Matthew.

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  1. Three thoughts here: 1.) I'm personally of the point of view that Mance's wide-scale excavation in the Frostfangs is not necessarily the first time Mance searched for the Horn--I think it's possible that it is, instead, his final and most desperate search, and that he had an initial interest in seeking the Horn for selfish reasons, before the return of the Others forced him to seek the Horn as leverage to negotiate with the Watch. 2.) It isn't a given that he had no intention of bringing down the Wall. If the Watch calls his bluff, and refuses to let the Free Folk through, what then? Will he make the altruistic choice, and let the Wall stand so that the "kneelers" might be saved, or will he sound it and flee as far to the south as he can? 3.) It's also possible that there is additional lore surrounding the Horn that the Free Folk know, but that has been hidden from the reader; can the Horn do other things besides "wake sleeping giants beneath the earth?" And, even if it can't, is it specifically an anti-Wall tool, or does it cause localized earthquakes? Or, alternately, devastation on the (theoretical) scale of the Hammer of the Waters?
  2. Yep, that's my big issue here as well; as of ADWD, some of the Free Folk are accepting Jon Snow as a leader, which isn't necessarily a contradiction, but I would think we would see some stronger reactions here, especially with Jon Snow becoming Lord Commander of the Watch. This is why I'm inclined toward something of a "middle solution;" perhaps the Night's King was named Brandon Snow, or Edrick Snow, or something along those lines, and the "Snow" connection would still be enough for Ygritte to find the name evil.
  3. Neither of these things are really contradictory to the premise that JNR was raising; the former, specifically, actually goes toward the argument he is making. Because the Wildlings do not appear to have any particular taboo around bastardy, this isn't what prompts Ygritte's strong reaction, so there must be some other reason that she finds Jon Snow to be an "evil name." The Wildlings don't need to attach any cultural significance to surnames, because in the scenario JNR suggests, Jon introducing himself as "Jon Snow" would be as strange as running across someone named "Garth Greenhand," or what have you. It's a name out of antiquity. In this case, the specific context is that she suddenly finds herself the hostage of a Crow who (theoretically) bears the name of a legendarily evil crow--thus, the flinch. I still think it's more straightforward that, as you said, "Snow" is an unfortunate name north of the Wall in the same way that you wouldn't want to be named Jon Winter or Jon Blight, but I do think there's a case to be made that Ygritte characterizing the name as evil, rather than merely unlucky, might be rooted in something deeper.
  4. This was always the way I'd interpreted Ygritte's reaction as well--winter is (presumably) harsh for the Free Folk, so I'd imagine that any name that evokes it might be viewed in a negative light. There's also the specific context of Ygritte's personal experiences; it's not clear how long the Free Folk have been under attack by the WWs and the wight horde, but Ygritte is young enough that she may have spent a significant chunk of her life with the doom of Long Night 2.0 looming over her. That said, JNR raises two points that I find convincing: the Free Folk may very well remember the true name of the Night's King - given that they have no in-built reason to have scrubbed his identity, nor to variously attribute his identity to rival Houses in their retellings - and the Night's King may have been a bastard, giving "Snow" as a surname an added layer of 'evil' for the Free Folk. What I question is the idea that the NK was not just a Snow, but specifically named Jon Snow--primarily because, by this point in the story, I would like to see more reactions from the Free Folk that would reinforce or foreshadow this idea. The return of the Others coinciding with a new Lord Commander that has the same name as the legendary Night's King would seem such an uncanny repetition of history that I would think that some of the Free Folk that Jon interacts with over the span of ADWD would have reacted to him with a greater degree of superstitious terror and suspicion. Granted, it's been a while since I read ADWD, so maybe the subtle hints are there, and will stand out on a re-read.
  5. Happy new year, and that's a great observation about Rhaego--while it seems obvious enough that his life was traded to quicken the eggs, I'd never made the additional connection that he had, in a sense, traded 'states' with the dragons (long dead). That's the sort of weirdness that I can see Martin applying to his magic. The flip side of this is that, the more people that know the secret, the greater the risk of the secret being spread. There's an SSM where Martin confirms that the Targaryens were the only dragonlords to survive the Doom (presumably, the other survivors of the Doom are just 'mundane' Valyrians), so I'd imagine that the Targaryen regime wouldn't want anyone to disrupt their monopoly on the dragons. And, to reiterate, a large amount of the Targs died during the Dance of the Dragons, including many of the ones that would have been most likely to have been entrusted with whatever knowledge Viserys I had to pass on. So, even if many of them had the knowledge, the Dance was catastrophic enough that the Targaryens may have lost a lot of their lore at that point in time. Edit: In addition, the premise that the Targs would appreciate the risk of only a small number (say, their immediate heir) having such important knowledge, and thus would ensure it is trusted to more than just 1 or 2 people, is predicated on people behaving logically. We can, at the least, look at Aerys II as an example of a monarch whose paranoia extended to his own son, so all it takes is one crazy head of the House to destroy or distort generations worth of oral traditions; as a different example, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there's a lot of revisionist history in the lore of House Stark.
  6. Agreed on all points--as to the specific instance of the Targaryens losing significant family lore, it seems highly likely that the Dance of the Dragons (perhaps with some active 'assistance' from the Citadel) is at the root. The two claimants (and her immediate heirs, in the case of Rhaenyra) died during the conflict, and it is Aegon III the Dragonbane who ruled in the aftermath; I would guess that, as the perceived heir, Rhaenyra was the recipient of whatever dragonlore her father had to pass on, and that knowledge was lost with her death. Though, that said, I'm not entirely convinced that souls transferring into dragons was standard operating procedure for either the Targaryens or Valyria--the significance of Dany's pyre (at least as I always interpreted it as a reader) isn't just that she hatched the eggs, but that she gave life to cold, dead stone--that she performed a resurrection.
  7. Given a total absence of motive and nuance (at present) to GRRM's Others as written, it is difficult to say what has been influenced by things GRRM has told them, and what is totally invented...there is little text from which to draw inspiration. As cited above, I think a case can be made that their depiction of the WWs was an attempt to be consistent with the "hard, gaunt" look described in the prologue--and perhaps to subtly parallel the weirwood faces. As to the visual depiction of the Others, I'm not happy with what they've settled on, but I'm given the impression that a defining feature of the Others - the ice equipment - has been an issue; up until Season 6, the material they were using for ice weapons was prone to breaking apart, and it (IMO) looks pretty bad in any case, something I'm sure would only be exacerbated if they'd attempted to craft full suits of armor out of the stuff. In particular, I doubt they could have captured this quality: without relying heavily on CGI, which introduces its own problems in both look and budget.
  8. If you're talking in terms of aesthetics and visual design, I think the show's design is their interpretation of the prologue walkers: With all due respect to GRRM, "gaunt and hard as old bones" does not exactly evoke the image of something that is beautiful--the latter being the description GRRM uses in interviews. That said, I do think it's fair to say that Thor might have influenced the designs, as the show is full of visual homage and imitation (eg, the Harryhausen-esque skeletons in Season 4). They've discussed certain other aspects of their depiction of the walkers over the years. For example, the language guy who developed Dothraki for the show also developed a Walker language before Season 1, that was mostly abandoned in the final product; D&D are of the opinion that the Walkers are more unsettling if they operate in silence. Edit: Related to this topic, I'd personally thought they were copying the look of the Morlock leader that Jeremy Irons plays in the 2002 version of the Time Machine for the look of some of the Walkers, but the NK definitely looks like a ripoff of the Frost Giants from Thor.
  9. I think it's pretty fair to say M,S,T has had some impact on ASOIAF; Williams and GRRM co-hosted a Q&A at some point and GRRM spoke about M,S,T, if I'm not mistaken. Some similarities can be chalked up to parallel thinking - eg, the Sithi/Gardenborn and CotF's place in the lore, and their relationship with humanity, is inspired in both series by the Irish Invasion Myths - but other stuff, like Elias' decline under the influence of the Red Priest is so close to the relationship between Stannis and Melisandre that I think the most generous thing that can be said is that it is an homage on GRRM's part--if not outright borrowing. In any case, I see what you mean in comparing Patchface and Camaris, though my gut feeling is that Patchface isn't going to turn out to have such an important identity. I'd always taken it that the significance of Patchface is that he is not entirely natural after the shipwreck; at the least, he seems to have prophetic visions, and I'd go so far as to speculate that he might have died and been reborn beneath the waves, given that death isn't always so permanent on Planetos.
  10. Forgive me for citing a dubious source, but according to the show's History and Lore segment on Volantis, the so-called "Old Blood" are not actually descended from the noble families of Valyria, they're just 'mundane' Valyrians. I'm not so sure about that particular premise, but GRRM asserts that the Targaryens are the only dragonlords to survive the Doom: http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Category/C90
  11. I think such notions should always come with an asterisk--we're talking about a setting where prophecy, farsight, and visions exist. Using Dany as an example, many of her visions in the HoTU were of events happening (or that would happen) half a world away, including the Red Wedding: If Dany, or some industrious scribe, had chosen the write all of these visions down, would the Qartheen warlocks and scholars spend the next several centuries impotently attempting to interpret "The Prophecy of the Wolf King," an event for which they have no accurate context, an event that doesn't actually relate to Qarth or its people--or even Dany, directly? The point being that the "Legend" or prophecy of Azor Ahai may not be a historical recording of a true Eastern figure, or even someone who has ever lived at all--it may just be some vision someone had, which a bunch of cultures have retroactively contextualized, and appropriated for themselves.
  12. I do not begrudge GRRM his leisure activities, nor his non-ASOIAF projects; indeed, I think the fandom citing such things as a cause of GRRM's pace is a vast overstatement. Reasonably, GRRM could maintain all his present hobbies, interests, and convention appearances and be a productive writer--in fact, he is doing exactly that, as he appears to be maintaining all his usual hobbies, while also working on several TV projects and writing hundreds of thousands of words of fake history. This isn't, strictly speaking, a matter of available time, or that these things are done at the expense of ASOIAF. As JNR said above, it's about discipline. It's easy for GRRM to be prolific when he's having fun--what his intermittent comments about working on TWOW (as well as some broader comments about deadlines, and losing motivation when his profession becomes a 'job' rather than a passion) reveal is that writing TWOW is no longer fun...it's a job. IMO, there's four major problems: 1. GRRM appears to be one of those writers who attempts to solve a writing problem by...not writing. Instead, he waits until he has "found his muse again," or whatever. I could be wrong about this, of course, but it's the impression I get. 2. He only writes at home, and only on some ancient desktop. Maybe that was fine in the 1990s and 2000s, but for as big as GRRM's profile is these days, it'd ludicrous that he isn't writing on a laptop while he's away from home. 3. According to his old assistant, Ty, even when GRRM does write, he endlessly, obsessively rewrites--hundreds of pages, thousands of pages. 4. The POV structure is a narrative straitjacket, and it severely limits his ability to convey important details in a concise manner, as illustrated by the Meereenese knot.
  13. I used to believe (and still believe, I suppose) that he will eventually publish both a sixth and seventh book--where my confidence has absolutely plummeted is in his ability to finish within those seven books. Most of the fandom was ahead of me on that bit of pessimism, but I used to believe that things would speed up (both in-world and for GRRM himself) as the story approached the climax...now I wonder whether GRRM can even reign himself in enough to be within shooting distance of the climax. If you will forgive a bit of rambling, I can recall being a wide-eyed teenage reader, having recently finished ASOS and eagerly awaiting the next volume (which was to be ADWD, at that time), following GRRM's internet presence, such as it was, and being hyped by even the most minor nuggets of information--such AS GRRM promising that the next volume was to feature a guy styling himself the King of the Mummers. "Holy shit, King of the Mummers! ADWD is gonna be great!" That was 16 years and ~2000 pages ago, and the king of the mummers exists only in a sample chapter for a book that might not even be published in 2018, much less 2017.
  14. http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/145690-heresy-197-the-wit-and-wisdom-of-old-nan/ I know it came up in the above thread, and the example that sticks out in my memory is JNR's interpretation that relates Old Nan's tale of the "man imprisoned in a dark castle by evil giants" to Arya's time in Harrenhal.
  15. Well, that's why I felt confused--we don't disagree that the story is ultimately about the Starks (though I consider the Lannisters and Dany of equal importance), so I don't know why that observation was being presented as though it was a premise that needed to be reasserted; IMO, even in other sections of the forums where discussion of the NK might be far more assertive, and even take his existence as a given, I don't think people are taking for granted that this is still a story that is primarily about its human protagonists--such discussions are an inevitable consequence of the author not having published anything in years, while the show is comparatively "fresh." ______________________ I might also observe that, in discussing what might happen in the text, I'm careful to separate what I think the author should do from what I think will happen, or what is possible. In that regard, I agree that the NK turning up suddenly and becoming prominent is not ideal, but by that same token, in a story that was to be a coming of age tale about the Starks, Tyrion, and Dany, I don't think it is ideal for the author to have spent so many words on Meereen, Dornish in-fighting, the Iron Islands, etc. IMO, "the NK re-enters the story and becomes plot relevant," as an abstract idea, is not terribly far removed from "Aegon VI re-enters the story, and becomes plot relevant." Furthermore, I would say that the problems with the theoretical re-appearance of the NK are really problems with the Others themselves, as I attempted to articulate in my criticisms on the prior page: the Others appear and are perceived as inhuman, apocalyptic figures out of antiquity, and GRRM has been so slow to roll out revelations, so slow to incorporate them into the surrounding narrative, that it may be that there is no elegant, satisfying way for him to incorporate them at this point. In my opinion, the issues with the NK (or any other ancient Stark kings) also apply to the CotF as masters of the Others. In essence, the CotF are figures from antiquity, with limited characterization, little connection to the ongoing political and character stories, that have been inserted into the story quite late in the game. As a matter of subjective taste - and I'm not proposing a theory here, just throwing out what I would find satisfying - I think the best path for GRRM to tie the Others into all of the other stories would be to reveal that a character (or characters) we already know and are invested in is responsible for their return--which doesn't necessarily imply that said character can control what they have unleashed, only that the timing of the Others' return is not arbitrary, and not rooted in some unresolved business from 8,000 years ago.