falcotron

How does "magic blood" work?

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We all know that there's demonstrable power in king's blood, and many of us suspect that there's some magic in Stark blood, and Targaryen blood, and maybe even Dayne blood or Nymerian Rhoynar blood or even Children or Other blood. But what does that actually mean?

With king's blood, it seems straightforward: Everyone Melisandre has talked about burning, leeching, or sexing up was either a king or an immediate child of a king.

Except… what makes someone a king? Is it the fact that Stannis was convinced he was a king? That hundreds of people believed he was a king? That those people swore a sacred oath to him as king? That Melisandre believed it? That he was Robert's rightful heir (which wasn't even true until Robert died without children)?

And, whatever it is, how does his blood—or the gods, or whatever—"know" about it? I could see a crowning ceremony or a fealty ceremony inherently having some kind of magic power, but being the rightful heir, not so much, unless the gods have a pedigree specialist on staff.

And it gets even murkier when you talk about Stark blood. Sure, Jon is a descendant of Brandon the Builder, but he's 400 or so generations down—that means less than a googolth of his blood comes from Brandon. Maybe a bit more because of a bit of Northern inbreeding, but still, a tiny amount. And most people in the North probably have as much as him. And he's not a direct patrilineal descendant or anything like that. 

So, is it because his grandfather was the Stark in Winterfell, and that "tops up" the magic blood? Do you need to meet some basic qualifications to get topped up? Does it involve having the right last name? Growing up in Winterfell? Visiting the crypts? Being acknowledged as the Stark in Winterfell (as opposed to just the Lord of Winterfell, like Ramsay) by millions of First Men? Believing you're a Stark? A lot of these could make a difference for Jon—not to mention questions like whether being legitimized as a Stark by Robb makes any difference.

Meanwhile, with Valyrian blood, most people in-story seem to think that's essential for being a dragonrider, and the Targaryens are willing to go up against their religion and their culture's taboos to try to keep their Valyrian blood as pure as possible, but has that actually made a difference? After all, Alyn Velaryon couldn't tame Sheepstealer, and Nettles could. So maybe percentage of ancestry is irrelevant. (Or maybe Valyrian blood has nothing to do with bonding with dragons in the first place, but that's another topic…)

Lots of fantasy stories that use "magic blood" don't bother to answer this question, either because they're just ripping off Tolkien (who did have an answer, with insane amounts of detail behind it), but ASoIaF isn't hack fantasy. Other fantasy stories intentionally go by fairy tale logic, but ASoIaF generally doesn't—especially in areas where we suspect that GRRM wants to find the clues and work them out (at least retroactively), which most believers in the magic of Stark blood suspect.

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The " King's blood" is actually just Targ blood/ dragon blood. The Baratheons have Targ blood. 

The Starks might descend from COTF or Others , magical creatures. 

So I think what matters are blood from magical creatures. 

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I don't think there's a direct connection of magic and blood (inheritance) that's too obvious, except with the Targs. I don't think we know for sure whether Melisandre needs king's blood for her horrible rituals. Even if Stannis is not a king, he is the biological brother of a king, you know Robert. So it gives him king's blood. Anyway, all the high lords of the seven kingdom's claim direct ancestry from people who existed centuries or even thousands of years before. Also, the highborns have been marrying each other, so they are all related somehow. So most houses do have Targ blood in them through marriage. The blood won't "dilute" easily because of highborn-highborn marriage. 

But in the case of Targs and Valyrians, the case seems to be different. The Targ blood is linked to prophetic visions, and also the ability to control dragons. We know that only pure blooded or near pure blooded Targs can control dragons. No other group is ever known to ride dragons except those silver haired people of Valyria. It's hard to believe that no one else tried considering there were dragons for thousands of years. As we see with Quentyn Martell in DwD, the Targ or Valyrian blood is necessary to control dragons, and having a little bit of it isn't enough. Someone else has also pointed out to the "Fire and Blood" motto of the Targs. It may not refer to war and dragonfire, but possibly to blood magic that binds the dragons to them. 

It's strongly suspected that the Starks might have some WW blood in them due to Night's King or someone else. In one of the early chapters of GoT in Catelyn's POV, she notices that Ned can tolerate the cold much better than she can and even seems to like it. And Ned is not the only Stark who seems this way. It could simply be personal preference, or some adaptation due to living in the north. But Ned was fostered in the Vale so there could be something there. 

There is blood magic in the books. It's only mentioned for now, but it will become more obvious later, probably. 

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Magical lineage made kings when magic was prevalent in Westeros. During the Age of Heroes and after the Long Night, families with wargs, skinchangers and greenseers raised to power and many of them kept their power during the time that the power of magic was decreasing.

Something similar happened in Valyria, the families with magical bloodlines became the dragonriders. After the Doom, the last family with strong magical bloodline set their eyes in Westeros and became kings.

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I am of the idea that blood magic works in its original sense for some First Men royal blood: Durrandon (so Baratheon), Stark, Gardener (so Tyrell). Targaryens have their own thing going on too.

The current family with the strongest blood for blood rituals are the Baratheons, since they also have Targs in them.

Jon Snow, on the other hand... Well, I think Meli is about to know it for sure.

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Most of the answers given here either don't answer anything I asked, or don't work. I'll get to the exceptions, but first:

6 hours ago, LordImp said:

The " King's blood" is actually just Targ blood/ dragon blood. The Baratheons have Targ blood. 

The Starks might descend from COTF or Others , magical creatures. 

So I think what matters are blood from magical creatures. 

That doesn't answer anything. If, say, the Starks' magic comes from Brandon the Breaker's wife being an Other, that has exactly the same problem as if it comes from his grandfather being Brandon the Builder. Maybe it's only 399 generations instead of 401, but still, 2^398 parts human to 1 part Other is ridiculously minuscule, and there's still 399 generations of those Starks interbreeding with other Northern families who would then have almost as much Other in them. 

5 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

I don't think there's a direct connection of magic and blood (inheritance)

This directly contradicts what you say later, that Starks are magic because they have Others' blood in their distant ancestry, and that's why they have magical cold resistance. Either it is connected to their blood, or it isn't. Which is it?

5 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

Even if Stannis is not a king, he is the biological brother of a king, you know Robert. So it gives him king's blood.

So he wasn't born with king's blood, he didn't have king's blood as an adult, he only got king's blood when Robert was crowned. How does that work? Did it give king's blood to their cousins, or only the brothers?

6 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

No other group is ever known to ride dragons except those silver haired people of Valyria.

Have you not read about the dragonseeds during the Dance of the Dragons? Nettles, for example, was a small dark-skinned girl with black hair and brown eyes, and she tamed and rode a dragon. And this is recent, recorded, well-attested history. 

5 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

… most houses do have Targ blood in them through marriage. The blood won't "dilute" easily because of highborn-highborn marriage. 

No, most highborns do not have any Targ ancestry, and most of the rest have only a tiny fraction from one ancestor appearing on one or two branches of their tree 10 generations back, which is pretty heavily diluted. We have complete family trees for some of these families going back almost to Aegon's invasion.

6 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

There is blood magic in the books. It's only mentioned for now, but it will become more obvious later, probably. 

It's a lot more than mentioned. We've seen it happening, from Mirri sacrificing to bring Drogo back through Melisandre sacrificing Alester Florent to change the winds.

29 minutes ago, King Merrett I Frey said:

I am of the idea that blood magic works in its original sense for some First Men royal blood: Durrandon (so Baratheon), Stark, Gardener (so Tyrell).

Which doesn't answer anything I asked. As I said, a Stark today has almost no blood from the first King of Winter, and most other First Men have the same minuscule amount. And the Tyrells are even more of an issue, since we're told they actually didn't have any Gardener blood, unlike six other major families—I'm sure that's not true and there is a tiny amount going back over the millennia that nobody remembers because family trees don't go back that far, but if that's enough to make a Tyrell magic, it's even more clear that almost everyone in the Reach is magic.

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6 hours ago, Tucu said:

Magical lineage made kings when magic was prevalent in Westeros. During the Age of Heroes and after the Long Night, families with wargs, skinchangers and greenseers raised to power and many of them kept their power during the time that the power of magic was decreasing.

This one is interesting. Explaining king's blood in terms of magic bloodlines instead of the other way around means you don't need any magic bookkeepers working out whether someone is a legal heir to a king or something before deciding whether to grant a spell.

But it really doesn't help that much. There's still the problem that the Starks don't have very much Stark blood. And the Age of Heroes is also called the age of 1000 kingdoms because there are, if not literally 1000, a whole lot of families who had petty kingdoms back then, and most of the conquests that reduced that to 7 or so happened in relatively recent history, long after the ancient magics faded.

Also, do we really have any reason to believe it's true that families with wargs, skinchangers, and greenseers were in power? You can of course imagine how that could work, but you can just as easily imagine how magicians would serve kings rather than be kings—in fact, that's the more common fantasy trope. And the Starks seem to be the only example—even in the North, for example, the Reeds were never kings, and were among the first families to swear to the Starks millennia ago, and yet it's the Reeds who produced the other greenseer in the story.

Meanwhile, the magical legends about many ancient families don't seem related to warging and greenseeing—the Royces had some kind of magical bronzeworking, the Hightowers had foreign spells unknown to the other First Men, etc. And it's actually easier to see how these things—which are based on passing down knowledge rather than inborn abilities—would stay within one family.*

---

* That could even explain things like greenseeing—if each greenseer passes their gift on to a successor in some magical way rather than by birth… well, obviously it would have to be almost entirely unconscious nowadays, but that could explain why it's less common nowadays. And it would also explain how the Children could have taught the magic to the First Men in the first place, and how they could have taught Bloodraven, and then Bloodraven Bran, and so on. But, while that would work, I don't think there's any evidence that's how it actually does work. It seems like the reason Bloodraven can teach Bran is that there's already something magical about Bran, rather than that all of his magic coming from being taught and eating the seeds and so on.

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1 hour ago, falcotron said:

This one is interesting. Explaining king's blood in terms of magic bloodlines instead of the other way around means you don't need any magic bookkeepers working out whether someone is a legal heir to a king or something before deciding whether to grant a spell.

But it really doesn't help that much. There's still the problem that the Starks don't have very much Stark blood. And the Age of Heroes is also called the age of 1000 kingdoms because there are, if not literally 1000, a whole lot of families who had petty kingdoms back then, and most of the conquests that reduced that to 7 or so happened in relatively recent history, long after the ancient magics faded.

Also, do we really have any reason to believe it's true that families with wargs, skinchangers, and greenseers were in power? You can of course imagine how that could work, but you can just as easily imagine how magicians would serve kings rather than be kings—in fact, that's the more common fantasy trope. And the Starks seem to be the only example—even in the North, for example, the Reeds were never kings, and were among the first families to swear to the Starks millennia ago, and yet it's the Reeds who produced the other greenseer in the story.

Meanwhile, the magical legends about many ancient families don't seem related to warging and greenseeing—the Royces had some kind of magical bronzeworking, the Hightowers had foreign spells unknown to the other First Men, etc. And it's actually easier to see how these things—which are based on passing down knowledge rather than inborn abilities—would stay within one family.*

---

* That could even explain things like greenseeing—if each greenseer passes their gift on to a successor in some magical way rather than by birth… well, obviously it would have to be almost entirely unconscious nowadays, but that could explain why it's less common nowadays. And it would also explain how the Children could have taught the magic to the First Men in the first place, and how they could have taught Bloodraven, and then Bloodraven Bran, and so on. But, while that would work, I don't think there's any evidence that's how it actually does work. It seems like the reason Bloodraven can teach Bran is that there's already something magical about Bran, rather than that all of his magic coming from being taught and eating the seeds and so on.

The Starks of old defeated and married daughters of kings that seem to have magical links (Warg Kings, Marsh Kings that might be ancestors of the Reeds, Blackwoods). Most of the great houses have ancestors that appear to have magical powers: House Gardener and Garth the Gardener, House Baratheon descends from Targs and Dundarrons that are linked to Durran Godsgrief, House Greyjoy from the Grey King, House Martell are Rhoynish that used water magic, the Casterlys seem to have connections with the great lions that Leaf includes as one of the old races.

If we look at the houses that were petty kings during the Age of Heroes and the Long Night, a lot of them claim magical ancestry.

Both the Starks and the Targs lost their magic links at some point in the past. But there is an oddity of them recovering powers by mixing with Blackwoods. Aegon IV had a child with a Blackwood and we got Brynder Rivers, now a greenseer. Aegon V married a Blackwood and the Ghost of High Heart prophesied that TPTP will come from the line of two of their children. William Stark married a Blackwood and 4 generations later we have 1 Stark greenseer and a few wargs (one of them also a Faceless Man)

I can't provide conclusive evidence, but "magic blood creates kings" sounds plausible.

 

Edited by Tucu

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your looking at this all wrong and in exactly the fashion the maesters do and then reacting exactly as they do: frustrated. you cant put hard numbers or rules to this there isnt some hard cut off of if this then that. this is literal magic and trying to dissect it with the scientific method is just not going to work.

you should go back and read some of what ancient peoples believed about magic and that may give you a better idea but the entire point is that magic doesnt follow the rules, because it's all about breaking them. this isnt a dnd style rpg where you want a discrete list of spells with numbers and effects all consistently laid out for anyone to use but in this setting magic runs far more on narrative and someone like Luwin could go through the same actions at the same time under the same circumstances with the same training and get completely different results than Melisandre.

Stannis has kings blood because by hook or by crook he can call himself king and he can say he shares the blood of people who were called king in a way other people recognize as legitimate even if that only legitimacy was force.

Edited by lucabibble
keyboard is kind of messed up creates alot of errors

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11 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Both the Starks and the Targs lost their magic links at some point in the past. But there is an oddity of them recovering powers by mixing with Blackwoods.

Now that's an interesting point.

The only other house I know of who married a Blackwood daughter in recent generations is the Freys, and I don't think there's any Frey ancestral magic that will help Lothar against his older half-brothers. But are there other examples?

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9 minutes ago, falcotron said:

Now that's an interesting point.

The only other house I know of who married a Blackwood daughter in recent generations is the Freys, and I don't think there's any Frey ancestral magic that will help Lothar against his older half-brothers. But are there other examples?

Unfortunately GRRM has not given us much more information on the Blackwood lineage. But I think it is something to keep an eye on. Somehow their First Men blood seems linked to the abilities of Brynden Rivers, Dany, Bran, Jon, Arya and Rickon.

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11 hours ago, falcotron said:

We all know that there's demonstrable power in king's blood, and many of us suspect that there's some magic in Stark blood, and Targaryen blood, and maybe even Dayne blood or Nymerian Rhoynar blood or even Children or Other blood. But what does that actually mean?

With king's blood, it seems straightforward: Everyone Melisandre has talked about burning, leeching, or sexing up was either a king or an immediate child of a king.

Except… what makes someone a king? Is it the fact that Stannis was convinced he was a king? That hundreds of people believed he was a king? That those people swore a sacred oath to him as king? That Melisandre believed it? That he was Robert's rightful heir (which wasn't even true until Robert died without children)?

And, whatever it is, how does his blood—or the gods, or whatever—"know" about it? I could see a crowning ceremony or a fealty ceremony inherently having some kind of magic power, but being the rightful heir, not so much, unless the gods have a pedigree specialist on staff.

And it gets even murkier when you talk about Stark blood. Sure, Jon is a descendant of Brandon the Builder, but he's 400 or so generations down—that means less than a googolth of his blood comes from Brandon. Maybe a bit more because of a bit of Northern inbreeding, but still, a tiny amount. And most people in the North probably have as much as him. And he's not a direct patrilineal descendant or anything like that. 

So, is it because his grandfather was the Stark in Winterfell, and that "tops up" the magic blood? Do you need to meet some basic qualifications to get topped up? Does it involve having the right last name? Growing up in Winterfell? Visiting the crypts? Being acknowledged as the Stark in Winterfell (as opposed to just the Lord of Winterfell, like Ramsay) by millions of First Men? Believing you're a Stark? A lot of these could make a difference for Jon—not to mention questions like whether being legitimized as a Stark by Robb makes any difference.

Meanwhile, with Valyrian blood, most people in-story seem to think that's essential for being a dragonrider, and the Targaryens are willing to go up against their religion and their culture's taboos to try to keep their Valyrian blood as pure as possible, but has that actually made a difference? After all, Alyn Velaryon couldn't tame Sheepstealer, and Nettles could. So maybe percentage of ancestry is irrelevant. (Or maybe Valyrian blood has nothing to do with bonding with dragons in the first place, but that's another topic…)

Lots of fantasy stories that use "magic blood" don't bother to answer this question, either because they're just ripping off Tolkien (who did have an answer, with insane amounts of detail behind it), but ASoIaF isn't hack fantasy. Other fantasy stories intentionally go by fairy tale logic, but ASoIaF generally doesn't—especially in areas where we suspect that GRRM wants to find the clues and work them out (at least retroactively), which most believers in the magic of Stark blood suspect.

Its all connected. Bloodstones blood yo lol jk

As far as Dany and Tagaryens and Dragons. I find it interesting that Martin said the current Targaryen's are maybe a 1/10 as Targaryen as Aegon the Conqueror. Implying Dany being a Targaryen had little to do with the hatching of the eggs.

May give credit to Eddard and Ashara but it is interesting. Stark/Dayne=Valyria?   

 

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44 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Unfortunately GRRM has not given us much more information on the Blackwood lineage. But I think it is something to keep an eye on. Somehow their First Men blood seems linked to the abilities of Brynden Rivers, Dany, Bran, Jon, Arya and Rickon.

The part about Blackwoods burying their dead under their weirwood makes me wonder about the Blackwoods being the 3 eyed crow for many times.

Edit- Like maybe they're not dead under there, but like those COTF bran see's still in weirwood thrones, and alive as they're eyes follow him and one i think tried to talk.

Edited by AlaskanSandman
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There is no magic in 'king's blood', but there is magic in the dragonlord's blood, since that's 'the blood of the dragon', whatever that means.

Anything else is just superstition by this point. Being the son or brother or cousin or great-great-great...-grandson of some dude wearing a crown means nothing.

But people in Westeros believe that kings (and to a lesser degree noblemen, too) are kings because of their special royal blood which sets them apart from 'lesser men' and allows their bloodline to rule over the descendants of other men. It is part of the monarchistic and aristocratic framework of the story and exactly the same concept that's behind real world aristocratic and monarchistic ideologies, too. The reason why kings and lords can rule over 'commoners' is because they are better men by virtue of their very noble/royal blood. That's what justifies the privileges and power they are born with.

The Starks are never described in the series as having 'special blood' of the same kind as the Targaryen do, so any theories in that direction are mostly baseless speculation. We don't even know whether something like being a skinchanger or greenseer is something that only occurs within certain bloodlines. If it did it is very odd indeed that there are no Stark skinchangers or greenseers ever mentioned in recorded history.

Stretching the Blackwood lineage as being important is also somewhat of a stretch. All the noble families of Westeros have First Men ancestry, especially the most ancient houses. There is nothing that sets the Blackwoods apart from the others in this regard. And in Bloodraven's case we actually don't know whether his Blackwood or his Targaryen ancestry - or neither - is what made him a greenseer. It could just be an accident of history. Just as it seems to be in Bran (and possibly Euron).

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48 minutes ago, AlaskanSandman said:

As far as Dany and Tagaryens and Dragons. I find it interesting that Martin said the current Targaryen's are maybe a 1/10 as Targaryen as Aegon the Conqueror. Implying Dany being a Targaryen had little to do with the hatching of the eggs.

Yes, that's exactly my point. If 300 years with lots of incest is enough to mean Dany is only a tenth as Targaryen as Aegon, and that's significant to GRRM, then surely 10000 years with lots of outbreeding is enough to mean Bran is only a googolth as Stark as the first Brandon, and that must be significant to GRRM also. (And I think GRMM isn't misleading us here. He gave us the story of the dragonseeds for a reason—it's one of the few things in TPatQ that isn't just a straight lift from English history.)

So if "Stark blood" really means something, it's not literally Stark blood. And yet, many fans assume that it is. Or they assume GRRM is going by fairy-tale logic, even though he clearly isn't with the Targaryens, and even though they think he's given us clues about the rest of the story in characters' blood which wouldn't actually be clues if he were using fairy-tale logic.

And of course it's perfectly possible that the whole idea of Stark blood is a red herring (or just an invention by fans that he isn't even seeding). For example, "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" might have nothing to do with Starks doing anything special, it could just be a prophecy that Winterfell will be ruined at a time when there's no Stark there.

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54 minutes ago, AlaskanSandman said:

The part about Blackwoods burying their dead under their weirwood makes me wonder about the Blackwoods being the 3 eyed crow for many times.

Edit- Like maybe they're not dead under there, but like those COTF bran see's still in weirwood thrones, and alive as they're eyes follow him and one i think tried to talk.

That's a cool idea. Not sure how well it's supported, but worth looking to see if it is.

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33 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There is no magic in 'king's blood', but there is magic in the dragonlord's blood, since that's 'the blood of the dragon', whatever that means.

Do we actually know this? We get lots of counterexamples about the power of the "blood of the dragon"—Viserys, Quentyn, the dragonseeds… The one exception is Dany hatching her dragons, but it's clear that this is a unique, one-time only thing that may have nothing to do with her ancestry.

33 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

But people in Westeros believe that kings (and to a lesser degree noblemen, too) are kings because of their special royal blood which sets them apart from 'lesser men' and allows their bloodline to rule over the descendants of other men.

But it's not just people in Westeros. Melisandre's magic using king's blood works.

Of course all of those kings have Targaryen blood. Maybe she's completely wrong about Stannis having power by being a king (or by being Robert's brother) but he happens to have power anyway because his grandmother is a Targ. So she may be repeating the same mistake in wanting Jon's blood thinking it's powerful because he's Robb's brother-in-law but it's actually powerful than she expected because he's Rhaegar's son. That would fit with Mel's story pretty well, I suppose.

But it would be the only example in the books of Targaryen blood actually being special, which makes it no more plausible than king's blood being special, so why assume that?

And meanwhile, there are plenty of other fantasy stories where mass belief, or sacred oaths, have some kind of magical power. And this is a story where rituals definitely matter. Thoros doesn't raise the dead whenever he lifts his arms, it's only when he performs the ritual that legendarily brought people back. And the fact that Valyria was able to perform all kinds of wondrous magics implies that repeatable rituals actually are part of the process.

It's not scientific or D&D-like in that you can't do chemistry on a ritual, like "What happens if I change this word", and you can't sit down and research how to cause some new effect you want—but it is repeatable: the same ritual will either do the same thing, or nothing.

So, why is it implausible that 1000 people swearing a sacred oath to you as a king could have some effect, but perfectly reasonable that having 1/10th of Aegon's genes could?

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54 minutes ago, falcotron said:

Yes, that's exactly my point. If 300 years with lots of incest is enough to mean Dany is only a tenth as Targaryen as Aegon, and that's significant to GRRM, then surely 10000 years with lots of outbreeding is enough to mean Bran is only a googolth as Stark as the first Brandon, and that must be significant to GRRM also. (And I think GRMM isn't misleading us here. He gave us the story of the dragonseeds for a reason—it's one of the few things in TPatQ that isn't just a straight lift from English history.)

So if "Stark blood" really means something, it's not literally Stark blood. And yet, many fans assume that it is. Or they assume GRRM is going by fairy-tale logic, even though he clearly isn't with the Targaryens, and even though they think he's given us clues about the rest of the story in characters' blood which wouldn't actually be clues if he were using fairy-tale logic.

And of course it's perfectly possible that the whole idea of Stark blood is a red herring (or just an invention by fans that he isn't even seeding). For example, "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" might have nothing to do with Starks doing anything special, it could just be a prophecy that Winterfell will be ruined at a time when there's no Stark there.

Well, i often toy with the idea that there is only blood magic, and that both fire and ice are born out of it. So maybe king's blood is irrelevant and really it's just about blood? The tree's definitely seem to feed on blood, and blood is needed for fire magic it seems. Idk, this kinda of swerves me off into what magic is. Even the visions people see aren't accurate. Cassel didn't drown as per Bran's vision, and Griffin and the Mummer's Dragon (Varys's Dragon? Not fully convinced that means Aegon is fake) never go to Mereen to Dany as per Quiathes vision. So something is possibly wonky to do with "Magic" in general.

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59 minutes ago, falcotron said:

That's a cool idea. Not sure how well it's supported, but worth looking to see if it is.

Well its mentioned in AFFC-Jamie and in TWOIAF i believe. But aside from making me think of the Children still barely alive in their weirwood thrones, but also the Undying of Qarth and them leaching off of Dany. 

Also makes me think of the Others take you, Craster giving his children, and the Night's Watch sacrificing through the Black Gate. 

People seem to be feeding both sides with human vessels or human batteries? Idk. 

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