Matthew.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Continue down our own roads regarding what? How are "here's what I think might be going on with the Others," and "this is Jon's story" incompatible sentiments? It is literally only a page ago that you compared the ancient Stark lords to the Nazgul, possibly returning to claim what is theirs--there is no distinction between that idea, and the idea that the NK might still be around, might be among their numbers. And in exploring that idea - or any idea, really - a poster is not somehow being insufficiently deferential to "what the story is really about," or whatever. Sincerely, I have no idea what this argument is--you issue these words as though they are a "correction," but I have no idea what is to be corrected.
  11. And to reiterate, you're arguing against a point of view that isn't being espoused; "maybe the white walkers have a leader," is not the same as "the Nights King is still around," and neither sentiment is somehow emphasizing the white walkers over Jon Snow. This would be like if someone responded to one of your various posts exploring the origins of the Others and their relationship with the CotF with "This story isn't about the CotF, it's about Westeros descending into chaos and its impact on Tyrion, Dany, and the children of Winterfell."
  12. To backtrack briefly, I think the same point in observing Littlefinger's plot significance on the previous page still applies: what you are saying here is not somehow disputed or "at odds" with the idea that the Others might have someone/something leading them--a sorcerer, a greenseer, a white walker, whatever. More succinctly, I feel like you're arguing against a point of view that wasn't being espoused in the first place; speculating about the Others does not make the story "less about" Jon. This was exactly the point, though. There is no nuance or characterization to the Others, at this point in the story. It's not that the Others are more evil than any of the human characters - and frankly, I would argue that Ramsay and Euron are cartoonish villains that wouldn't be out of place in the worst dreck of the genre - it's that everything about their presentation makes them a High Fantasy evil army. Consequently, readers (some, anyway) have waited 20 years for GRRM to do something subversive with them, to make them as interesting as the rest of his story, and we're just taking it on faith that he'll stick the landing. And, given infinite time, I'm sure he would...what I'm less confident about is that he actually has a clear plan of how he's going to achieve that, or that GRRM's idea of "nuanced supernatural antagonists" will be, in practice, all that far off from what he's criticizing. IMO, the story as envisioned by GRRM in 1993 was far more generic fantasy, even on the political and character journey side of things--Robb, for example, was to die heroically in battle, but not before dealing a maiming blow to the vile villain King Joffrey, whom he will conveniently meet on the battlefield for a duel of kings. This is genre fiction nonsense, and I think what the 1993 letter highlights is that ASOIAF is a story that was 'saved' by GRRM's gardener process--if GRRM were a Sanderson-esque architect, ASOIAF would just be another forgettable trilogy among many. My fear is that the Others are a vestige of a less interesting story, and that GRRM himself is struggling with how he's going to elevate them. It may be that whatever motive he arrives at (or already has) for his Others makes them not technically evil, but it doesn't necessarily mean they will be nuanced. To use the show as an example, it is their world's point of view - as established in S6 - that the white walkers are not morally evil, they are acting for the sake of the sacred groves, in accordance with the 'mission' that has been magically instilled into them. The Night King isn't Sauron, he's the Lorax.
  13. I don't disagree with the surrounding speculation, but just as the last time this topic came up, I find it interesting that people characterize the WWs of the show as being in violation of GRRM's quote on dark lords and evil armies, when for all intents and purposes, they've done nothing at all that is "more evil" than the Others of the books, or even out of their 'character,' such as it is. For the Free Folk of book world, the Others that ruthlessly slaughter them and send their own friends and family against them as wights must certainly appear to be the ultimate embodiment of evil. Within this criticism of the white walkers is a tacit acknowledgement that, despite GRRM's comment (which, to be clear, wasn't just about 'dark lords,' but also about their minions, and good vs. evil), the Others read as a typical high fantasy evil army, and the only reason they are not criticized for this is because of an expectation (and GRRM's own promises) that a future volume will redeem them with nuance. In short, if the series is never finished, then the Others as written are a bad cliche. This uncomfortable truth, in turn, leads to strange applications of the 'dark lord' quote where people try to get around the spirit of what GRRM is criticizing by emphasizing the idea of hierarchy, and "dark lords" specifically, and propose that GRRM has avoided the Tolkein trope on the thinnest of technicalities: ASOIAF has its own Ringwraiths, but it's fine, so long as the Ringwraiths don't have a Witch King among their ranks.
  14. I don't agree with the underlying logic of this argument. Saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some figure from antiquity, ergo the white walkers don't have a leader" would be like saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some minor lord from the Fingers" to argue that Littlefinger is not a major antagonist, or is somehow unimportant in the grand scheme of the plot. "The white walkers have a leader" and "Jon will transfer his soul to a walker body" are not premises that are incompatible with one another. While Jon Snow filling a magical/metaphysical power vacuum might be one context for that theory, it's far from the only one. ____ At a minimum, it may be that things are unbalanced because the last Holly King refused to be sacrificed at his appointed time; for another, it may be that someone far more recently has taken up the mantle. Even more speculatively, if the position of "King of Winter" is waiting to be claimed, it may be that there exists aspirants to the throne, so to speak; for example, Mance's ascent within the wildlings after the return of the Others might not be wholly altruistic. It's Mance who wanted the Horn, Mance who would not allow the Free Folk to slay Craster, and Mance (through the spearwives) appears to be probing Theon for information about the Winterfell crypts. It may also be the case that Stannis will become NK 2.0 through sheer folly.
  15. A desire to "disprove" the show is clouding discussion--I think you are not seriously considering the potential end consequences of theories that you yourself have recently proposed. If the ancient Starks were living out their second lives by transferring their spirit to walker bodies, what might this potentially suggest for the Night's King?