is also described as 'brittle yellow pages', 'over a century old', 'dusty', 'cracked yellow pages of cribbed script, bound between faded leather covers', 'damnable', 'tedious reading','a sleeping potion'. That last is foreshadowing, I think. It also has a lot of properties in common with the book Roose threw into the fire at Harrenhal.
  13. Florian the fool = Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian? This Florian was an army officer (not strictly a knight, but a Captain of the Dragoons at a time when one had to be born a nobleman to get a commission in the French army. Which Florian's guardian, who got him the commission, was.) He retired from the army in 1788 to write comedy, having already become popular for his chivalric romances and verse. He was imprisoned during the reign of terror, and although Robspierre was guillotined before he had time to sign Florian's death warrant, Florian died in prison of tuberculosis six weeks later. His fables for children are probably the most widely read of his works now (not that any of his works are widely read now) and he coined the phrase "he who laughs last, laughs best"
  14. Why would the Freys raid the Saltpans? Well, they wouldn't claim that they raided the Saltpans. They would use the fact that the Saltpans were raided to justify their installing a military force to rebuild and restore order, taking over a port, which would give them broader military reach, and open them up to communicate discretely and trade usefully with allies the Lannisters don't have to know about. Just as Randall Tarly has done for himself (and the Tyrells, probably) in Duskendale. Ser Arwood is not reporting what he has seen himself, but (at best) what he was told by eye-witnesses he interrogated after the raiders had left. The false notes in this tale might therefore not be his, but they are there. The raiders were mercenaries, and if they were desperately attempting to find a ship and escape Westeros, it makes no sense that they would violently sack the Saltpans when they found the ships had gone. More likely that they would slip off further down the bay in the hope of catching a boat incognito at the next harbour, or the one after that (the way Pygg, Shagwell, and Timeon did). Making enough bloody smoke to be seen in Oldtown, and ensuring every neighbouring town on the bay knows they are there and is on the alert for them, makes no sense at all if escape was their motive. Pygg, Shagwell, and Timeon managed to get much further on foot than these raiders managed on horseback. Timeon also gave Brienne a run-down on their activities since they had last seen each other, at the bear pit. (AFfC, Ch.20 Brienne IV) When Brienne explains she is looking for the Stark girl, Timeon has more to tell her of Rorge's doings: And after Brienne has killed Timeon, and returned from Crackclaw point, and spent an indefinite amount of time healing on the Quiet Isle, and visited the burnt out Saltpans herself, and killed Rorge at the Inn at the Crossroads, we hear more about Rorge (presumably) from Thoros: (AFfC, Ch.42 Brienne VIII) It seems to me that the Mad Dog of Saltpans has been too mad, for too long, in too small an area. That he could not have evaded detection and capture (by the BwB, or one of Randyll's sorties from the south, or Freys from the north), unless one of those forces were covertly protecting and assisting these mercenaries they had hired. Looking at who the sack of the Saltpans makes sense for, the Freys come top of my list. They have effectively taken Castle Darry as their own, while ensuring the blood spilt over its defence was Darry and Northern and will now be Lannister. They can now control the ford and the causeway on the Kings Road. Their family business is extracting a toll on whomever attempts to cross the Trident. Controlling the fords below the Twins and blocking the causeway in the Neck removes all their competition, and Northern forces hostile to the Freys will find themselves trapped between the Freys and the Boltons, Expanding their reach right down to the Saltpans gives them a port as well, and opens the narrow sea to them, as well as the river, which is a faster and more defensible transport system than any of the local roads. I don't see the sparrows, or Mooten, prospering from this arrangement. Randyll seems to be profiting from Duskendale, and might want to be seen as the liberator of the Saltpans, a role that the BwB would also be happy to take, but nobody else seems to have as much to gain as the Freys. I'm also suspicious because these lands around Darry Castle are very near those where the War of Five Kings (and the Brotherhood with Banners) started, due to Clegane's raids, that were equally sensless slash and burn affairs. Those went up the Red Fork, to draw out the Tullys, and also ended well for the Freys, with their own lands intact, and their forces expanded and fortified by others who died for them.
  15. Happy New Year