Black Crow

Heresy 200 The bicentennial edition

451 posts in this topic

 

On 7/15/2017 at 5:40 AM, Black Crow said:

but as a major POV character he is going to have to deal with his altered state and everything that flows from that; we've had glimpses of it from Beric and from Coldhands, but I'm really looking forward to this one and of course it also has had its foreshadowing long before Beric in the shape of his dog being called Ghost; which in retrospect is a clue as subtle as the proverbial train crash.

Have you ever read In the Lost Lands? If you have, do you remember the Grey Alys scene with the cloak? Yeah. That was another proverbial train crash that was right before our eyes the whole time. :blink: A great example of how George does not do plot fake-outs. If he tells you the butler did it, the butler did it. He is not going to come back and pull a wild hare and shock us by claiming the maid did it. It was right there the whole time.

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Posted (edited)

20 hours ago, JNR said:

Even so, the canonical Night's King is this sort of entity:

• A human being

• Who is never said to become a Popsicle

• Who is the Lord Commander of the Watch

• Who has a wife (of some sort...)

• Who lived thousands of years ago (if he lived at all -- we don't know)

The "canonical" Night's King is a mythical figure whose true nature is open to debate because there's no telling what elements of Old Nan's tale (which is probably not the only version of the tale told) are allegorical, revisionist history, later introductions, and so forth. The exact same things that you were keeping in mind just a few threads ago in interpreting Old Nan's "evil giants" as outsized humans. Thus, we might look at the NK's tale and see if there's a "story within the story," some element of truth or foreshadowing.

For example, what does it mean for the 13th LC to have "lost his soul" (is this a moral judgment? superstition? could it imply a more profound transformation?), and more significantly, what does it mean that the NK bound his brothers to his will through sorcery? For me, it brings to mind comparisons to both skinchanging and the wight horde--the latter of which might be "bound" to a will in a manner that is not dissimilar to Varamyr's bear and shadow cat.

Furthermore, this overly literal discussion of the way the show has adapted the idea of a white walker leader is missing the entire point of prior discussions about the possibility that, as with many other things in the show, it is a highly simplified and merged adaptation: a composite figure.

Personally, I think the choice to title their WW leader the "Night King," to introduce him in the midst of 12 companions (evoking, among other things, the LH and his twelve companions, and "13th man to lead the Nights Watch"), to visually suggest in behavior, and their burning blue eyes, that these companions are bound to him through sorcery, and to garb him and his companions in a standardized black uniform (contrasted against the scraps and rags of the lesser WWs) are all things that cause me to believe that these are not necessarily random choices, but could have been adapted from real plot ideas.

Emphasis on could. To reiterate, this is not a "The NK exists" vs. "the NK doesn't exist" argument--all I'm really taking issue with is people dogmatically insisting upon all of the things they cannot believe, and advocating for what GRRM "wouldn't write," a point of view that discourages discussion and stands in contrast to the ostensible philosophy upon which Heresy was founded in the first place.

Edited by Matthew.

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10 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

I'm going to have to rewatch this- I never noticed the tree being damaged! It had lost its leaves and its branches were heavy with snow, but that scene was in winter so that would make sense. If it truly is dead, then I agree that there may be a much greater mystery still to be solved. 

If you're interested, the official concept art for Season 6 gives a pretty good look at what they were going for:

Before
After

Back when it aired, my speculation was that the damage to the weirwood might imply that the heart tree (and its corresponding greenseer?) were killed, untethering the army of ice from the control of the CotF.

As an aside, that artist also did some art for Nagga's Hill, so that was an original part of their Season 6 plans.

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Posted (edited)

47 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

The exact same things that you were keeping in mind just a few threads ago in interpreting Old Nan's "evil giants" as outsized humans.

That's a good way to make my point, actually.

Prior to ASOS, when we saw actual giants, the only canonical information we had on the giants was mythical.  It was possible that there was other information that was different, and forthcoming, but if so, we obviously didn't have it.  

It would not have been reasonable, prior to ASOS, to say some wildly different version of giants (for instance, that giants were really made of ice and were four feet tall) was just as likely as the myth.

That's where things stand now with regard to the Night's King: we have nothing but the myth. 

Sure, it's possible that the actual Night's King, if any existed in the history of Westeros, was so different from the one given in the myth that virtually all the information about him that we've been told is incorrect.

But even if this were the case, it would not parallel the situation re giants.  Because the real giants do share many characteristics with the mythical giants, like their size and their strength and the fact that they are not made of ice, etc. 

One more point before the thread locks.  

Beyond the fact that the Night's King in the canon bears no similarity whatever to an imaginary version from an imaginary play as staged in Essos... and the play version has never been seen in the canon, whereas he was seen many times in the play by this point in the plot...

...we have the fact that in canon, in all the myths, and all the information Sam found in the Watch annals, the Popsicles are never said to have had any form of leader or king.   Never. 

Edited by JNR

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11 minutes ago, JNR said:

It would not have been reasonable, prior to ASOS, to say some wildly different version of giants (for instance, that giants were really made of ice and were four feet tall) was just as likely as the myth.

What does "just as likely" have to do with what is being said? I never said one interpretation is "as likely as another," and I don't think that's an especially useful point of view in discussion in the first place, because it places an emphasis on the notion that discussion is a contest to correctly predict what the 68 Year Old Man in Santa Fe will write in future volumes of The Books With Dragons and Ice Faeries--this bizarre obsession people have with vindication, or the notion that solving mysteries in a pulp fantasy series implies that they're some subtle genius, is toxic nonsense that has been a perpetual detriment to discussion.

Again, Heresy should ostensibly appreciate this fact, because there are entire segments of the forums that have no willingness to engage with a variety of ideas in good faith, because they've already decided they've found the "most likely interpretation;" if the conclusion is that the only failure these people have made is dogmatism in service of the "wrong theory," rather than dogmatism itself, then that's awfully disappointing.

24 minutes ago, JNR said:

Sure, it's possible that the actual Night's King, if any existed in the history of Westeros, was so different from the one given in the myth that virtually all the information about him that we've been told is incorrect.

I don't agree. The tale of the NK is, in part, a tale about the Others--this is notable in a series where information about them is extremely scarce. Within the books, I would say that the Night's Queen is the more compelling detail, as it's hard to imagine someone becoming romantically infatuated with one of the wights, which immediately raises the question of her nature: was she a white walker? A priestess like Mel?

Nonetheless, the tale itself is still about a man who has betrayed his oaths and even his humanity, and fallen in with the Others--if the NK and NQ were carving out a kingdom for themselves, what do you suppose their army might have looked like?

Once again, an extremely narrow emphasis is being placed on adaptation choices, and not enough thought is being placed into what text ideas (if any) may have motivated the adaptation--for example, Tyrion's eerie boat ride around the ruins of Valyria did not happen in the books, yet is clearly inspired by ADWD content.

This criticism also seems to misunderstand the meaning of a composite character, or why that idea is raised in the first place; the show NK could be an extremely dumbed down, merged, and simplified representation of an idea that some of us believe may be true in the text: that one can be a "King of Winter," a Leader of the Wild Hunt, a human elevated to have dominion over winter (and its corresponding magics), and that the 13th LC was just one of several such figures. This notion predates the show by many years, and is fundamental to certain theories, such as those that Jon Snow is fated to become a new Night's King.

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50 minutes ago, JNR said:

...we have the fact that in canon, in all the myths, and all the information Sam found in the Watch annals, the Popsicles are never said to have had any form of leader or king.   Never. 

An addition, but although this is not stated in explicit terms, the notion that the WWs have a leader is clearly what many readers have taken away from the idea of the Night's Queen. It is not without textual precedent. And, of course, others would say that the foreshadowing is there in the way the crypts are described, or in certain tales of the ancient Starks--if I'm not mistaken, Addicted to Snow had a lot to say about the Starks and the Others.

In any case, in a series where the Others have only appeared twice, and information about them has been kept purposely scarce, the suggestion that we have nothing new to learn about them seems a fairly weak criticism.

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1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

What does "just as likely" have to do with what is being said?

Well, if you want to throw probability out the window as a metric, then as I said before, it's certainly possible that the canonical Night's King will turn out to be as dramatically different from the myths about him as the imaginary version given in the imaginary stage play.

It's not for me to say things have a zero probability -- though others, in other threads, do that sort of thing all the time -- but like all other readers, I'm more interested in the creative options that seem more likely to me.

1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

solving mysteries in a pulp fantasy series

Perhaps you should go to a convention, explain to GRRM that you consider his work to be pulp fantasy, and report back to us what he says. 

1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

An addition, but although this is not stated in explicit terms, the notion that the WWs have a leader is clearly what many readers have taken away from the idea of the Night's Queen. It is not without textual precedent.

If the fans have taken something away from the canon, that's quite different from the canon stating that something.  The fans have routinely taken away from the canon that the KotLT can only have been Lyanna, yet in a previous edition of Heresy you agreed with me that that is only one possibility and arguably not the most logical one.

So we turn to the canon. The canon certainly does not ever say the Night's King led the Popsicles, or that his wife did, but that he was sacrificing to them.  That's just a fact.  Also, the sacrifices were never even known (in the myth) to have happened until after he had been defeated.  So if the Night's King was leading the Popsicles, or his wife was, it was apparently a very subtle form of leadership.

But I hope no one will take this, or anything else I've written, to mean the Night's King can't possibly turn out in canon to still exist... to be leading the Popsicles now, thousands of years later... and indeed to be a Popsicle himself.  Until we turn the last page of canon, we won't know that.

1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

in a series where the Others have only appeared twice, and information about them has been kept purposely scarce, the suggestion that we have nothing new to learn about them seems a fairly weak criticism

Agreed.  In fact, I confidently predict we will learn new things about them, and have certainly never said we won't.

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3 hours ago, Matthew. said:

If you're interested, the official concept art for Season 6 gives a pretty good look at what they were going for:

Before
After

Back when it aired, my speculation was that the damage to the weirwood might imply that the heart tree (and its corresponding greenseer?) were killed, untethering the army of ice from the control of the CotF.

Wow!! I never noticed this! Yes, it's definitely dead... very interesting! And it certainly seems reasonable to speculate that the dead tree is directly linked to how the COTF lost control. The question then becomes: who killed the tree? And is it significant that it seems physically "broken", as opposed to the poisoned tree at Raventree Hall?

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Matthew. said:

If you're interested, the official concept art for Season 6 gives a pretty good look at what they were going for:

Before
After

Back when it aired, my speculation was that the damage to the weirwood might imply that the heart tree (and its corresponding greenseer?) were killed, untethering the army of ice from the control of the CotF.

Wow!! I never noticed this! Yes, it's definitely dead... very interesting! And it certainly seems reasonable to speculate that the dead tree is directly linked to how the COTF lost control. The question then becomes: who killed the tree? And is it significant that it seems physically "broken", as opposed to the poisoned tree at Raventree Hall?

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, JNR said:

Perhaps you should go to a convention, explain to GRRM that you consider his work to be pulp fantasy, and report back to us what he says. 

Do you suppose he wouldn't appreciate that characterization? While I'm at it, maybe I can also tell him that I think the series would have been stronger if he'd never written Dany.

"Pulp" is slightly hyperbolic on my part...slightly. These are fun books, but GRRM is no Gene Wolfe, and ASOIAF is not some inscrutable masterwork.

This is a series that has leaned heavily on the usage of prophecy, even though prophecy is the most hackneyed tool for symbolism and foreshadowing that a fantasy author can utilize, and GRRM fails to even use it in a clever or subversive way; I'll call out the GOHH prophecies as some particularly eye-roll worthy writing. IMO, GRRM's greatest asset doesn't lay in his mysteries, style, or plots: what he writes exceptionally well are his characters.

And if GRRM cannot reign himself in and finish in seven books, I think things really will start to drift into full on pulp territory.
 

4 hours ago, JNR said:

So we turn to the canon. The canon certainly does not ever say the Night's King led the Popsicles, or that his wife did, but that he was sacrificing to them.  That's just a fact.  Also, the sacrifices were never even known (in the myth) to have happened until after he had been defeated.  So if the Night's King was leading the Popsicles, or his wife was, it was apparently a very subtle form of leadership.

How the legend is told may vary greatly, depending on what side of the Wall you were on--if the NK had a relationship with the Others, who was dealing with the harshest consequences? If it took a joint effort to oust the NK, what did his "army" look like?

The point remains that the NK's pale woman having "eyes like blue stars" is strongly suggestive of the magic of the Others and the wights, and one of the crimes he is accused of is abusing sorcery against his brothers--so what did this abuse look like? Did he kill them and force them into wight servitude? 

4 hours ago, JNR said:

But I hope no one will take this, or anything else I've written, to mean the Night's King can't possibly turn out in canon to still exist... to be leading the Popsicles now, thousands of years later... and indeed to be a Popsicle himself.

At the risk of being overly repetitive, these conclusions are separate from the question of whether the show's NK has been adapted from certain plot ideas. If he's a composite character, then he is not meant to be the 13th LC, because the 13th LC is just one character who has been grafted onto the composite. Think of Gendry within the show, who has become a composite of both book Gendry and Edric Storm.

I think there exists reasonable, nuanced middle grounds between "this character has been invented entirely, based on not a single bit of information shared by GRRM," and "this character is a verbatim adaptation of what will happen in the text."

Edited by Matthew.

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Posted (edited)

44 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

Do you suppose he wouldn't appreciate that characterization?

Heh.  If you want to know that, you'll have to ask him and find out.

44 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I think the series would have been stronger if he'd never written Dany.

Well, I'll meet you halfway: I think it would have been stronger if he'd never parked her in Meereen.

44 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

And if GRRM cannot reign himself in and finish in seven books, I think things really will start to drift into full on pulp territory.

I'll feel a lot more doubt that he'll finish the series than I do today.

44 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

How the legend is told may vary greatly, depending on what side of the Wall you were on--if the NK had a relationship with the Others, who was dealing with the harshest consequences? If it took a joint effort to oust the NK, what did his "army" look like?

Well, as you suggest, it may depend on the version of the legend.  

We can only analyze what we have. The only version we've been given is the one told by people south of the Wall, and in that version, his "army" appears to have been the Watch.

Quote

He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night's King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

If he had been leading the Popsicles for thirteen years in that version, I expect it would be mentioned. Instead, we get this Craster-ish secret policy of sacrificing to the Others (as opposed to commanding the Others, which would not remind us of Craster at all). 

But, of course, history is written by the victors, and it was thousands of years ago, so I'd like to hear the free folk version of this legend. If there is one.  

And if there is, and that version is the reason "Jon Snow" is said by Ygritte to be an evil name... I won't be too surprised.

44 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I think there exists reasonable, nuanced middle grounds between "this character has been invented entirely, based on not a single bit of information shared by GRRM," and "this character is a verbatim adaptation of what will happen in the text."

Suppose I were to say to you: "I have a theory there will be a character in the next two books named Talisa, a whore in Molestown, and she will turn out to have had sex with Jon in the AFFC timeframe, and to have become pregnant by him.  And her baby son will blah blah blah."

Wouldn't you be skeptical?  And say "But there was never any such reference in the previous five books" -- correctly -- and assume I had just yoinked a name and a very rough concept from another version of ASOIAF -- a concept that I didn't really get right at all.  Yet you'd be unable to rule out my theory, too.  

Well, that's my take on this situation -- that D&D read the canon, did some yoinking, warped things considerably, and here we are.  And if others see it differently, I'm not worried over that.  Hopefully we'll get the complete series and eventually find out one way or another.

Edited by JNR

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