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  1. @ravenous reader I think Sam's role as Ratatoskr is also pretty straightforwardly fulfilled by his assignment to be in charge of the ravens, and in action by his bringing critical information south from the Great Ranging. He travels between realms with special privilege (getting to stay alive) just as Ratatoskr scurries up and down the world tree.
  2. I wouldn't say his disadvantaged circumstances are a credit to his judgment. Marrying Jayne was beyond poor judgment. It was essentially treason to his own cause. Add to that the execution of Rickard Karstark and it looks like Robb's only area of sound judgment is the battlefield. The Starks are simply terrible at politics, by the author's design. Other people's poor decisions don't improve Robb's, either. Decisions are judged by their predictable results, and the loss of the Karstarks' confidence was entirely predictable. Many consequences are totally unpredictable, but marrying a westerner and executing a bannerman... Robb put himself in that corner.
  3. Given how Robb ended up, I'm not sure Robb's consistently good judgment is something we can count on. I maintain that Sandor's desertion of duty during battle would give anyone serious doubt about taking him into service. Rewarded, yes, but I don't think he'd be taken into Robb's service.
  4. The biggest problem with any theory of Rhaegar being alive in Westeros is that everyone knows what he looks like. I think it's more likely that Rhaegar knowingly went to his death and took it as an opportunity to attempt some fire-magic transcendence thing (the same whatever source of knowledge that Mel reads from in her fires). I also think it's possible that Robert resorted to treachery after being injured. Maybe he fell and yielded, but then attacked Rhaegar at the last moment. But those still involved Rhaegar dying. So much of the books' plots are driven by the fact that Rhaegar took a lot of knowledge to the funeral pyre. His living presence would undermine so many storylines. If Howland Reed's knowledge is too much to bring into the story in 5 books, then Rhaegar's even more so.
  5. Well Dustin Hoffman's character in "Rain Man" didn't do a bit of development, either, and he got an Oscar for it.
  6. I'll raise you: Alt Schwift X
  7. @Renly's Banana If GRRM can work it up in the last two books, then I'm all for it.
  8. I think Faegon is more likely the Blaegon. The Blackfyre history is pretty obscure in the main series. I think it would be clumsy to shoehorn a major Blackfyre-related plot in without establishing greater relevance of the rebellions to the present day story. What would be the purpose of adding such a complication? The rebellions were about kin fighting each other, so I don't think it's even necessary for Aegon and Dany to have separate lineage. They share a paternal line but have different mothers, just like the Blackfyres (differences of legitimacy notwithstanding). The rebellion could replay just fine with two Targaryens.
  9. I think it's pretty unlikely that Robb would bring Sandor into his service. Not just because he was a Lannister man, but because he's the Mountain's brother. I don't know that Robb would so readily accept that Sandor actively hated his brother, and would very reasonably fear he'd turn cloak or abandon his duty again. And given the traditional Stark treatment of oathbreakers demonstrated in the first chapter, I don't think Robb would count abandonment of the Lannisters as a point in Sandor's favor. Safe conduct to the Wall or the West would probably be the best he could count on from Robb.
  10. I would say they represent Jung's archetypes and act as character templates. The Crone's lamp could also be a grim way of showing her as a shepherd of the underworld, carrying the light that you follow into death.
  11. @ravenous reader I think the black pools are symbolically significant and worthy of continued discussion. In many of the scenes they seem to represent the night sky in a literal sense - twice we see a pregnant woman in the pool. But being called "bottomless", I think they also represent a Void concept. A complete nothingness from which the universe and consciousness emerge, but simultaneously do not exist in it. And this means that the Heart Tree is always looking into the void, and the reflection means the void is looking back! In a way, it's delving into its own consciousness so far that it reaches the nothingness of death (or pre-birth) but is still alive. A Void-sih pool would be consistent with the idea of people passing through death in order to achieve complete consciousness and experience non-linear time, which I'm leaning towards considering an abomination. People aren't supposed to open that gate, because whatever comes out of it is necessarily a manifestation of the gate opener's subconscious. Which means that if you die while you're in the weirnet and figure out how to resurrect yourself, your undead self is nothing but your subconscious animal nature. With this idea of id projection, I wonder if we shouldn't be looking for two opposing AA-type figures. One whose subconscious manifests and fire and another whose manifests as ice. If the Dragons are "Fire made flesh", then the Others are "ice made flesh". Also, I think it's possible that "back door" represents a means of cheating this process, which could be part of the "naughty greenseer" trope. A person who attains some of the power/knowledge without actually passing through the void. Leaf's quote about not having explored all the dark tunnels and the dark sea thus refer to incomprehensibility of death and what lies on the other side of it. Anyway, enough Jungian rambling. I really like the comparison of Tyrion's romp in the dragon skull cellar with Dany's pyre. In both cases dragons are set in flame, and the person steps into it. Both show fire as representing a force of life and procreation.
  12. My bad, I had two stories mixed up. A dragon was killed at some point by an arrow/bolt to the eye, and another time Brandon Snow whittled Weirwood arrows.
  13. The point of continuity between the skulls and Weirwood would be the face/eyes, so I'd think ability to "see" is the key. Interstingly, we also have a past example of a dragon being killed by a Weirwood arrow to the eye.
  14. Rhaegar, being skinchanged by Bloodraven, who is in turn a puppet of future-Bran. For serious, though, his description sort of matches the "Stark look", with the thin face and grey eyes. The hair knot is also not unique to Ned Stark - Lady Dustin wears a "widow's knot". Maybe William Dustin? He was at the ToJ, so if we're looking for any of those guys to re-enter the story, he's a candidate. Lady Dustin's prominence in the plot also rises in DwD, so it would be very clever of GRRM to place her supposedly dead husband at this point in the timeline. And for added irony, Lady Dustin hates the Maesters. Edit: beaten!
  15. Not to jump in the middle of the pissing war, but I've just remembered something that further bolsters the notion of timeless realms: the dragon skulls. They are described in multiple occasions as seeming to watch people, just like the weirwoods. Knowing where that hint led with the weirwoods, Is it reasonable to look in the same direction with the dragon skulls? We also know that a dragon rider has a special bond, like the greenseer does with the weirwoods, so maybe there are other similarities. This helps pave the way for interpreting "in the flames" as equivalent to the weirnet, and explains how the Targ prophets get their visions. I've already postulated this of course, but not with evidence connecting the Targaryens to the realm of prophecy.