bemused

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  1. Who was Jaquen supposed to kill?

    He wasn't there to kill anyone. Fact finding mission only, focused on Ned and Starks generally (thus keeping an eye on Arya)... but after "x" amount of time, he has to move on to Oldtown, to assess what the maesters are up to - and probably the Hightower, if possible. (Hightower and Citadel are not on the same page, now ... one delving into magic, the other busy denying and obstructing it.)
  2. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    OK, I see what you mean, but we haven't seen anyone be able to do that yet , although the KM says there are many methods of changing faces. We may still get to see more of them. The faces Arya sees on the walls appear to all once have been living people, and it's implied that they once sought death at the HoB&W. Arya receives not only the face and physical appearance, but the memories of the Ugly Little Girl, and the KM tells Arya something about her story...  so she definitely was once a living person. There's no suggestion that the KM (or Arya) is able to make added alterations to her mask. In Oldtown, we see that the Alchemist wants to be recognised as Pate, so they aren't always avoiding being recognised, but avoiding looking out of place.. As for Jaqen, I can't think that a FM would intentionally want to be caught and thrown in the Black cells.. chained up like that, he'd be unable to take action and unable to defend himself. It seems a very poor choice, to me.
  3. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    And of course, if the Syrio we met was a FM, who became Jaqen,who became the Alchemist .. the character is still active in the story.. just not as Syrio. If he's dead, it probably isn't thanks to Trant.  
  4. To all appearances, they are not always used as assassins. Sometimes , they appear to only be spying, gathering information..  I don't think the FM Arya knew as Jaqen was on a mission to kill anyone. But to the OP's question, I think it's the same for famous people as anyone else.
  5. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    I'm not sure I know what you mean... Are you saying that there never was a man named Jaqen H'gar, alive or dead, but that Jaqen is an invented appearance? (That would be a mummer disguise, and the easiest kind to see through.) We know how those work.. make-up, wigs, fake warts, etc. (It's the kind Varys uses)... That was not the kind of disguise Jaqen was usung, because we saw him change his face at the sweep of his hand. The most advanced FM face change requires wearing the "mask" of a dead person, while a glamour requires knowing the proper magic ... and if you want it to be really good, wearing something worn by the person you want to imitate..
  6. ..So, I'm not so sure about that final test bit... That would be bound to produce a few failures, and it's a lengthy (and probably costly) business to train a FM... not to mention.. would the HoB&W want to have these failed FM, who would know all of the secrets learned (up until that test) wandering around? At what point would they stop letting them find another life ? We don't know enough... I think the NW is a good analogy, but look...even there, we see groups of special friends, even lovers, within the watch (no doubt about Alf & Garth, IMO).. also jealousy, resentment, dislike, etc. . Humans will be human (look at the poor Unsullied going to brothels just to be held..) Being "no-one" is an ideal that must surely fail, in varying degrees, from time to time.
  7. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    I realise I probably should have made the above edit a separate post, or it might get lost, so..bump.. 
  8. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    Hi... I wanted to respond to your earlier post about this, but you can see I got carried away.. This is a knotty question... You know, I really don't think the FM owed Arya 3 lives.. I'll come back around to this, but first.. If Jaqen in the cage wasn't a FM, who was? ..  Maybe he's someone we never met before, if so, GRRM will still have to tell us about him at some point.. But, if you're open to the possibility that he could be Syrio, here's my tentative answer to how that could be... He escapes Trant, and nudges Arya into action with a whisper.. He becomes anyone (no-one,and no-one she knows). He keeps an eye on her, from a distance (as Syrio, he would now attract attention to her and supposedly, himself) ... Just as Yoren is told Ned is to take the black , so is Tobho Mott , since someone wants to save / get rid of Gendry at the same time.. If they were already connected, Syrio could learn of the plan through Tobho... It's obvious that Yoren is supplying himself for an overland journey.. The FM is also at Baelors Sept (like much of KL) and sees Ned beheaded ..He may have had a plan to sneak Arya out of KL and join Ned on the way (if so it would now be defunct) ...but now he sees Yoren nab her , and sees Yoren has cut her hair.. It would be easy to get some idea of what Yoren's plan was (either get her to Robb, or take her to WF).. He follows under some random disguise, and becomes one of Yoren's other recruits while they are out foraging, or taking care of business in the woods.. e.g.- "Forced to live off the land, Yoren turned to Koss and Kurz, who’d been taken as poachers. He would send them ahead of the column, into the woods, and come dusk they would be back with a deer slung between them on a pole or a brace of quail swinging from their belts." ...(He might have made a switch in KL, but it would be easier in the countryside.) At the holdfast, I suspect he would be one of the 3 men Yoren sent to the watch tower, who all survived. Kurz was one of those men. .. After the fire Arya & co. find and bury Yoren's corpse. The rest were too numerous, and dogs or wolves had been at them. I don't think they were looking too closely at all the bodies, and Arya is not yet as observant as Syrio was teaching her to be. She might not have recognised Jaqen's corpse ,especially if it was burned. But a FM very well might. Kurz teaches Arya & co. some valuable survival lessons before he leaves them. But why would he leave them if he was a FM? .. 1).. The young ones would not want to split up. It's harder for 5 or 6 to hide than 1 or 2. 2).. From the watchtower, he might have seen Lorch accepting Rorge and Biter and known Lorch would take Jaqen, too. 3).. All the captives were being taken to Harrenhall... Would he be in a better position to help Arya (and himself) as as a captive or as one of Lorch's men ? 4).. True, if he wasn't Jaqen he couldn't have seen Arya rescue the men, but as "new" Jaqen, he could have got the info out of Rorge... or as Kurz, from Arya & co. Oops! i have to break off for a bit . i'l come back and edit in the 3 lives part. EDIT: OK, owing 3 lives.. Now I have to weigh this one statement about owing 3 lives against all the other clues, and it has never seemed like enough to knock them all down. ...To begin with, a FM being so attached to the Red God always seemed a bit dubious to me. The FM honour all gods, but they don't worship them. They take the different aspects of death found in each religion as a representation of the God they do worship, the Many -Faced God. For the FM, Death is the ultimate uber-god, or the One God. All men must die, that's inevitable - when or how is immaterial to Him. If you miss your rendezvous with Him today, there could be a new one tomorrow, or in a year, or ten, etc....and "The Gift" is a gift to men, not to the God, in the FM view. The whole concept of stealing a life and paying it back must be foreign to the Faceless Men. There are ambiguities any way you look at this question. Jaqen says the Red God is a jealous god..and I think that's true to judge by what we know of Mel (declaring that all other gods are false and/or servants of The Other). But the FM don't give R'Hllor precedence over any of the other Many...they provide statues of the many gods in the HoB&W to give solace to those who have come to seek death, to give them the face of the divine that they believe in. Though FM knowledge of various religions must be quite extensive, I can't imagine that they go through their lives, daily tasks and missions carefully adhering to the tenets of each of those gods, whose religions may have conflicting beliefs. Think of the difficulties that could create. So, R'Hllor is not our FM's god, nor is he Arya's, whose only concept of gods is the old gods and the Seven. In light of this, I have to think that "owing a debt to the red god" is indeed, just a way of getting close to Arya and gaining her trust, so that he can better watch out for her and help her. ...She never got very close to Jaqen on the road, and now has reason to resent him for joining Lorch. She has no real reason to trust him, but has at least familiarity, which is better than if he presented himself as a stranger. .. As one of Lorch's men, he has more power to help her than as someone else...( but he gives her to understand that he doesn't have unlimited time.) Later, when he swears in the godswood , the heart tree represents the old gods, but he swears by all the gods, which of course, includes his own. ... Any way you look at it, Jaqen H'gar is dead - either he always was, or he died at the holdfast, but it's clear who Arya means by "Jaqen H'gar"..and he's sworn (by his own god) to kill whoever she names. I'm not sure he ever would have changed faces in front of her or given her the coin, if she had not been reluctant to reveal herself to the freed northmen. He has to leave, but since she isn't sure it's safe to say who she is - 1) he leaves her another option at the personal level, and / or... 2) on a political level (if/when she does reveal herself), leaves a sign to Robb that he may owe one to the FM and Braavos , or that he has their interest. (The FM knows she wants to go to Riverrun.) If she didn't save Jaqen in the cage, she never saved 3 lives... and even if she did save him, I don't think the FM would be so scrupulous about following the dogma of R'Hllor ( e.g. they don't keep a nightfire, or preach that he is the only true god, etc..) Regarding that personal level, there's plenty about the FM and Braavos that we don't know. We do know that GRRM has repeatedly said he adheres to the Fitzgerald quote - the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself... Over and over again, we see characters wrestle with this inner conflict - Jon, Jaime ,Tyrion, and on and on. Why should FM be exempt? (We know they can have feelings and attachments. When they refuse to kill people that they know, it means that they won't be tested in this way.) As I mentioned, "He kissed her hair softly" stands out to me in a big way. There's something tender, familial , even parental about it..Something that at that stage , might be a bit too familiar to reflect the past interactions between Jaqen and Arya. It might fit better with Syrio, who called her "Arya, child," .. OR, there could be some other explanation, as yet unwritten ...Who is this FM, really? What brought him to give himself to the HoB&W? We know his father is dead (and if the Alchemist is his real appearance, he's quite young)... Might he once have had a plucky, feisty little sister like Arya?.. Is his heart all too human and has he exceeded what he would have been expected to do ? I think we will find out at some point. I didn't start out trying to find ways for Syrio to be alive.. If he lived , it would be cool , if he died it would be poignant (like Yoren).. The one thing I became most sure of on a re-read, is that Jaqen most probably died in the fire , so I had to consider that my starting point, and assess the possibilities going backward and forward from there.. that leaves me leaning heavily toward Syrio surviving, but knowing that GRRM may yet write about some FM coming in from left field to become Jaqen... If I'm wrong about Jaqen's death, then GRRM fooled me, but he definitely made the effort to plant those clues.
  9. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    I can't agree with this, except for..there was no test and she was not a recruit. i do agree with those. As for the rest.. we don't know that the man in the cage was unafraid .. he certainly wants out, even before the fire.. “Boy! Sweet boy! Is it war, red war? Boy, free us. A man can fight. Boy!”.. and again during the fire.(Otherwise why call to Arya and the others, then.?) All men must die ...but even FM probably don't relish such a painful, horrible death .. and what dutiful FM would be so resigned to death, when he'd been unable to report on his previous mission and still had another important mission to go on to. The time and manner of a death doesn't matter to Him of Many Faces, but it matters to people. Even FM are human. Even the three men were looking at her.. but what does that mean ? She was involved in a spectacle - everyone was looking .. If Jaqen is, at that point, a dangerous criminal, he's probably taking note that she's plucky enough to possibly speak to him. ETA: IMO, it's very dangerous to speak to a "criminal" Jaqen.. Rorge and Biter are always threatening and violent. They're the "obvious evil" if you will.. but if Jaqen was really dangerous enough to be in the Black Cells , he may be just as violent, though his MO is entirely different. He may give us a big clue to what that is, himself... " This man’s ill-bred companions in captivity are named Rorge”-he waved his tankard at the noseless man-”and Biter.” Biter hissed at her again, displaying a mouthful of yellowed teeth filed into points. “A man must have some name, is that not so? Biter cannot speak and Biter cannot write, yet his teeth are very sharp, so a man calls him Biter and he smiles. Are you charmed?” Arya backed away from the wagon. “No.” " ... Arya is not charmed by Rorge and Biter, but she's beginning to be charmed by Jaqen. He might do any sort of cold blooded thing, once a victim had been charmed into trust. When she forces herself to overcome her fear ,approach the cage and hit Biter.. " “A boy has more courage than sense,” the one who had named himself Jaqen H’ghar observed." .. that might be true in relation to himself as well, and it's a calculation he could have been forming since .. "They were all looking at her.." ..etc.
  10. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    finger.. Your post is very imaginitive.. .. But, again, did you not read the part where Trant commands the guards, "Kill the Braavosi and bring me the girl" ? Why on earth would he spare Syrio, when Syrio foiled the most important part of Trant's mission from the Queen Regent, making Trant look bad ? Aside: Rorge and Biter were not sellswords,then.. they were involved in the dog fighting scene in Flea Bottom, and we don't know what Jaqen was, except he was originally from Lorath,. They may well not even have known each other before that. And as I already pointed out, Rorge showed no fear of Jaqen until Harrenhall. aryagonnakill , Valyrian Blade ...  I think the points made upthread by Ninerings regarding ninjas are very apros pos, and though there are only vague hints of FM being used for political purposes through most of the series, almost everyone seems to accept that the Alchemist is in Oldtown on an espionage mission, not to kill Pate, or anyone else, necessarily. Then, if we read the Mercy chapter from TWoW, it becomes even more clear. Though I'm personally not so sure Syrio is Syrio, I think it's an OK stance. But.. Jaqen in the cage as a glamour is not OK with me .. Sure, maybe a FM could get himself arrested, but I think it would be very unlikely that a FM on an assassin's mission in KL would wear such a flashy and unusual disguise. The "World" book tells us that Lorathis are rare outside of Lorath, and this would be even more so in Westeros... not the kind of low-key disguise favoured by FM. If he was there to kill anyone, he'd be drawing unnecessary attention to himself. OTOH, if Syrio was a FM, I can't see Trant arresting him, I can't see him taking Trant's face, for a sojourn of beating Sansa and generally doing Cersei's dirty work. I also can't see him willingly putting himself in Jaqen's restricted position. He wouldn't need to. He could become anyone... So, for me,  if Syrio is Syrio, but I can't accept Jaqen in the cells or the cage as a glamoured FM.. if (as I believe) caged Jaqen did not survive the fire.. where the heck did Jaqen in Harrenhall come from (who obviously is a glamoured FM)?.. That was when I had to go back and reconsider if Syrio could be a FM. Then I really began to notice all the little hints stashed about in the events leading up to and during Arya's escape. The fire was the epiphany for me.
  11. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    I've numbered the points I want to address ...  1) Arya doesn't make the point that he's unconcerned . Nowhere does she say or think that. Some key details from that scene : i).. "Rushing through the barn doors was like running into a furnace. The air was swirling with smoke, the back wall a sheet of fire ground to roof. Their horses and donkeys were kicking and rearing and screaming. The poor animals, Arya thought. Then she saw the wagon, and the three men manacled to its bed. Biter was flinging himself against the chains, blood running down his arms from where the irons clasped his wrists. Rorge screamed curses, kicking at the wood." ... this sets the scene. ii).. Continuing... “Boy!” called Jaqen H’ghar. “Sweet boy!” .. and a few seconds later... "“Good boys, kind boys,” called Jaqen H’ghar, coughing "... To this point, Jaqen is the only one we're told is coughing. Between those two calls, we're told that.. "the fire was spreading fast consuming the old wood and dry straw faster than she would have believed. Arya remembered the Hound’s horrible burned face." ... Arya reminds us of what afire can do to a person. Arya then goes to get the axe, gets away from one of Lorch's men, and... iii)..  "Smoke was pouring out the open door like a writhing black snake, and she could hear the screams of the poor animals inside, donkeys and horses and men. She chewed her lip, and darted through the doors, crouched low where the smoke wasn’t quite so thick.  A donkey was caught in a ring of fire, shrieking in terror and pain. She could smell the stench of burning hair. The roof was gone up too, and things were falling down, pieces of flaming wood and bits of straw and hay. Arya put a hand over her mouth and nose. She couldn’t see the wagon for the smoke, but she could still hear Biter screaming. She crawled toward the sound."  ... Arya is keepng down,out of the smoke as much as possible. The men in the wagon are unable to do the same. When she reaches the wagon... "And then a wheel was looming over her. The wagon jumped and moved a half foot when Biter threw himself against his chains again."  The narration continues with (for me) the most key detail .. iv).. "Jaqen saw her, but it was too hard to breathe, let alone talk." .. Jaqen is the subject. The sentence is about him.. it's too hard for him to breathe. He's not unconcerned, he's been increasingly affected by smoke inhalation throughout the scene. The smoke has become worse each time it's been mentioned. He's the only one described as coughing, until Arya herself coughs as she runs for the tunnel. v).. OK, so Rorge has caught the axe.. As Arya runs to the tunnel, ... "She heard the steel crash through the old wood, and again, again. An instant later came a crack as loud as thunder, and the bottom of the wagon came ripping loose in an explosion of splinters." .. (GRRM has told us in a SSM that Rorge and Biter are long time partners. Rorge grabbed Biter off the streets as a boy and raised him to fight in dog fighting pits.. Jaqen is separate from them.) ... Rorge has chopped the floor out of the wagon, but each man was individually chained to the floor. Obviously he would chop himself and Biter free, but would he do the same for Jaqen ? Jaqen has painted himself as a cut above them - more polite, less threatening. ... There really isn't any reason to assume they would help him. That they happened to be chained in the same cage because they were all thought to be deadly dangerous, is not enough reason, IMO. ... When have Rorge and Biter shown the least sympathy or friendship for anyone else?... Yes, they help with the weasel soup, but before they do that, Arya notices fear flicker across Rorge's face at the mere mention of Jaqen's name .. and that is not until Harrenhall. So, Arya hears the bottom of the wagon come ripping loose just as she rolls into the tunnel, and .... vi).. "Above was nothing but blood and roaring red and choking smoke and the screams of dying horses. She moved her belt around so Needle would not be in her way, and began to crawl. A dozen feet down the tunnel she heard the sound, like the roar of some monstrous beast, and a cloud of hot smoke and black dust came billowing up behind her, smelling of hell." .. It would only take seconds to crawl a dozen feet (try it out) and at that point, she hears what can only be the sound of the barn collapsing in on itself. It's doubtful that Rorge could have chopped Jaqen free from the floor of the wagon .. even if he had wanted to. (And are chained men much better off than tethered horses?) It was too difficult for Jaqen to breathe (or be making any attempt to free himself).. could he have summoned the strength, or breath it would have taken to get out in time, even if his chains were freed from the bottom of the wagon? vii).. Even if all that were possible, how could Jaqen appear in Harrenhall without burns?  Yes, of course, as an FM he can cast a glamour , but his disguised real person would still have real burns to his body and certainly to his scalp. Biter ,who doesn't wear a lot of clothes, is covered  in burns that are only half healed... Yet Jaqen sits lounging in a steaming hot bath, with a serving girl pouring buckets of hot water over his head. Any of us who has ever had a burn knows that even a recently completely healed burn is still very sensitive to hot water, for quite a long time. (In my experience with a hot oil burn, still somewhat sensitive, a couple of months after healing.) 2) I absolutely cannot buy that he would seriously risk his own life merely to test Arya. What good would it do, if she passed the test, but he died? If he knew a way to get out, he would have done it by then. If she was such a precious recruit , why let her run back into a battle, where she could easily have died, to get the axe to save him? This makes no sense to me. I feel sure that up until the fire, Jaqen was the real Jaqen. He died in the fire, or shortly after (Quentyn took three days to die, but without the complication of smoke inhalation), and our FM then adopted his appearance.
  12. Syrio took Meryn's face?

    Yes, but they weren't intimidated when they were on the road in the cage together. He set himself apart from them, and they didn't play along with him when he was trying to charm Arya - quite the opposite. The most common speculation I've seen is that they somehow witnessed him changing his face. if so, when ? They don't show the least hint of fear of him until Harrenhall. So, whatever put the fear in them happened after Arya escaped down the tunnel, and before they got to Harrenhall. (My own view is that Jaqen the criminal died at the fire .. and then the FM adopted his persona.) It would scare you if some guy you saw dead or dying suddenly turned up,hale, hearty and with no burns. (especially if it was you, Rorge, who caught the axe , but didn't stop to chop him free..).. and he probably could threaten you into helping him in the soup adventure.
  13. TYCHO NESTORIS - The Man and His Mission

    I'm really glad you're enjoying this. I can't reply to everything I'd like to tonight, but here's a start.. Hos.. I agree that Tycho would cut a much too prominent figure for a faceless man, if his mission was assassination... but as a spy or an agent engaging in secret diplomacy for his government (or soon-to-be government), I think it would be far preferable to the usual "no one" disguises. If Jon, who has been raised out of the mainstream of Westerosi political life, is aware of the IB tactic of supporting rival princes of their defaulters, surely people more involved politically would be aware, too.. (or should be, Cersei). So, Tycho arriving to treat with Stannis wouldn't seem all that unusual to political observers. Treating with Jon and the NW would.  The more I think about it , the more I think that there must be some form of non-disclosure clause attached to the loan, at least until Jon had his forts manned, had saved as many wildlings as he could, and a certain amount of supply had reached him. This would echo Braavos' (The City of Secrets) own historic MO. They didn't reveal their location until they were certain their city was as secure as they could make it, beforehand. It wouldn't be prudent to have Jon's agreement come into public awareness before it was even off the ground. There could be crippling repercussions... King's Landing could think Jon was about to go to war with them, and could make things difficult for Braavosi ships at Westerosi ports. .. Stannis might see Jon as a potential rival, instead of an ally of sorts... Suppliers might suddenly jack up their prices, knowing the wealth of the IB was behind the NW. .. Pirates (always a danger) would have advance warning and could be lying in wait for supply ships, and so on. Keeping the agreement secret for as long as possible would be turning to tried and true methods for Braavos and is the simplest answer to why Jon wouldn't mention the loan ,when challenged by Bowen at the meeting on the wall. Aside: FWIW, I think Bowen had every opportunity to know about the agreement, but he couldn't say so, because that would reveal that he was spying on Jon, snooping into his LC's private papers.. actively working against him (as opposed to merely being prejudiced and uncooperative). As far as "humble" is concerned, although there are certainly characters that behave with natural humility, they don't claim to be humble. The word is used in various common ways, too, in the text - someone is said to be of humble birth, or to have a humble occupation.. some are said to have been humbled, if fate has brought them down a peg or two.. or, the poor sections of a city may be called the humbler parts of the city, and so on... As I pointed out, for the Faceless Men (according to Plague Face), it's an ideal, and the maesters also claim it as an ideal ... Wise men may grow arrogant in their wisdom, but a maester must always remain humble  ... (from the prologue to AFfC) But, like Arbor Gold flagging deception, you can be sure that if anyone claims to be humble, or makes a show of it, there's some degree of falsehood or deception involved (just not always the same deception). The greatest number of instances come in ADWD, leading up to the introduction of Tycho : Humble merchants like myself are no more than stones beneath your jeweled sandals.”..(Xaro to Dany in Meereen) When Nurse buys Tyrion and Penny, he tells them ... “I will show you to your new home. In Yunkai you will dwell in the golden pyramid of Qaggaz and dine off silver plates, but here we live simply, in the humble tents of soldiers.” .. but when they reach the camp... The humble tent of Yezzan zo Qaggaz proved to be a palace of lemon-colored silk. Gilded harpies stood atop the center poles of each of its nine peaked roofs, shining in the sun. “His High Holiness awaits,” said Septa Unella. Cersei lowered her head, humble and obedient. “Might I be allowed to bathe first? “I am but a humble slave of R’hllor, the Lord of Light.”... (Moqorro to Victarion) "I obey. I can be humbler than anyone" .. (Arya Stark, godess of humility) And last.. “I have the honor to be Tycho Nestoris, a humble servant of the Iron Bank of Braavos.” Further back, in AFfC, we have instances of both Cersei and Arianne deciding to put on a "humble" appearance for someone's benefit ( Cersei for the High Sparrow/Septon; Arianne for Doran), and Brienne meets the High Sparrow who claims ... “The sparrow is the humblest and most common of birds, as we are the humblest and most common of men.”   And back in ASoS, The Hound and Thoros were the first to give us something to think about... “Thoros of Myr. You used to shave your head.”  “To betoken a humble heart, but in truth my heart was vain.."  ... (there's not much else of note in the first two books). After all these other examples, how can our antennae not vibrate when Tycho introduces himself to Asha?  For me, it's exactly the kind of consistent use of key words that we've see GRRM use repeatedly. We may not all agree on what it means in Tycho's case, but there's definitely something fishy. ETA: Another clue I neglected earlier, comparing Tycho's status to Noho Dimittis :   When the Braavosi paused for breath, she saw her chance. “This is more properly a matter for our lord treasurer.” That answer did not please the noble Noho, it would seem. I'm sure Cersei thinks this sneeringly, but we shouldn't be so dismissive.
  14. Just nipping in quickly guys.. wow, you're working hard, and finding lots of fun stuff. I always thought the crow was following Arya for Bloodraven ( and there may be more than one, but she just doesn't notice them ) The RL are full of corvids (ravens, crows.. do people always bother to notice the difference?) I had forgotten about Arya wondering what the crows were saying to each other..that's a great touch by GRRM. When Jaime goes to settle the stand-off between Bracken and Blackwood.. The chapter opens with mention of Raventree Hall and it's heart tree. Jaime visits Lord Bracken first, and Bracken, speaking of Lord Blackwood, says... “We’ve driven him and his from the field and penned them up inside Raventree." .. and of course, this could be seen as analogous with Bloodraven. He was (apparently) driven from the field of political life and is now penned up more or less inside a weirwood (which, above ground is probably also used for perching by ravens).. Raventree is named for the weirwood at the heart of it's godswood. BR's mother was a Blackwood, so for some time, this was (and to some degree probably still is ) Bloodraven's home turf. Later, Jaime asks Lord Blackwood... “And the ravens?” asked Jaime. “Where are they?” “They come at dusk and roost all night. Hundreds of them. They cover the tree like black leaves, every limb and every branch. They have been coming for thousands of years. How or why, no man can say, yet the tree draws them every night.” .. so where are they out and about to, during the day ? .. And after the Arya clue, should we not imagine that they are saying things to each other (comparing notes on what they might have seen in this or that corner of the RL, or beyond) ? .. I don't think we should disallow it. To Jaime, the tree appears "bare and dead" ... “The Brackens poisoned it,” said his host. “For a thousand years it has not shown a leaf. In another thousand it will have turned to stone, the maesters say. Weirwoods never rot.” ... We can be excused for taking what the maesters say with more than a grain of salt. looking dead (or mostly dead) is not necessarily Dead , as we suspect from Jaime's weirwood stump dream. I do think Cold Hands understands the ravens (part of what makes me think "they" did kill him very long ago, because the ravens were initially taught in the old tongue., and the older he is , the more likely he is to understand it.) ... Here's something interesting to muse on.. if BR or Bran are on the "weirnet" do they understand the old tongue because of sharing the awareness / memories of other greenseers?.. and if so, how might that affect the abilty of more birds having more words in the common tongue , with BR and Bran both on the case ? (I mean, it's easier to teach someone your language, if you understand theirs.. and how much easier, if you had mind to mind communication?) Homer aside.. There are lots of old folk tales from all over that personify winds, etc. - that most probably stretch back to very old nature based spiritual beliefs. This would be compatible with the Fist men "old gods" / original CotF beliefs (the weirwoods are the gods to the CotF... when you die you go down into the earth and become a part of all that is, according to wildlings).. So if, in our world, these are pretty universal ideas, why cleave to Homer ? Forgive me if my focus strays from Evita's original intent, but I think (hope) other perspectives might be informative, too.. Perhaps wind might sometimes, just be wind .. and when it's inhabited, perhaps it's not always by the same persona/power.. But if it is always the same.. then I don't think the North Wind is necessarily our heroes' friend, and is unlikely to be inhabited by BR (or Bran). Looking at the journey of Bran & co....  The elk went where he would, regardless of the wishes of Meera and Jojen on his back. Mostly he stayed beneath the trees, ... OK , right now over on the direwolves re-read they're mentioning how often the trees are likened to soldiers or sentinels.. which accentuates the normal idea of trees offering protection from the elements (or, in this case, perhaps from something more). Then, out on the lake ... a cold north wind that howled across the lake, knifed through their layers of wool and leather, and set them all to shivering. When it blew into their faces, it would drive the snow into their eyes and leave them as good as blind.  .. Very often a POV's adversary or enemy is described as "howling". ... Bowen fears  the prospect of -  Tormund Giantsbane or the Weeping Man come calling with ten thousand howling killers ...when Asha is captured - the trees erupted all around them, and the northmen poured in howling ...  The selaesori Qhoran is destroyed by - a howling gale ... And Jon's nightmare - That night he dreamt of wildlings howling from the woods, advancing to the moan of warhorns and the roll of drums (there are more comparisons I could quote, just from ADWD, but you get the idea. So,back to Bran & co.... a wind that howled shows animosity, knifed shows animosity and so does leaving them as good a s blind. Bran then sends Summer to find the abandoned village that they need to reach before nightfall, but - The wind was gusting, so the smells were hard to follow.  We know CH is trying to help them, the ravens are trying to help them, but this north wind is trying to obstruct and delay them in trying to find needed shelter - in every way possible. So, I can't think that it's inhabited by BR or any of the greenseers at the cave. This also means that I can't see all the winds, from all directions, as having only one source. I tend to think of wind as not being personified, but a natural force that can be manipulated by magic from many sources. Or, to use the example of crows flying before a storm.. the birds give warning, but they don't create the wind. They are able to fly on the wind that brings the storm itself, but they are not the storm's creatures. One more notable example... when Jon takes the recruits to swear their oath at the weirwood grove ... A north wind swirled through the trees below, sending thin white plumes of snow crystals flying from the highest branches, like icy banners.  Elsewise nothing moved. Not a sign of life. That was not entirely reassuring. It was not the living that he feared. Even so … The banners create a military feel ... it's like Jon's facing an army, and because they're icy banners we can guess who the enemy is ... and Jon confirms that he's has fears about an army of the dead. The icy banners are lifted by a north wind. I could go on, but I don't have time, right now.      
  15. Six Pups in the Snow: A Direwolves Reread

    Hi, everyone... I've been  following along intermittently, and enjoying this very much. (kind of feel like I'm auditing a course on direwolves  )  Some thoughts that come to mind : The Crypts and the Stark family are inextricably linked to the history of the continent, specifically the north. Stepping into them is literally like stepping into history. The children playing in the crypts make me think of the state of the Starks in general, who in "recent" generations (since the disappearance of direwolves south of the wall) might be said to only have been playing at being Starks, even though they didn't know it. They've been disconnected from a very important sense of who they are (and why they are). The various memories the Stark children have of playing in the crypts all come from before they had their direwolves. Now, Rickon, the youngest , most wild and willful - and the least educated - appears to be the most comfortable being there, alone in the dark with his wolf. With hindsight, after reading TWoIaF.. "shadow wolves twenty feet tall fought on the wall and roof." .. reminds me of the Stark who vanquished the Wolf King. The crypts are a place of history, and this seems, to me, to be the shadow of their most ancient history looming over them (perhaps overshadowing them, in a sense?) as it stretches up, even onto the ceiling. Just as an aside, and in regard to the questions Julia raises about direwolves and Starks ... I also find this very interesting... "... Dreams are only dreams, child.” He thrust his arm into the blackness inside the tomb, as into the mouth of some great beast. “Do you see? It’s quite empt-” The darkness sprang at him, snarling."  As we know, Osha has the right of it, regarding, dreams are only dreams .. “Some are, some aren’t.”...  And much as we love Luwin and trust he is motivated to do good, this whole exchange may illustrate something of what has been going on with the maesters trying to supress magic, trying to eradicate it with the light of reason (their reason). It implies that their reason (thus far, or in this specific) is totally inadequate. This is a Stark tomb and the Starks are bound in, part of, an ancient magic (one that bonds man with beast).. Magic itself can be seen as some great beast, shrouded in darkness or blackness. It's far from empty , and if you try to wash it away with one feeble torch, it is like to spring back snarling. It's dangerous to ignore it, dangerous to deny it, and doubly dangerous to try to destroy it, when you don't even know how it works or what it's purpose is.  We can see this is true in the case of the Starks, specifically, in the scenario playing out at the wall. ETA: There are so many things in this chapter that resonate with things we learn later, so many little touches I love, I'm grateful you prompted me to look at them... e.g... Rickon, so innocently immersed in his bond with Shaggy, licking the blood from his hand as the direwolves lick their wounds. And Rickon again, wanting not just one obsidian arrowhead but four (a cache, or stockpile?)..but when the raven comes announcing Ned's death he begins crying and his arrowheads slip out of his fingers and fall to the floor...The use of obsidian is another thing the Starks have lost sight of over the years while caught up in their pressing personal lives. And the chaining of the direwolves ... Rickon just naturally sets Shaggy free because Shaggy doesn't like it. Bran has a more mature insight.. “He was not made for chains." This too , is true of the Stark line .. Since kneeling to Aegon the Starks have been prevented from exercising some of the authority they were meant to have , they've been restricted, symbolically chained ..and they were not made for chains.