Lord Varys

Winter warfare in TWoW (and later on)

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How do you imagine warfare in winter?

A lot of people seem to fail to realize that conventional warfare in winter is very difficult/impossible (due to roads/passes being impassable), not to mention that food and provisions would be even more difficult to come by and the speed in which an army could move would go down to a crawl.

Considering the vast distance in Westeros the idea of large armies moving north-south or east-west should be over soon.

How do you think this is going to affect the story? Do you think winter might not be so bad, after all, or rather that there is going to be some last glimpse of autumn in some sort of short-lived thaw resulting in the end of the heavy snows in the North near Winterfell or the end of the snowing in the Riverlands and KL?

Or do you rather think things will only get worse, and it will pretty much never seize to snow (as I do)?

We know that the Vale is already permanently cut off from the mainland, due to the snow that has fallen in the mountains which is not going to go away until spring. If winter hits Westeros as hard as we should expect similar snows might eventually cut off Dorne from the Reach and the Stormlands.

That would mean that the Dornish hosts that (most likely) will soon join Prince Aegon might not be able to return to Dorne overland. Vice versa, anyone landing in Dorne (Dany and her gang) might not be able to actually cross from Dorne into the rest of Westeros.

The same would go for the Vale. The Vale troops can only participate in the war in main Westeros if they are deployed by ship to other regions. Vice versa, any invasion force intending to conquer Westeros would be utterly stupid if they landed in the Vale because they could not possibly march from there to the other regions. If anybody wanted to win the allegiance of the Vale lords sending envoys would be a much better way to do so.

Thus the main focus of warfare in winter should be naval warfare. Ships will be very important both as troop transports as well as for naval warfare itself. This will mean that Euron might become even more important/powerful than he is right now, and we also have reason to believe Daenerys will gather a pretty big navy (Victarion's ships, Ghiscari ships, Volantene ships) of her own. The Manderlys also seem to have built a fleet which could eventually become important as troop transports for Stannis' sellswords (if they ever shop up). Braavos itself could also be drawn into the war in Westeros thanks to the interests of the Iron Bank (and/or the House of Black and White).

The east coast of Westeros is pretty much the only place which is easily reachable by ship right now, so the focus of the new battles should be along that coast - Sunspear, Storm's End, King's Landing, the lesser towns, Gulltown, White Harbor, and perhaps even Eastwatch.

Troops transported via ship to this or that place would then be stuck in the snow, though. Any chance to move a southron army from, say, White Harbor to Winterfell or the Wall overland should be effectively suicide. Assuming the winter in the North is as bad as pretty much everybody told us for five books. That is the main reason why I think no Vale troops will use the Manderly ships to move into the North. Whatever plans Littlefinger had for Sansa they intend to wait with that till spring.

But even in the South it should be difficult to march from KL to Harrenhal or even some smaller distance. People would quickly freeze and starve on the way, and thus not exactly be in decent shape when they reached their destination.

In that sense I actually expect there to be no grand campaigns involving a lot of battles and stuff in the remainder of the political story of the book. The Iron Throne is conveniently close to the shore so most of the pretenders should concentrate their efforts on taking or defending the capital, not on parading across the Realm trying to win this or that lord to their cause. Those days are over.

It might not yet snow so soon in the Stormlands or the southern Reach and in Dorne, but I expect that those regions will also get their decent share of snow this winter, and being ill-equipped for that king of thing it will catch them off-guard (the Northmen are prepared for winter, but even they should not be able to cope with the winter that is coming - especially not considering that they don't have that much food).

Perhaps magic might be able to counter the weather and climate to a degree. Thoros and Melisandre (and Moqorro and other red priests) might be able to do something in that department, keeping the cold at bay, etc. Other fire mages might be able to do similar things. Although I don't think they will be able to change the weather in any big degree.

When the Others come things would even get worse, because they bring terrible cold with them and seem to face no problems moving in the snow.

Any thoughts on that? Other ideas? Does the weather matter?

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I think you overestimate both the unbroken severity of Winter and the timeframe that the remainder of the series will cover. What I mean is, Winter is not one long blizzard. There are storms, and then they pass and there are periods during which to move around again. At least, for those who know how to master those conditions. Like the Northmen. Think Brandon Ice Eyes, who marched from Winterfell to White Harbor and besieged and conquered the Wolfsden in the middle of a particularly cold Winter.

And see how the Mountain Clansmen move around with snowshoes, even on their horses. So in short, the North will continue to engage in conflict, right up to the end of the story.

As for the South, they will obviously come off more lightly, but again, if this Winter is colder than usual and snowy conditions descend over most of the South too, then it will still be a "Time for Wolves", where men accustomed to these conditions have a distinct advantage. That said, I doubt the Reach and Dorne will ever be "snowed in" to the extent that troop movements are affected. Maybe the Riverlands, Westerlands, Vale and Crownlands will endure some heavy snow, though. Maybe even the Stormlands and northern Reach.

And lastly, I suspect the series will end after only a year or two of Winter, with sufficient periods between storms to allow for the action to continue. And who knows, maybe long Winters are ended forever at the climax of the story.

 

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@Free Northman Reborn

Are we reading the same books? The coming of winter is dreaded since the first book, possibly even since the Prologue or Bran 1. That is the ultimate evil, the symbol of cruel and inevitable death. Winter is death in this series.

And now winter is come and you are basically saying 'It is not going to be as bad as you think'?

Come on.

I agree with you that normal winters should have periods of colder and milder weather, but you don't think this is going to be a normal winter, do you?

In a mild winter the southern regions of the Reach and Dorne might actually be able to plant and harvest crops considering that Martin has said that it is 'almost never' snowing in Dorne or in the Oldtown region. But 'always never' doesn't mean 'never', and this winter is going to be different. Normally Dorne might have it's 'winter heat' or something like that just as the North has its summer snows but again - this isn't going to be a normal winter.

A normal winter wouldn't a 'long blizzard' but considering that I'd agree with you that the series is most likely not going to cover many years of winter pretty much the only way how George will be able to show us the dreadful face of winter would be making it a single huge blizzard that brings unimaginable cold and amounts of snow that Westeros hasn't seen since, well, the last Long Night.

The snow storm we see in ADwD is described as an autumn storm by the Northmen, it has nothing to do with the weather and temperature they ascribe to winter. And winter hadn't even officially begun back then. The Northmen and their horses can cope with those autumn storms easily enough, but considering their respect/fear of winter (and their customs when winter actually rules) there is pretty much no chance that it is going to be easy.

Brandon Ice-Eyes crept silently to the Wolf's Den in the night and surprised a bunch of slavers there. We don't know how many people he had, or how many slavers there were, not to mention that we don't know whether his success completely hinged on the surprise attack he successful pulled off. But considering that it was winter I'd say he didn't have a huge army nor do we have reason to assume that there were many slavers there.

In any case, I'd be both very irritated and disappointed if winter just turned out to be some minor nuisance and people would essentially do more or less business as usual. I mean, come on? Those winters are supposed to be terrible, don't you want to feel them?

Other point:

We know that the average winter seems to be freezing rivers as large as the Blackwater. That could come in handy moving troops across rivers (and should actually hinder/bury any dreams the Ironborn might have had to raid up and down the Mander and/or Honeywine). Wouldn't it be a funny and great sight to find half or more of Euron's navy tightly frozen at the beaches of the Mander after a particularly cold night?

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5 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

@Free Northman Reborn

Are we reading the same books? The coming of winter is dreaded since the first book, possibly even since the Prologue or Bran 1. That is the ultimate evil, the symbol of cruel and inevitable death. Winter is death in this series.

And now winter is come and you are basically saying 'It is not going to be as bad as you think'?

Come on.

I agree with you that normal winters should have periods of colder and milder weather, but you don't think this is going to be a normal winter, do you?

In a mild winter the southern regions of the Reach and Dorne might actually be able to plant and harvest crops considering that Martin has said that it is 'almost never' snowing in Dorne or in the Oldtown region. But 'always never' doesn't mean 'never', and this winter is going to be different. Normally Dorne might have it's 'winter heat' or something like that just as the North has its summer snows but again - this isn't going to be a normal winter.

A normal winter wouldn't a 'long blizzard' but considering that I'd agree with you that the series is most likely not going to cover many years of winter pretty much the only way how George will be able to show us the dreadful face of winter would be making it a single huge blizzard that brings unimaginable cold and amounts of snow that Westeros hasn't seen since, well, the last Long Night.

The snow storm we see in ADwD is described as an autumn storm by the Northmen, it has nothing to do with the weather and temperature they ascribe to winter. And winter hadn't even officially begun back then. The Northmen and their horses can cope with those autumn storms easily enough, but considering their respect/fear of winter (and their customs when winter actually rules) there is pretty much no chance that it is going to be easy.

Brandon Ice-Eyes crept silently to the Wolf's Den in the night and surprised a bunch of slavers there. We don't know how many people he had, or how many slavers there were, not to mention that we don't know whether his success completely hinged on the surprise attack he successful pulled off. But considering that it was winter I'd say he didn't have a huge army nor do we have reason to assume that there were many slavers there.

In any case, I'd be both very irritated and disappointed if winter just turned out to be some minor nuisance and people would essentially do more or less business as usual. I mean, come on? Those winters are supposed to be terrible, don't you want to feel them?

Other point:

We know that the average winter seems to be freezing rivers as large as the Blackwater. That could come in handy moving troops across rivers (and should actually hinder/bury any dreams the Ironborn might have had to raid up and down the Mander and/or Honeywine). Wouldn't it be a funny and great sight to find half or more of Euron's navy tightly frozen at the beaches of the Mander after a particularly cold night?

Gonna be a pretty boring last two books if everyone is just sitting in their castles waiting for spring, with only ravens to continue the conflict with.

A raven arrives at the Dreadfort: "I'm going to kick your ass in 7 years time, Ramsay. Signed, Jon Snow." 

Raven arrives in Winterfell:" A pox on you, Stark! 7 years from now you can come and try!"

A third raven arrives in Winterfell: "Mayhaps we can let bygones be bygones. I invite you to come break bread and salt in my castle 7 years from now. Signed, Walder Frey."

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3 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Gonna be a pretty boring last two books if everyone is just sitting in their castles waiting for spring, with only ravens to continue the conflict with.

A raven arrives at the Dreadfort: "I'm going to kick your ass in 7 years time, Ramsay. Signed, Jon Snow." 

Raven arrives in Winterfell:" A pox on you, Stark! 7 years from now you can come and try!"

A third raven arrives in Winterfell: "Mayhaps we can let bygones be bygones. I invite you to come break bread and salt in my castle 7 years from now. Signed, Walder Frey."

Well, I'm not saying nothing is supposed to happen. I'm trying to think how this could work.

Winter can open opportunities. For instance, since you mention the Freys and the Riverlands:

If the Trident and its arms freeze then taking the Twins and Riverrun could become very easy, actually. Especially considering that many people might not, at first, expect any sort of attack in the middle of winter.

But the problem is, I think, that the moving of large armies will be a severe problem. Especially the raising of new troops. I mean, what madman would even answer the call of his liege in the middle of winter? And for what stupid reason? 'Come now, we are going to conquer the world?'

George has already cut them down in size in many places, and if you go with a guerilla tactic as the Brotherhood already does things could work very fine that way. However, those things should be over in the Riverlands soon. Hollow hills or not the cold is going to get to the people unless magic can do something (or a little bit) about that.

In the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne there is still a chance for a little bit of conventional warfare, but I don't see that to continue all that long. Winter should have the land it its tight grip long before the Others actually make their move or else the whole thing about the cold/winter being terrible even in normal 'bad winters' would just not come across in the right way.

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Skis, horses and sleds would make it possible to move stuff around, and in some cases actually easier than in summer. For instance, in the Nordic countries, logging was typically an all-year exercise. Trees were felled and branches cut off in summer, then the logs were stacked up until winter came. Pulling logs through muddy ground is a hopeless exercise, and cart wheels would just sink into the ground. Come a foot or two of snow, though, and all roots and rocks are buried under a smooth layer of snow, which also has much less friction than the average forest floor. It's much easier to transport heavy stuff on sleds than on wheels in a medieval setting. Also, as the Finns demonstrated to the Russians in 1939, soldiers and supplies can be moved with relative ease too.

The problem in winter would be acquiring supplies. A campaign is a resource-intensive affair, and sending soldiers out would consume resources that could be better spent elsewhere. There wouldn't be much hope for gaining more supplies by waging wars, unless a major city could be sacked and its granaries emptied... something for the Ironborn to strive for, perhaps? There aren't that many cities in Westeros.

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On ‎2016‎/‎06‎/‎06 at 0:37 AM, Lord Varys said:

Well, I'm not saying nothing is supposed to happen. I'm trying to think how this could work.

Winter can open opportunities. For instance, since you mention the Freys and the Riverlands:

If the Trident and its arms freeze then taking the Twins and Riverrun could become very easy, actually. Especially considering that many people might not, at first, expect any sort of attack in the middle of winter.

But the problem is, I think, that the moving of large armies will be a severe problem. Especially the raising of new troops. I mean, what madman would even answer the call of his liege in the middle of winter? And for what stupid reason? 'Come now, we are going to conquer the world?'

George has already cut them down in size in many places, and if you go with a guerilla tactic as the Brotherhood already does things could work very fine that way. However, those things should be over in the Riverlands soon. Hollow hills or not the cold is going to get to the people unless magic can do something (or a little bit) about that.

In the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne there is still a chance for a little bit of conventional warfare, but I don't see that to continue all that long. Winter should have the land it its tight grip long before the Others actually make their move or else the whole thing about the cold/winter being terrible even in normal 'bad winters' would just not come across in the right way.

We are talking about two different things here, in terms of the severity of Winter. I'm not saying that Winter is not devastating and utterly merciless on the population. But that is because of its duration and its impact on food production.

Winter will not be one long blizzard. There will be blizzards, and there will be quiet sunny days where the packed snow just lies there, ready to be traversed by snow shoes, or sled or whatever. And this of course ignores spirit summers and false springs, which can provide breaks in the Winter long enough to plant and bring in entire harvests. So we would be talking months of summer like intervals during these spirit summers. But let's ignore these, for the time being, as they are unreliable and might not occur during the timeframe of the books - although it is not impossible for George to use one such period for narrative purposes.

In any case, the Brandon Ice Eyes example is likely inserted for a reason other than just giving us some background on the Wolfsden. It sets the platform for a Winter march from Winterfell to White Harbor - a distance of around 400 miles. What's more, the tale makes an effort to emphasize that it wasn't a particularly mild Winter, it was in fact a particularly severe Winter, with the White Knife freezing solid when apparently this is not usually the case.

And in the depths of this Winter, the Stark forces came into their own. The Mountain Clans were outpacing the southron forces over the snow packed landscape within a day. Brandon Ice Eyes took his forces 400 miles in the depths of Winter.

All of this tells me that while the South will no doubt be unaccustomed to Winter warfare, the Northmen will not. No one will be marching in the middle of blizzards, but similarly, conditions will not be blizzard like all the time. Not by a long shot.

Another factoid that supports this argument, is the navigability of the Shivering Sea during Winter. We are told that Winter storms are more severe, but Autumn storms are more frequent. So this opens a window of opportunity. You definitely don't want to be caught in a severe Winter storm - either on sea or on land. But if the frequency of such storms decrease in Winter compared to Autumn, then you can count on much longer intervals between storms, and conduct marches and short military campaigns during these intervals.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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@Free Northman Reborn

Normal winters might have sunny days and such. This winter, the winter that has come, has days growing shorter up where Bran is, so we can be reasonably sure that the Long Night is back. So no sunny days this winter.

Besides, the point is that the weather isn't reliable. The idea that a larger military campaign of any sort that isn't really necessary would be undertaken in winter just doesn't make any sense. You cannot know that the weather will hold and when it changes you might be in the middle of nowhere with no means to protect your people and animals from the cold. Just as Stannis is right now. Even the Northmen and their horses wouldn't stand a chance in a real winter storm. At least not without shelter.

You would effectively be emasculating winter if it would be reduced to a plot device which only shows its teeth when it is convenient. That way the reader would conclude 'Oh, winter has come? Who cares, there is no real difference between winter and summer anyway!'

The False Spring only lasted two moon turns, right? At least its official length (there must have been less snowy/cold weather even before that, of course). But real Westerosi spring weather was only there for a two months. Even if that happened more often (which doesn't seem to be the case or else people wouldn't name a year after the so-called False Spring) there is no chance that all of Westeros could plant crops in such a time - and they wouldn't do it because it would be a waste of resources considering that winter might return again and kill everything that has been planted.

In mild winters crops might be planted in the southern Reach or Dorne. But that's it, really. And that's just my guess, really. Even if it does 'almost never' snow down there doesn't mean the weather is ideal to plant crops in winter. The temperature might still be often around freezing, and drop below freezing at night, subsequently killing all the crops.

And, actually, we don't know whether Brandon Ice Eyes troops marched with him down the entire way from Winterfell. He certainly would have, and he would have had some people from Winterfell with him, but he could easily have raised his troops along the way or from one or two specific castles in the region near the Wolf's Den. Those were just some slavers, they didn't hold the entire region there or had some huge army, as far as we know.

Rivers freezing in the North and everywhere in Westeros seems to be a normal thing. After the False Spring the Blackwater (a great and fast flowing river) froze, too. It is a greater river than the White Knife and the winter around the False Spring is not remembered as a particular nasty winter (else the Westerosi would never have had enough food to throw that huge tourney at Harrenhal at the apparent end of that winter).

And just because the Northmen attacked the slavers there doesn't mean the other Westerosi don't know what winter is or where never forced to fight or defend themselves in winter. Winter attacks from the mountain clans seem to be common in the Vale, so there you have people fighting and defending themselves. The Dance was partially fought in winter, too. It is folly, of course, but not unheard of.

However, it is folly to begin a war in winter. It is clear that the Stannis-Bolton conflict has to be resolved, of course. But thereafter war should be over (unless, of course, people are forced to defend themselves again - against the Weeper, the wights, and the Others, etc.). But the idea that people would begin a new campaign or conquest in winter if they have the choice isn't just not very likely. In fact, it would be stupid to do so and pretty much unbelievable if people in the North would assist anyone with that.

As to the winter storms:

I thought they only referred to sea storms, actually. The talk there are naval issues not the frequency of winter storms on land. After all, as everybody living close to the coast wind and storm is a lot more common near the sea (or on the sea) than it is far away from the coast.

And in general to winter warfare:

The snow isn't going to disappear even if there are no storms. Even if it just snows for a fortnight or so an army might not be able to move or not be able to protect its people against the cold. Knights other cavalry should be completely useless in winter, meaning that the bulk of the work would be done by the footmen - who shouldn't be able to withstand the cold for long and would take months or years to reach a destination they could have reached much sooner in summer. Snow also makes the landscape treacherous so a lot of people should die on such marches simply of accidents (as do quite a few people on Stannis' march to Winterfell). Not to mention that, you know, sieges and the like are a complete no-go in winter, too.

If you enemy has a castle then you would be utterly stupid to march against him because all the enemy needs to do to defeat you is not give you battle. You cannot besiege his castle in winter under any circumstances.

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38 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

@Free Northman Reborn

Normal winters might have sunny days and such. This winter, the winter that has come, has days growing shorter up where Bran is, so we can be reasonably sure that the Long Night is back. So no sunny days this winter.

Besides, the point is that the weather isn't reliable. The idea that a larger military campaign of any sort that isn't really necessary would be undertaken in winter just doesn't make any sense. You cannot know that the weather will hold and when it changes you might be in the middle of nowhere with no means to protect your people and animals from the cold. Just as Stannis is right now. Even the Northmen and their horses wouldn't stand a chance in a real winter storm. At least not without shelter.

You would effectively be emasculating winter if it would be reduced to a plot device which only shows its teeth when it is convenient. That way the reader would conclude 'Oh, winter has come? Who cares, there is no real difference between winter and summer anyway!'

The False Spring only lasted two moon turns, right? At least its official length (there must have been less snowy/cold weather even before that, of course). But real Westerosi spring weather was only there for a two months. Even if that happened more often (which doesn't seem to be the case or else people wouldn't name a year after the so-called False Spring) there is no chance that all of Westeros could plant crops in such a time - and they wouldn't do it because it would be a waste of resources considering that winter might return again and kill everything that has been planted.

In mild winters crops might be planted in the southern Reach or Dorne. But that's it, really. And that's just my guess, really. Even if it does 'almost never' snow down there doesn't mean the weather is ideal to plant crops in winter. The temperature might still be often around freezing, and drop below freezing at night, subsequently killing all the crops.

And, actually, we don't know whether Brandon Ice Eyes troops marched with him down the entire way from Winterfell. He certainly would have, and he would have had some people from Winterfell with him, but he could easily have raised his troops along the way or from one or two specific castles in the region near the Wolf's Den. Those were just some slavers, they didn't hold the entire region there or had some huge army, as far as we know.

Rivers freezing in the North and everywhere in Westeros seems to be a normal thing. After the False Spring the Blackwater (a great and fast flowing river) froze, too. It is a greater river than the White Knife and the winter around the False Spring is not remembered as a particular nasty winter (else the Westerosi would never have had enough food to throw that huge tourney at Harrenhal at the apparent end of that winter).

And just because the Northmen attacked the slavers there doesn't mean the other Westerosi don't know what winter is or where never forced to fight or defend themselves in winter. Winter attacks from the mountain clans seem to be common in the Vale, so there you have people fighting and defending themselves. The Dance was partially fought in winter, too. It is folly, of course, but not unheard of.

However, it is folly to begin a war in winter. It is clear that the Stannis-Bolton conflict has to be resolved, of course. But thereafter war should be over (unless, of course, people are forced to defend themselves again - against the Weeper, the wights, and the Others, etc.). But the idea that people would begin a new campaign or conquest in winter if they have the choice isn't just not very likely. In fact, it would be stupid to do so and pretty much unbelievable if people in the North would assist anyone with that.

As to the winter storms:

I thought they only referred to sea storms, actually. The talk there are naval issues not the frequency of winter storms on land. After all, as everybody living close to the coast wind and storm is a lot more common near the sea (or on the sea) than it is far away from the coast.

And in general to winter warfare:

The snow isn't going to disappear even if there are no storms. Even if it just snows for a fortnight or so an army might not be able to move or not be able to protect its people against the cold. Knights other cavalry should be completely useless in winter, meaning that the bulk of the work would be done by the footmen - who shouldn't be able to withstand the cold for long and would take months or years to reach a destination they could have reached much sooner in summer. Snow also makes the landscape treacherous so a lot of people should die on such marches simply of accidents (as do quite a few people on Stannis' march to Winterfell). Not to mention that, you know, sieges and the like are a complete no-go in winter, too.

If you enemy has a castle then you would be utterly stupid to march against him because all the enemy needs to do to defeat you is not give you battle. You cannot besiege his castle in winter under any circumstances.

Well firstly, there is nothing contentious about days growing shorter. Of course they will. That's what Winter is. However, any idea that Winter is going to involve a total disappearance of daylight is wrong, at least on this side of the Wall, and likely wrong for anywhere up to the top edge of the Haunted forest too.

Since there was no permanent daylight even at the Wall during Summer, it is logical that there will be no permanent night during Winter either. In fact, not even the Long Night could have resulted in years of permanent darkness, as the planet would be devoid of all animal and plant life today, if that was the case.

So Winter will be cold. Winter will bring shorter days and longer nights. Winter will bring blizzards. But it will also have calmer periods, intervals between blizzards and provide opportunities for troops to move across the snow, if they are equipped to do so.

As for Brandon Ice Eyes. The fact is he conducted a winter assault on a fortification 400 miles from his home castle. If it can be done once, it can be done again.

Lastly, your entire argument cuts both ways. It equally destroys the idea that Daenerys will arrive with 100,000 troops and start conducting military campaigns all over Westeros to become Mother of All.

My view: Large forces of multiple tens of thousands will not be in operation during the depths of Winter. Smaller forces of 5,000 or thereabouts - if they are equipped and suited to Winter warfare - will be quite effective. So goodbye Dothraki. Goodbye Golden Company. Goodbye Unsullied.

Hello Northmen, in this Time for Wolves.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Not sure winter will make military campaigns less likely, just more desperate. As food will be lacking for civilians there will be lots of volunteers to join armies (think about the time of wolves starving host that travelled from Winterfell to KL at the end of the dance of dragons).

Edited by Lord Freypie

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1 minute ago, Lord Freypie said:

Not sure winter will make military campaigns less likely, just more desperate. As food will be lacking for civilians there will be lots of volunteers to join armies (think about the time of wolves starving host that travelled from Winterfell to KL at the end of the dance of dragons).

Yip. If the Harvest requires 9 able bodied men out of ten to be in the field, then that means 9 out of 10 able bodied men are only becoming available in Winter, once the Harvest is done and they have nothing left to do but sit around and drink ale for 7 years.

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Besides, I think this series is wrapping up after maybe 6 months of Winter, maybe 1 year tops. We aren't going to be reading about 7 years of Winter life.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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15 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Well firstly, there is nothing contentious about days growing shorter. Of course they will. That's what Winter is. However, any idea that Winter is going to involve a total disappearance of daylight is wrong, at least on this side of the Wall, and likely wrong for anywhere up to the top edge of the Haunted forest too.

Since there was no permanent daylight even at the Wall during Summer, it is logical that there will be no permanent night during Winter either. In fact, not even the Long Night could have resulted in years of permanent darkness, as the planet would be devoid of all animal and plant life today, if that was the case.

So Winter will be cold. Winter will bring shorter days and longer nights. Winter will bring blizzards. But it will also have calmer periods, intervals between blizzards and provide opportunities for troops to move across the snow, if they are equipped to do so.

Well, no. If the longness and shortness of days in Westeros had anything to do with astronomy and the movement of the planet around the sun then the days would be growing shorter and longer throughout the years, not with the seasons spanning more over years.

The darkness of the Long Night was magical, not astronomical, and it is coming back right now. Besides, I didn't say the entire planet was dark. Sothoryos, the Summer Isles, and the regions father in the south might have not been dark during the Long Night.

15 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As for Brandon Ice Eyes. The fact is he conducted a winter assault on a fortification 400 miles from his home castle. If it can be done once, it can be done again.

He surprised them. That can be done, of course.

15 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Lastly, your entire argument cuts both ways. It equally destroys the idea that Daenerys will arrive with 100,000 troops and start conducting military campaigns all over Westeros to become Mother of All.

I never said that, actually. I said that Dany will come with tens of thousands of people and take KL because it is coastal city she can easily overwhelm if she has sufficient troops. I don't think she'll conquer the rest of Westeros in the middle of winter. She won't have to.

And a lot of her people will die, of course. In the fight against the Others. They will die in her service to be reborn again just as Benerro told them.

15 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

My view: Large forces of multiple tens of thousands will not be in operation during the depths of Winter. Smaller forces of 5,000 or thereabouts - if they are equipped and suited to Winter warfare - will be quite effective. So goodbye Dothraki. Goodbye Golden Company. Goodbye Unsullied.

Hello Northmen, in this Time for Wolves.

Well, the book now is named 'A Dream of Spring', but you know that. And we should keep in mind that the Golden Company and the Dothraki might also not be not all that unfamiliar to the concept of winter. It exists in Essos to, you know. And right now the Dothraki Sea is dying because winter has come, so they must have some way to keep alive and live through it just as anybody else has. Keep in mind that the waters of Braavos are already freezing, too. Braavos is not so much north from Vaes Dothrak.

Granted, there shouldn't be any snow down in the Red Waste usually, or in Qarth or Volantis or in Slaver's Bay, but this winter might even hit them. They might get in trouble then but I guess the Dothraki know how to make themselves some warm clothes.

There might be some Northmen left after the coming wars, to be sure, but there won't be all that many suicidal volunteers left, would there?

Those volunteers willing to die in winter might actually come from the Riverlands and other regions were there are still too many mouths to feed. The Reach is not going to bleed out all that quickly. Not in the amount of time that is left.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, no. If the longness and shortness of days in Westeros had anything to do with astronomy and the movement of the planet around the sun then the days would be growing shorter and longer throughout the years, not with the seasons spanning more over years.

The darkness of the Long Night was magical, not astronomical, and it is coming back right now. Besides, I didn't say the entire planet was dark. Sothoryos, the Summer Isles, and the regions father in the south might have not been dark during the Long Night.

He surprised them. That can be done, of course.

I never said that, actually. I said that Dany will come with tens of thousands of people and take KL because it is coastal city she can easily overwhelm if she has sufficient troops. I don't think she'll conquer the rest of Westeros in the middle of winter. She won't have to.

And a lot of her people will die, of course. In the fight against the Others. They will die in her service to be reborn again just as Benerro told them.

Well, the book now is named 'A Dream of Spring', but you know that. And we should keep in mind that the Golden Company and the Dothraki might also not be not all that unfamiliar to the concept of winter. It exists in Essos to, you know. And right now the Dothraki Sea is dying because winter has come, so they must have some way to keep alive and live through it just as anybody else has. Keep in mind that the waters of Braavos are already freezing, too. Braavos is not so much north from Vaes Dothrak.

Granted, there shouldn't be any snow down in the Red Waste usually, or in Qarth or Volantis or in Slaver's Bay, but this winter might even hit them. They might get in trouble then but I guess the Dothraki know how to make themselves some warm clothes.

There might be some Northmen left after the coming wars, to be sure, but there won't be all that many suicidal volunteers left, would there?

Those volunteers willing to die in winter might actually come from the Riverlands and other regions were there are still too many mouths to feed. The Reach is not going to bleed out all that quickly. Not in the amount of time that is left.

I disagree.

The days clearly grow shorter in Winter and longer in Summer. Not for astronomical but for magical reasons. But even in Summer, this magic does not produce 24 hour daylight, hence, even in Winter it will not produce 24 hour darkness.

And the fact is no life would have survived in areas where there was 24 hour darkness for 10 years on end. And yet, we see that the native trees, vegetation and animals survived everywhere, even in the North of Westeros, after the Long Night. And these weren't species that  could have been repopulated from Essos or Sothoryos as you are claiming above.

And lastly, you just have a totally different perspective on this story. Which is your right, but which is something I cannot agree with. You see the North as a devastated wasteland of refugees desperate for Daenerys the Saviour, come the last book. I think you miss the boat by a wide margin with this interpretation of the narrative.

I see Westeros as a multi-polar tapestry with Daenerys brining devastation from the South and the Others bringing it from the North, and with the Song of Ice and Fire required to bring balance back to Westeros by neutralizing both the forces of Ice and Fire.

Daenerys is merely one side of this equation, as the Others are on the other. The "Saviour" will be the one that sits between these two extremes. And that Saviour is not Daenerys. She is wholly associated with Fire, which cannot from a thematic perspective be the solution to the problem humanity faces in this series.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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3 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I disagree.

The days clearly grow shorter in Winter and longer in Summer. Not for astronomical but for magical reasons. But even in Summer, this magic does not produce 24 hour daylight, hence, even in Winter it will not produce 24 hour darkness.

And the fact is no life would have survived in areas where there was 24 hour darkness for 10 years on end. And yet, we see that the native trees, vegetation and animals survived everywhere, even in the North of Westeros, after the Long Night. And these weren't species that  could have been repopulated from Essos or Sothoryos as you are claiming above.

But what if magic protected people from death in total darkness back during the Long Night? Have you thought about that?

Back then the greenseers would have been much stronger, there would have been those blood sacrifices to the trees Bran saw, and so on. Magic can make things possible that aren't possible.

Just as magic might keep the Neck as warm as it apparently is.

If you keep in mind that the Children might have had something to do with (the creation of) the Others they might also have been able to defend themselves and their plants and animals against the magic of the Others. That is not impossible. And back then there would have still been Children of the Forest all around Westeros.

3 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And lastly, you just have a totally different perspective on this story. Which is your right, but which is something I cannot agree with. You see the North as a devastated wasteland of refugees desperate for Daenerys the Saviour, come the last book. I think you miss the boat by a wide margin with this interpretation of the narrative.

I see Westeros as a multi-polar tapestry with Daenerys brining devastation from the South and the Others bringing it from the North, and with the Song of Ice and Fire required to bring balance back to Westeros by neutralizing both the forces of Ice and Fire.

Daenerys is merely one side of this equation, as the Others are on the other. The "Saviour" will be the one that sits between these two extremes. And that Saviour is not Daenerys. She is wholly associated with Fire, which cannot from a thematic perspective be the solution to the problem humanity faces in this series.

That would only make sense if Daenerys were visibly being set up as an antagonist. But she isn't. The Others are. They are creatures that kill everyone and use corpses as their thralls. Dany doesn't do that.

If there was a 'fiery threat' and an 'icy threat' then Dany is by far not in the same leagues as the Others, making the whole scenario you suggest completely unbalanced.

There is also no reason to assume the Others can be reasoned with or need some 'bridge guy' sitting between the two extremes to unite them again. Jon Snow isn't the child of ice and fire, he is just the child of a Stark and a Targaryen. Not to child of an Other and a dragon.

Not to mention that, you know, there is no reason to believe in one savior only when Rhaegar talks about three dragon heads.

But even if there was only one savior Jon Snow isn't a good candidate for that by far. Only this idea that a union of Stark and Targaryen make the great hero guy supports that - and that's just a fan theory, unsupported by anything in the text. But a lot of the prophetic clues within the text all point to Daenerys Targaryen as the savior.

And symbolically fire is a much more positive element than the cold in this series. Yes, cold preserves, but it also kills as Gared told us all in the very Prologue of this series. Fire and warmth on the other hand help you get along with and deal with the cold. Humanity needs fire and warmth to survive, but it can do without devastating cold and ice.

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3 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

But what if magic protected people from death in total darkness back during the Long Night? Have you thought about that?

Back then the greenseers would have been much stronger, there would have been those blood sacrifices to the trees Bran saw, and so on. Magic can make things possible that aren't possible.

Just as magic might keep the Neck as warm as it apparently is.

If you keep in mind that the Children might have had something to do with (the creation of) the Others they might also have been able to defend themselves and their plants and animals against the magic of the Others. That is not impossible. And back then there would have still been Children of the Forest all around Westeros.

That would only make sense if Daenerys were visibly being set up as an antagonist. But she isn't. The Others are. They are creatures that kill everyone and use corpses as their thralls. Dany doesn't do that.

If there was a 'fiery threat' and an 'icy threat' then Dany is by far not in the same leagues as the Others, making the whole scenario you suggest completely unbalanced.

There is also no reason to assume the Others can be reasoned with or need some 'bridge guy' sitting between the two extremes to unite them again. Jon Snow isn't the child of ice and fire, he is just the child of a Stark and a Targaryen. Not to child of an Other and a dragon.

Not to mention that, you know, there is no reason to believe in one savior only when Rhaegar talks about three dragon heads.

But even if there was only one savior Jon Snow isn't a good candidate for that by far. Only this idea that a union of Stark and Targaryen make the great hero guy supports that - and that's just a fan theory, unsupported by anything in the text. But a lot of the prophetic clues within the text all point to Daenerys Targaryen as the savior.

And symbolically fire is a much more positive element than the cold in this series. Yes, cold preserves, but it also kills as Gared told us all in the very Prologue of this series. Fire and warmth on the other hand help you get along with and deal with the cold. Humanity needs fire and warmth to survive, but it can do without devastating cold and ice.

There is a strength in living wood that can resist even the hottest Fire, or something along those lines, doesn't the saying go?

Anyway, I would argue that Daenerys IS being set up as an antagonist. She is bringing a Dothraki horde to invade Westeros. She is potentially being set up to align with Euron Crow's Eye.

After trying to break free of her Targaryen heritage,  she has finally realized that "Fire and Blood" is the route she was born for. The true nature of her heritage. We are repeatedly told that Dragons represent Fire and Blood, Tycho Nestoris tells us in no uncertain terms how bad  Dragons are for humanity. They represent nothing good.

In any case, you don't create 6 PoV characters from House Stark without making them the most important part of this story.

 

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On 6/6/2016 at 4:51 AM, Lord Varys said:

Perhaps magic might be able to counter the weather and climate to a degree. Thoros and Melisandre (and Moqorro and other red priests) might be able to do something in that department, keeping the cold at bay, etc. Other fire mages might be able to do similar things. Although I don't think they will be able to change the weather in any big degree.

I wonder about this. If the dragons can't operate well in rain storms, let alone blizzards, human weather magic might be needed to counteract Other weather magic and allow the dragons to be deployed. 

I agree with you in general about the effect of winter on conventional warfare. Rain could half the distance that an army could march per day if it made the roads muddy enough, so frequent snowstorms + extreme cold + dwindling supplies + fatigue should have a much more significant effect. In a similar vein I expect that large pitched battles against undead hordes will almost always lead to defeat, so that and the weather will likely confine the various large armies to defending fixed positions and relying on naval travel. I imagine there'll be more mobile magical units (e.g. dragons, sorcerers, small groups of obsidian-armed folk) trying to target the Others at the same time.

I do think it's more likely that the main conflicts will be wrapped up (or on the verge of it) prior to the players encountering the Others and extreme winter conditions, though. I can't see Dany and Aegon having a protracted dance of dragons that's confined to the coasts, for example.

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

There is a strength in living wood that can resist even the hottest Fire, or something along those lines, doesn't the saying go?

Not sure to what you are referring there.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Anyway, I would argue that Daenerys IS being set up as an antagonist. She is bringing a Dothraki horde to invade Westeros. She is potentially being set up to align with Euron Crow's Eye.

After trying to break free of her Targaryen heritage,  she has finally realized that "Fire and Blood" is the route she was born for. The true nature of her heritage. We are repeatedly told that Dragons represent Fire and Blood, Tycho Nestoris tells us in no uncertain terms how bad  Dragons are for humanity. They represent nothing good.

In any case, you don't create 6 PoV characters from House Stark without making them the most important part of this story.

 

Come on, now. If you go back and check the original outline then it is already confirmed that Daenerys Targaryen will conquer Westeros. That was the topic of the planned second book. True, this could have lead to a further weakening of the Realm back in that scenario, and thus Dany might have been somewhat of an antagonist (although she would have been fighting for the throne against Evil Jaime, so she would also have been a liberator, presumably) but she would also have brought the means (i.e. dragons) and additional troops to fight the Others.

As things stand now we have Archmaester Marwyn going and telling her about the Others so she is not going to go to Westeros only as a conqueror, regardless what conclusion you think she has reached in her last chapter. What 'Fire and Blood' and her destiny means has yet to be determined.

You know, nothing in that chapter actually indicated anything about her going to Westeros at all. If she gains the Dothraki she can set herself as Empress of Essos or something like that. She doesn't need that forsaken place in the West her ancestors once conquered. She could conquer the entire world.

Perhaps she has to be persuaded to actually go to Westeros now? We have to wait and see.

Tycho Nestoris isn't a impartial expert on dragons. The man descends from people that run away from Valyria. He knows what dragons can to in the wrong hands, but that doesn't mean much.

The number of POVs isn't 'proof' for anything. There are only three Stark POVs left in the series, by the way. And there are three Lannister POVs, too, both being trumped by four Greyjoy POVs (Theon, Asha, Aeron, Victarion).

By the way:

A lot more time might pass in the later books if George realizes that traveling and marching is going to take longer in winter than in the other seasons. That way, the remaining books could actually cover a longer period of time than one would expect in light of ACoK-ADwD.

51 minutes ago, The Drunkard said:

I wonder about this. If the dragons can't operate well in rain storms, let alone blizzards, human weather magic might be needed to counteract Other weather magic and allow the dragons to be deployed.

Could be. I guess the dragons could only be deployed against the Others to any great effect if it is not snowing for one reason or another. We also have to keep in mind that they will have riders who won't be all that experienced in this kind of thing. We won't see any stunts like Prince Daemon pulled of during Dance, that's for sure.

51 minutes ago, The Drunkard said:

I agree with you in general about the effect of winter on conventional warfare. Rain could half the distance that an army could march per day if it made the roads muddy enough, so frequent snowstorms + extreme cold + dwindling supplies + fatigue should have a much more significant effect. In a similar vein I expect that large pitched battles against undead hordes will almost always lead to defeat, so that and the weather will likely confine the various large armies to defending fixed positions and relying on naval travel. I imagine there'll be more mobile magical units (e.g. dragons, sorcerers, small groups of obsidian-armed folk) trying to target the Others at the same time.

That sounds pretty reasonable. Not to mention the skepticism/outright fear of many people involving direct combat against living corpses. I mean, nobody would want to do that, right?

51 minutes ago, The Drunkard said:

I do think it's more likely that the main conflicts will be wrapped up (or on the verge of it) prior to the players encountering the Others and extreme winter conditions, though. I can't see Dany and Aegon having a protracted dance of dragons that's confined to the coasts, for example.

That is certainly possible. But we do know that it is already snowing in KL and the Riverlands, and thus it may not be all that likely that normal warfare is going to continue there for long. Aegon's campaign to win the Iron Throne might work for quite some time considering he is in the Stormlands right now and it is neither cold nor snowing in Arianne's chapters down there, but the good weather might not last forever.

Depending when exactly Dany is going to arrive a great war like the First Dance might just no longer be possible. Not unless winter isn't a thing months from now.

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An interesting idea.

The North is experienced in winter warfare, as we have seen from the actions of the Flints and Norreys and the like. they have snowshoes, smaller and more capable horses, and as we saw in the world of ice and fire, in the middle of winter second sons and old men volunteer for war, simply to spare thier kin one more mouth to feed. Jon says something similar, by asking for all such men to come to the Wall.

The Vale might be able to send out armed forces via other routes then the Bloody Gate. The sea route is dangerous, but possible.

The Reach, Stormlands and Dorne will escape the worst of winter, meaning we will likely see battles still happening in the south as well

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In TWOW Arianne POVs describes Stormlands as a humid jungle, perhaps it will rapidly freeze, but I doubt that. I suspect it will probably take most of TWOW for the cold to start moving in on Reach, Stormlands and probably won't touch Dorne as of yet. KL will probably get cold and start snowing around the middle of the book.

I also think that by end of the series, not only the Wall will come down but seasons will get resolved to being normal (not lasting years). But if that not happens, the resolution of WW problem at the end of the book will have the book ending with Spring melt will probably start thus the The Dream of Spring name. 

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