falcotron

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  1. It's a miracle. Miracles don't really have explanations unless you have an anthropomorphic god who either thinks like humans (a la Zeus) or tells humans what he's up to (like Yahweh). But in a vague sense, it makes sense that whatever force wanted the dragon to reawaken would pick someone who had dragon eggs and who could plausibly build up a big army to bring to Westeros, and that's a lot more likely to be true of an exiled queen than a swineherd, so it's not that unlikely that the person it was true of was the exiled queen. Of course you could write a fantasy that reinforces the idea of divine right of kings, as Tolkien famously did. But that doesn't mean you're required to do so, and all evidence points to the fact that GRRM was more interested in challenging that idea than reinforcing it or ripping it off uncritically from Tolkien.
  2. Having positive evidence—whether hints or foreshadowing, or story-external evidence of how it fits the themes, or something—isn't just "preferable", it's essential. And, on top of that, you need to either show that it's something GRRM would want us to figure out, or something that would have helped him write the particular story he wrote even if we don't ever see it. There are a million ways to explain the thousands of tiny gaps left unexplained in the story that aren't impossible; you need more than that to have an actual theory worth actually discussing. Some of Preston Jacobs' ideas do fit these criteria, even if they seem to be wild tinfoil at first glance. But the X-linked dragonrider-gene really doesn't. I could offer the idea that some nobles in Westeros have middle names given to them at their naming ceremony but never used again until their funerals, and Sansa's is Sally. Since we don't see any naming ceremonies, and we don't see Sansa's funeral, and of course we never see anyone speaking or thinking Sansa's secret middle name where they shouldn't be even though people speaking Sansa's public first name, there's abundant proof that it's not actually impossible. And I could even point out that names usually mean something in ASoIaF, and "Sally" means to go forth to later return, and going forth to King's Landing and then trying to return to Winterfell is obviously meaningful to Sansa's story. But a secret name that doesn't appear in the story is clearly not something anyone could figure out from the story—sure, someone could invent it, as I just did, but you could invent a thousand other secret names that are meaningful to Sansa's story, or, more simply, just not have secret names for the characters, and none of those are any more impossible. But I can't explain why giving Sansa a secret name would help GRRM in writing Sansa's story. So it's not a theory, it's just pointless fan fiction. And the same is true for the X-linked dragonrider gene. It's not going to come out in the story, and it's not very plausible that GRRM would have found it easier to design his genealogy by coming up with a set of scientific rules he wanted to apply than that he'd come up with the same genealogy by handling the Targaryens the same way he handled the other families. Even if there were good in-story evidence for it, or the idea that female inheritance is a much bigger deal than it appears on the surface had any thematic impact that fit with the other themes of the series… but there isn't. The Targaryens certainly trace things patrilineally, and have since before the Conquest. Their sons are Targaryens no matter who they marry, and their daughters are not if they marry outside the family, and the leadership of the house has gone from father to son (or occasionally brother to brother or nephew to uncle) following the rules of either male-preference or strict salic primogeniture (the Dance was, of course, fought over which one of those rules, which implies that the difference hadn't come up in recent times—but it doesn't matter anyway for our purposes). That's pretty much the definition of tracing things patrilineally. Is it possible that the Targaryens were somehow unique, and the other Valyrian dragonlord families did everything differently? I suppose it's not impossible, but it's certainly not likely, and there's no reason to believe it. No, those points are only explained if they remain perfectly incestuous for 5000 years. Even a single outbreeding can ruin it. And as we can see, they couldn't even go 300 years without 5 outbreedings. You do have to get the science right here. Otherwise, you're not just starting from the somewhat implausible assumption that GRRM decided to use a scientific principle to work out his genealogy even though it's obviously never going to be explained in-story by a people who've never heard of Mendel much less Troy, you're starting from the assumption that GRRM decided to use a scientific principle that he didn't understand properly and happened to get wrong in the same unlikely way as you. "Mostly" doesn't cut it. Do a simulation, and it's pretty clear that the odds against the last generation of Targaryens having the same X allele as Aegon I are worse than 1000:1. Just a handful more outbreedings over the preceding 4700 years, and the odds against Aegon having the same allele as his original dragonlord ancestor are astronomical. The only way to counter this is to have an outside pool to get the gene from. For example, the children of kohanim marry the children of Jews in general, not of other kohanim. And, while being a Kohen is traced patrilineally, being a Jew is traced matrilineally. So, there's a population of millions of Jews who have the X-linked traits of Aaron, and therefore some of Aaron's patrilineal descendants are also his matrilineal descendants, so some of them have both X- and Y-linked traits going back 3000 years at the same time. So, could there be a similar such population that most of Betha, Lyarra, Mariah, Larra, and their likely predecessors come from? Well, it's not impossible, but you're explicitly arguing that they haven't been spreading the gene around, so that means no. And so, the only conclusion is that if your theory were true, the odds of the line of Aerys and Rhaella having the dragonrider gene are astronomically low. Which makes it a pretty bad theory. While we're at it, we've also seen multiple Targaryen daughters marrying non-Targaryen sons, not to mention the Targaryen bastards, and the bastards of Velaryons who'd married Targaryen daughters, and so on. So what makes you think they haven't spread the gene around in the first place? We don't have too much evidence of the matrilineal descent beyond the first generation for any house, except when they happen to marry the patriarch of another house, but the little evidence we do have shows the opposite. And it would actually make your theory more workable—although, admittedly, it would also make it more pointless.
  3. I don't think he "skipped" any levels. Things really are different than in Spain or France or HRE. All of the lords having the same rank has real consequences for their society. The more important lord isn't the one who's three levels down from the king instead of four (with a rank to prove it), it's the one who can raise more men, or who knows the king better, or who can throw the best parties, or who's married into the best other houses, etc. And that's why I think this whole thread is so misguided. The levels don't really exist in Westeros, so trying to name them can't do anything but misguide us.
  4. I'm going to reread the prologue and do a couple searches before responding to the rest, but on this one bit: This feels too "pseudosciencey" for GRRM's wights, but it reminds me of something else: Are there any mentions of magnets, directly or indirectly? A lot of medieval fantasy series have wizards using lodestones as mystical artifacts,* and meanwhile, there's some fun stuff from Chinese mythology** that seems ripe for someone to borrow to make their world not quite bog standard pseudo-medieval-Europe-fantasy. But I don't remember them coming up anywhere in ASoIaF. --- * Why that is looks like an interesting story in itself. My guess is that it started because historians used to think Europeans got compasses from the Chinese and probably believed they were magic until the Renaissance. Of course we now know that navigators were using water compasses routinely in the early 13th century, and understood them well enough that they could have explained why Insane Clown Posse are idiots, and Thales of Miletus was writing about them almost 2000 years before that. But most fantasy writers are just ripping off earlier fantasy writers rather than doing their own research, so they still have their magic lodestones that do the exact same thing as non-magic lodestones in the real world but are magic. ** The luopan disc used is the familiar descendant, but Han geomancy is to Ming feng shui as Greek/Egyptian elementalism is to medieval alchemy.
  5. Now I understand everything. You're one of those viewers who thinks Tara King only got the job because she was Martin King's daughter. That's why you think Mace is being the whole Margy thing. But Martin was useless. Cathy did the David Keel lines, and fight scenes, better than him, and by the time Lady Olenna took over, everyone already knew they didn't have any use for a Keel/King/Mace character, which is probably why she's always calling Mace an oaf. Plus, there's nothing in the canon, even including the iOS app that GRRM didn't write, that says Tara King is Martin King's daughter in the first place. And this isn't like the Strongs in the Golden Company, because what would a Martin King relationship bring to the story of fAegon's administration in Westeros? Also, Emma's Elan >> Tara's Europa, but I don't want to continue to objectify Lotuses like that. So, since since you brought up The New Avengers, Joanna Lumley's Midget, MGB, TR7, and whatever that bike was that looked like a Honda CR250 but wasn't were all pretty nice too. Really, anything is better than Uma Thurman's extended K Jag. Also also, I think Emma Peel in her goth dominatrix outfit from A Touch of Brimstone could argue with Emma Peel in her catsuit, especially with that "I know this is ridiculous, but I'm pulling it off anyway" smirk when Steed sees her.
  6. In the future, it should be. But in the short run, they can't compete with Braavos, and they run the risk of starting a trade war that could be very damaging (and more damaging to them than to Braavos) if they try. Yes, agreed. And there's also the self-reinforcing nature of the political structure. Almost any change you make means at least a short-term drop in military power, and few lords anywhere along the chain can afford that within a feudal system. Anyway, the series of massive crises bearing down on them could be enough to shake them out of the status quo into something different, but it probably won't be a pleasant transition, or well-planned one.
  7. And? Sure, Zeros would impress the hell out of anyone in Westeros, or medieval Europe or Asia for that matter, but they weren't particularly special in the 1940s. Also, the only reason only the Japanese flew them is that only the Japanese had them (much like the dragons). And I can't imagine that you're arguing that the Japanese imperial family actually were special people because hundreds of years in the future some people not even related to them except for being the same ethnicity would be pilots. So honestly, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.
  8. If you're talking about the near term, then no, they definitely should not be independent. Being part of the Seven Kingdoms is why they've got Stannis, and the southern men on the Wall, and it could bring them Dany and her dragons, Harry the Heir with the Vale armies, or just generally people wanting to fight the Others at the Wall or Winterfell instead of the Neck. Changing that right now would be stupid. In the long term, once the Others and the Boltons are gone and they've gotten through the winter and everyone who's going to starve has already starved, I don't think it makes much difference either way. The North's biggest problem is that feudalism sucks, and Westerosi-style feudalism especially sucks. Since they had the same feudal structure when they were independent before Aegon, and it's the same old lords that proclaimed Robb their King, and they all seemed big into their oaths and duties and privileges, I don't see that changing because of independence. Maybe if the Manderlys gets King Rickon on the throne as their puppet, they'd push for some progress toward proto-mercantilism, closer ties with Braavos, urbanization, etc. But really, I think it's more likely for political or economic change to come to the Seven Kingdoms as a whole from the current crises than to the North separately.
  9. There's a very big difference between "it's not necessary at all" and "it's usually necessary, but there's one boring exception". This is what's wrong with people. Anyone can spend an hour talking about anything, and that doesn't make it more true, but it does make many people find it more impressive. He really doesn't present evidence for the X-linked chromosome theory. He does show that it doesn't contradict any fact that he was able to think of from the book, and he goes into great detail listing all the facts it doesn't contradict. But there are many explanations that don't contradict any facts from the book, and some of them are thematically more interesting, or actually explain why Nettles is in the story instead of needing to separately explain her away, etc. A theory needs positive evidence, not just showing that it's not impossible. Jacobs does this for some of his theories, but not for others, and his biggest fans don't seem to be able to see the difference, because either way there's just as many quotes from the book. No, I didn't answer my own question. You were asserting that people being burned up trying to ride dragons was evidence that you need dragon-rider blood. But the people who were burned up had dragon-rider blood. So it's not evidence that you need dragon-rider blood. Look at an analogy: If you assume geocentrism must be true, then Mercury's weird orbit is evidence for the particular geocentric theory that epicycles aren't limited to three, but it's not evidence for geocentricism in the first place, it's in fact evidence against geocentrism. In the same way, if you assume that Targ blood must be the key to dragonriding, then the Hull brothers are evidence that Targ blood must be complicated in some way, and X-linked chromosomes do work for that—but without that assumption, the Hull brothers aren't evidence that Targ blood matters, they're evidence that it doesn't. And PJ's theory really doesn't address the question of why some people can ride dragons and others can't. It doesn't address Nettles, the most interesting case, which he has to pawn off another explanation for. It doesn't address any of the other cases. It doesn't explain why a group of families who trace everything patrilineally would still be dragonriders after a couple hundred generations—or, more to the point, while millions of other people wouldn't be. It doesn't even explain most of the dragonseeds. It really just explains the Hull brothers. And, as I said, there are many explanations for the Hull brothers that don't contradict any of the facts, some of which are simpler or more thematically interesting, none of which have any positive evidence. The fact that his explanation also doesn't contradict any of the facts, but also doesn't have any positive evidence, is not a reason to believe in it.
  10. First, any medieval Japanese court historian will tell you that the emperor is only emperor because he descends in an unbroken line from the Goddess of the Sun and has magic powers as a result. Do you think that's actually true? Second, how does any of that make them exceptional people? The leaders of a powerful empire are powerful by definition, but it doesn't mean they're necessarily exceptional in any other way. Is there something magical about the leaders of the Persian Empire because they controlled the known world? Is there something exceptional about the Roosevelts because it was under FDR alone that men learned to create the A-bomb?
  11. First, while characters like Ned and Robb make plenty of mistakes, they never do anything evil; they're flawed heroes in that they're failures, not that in they're bad guys. And then there's characters like Septon Meribald, whose own past misdeeds have driven him to be a saint—but he isn't fighting glorious battles, so he's not portrayed as a hero. And I think that's the point. "Heroes" aren't necessarily good people, they're glorious people. There's no good reason the two have to overlap, so most of the most glorious people are not the most good, and vice-versa. GRRM has talked about the Iliad multiple times, about how the story treats people as heroic characters whether they're on the Greek side or the Trojan side, and whether they're doing good things or bad. That's what he's trying to do here, because he thinks modern fantasy has forgotten that idea. And it's not just the Iliad—look at King David in the Bible, or Lancelot in the original Arthur myths. Not every story has to be about Luke Skywalker—and if you disagree, there are hundreds of fantasy novel series that are, so you can read one of them instead of ASoIaF.
  12. To quote William S. Burroughs, "The worst thing about chronic pain isn't that it hurts, it's that you can't get off on heroin anymore."
  13. Are they? We really don't know much about Valyrian dragonlords in general. Is there anything true about the 40 families that isn't true for other Valyrian families like the Velaryons, except for owning dragons? And, other than superficial things like purple eyes being more common, what's true about Valyrians that isn't true about everyone else?
  14. Ha, I hadn't thought of that. "Well, Robert, the evidence is undeniable, and the only penalty for this kind of treason is death. But here in the North we have this tradition that he who passes the sentence should swing—and I see that you've already disemboweled both of them before I could even finish suggesting that you kill them yourself, so… never mind."
  15. There are two much simpler things Nettles could mean: Dragon-rider blood isn't necessary. Dragon-rider blood is just as ridiculous common as you'd expect after 5000 years. Besides being simpler, they both make more sense thematically, because they can be connected to all kinds of other things in the story. Your version would just be a bare fact that's there for no reason. Also, how is "some people trying to ride dragons and getting burned alive" evidence that dragon-rider blood is normally necessary to ride dragons? Most of the people who got burned alive had dragon-rider blood. One of the people set on fire (although he escaped with his life) even had a brother who'd successfully bonded with a dragon. This all seems like evidence against dragon-rider blood, not for it.* --- * Or it could be taken as evidence that if dragon-rider blood is important, it can't be as simple as it sounds, which is basically where Preston Jacobs gets onto his X-linked theory, and also where I get my pheromones theory—although I hesitate to call either one a theory, because neither one really has evidence for it, just evidence that there's a gap in our knowledge and out of the many ways of filling that gap, this is one of the many that doesn't contradict anything.