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  1. Greetings BwB! I will be meeting GRRM at an event soon, and was wondering what a good question might be for him. Please feel free to write in your suggestions in comments below, but I can't promise I will be checking this thread regularly. We are gathering suggestions and will be including them in a poll at The Last Hearth. The winning question will receive a gift. Suggestions and Poll thread Thanks for reading!
  2. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    Exactly. And thanks for the search suggestion. After only a few generations of continual marriage alliances within a closed gene pool, the amount of genetic diversity would diminish greatly. After a few centuries, as we find in the examples you provide, this genetic diversity would shrink to the point that a nobleman marrying a very distant cousin creates the same genetic mating as a common man marrying his sister. In Westeros, this practice has gone on for thousands and thousands of years! That means that noble men and women in Westeros are an EXTREMELY pure breed – like a Maltese. But selectively bred to fellow Maltese cousins for four thousand years longer than the dog breed. I truly didn't even know this sort of thing was a matter of debate. And I certainly didn't mean for this OP to bring it up. I wouldn't hold it against fictional Starks if they had things/flings with their cousins or siblings. What is of far more interest to me, is that Lyanna Stark had the wolf blood – like Arya. Lyanna died in a bed of blood, which thankfully, Arya has not. But, if Arya (hypothetically) did eventually become pregnant in Braavos, and die in a bed of blood... what might we expect if Nymeria, separated by space and time on the other side of the Narrow sea, became pregnant with a litter of wolf pups. Now imagine, if Arya had died in her bed of blood in Braavos, and her child just happened to be wandering around the Riverlands in time to find Nymeria's pups, what sort of bond that might imply. There might be pups for Arya's nephews and nieces as well. That would be a kind gesture of loyalty to her house. But what of the pup intended for Arya's own son? Might it be special? Might that wolf serve to anchor her son to her in a way that the other pups do not? I think so. While Summer and Nymeria and Shaggy Dog are great and all, there was something that intended for Jon to have a puppy. A strong, silent voice. Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly. "What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked. "Can't you hear it?" Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else. A strong, silent voice, coming from the direction of a dead she-wolf in a bed of blood. Regardless of whether it was Ghost's own silent howl, or Lyanna's from beyond the grave, I think the fact that Jon is able to hear the weir-frequency is Lyanna's gift.
  3. Heresy 196 and a look at the Wall

    Agreed. The NK's Wall had to have been far shorter than the current iteration. Jeor himself tells us that the watch used to spend the summers building the Wall higher. Take those summers, which last for years, and multiply them by the amount of summers that have occurred since the Long Night, and we have centuries upon centuries, if not millennia upon millennia, during which Sworn Brothers would have been pouring gravel and raising blocks. Each passing winter would galvanize it in a nice fresh layer of ice so that it should shine, all together, like a sparkly blue crystal. This is of course true, but we are given reason to believe that the Night's King's iteration of the Wall existed prior to the end of the Long Night. As the sun began to set the shadows of the towers lengthened and the wind blew harder, sending gusts of dry dead leaves rattling through the yards. The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan’s stories, the tale of Night’s King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night’s Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. “And that was the fault in him,” she would add, “for all men must know fear.” A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well. He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night’s King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night’s King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden. This passage tells a few very clear details. The Night's King led the Watch The Night's King glimpsed a woman from atop the Wall The Night's King had been sacrificing to the Others I'll spare you the easy correlation that, if the Night's King was the Last Hero, he likely sacrificed his twelve companions, and that this is how he came to be the 13th man to lead the Night's Watch. I won't go into that. I'll stick to canon... #3 is the point of contention, for me. In order for the NK to have made sacrifices to the Others, the Others had to have been around, and the Others were around during the Long Night. #2 tells us that the Wall was around when the Others were around. #1 tells us that the NK led the NW when the Others were around. Certainly makes sense to me. Indeed. And the text makes this point rather clear. The Wall is seen as the largest feat of human engineering. But there is indeed an exception somewhere in canon regarding giant-builders. From Jon V ASOS: In legend, Brandon the Builder had used giants to help raise Winterfell, but Jon did not want to confuse the issue. "Men can build a lot higher than this. In Oldtown there's a tower taller than the Wall." He could tell she did not believe him. If I could show her Winterfell . . . give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall, and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools, and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us. Now, Brandon's giants might have been earth-movers, clearing the land so that the castle could rise, but there is precedent to assume Brandon the Builder employed migrant-giants as contractors. I agree that the First Men shared incentive to join the effort, but we know that the effort itself predates the Wall. Thus, we can deduce that the Night's Watch began during the Long Night, rather than after it. We know the NW predates the Wall, because of their vows: They were white too, and blind. "Who are you?" the door asked, and the well whispered, "Who-who-who-who-who-who-who." "I am the sword in the darkness," Samwell Tarly said. "I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers. I am the shield that guards the realms of men." "Then pass," the door said. Its lips opened, wide and wider and wider still, until nothing at all remained but a great gaping mouth in a ring of wrinkles. Sam stepped aside and waved Jojen through ahead of him. Summer followed, sniffing as he went, and then it was Bran's turn. Hodor ducked, but not low enough. The door's upper lip brushed softly against the top of Bran's head, and a drop of water fell on him and ran slowly down his nose. It was strangely warm, and salty as a tear. The vows of the Black Gate located beneath the Watch's eldest fort (and former seat of power), speak of "walls," not "the Wall." Therefore, we know that the vow predates the Wall, as does the Black Gate. This part of the Night's Watch Vow was composed before there was a single Wall to defend. Like the Fist of the First Men, or Winterfell's godswood, the Nightfort likely had a ringwall surrounding it at one time. Pure speculation of course, but clearly, the Vows of the Night's Watch speak of a duty to man several walls, rather than a single Wall made of Ice. This assertion is simply unsupported by the text. A Storm of Swords - Samwell V: The suggestion outraged some of the others. "Do you want the king to wipe our arses for us too?" said Cotter Pyke angrily. "The choice of a Lord Commander belongs to the Sworn Brothers, and to them alone," insisted Ser Denys Mallister. "If they choose wisely they won't be choosing me," moaned Dolorous Edd. Maester Aemon, calm as always, said, "Your Grace, the Night's Watch has been choosing its own leader since Brandon the Builder raised the Wall. Through Jeor Mormont we have had nine hundred and ninety-seven Lords Commander in unbroken succession, each chosen by the men he would lead, a tradition many thousands of years old." This passage tells us several things. The Night's Watch may or may not have selected Brandon the Builder as their own leader After the tenure of Brandon the Builder, in whatever capacity he ruled (LC or SiW), the Night's Watch was free to choose its own leaders The Night's Watch was unable to choose its own leader prior to and through the tenure of Brandon the Builder Brandon the Builder raised the Wall Jeor Mormont indeed tells us that each Lord Commander left the Wall higher than he found it. And GRRM has JM's back. But neither Jeor, nor George, tell us that the Night's Watch raised the Wall independently, after the tenure of Brandon the Builder. The canon is quite consistent in this regard. Brandon raised the Wall, raised Winterfell, and raised the Night's Watch. Based upon the text, I think these risings make far more sense taken as symbiotic, and contemporary, than they do taken apart or at different times.
  4. Heresy 197 the wit and wisdom of Old Nan

    There are some notable details missing from your Wall construction site reconstruction, but I'll cite them in that thread, as it appears to be unlocked.
  5. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    LOL! yes totally. Completely agree.
  6. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    I completely agree. But it remains true that House Stark arranged marriages with fellow noble houses for the business of producing heirs to Winterfell. They did not seek bastardy for that purpose. Below: Indeed. And here, I agree with you. Again, I didn't even know this was a contentious issue. So I truly have no stake in it. LOL I was just laying out some reasons why it makes sense to see the Starks as inbred. While they are certainly not as linearly propagated as Targaryens, they do seem to be about as self-breeding as other noble houses, such as House Lannister. (With Cersei+Jaime being a unique exception, of course) And, historical evidence demonstrates Cregan Stark had no issue with marrying into a House that practiced sibling sex for generations. Now, you're just preaching to the choir. I couldn't agree more. When it comes right down to it, the world book is as canonical as the cook book, but that is a discussion for another place. I disagree regarding inbreeding. The North is big, but there aren't that many noble families. If you and your family only married into these ten others, for thousands of years, you would all end up with the same cousins. Granted, this is a far cry from what we see in Targaryen bedchambers, thank the gods. But still, it is a very small and closed gene pool. I don't think they did skip. I have yet to see a weirwood with commandments etched upon it. So far as I can tell, people have constructed their own codes and dogma. I don't see why trees (which can inbreed to the point of reproductive masturbation) would care if Stark married Stark, or if Lannister twins would make the two-backed beast with each other. The Princess of Dorne didn't have a problem betrothing her daughter to Rhaegar Targaryen, a man born from sibling incest. Cregan Stark didn't have a problem betrothing a son to one of Rhaenyra's future daughters, even though she would have been born from Uncle+Niece incest that followed generations of sibling incest. If inbreeding truly is/was an abomination to the Old Gods, it seems the above are examples of Northern and Dornish families, the Great Houses of each no less, spitting in the weirwood face of those ethics. Either they knew there was some wiggle room in the Old Gods' ethos, or they became abominations. Jeor certainly rationalized it, begrudgingly. But that doesn't change the fact that the Night's Watch viewed Craster as a friend to the watch. And I didn't hear Craster proclaim any loyalty to "different/darker" gods. He simply considered himself to be "godly." When not starving, and needing his bread, the different/dark criticisms were easy to toss his way, because, well, the dude was a sicko. LOL I think another misstep we readers tend to take is that we idealize followers of the Old Gods. House Bolton keeps the Old Gods. House Karstark serves them. The Lannisters are fellow First Men descended from Lann the Clever – an ancestor akin to Bran the Builder, and fellow hero from the Age of Heroes. And their godswood is said to have a twisted weirwood. Just as not all who follow the Seven are as politically suicidal as Catelyn, not all who keep the Old Gods are as honorable as our dearest Ned. Heck, we are told of one Stark who went so dark that his name was forbidden. I clicked the link and saw a bunch of talk about Cersei and Jaime's children. I saw no mention of Tywin and Joanna's. I think we are debating cross purposes here. I agree that the noble houses reached out to other noble houses. I am just saying that they were reaching out to a very small percentage of the population. Wildlings, for example, do not have a small percentage of their folk earmarked as being "noble." Their gene pool is as large as the population itself. Nobility in the 7K does not enjoy that level of diversity (hence a "Waymar Royce" who looks an awful lot like a "Jon Snow"). I wasn't quoting real life, I was quoting GRRM. I think the "flipping around" angle is rather subjective. You are free to interpret it that way, but to me, Ned seems quite comfortable, calm, and articulate. LOL I agree Ned is kinda dumb sometimes anyway. And sure, Ned protects kids. It's his thing. But I think it is interesting how often we see him actively protecting children born of incest, vs children not born of incest. It seems that like Tyrion, Ned had a tender spot in his heart for cripples and bastards and broken things. Sure. But I mean, those kids were truly a threat to the reign of Robert. One does not simply usurp the throne and leave the heirs in the castle. It was horrific and horrible, but necessary. At least we agree as to the differing motives between these two men regarding the nature of their foster father's rebellion. I think you are missing my point. Sure, the Targs got to do whatever they wanted because dragons. But House Stark had no dragons, yet married Stark to Stark anyway. Again, I agree that Targs were practicing a far closer form of inbreeding. That is obviously true. But we have repeated examples of Starks condoning inbreeding, practicing inbreeding, and protecting those who inbreed (Cersei) as well as the resulting offspring. It seems silly to me to argue that House Stark was against the practice and that their gods forbade it. That came from Ned's own mouth. "Robert, I ask you, what did we rise against Aerys Targaryen for, if not to put an end to the murder of children?" That doesn't change the fact that Cregan wanted it to happen. No telling. But this doesn't change the fact that GRRM had been intertwining the protagonists of House Stark with a very passionate incest dynamic at the time he was writing them. While it comes up more than once, I wouldn't go so far as to say that incest is a theme in most of his books. And it certainly doesn't always fail when it is a theme in one... and I can only remember it being "rejected" in one (Dark Dark). Incest was completely accepted in Bitterblooms. In any case, I'm not seeing how this disputes my point. I think we might actually be arguing the exact same thing, here. LOL I was quoting GRRM's 1993 letter, and I think you know that. As GRRM was writing AGOT, he had Stark-cest on the brain. I think Bloodraven is a good guy. People look at him funny just because he's turning into a tree. It's rude. lol A quick google seems to suggest otherwise... https://www.facebook.com/113171248737451/posts/784880841566485 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.13797/pdf http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2014/april/inbred-wolves-struggle-moose-proliferate-isle-royale-national-park.html Considering the Starks had a Wall to the North, and the Neck to the South, I think that once again it should not surprise us that inbreeding was acceptable in their House. Again, I'm not saying it was their mission. I am only stating (and restating LOL) that the practice and idea was not at all out of bounds.
  7. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    I couldn't agree more that humans are built to avoid incest, but "Nobility" is, at its core, a exercise in inbreeding. Sure, the Targaryen version in Westeros was far more proximal, and one that is accurately labeled as "incest," but that does not mean other houses had a strict aversion to it. As I will discuss below, House Stark has been a notable advocate of the practice. So while I take your point, and agree that House Stark has not been practicing a Targaryen-level of incest generation after generation, I can appreciate the other side of that debate too. Honestly, I didn't realize it was even a matter of contention. Nobility itself if predicated on selective breeding within an exclusive and closed gene pool. One only need look at the demonization of bastards in 7K culture, and the sanctity of marriage pacts, to see this is remains true in asoiaf. Sure. But were you see genetic diversity, I see First Men and Stark blood by other names. The gene pool is closed. At a certain point, everyone is a cousin. Compounding that, Rodrik and Edwyle, uncle and nephew, decided that their children ought to marry. And yes, it was I who mentioned Dark Dark. Great story. And again, I agree with your point. I am only pointing out that the family tree gives us very direct evidence that, unlike the race of people living on the moon in DDWtT, House Stark was not against the idea of marriages between fellow Starks. And, in my opinion, this evidence shouldn't surprise us. I think it is surely seen as an abomination to gods, old and new, when Westerosi nobles have a political reason for viewing it as an abomination. But the reverse is also true. When people have a political reason to see it as fine, they see it as fine. Craster keeps the old gods, and isn't against the idea. Sure, he is an abomination, but Jeor Mormont didn't mind breaking bread with him. Tywin and Joanna are a great example. People do not call their children bastards born of incest, because it isn't at all uncommon for nobles to marry within their own house. As GRRM stated, it serve the purpose of "reinforcing" the family's bloodline. Genetic diversity is not a priority in the Seven Kingdoms, the way it is north of the Wall (i.e., theft a girl from a distant village) or in most real-world societies. More than shades, imo, but I agree. My point is that they do not see it as a matter of cleanliness or uncleanliness at all. Nobility prizes such unions as a "reinforcement" of the bloodline. Ned's silence on the matter doesn't strike you as odd by comparison? Ned put himself at a great disadvantage for the sole purpose of protecting Cersei's twincest children. If Ned believed the children were abominations to the Old Gods, would he have done that? Ned quit the Handship when Robert planned to kill Dany, another child born of sibling-sex, and her unborn child. And again, this shouldn't surprise us. What one man deems the eradication of dragonspawn, another names murder. Indeed. But Ned never seems at all emotional or turned around, at least, not to me. To me, he seems as calm as still water. He is speaking with the calm authority of the Hand of the King, and with the calm authority of a Stark in the godswood. He believes he has finally won the tilt against the Lions of Casterly Rock. Most interesting, to me, is that Ned is taking this time to protect a woman who had been f*cking her brother, and their offspring. And, he has chosen to protect these children in a godswood: She came to him at sunset, as the clouds reddened above the walls and towers. She came alone, as he had bid her. For once she was dressed simply, in leather boots and hunting greens. When she drew back the hood of her brown cloak, he saw the bruise where the king had struck her. The angry plum color had faded to yellow, and the swelling was down, but there was no mistaking it for anything but what it was. “Why here?” Cersei Lannister asked as she stood over him. “So the gods can see.” These do not seem like the actions of a man who believes children born of incest are abominations to the gods. I quite agree with Ygritte's advice, in both life and fiction. And this brings me to a point I said I would get to, above. House Stark disagrees with Ygritte. The family tree makes this point plain to see. Beyond that, Ned's own actions reveal he was not at all against the act nor offspring of incest. The family tree tells us the apple didn't fall far from the tree on that front, as Ned's father married a woman from House Stark. And, beyond that, we know that House Stark had no issue with Targaryen incest. In Ned's own mind, the rebellion was waged to put an end to the murder of children. In Robert's, it was to end dragonspawn. And, again, it should not surprise us that Ned is cool with Targaryen and Lannister incest. Not only was his family cool with inbreeding, they were cool with marrying people born of sibling-incest... The Pact of Ice and Fire was a political alliance between Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen and Lord Cregan Stark. Part of the alliance called for a royal princess to marry into the family of Lord Cregan Stark. (link) Unfortunately, Cregan was never able to marry one of his sons to an inbred dragonprincess, as she died shortly after Rhaenyra gave birth to her. From the wiki: "According to Mushroom, Princess Rhaenyra had cursed Visenya while giving birth, calling her a monster. Mushroom also claims that Visenya had dragon-like birth defects. He described her as having been twisted and malformed, with a hole in her chest where her heart should have been and a stubby, scaled tail." Rhaenyra was married to her own uncle, so I suppose birth defects might indeed have been an issue. Still, it is notable that this was a risk Cregan Stark was willing to take. Cregan Stark proposed a marriage with a child that was, quite literally, an abomination born of incest. Last, and certainly not least, I must point out an additional quote from GRRM: Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night's Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Hounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night's Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon's anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving... until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night's Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book. Read more: http://thelasthearth.com/thread/77/spoilerish-grrms-letter-agent-vicinanza#ixzz4dsn0EXXf Now, I am sure I am not alone in hoping the outline above does not come to pass. I am glad the story has grown and evolved from what GRRM originally proposed. BUT... the idea of incest within House Stark has been a part of our author's thinking for a very long time. Not only was Ned not against the idea of inbreeding, his grandparents and ancestors arranged marriages incorporating it. And, as GRRM was writing these characters, the man who sat in the godswood with Cersei at sunset that day had children who were tormented with passion for each other. We tend to idealize and identify with House Stark. We defend them even while they commit treason, behead their relatives, and eat lunch with zombies. But that kinship and admiration we feel for them tends to obscure our ability to see them for what they truly are. Wolves tend to mate rather indiscriminately.
  8. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    Here's one here: And one at the Hearth: http://thelasthearth.com/thread/745/son-fire
  9. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    Damn man. I'm sorry. It is a cool thread, because as you say, yes.... they always are. (That too is a joke. I can link to some very bad threads I've written as proof!)
  10. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    I've been quite direct on this topic before. You've given me credit, and thank you for that. But I do think you borrowed heavily from some other folks who were not included in your acknowledgements (one that stands out to me is @wolfmaid7). But perhaps that has been remedied already. I couldn't say. The above was indeed an attempt at humor. If you read through, I think you will see that. People kept mentioning you without tagging you, and I thought that was funny.
  11. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    I'm not sure what you mean by the bold, though. Very cool. A dragon-itself might be seen as such an "eagle," no? It is not produced naturally, and is born from a sacrifice of fire and blood. I'm also reminded of the phrase "words are wind." Wings drink the wind, in asoiaf, and they also drink words. The blood eagle is the sort of twisted motif that I could see GRRM liking. LOL It flies upon wind with bloody wings that carry wind/words/life. I was going to crack a joke here, but I'll wait and make sure he isn't too upset first. For now, let me point out that Ilyn Payne is another interesting version of a man whose means of manufacturing speech have been removed by fire and blood (hot pincers). So rather than the lungs being pulled out, Ilyn had his tongue pulled out. Words are wind, but Ilyn can only speak wind. Words are wind, but the eagle's wings are blood.
  12. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    I think inbreeding is pretty much what "nobility" is. I mean, if a lord from Winterfell can only marry a lady from a noble house, preferable one of the seven great houses... and this practice is carried on in perpetuity, then that makes for a whole lot of marrying back into your family (even if it a partner a different surname). GRRM is on the record on these matters. I'll dig up some SSM on the topic. I think the marriage of Rickard and Lyarra informs us that the Starks were not less a part of that system. I didn't mean to imply that they were first cousins. I would only remind folks here that Ned's mother came from House Stark, and Ned's father did as well. Rickard Stark married Lyarra Stark. That is inbreeding. It may not be considered incest, to most people here, but that begs the question as to when inbreeding ceases to be deemed "incest." Is an uncle+niece or aunt+nephew relationship incestuous? I would think so. But to each his own. I'm not here to judge people's sexual preferences. Notably, Ned was not offended in the least by Cersei's relationship with Jaime. Ned's only issue with their children was that they should not be considered legitimate heirs to the throne. If Robert's wife had been Robert's own cousin, or Robert's own sister, and they had children, then I think Ned would have been fine with that and considered them legitimate heirs. Ned saw nothing wrong with twincest, because incest and inbreeding is extremely common in nobility (if not the origin and bedrock of it). And here I thought you were one of the thick-skinned ones, and could appreciate that sort of humor. I'm sorry. I was only make an (apparently bad) attempt at a joke. People were tiptoeing around your name like you were some verboten relic. I know you give folks credit, myself included. But, yes, I have also seen you borrow ideas from time to time without credit. Another time, ole chap. Enjoy your worthier threads.
  13. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    *An "An uncomfortable but extremely likely outcome, if I am right about the miasma." lol
  14. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    Sure, I can see it from a King Robert or Manderly point of view, if I squint. But what of House Dayne's point of view? We've seen no laws of the Old Gods that forbid lies. And we have from Ned's own mouth that the type of lie you are proposing would in fact be honorable. While one can certainly argue that lies are bad, morally speaking, the text directly contradicts your argument that Ned-himself would feel that way about this type of lie.