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  1. The Tullys are definitely in the weakest position vis-a-vis their vassals, when compared to the other Lords paramount. It's a combination of (1) the fact that the riverlands don't have a long standing tradition of independence or being a unified entity, (2) the Tullys themselves are upstarts, (3) the riverlands are impossible to defend, meaning that threats from the outside are more likely to motivate vassal houses to submit to invaders, feeling pressured to preserve their own positions. Even houses that might not have a history of disloyalty or strong motivation to undermine the Tullys would be likely to seek a separate peace if the Westerlands attack, for example. This isn't all that strange - feudal relationships are based on the liege lord's ability to protect their vassals, in exchange for the vassal's loyalty. The Tullys are in an unfortunate position (because of the factors above) that means the level of protection they can provide their vassals is limited, and it's logical that the vassals' loyalty would also be limited as well. The Tyrells are upstarts too, but the Reach is much more easily defended and has a long history of its own, and so attacks from the outside are more likely to unify them around their liege lords. Unless the Tyrells weaken themselves (through a devastating alliance with the Lannister for example) to the point where replacing them becomes a much more likely and enticing proposition. That aside, I think the Hightowers are the real power in the Reach. Behind the scenes, because they're so subtle and sophisticated. Their wealth, status, position in Oldtown, and links to both the Citadel and the Faith all combine to give them an unprecedented network of influence. I would bet that when their daughters marry into other houses (Targaryen or Tyrell), it's really the case that they're inflitrating and extending this network of influence. The children of those marriages may be Tyrells by name, but it's all about who has the most influence in how they're raised and how they'll end up forming their policies as rulers. Why rebel and go to war to win the title of a lord paramount, if you can take that influence and power without bloodshed and without anyone even noticing where the real power lies?
  2. My favourite one is from the World of Ice and Fire. You do need the background on "blue rose / chink in a wall of ice" as representing Jon, but here's the image that seals it: "And when the triumphant Prince of Dragonstone named Lyanna Stark, daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, the queen of love and beauty, placing a garland of blue roses in her lap with the tip of his lance, the lickspittle lords gathered around the king declared that further proof of his perfidy." You can almost see GRRM chortling to himself because he is as obvious as he can possible be. The "tip" of Rhaegar's "lance" -> blue roses -> Lyanna's "lap". The symbol for Rheagar's penis (tip of his lance) places the symbol for Jon (blue roses) into the symbol for Lyanna's womb (her lap). End of discussion.
  3. There's a couple of underlying questions that need answering: (1) is the madness related to the ability to hatch/ride dragons and do all types of "madness" have the same cause? For example, there is the kind of extreme cruelty we apparently see in Maegor, there's the paranoia of Aerys II, there's the monkey child thing etc. An obsession with dragons (believing they're a dragon, wanting to turn into a dragon) seems to be a red thread that appears after the dragons die out - which suggests that there may well be a link with dragonriding. But we shouldn't just discount the fact that stuff can happen that can "break" or warp a person who would otherwise be fine: was Rhaenyra's son Aegon "mad"? He certainly wasn't all there, but given what he'd experienced, are we surprised? And he may not be the only example: in the high-stakes world of an incestuous dragonriding royal house, the ultimate game of thrones, people are much more likely to be damaged than the average person. (3) how accurate and complete is the information we actually have on the madness of past Targs, especially going far back? If a narrative is accepted that this bloodline has some madness in it, it's quite easy to explain everything strange or disliked as madness. We have to keep in mind that there were several moments of disruption in the family story in the 300 years they were in Westeros: the Maegor succession conflict, the Dance and its aftermath, Baelor the Blessed's bookburning that followed a moment when all adult Targs (and thus the bearers of family lore) had died within a few years of each other. At each point, there's a chance that a particular spin is being put on these disruptive events that obscures something important (when wanting to delegitimise a defeated opponent in a civil war, for example). Take Maegor. Was this a case of the "special Targaryen madness"? Because there's a good chance that he died and was brought back to life in a Lady Stoneheart fashion, and his "insanity" really kicks off there. We know LS is obsessed with the revenge, defined as she is by Catelyn's final moments - could the same be true of unMeagor? Before his "return", he may have just been your run-of-the-mill brute who was obsessed with inheriting the most powerful dragon. Not madness, just a sense of entitlement. Visenya had him late in life, it seems as a sort of insurance against the disappointing Aenys and the danger that the new Targ kingdom might not survive - so she was likely to have raised him to be very focused on ensuring the continuation of the Targ line and the survival of the family. If unMeagor is basically a distilled version of this obsession, it could explain his cruelty to his wives in the singleminded search to produce heirs. We don't go "aww poor Maegor", but there's a big difference between whether this is an insane man, or whether he's not a "man" at all (in the sense that Lady Stoneheart isn't really the woman Catelyn Stark anymore, but a revenant obsessed with what had tortured the living woman while she was alive). Then, after the defeat of Maegor, his successors had no need to whitewash his legacy; on the contrary, there would have been a strong motive to dump all the negative stuff that had happened since Aegon's death on him: he was mad and evil, and we have done away with him and he was succeeded by a brilliant and good king and everyone is happy now. I guess I would say there's a good chance the madness gets overused because you tend to find what you expect to find, and also because it's a useful way to delegitimise certain people or Targs in general (so it's something that would presumably become much more talked about in the Baratheon era, especially when the memory of Aerys is still so fresh). But, I do think that there is something to the madness narrative, although it really starts after the dragons are gone. In any family, you will get mental illness, and there may be examples of that in the Targs who were "simply insane" and not "dragon insane". As was said above, it's probably that the Targs who are dragonriders feel compelled to bond to a dragon, but obviously can't find one. To me, this fits the broader principle in the story that nothing is free, and that to get power you have to sacrifice something huge and important to you. If the ability to be a dragonrider is seen as the ultimate power (which it probably is), then it makes sense for there to be a pretty big catch: it's not just an ability, but a need - a question of must, not of want. Once you tie your bloodline to dragons, your descendants will have great power, but they also will not have a choice: if they don't bond with a dragon, it will likely drive them mad.
  4. There's lots of clues that the Daynes are descended from the Great Empire of the Dawn ("Geodawnians" is the shorthand that I like best as a name for this people). My favourite is the cluster of clues that comes via House Hightower. It's assumed that the fortress on Battle Isle at the base of the High Tower was a Geodawnian outpost in Westeros, pre-Long Night. The first Hightower (the one who cleared Battle Isle of dragons) was called Uthor. In the real world, Uther is the name of King Arthur's father, and the most famous Dayne in the book is Arthur Dayne. It seems to me that this hints that the Daynes are descended from the Hightowers (metaphorical father-son), who are themselves originally Geodawnians. Was Uthor himself a Geodawnian though? The only way to know at this stage is if the Hightowers also retain purple eyes or silvery hair. This has been hotly debated, but it's possible that the Hightowers do have some "Valyrian" looks (in fact, like with the Daynes, these are Geodawnian looks). Unlike for the Daynes, whose purple eyes are widely advertised, the clues for the Hightower features are subtle and sophisticated, like the family itself. Jorah says Dany looks like Lynesse; Alerie has white hair even though she's much to young to have gone gray; Jaehaerys mistakes Alicent for his runaway (Targaryen) daughter. Each of these moments by itself is not much, and there's always a second explanation (Jorah is in love with both women; Alerie went gray really young; Jaehaerys was just senile) - but the moments all hint in the same direction, and are about the same family. In fact, at every point at which a Hightower's looks are described, there is subtle ambiguity that could be read as a clue towards this theory. There are threads that discuss this in more detail. I think it's one of the most carefully planted series of clues by GRRM. So if you buy that the Hightowers were Geodawnians, and the Daynes are a cadet branch of the Hightowers, then the Daynes are Geodawnians too. There's also the mysterious family names. The Hightower name is obviously something they adopted after the High Tower was built, so we don't know their original family name. Same with Dayne, which is also a descriptive name - other than the "day" association, in the real world the old English name Dayne means a "worthy" citizen (worthy, like one who wields Dawn must be - hint hint). The way I see it, Uthor led a rebellious faction of the Geodawnians that defeated the Bloodstone Emperor at Battle Isle, and his son was the "first" Dayne - the one who followed a fallen star. He followed it from Battle Isle /High Tower to the site where Starfall now stands. It all gets even more complicated if you consider that there were possibly two major battles: one against the BSE and his dragons (at Battle Isle), and the other against the Others (at Winterfell?). Were there two swords that won the day as well? If I remember right, @LmL whose posts and podcasts are great on all things Long Night, thinks that there were two swords - represented by the duality of Dawn and Ice. As for what makes Dawn special, my theory is that it's got to do with sacrifice. The more we've learnt about Valyrian steel (the black swords that drink the souls of the slain, as per TWOIAF), it seems that they don't just require human sacrifice to make, but that slaying people with them is what enables them to "stay" magic. As if every death by this sword is another sacrifice to it and to its dark magic. If Dawn is different (and it seems to be), and it's wielder must be "worthy" - my suggestion was that the sacrifice that maintains Dawn's magic comes from the wielder himself. He takes an oath to take his own life with his sword at the end - mirroring the huge difference between personal sacrifice for an important cause and sacrificing someone else for power (which is what Valyrian steel is). Unlike for a Valyrian steel sword, killing someone with Dawn doesn't imbue it with magic - it only happens when the sacrifice is personal and willing. That's why only a particularly worthy person can be trusted with Dawn.
  5. NO SWEET FOR YOU!! I do think it's bitter sweet - the realisation that there's no grand plan or destiny, just lives to be lived while they can be lived. For example, someone like Sansa might survive to become the leader of a remnant population, live out her natural life and see some semblance of normalisation. Generations might still live and even prosper, as the Long Night 2.0 lifts and Planetos keeps a sufficient "wobble" on its axis (it wouldn't immediately stop tilting when the second moon goes, momentum would keep for a while) to have occasional cooler seasons to stave off the drying. But then eventually it's kaput. It's bitter sweet in that in the time remaining, lives can still be lived, stories can still be told. And no world is eternal - it's got to end some time, right? "In the long run, we're all dead."
  6. The story will end in a second Long Night with the destruction of the second moon. Planetos only had balanced seasons when there were two moons, and has been slowly dying ever since. Once that balance was disturbed, there's no going back. With the second moon gone, seasons will eventually stop changing and Planetos will dry up completely and end up like Mars. Some people will survive for a time, maybe build up another civilisation lasting a couple thousand years, and that will be that.
  7. I'm not sure that fire wants to stop slavery at all. Think of the Valyrians - they enslaved people to feed them to their mines (either metaphorically or literally as sacrifice to produce more dragons). As for what's more dangerous, fire or ice... If you freeze the world, it might thaw and nature could reassert itself (the Earth has had a couple of "snowball Earth" moments in its geological history). Life can survive in the oceans of a "frozen" world. A burnt world is just dead permanently - oceans evaporate (think Mars). Now ideally you wouldn't want one or the other, but in considering which posed the danger first, it seems more likely that human hubris and greed created dragons. The Long Night and the Others were a "last resort" cure for the threat that the original Dawn Age dragons posed. I don't think the First Men came to Westeros with only literal fire, I think they came with these dragons, and the Long Night is what killed the dragons and set the FM back to basic civilisation level. In terms of the hive mind... I don't think the CotF are "good" for humans (the old trope of the gentle wise green people who just want to help), but that's only because humans are so bad for the world. It may be that the CotF do want to restore balance, but see humans as the real threat, and the dragons as the ultimate expression of that threat. CotF take the long view: a cataclysm like the Long Night is bad, but the world recovers. It might not recover if humans breed enough dragons and start having fire wars all over the place (nuclear war basically). As for Jon, Dany and Bran. I agree that Dany and Bran are the "opposites", like Bloodraven and Quaithe/Shiera are (as the puppet masters who pull the strings). Jon will face the choice of having to stop them both: stop Dany's dragons because they shouldn't exist, and then stop Bran from bringing about another Long Night, convinced that humans and fire are the real danger. I also don't think Jon will succeed, and there will be another Long Night. Always thinking back to the worn out line that the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about: it applies to all major characters. It's about the awful choices they face, where there's no good outcome, and wanting to do good but there being awful consequences. The ultimate one would be for Jon to have to choose between Dany and Bran, but then it turning out that both need to be destroyed. Not because they're consciously evil (that would be too easy of a decision, where's the inner conflict there?), but because their good intentions, what they believed to be right, would cause them to destroy the world, or make it unliveable for humans. I'm very cautious about any predestination, like saying that a child born of a union of ice and fire is destined to do this or that. Ultimately Jon having both ice/CotF blood (through the Starks) and fire/dragon blood (through the Targs) gives him certain abilities that he MIGHT use to stop Dany and/or Bran. Like the ability to warg his wolf when he dies so that when he's resurrected, his soul is intact - thereby remaining himself, but essentially undead or unkillable and resistant to freezing. He could then be in a position to ride a dragon (undead or otherwise) and fight both dragons and the Others, who couldn't harm him. And I think that perhaps he will need to do both, successively: stop Dany, and then try to stop Bran from giving into the urge to destroy all humans because of their fire/dragon-based transgressions through another Long Night. That is of course what Jon MIGHT do, but it's not his destiny. There is no destiny. He could choose Dany over "the realm" (meaning over the fate of the world), or he maybe won't be able to bring himself to kill Bran. His core conflict of love and duty is what defines him, he has been forging himself in difficult choices involving those two things. I don't think that process of forging is over, because it never is, for anyone. I also don't generally think that any of the main characters will slip into "evil mode" where their "true" evil nature is finally revealed, "muahahaha gotcha" style - again it all smells like predestination and one-dimensional evil-by-intent, which is cheap. Some of them will be faced with hideous choices and bitter realisations that wanting to do good can bring about a lot of harm, or the exact opposite of what they wanted to do. That inner conflict without the possibility of a happy resolution or even a resolution that isn't terrible, the deeply human side of things is what I think the whole story is really about, that's the song of ice and fire.
  8. Hey @LmL, top stuff! Love the weirwood / were-wood thing. A tree skinchanged by a person would be a man-tree, a were-tree, a were-wood. Well done. Any symbolic connection to Manwoody?? (Sorry if I missed this in the podcast, was playing it while driving and occasionally had to engage with the traffic, yawn). Has to be something behind that otherwise hilarious name. Their sigil is a crowned skull and their castle is Kingsgrave. That's obviously tied to the legend that they killed a king of the Reach, but on a meta level: the (un)dead king who skinchanged a tree (a man-wood / weirwood). A Manwoody was also a dragon princess's third husband, pretty explicitly set up as an "and once for love" character. Jon (the future (un)dead king who might do something or other with the man-trees) is the hottest contestant for Dany's "for love" guy; will he be her Manwoody? As a bonus treat, despite his many excellent qualities, Elaena said she really married Manwoody for his music (a harp, of all things), and, after all: Jon's will be the song of ice and fire. --- That little tangent aside, I'm always interested in how these insights (of which you are a master) fit into the broader mechanics. I'm particularly thinking about the thorny issue of BSE - AA - Last Hero archetypes, and their relationships. Three guys, two guys, one guy in different stages? And where the Horned Lord stands: is his AA transformed, or a separate character? After listening to your podcast, I'm actually at the moment slightly leaning towards him not being AA transformed, but someone who literally kills AA (rather than being the resurrected AA, and so only killing him symbolically). The deeper we go, the less sure I am that AA was a "bad" guy. Or that the BSE was, or anyone else. It just doesn't fit the "heart in conflict" thing, if a major archetypal plot driver is simply "evil". There would be no conflict in fighting a character like that, right? Instead, your analysis of "going into the trees" has me really focused on the CotF - because they are ultimately the ones who lead people into the trees, one way or another. Again, I don't think the CotF are evil, but that they're key in understanding why the archetypal characters do the things they do. Gonna do another rundown of my evolving views on the Long Night scenario below. To try and find a symbolic parallel of how things may have unfolded, I'm linking it to Robert's Rebellion, which I'm taking the leap to say is the archetypal usurpation story re-nacted:
  9. Hey OP, I could see it happening that way, or something similar. Shirene is definitely not making it to spring. I think there might be no special magic to king's blood, for sacrifice purposes. The magic comes from human sacrifice itself, regardless of who the victim is. It's about taking a human life. What's so special about the notion of a king? - outside of the myth about the sacrificial king (and there it's clear that being designated as king by your group is what made you attractive for human sacrifice, not something about your "blood"; you become the victim because it's *decided* you're the target) Tying it to king's blood is a way of disguising how evil it is - it makes you focus on the special abstract notion of a king and what is a king and what makes a king bla bla bla, instead of on the person being killed. It makes the whole thing sound like a very rare occurrence, a special case. And if you want to continue to believe that you're serving a good purpose, you construct these little mental tricks that allow you to resolve your cognitive dissonance. If people knew you could achieve your ends by burning anyone, then no one would feel safe, and your whole "thing" would start to be seen for what it is - killing people for a magic boost. Evil. This to me seems in line with how Melissandre is shown to explain away all the questionable things she does. This may be so deeply ingrained in the red religion that Melisandre might firmly believe it. And in the end, if they believe it needs to be king's blood, they'll act that way and the outcome will be the same. But I think it's more in keeping with busting the tropes if it turns out that there's nothing "glamorous" about human sacrifice as a magical use of king's blood, that the entire point of human sacrifice as a magical ritual is that it's just about the willingness to kill for power.
  10. The Seven "stars" are the moon and the planets visible with the naked eye, plus the Stranger (probably the comet that killed the other moon). These "stars" are called the "wanderers" and there's clues scattered throughout the text that these wandering stars really mirror the visible "planets" from our world. If I'm following you, you say actual god-like people came down to the Andals and "chose" them? I think it's more likely that this is a myth-memory belonging to one of the groups of men who survived the Long Night and later happened to become the Andals. The memory of the Seven gods "appearing" to them is rooted in the end of the Long Night, as the atmospheric cloud after the moon-meteor collisions cleared and the stars became visible again, including the six wanderers. Their appearance would have been like a herald of some semblance of order re-establishing itself, so this particular group of survivors built their religion around it. In retellings, the reappearance of the wanderers became literally interpreted as the Seven appearing to the Andals in the flesh. The Faith *may* be related to the pre-Bloodstone Emperor religion of the GEotD - making the Faith a reinvented original religion - but you'd need to be able to link up those emperor colours to the planets. Perhaps what we know as the Stranger used to be deity representing the second moon, so now it stands in for death. We also don't know what the original Emperors and Empress stood for - rulers, dynasties? Maybe astrological ages of some kind? If you could tie each one to one of the planets, then perhaps the Geodawnians had a way of calculating time that meant certain long periods were marked by one specific planet/wandering star (eg the age of Venus might be the reign of the Pearl Emperor, for example...). I used to think the Faith was sinister because it had a secret link with the suspicious Church of Starry Wisdom, but now I don't know - I think they might be in opposition to each other. The BSE instituted the Church of Starry Wisdom, which is another celestial based religion. I think (I've argued this before), given its connection with sailors, and it's name "Starry wisdom", it was focused on the fixed stars rather than the wanderers, because it was really about celestial navigation. In the real world, the discovery of celestial navigation was a near-sorcerous leap in technology, and it would have allowed conquests across the ocean for the first time. You could also see how the BSE's new religion might be heretical to the old one - both worship "stars", but he casts away the true gods (the wandering stars) to worship the fixed stars because of the "wisdom" (celestial navigation enabling his conquests, and potential the arrival on Westeros) that they grant him. This is all highly speculative. It seems the key is the names of the Gemstone Emperors, but no one has produced a fully convincing interpretation of those gems. As for the Targs accepting the Faith - they were Valyrian. The world book says the dragonlords allowed the worship of all gods, but feared none. Easy enough for Aegon and sisters to pretend-convert, to be more appealing as rulers. It's not like they ended their incestuous marriages and repented - how deep was the conversion anyway?
  11. I think Preston Jacobs is good for stirring the pot, but he takes things quite literally when it suits him, and also just ignores things that don't suit his argument. For example, in the "magic is just advanced science" argument, he still does accept that skinchanging and dream-sending exist, they're crucial to his interpretations. But that's not "advanced science". Or take forging Valyrian steel - how does human sacrifice (the most heavily hinted at secret to making/reforming Valyrian steel) have an "advanced scientific" explanation? Or Arya seeing the Faceless Men change their faces? She explains both seeing it (after Harrenhal), and experiencing it - it doesn't make sense if you try to explain it as advanced science. Or sure, you can say it's just science so advanced that it can do *anything* it wants and doesn't obey the laws of nature; fine, but then you're basically just talking about magic without saying "magic". But my biggest gripe with this argument is that it rests almost completely on interpreting Martin's works before ASOIAF - aliens, hive minds, etc. There's no denying Martin revisits ideas, but Preston Jacobs basically says Martin just copycats his own past works, without ever exploring new understandings or taking things further into new directions. Like ASOIAF is just one big exercise in which Martin puts his old ideas in a new package, without any imagination. How boring that would be for a writer.
  12. It depends on how you interpret the stories, and we seem to find different things to be important, which of course is normal. If I'm reading you correctly, you say that Rhaenyra and Rheanys are evidence that a single dragonriding parent is good enough? To me, it's more about the fact of Rhaenyra and Rheanys being dragonriding women giving birth to dragonriding children whose fathers may not have been dragonriders - I see a strong hint that GRRM is telling us the mother matters more than the father. This of course is controversial, because it's possible to see it as saying something else entirely. The case of Rhaenys and Aenys I initially seems like no more than a cute curiosity - "just imagine if none of the Targs are actually descended from Aegon, fascinating!" But if you look beneath the shock value of that (assuming for now that we believe the rumours), it opens up a range of interesting questions. The "need" for them to descend from Aegon himself (when Rhaenys shares his DNA, as they are full siblings) is partly rooted in Westerosi patriarchy. Were the Valyrians patriarchal at all? Their stories and family lines are interpreted through Westerosi eyes, where you duly see explained a string of generations where the "son-and-heir" would "marry his sister" - but shouldn't we question that interpretation? Was it maybe the daughter (the next generation's mother) that was more relevant than the son? Was it in fact the case that the future "mother of dragons" would be "marrying her brother" - to maximise the likelihood of her kids being dragonriders - rather than vice versa? I'm not saying the Valyrians were a matriarchy, just that the Westerosi interpretations place a potentially undue weight on the sons. It's about what lens you apply, and it's not an irrelevant point. And thematically, we don't see a "father of dragons" character, whereas "mother of dragons" is a crucial trope. To me, the stories of Rhaenys and Rhaenyra both (and also Rhaenys the QWNW) are subtly indicating that a woman dragonrider is somehow more relevant to having dragonriding children, since there seems to be a 100% success rate in all of these cases where the father was not, or may not have been, a dragonrider. Of course, Aegon may have been Aenys' father and the Sea Snake may have inherited a lucky dragon gene via the Velaryon-Targ connections; and the marriage of dragonriders Alysanne and Jaehaerys seems to have produced at least one non-dragonrider - but it's about which part of these stories stands out more as being suspicious, and whether seen together they signal a message. I see the message as being that the mother is, in some way, "more important" than the father when it comes to "the blood of the dragon". Not as a "sure thing", but perhaps as a question of the probability of having dragonriding children. Yes, on the whole it may be ideal to have them both be dragonriding siblings, but a dragonrider mom alone seems to be astoundingly effective too. This seems to be the very purpose of repeatedly inserting doubt about who the father was - to show that this very much matters in a patriarchal society, but that it may not impact so much on producing dragonbabies. This may also explain why Rhaenyra was so blazé about risking having THREE children with Strong - she was comfortably trusting her own blood would do the trick (though she of course had to bow to the need to deny they were bastards, for political reasons). To turn to Alicent then (on the assumption the stories of Rhaenys and Rhaenyra are relevant to understand this case - assumption I find easy to make), this may undermine the explanation that her 4 dragonriding children can simply be explained by the fact that Viserys was their father. Consequently, it highlights the question of Alicent's own bloodline, feeding back into the Hightower-dragonblood hypothesis. Again, just one piece of the wider puzzle. As for the point about kids who have their own dragons that may not turn out to be dragonriders - I'm not sure this is as relevant as you say. Surely they would be able to tell if the child is developing the requisite bond with the dragon? And then it would just be a matter of time for the dragon to become large enough (and the child to grow up sufficiently, so you don't have a four-year-old riding a flying weapon) for there to be mounting? If the bond wasn't clearly there (evidenced for example in how the dragon behaved towards the child), wouldn't the dragon be a risk to the child, as it could attack? Granted, we don't know the details of how the bond happens. So I would still say that a ridiculously high proportion of Alicent's descendants had a dragon bond, even if J and J's dragons were too young to ride yet.
  13. In certain stages of Alzheimer's or just moments of cloudy judgment due to serious illness, you do get people mistaking their children for their spouses - presumably the physical similarity plays a part. But it can just be that she was there, taking care of him the way a daughter would, and he was just sick and confused. It is beyond curious though that at every point at which we have a Hightower's appearance hinted at, there's these confusing double-meanings. Once, twice, but three times? As for whether the Hightowers will be important or not - I mean, why include them in tPatQ and The Rogue Prince? These aren't early versions of the story where he's just planting seeds to see if anything grows out of them later on, this was written after aDwD came out. GRRM isn't just keeping the Hightower question on a low fire, he's adding salt and seasoning to the dish. And they're in such a prominent role as well - and not just for their scheming for power. All four of Alicent's children turned out to be dragonriders, and at least 2 of her 3 grandchildren were as well. This is something that more than one Targ queen apparently couldn't boast of. But then we circle back to the fact that Alicent is before Rhaena marries her Hightower. It's typical GRRM - at the same time he gives us a clear way for the present-day Hightowers to have relatively recently acquired Targ features (via Rhaena), he also drops another possible hint or two (Alicent's *possible* looks as per Jaehaerys confusing her for a daughter, her 100% dragonrider children) to undermine this apparent "clarification".
  14. Well. I've long thought that one of the many Chekhov's guns lying around is the string of Volcanoes down the eastern coast of Westeros (Hardhome, Dragonstone above ground, Spears of the Merling King as evidence of underwater eruptions). Almost like the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, but as far as we can tell only down the Westerosi side. A large enough meteor impact can actually trigger volcanic eruptions, most prominently on the exact opposite side of the globe from the impact point. For example, the Deccan traps in India may have been "triggered" by the large meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs, and subsequently the enormous ongoing eruptions from the Deccan traps would have contributed to creating a planetary winter - so it wasn't just dust from the meteor that done it. Hint hint. From what I can tell, the Merling King is a variation of Drowned God / sea deity. Just as the Ironborn myths might be relating the tale of the tsunamis that accompanied the original moon-crash, the Merling King may be the personification of the underwater volcano that errupted in the Narrow Sea after the moon meteors struck (evidenced by the Spears of the MK). A sea dragon drowning islands in its wrath, etc. If the Velaryons are indeed a remnant of the Geodawnian arrivistes at Westeros, then they would have been around during the Long Night cataclysm. A "pact" with the sea deity sounds like it's hinting at the resolution of a war (perhaps a metaphorical "war") - the volcano erupted, but the Velaryons survived and made a throne out the driftwood blown onto their island after the tsunamis settled. Thus the driftwood was a "gift" of the sea god that had almost destroyed them, but spared them. I'm not sure about including a link to the Seastone Chair - but if the proto-Velaryons were among the original arrivals to the Iron Islands from the GEotD, they may have set up their seat there (hence the oily stone throne). The moon-crash made them flee but they survived "the sea deity" and his wrath, and built a new throne out of what they saw as a gift from that deity. All that stuff about the people from the sea (merlings, selikes...) may indeed just be twisted tales of the Geodawnians. They were I believe the first seafarers, we've discussed that here before - this is what the Church of Starry Wisdom is hinting at ("starry wisdom" is celestial navigation, allowing ships to cross oceans rather than just skirt the coastline; it must have made the first seafarers seem like sorcerers, it's such a huge technology leap). If the Geodawnians (or one faction) were already widely feared for their seafaring "sorcery", then an angry boiling sea and tsunamis would have been retroactively tied to this "sea people". If they were "merlings", then this must be the work of their god, the Merling King, etc. Lots to speculate about, but more than anything I see the Merling King story as a hint about the true age of the Velaryons. We may never know what all the "merman" mythology is really about.
  15. Thanks for reading DD! Wouldn't Yandel mention that? It just seems odd that a house arriving from an advanced civilisation (Valyria) to a half-barbaric land like Westeros would want to absorb an existing legend like that. They'd think they were above it, surely? Again, all these houses that GRRM is really cagey about (Hightowers, Daynes..) makes me think are connected in some way. When there's hints at them being very old ("The Old..."), and purple/silver, I think Geodawnians.