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  1. Could Valonqar be the proper name of The Strangler poison that kills Cressen and Joffrey? I'm not sure how "little brother" could possibly become a nickname for strangler, unless it's a reference to a historical little brother who strangled someone. Blood Betrayal reference maybe? The poison itself is from Jade Sea, in the proximity of the old Great Empire, where a brother killed his empress sister. The poison is also formed into the "black amethysts" by combining it with ashes. So, choking ashes. If we want to connect this drowned and choked thing to big picture, we can consider the ashes of the moon disaster as the choking agent. The fiery space junk drowned in the oceans, but sent up clouds of ash. And I guess we could think of a moon as a planet's "little brother". Looking at the sword being reached for as a Lightbringer symbol, then I think this archetypal duel represents the breaking of the seasons and the life/death cycle. Winter and death are winning, as the "summer king" archetype can't reach the sword that slays the dark winter. And you know what I just realized? If the opening scene demonstrates summer being choked out by wighty winter... then it's pretty significant that the first thing Jon Snow ever kills is a wight, using fire. edit: I guess none of this really pins down what exactly "valonqar" will come to mean in the upcoming story, but very interesting discussion nonetheless.
  2. Yeah I really don't think we're being misled about Rhaegar's character. Robert and Brandon might be the only two people who have a personal problem with Rhaegar, while everyone else's memories are neutral to positive. Even Jaime looked up to Rhaegar and feels remorse for letting down his prince and fellow Kingsguard - but not for killing Aerys. Barristan regards Rhaegar very highly, but not Aerys. JonCon seems very honorable and has strong affection for Rhaegar, to say the least. Ned has no negative thoughts about him, which you'd think he would if he'd actually done terrible things to Lyanna. Dreams of any kind are a very common literary device, usually meant to tell the reader something about the inner state of the character having the dream. Often dreams relate something that the dreamer is afraid to confront straightforwardly waking. And this is literature, so the choice to show this is in a dream is intentional and meaningful. Why would this scene even exist if it weren't significant in some way? Ned experiences this memory in a dream because it's deeply uncomfortable for him, not because it's some hallucination. Jaime's weirwood stump dream is another example of uncomfortable truth coming to surface, and in his case, catalyzing his redemption.
  3. He probably believed she was safe. I think he was on a cleanup tour in the south, just taking care of stuff while Robert recuperated. Presumably that included finding the new king's betrothed, but it's entirely unclear if he thought she was in danger or held against her will. The mention of rose petals in her hand is almost certainly meant to convey a caring relationship between Lyanna and Rhaegar. I think the ToJ tips Ned and into regretting the rebellion and the things he did to support a King who he acknowledges kinda sucks at ruling. Realizing he killed three of the most honorable people he knew and depriving his own blood of its right to rule could not have been easy on his conscience.
  4. The subtext here is that everyone knows exactly what's going on... except the reader. Ned's conversation with the KG is very lawyerly and he offers them opportunities to plausibly deny knowledge of a living heir. Ned was a battle hardened rebel commander. It didn't really matter what he said or what his intentions might have been - the KG's prerogative was not to question orders and certainly not to negotiate terms of surrender with rebels, regardless of familial connections.
  5. It's not just deadly threats they protect against. They are tasked to protect from anything, especially a threat to deny the king's right to rule. That includes kidnapping.
  6. You guys making me do a bunch of re-read! But it would actually be cool to do a character comparison like that, and to my knowledge nobody has put those two next to each other. I recently started a long post on the complexity of Ned's honor (or lack thereof), but my points seemed a bit "duh", so I would enjoy doing a post on something less explored.
  7. When a monarch becomes a dotard I think it raises legitimate questions as to whether they are in fact still King. We could argue that Aerys's mind had abdicated even if his mouth had not, in which case the matter would likely be decided by the heir and KG LC (think 25th Amendment). Maybe they keep letting him sit the throne, but place all significant power elsewhere.
  8. I think there's also a subtext to Ned's private thoughts and interactions with Robert that Ned would have supported Rhaegar, too, but felt honor-bound to help his more immediate allies. I'm surprised I haven't seen a thorough side-by-side of Ned and JonCon, both acting as father to one of Rhaegar's (supposed) children and emotionally unable to move past their losses.
  9. Did they go straight down there when they left King's Landing? I can't recall if Aerys or Rhaegar assigned the KG to their various locations. If I recall, Aerys wanted Jaime specifically to remain with him for some reason of paranoia, but I don't know if he gave specific orders to the rest. My notion that they were in on a plot is because Dayne was a good friend and Hightower was LC. And if you want to start a new royal family, you probably want the LC of the KG in your corner. I don't know, It kinda seems like they actually prepared to defend Rhaegar's secret family. Aerys's safety does not appear to have been taken very seriously. edit: Aerys was the sacrifice
  10. My thought is that the three KG at the tower were in on Rhaegar's plot to depose Aerys. It's possible Rhaegar was attempting to start a whole new succession with new allies. They were doubly treasonous, so it was victory or death. If there was to be a sacrifice, I suspect it would have been Rhaegar himself. I have no proof of course, but I think his own death was prophesied to him and he was doing everything he could to perform his own role in stopping the Long Night before dying, only realizing at the very end that his death on the Trident was the necessary sacrifice. Or maybe Lyanna's death was foretold and he thought he could prevent it. The events as they transpired were exactly what resulted in Jon being sent to the Wall and discovering truth of the Others. Had Rhaegar lived and defeated Robert, Jon would be just another spoiled royal at court waiting to take a seat of power.
  11. I don't see why Barristan should have taken the black. He did exactly what he was supposed to do: serve the crown. The point of having the KG as an institution is to prevent personal loyalties from interfering. Of course they were de facto House Targaryen guards for centuries, but the were ample opportunities for KG to pick sides during the various Blackfyre uprisings (maybe some did, I'd have to search). The corruption of the guard during Robert's rebellion is part of the "death of honor/duty" theme, as the KG became more like the Roman Praetorian guard, taking matters of succession into their own hands.
  12. Exactly - it's vanishingly rare, and just hasn't happened to any of the characters connected to the main story... except Ashara. We also know that Ned has more than one lie, so I suspect that Ashara Dayne's fate is among them. You know I have to wonder how Wylla's silence was bought, since she apparently made it back to Starfall alive.
  13. The suicide explanation is just too clean, considering that she might be the only person in the whole series supposed to have taken their own life out of grief (feel free to contradict, but I can't even think of any actual suicides). They also found Balon's body despite the rough seas. edit: not that I'd have a problem with a clean, explainable death for once.
  14. This was also the only choice left to Ned once they refused to surrender. He could not have served his new king loyally and let baby Jon live if there remained any way for Robert to find out that an heir still lived. The survival of any ToJ KG would have been a sword hanging over his head the rest of his life. And of course Ashara would have known about the new heir as soon as Ned walked in with Dawn and the child it was guarding, so she had to go, too. Perhaps Ned Dayne is named for him because he allowed Ashara to flee instead of delivering "justice".
  15. This doesn't make much sense. Selmy, Darry, and Lannister were unaware of child's existence, so of course they kneeled when a new king took the throne. All but Jaime followed their KG vows to the letter. Why would any loyal KG surrender to Ned?