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About Matthew.

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  1. I don't have a horse in this race, but those involved might be interested in this SSM as well: Personally, I find it entirely reasonable to suggest that the Wolfswood could still be housing direwolves that are infrequently encountered, and such encounters as occur are poorly documented and disseminated (in a manner not dissimilar to the assumption that the coelocanth was extinct in our world); OTOH, it could easily be the case that GRRM made a mistake while speaking extemporaneously - misspeaking not being the same thing as misunderstanding one's own world - or that the interview was transcribed inaccurately.
  2. That's the way I interpret "reborn in the sea" as well. IMO, Dany is the best fit for the signs and portents that Melisandre values by a wide margin--Lady of Dragonstone, waking dragons from stone, her pyre of rebirth taking place beneath a red comet that the Dothraki name "the Bleeding Star." I also find it a point in Dany's favor that there are two shadowbinders of Asshai attempting to act as guides: Melisandre, who has attached herself to a figure upon whom she projects and misattributes qualities that actually belong to Dany, and Quaithe, who has attached herself to the real deal. The glaring absence in her resume is that she hasn't forged a literal red sword of heroes, which may come down to that aspect either being fulfilled symbolically, or that it can still be fulfilled down the line; eg, dragons are necessary for making the sword, or Lightbringer is to be quenched in Dany's heart. I don't think there's any trick on GRRM's part here, where Dany is a "too obvious" red herring--I think this is just a case where the reader is meant to know more than the characters, and Melisandre and Stannis' arcs are to be understood from the outset as dramatic irony. Nonetheless, that comes with the usual caveats: Melisandre might be conflating separate prophecies (eg, Azor Ahai Reborn is R'hllorist doctrine, TPtwP is something else entirely), each of the three heads might fulfill the prophecy in their own way, etc.
  3. By that same token, Stannis is no longer a prince, and arguably, Bran isn't either--Bran is the rightful King of the North until such time as Robb's letter regarding Jon is recognized and implemented...or, alternately, with House Stark having lost the War of the Five Kings, Bran is neither king nor prince. This seems a tricky road to travel. Fair enough, and it raises some complicated questions. Are Azor Ahai, The Prince that was Promised, The Stallion that Mounts the World, the prophesied figure the Green Grace references, etc. various iterations of the same figure, making the actual 'details' of this figure nearly impossible to define? If there are 'Three Heads' of the dragon, are there three prophesied figures, undergoing three personal journeys that terminate in symbolically fulfilling TPtWP prophecy in their own distinct ways? Eg, Dany's 'Lightbringer' is Drogon, Bran's 'Lightbringer' is something involving sorcery, etc. Is "Prince that was Promised" a role that one is inescapably bound to, an accident of birth, or an empty role heralded by the red comet, and waiting to be filled through will and personal choice? The Forsaken chapter suggests that Euron views the era as an opportunity for ascension, which might relate to TPTWP prophecy. In any case, I'm more inclined to give credence to the "wake dragons from stone" and "born of the line of Rhaella and Aerys" conditions, if for no other reason than, in their absence, TPtWP becomes nearly indescribable. As a matter of purely subjective intuition, I believe that Bran is either one of the three heads of the dragon, or that Melisandre's interpretation of what she saw in her fires was actually on the mark: Bran is the enemy of Azor Ahai.
  4. From the previous thread: I was not only referring to the fact that Bran cannot fit the narrow constraints of the GoHH, but that he also does not appear to yet align well with any of the other signs and portents of which Aemon and Melisandre speak: The comet, Lightbringer, and dragons are recurring elements; in theory, Bran could fit these qualities if he either skinchanges a dragon or is in some way associated with the eventual emergence of an ice dragon, but for now he seems more like a potential 'Three Heads' candidate than TPTWP specifically. It might also be reiterated that, while it's not clear whether the Red Priests specifically consider Targaryen or Valyrian blood important, Stannis is a quarter Targaryen, and if Melisandre considered Dragonstone - the traditional seat of the Targaryen heir to the throne - to be a significant element of her interpretation, Dany would have been the 'rightful' Lady of Dragonstone while Viserys was still alive, and when Melisandre was heading westward; in other words, portents that actually pointed to Dany were misattributed to Stannis.
  5. I would have to agree, as making Bran fit TPtwP begins by first throwing out almost all context we have to draw upon for TPtwP in the first place: what the GoHH says of his/her lineage, everything that Melisandre has said, Aemon's comment about Dany's dragons proving that she's the one they were looking for, etc. If Illyrio is to be believed, Dany's eggs came from the Shadow Lands, so that may be enough of a connection--though, personally, I'd always read that passage as either implying that there are still living dragons to be found in those lands, or symbolizing that, in magical terms, Asshai/the Shadow is to Fire as 'the heart of winter' is to Ice.
  6. This is essentially how I view Euron and Ramsay--interim antagonists, secondary characters, filling the void left by the deaths of Tywin and Joffrey. AFFC and ADWD kind of have that feel to me in general, the feel of an author spinning his wheels while he tries to bridge the gap between the War of the Five Kings and the point where the threat of the Others' comes to the fore. I suppose a lot of this goes to reader perception, because inasmuch as ASOIAF could be said to have a primary villain, I've always thought of Littlefinger as the human/political "big bad," while the Others (and perhaps Dany) are the primary supernatural threat(s). This doesn't mean he won't do anything important (I would return to the prior example of Walder Frey as a minor character involved in a major plot point), but I suspect he also falls into the category of characters like Brienne, Young Griff, the Martell and Greyjoy (excluding Theon) POVs and so forth where I suspect GRRM could have mostly told the story he'd always envisioned without these characters and their plotlines.
  7. There's no real indication that Euron, specifically, has it, but there may be signs that it has been stolen and is in use: Tyrion hears a report of a kraken pulling down an Ibbenese whaler off the Fingers, and... (more TWOW sample spoilers) Given that Saan specifically wanted to raid Celtigar's lands, he seems a good candidate to have stolen Celitgar's Horn, though I found the passage with Euron worth mentioning in the context of the conversation. It's a Shade of the Evening induced vision.
  8. I once read a theory that there are firewyrms in Westeros--that they carved out the tunnels and hollow hills, that Hardhome was their work, and that Joramun's Horn is a summoning horn that calls the "sleeping giants beneath the earth." Incidentally, while I think Euron's horn is indeed a Valyrian horn, I wonder whether or not he is also in possession of the aforementioned kraken horn (or that the "kraken horn" is a Valyrian horn); I'm thinking of this passage from the Forsaken Spoilers TWOW: I think it more likely that the above passage refers to individuals/factions rather than literal creatures, but that may relate to some of the alternative reads you raised of the "kraken horn." The Night's King binding his brothers with sorcery might also fall under this speculative umbrella.
  9. I apologize for the poor phrasing; what I meant is that one cannot, for example, demonstrate that the Black Gate isn't the Night's King, they can only imagine that that premise is untrue--and that, in the context of forums advocacy, such a position is beginning in the same logically questionable territory as presenting a theory, with the compound problem of attempting to persuade people toward disbelief, to prove a negative. My point is that there are certain circumstances where one might aspire to dialectic method, but in practice the conversation is being pushed further away from logical territory, rather than closer--often with an emphasis on incredulity. Unavoidably, there is an element of the personal in interpreting art, particularly in interpreting those portions upon which the author has elaborated least. Yes, I believe him. And although his "there were dragons all over, once" is vague enough (unless he has given some subsequent answer on the topic) that there is no clear timeline - for example, 'once' could mean hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago - I certainly hope for more recent dragon activity, relatively speaking, especially in relation to mysteries like Moat Caitlin and dragonsteel. I also agree with you about the horn, though it may be that it comes from GRRM's 'shaggy unicorns,' if they were inspired by E. sibiricum. Perhaps they wear what Westeros intends as pejorative ("beyond the Wall") as a badge of honor. In any case, I'll be blunt in my crackpottery, and say that I suspect that Joramun - and perhaps the Horned Lord as well - was something akin to a druid, rather than a monarch, raider, or conqueror.
  10. Going back far enough in the timeline, this is what I believe to be the origins of the very earliest humans beyond the Wall, and I also agree that the Fist may have been a decisive location. That it is in the midst of a deep forest is conspicuous, and leads me to personally suspect that either: a.) The Hammer of the Waters failed to stop the FM at the Neck, and the war was going poorly for the CotF, with humanity pushing well into the far northeast in their pogrom, before some decisive moment prompted the Pact b.) Or, after the Pact, a group of FM pushed into the depths of the Haunted Forest in violation of the Pact, prompting CotF retaliation Thus, when I speak of the Free Folk as either fodder or friends of the CotF, I suppose I am more accurately speaking about what they might have become after pushing that far to the north, and facing the consequences. Benevolently, they might have grown close to the CotF of the Haunted Forest in the aftermath of the Pact and embraced their gods and magic--or, in the case of the Thenns, at least respected the distribution of land established by the Pact. To question it from a different angle: what does it mean for Joramun to have been a King-beyond-the-Wall (which, if I'm not mistaken, is Qhorin's characterization of his status, but not a title that any of the Free Folk use in reference to Joramun) in that era? Was he strictly representing a bunch of human tribes, or a broader coalition? Was he an ambitious raider, in the manner of modern Wildling Kings-beyond-the-Wall? Presumably, extraordinary magic would have gone into a Horn that is capable of destroying the Wall.
  11. My apologies, I did not mean to imply that that was an exhaustive list of what I think is possible regarding the Free Folk, more that those are two specific ideas I've been chewing on lately, under a scenario in which the Others may have once functioned as sentinels of the Haunted Forest. As you say, the Others could be the result of human abuses of human sorcery--possibly sorcery the FM brought with them from Essos, or possibly an abuse of CotF magic, independent of the wishes of the CotF. For example, I am reminded of Leaf cautioning Bran that Eddard is gone, and warns "do not seek to call him back from death;" this might straightforwardly be an observation that such an act is futile (would produce no results), but it might be a more ominous warning of unintended consequences, and magic not yielding the results that one hopes for. If tales of the "Nights Queen" and "sacrificing to Others" are true, it may be that history is repeating itself with Mance, and Joramun's position was one of desperation. In any case, Joramun's fate and nature seem uncertain--did he, like other Kings beyond the Wall, break his strength against the Wall or Winterfell, or does he exit the stage with the resolution of the NK affair? To relate this to the mystery of the Horn, the potential significance is that it may go toward the chain of possession (assuming the Horn wasn't destroyed, or ever existed in the first place); the Horn might have been buried with Joramun or passed onto a trusted ally. OTOH, if he was defeated by either the Watch or Winterfell, it raises the possibility of the Horn passing into the hands of one or the other. It is hardly novel at this point to suggest that one possible location for the Horn is the Winterfell crypts, but I find that idea particularly appealing in the context that Brandon the Breaker claiming the Horn may have been robbing the "magic" side of the Wall of an important tool.
  12. Two points of view I've been wavering between is that the early wildlings were either sacrifice fodder - blood for the weirwood, offerings for the Others - and given little choice but to become "godly" or face destruction, or that they were like the crannogmen, and used to be the closest allies of the CotF. As is often the case, some of it comes down to the NK; was he simply operating as a "typical" LC of the era, and unfairly maligned? Was he a rogue that had to be dealt with by both sides of the Wall, which the Stark in Winterfell seized as an opportunity to change the nature of the Watch and the Wall? For example, was Joramun acting strictly on the interests of the Free Folk, or was he acting on behalf of all the Beyond-the-Wallers, and joining with the Stark-in-Winterfell to bring down a dangerous LC that truly was carving out a kingdom of his own, and perhaps abusing magic that was at his disposal? I raise the latter because I have questions over the creation/function of the Horn of Winter, and its ultimate fate. If the Free Folk of the era were just a bunch of raiders, then why wasn't the Horn used to deal with the Watch and Wall once and for all? My crackpot is that the Horn was made with CotF magic, that it functioned as leverage (respect the Pact, or we'll sound the Horn of Winter), and that if the Horn had fallen out of their possession, it would have been a major turning point.
  13. This is still an abstract observation: that sometimes people believe something about the Fantasy Novels that they think is a fact, when it is actually unproven--while the actual conversation was a loose, theoretical discussion of the Wall. In this instance, the observation "this theoretical discussion is theoretical" was not offered as a truth in contrast to a lie, it was offered, by your own elaboration, as pre-emptive: a slippery slope argument. A logical fallacy, coming on the heels of straw man arguments, either/or fallacies, argument from incredulity, faulty analogy. This is symptomatic of arguing where "argument" is a flawed approach in the first place, for the very reason you elaborate: that we can only imagine what has happened during the Age of Heroes and the construction of the Wall, we can only imagine what is untrue. This is not something that has been forgotten, but rather, is so self-evident that people spring into exchanging what they believe rather than wasting time with what they disbelieve, because the latter is simultaneously too broad and too narrow. For example, to list all of the the things that the Black Gate isn't (it isn't a blueberry pie, it isn't two kids standing on each other's shoulders in a Black Gate costume, etc.) is tedious, and to argue against people's propositions when one cannot factually refute someone's position inevitably leads to using fallacious arguments to attempt to present someone's propositions as ridiculous--and so, bad faith creeps in. Which is not to say that disagreement is to be avoided, but given that the context is theoretical discussion of a piece of fiction, disagreement more ideally manifests as comparing interpretations, rather than focusing strictly on disbelief.
  14. This is why I think George asked that question as well--he wasn't using mystery solving as a standard to determine whether or not they were qualified showrunners; the answer didn't have to be correct, it just had to demonstrate legitimate interest in the books, had to give him some sign that they had actually read ASOIAF. In that case, Lyanna, Ashara, Wylla, etc. probably would have all been satisfactory answers, as long as they spoke of them in such a way that demonstrated actual enthusiasm for ASOIAF, as opposed to enthusiasm for adapting what they had been told is a popular book series--the latter likely being the sorts of people GRRM is more used to meeting in prior efforts to adapt his books.
  15. Which, in roundabout fashion, circles back to what I consider the underlying question: while the Free Folk might be disinclined to kneel, they will do so under extraordinary circumstances (and accept the protection of the Wall, in Dalla's case), so how did the folk beyond the Wall become "beyond the Wall" in the first place? The appeal of those lands would be freedom from authority for the wildlings and freedom from violence for the giants and CotF, yet there must obviously come a point where the problem of the Others is worse than the problems south of the Wall; this is not noteworthy if the people of the Far North only migrated there after the Others have become the stuff of legend, but if they were living there (or driven there) while the Others were present, the implications are potentially significant. Under the latter scenario, if the Free Folk, giants, and CotF are occupying the far north while the Others are still active, still to be occasionally encountered, this would suggest that either persecution from men south of the Wall was so brutal as to make the threat of the Others preferable, or the threat of the Others is not entirely as it appears to be--that they are not mindless killers that will seek to kill all hot blooded life by default. It is probably obvious at this point that you and I agree as to why the CotF are living in the Haunted Forest, on the "Other" side of the Wall, but the provenance of the Free Folk is a bit more murky.