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  1. I think this is the first instance in which we've seen the specific term "High King" used in ASOIAF. When Aegon landed he didn't declare himself High King, he declared himself King and demoted the other Kings to lords. The Stark material doesn't mention the Starks historically using a High King title. I don't recall any mention of a High King from the Westerlands material (though obviously that was an oral report, and parts were necessarily left out). I'll be curious to see if the specific title of "High King" was ever used elsewhere in Westerosi history. Also interesting is that "King of the True Men" title used by Osgood Shett that Yandel finds "vainglorious". What specific honor was Shett claiming, and why did Yandel seem to find the title so pompous? Supposedly the title goes back 10,000 years to the Dawn Age---is "King of the True Men" just another name for King of the First Men, and Yandel finds Shett's claiming of that title presumptuous? (If so, Yandel's phrasing here is odd. According to the table of contents, the Vale section comes after the Dawn Age/Coming of the First Men material, and also after the Northern material that we know mentions the idea of some First King, yet it treats the "King of the True Men" title here as something not yet mentioned.) Or does "King of the True Men" refer to something else? To be King of the True Men might imply the existence of false men, and what historical group might be considered false men? The Others? The Children? Some ancient mythical group that hasn't yet been mentioned? Or might it be a relic of some as-yet-unmentioned schism among the First Men, with one group denoting themselves "true men"? This account also has Torgold Tollett ripping a woman's head off with his bare hands. Clearly there's some embellishment going on here. Ran said upthread that Lady Forlorn should not have been described as Valyrian steel. He then brought up the example of Ice, a Valyrian steel sword named for an earlier sword. The current Lady Forlorn seems to be Valyrian steel. It sounds like, like Ice, the current Lady Forlorn (which is Valyrian steel) was named for an earlier Lady Forlorn that was not Valyrian steel. . . . That makes no sense. The excerpt says, Obviously they're not literally pointing to their actual sword and saying "Our ancestor must have been the one to kill the guy wielding this six thousand years ago, otherwise there's no way we'd have this sword in our possession today!" That's nonsensical. The sword Lady Forlorn was reclaimed according to the septons/singers by House Corbray specifically after the Battle of Seven Stars. House Corbray uses that historical tidbit---that history remembers the Corbrays retrieving Lady Forlorn after the Battle of Seven Stars---as evidence that a Corbray most likely killed High King Robar Royce. (If Ser Jaime Corbray hadn't killed Royce, the argument would go, someone else would have ended up with the sword after the battle. That the Corbrays were able to retrieve it is taken as evidence that a Corbray must have killed Royce, the person wielding it.) They're metaphorically pointing to the historical Lady Forlorn (specifically, its chain of custody); they're not literally pointing to the literal modern Lady Forlorn. Or that information is conveyed later in the excerpt, so Yandel felt no need to highlight it here. And again, Ran said that Lady Forlorn should not have been described as Valyrian steel. I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about here.
  2. Tyrek Lannister

    A man's daughter ostensibly inherits before his brother everywhere. In practice, however, vague inheritance "laws", coupled with widespread misogyny, mean that that daughter will likely find herself in trouble should her uncle decide to stake a claim. Cersei inherited Casterly Rock because none of her male relatives objected. Kevan could have chosen to make a play for the Rock, and if he had, Cersei's position would have been far from secure. To foment chaos in the future. This is one major reason why I think "Littlefinger has him" makes more sense than "Varys has him", actually. Varys needs an amenable Lord of Casterly Rock to help stabilize Aegon's reign, but he already has that in Tyrion. Littlefinger, on the other hand, requires chaos to thrive. (And Tyrek was 13 years old when he vanished---and do we have precedent for Littlefinger grabbing a 13-year-old highborn heir, intending on using that heir's relative youth and fears to manipulate her?) As Jaime pointed out, "Tyrek had served King Robert as a squire, side by side with Lancel. Knowledge could be more valuable than gold, more deadly than a dagger." Tyrek might very well have seen something he shouldn't have. It's possible that Tyrek was convinced (either pre or post-kidnapping, if in fact he was grabbed) that he was in danger from his own family members because he "knew too much", which would make him amenable to some anti-Lannister plans. Moreover, his youth and his vulnerability (as Tyrek's father was long since dead, he didn't really have any strong figure he could rely on to protect him from the older Lannisters' potential future wrath) would make him a prime target for manipulation. (It's also possible he was angry with the other Lannisters for being married off to a baby---I doubt the "Wet Nurse" nickname filled him with glee.) And when he vanished, Tyrek was way down the line of succession, which means grabbing him in order to successfully seize and hold the Rock would have been a chancy prospect at best. That could indicate that his claim wasn't the primary motivation for his disappearance, or it could indicate that putting Tyrek in control of the Rock wasn't necessarily the end goal. When he vanished, Tyrek was (potentially) in a position to cause chaos within House Lannister on a number of fronts: he could be manipulated into making a play for the Rock once Tywin inevitably died, and he could potentially be used to bring to light any number of dirty Lannister secrets (Robert's murder, the incest, Cersei and Lancel, etc.), depending on what he knew. What's important to note is that It doesn't necessarily matter if Tyrek succeeds in anything here. Logically, you don't grab the guy a dozen spots down in the succession if you truly need him to succeed to the title (as Varys would, were he the culprit), you grab him because you want to ensure that no matter what happens, the transition of power in House Lannister doesn't go smoothly. If Tyrek managed to take the Rock, Littlefinger would benefit. But if Tyrek failed to take the Rock, then Littlefinger could use the chaos of the situation to manipulate the other Lannisters to whatever personal benefit he desired. No matter what happens, Littlefinger stands to benefit. If Tyrek knew some of the Lannisters' secrets, Littlefinger could use his knowledge and/or testimony to throw the Lannister power base into chaos, allowing Littlefinger to sidle in and manipulate that chaos to his benefit. It doesn't necessarily matter if Tyrek's claims are believed. All that matters, in the end, is that Tyrek be used as a tool to ensure that Lannister unity and the Lannister power base are disrupted and chaos is achieved.
  3. Serwyn of the Mirror Shield has been mentioned in every book thus far (save for AFFC), and as the only (named) dragonslayer in ASOIAF, I think his story contains a number of hints relevant to the future of the dragons and of House Targaryen. As other threads have pointed out, it's impossible to "date" Serwyn's story because it contains clear post-Conquest elements (Serwyn as a Kingsguard, a princess with the Targ-ish name of Daeryssa) right alongside clearly pre-Conquest elements (saving that princess from savage giants, being lauded as a hero for killing what was, post-Conquest, a symbol of royal authority). And we know the story can't be 100% accurate because a person who tried to copy it (Ser Byron Swann) during the Dance was roasted for his trouble. The combination of pre-and-post-Conquest elements, coupled with the discussion that immediately follows Tyrion's recitation of Serwyn's story---that is, his analysis of clues showing that parts of Ser Byron Swann's dragonslaying attempt have been altered---leads me to conclude that readers are being shown that the "current" story wasn't passed directly down from the Age of Heroes, but has been actively (or passively) altered over the centuries, particularly post-Conquest. On the one hand, I think we as readers have to look at clues elsewhere in the text to figure out what part (if any) of Serwyn's dragonslaying technique is accurate (just as Tyrion looked at the Byron Swann situation and decided one element, the dragon being targeted, could not be accurate); and on the other hand, I think we have to look at the "whole" story as presented by GRRM to see what literary hints we can take from it for the future of our various "dragons" (literal and Targaryen). The first time we get the "full" story of Serwyn's dragonslaying is via Tyrion in ADWD: From comments made elsewhere, it's clear that Tyrion believes Serwyn's choice to target a dragon's eye is the correct way to kill a dragon: But it raises my hackles that Tyrion, whose dragon-knowledge is entirely secondhand (and thirdhand), firmly believes he knows the "correct" body part to target when killing a dragon. In Daznak's Pit, stabbing at Drogon's eyes did no good: To stab a dragon in the eye, chances are you're going to have to stand right in front of the dragon's mouth, which . . . is obviously problematic. The myth of Perseus, who killed the Gorgon Medusa by using a mirrored shield, clearly inspired the story of Serwyn, and it's possible that there's a clue for readers hidden there. Perseus kills Medusa by cutting off her head, and the dragons in ASOIAF have been shown to be clearly vulnerable at one particular body part: In ADWD, we see two separate dragons injured, both at the same body part: the neck. Dragons, clearly, are vulnerable at the neck (why else would the author have the only two dragon injuries in the series occur to that particular body part?) And in a literary sense, we have seen one "dragon" stabbed in the eye who is still alive (Bloodraven), while "the last dragonking" (Aerys) was explicitly killed by slashing his throat. So could this be a part that was altered---i.e., did an "original" story of Serwyn exist that had the dragonslayer stabbing Urrax in the neck, not the eye? (And as a side note: if dragons are vulnerable at the neck . . . how do we think the dragons, and House Targaryen, will fare at the Neck? As I'll discuss below, poison is a relevant factor here, and the Neck is known for its particularly deadly poisons.) And as a general matter, could this explain why the story was seemingly altered to include post-Conquest elements? In other words, if there was a widely-publicized story that accurately depicted their dragons' weaknesses when Aegon landed, it would be in the Targaryens' interests to hire some singers (and bribe some maesters?) to start spreading a different version of that story to their new subjects, one which altered the manner of the dragon Urrax's death. That would go a long way toward explaining how post-Conquest elements could have creeped into the narrative, especially since you'd think "dragonslaying" stories/songs would not have been looked kindly upon by the dragonriding Targs. Serwyn of the Mirror Shield was supposedly "haunted by the ghosts of all the knights he’d killed". Is this a hint as to the identity of a person who will slay a literal dragon, or who will perhaps kill a Targaryen? I can think of a number of characters haunted by "ghosts" of one form or another, but they tend to be "haunted" by people they didn't actually kill. Who do we know who has been "haunted" by everyone they've killed? Cersei, during her Walk of Shame is the closest I can think of, and even with her it's incomplete. Or is this a more general hint, in that the people Serwyn kills "come back from the dead"? I don't think we've ever seen any of the Others carrying a shield, but their armor could be described as "mirrored", in the sense that it seems to reflect its surroundings in order to blend in with them: Humans don't carry shields made of the same substance as their armor, clearly, but we don't know what sort of shields, if any, the Others use (or even if the story referred to an actual shield---might it have originally referred to armor, but slowly been altered to a "shield" after being passed down over the centuries?) If Serwyn's story originated pre-Conquest, well, it might have originated way pre-Conquest. GRRM has said there were dragons all over once, and there's been a lot of speculation that dragons, as you'd expect with reptiles, thrive in heat but die in cold. The dragonslayer being haunted by the knights he'd killed could potentially be a remnant from an earlier version of the story in which "the dragonslayer" was raising wights, which would hint that the Others (or even just the wights---we know they can hunt by heat) were killing off the dragons during the Long Night. For that matter, in Serwyn's story, the "mirrored shield" that hides the dragonslayer essentially "reflects" the dragon. What are mirrors usually made of? Glass. A "mirror" that reflects a dragon could very easily serve as a metaphor for dragonglass. In ADWD, we saw Bloodraven (via a tree) use snow to hide Bran from the cold-associated wights---there would be a certain symmetry in the idea that dragonglass, something born in volcanoes, would provide some protection against dragons. Particularly given the example of the obsidian candles, which "burn without being consumed". A shield that can't be consumed by dragonfire could theoretically be particularly useful in going up against a dragon (it would still have to deal with the whole "burning" part, obviously, but I'm thinking out loud here). Interestingly, the attempted assassination of Dany at the Qartheen docks clearly evokes the Serwyn/Urrax story, and there might be some clues buried there as to how actual dragons can (or will) die, as well as how our Targaryens might end up dying: The story of Serwyn and Urrax is reenacted here: because the "dragon" (Dany) is distracted by what she sees (Barristan and Strong Belwas) in the "mirror" (the brass platter), she's blindsided when the "dragonslayer" (the Sorrowful Man with the manticore) attacks. In Serwyn's story, the end effect of the dragon/reflection/mirrored shield combination is that the dragonslayer essentially bears a shield that "reflects" the dragon he slays. Who would bear a shield that "reflects" the Targaryen sigil? A Blackfyre. And look at what Dany sees in her "mirror": a eunuch and an old man---perhaps representing Varys the eunuch and Illyrio "I am an old man, grown weary of this world and its treacheries" Mopatis, whom many readers believe to be championing House Blackfyre? The Perseus reference I mentioned above would also track with that idea, given the number of parallels between Perseus and Daemon Blackfyre (both of their mothers were "mysteriously" impregnated while imprisoned by the King, both ended up crossing the sea, both were associated with a "winged horse" (Pegasus/Bittersteel)). Interestingly, the "dragonslayer" in Dany's particular encounter is not the person actually bearing the "mirror shield" (the brass merchant appears quite innocent in all of this). And Dany is distracted from the true threat because she perceives a threat reflected in that brass platter (Barristan/Belwas), a threat which did not actually exist---the whole situation which reminds me quite a lot of Quaithe's "sun's son, mummer's dragon, trust none of them" warning. In other words, Dany here mistakenly thinks the people coming to help her actually mean her harm, and because of that, she's unprepared for the source of the true attack. The same thing could end up happening with the "threats" Quaithe warns her of: they don't actually mean her harm, but her belief otherwise distracts her from the source of the true threat she'll encounter. For that matter, this could indicate Dany's future with the (presumably) Blackfyre continent: she'll be so concerned with the "threat" they pose that she'll end up blindsided by the "true" source of danger to her. The Sorrowful Man is a Qartheen, an ethnicity known for their extremely pale skin, and sent by the warlocks, a group heavily associated with the color blue. A hint that Dany will be so concerned with the threat posed by Aegon and his backers that she'll end up blindsided by the Others? Moreover, the Sorrowful Man tries to kill Dany with poison (well, venom). Could this be a literary hint that Marwyn's accusations were at least partially correct, and the Targaryens' dragons were in fact poisoned? (It is interesting how many times people try to specifically poison Dany, rather than trying to shoot/stab/strangle her.) This could be a literary hint that the dragons will be poisoned, or that Dany will die of poison . . . though it should be taken into account that these poisoning attempts never succeed, which could indicate the opposite. Moreover, a "manticore" did successfully murder the last Targaryen princess---Ser Amory Lorch, whose sigil was a manticore, successfully murdered Dany's niece Rhaenys. But he did it with "half a hundred" stabbings instead of poison (and instead of the "soft silk pillow" that Tywin claimed to want him to use), which could be relevant, foreshadowing-wise. The "dragonslayer" hands Dany a box, and inside it is "a glittering green scarab carved from onyx and emerald". Onyx is black, emerald is green---green and black are (as other threads have pointed out) likely to denote the factions in the upcoming Dance. A hint that the Dance will destroy Dany, or that the second Dance will kill off the dragons just as the first Dance did? Or perhaps a hint that the "true" threat to Dany is associated with both black and green---not just the Dance, but also the black and green associated contingent in the North? Bloodraven is a greenseer and a member of the Night's Watch, and his skin is known for its extreme whiteness, rather like a Qartheen. Futhermore, the manticore itself has "a malign black face, almost human"---so it has a face associated with another entity. Rather like a Faceless Man, perhaps? Perhaps it's also relevant what body part the Sorrowful Man targets: Dany's hand. A hint that destroying Dany means targeting her hand---or rather, her Hand? Does anybody else see any hints for the future, or the past, in the story of Serwyn of the Mirror Shield?
  4. [TWoW Spoilers] Barristan

    Oooh, shiny. I wonder if this tidbit foreshadows the path of the plague (greyscale) that Connington might very well have brought to Westeros? In other words, just as the northern districts beyond the river in Meereen are too far away for the plague victims to reach, perhaps the North, beyond the River Trident, will be too far away (from the epicenter of the plague, i.e., Connington) for the greyscale epidemic to reach. ETA: Ninja'd by Ice Turtle, which probably bodes well for this line of speculation. :) Way back in AGOT, Dany pointed out that riding someone else's horse was a pretty huge taboo among the Dothraki---to the point where khals who were willing to share their wives would still refuse to share their horses. Barristan sees this as presumptuous, but necessary for morale---Dany might feel differently, (especially depending on how her encounter with the Dothraki goes). Are five thousand Unsullied all that's left? Or are the rest of the Unsullied being held in reserve for some reason? Back in ASOS, Dany's deal with the Astapori included "The eight thousands, the six centuries... and the ones still in training as well. The ones who have not earned the spikes.” Have over three thousand Unsullied died thus far (which seems odd---you'd think someone would've mentioned that Dany's lost almost a third of her "original" amount of Unsullied), or was a large number of Unsullied left behind in the city? (And if there's a large number of Unsullied in the city, perhaps that will end up relevant during the battle?) Who wants to bet that Victarion ends up blowing the dragon horn (or having it blown) during the battle, Barristan's forces hear it and assume it's the Red Lamb's call to retreat/advance, and Victarion accidentally ends up screwing up Barristan's battle plans? Which makes me imagine a giant flashing neon sign over Barristan's head, saying "Sellsword betrayal ahead! SELLSWORD BETRAYAL AHEAD!" Especially given the Stormcrows' battle cries: "Daario" and "Stormcrows, fly!" Way back in ASOS, Dany said this to the leaders of the Stormcrows: Who wants to bet the Stormcrows are planning on switching over to Yunkai during this battle? The Second Sons are (probably) about to change sides (so Dany's own words would foreshadow the Stormcrows failing to be staunch), and the Stormcrows' two battle cries invoke 1) the captain that was perfectly willing to betray his employer the last time around and 2) the idea of fleeing a battle. It's interesting to get a glimpse of how very "out of the loop" Barristan is when it comes to what's happened in Westeros. Given that Maekar ended up eventually killing Baelor Breakspear, this comparison might not presage positive future relations between Barristan and Victarion.
  5. Just to add onto my point upthread about the possibility that the hill clans have been conspiring with the wildlings, potentially via the "wet nurse" sent by Old Flint: In addition to the fact that the infamous woman who lied about herself at the Wall was also a Flint---Dany Flint---it's striking how many times House Flint in particular has been juxtaposed with the wildlings. The Lord Commander who once tried to make himself King-Beyond-The-Wall was Rodrik Flint. Old Nan associates Bran's climbing skills with his Flint heritage, and climbing is of course a skill heavily associated with the wildlings. When Tormund's people cross the Wall, We have the wildlings playing outside a place associated with the Flints. And in Winterfell, The Horn of Joramun symbolized a union between the wildlings and Winterfell, and the fact that it's a Flint (not one of the First Flints, granted, but Jon says that supposedly all Flints derive in some way from the First Flints, so there could be a connection nevertheless) who brings up the idea of the Horn of Joramun in Winterfell could be meant to evoke the wildlings. On the march to Winterfell, one of Morgan Liddle's mules goes missing, he claims the Flints stole it. The only man who comes over the wall of Deepwood Motte and speaks to Asha is a Flint. House Flint has been surreptitiously associated with sneaking over walls, theft, and the Horn of Joramun---all things associated primarily with the wildlings.
  6. What does Blackfish have against Jon Snow?

    We don't actually know this, though. We've never witnessed any such conversation between Catelyn and the Blackfish regarding Jon. The Blackfish was Knight of the Gate in the Vale for practically all of Jon's life, and while it's possible that Catelyn wrote to him in the past complaining about Jon, that's far from confirmed. By the time Catelyn and the Blackfish were physically reunited, they had way too many other pressing concerns---Hoster's imminent death, the whole situation with Lysa, Ned/Sansa/Arya, Robb getting declared King in the North, etc., etc.---to logically have sat down and bitched together about Jon, someone who wasn't present and wasn't intended to ever be present (due to his joining the Watch) in the future. By the time Robb started thinking about Jon as a potential heir, Catelyn and the Blackfish were being separated---one to the Twins, the other remaining in Riverrun. It would be perfectly plausible for Catelyn and the Blackfish to have never once spoken about Jon. And I really don't think Catelyn would have needed to expressly convey her antipathy about Jon to the Blackfish in order for the Blackfish to come to the conclusion that she disliked Jon. Jon's her husband's bastard, and if anything, it would have been far more bizarre in Westerosi culture for Catelyn to like him than for her to dislike him. But while the Blackfish loves his niece, he seems like a pretty savvy guy, and he'd have to recognize that just because Catelyn probably disliked her husband's bastard, as most women in her position would have done, that doesn't necessarily reflect on Jon's actual personality; Catelyn wasn't exactly the most neutral source when it came to Jon, so just because she didn't embrace him as her own child, that doesn't mean he was another Theon. It seems like Ned's bastard isn't exactly a secret, even in the south, so the Blackfish could easily know about Jon via that reputation source---the fact that Ned apparently approved of Jon, given Ned's reputation (and the ease with which Ned could have just sent Jon away to be fostered) could speak very highly of him, in the Blackfish's eyes. And if the Blackfish discussed Jon with Robb---and it makes sense that Robb would have discussed the succession with someone as close to him as the Blackfish---he wouldn't be getting his information solely from Catelyn, who was pretty obviously always going to be a (negatively) biased source, no matter how much the Blackfish loved her. Red Ronnet Connington isn't married, though, so bringing his bastard son to Griffin's Roost couldn't offend his nonexistent wife, nor pose a threat to his nonexistent trueborn children. Humphrey Hewett's bastard daughter, Falia Flowers, wasn't raised like a member of the Hewett family---she was treated as a servant, so her position in Oakenshield wasn't analogous to Jon's in Winterfell. And Walder Frey has such a freakishly large number of trueborn children that adding some bastards into the mix wasn't radically altering the political atmosphere of the Twins (and his many wives keep dying off---it's hard to offend them with some bastards' presences if they die after only a few years, and before they died they'd have had to deal with previous Lady Freys' trueborn children posing threats to their own trueborn children, so Walder Frey's bastards couldn't really pose the same "issues" in the Twins that Jon posed in Winterfell). Jon was raised right alongside the trueborn Starks and was shown a huge amount of favor by Ned. Bastards don't usually get treated like "equal" members of the family, they're kept out of the family castle while trueborn heirs live (Ramsay Snow) or fostered out to bannermen (Laurence Snow). The only bastards I think we've been told were treated like trueborn children were the Great Bastards of Aegon the Unworthy, and Aegon got that nickname for a reason (and one (two, counting Bittersteel) of them did in fact end up posing a political risk to his trueborn brother). The Blackfish presumably knows the same history that Catelyn did (she expressly brought up the Blackfyre pretenders to Robb), so it wouldn't be at all odd for him to intuitively understand why Catelyn disliked Jon---paranoia, fear of what he could do, not what he necessarily would do.
  7. This is kind of a random point, but: do dragons . . . excrete? In the dungeons where Viserion and Rhaegal were chained, Quentyn and Dany mentioned seeing charred objects, bones, etc., but never mentioned any of the heaping piles of dragon dung you'd expect to find when two large animals are trapped in an enclosed space. Here at her new Dragonstone, Dany sees charred objects, scorched bones, but never any dragon "leavings", as it were. Given the fact that Viserion and Rhaegal were stuck for months in an enclosed space (and I seriously doubt men were going in with shovels there), there should logically have been droppings there, and it's not like GRRM exactly shies away from this particular topic. But if dragons don't . . . ahem . . . excrete anything, that would fit with the general idea expressed about fire: it consumes everything in its path. Animal droppings serve as fertilizer, but dragons only destroy, they don't fertilize. Drogon is on the Dothraki Sea, but his den is a place of fiery destruction, a place where the grasses char and die. Dany spends most of her final chapter walking on the Dothraki Sea, her hair burned off. The Dothraki, the rulers of the Dothraki Sea, view "walkers" as the lowest of the low. And a khal cutting his braid is a sign of defeat, not victory. What does it mean among the Dothraki for a khal to shave his head entirely? Nothing positive, I suspect---a hairless khal would be incapable of putting bells in his hair. Deep down, she doesn't really want to deal with her problems, she wants to escape her problems. And that's the sign of a child, not a woman. Dany confronts her own "kill the girl and let the woman be born" issue. But she clearly associates the responsibilities of "being a woman" with aspects of "being a slave", with "bend[ing] before the whip". She sees her responsibilities as a queen of Meereen as stifling her, because she associates her Meereenese crown and "throne" (her ebon bench) with Hizdahr "of the tepid kisses", who she clearly does not want to be married to. What's extremely troubling for her future is the way she associates her responsibility to protect "her children" with Drogon "having" to bend before the whip. Because we later discover that Drogon doesn't actually have to bend before the whip. And Dany doesn't "have" to protect her "children"----she can leave them, and the fact that she associates protecting freed slaves as another form of slavery doesn't bode well. Throughout ADWD, Dany has internally struggled between doing what's best for her personally and doing what's best for her people. She sacrificed her happiness, discovered that that led to her not being happy, and inwardly raged against that. But she understood "sacrificing her happiness" as "doing exactly what everyone else tells me to do." But in its own way, blindly doing exactly what other people want you to do is just as much the mark of a child as is just doing everything you want to do regardless of the consequences. Dany spends her previous ADWD chapters doing the former, and in her final chapter, seems to embrace the latter. She chooses Drogon and Daario, and forgets Hazzea's name. Has she "killed the girl"? I don't see how. Her understanding of "fire and blood" is, in its own way, just as childish here as when she blindly gave in to everyone around her. Here we're given a pretty clear understanding of why Dany tries to connect the Pyre, where her clothes were burned entirely off and none of the objects on the pyre burned her, to the Pit, where her clothes were explicitly not burned off and an object was capable of burning her: because in both instances she was feeling utterly powerless, and since the pyre gave her a newfound sense of power out of that powerlessness, she desperately wants to believe that that event wasn't a one-off, that the pit repeated it. She's not exactly calling the shots in the Dothraki Sea---she can't force Drogon to go where she wants him to go, she's sick and injured, she's failing at trying to ameliorate her discomfort (when she fails to make a hat, for example). But she associates the first arrival of the dragon(s) with a newfound sense of power, so she desperately wants to believe that there will be a positive, power-inducing outcome to her current situation. Interesting that Dany remembers this specific event. I don't think this woman was actually the Green Grace (people were stepping on this woman, and the Green Grace is so old that you'd think she'd have suffered some physical issues had people been trampling her in the pit). Dany sees the woman in the green tokar shielding a child, while both are being trampled by other people (some of them on fire). On the one hand, the imagery---a woman in a green tokar being trampled by people Drogon set afire---has clear literary implications, given what many readers strongly suspect about the Green Grace being the Harpy. But Dany sees this woman shielding a child. The child is being trampled right along with the woman. Even in this chapter, Dany never seems to recognize the Green Grace as a Harpy candidate, so is her remembering this incident meant merely to illustrate how entirely she's been fooled? Or is it meant as a more general idea, that the person opposing Dany isn't necessarily slaveringly evil (the woman in green is the one shielding the child there, not Dany herself)? Or is it a symbol of how attacking her enemies (symbolized by the woman in green) will also necessarily lead to attacks on innocent children as well? It's clear here that she still doesn't really understand that her affair with Daario is a secret to absolutely no one. She doesn't seem to see how a common sellsword boasting far and wide about having sex with her is problematic in a political sense, or that gossip is never confined to only a single place, and Daario wouldn't have to boast among her enemies for them to still know her feelings about him. There are interesting implications there, given the way her reputation has been spreading, both the good (she's going to free us all!) and the bad (she's a brutal psychotic murderer who has sex with horses!). She doesn't see her actions in a wider context, and she doesn't really understand the power of rumors and gossip. She flew off on a dragon's back, saw people fleeing, people on fire. She knows there were Yunkishmen in Daznak's Pit. She knows that people she cares about are Yunkish hostages. But it doesn't occur to her that her "escape" from the pit could itself have been what destroyed the peace, and it doesn't occur to her that her leaving the city could have altered the Yunkishmen's actions in any way. She actually does some deductive reasoning here and notices the assassination attempt, and actually names some likely candidates. But there are also candidates she still doesn't recognize: she's allowed Hizdahr to kick out the Shavepate, but never conceives of the idea that the Shavepate might have not gone quietly away. She knows Daario is boasting about having sex with her . . . but doesn't connect that to a possible reason Hizdahr could have for wanting her dead (fear that she's been cuckolding him). She still doesn't see the Green Grace as a potential threat. In its own way, Dragonstone is just as much a prison as Meereen, but Dany doesn't seem to realize that. She connects it with "freedom", but if she stays with Drogon, she'll fly, be free---but only free to go where Drogon wants to go, and she'll inevitably end up stuck back on "Dragonstone". This is actually a brilliantly written paragraph, because on the one hand GRRM outlines all of the reasons readers dislike Meereen (it's just so weird to the majority of his English-speaking audiences' sensibilities), but on the other hand, this train of thought has absolutely terrible implications for Dany. She's thinking about why she failed in Meereen, and she puts the blame there on Meereen, not her. Her thoughts completely ignore everything else Meereen is: it's a city filled with ordinary people as well as slavers in tokars, bricklayers and weavers and stonemasons, people with weird hair and people who shaved off their hair to please her and risked their own lives to walk through the streets and keep the peace, it's filled with loads of freedmen and innocent children of all social strata who've never hurt anyone. But Dany isn't thinking about what's best for the people she declared she was in charge of, she's thinking here about what's best for her, Daenerys Targaryen, personally. Meereen is weird to her, and she doesn't think it will ever be a home to her, and she's weighing that (her desire for a home) against the good of all the people she's gathered around her. And her thoughts of her people are subtly being subsumed by her thoughts of her personal desires. I think her desire for "home" is one of the inherent tragedies of Dany's character. The only home she ever had was lost when she was still a child. But the things she associates with "home"---safety, security, unconditional love, lack of responsibilities---are the things associated with childhood. She thinks Meereen can't be her home, but the qualities she associates with "home" are intrinsicly lost to her, because she's no longer a child. She'll never find a place like the house with the red door again, because she'll never find her childhood again. But she never seems to realize this, so she keeps telling herself that this place or that place will be "home", but she doesn't really understand what "home" is, so she keeps losing out on potential homes because she doesn't recognize them for what they are. Ouch. The "Jorah" in Dany's head is telling her that, as a Targaryen (blood of the dragon), she can be a queen in Westeros, but she cannot plant trees. This is absolutely terrible for her. She's telling herself that she can somehow be a queen in Westeros, as she could not be in Meereen . . . because she's the blood of the dragon and dragons plant no trees? Planting trees didn't work in Meereen, but planting no trees will somehow work to make her a queen in Westeros? I know others think she's given up the idea of Queenship altogether, but "Jorah" (who is really just Dany herself) tells her she is a Queen---just in Westeros, not Meereen. I don't think she's given up the idea of being a queen. She seems to think that she failed in Meereen, but it's really Meereen's fault, and all the things the prevented her success in Meereen won't prevent her success in Westeros, which obviously is untrue. Dragons don't plant trees. Neither do wolves, or lions, or trout, or roosters, or any other animal. Humans, however, do. One of the striking things about Dany's "epiphanies" in her final chapter is how incredibly ignorant she seems to be of what "the blood of the dragon" actually wanted to do in the past. Aegon the Conqueror didn't just rain down fire and blood on everyone. Harrenhal seems to be the only major castle in Westeros that was hit by dragonfire and the Field of Fire is famous because it was the exception, not the rule. The Targs' entire basis for making themselves kings wasn't that their so-called superior blood made kingship their only option, it was the idea that they were going to unite the seven kingdoms, to bring peace and prosperity. Had none of them ever "planted trees", the Targs would never have lasted as long as they did. In Meereen, we saw Dany go way too far to one extreme: all compromise, no fighting. In the Dothraki Sea, she seems to decide to go to the other extreme: dragons plant no trees, fire and blood, an extreme that seems just as doomed to failure.
  8. That's a very interesting idea. One of the themes of "The Last of the Giants" appears to be the idea of killing the thing that's greater than you on the assumption that once it's gone, you can pretend to be great because there's nothing left to highlight your inadequacies. Killing all the giants doesn't make the humans any less "small", it just lets them pretend that they're really "tall" in a way that they simply can't do while the giants still live. The Lannisters, for example, harp on and on about being lions---but Leaf points out that the great lions of the western hills are all dead, and though she never specifies which "great lions" she means, Jaime wonders in his fever dream in ASOS if there's a cave lion waiting in the dark beneath Casterly Rock, which heavily implies that cave lions once lived in the Westerlands; I'd say chances are good that cave lions are the "great lions" that Leaf calls extinct. (And given that the Lannisters have a gold lion sigil at Casterly Rock, and the Reynes had a red lion sigil at Castamere . . . well, we're never told what the sigil of House Casterly was, but I'll bet it was a cave lion.) If cave lions still existed in the Westerlands, the Lannisters wouldn't be able to trumpet their magnificent sigil like they do, because lions look far less powerful with cave lions in the picture. It's only because the cave lions are all dead---possibly even hunted out by the early Lannisters---that the lion-associated Lannisters can look powerful. I think Jon does associate the Starks with the giants. Jon, throughout ADWD, is associated with wanting to save things from extinction: the giants, the tongue of the First Men, etc. He doesn't need to destroy these things to make the Starks look powerful and unique by comparison because the Starks, unlike the Boltons, are already "tall", not "small". With Dany and the Targ legacy, things are more muddled, primarily because of the Doom. The Targs were not Kings of Valyria, they were one noble family among many, and apparently not even the most powerful family. The only reason they can trumpet their superspecial uniqueness, their "blood of the dragon", is because the Doom killed off everyone else whose existence would've put the Targs' claims in proper perspective. Rather like how if the Stark kids started killing off every skinchanger they could find, it wouldn't make skinchanging a uniquely Stark power, it would just create the illusion of such. I think both Jon and Dany do have directly paralleling internal identity conflicts---with Jon, the conflict is between being a man vs being a wolf, and with Dany, it's between being a mother and being a dragon. The difference there is that Jon literally becomes a direwolf, while Dany only (eventually) rides---but does not become---a literal dragon. We've seen Dany fetishizing her all-too-human capacity for destruction as "the dragon", and she swings wildly from one extreme to another because she does not accept that both her compassion and her temper are aspects of a single human whole. She associates her temper with "the dragon", implicitly identifying her very human darker impulses as somehow "separate" from her humanity. With Jon, the issue exists on a different level, because he literally is a man and a direwolf simultaneously. He doesn't compare his actions to what a direwolf would do because his perspective doesn't permit him to project his human qualities onto "the direwolf", as he knows firsthand exactly what a literal direwolf does and feels.
  9. I don't think Jon really had a tokar---certainly not in the sense that Dany did. The tokar represented her attempt to look as if she was acclimating to an alien culture. Jon was not situated in an alien culture---he's on his cultural home turf throughout ADWD. The southerners at the Wall keep wanting him to "put on a tokar" (i.e., start acting like a good southern noble), but Jon infuriates them because he refuses to operate as they think he should. (There's an argument that he had a "tokar" among the wildlings---the sheepskin cloak Mance gave him in place of his Night's Watch cloak---but the situation is slightly different because Jon was operating as a subordinate there, both among the Watchmen and among the wildlings, while Dany's tokar only comes into play when she's already a queen, ostensibly beholden to no higher authority.) I doubt he'd have done anything to Wun Wun---not only are the ice cells apparently ill-equipped to handle a giant (certainly one of Wun Wun's size), but there's also Ser Patrek's idiotic Darwin Award-winning actions as the instigator there (Ser Patrick might even be viewed as guilty of breaking of guest right, depending on if guest right exists between two guests of the same host, rather than just between the host and the guests themselves). If Wun Wun had just gone apeshit for no reason, that would've been one thing, but Ser Patrek attacked first, so Wun Wun was just defending himself (and Val). Whatever plans the conspiracy was making, I think the end of ADWD indicates that the conspirators weren't necessarily operating as a well-oiled machine. We don't know whether the Pink Letter's contents were known to Marsh et al beforehand (though it's very, very possible they were clued in there), but even so, there's a pretty huge chance that the conspirators didn't realize Jon's reaction to the letter would be to gather a host of wildlings and march south. Given what they'd have known about Jon's actions thus far (he's repeatedly chosen to stay at the Wall rather than head south), his reaction to the Pink Letter quite likely shocked the conspirators greatly. I think there's an excellent chance that the conspirators had too many moving parts in play here, and the result they get in TWOW won't be the result they intended. Jon was stabbed in front of an absolute shitload of people---northmen, wildlings, Watchmen, and Queen's Men. But the only reason there were so many people pouring out of the surrounding buildings was because Ser Patrek failed to kill Wun Wun quietly, and the commotion drew a crowd. It's not really clear if Ser Patrek was ordered to try and grab Val, or if he decided on his own to do it (to get Val's respect); if the latter, then Selyse or Bowen Marsh probably weren't calculating on his actions when one or both of them decided to assassinate Jon. For that matter, the stabbing itself might have been the part that wasn't planned out ahead of time. Remember, Ghost didn't bite Marsh earlier in the day. It's possible that Marsh and his cronies went to the Shieldhall expecting to hear Jon either 1) finalize the plans for Hardhome (a suicide mission, by their calculations), or 2) cancel the plans for Hardhome entirely and have everyone stay at the Wall. Jon pulling out Option #3 could have thrown them for a loop, and the whole "stab him!" idea, which seems utterly idiotic, could have seemed so poorly planned because it literally had been thought up on the fly.
  10. Perhaps it's meant as a hint that the Green Grace was behind the assassination attempt on Dany.
  11. Given the heavily intertwined nature of Jon's and Sansa's arcs, I can't imagine it's a coincidence. :) The Winterfell lichyard is the final resting place for those who served House Stark loyally and faithfully. The fact that Borroq is hanging out in the Castle Black lichyard (especially given that he's just come from a place where the dead tend to rise and attack---why is he comfortable hanging out near corpses??) could be a hint as to Borroq's future allegiances. It seems like "tears" have been used to implicitly differentiate the cultures and values of the South and North, "summer's people" versus "winter's people". Jon pointed out that none of the wildlings cried, not even the hostages, because they are winter's people and where they come from, tears freeze upon your cheeks. But in the Vale, we heard the tale of Alyssa Arryn, who was punished by the gods (the Seven, given that she was an Arryn) for failing to cry. And of course "tears" have been associated heavily with poison in the South. So by crying, an activity shunned by the forces of the North and advocated by the forces of the South, Bowen Marsh implicitly divorces himself from "winter's people", and symbolically associates himself with the (poisonous) concerns of the South, not the North. I think boars can also be seen as heralding regime change, because every time a boar shows up, it either foreshadows the ascension of a new ruler or it literally causes the ascension of a new ruler. The boar in AGOT heralded the death of the Baratheon dynasty and ascension of Joffrey, a 100% Lannister King. The boar in Daznak's Pit heralded the ascension of King Hizdahr as a sole ruler (and began a string of events that led to the deposition of the Meereenese monarchy and the ascension of Barristan and his council). Cersei sought out boar for dinner when she began her "Let's kill Margaery" plan---but the kitchens had no boar, so she made do with eating a sow; Cersei's lack of boar = Cersei's failure to knock the Tyrells out of power. At the Harvest Festival at Winterfell, Bran specifically sent boar to Whoresbane and Crowfood Umber, two men who now seem to be working to destroy the Bolton regime. In ACOK, Roose Bolton, who later tries to usurp the Starks, returns to Harrenhal after hunting wolves and specifically asks for a dinner of boar. Jon sees a roasting boar in the wildling camp right before he's taken to meet Mance for the first time (thus heralding Mance's future loss of power), and Sansa is served boar at the Queen of Thorns/Margaery dinner where it appears the Tyrells fully decide to murder Joffrey and make Tommen the King. Right before Missandei comes to tell him about the Shavepate's invitation to conspire against King Hizdahr, Barristan remembers the taste of the boar he ate the day he was first knighted. Every time boar shows up, it seems to herald someone losing (and someone else gaining) political power.
  12. We repeatedly see Jon hoping for Selyse to act like a Queen, a true leader dedicated to saving and protecting those weaker than her rather than obsessing about her own power base, and Selyse constantly disappoints him. When Jon thinks to himself that he "had wasted enough time here", it seems like Jon is more and more asserting himself here---the Queen won't act like a Queen, so why should she have, or be given, any true authority or allegiance? And Selyse picks up on Jon's lack of groveling. She berates Jon for essentially disobeying her orders---for planning an expedition regardless of her command to let the wildlings die. Jon very politely points out who has the actual authority on the ground here: him, not Selyse, for "With respect, your Grace, the Wall is mine, and so is this decision." Selyse can't actually stop him, and she knows it, so she does the same thing my mother did when I was little: she threatens Jon with what will happen when Daddy comes home: The "other decisions" obviously refers to Jon letting Tormund's group through the Wall without making them swear to Stannis or take R'hllor as their god. I'm kind of torn on this: on the one hand, yeah, Stannis would probably be kind of pissed at the idea of wildlings failing to acknowledge him as their king. On the other hand, Stannis seems to respect Jon (especially when it comes to leadership decisions) a hell of a lot more than he respects Selyse, so Selyse threatening Jon with Stannis's wrath isn't exactly a terrifying thought. If Stannis did show up back at the Wall, and Selyse tried to tattle on Jon, I have difficulty seeing Stannis berating Jon for failing to obey Selyse. For failing to obey Stannis himself, yes, but not for failing to obey Selyse. Selyse brings up the food situation at the Wall as an excuse for why the wildlings shouldn't be rescued from Hardhome, which heavily implies she's been meeting with Marsh. She doesn't (or shouldn't) have personal access to the Watch's food stores, so she shouldn't really have any idea what number of people the food stores can support, and Marsh has been known to make the "we have no food for the wildlings" argument on multiple occasions. The Hardhome issue here seems, in many ways, to parallel the Astapor issue we saw in Dany's chapters. If Jon lets Hardhome "fall", the Others will inevitably be strengthened, because the dead will become an army for the Others, one capable of potentially attacking the Wall. When Dany refused to march to Astapor and let Astapor fall, the Yunkishmen were strengthened, as only Astapor prevented the Yunkishmen from just marching on Meereen. Marching to Hardhome meant temporarily weakening the Wall, and marching to Astapor would have meant weakening Dany's position at Meereen. Dany was asked, early on, to lend the Astapori some of her Unsullied; she refused, saying she needed them all to defend Meereen. Jon, in contrast, chose to send part of the Watch's forces to Hardhome early in ADWD, deciding to take the gamble of potentially weaking (or losing) the available ship-and-manpower resources of the Watch. Jon intended on marching to relieve Hardhome, and only altered his personal involvement there---the ranging was planned to continue on regardless, just under Tormund's command. Dany never intended on marching personally to Astapor, nor to send anyone in her place, and plenty of characters in-story consider that decision a huge mistake. We've seen the fallout from Dany's failure to send any aid to Astapor, so it'll be interesting to see what happens with the aid Jon already sent to Hardhome (Cotter Pyke and his men) as well as whether or not the ranging to Hardhome will be 100% scrapped in the wake of Jon's attack, and what the consequences there (regardless of whether aid is or is not sent) will ultimately be to the Wall. In Jon's last chapter, we saw wildlings giving their allegiance to Jon, but none of them swore to obey Stannis. I'm sure that little factoid has been quite prominent in Selyse's thoughts of late, especially given the numerical superiority of the wildlings over her own forces at the Wall (she's clearly feeling paranoid there---Jon points out the number of guards she has around her). Tormund apparently has never even met Selyse, though it's not clear if that's due to 1) Selyse not wanting to meet Tormund, 2) Tormund not wanting to meet Selyse, or 3) Jon not wanting Tormund and Selyse in the same room together for fear of Tormund laughing in Selyse's face. (Good God, can you imagine that meeting?) I think the truth is unlikely to be the first option, because Selyse would undoubtedly have wanted Tormund to present himself to kneel before her, to try to tell him what he could and could not do---in essence, try to exert some measure of control over him, cause I doubt Selyse is thrilled about the idea of a large contingent of people around her who don't even pretend to owe her their allegiance. Options 2 and 3 have their own implications (with Option 2, that Tormund is actively opposing Selyse, with Option 3, that Jon is actively attempting to usurp a position of authority over the wildlings that Selyse thinks should be held by the crown, i.e. Selyse herself), but both options would indicate that the wildlings, in Selyse's mind, are currently actively opposed to her authority, a pretty huge problem for her. I think it's pretty clear that Selyse thinks she's found a solution to her "wildling control problem": use the "rightful king", Gerrick Kingsblood, to control the wildlings, a possibility that Jon should probably have foreseen---he knows that Selyse and her cronies refuse to give up their "blood = everything!" mantra, so it makes sense that they'd cleave onto Gerrick as a pawn to control the wildlings. If Selyse thinks Gerrick can keep the wildlings under control, than she can theoretically move against Jon without fearing the wildlings destroying her own forces. I don't think Jon ever took a step back and thought "Yes, such a plan would fail spectacularly and only a complete idiot would try it . . . but Selyse and her cronies are in fact complete idiots, so maybe I should keep Gerrick away from them before they use him as part of an idiotic plan that, while doomed to fail, could nevertheless inconvenience me greatly before said inevitable failure.") And actually, there are some pretty interesting implications in the "plans" Selyse is making for the wildlings, especially given her stated plan to marry Val to Ser Patrek. Because if Mance is only a usurper, and Gerrick is the rightful King of the Wildlings, then Val is not a princess even under the southerners' rather strained definitions. Selyse is marrying Gerrick's daughters to her own men, but she's also intending on marrying Val to her own sworn knight. But the "claims" to wildling authority (as Selyse understands it) conflict here: if Val has value, then theoretically Gerrick and his daughters do not, and vice versa. It's possible Selyse is just trying to cover her bases here, to take Val "out of play" so that nobody can use her "claim" against Gerrick. (Is Gerrick's wife alive? If she is, it's odd that she hasn't been hanging with Selyse. If she's dead, then why doesn't Selyse marry Val to Gerrick to "unite" the two claims?) But she seems very fond of Ser Patrek, so it's odd that she'd marry Val to him if she meant to entirely "destroy" Val's "claim" to the wildling "crown", as that would leave Ser Patrek with nothing. The primary (actual) wildling leader, Tormund, is not now, nor was he ever, considered to be King-Beyond-The-Wall, so I think Selyse is assuming that "royalty" will be able to control him; but also, let's not forget that Tormund's wife is (probably) dead, so Selyse might fear Tormund marrying Val and declaring himself Mance's heir. And there's another issue here: Selyse is claiming that Gerrick has a better "claim" to kinghood than Mance because of his alleged descent from Raymun Redbeard, but if someone's mentioned the story of Bael the Bard to Selyse (and there's a decent chance someone has---when she was told about a claim through Raymun Redbeard, the first logical question out of her mouth (after "Who on earth was Raymun Redbeard?") should have been "So does anyone else at the Wall claim descent from a past King-Beyond-the-Wall?), then that might have really frightened her and convinced her that Jon is making a play for kinghood here. Because the wildlings claim the Starks descend in an unbroken line from Bael the Bard, who was King-Beyond-The-Wall long before Raymun Redbeard. The wildlings have been swearing allegiance to Jon, who as a son of Eddard Stark, claims descent from an ancient King-Beyond-The-Wall, a claim that the wildlings themselves would obviously believe and espouse, cause after all they're the ones who like to trumpet the Bael/Stark connection. (Yes it's through a bastard line, twice-over in Jon's particular case, but Selyse might still be concerned, especially given that nobody else at the Wall seems to explciitly claim descent from Bael.) So the southerners might actually fear Jon making himself King of the Wildlings, not just through merit, but also through birth, and we know how obsessed they are with birth. There is also a very interesting possibility that might explain why Selyse wants to control both Val and the Kingsblood family: if Melisandre, sometime between Selyse's arrival and Jon's final chapter, went to Selyse and told her that Mance is still alive. Selyse might be moving, not just to counteract Jon, but to counteract Mance himself, by expropriating both the Kingsblood "claim" as well as the "claim" of Mance's own sister-in-law. Right now, there is no explicitly "crowned" person claiming to be King-Beyond-the-Wall. But if Selyse knows Mance is still alive, and if Mel tells her that, hey, Mance is off the reservation, doing things Mel never ordered him to do, Selyse might be trying to move to gain control of the wildlings before Mance can return and seize control himself. Because while Jon seems to assume that Mel played a role in Mance's heading to Winterfell, nothing in Mel's POV, and nothing she's stated in subsequent chapters, has ever confirmed that assumption. She could very easily be just as in the dark as Jon, and the prospect of Mance executing actions not ordered by Mel could be pretty frightening to her, because Mance executing his own personal plans makes Mel look powerless---from the perspective of others (and we know how obsessed Mel is with appearances), not only would Mance have "escaped" her fires, but he also would be undertaking actions not ordered by Mel, so Mel couldn't save face by admitting to have spared his life, since that would at best mean that Mel had been manipulated and then discarded by Mance, so Mance, not Mel, would be viewed as the powerful and competent one. And here's something I find odd: back in her POV, Melisandre left Mance alone in her chambers. The chambers that contained her precious chest of essentially irreplacable Eastern potions and powders. She left the infamous raider king of the wildlings alone, in her chambers, chambers that contained this precious item, for a pretty decent period of time. Anybody else wonder if Mel made a pretty huge mistake there? When Mel re-entered her chambers, Mance was just starting to tuck into her breakfast---so what was he doing in the time period in which Mel was away and he was all alone in her chambers? Sitting quietly and twiddling his thumbs? I somehow doubt it. Snooping? Yeah, I'd say the chances of him snooping were pretty astronomically high. Did he, perhaps, stumble upon Mel's powder chest? Did he, perhaps, purloin the contents of Mel's powder chest? (She clearly has access to at least a bit of her powders after Mance left the Wall---Jon saw her making the fires leap during the Alys/Sigorn wedding, and Mel mentioned she had powders that could "make a flame roar and hiss and leap up higher than a man is tall"---but for all we know, she's down to only what she kept in her pockets there.) We haven't had a Mel POV chapter since, so it can't be explicitly confirmed, but I wonder if Mel might have cause to be even more desperate than we've realized. Leaving Mance alone with all her stuff seems like the sort of thoughtless action that tends to backfire. Mel told Jon here that "Your ships are lost. All of them. Not a man shall return." It's not clear whether she actually saw this or, being Mel, has mixed up what she actually saw with her own personal interpretations. Back in her POV chapter, she saw Sounds quite a bit like Hardhome. But Hardhome was abandoned six hundred years ago, after a fiery cataclysm, so there shouldn't be any wooden walls left there, not unless the wildlings themselves built them. Which is possible, it's true . . . but I wonder if, due to the dead things in the water, the Hardhome expedition was forced to beach and destroy the ships (hence the plea to specifically send help by land---perhaps the waters around Hardhome have become impassable?), and the "wooden wall" Mel sees was made out of at least one of the ships sent by the Watch? In that case, Mel might be correct that the "ships are lost. All of them." But her "No man shall return" would then be her interpretation of the "inevitable" outcome of all of the ships being lost, not something she necessarily saw. Whatever plans are being made in the King's Tower, I don't see how they could intend for Othell Yarwyck to become the next Lord Commander. Yarwyck got more votes during the last election than Marsh, but all that means is that Yarwyck came in second-to-last of the serious LC candidates rather than dead last; Slynt had more votes than Yarwyck. The person who consistently got the most votes (until Jon's name was thrown into the ring) was Ser Denys Mallister, and the only reason Mallister didn't full-out win was because of the presence of Cotter Pyke, so unless Pyke somehow returns from Hardhome really, really soon, any new election being held would almost certainly result in Mallister's election, not Yarwyck's. Which could have some interesting implications for this conspiracy, actually, given two tidbits: 1) Mallister seems like a very inflexible guy---look at his reaction to the whole "Mance's patched cloak" issue---so there's a decent chance that he could be opposed to Jon's pro-wildling strategies; not to mention, his past history with Mance could have fostered in him some pretty huge issues with the wildlings, and 2) The Mallister sigil is an eagle, and an eagle (Orell's eagle) attacked Jon North of the Wall---could be some foreshadowing there. Mallister is clearly a snob, obsessed with birth and blood, so he and Selyse share certain ideologies, so I could see Selyse finding Mallister a more attractive LC candidate than Jon. And actually, if Selyse was in on the Marsh conspiracy (and I think it's practically guaranteed that she was), then Melisandre, Selyse's closest advisor, likely knew about it as well. She didn't need to warn Jon of a vision, she could logically have just flat-out told Jon what was going on with Selyse, because I think the chances of Mel being out of the loop there are pretty slim. Neither wants Jon to go ranging, but Selyse seems content with the idea of Jon dying north of the Wall, while Melisandre wants him to stay at the Wall. Why? Remember, we haven't had a POV from Mel in a good long while. We don't know what her personal situation is, how desperate she's become at Jon's repeated refusal to be her pawn, how she's reacting to the Mance situation. We know she seemed to see Jon as a positive force in her last POV---but I really don't think she realized that skinchangers are viewed as tied to the Old Gods. With Borroq's arrival, someone might have clued Mel in there, and she might not be quite so pro-Jon anymore. She seems to want Ghost with Jon, originally to save Jon. But one of the assassins here was noted by Mel, in her POV, to be a R'hllor convert. It's possible that Mel's attitude toward Jon has changed rather drastically since her last POV. When she tells Jon to send for her, as she's his only hope . . . well, perhaps that was more in a "Send for me, and take this last chance I'm offering you to show me you're willing to play ball with R'hllor . . . otherwise I'm going to help murder you, cause you're beyond my help (i.e., my control),and I can't let you remain in power if you refuse to be under my control." She might not want Jon to range north of the Wall because she fears him coming into contact with the other figures (whom we know to be Bran and Bloodraven) she thinks are associated with the Great Other. (Maybe she even had a vision of Jon with those two figures, and misinterpreted it?) I never noticed it before, but . . . "whereas the usurper Mance Rayder was born of some common woman and fathered by one of your black brothers"??? That's not what Qhorin told Jon back in ACOK: Yes, Qhorin never says Mance wasn't fathered by a Watchman, but "taken as a child when some raiders were put to the sword" implies that Mance was the child of those raiders---it kind of stretches the story to try and meld the two versions--- "oh by the way, the kid taken when those raiders were killed was also known to be the son of a Watchman". I mean, it's entirely possible that someone just told Selyse a false story. but I wonder where she could have heard this version? Has she been in contact with the Shadow Tower (the place where you'd logically find the most Watchmen with intimate knowledge of Mance's history)? Could that tie into a potential alliance between Selyse and the oh-so-proper Ser Denys Mallister? Or are wires crossed here, and someone in Selyse's entourage mistook tales of Mance for tales of Craster? Yarwyk intrigues me in this chapter. There are multiple hints that he's been interacting with the wildlings---he seems to have firsthand knowledge of Tormund's member-centric rants, and he's been dealing with the wildlings when it comes to refitting the ruined castles. He points out that most of them don't know how to build, but admits that some of them aren't completely incompetent, and doesn't seem quite so . . . blindly fearful? of them as he was in the past. Yeah, there's the whole "pig army" concern, but we don't know whether he genuinely fears this, whether some of the wildlings told him stories about skinchangers to freak him out, whether he was joking, etc. I mean, the wildlings crossed the Wall and could have destroyed the Watch in a single night---and didn't. Yarwyck is having issues with rebuilding the castles, but Jon makes it clear in this chapter that if those castles aren't fixed up properly, the wildlings will be the ones to bear the consequences---another leader might have threatened to blame Yarwyck himself for such a failure, to put the consequences on him. But if these castles aren't fixed up, that's not going to affect Yarwyck himself in the slightest, only the wildlings who will have to live in crappy conditions, so it's hard for me to suss out Yarwyck's exact thoughts/fears/motivations. I can't tell if Yarwyk is in on the assassination plot, is in the dark about the assassination plot, or was in on the plot at the beginning but decided against it at the last moment (we've seen him do this in the past----he was supposedly going to back Slynt for LC in ASOS, but changed his mind about supporting Slynt's candidacy at the last second). Interesting that Ghost supposedly tried to bite Mully, but only "sniffed at [Marsh and Yarwyck], his tail upraised and bristling". Why doesn't he try to take a bite out of them (or at least Marsh himself)? Perhaps it's because, at this point, there doesn't seem to be a Marsh-centric plan for Jon to be stabbed---it seems like the Marsh conspiracy expects Jon to die during his ranging. So what's going on with Mully? The answer might lie in the Pink Letter: Mully is the person who announces the letter's arrival, and Mully is the one who really, really wants Jon to read the letter right this second. If Mel had something to do with the Pink Letter (and never told Selyse), then perhaps Mully is working primarily with Mel, not Marsh or Selyse? (And as a side note: Mully claims Ghost tried to bite him in Jon's absence, but . . . Mully was stationed outside of the armory door. So when was Ghost, who was inside the room, have a chance to attack Mully, who was outside the (presumably) closed door?) I love how Borroq has "taken up residence in one of the ancient tombs beside the castle lichyard." Yeah, cause that's not creepy in the slightest. Borroq's attitude toward Jon is a bit of a cypher: obviously he realizes Jon is also a skinchanger, and he should logically realize that skinchangers are treated differently south of the Wall. I'm very curious how he views Jon: LC of the Watch, a Stark bastard, an apparently quite powerful untutored skinchanger. Is he actually opposed to Jon, or is he only reacting negatively to Jon in the Shieldhall because he's kind of insulted that Ghost seems to want to attack his boar, and assumes Ghost wants to do that because Jon subconsciously wants to attack Borroq himself? Or is it that he just doesn't realize Jon is untutored in skinchanging, and thinks Jon is lying about being unable to control Ghost if Ghost attacks the boar? Jon mentioned that Borroq's boar wasn't with him in the Shieldhall. So where was it? I've seen speculation that Melisandre left the Shieldhall to go get Ghost. But I wonder: perhaps she went to go kill Ghost, and Borroq's boar will actually end up saving Ghost's life? Wouldn't that be a kicker. Interesting tidbit: Jon mentions seeing men pouring into the yard: not just Queen's men and wildlings, but northmen as well. I was assuming that Old Flint and the Norrey had left the Wall, but is this a hint that they're still present? What other Northmen could Jon mean?
  13. Well, we don't really know what "being a Loraq" actually means in Meereen. :) To transpose it to the Westerosi context (given that we have very little actual knowledge about how the hierarchy of the Meereenese nobility works), imagine that "Loraq" is, perhaps, the Meereenese equivalent of "Lannister": wealthiest (but not necessarily most powerful) of the families, very proud, an ancient line who were once kings, owners of a presumably magnificent (but not necessarily objectively the most magnificent) home (Loraq Pyramid/Casterly Rock), etc., etc. Imagine the Green Grace as perhaps the equivalent of a lesser Lannister, or the member of a family with marital ties to the Lannisters, or maybe even the equivalent of a member of House Swyft/Marbrand/Crakehall/some other Lannister bannerman. From her perspective, it would be "obvious" that only a Loraq should be the King of Meereen, and she might even genuinely believe that only a Loraq could be the King. That doesn't mean the Meereenese equivalents of House Stark, House Arryn, House Martell, etc. would agree with her, nor that all of the other "lesser" noble Houses would either. Of course I'm not arguing that Loraq necessarily is the equivalent of House Lannister, I'm just throwing out an example of the type of paradigm that might be playing out in Meereen. We don't really know what the Galare relationship is to Loraq, but we don't know anything about the relationships between Meereenese noble families other than apparently Loraq and Kandaq loathe each other. Barristan flat-out says that there are others in Meereen who felt that they would have been better choices for King than Hizdahr, so clearly not everyone agrees with the Green Grace on the obviousness of the Loraq pick. And actually, there's been a lot of discussion about the really quite excellent possibility that the Green Grace is the Harpy. Now if that's true . . . then what exactly was the purpose of Hizdahr visiting all those pyramids prior to marrying Dany? Twenty-six days into Dany's "give me ninety days of peace" challenge, Hizdahr had already visited eleven pyramids, ostensibly as part of his quest to convince the Sons to lay down their knives. But if Hizdahr already had the Harpy's support from the get-go, and it seems likely that he did, then obviously his visits to the other pyramids weren't really geared around getting the Sons to lay down their knives. So what was he doing during these visits? I'd say there's a pretty excellent chance he was on the Meereenese equivalent of a campaign tour, trying to get the other noble families to support him as their (future) king. And he wouldn't have had to do that if the other noble families already wanted Hizdahr as their king, or if they really were assuming that only a Loraq could have the support/prestige to be their king.
  14. I never noticed it before . . . but it's interesting just how much of "Hizdahr's" court session in Barristan's first chapter was actually conducted by Reznak. Hizdahr is seated on the throne, but it's Reznak who is actually dealing with the petitioners and the Yunkish, not Hizdahr---Hizdahr is basically just sitting there quietly up until the head is thrown on the floor (and even then, Reznak is the one broaching issues of state (the other hostages, for example), not Hizdahr). This. Barristan opposes killing the hostages in theory, but taking and killing hostages---including child hostages---is a pretty widespread way of "doing business" in Westeros, and certainly was under the Targ kings. It's not like he's reacting to a weird barbaric eastern custom here, so I find his disgust at the mere idea to be incredibly disingenuous. And I absolutely agree that Barristan is totally delusional here. So it was okay if Rhaegar's children were killed, just so long as Barristan didn't have to physically see any of it? It was okay for Aerys to viciously slaughter all of the children of House Darklyn and House Hollard (with Barristan only moving in to save a single child, Dontos), and of course that didn't cause Barristan to actually move against Aerys, but he would totally have freaked if he'd seen what happened when Rhaegar's children were presented to Robert? So were some children worth more to him than others? Barristan apparently likes torturing himself over his failures as well as his successes; had he failed at Duskendale but succeeded in the Tourney of Harrenhal, he thinks events might have unfolded rather differently. I can see the logic in the former, but the latter? Four lords didn't rise against the Targs because Rhaegar crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty. They rose because of events begun when Rhaegar ran off with her. Barristan's victory or defeat at Harrenhal was not going to change anything, because events there were already in motion---Rheagar obviously already had his eye on Lyanna prior to that tilt (especially if he'd discovered that Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree). Barristan's understanding of the political situation, more importantly what events caused what events, is incredibly inaccurate, which could underscore the idea that he doesn't have the political acumen to be put in a position of political power. Was anyone else incredibly creeped out by this? "Pretty pink cheeks"??? Not to mention, Hizdahr is treating the noble hostages basically as his slaves. This is basically what the Green Grace told Dany the noblility feared she'd do (that Dany would enslave their children), and it's interesting how Hizdahr seems to need those hostages just as much as Dany did (at least, he seems to be in no hurry to return them to their families). Dany took hostages because she couldn't control the nobility, she married Hizdahr because he supposedly could control the nobility, so why does Hizdahr need hostages against the nobility again? The Shavepate, who we know loathes HIzdahr, seems to want Daario out of the picture as well. Daario represents the clearest candidate that Dany would have been willing to have step into Hizdahr's shoes, a pretty easy way to get rid of the hated Hizdahr, so the fact that the Shavepate apparently sees Daario as a threat to Dany's reign could speak volumes about how Daario is viewed in Meereen. (As a side note: as far as I can tell, the Stormcrows are the only sellsword company I think we've seen to have multiple commanders. Daario was originally part of a triumvirate of captains, he killed the other two, and then claimed he was the sole Stormcrow captain. But when Daario is a hostage, two men step up to speak for the Stormcrows, not one. I wonder: was Daario ever really the sole captain of the Stormcrows, or was he sharing power there all along with these other two, and nobody told Dany or Barristan?) What exactly happened to Reznak? Is he still alive? At the end of The Kingbreaker, we have this: Then in The Queen's Hand, Reznak is nowhere to be found. He's not on Barristan's council, the Green Grace makes no mention of him (only Hizdahr), and Barristan's only thought of him is brief and unilluminating: Is Reznak dead? Fled? In a dungeon somewhere?
  15. I think option 3 makes the most sense. Bowen's entire schtick is that the wildlings can't be trusted, they'll attack the Watch, they're murderous savages. He probably assumed that, without a figure like Stannis to "cow" them into submission, there would inevitably be fights between the wildlings and the Watch and the whole thing would descend into chaos. When everybody just queued up and passed through peacefully, Marsh was probably at a loss for what to do---he'd probably been mentally practicing his "I told you so" speech all afternoon. It's interesting to compare this wildling crossing to the willding crossing Stannis orchestrated earlier in ADWD. There, Val and Melisandre were standing on ground level with Stannis, while here, both Val and Melisandre are up in towers. There, a false King-Beyond-The-Wall and (presumably) a false Horn of Joramun were both burned, and the people were forced to come near the apparently blisteringly hot fire pit, and burn bits of weirwood, before being allowed through the gate. Here, the wildlings (surrounded by snow, not fire), give up their treasures---not to the fire where they'd be pointlessly destroyed, but to the stewards, to pay for food to keep them all alive (the former sacrifice only feeds Mel's vanity and pride, and the latter sacrifice is meant to literally "feed" the wildlings themselves). There, Jon ordered out two hundred men, almost half the Castle Black garrison, and had them keep their hoods up to hide the presence of so many "greybeards and green boys" in the ranks, because Jon wanted the wildlings to fear the Watch. Here, Jon surrounds himself with only eight men, explicitly passing up all the "greybeards and green boys", and when Tormund tells Jon he wants the wildlings to see the Watch should not be feared, Ghost causes Tormund's garron to almost throw him; the idea of fear is there, but there is a trust and a comraderie between Jon and Tormund that was never present between Stannis and any of the wildlings. There, wildlings balked at the gate and ran from the Wall back to the Haunted Forest (according to Jon, almost one in ten). Here, Jon explicitly mentions that nobody, not even the child hostages, balked at the gate. There, one of the wildlings used a piece of weirwood as a weapon and was set upon by the Queen's Men. Here, one wildling stabbed another, and Toregg---a wildling---was the one to separate the two and send both back to the camp to start again (neither died, while people were literally forced to go around the weapon-wielder's body during Stannis's little show). There, everyone knelt before Stannis, while here, nobody kneels before Jon---but the wildlings give their own oaths to Jon, and seem far more likely to obey him than they ever were to truly follow Stannis. Jon very explicitly brought only two men (one of them a wildling) to his initial meeting with Tormund, yet now he surrounds himself with able-bodied bodyguards. Why does he feel the need for an entourage now, when he has all of Castle Black at his back, yet felt no need for one when he was literally surrounded by Tormund's people in Tormund's camp, the same people now heading through the Gate? Jon's made a mental connection between Mel's "daggers in the dark" prophecy and Bowen Marsh, but if Bowen Marsh wants to attack Jon, the only logical time would be before the wildlngs fully cross the Wall. I wonder if Jon's entourage isn't meant to discourage wildling attacks, but to discourage Watchmen's attacks? Jon makes sure that Bowen himself is very busy here, and has Ulmer of the Kingswood holding the Wall (and we saw earlier that Ulmer 1) has actually been appointed to speak for (at least some of) "the men", and 2) seems on board with Jon's pro-wildling plans). If Bowen Marsh was going to make a move against Jon and have any logical hope of ultimate success, he had to move in this chapter, before the wildlings (at least fully) crossed.