Lord Varys

Plot developments / expectations for The Winds of Winter

161 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

Illyrio is certainly more easy to guess. He is very likely Aegon's father, whose mother was a Blackfyre (hence the 'debts of affection to repay' and the statements like 'Blackfyre extinct by the male line', 'contracts written in blood', etc). He may even be a Blackfyre descendant. Maybe not. His objective is to install Aegon Blackfyre in the Iron Throne.

Aegon actually wouldn't be a Blackfyre. He would be a Mopatis if House Blackfyre is truly extinct in the male line, just as Harrold Hardyng is a Hardyng and not an Arryn.

Illyrio makes it appear as if his debts of affection are owed to Varys which makes sense. Varys is the man who singlehandedly raised Illyrio out his miserable life as a bravo and made him one of the most powerful men of Pentos and one of the richest men in his quarter of the world. The idea that Illyrio is on board with the plan because of some promise he made to his dead wife is much less supported, especially in the context of the story.

The fact that Illyrio is the one who controls the Golden Company is also a pretty important fact. It is not very likely that the memory of a dead whore (or the claim of some whore son) is what got Myles Toyne on board of this whole plot. But if Illyrio himself is a Blackfyre descendant things are different. And they would be even more different if Illyrio is also a descendant of Bittersteel, the legendary founder of the Golden Company. It is much more believable that the captains of the Golden Company would listen to such a man.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

Varys is more mysterious, I'd say. He is strongly cooperating with Illyrio which would argue of also being part of the Blackfyre conspiration. But at the same time he seems to be aiming for higher ideals in relation to the realm. Not simply a Blackfyre takeover.

Varys must have a personal connection to Westeros, too, possibly due to a Targaryen-Blackfyre ancestry, but his ultimate motivation is (or became over the years) more idealogical and philosophical than merely dynastic or personal.

The most interesting tidbit on their backstory Illyrio does not elaborate upon is the reason why Varys teamed up with Illyrio of all people. He claims he doesn't know. But it is more likely that he does very much know, at least by now, and that the reason is that Varys learned who Illyrio actually was and told him that they were (distant) cousins and both descended from (a cadet branch of) the royal dynasty of Westeros. That would have been the foundation of their lasting partnership.

I'm also inclined to believe that Illyrio had no clue who his ancestors were until Varys found out and told him. I imagine he is Pentoshi by birth, with his mother dying early in his life, and his stepfather and step siblings throwing him out of his house, causing him to live a miserable life in a Cinderella-like fashion until he met Varys.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

Regarding the OP. It is also interesting that Illyrio is aware that winter is coming and there is no food for the realm. Of course he doesn't know how hard this winter will be, but he seems to have a plan regarding the lack of food.

Yes, Aegon could actually get very popular if Illyrio ships a lot of food for free over to KL. They might have a lot of spare food over there in the Flatlands, at least in the first two years of winter or so.

59 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

Dreadfort. I think we shouldn't forget Dreadfort.

Allegedly, it is protected by a small garrison. I guess it's not that small as A. Karstark claimed, but smallish nevertheless. But it seems to be the best provisioned castle in the North, bar White Harbor (which is now being overflowed by refugees).  These provisions may be important for skipping the winter.

The Dreadfort certainly is one of the strongest castles in the North and Roose left it well manned when he rode to war with Robb. How many of his men survived the battle at Winterfell and the fighting for the Hornwood lands isn't clear, but one assumes quite a few of them did, and one also expects that Roose commanded Ramsay to leave sufficiently strong garrison at the Dreadfort when he brought his men down to Moat Cailin. Or not, come to think of it, considering that they originally planned to lure Stannis into a trap at the Dreadfort. Once that didn't work Roose might have taken all his strength to Winterfell rather than sending some men back to his castle.

59 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

What can happen there one can only guess.

1) After dispatching the Freys and Manderlys against Stannis, Roose may decide to leave WF to Ramsay and go back to Dreadfort with much of his forces. In that case, nobody except the Others or dragons will be able to take him out there. He may even leave if he learned that Stannis is 'dead'.

Honestly, I'm still very irritated by this notion that Roose would ever actually send Ramsay as a commander of his troops against Stannis. Why wouldn't he do that himself or give command to a trusted and experienced commander? He isn't that stupid. It is only Theon who assumes that Ramsay will come. And Ramsay might come, to be sure, but not necessarily as commander but alongside Roose who would command the troops.

But in any case - if Roose did give Ramsay the command he would most likely remain himself behind at Winterfell with a strong garrison of loyal and capable men and the larger portion of the remaining provision, putting himself in a very comfortable position.

He would only flee Winterfell if he thought he could no longer win. And considering his cautious nature he might actually reach that conclusion sooner rather than later.

59 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

2) If Roose or Ramsay flee after the battle, they will be weakened and unable to protect Dreadfort properly. The Northern coalition may decide to strike at them. There are a couple of options. White Harbor can send its ships and land at the coast, comfortably bringing its forces close to Dreadfort, provisions and even siege engines. Stannis or Jon, can make use of the giants and mammoths.

3) If both die, it will be of course easier to take the castle and its valuable provisions.

If Roose and/or Ramsay retreat to the Dreadfort I expect nobody to pursue them immediately. At least not unless the weather changes suddenly and the snow melts away again. But if Stannis wins the battle and lives he is not going to allow the Boltons to prevail. He will come for them and take down their castle, one way or another. Whether that will be a top priority is difficult to say. I hope not because such a thing should be very costly.

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I just don't buy that. I could buy Varys failing to predict the abduction and the subsequent Rebellion, but I would expect him to do anything in his power to prevent the Rebellion, and succeeding there if he really had Aerys' ear in pretty much all things.

It is possible that Varys had a lot of influence on Aerys but we also knew the man was mad and paranoid before he hired Varys. And we also don't know whether the idea of Rhaegar's Great Council at Harrenhal would have plunged the Realm into a civil war or not. I can see only half or even fewer of the lords supporting Rhaegar against Aerys. Turning against your father wouldn't be a very popular thing in patriarchal Westeros.

And we actually don't know whether it was Varys who made Aerys suspicious about Harrenhal.

Somewhere in the books it is mentioned that Aerys found out about Rhaegar sponsoring the tournament at Harrenhal and made him suspicious about his plans there. I don't see anyone else ferreting this supposedly close held plan between Rhaegar and his friends but Varys. In fact, Varys might be mentioned so in the text.

But Varys could only do so much, many times he had to change plans because real people do unexpected things. He couldn't predict actions of Rhaegar in kidnapping Lyanna, he couldn't predict brash Brandon riding to KL and inciting Aerys to homicidal insanity, just as he couldn't stop Joffrey from executing Ned Stark and throwing Westeros into chaos YEARS before his plans were ready. Once Aerys executed Starks, nothing Varys did could have stopped rebellious lords and in his tenure before, he managed to alienate Aerys from all of his good councilors/generals who could have defeated it.

 

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No, such a sister is never mentioned.

Well, if that woman gave birth to the son he needed for his plans he might have been forced to marry her to be able to make the boy his legitimate son and heir. We have no idea about inheritance laws in Pentos, and Illyrio is a very wealthy man but neither a king nor a lord. There might be legal procedures and laws in Pentos that make it difficult to bestow your wealth on some lowborn whore son.

And I'm pretty sure that Aegon is Illyrio's heir, supposed to get everything should the plan be canceled or Illyrio die a sudden death.

While Illyrio and Varys pretend and lie a lot, I do believe his story about Serra was genuine. After all, all in Pentos knew that he basically got into blacklist with nobles there over his actions with Serra. Other than genuine feelings why divorse/refuse to marry a noble wife of one of leaders of Pentos for a whore? 

Plus, being Rhaegar's "son" doesn't stop Illyrio adopting the boy and gifting him all his wealth. Many nobles don't need to have acknowledge heir of their blood to give the inheritance to someone else or to a cause.

I am also sincerely doubt that Illyrio or Varys will EVER tell anyone that Aegon might be Illyrio's son. Including him (unless he already knows). That a stupendous risk to take. To acknowledge that Aegon is absolute nobody... especially if Bloodfyre/Brightflame conspiracy is not involved...What makes you think that Arianne and any of the nobles in Westeros would accept that, especially if Danaerys is breathing down their necks with her dragons in row? And what would stop JonCon going into absolute fury by realizing that he threw his life away and in fact betrayed Rhaegar and all he stood for, for a fake?

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Well, I'm pretty sure Varys, the man who tells us that 'power is a shadow on the wall which resides where people believe it resides' doesn't give a damn about that assertion. He has no reason to prove or disprove it and is not the kind of guy who believes some historical rumors just because they would profit him or some of his family members.

And you should keep in mind that Daeron II was a crowned and anointed king regardless who his father was. And Aegon IV never disinherited him.

Well, then Varys really sucked during the Rebellion. And the idea that a Blackfyre pretender through the female line would have had any shot at the Iron Throne is pretty far-fetched. Why don't they go with Aegon Blackfyre right now if they would have done so against Aerys/Viserys? The Targaryens are gone, the Baratheons are essentially finished (Stannis) or fake Baratheons (Tommen/Myrcella). If a Blackfyre still had a shot he would be likely to succeed against those people than against a Targaryen.

Oh, I'd be surprised if the elephants lived so long.

About elephants - why not? Cold? I like elephants vs dragons parties! LOL

Varys did suck during Rebellion, and he couldn't manipulate enough Cersei/Joffrey and failed on Dany/Viserys/Drogo plan, He is not omniscient.

My theory, is that Varys wanted to come in with "beloved" and "Good king" rule popularity.

During Targaeryen reign he could have pointed to disastrous and crazy Aerys and Viserys and blamed their blood (as Blackfyres do). After all in first Blackfyre rebellion, half of nobles sides with them. Now, after getting EVERYONE upset at Targaryens, Blackfyres would have far more supporters including High Lords 

Now, during Lannister reign, everyone is talking about "good old times" during Targaeryens and everyone (other than Robert) remembers with misty eye - "silver prince" Rhaegar. Hence that song that Cersei listed to from the streets - about Lions eating Stags and defeating wolves, getting above themselves and then Dragons finishing them off. Now Targaeryens are popular and nobody even cares about Blackfyres.

 

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No, that's my theory. Jon has yet to mention Lyanna. But the fact that he hasn't mentioned her at all as of yet strongly suggests he doesn't like her all that much. Elia gave Rhaegar two healthy children. That should have been enough, don't you think?

Jon mentions Elia because Aegon is always on his mind. Lyanna is not, perhaps he will talk about her in the next book. But his Elia's opinion not so good either. In his first POV, he talks about her nicely (but then he is speaking aloud to Golden Company and his companions)

In second POV, he thinks about her being sickly and doctor telling Rhaegar that he won't have any more children by her. It kind feels so in the text that he knows that Rhaegar wanted - needed- more children and he blamed Elia for being too weak or at least looked down on her for failing Rhaegar

Edited by Masha

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The Lands of Always Winter - Bran becomes the new Tree God.  Take that, Euron.  

The Wall - I think this is pretty much a void in TWOW.  I think Jon stays good and dead for a while, while Melisandre receives a brief POV to show she is in despair.  The epilogue POV may show Jon rising from the dead.  

The North - Obviously, the battle of Ice is completed. I think Theon dies.  He's got Kings Blood, after all.  I also think that Stannis, and his cause, dies (combined with JS, that results in Mel's aforementioned despair).  The Boltons and Freys are betrayed by the Manderlys, who hold WF at the end of the book.  Then, holding pattern while we await events to come at the end of the book.  The Pink Letter's author is never revealed.  Doesn't really matter anyway.  Doesn't need that many POV's in the end.  Asha ends up a comfortable prisoner at Winterfell.  We find out the Manderly's have Rickon stashed away and he's safe.  

Iron Islands/Euron - It seems like a big naval battle is coming with Euron.  That chapter seems so out of left field that I don't know where to go with it.  Could be that he takes the Watchtower and somehow brings down the Wall in an effort to become a god.  That's all I've got, though.  Not sure how far this goes beyond being something out there. 

Riverlands - Brienne and Jamie start trying to make a baby.  Walder Frey finally dies.  On a more serious note, Jamie and Brienne make their way north to try to do something that allows UnCat to rest.  

The Vale - Littlefinger ensures Sweetrobin has an accident.  Marries Sansa to Harry the Heir, who turns out to be a total asshole.  Sansa is revealed as Littlefinger makes a power play to bring the North into his fold after the Boltons are destroyed.  Sansa begins plotting Littlefinger's downfall.  We also discover Littlefinger is the power behind the High Sparrow.  

Meereen - The big battle of fire turns out to be a relatively small battle.  The Yunkish and Volantene  slaves turn on their masters.  However, Meereen's gates are barred and Selmy lays siege to Meereen.  When Dany arrives, she burns it to the ground (they unleashed the dragon!).  Thus, the Meereen arc ends in Fire and Blood.  I don't think she ends up all the way back in Vaes Dothrak, but she does end up with her own Khalasar.  Her armies board the Volantene and Iron Fleet ships and start heading toward Westeros.

Bravos - Faceless men, blah blah blah.  Arya.  Blah blah blah.  Arya leaves Braavos and returns home.  

Kings Landing - Tommen dies.  The High Sparrow seizes power and some key people flee the city and ends up in various locales.    

Stormlands - Aegon begins his siege of Kings Landing with his new Queen at his side.  God, she's got a lot of husbands.  

Dorne - Dorne continues to be pissed.  Doran continues to be pissed because all his plotting is going to hell. Arianne is a prisoner, the Sand Snakes are stoking unrest. But, Doran does little except complain about his gout while hoping Dany will pay attention to his useless hunk of land and come destroy his enemies for him and be his new BFF.  

Back to the Wall and the Lands of Always Winter - TreeBran brings Jon Snow back to life using his new super powers.  Take that Mel.  The Wall is destroyed. Dang.  Winter is really here and UnJon has to run for Winterfell.  

So, what I'm saying is that a lot of loose plotlines wrap up quickly (none moreso than Meereen, which really can't end in any other way without dragging on endlessly) and get people where they need to be for book 7.  Some of my takes are stretches, perhaps, but the point is moving the cyvasse pieces around the board to where they need to be for the grand finale.  Which will probably take 2 books.  

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On 1/13/2017 at 5:08 PM, Lord Varys said:

Honestly, I'm still very irritated by this notion that Roose would ever actually send Ramsay as a commander of his troops against Stannis. Why wouldn't he do that himself or give command to a trusted and experienced commander? He isn't that stupid. It is only Theon who assumes that Ramsay will come. And Ramsay might come, to be sure, but not necessarily as commander but alongside Roose who would command the troops.

But in any case - if Roose did give Ramsay the command he would most likely remain himself behind at Winterfell with a strong garrison of loyal and capable men and the larger portion of the remaining provision, putting himself in a very comfortable position.

He would only flee Winterfell if he thought he could no longer win. And considering his cautious nature he might actually reach that conclusion sooner rather than later.

Thinking about it, I think you are right about Theon assumption regarding Ramsay command. He may or may not go to the battle. Roose may order him to remain in WF and leave the command to the Freys.

However, Roose will never go out of WF to face Stannis, map or not. The outcome of the battle of Ice is not important for Roose. If the Frey army wins, excellent. If they lose, it's a Pyrrhic victory for Stannis. 

BTW: What do you think about Justin Massey and the sellswords? He is heading to CB, but he will not reach it that soon. Will be Jon still 'dead'? In that case will he take Selyse to Braavos? Will he meet the real Arya? If he ever reaches the Disputed Lands things may be changing already in both Essos and Westeros. 

 

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32 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

Thinking about it, I think you are right about Theon assumption regarding Ramsay command. He may or may not go to the battle. Roose may order him to remain in WF and leave the command to the Freys.

The problem with any speculation there is that we have literally no idea what effect the escape/abduction of 'Lady Arya' will have on the Northmen at Winterfell. Barbrey and the Ryswells will stay true to Roose, presumably, but what about the Hornwood, Cerwyn, Tallhart, and Umber men? What about the freeriders? They might just leave the castle, especially if there is some fighting/chaos inside the walls. Or they might refuse to fight against Stannis and their fellow Northmen after they got out of the castle.

But considering the events in Theon 1 it is actually not unlikely that there will be a united Frey/Bolton army attacking Stannis. After all, Roose now has Stannis' location and expects the Karstark betrayal to work, he has no idea about Alys Karstark spilling the beans to Jon, Tycho, and subsequently Stannis. Thus the smartest decision for should be to throw as many forces as he can against Stannis to end the thing at the village. He himself can still remain behind with a token force to hold Winterfell in case things go bad but if he wants to crush Stannis he cannot wait much longer.

Even Stannis won his Pyrrhic victory at the village the man could still win the loyalty of the North there. After all, he has 'Arya' now, and if they all decide that Winterfell no longer means anything, and neither do the Boltons because a decent portions of their forces (and all the Freys in the North) are dead then the Boltons are doomed.

32 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

However, Roose will never go out of WF to face Stannis, map or not. The outcome of the battle of Ice is not important for Roose. If the Frey army wins, excellent. If they lose, it's a Pyrrhic victory for Stannis.

Technically yes, but see above. Stannis might then not able to besiege Winterfell but he might not have to. They could collect some food/provisions at Castle Cerwyn and then press on to White Harbor or go back to the Wall.

32 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

BTW: What do you think about Justin Massey and the sellswords? He is heading to CB, but he will not reach it that soon. Will be Jon still 'dead'? In that case will he take Selyse to Braavos? Will he meet the real Arya? If he ever reaches the Disputed Lands things may be changing already in both Essos and Westeros.

That is a difficult question. I expect Jon to be still dead when Jeyne and Theon arrive there, and I expect Tycho and Massey to take Selyse and Shireen with them, especially if they still don't know for a certainty what Stannis' status is at that point. Massey's message should make it clear that Stannis might not be dead at all but the need for the sellswords will make them hurry. But that would depend on the situation at the Wall at this point. I doubt Marsh and company will dare mess with a representative of the Iron Bank. If he invites Selyse and Shireen to come along and collect Stannis' money and hire those sellswords Stannis wants they most likely don't want to interfere with that. If Selyse/Shireen are gone then the Boltons should focus on Braavos/wherever they are if they want them, and not the Wall. Which means the Night's Watch should be safe.

But that, in turn, depends on whether Marsh and company are still in charge at that point. Could be. Or not. The wildlings are not likely to stop Tycho/Massey nor Selyse/Shireen.

I don't know what's going on with Jeyne but Jon being dead would enable her to keep up the charade a while longer and then we'll see where that's going to lead. I don't think Arya will return from Braavos disguised as her considering that the news about Jon's death should be huge blow to her.

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I think there will be far more progress than most people think. Many people are hung up on all the things that need to be resolved before the Others invade. In truth, nothing needs to be resolved before the Others invade. The only thing that needs to happen is for GRRM to get all his characters to where they need to be when the invasion begins. I predict that the Wall will fall in the first half of the book. GRRM ended both AFFC and ADWD with (I'm paraphrasing) "and now winter is here." We will have the battles of Ice and Fire and then we will be in winter's story. We had the story of summer, then autumn and now winter. Jon Snow felt only the cold. I really do believe we will be into the Other invasion much quicker than anticipated.

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14 hours ago, bent branch said:

I think there will be far more progress than most people think. Many people are hung up on all the things that need to be resolved before the Others invade. In truth, nothing needs to be resolved before the Others invade. The only thing that needs to happen is for GRRM to get all his characters to where they need to be when the invasion begins. I predict that the Wall will fall in the first half of the book. GRRM ended both AFFC and ADWD with (I'm paraphrasing) "and now winter is here." We will have the battles of Ice and Fire and then we will be in winter's story. We had the story of summer, then autumn and now winter. Jon Snow felt only the cold. I really do believe we will be into the Other invasion much quicker than anticipated.

I agree that tWoW will be a book of action, however there is a lot of narrative space that needs to be filled first. Just think on the Battle of Meeren, Dany and the Dothraki, Stannis, CB, Aegon invasion, Euron & Oldtown, Kinglanding and Cersei fate, the Riverlands, Vale, etc.

I agree that the Others will interrupt the 'ants hill' that Westeros has become and change the priorities for everybody, but at first this will affect only the North. After the Battle of Ice there might be a lot of politicking in the North with all these factions. This should end with the Other's invasion.

 

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Spoiler

Since the Redwyne fleet passed through the Stepstones, those waters are crawling with strange sails, all the way north to the
Straights of Tarth and Shipbreaker's Bay. Myrmen, Volantenes, Lyseni, even reavers from the Iron Islands. Some have entered
the Sea of Dorne to land men on the south shore of Cape Wrath.

From Arianne I, tWoW

Assuming all is true

- The Volantines are the ones who brought the GC across the sea

- The Lyseni may be going to their slavery operation in Hardhome

- Myrmen? What are they doing? Or just normal operations?

- Ironmen? are they just raiding these coasts? Or do they have another purpose?

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18 hours ago, bent branch said:

I think there will be far more progress than most people think. Many people are hung up on all the things that need to be resolved before the Others invade. In truth, nothing needs to be resolved before the Others invade. The only thing that needs to happen is for GRRM to get all his characters to where they need to be when the invasion begins. I predict that the Wall will fall in the first half of the book. GRRM ended both AFFC and ADWD with (I'm paraphrasing) "and now winter is here." We will have the battles of Ice and Fire and then we will be in winter's story. We had the story of summer, then autumn and now winter. Jon Snow felt only the cold. I really do believe we will be into the Other invasion much quicker than anticipated.

That is certainly a possibility. However, we know there is supposed to a Second Dance of the Dragons, and we actually don't know where the characters are all supposed to be when the Wall is going to fall.

It is possible that the fall of the Wall be a quick surprise nobody is going to see coming but I don't think that will be very effective. It would make for a much more dramatic story and build up much more tension if Stannis, Jon, and Bran would slowly put the pieces together, realizing what the Others plan to do and how they are doing it, and trying everything in their power to prevent the destruction of the Wall - only to fail in the end.

ADwD completely failed on the front of building up the threat of the Others. We got some wights in the Prologue and that was it. One assume that a huge army of Others and wights (possibly even ice spiders and other monsters) will be a common sight from atop the Wall when the Others finally make their move.

TWoW could do a lot of buildup there but I'm not sure it will be enough to reach the point where the Wall will actually fall. The first half of the book will have more than enough to do with Jon's death and resurrection, not to mention the aftermath of the battles. Right now there are still no Others near Bran's cave. They sent wights there but they didn't spare any of their own which is sort of odd and indicating that their main resources are occupied elsewhere, possibly at Hardhome.

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18 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

I agree that tWoW will be a book of action, however there is a lot of narrative space that needs to be filled first. Just think on the Battle of Meeren, Dany and the Dothraki, Stannis, CB, Aegon invasion, Euron & Oldtown, Kinglanding and Cersei fate, the Riverlands, Vale, etc.

I agree that the Others will interrupt the 'ants hill' that Westeros has become and change the priorities for everybody, but at first this will affect only the North. After the Battle of Ice there might be a lot of politicking in the North with all these factions. This should end with the Other's invasion.

 

The thing most often forgotten about AFFC and ADWD is that GRRM did not intend to write them. GRRM said he needed to write those two books because he was spending too much time explaining backstory for some characters. Some characters worked without telling what happened to them in the intervening five years, but other characters stories were impossible to tell without writing those two books. The narrative space that need filling was filled with AFFC and ADWD; these books were what GRRM needed to get everyone where they need to be. Every single thing you mentioned can be swallowed by the zombie apocalypse. We know the battles of ice and fire were cut from ADWD and moved to TWOW, but everything after that is fair game.

The assumption you're making, that the Others will move slowly down south, is a pretty big one. In our real world it is a fair assumption that those who live further north (or south) will begin to experience winter before those closer to the equator. However, in the world of Westeros this winter is not natural and the clues we have so far is that it does not behave like a normal winter. Here is the description of the weather in KL from ADWD-Epilogue:
 

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A steady drip-drip-drip punctuated his words, as snowmelt ran off his cloak to puddle on the floor. The snow had been falling on King's Landing most of the night; outside the drifts were ankle deep.

...The snow had finally stopped falling. Behind a veil of ragged clouds, a full moon floated fat and white as a snowball. The stars shone cold and distant. As Ser Kevan made his way across the inner ward, the castle seemed an alien place, where every keep and tower had grown icy teeth, and all familiar paths had vanished beneath a white blanket. Once an icicle long as a spear fell to shatter by his feet. Autumn in King's Landing, he brooded. What must it be like up on the Wall?

 

This suggests that the unnatural winter is moving south at a quick pace. Also, there seems to be an idea that the Others can only move as fast as a human or a human on horseback. However, we are given this description of the Others from Tormund when the second set of Wildlings are coming through the Wall - ADWD - Chapter 58:

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Tormund turned back. "You know nothing. You killed a dead man, aye, I heard. Mance killed a hundred. A man can fight the dead, but when their masters come, when the white mists rise up ... how do you fight a mist, crow? Shadows with teeth ... air so cold it hurts to breathe, like a knife inside your chest ... you do not know, you cannot know ... can your sword cut cold?"

This suggests that the Others are not always corporeal; that they appear in an area first as a mist. If this is the case, they are probably able to move anywhere it is cold enough. I think this includes long distances. At this point, the only thing keeping the Others north of the Wall is the magic in the Wall. I think it is highly likely the first hint we have that the Wall has been breached is when the dead get up and start walking south of the Wall. In other words, I don't think that what the Wall is holding back is necessarily corporeal. As Tormund said, you can fight the dead, but how do you fight a mist. Another clue that the Others aren't really corporeal is how the one melted when Sam stabbed it with dragonglass.

Edited by bent branch
ETA: Oh, and the beast who melted in the Jade Compendium.

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That is certainly a possibility. However, we know there is supposed to a Second Dance of the Dragons, and we actually don't know where the characters are all supposed to be when the Wall is going to fall.

It is possible that the fall of the Wall be a quick surprise nobody is going to see coming but I don't think that will be very effective. It would make for a much more dramatic story and build up much more tension if Stannis, Jon, and Bran would slowly put the pieces together, realizing what the Others plan to do and how they are doing it, and trying everything in their power to prevent the destruction of the Wall - only to fail in the end.

ADwD completely failed on the front of building up the threat of the Others. We got some wights in the Prologue and that was it. One assume that a huge army of Others and wights (possibly even ice spiders and other monsters) will be a common sight from atop the Wall when the Others finally make their move.

TWoW could do a lot of buildup there but I'm not sure it will be enough to reach the point where the Wall will actually fall. The first half of the book will have more than enough to do with Jon's death and resurrection, not to mention the aftermath of the battles. Right now there are still no Others near Bran's cave. They sent wights there but they didn't spare any of their own which is sort of odd and indicating that their main resources are occupied elsewhere, possibly at Hardhome.

I was going to reply to you in relation with my reply to rotting sea cow, but for some reason it wouldn't let me write under your quote. Anyway, as I told rotting sea cow, the whole reason that GRRM wrote AFFC and ADWD was because there was backstory for some characters that he found he couldn't write any other way. These were not stories he intended to tell and only some of them will have a conclusion.

As far as everything else (Second DWD, the Wall falling, etc.), there is only a problem because of your ideas of how things need to go down. As I pointed out above, it is entirely possible that the Others are non-corporeal and once the magic of the Wall has fallen they can move south of the Wall. Once they move south of the Wall they can raise a new army of the dead. There are plenty of dead people south of the Wall and we know the dead can be raised south of the Wall. So far, the only thing that seems unable to get south of the Wall is the Others.

One prediction I have for the story is that after the battle of ice, Stannis is marching with his army towards Winterfell. Ramsay has been fooled into thinking Stannis is dead and his army is the Frey army. Anyway, as the gates of Winterfell are opened and Stannis' army starts to enter, they are attacked from behind. They are being attacked by the wightified Frey army. Another scenario is that as Stannis' army enters Winterfell a fight ensues. This battle becomes even more chaotic as the dead get up and rejoin the battle against both Stannis' and Ramsay's armies.

There, I've given you two scenarios where the Wall is breached without taking another whole book for Jon to wring his hands about the coming apocalypse. Seriously, why do you think the zombie apocalypse hasn't been foreshadowed enough? Jon spent the entirety of ADWD preparing for it.

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@bent branch

I agree with you that my arguments are essentially based on my expectations what would make the better story. However, I think we can make a very good case that AFfC/ADwD introduced a lot of new plots that a very likely either completely superfluous from hindsight if they are cut short by the attack of the Others. Instead we can be pretty sure that the stories of Aegon, Euron, the revenge against the Freys, the Faith Militant, Stannis and the Iron Bank, etc. would make much more sense if they would continue for the time being without the Others interfering with them.

The idea that the Others aren't necessarily corporeal doesn't seem to fit well with the fact that the Others are also using wightified animals as mounts. If they could just transform into mist they would have no need for physical mounts. One assumes that they make use of very powerful glamors to move around unseen.

I agree with you that there is a chance that the Others don't have to physically touch corpses they want to transform into wights but their magic certainly has to. And we have as of yet no reason to believe that every corpse north of the Wall can be raised by the Others. We just know that some/many of them have been raised. But I'm more inclined that they have to be rather close to them to pull that off. And perhaps they actually have to really touch them.

ADwD still doesn't indicate anything as devastating as the fall of the Wall. Yeah, the Others and wights are thought to eventually attack the NW, but nobody foresees or expects or entertains the notion that the Wall itself could be destroyed and the Others and wights march into the Seven Kingdoms. And I think that notion has to be properly introduced into the story before it can come to pass.

The idea that the Wall would suddenly fall in the first or second Mel chapter of TWoW is very unlikely. Especially in a series where a lot of stuff is actually usually explicitly foreshadowed in a lot of cases (Red Wedding, Purple Wedding, Jon's assassination, etc.).

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21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That is certainly a possibility. However, we know there is supposed to a Second Dance of the Dragons, and we actually don't know where the characters are all supposed to be when the Wall is going to fall.

It is possible that the fall of the Wall be a quick surprise nobody is going to see coming but I don't think that will be very effective. It would make for a much more dramatic story and build up much more tension if Stannis, Jon, and Bran would slowly put the pieces together, realizing what the Others plan to do and how they are doing it, and trying everything in their power to prevent the destruction of the Wall - only to fail in the end.

ADwD completely failed on the front of building up the threat of the Others. We got some wights in the Prologue and that was it. One assume that a huge army of Others and wights (possibly even ice spiders and other monsters) will be a common sight from atop the Wall when the Others finally make their move.

TWoW could do a lot of buildup there but I'm not sure it will be enough to reach the point where the Wall will actually fall. The first half of the book will have more than enough to do with Jon's death and resurrection, not to mention the aftermath of the battles. Right now there are still no Others near Bran's cave. They sent wights there but they didn't spare any of their own which is sort of odd and indicating that their main resources are occupied elsewhere, possibly at Hardhome.

You're making a lot of assumptions here.  For example, I see no reason that the Second Dance of Dragons has to occur before the Others attack.  In fact, I anticipate that will occur after the Others' defeat, when the winners start to squabble over who will rule the ruins.

I would expect that the Others will first start probing the Wall,  looking for weak spots where they can cross.  I also anticipate seeing them at Hardhome, through Davos's POV (I think he gets caught up in it).  Plus Jon's recuperation can occur simultaneously with the Others' arrival.  I certainly expect that the two battles and other winding up of cliffhangers will take a while (probably the first 1/4 to 1/3 of the book), but I see no reason that the Others can't penetrate the Wall well before the end of TWOW.(My guess is the 2/3 point).  I would then expect the fight against the Others to stretch into the next book, with the Second Dance following.  

I think Dany will arrive sometime between the Others' invasion and the end of TWOW.  I don't know exactly what will make her turn for Westeros, but I have confidence in George's ability to find a way.

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38 minutes ago, Nevets said:

You're making a lot of assumptions here.  For example, I see no reason that the Second Dance of Dragons has to occur before the Others attack.  In fact, I anticipate that will occur after the Others' defeat, when the winners start to squabble over who will rule the ruins.

That seems to be a rather odd idea. Euron and Aegon are set up as important figures right, and nothing suggests that they will play important roles in (or survive) the fight against the Others.

We also have it from George's original outline that Daenerys' conquest of Westeros is going to take place before the fight against the Others.

38 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I would expect that the Others will first start probing the Wall,  looking for weak spots where they can cross. 

I'm not sure they can do such a thing in light of the magic of the Wall. If it is magic that keeps them back, not the physical ice they have to destroy the magic first. And one assumes the key point to try to do that will the magical gate beneath the Nightfort.

38 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I also anticipate seeing them at Hardhome, through Davos's POV (I think he gets caught up in it).  Plus Jon's recuperation can occur simultaneously with the Others' arrival.  I certainly expect that the two battles and other winding up of cliffhangers will take a while (probably the first 1/4 to 1/3 of the book), but I see no reason that the Others can't penetrate the Wall well before the end of TWOW.(My guess is the 2/3 point).  I would then expect the fight against the Others to stretch into the next book, with the Second Dance following.

That would all make for a story that would race ahead to the end nearly at light speed, something that's not likely to happen.

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Thanks for your insightful answer, you make fair points,  but I need to agree with @Lord Varys here.

8 hours ago, bent branch said:

The thing most often forgotten about AFFC and ADWD is that GRRM did not intend to write them. GRRM said he needed to write those two books because he was spending too much time explaining backstory for some characters.

I'm not very versed in the history of asoiaf books, but even if GRRM did not intend to to write them, in the end he did. AFFC & ADWD set up such a strong groundwork for TWOW that it would be a waste not to harvest what is planted.

8 hours ago, bent branch said:

Some characters worked without telling what happened to them in the intervening five years, but other characters stories were impossible to tell without writing those two books. The narrative space that need filling was filled with AFFC and ADWD; these books were what GRRM needed to get everyone where they need to be. Every single thing you mentioned can be swallowed by the zombie apocalypse. We know the battles of ice and fire were cut from ADWD and moved to TWOW, but everything after that is fair game.

When I mean with narrative space is completing the stories left from Feast&Dance. It may sound an exaggeration but I cannot imagine the siege of KL by Aegon interrupted by the arrival of the Others and getting the whole GC wighted. 

Also, and this was also pointed out by Lord Varys, we haven't seen much of the Others in the last two books. Why should we fear them?

8 hours ago, bent branch said:

 I think it is highly likely the first hint we have that the Wall has been breached is when the dead get up and start walking south of the Wall. In other words, I don't think that what the Wall is holding back is necessarily corporeal.

This bring another problem,  unless I'm missing something, I don't see enough groundwork yet to see the Wall failing, that's why I don't expect to see it before the end of the book, and maybe not even shortly after. Still an epilogue would make a lot of sense.

Notice I don't disagree with you regarding the Others interrupting the story. They certainly will.

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9 hours ago, bent branch said:

I think it is highly likely the first hint we have that the Wall has been breached is when the dead get up and start walking south of the Wall. In other words, I don't think that what the Wall is holding back is necessarily corporeal. As Tormund said, you can fight the dead, but how do you fight a mist. Another clue that the Others aren't really corporeal is how the one melted when Sam stabbed it with dragonglass.

That is the heart of my argument about the nature of the coming War. I have seen people talk about how the collapse of the Wall is going to destroy all the castles of the Night's Watch, and perhaps even flood the entire Gift. Like the collapsing Walls of Jericho. I don't see it that way.

I think when the Horn is blown, it will break the barrier spell inside the Wall. And it will probably create a breach. It isn't going to collapse the ENTIRE Wall. And at that moment, the Others will be able to raise wights in Oldtown. Or at least, they will be able to send their cold mist pouring into Westeros, to materialize anywhere in the South as soon as a mist can blow to that destination. So give it two weeks, maybe. Depending on how fast the cold wind can blow.

Anyway, we aren't going to see a battlefront that gradually retreats from the Wall, to the Last Hearth, to the Dreadfort, to Winterfell etc, as humanity falls back in one big wave. Nope. We are going to see corpse armies rise in King's Landing, in Highgarden, Lannisport and in Oldtown. Simultaneously.

So humanity will become a thousand flickers of light, holed up in their various castles from the Wall down to Sunspear, fighting the enveloping darkness and the armies of the dead. Everywhere. The need will be evident across Westeros. And that is what will eventualy unite the Realm under the Prince who Was promised, against the existential threat to all of humanity.

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7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

That is the heart of my argument about the nature of the coming War. I have seen people talk about how the collapse of the Wall is going to destroy all the castles of the Night's Watch, and perhaps even flood the entire Gift. Like the collapsing Walls of Jericho. I don't see it that way.

I think when the Horn is blown, it will break the barrier spell inside the Wall. And it will probably create a breach. It isn't going to collapse the ENTIRE Wall. And at that moment, the Others will be able to raise wights in Oldtown. Or at least, they will be able to send their cold mist pouring into Westeros, to materialize anywhere in the South as soon as a mist can blow to that destination. So give it two weeks, maybe. Depending on how fast the cold wind can blow.

Anyway, we aren't going to see a battlefront that gradually retreats from the Wall, to the Last Hearth, to the Dreadfort, to Winterfell etc, as humanity falls back in one big wave. Nope. We are going to see corpse armies rise in King's Landing, in Highgarden, Lannisport and in Oldtown. Simultaneously.

So humanity will become a thousand flickers of light, holed up in their various castles from the Wall down to Sunspear, fighting the enveloping darkness and the armies of the dead. Everywhere. The need will be evident across Westeros. And that is what will eventualy unite the Realm under the Prince who Was promised, against the existential threat to all of humanity.

By night, all cloaks are black. 

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2 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

By night, all cloaks are black. 

Well said. I also expect men (and women, perhaps) in their tens of thousands joining the Watch, much as the wildings have "been deputized" without actually being Night's Watchmen, all across Westeros, as we return to the original scenario of the Oath, making them the "Watchers on the walls", and not on a singular Wall. The walls of every castle across the land will become the frontline, and the Watchers on those walls will be the heroes.

Certainly, the couple of hundred rejects that currently remain in the Watch don't have a lot of mileage left, and arent' exactly going to make any meaningful impact in a war involving 40 million people.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

hat seems to be a rather odd idea. Euron and Aegon are set up as important figures right, and nothing suggests that they will play important roles in (or survive) the fight against the Others.

We also have it from George's original outline that Daenerys' conquest of Westeros is going to take place before the fight against the Others.

I expect that the attack of the Others is going to thoroughly upend all the political (and other) institutions in Westeros.  So having a Dance before the attack would be relatively pointless if its results are effectively nullified almost immediately.  Although having the two simultaneously makes a certain amount of sense.  I doubt that the invasion will get past the Trident.  ( I base this in part on Dany's HoTU vision.)

 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm not sure they can do such a thing in light of the magic of the Wall. If it is magic that keeps them back, not the physical ice they have to destroy the magic first. And one assumes the key point to try to do that will the magical gate beneath the Nightfort.

I never suggested that they would only probe for physical weak spots.  In fact, I think they will look for magical weak points that they can exploit more than the physical.  I expect that Bran will get a heads-up on this.

8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I agree with you that my arguments are essentially based on my expectations what would make the better story. However, I think we can make a very good case that AFfC/ADwD introduced a lot of new plots that a very likely either completely superfluous from hindsight if they are cut short by the attack of the Others. Instead we can be pretty sure that the stories of Aegon, Euron, the revenge against the Freys, the Faith Militant, Stannis and the Iron Bank, etc. would make much more sense if they would continue for the time being without the Others interfering with them.

I think many of these can be dealt with in about 2-3 chapters, and some will continue past the Others.  Of course, a couple of chapters here, a couple there, and pretty soon you have 500 pages, and not much to show for it.  I think events will go on during the invasion.  It won't affect everybody.  At least, not initially.  And it may not affect the South to a great extent.

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2 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

I'm not very versed in the history of asoiaf books, but even if GRRM did not intend to to write them, in the end he did. AFFC & ADWD set up such a strong groundwork for TWOW that it would be a waste not to harvest what is planted.

I once wanted about the setting @bent branch and others are suggesting for ADwD. That books Epilogue should have been about the attack on the Wall and the cliffhanger the immediate fall. Yet it is quite clear that building up to that wasn't a priority in ADwD. We didn't even get the origin story of the Others or any information on that whatsoever - that certainly could have been revealed all before the Others make their move. Knowing who the Others are and what they want doesn't give us (necessarily) the means or the knowledge how to defeat them.

Why didn't we get any of that in ADwD?

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When I mean with narrative space is completing the stories left from Feast&Dance. It may sound an exaggeration but I cannot imagine the siege of KL by Aegon interrupted by the arrival of the Others and getting the whole GC wighted.

It makes little sense. A lot of the plots we reading about right now were all introduced in AFfC and ADwD. Why didn't George just begin the buildup for the War for the Dawn in those books if that's what's coming now? Instead we got buildup for a lot of politicking and conflict that has to have some fallout. Else he could have completely scrapped all of that.

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Also, and this was also pointed out by Lord Varys, we haven't seen much of the Others in the last two books. Why should we fear them?

Indeed. Do we even know for a certainty they even want to attack the Wall? There are some hints but perhaps they changed their minds in the last book...?

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This bring another problem,  unless I'm missing something, I don't see enough groundwork yet to see the Wall failing, that's why I don't expect to see it before the end of the book, and maybe not even shortly after. Still an epilogue would make a lot of sense.

It could. But honestly the best thing I can imagine is some poor person in the Epilogue realizing how the Others are going to bring down the Wall (before he or she dies, of course), not that actually happening. I'm not sure the next book will contain enough chapters focusing on the situation beyond the Wall to properly build up the threat of the Others.

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Notice I don't disagree with you regarding the Others interrupting the story. They certainly will.

Most definitely. And I'm inclined to believe they will shortcut the Second Dance. But then, if George has the Others prepare do things as effective as possible they could be able to prevent the people down south from learning what has transpired up there.

2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

That is the heart of my argument about the nature of the coming War. I have seen people talk about how the collapse of the Wall is going to destroy all the castles of the Night's Watch, and perhaps even flood the entire Gift. Like the collapsing Walls of Jericho. I don't see it that way.

I think when the Horn is blown, it will break the barrier spell inside the Wall. And it will probably create a breach.

But why should a magical horn that apparently can cause earthquakes affect the magic that is keeping the Others on their side of the Wall? The spells within the Others are very strong and all the Horn of Winter would be doing is shake the Wall a lot. If the sun cannot melt it in summers that stretch on for years then I don't see how an earthquake can bring it down.

The idea would be that the Others first will break the spell that keep them out and the Wall together. When that's done they should be able to get themselves and the wights through the gates or over the Wall itself by climbing across it. But the Wall should still be there, a huge and formidable defense in its own right. That's were the Horn of Winter will come into play. It will bring the Wall tumbling down, and then the armies of the Others can march into the Seven Kingdoms.

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It isn't going to collapse the ENTIRE Wall. And at that moment, the Others will be able to raise wights in Oldtown. Or at least, they will be able to send their cold mist pouring into Westeros, to materialize anywhere in the South as soon as a mist can blow to that destination. So give it two weeks, maybe. Depending on how fast the cold wind can blow.

There could be such a setting although I very much doubt that the Others are literal mists. Again, they would not need undead mounts if that was the case. Dracula also doesn't need some horse when he can transform himself into mist, a bat, or a wolf.

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Anyway, we aren't going to see a battlefront that gradually retreats from the Wall, to the Last Hearth, to the Dreadfort, to Winterfell etc, as humanity falls back in one big wave. Nope. We are going to see corpse armies rise in King's Landing, in Highgarden, Lannisport and in Oldtown. Simultaneously.

That should actually result in the quick and utter defeat of humanity in a matter of days. Nobody would be prepared for that, and there would be a lot of corpses. The people would all die.

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So humanity will become a thousand flickers of light, holed up in their various castles from the Wall down to Sunspear, fighting the enveloping darkness and the armies of the dead. Everywhere. The need will be evident across Westeros. And that is what will eventualy unite the Realm under the Prince who Was promised, against the existential threat to all of humanity.

How do you imagine they would communicate and make plans in such a scenario. There are some glass candles but they are all in Oldtown, and unless we get some surprise dragons there will only be three dragonriders in the story. If the wights would be essentially everywhere the war would be lost before it began. There are lichyards and crypts within the castles of many a lord. Whoever hid at Winterfell would be slain by the Kings of Winter and Lords of Winterfell (and their families and servants) turned wight, probably hundreds upon hundreds in that castle alone.

A united effort against the enemy could only be made if it is us vs. them. If there is some clear front. If the wights are everywhere then all hope will be lost. They could not hope to marshal an army to march against the additional host of undead wildlings and animals the Others were also bringing down from the North because everybody would fight against some zombies in his own backyard and would be quickly overwhelmed.

Such is the nature of the zombie apocalypse scenario. When the dead are rising everywhere the enemy is everywhere. You can't possibly defeat him.

2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Well said. I also expect men (and women, perhaps) in their tens of thousands joining the Watch, much as the wildings have "been deputized" without actually being Night's Watchmen, all across Westeros, as we return to the original scenario of the Oath, making them the "Watchers on the walls", and not on a singular Wall. The walls of every castle across the land will become the frontline, and the Watchers on those walls will be the heroes.

That would work if (and only if) the people in Westeros would still know how to fight living corpses and their masters and if they never had buried any of their dead within the castle walls. But they don't. 70-85% of the people suddenly attacked by a bunch of zombies would be dead before anybody even tried to use fire as a weapon against them.

I mean, think about it. Wights rising simultaneously all across the Realm in one night isn't something people are going to expect. If you flee a castle you might meet the wights outside. If you look for safety inside a castle the wights might already be there. And people in Westeros don't have the means to inform each other quickly about such an attack. Even if some people found out how to kill a wight they would have no means to inform others about what they learned nor do we have any reason they would at once assume that others face the same threat as they do.

29 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I expect that the attack of the Others is going to thoroughly upend all the political (and other) institutions in Westeros.  So having a Dance before the attack would be relatively pointless if its results are effectively nullified almost immediately.  Although having the two simultaneously makes a certain amount of sense.  I doubt that the invasion will get past the Trident.  ( I base this in part on Dany's HoTU vision.)

I think the Second Dance will be as pointless a war as all the others we got in this series so far. It will be a stupid war for a throne that doesn't really matter in light of the real threat. The idea that the Second Dance should be the Epilogue to the entire series doesn't sound convincing to me. Although I'd agree that there might be some scouring of the Shire type of thing happening after the War for the Dawn. I could see a bunch of villains (especially Littlefinger and possibly Euron, too) living through this crisis because people have other priorities while the Others are around, and then doing some dick move before they are finally brought down by the good guys after they pay some price for their leniency/inattention. 

29 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I never suggested that they would only probe for physical weak spots.  In fact, I think they will look for magical weak points that they can exploit more than the physical.  I expect that Bran will get a heads-up on this.

Oh, okay. But I doubt there are any magical weak spots. Just one. The Black Gate. That might be the place where the magic of the Wall is rooted to the earth and connected to the weirwood magic.

29 minutes ago, Nevets said:

I think many of these can be dealt with in about 2-3 chapters, and some will continue past the Others.  Of course, a couple of chapters here, a couple there, and pretty soon you have 500 pages, and not much to show for it.  I think events will go on during the invasion.  It won't affect everybody.  At least, not initially.  And it may not affect the South to a great extent.

I doubt that the stories of Euron, Aegon, Arianne, Stannis, the Faith Militant, Jaime/Brienne, Cersei/Qyburn/Ser Robert etc. will be wrapped in 2-3 chapters. They have come to stay in the story for the time being, else there wouldn't have been any reason to introduce them when they were.

The series would look utterly ridiculous if it turned out that AFfC/ADwD was essentially nothing but a waste of pages. And that would be the case if there plots and characters introduced in those books would essentially go nowhere. Those stories need time to breathe and develop naturally up until a certain point when it is time to connect them with the Others plot. But that's most likely only going to happen when Daenerys arrives in Westeros (or perhaps even only after she has conquered the Iron Throne).

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