Black Crow

Heresy 203 and growing suspicions anent the Starks

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard XV

Yet when the jousting began, the day belonged to Rhaegar Targaryen. The crown prince wore the armor he would die in: gleaming black plate with the three-headed dragon of his House wrought in rubies on the breast. A plume of scarlet silk streamed behind him when he rode, and it seemed no lance could touch him. Brandon fell to him, and Bronze Yohn Royce, and even the splendid Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning.

Robert had been jesting with Jon and old Lord Hunter as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the final tilt to claim the champion's crown. Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty's laurel in Lyanna's lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.

Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals the thorns lay hidden. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke, trembling, in the dark.

I came across this interesting reference to crowns which seems to fit the symbolism of Ned's dreams:

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Roses had funerary significance in Greece, but were particularly associated with death and entombment among the Romans.[34] In Greece, roses appear on funerary steles, and in epitaphs most often of girls.[35] In Imperial-era Greek epitaphs, the death of an unmarried girl is compared to a budding rose cut down in spring; a young woman buried in her wedding clothes is "like a rose in a garden"; an eight-year-old boy is like the rose that is "the beautiful flower of the Erotes" ("Loves" or Cupids).[36] As a symbol of both blooming youth and mourning, the rose often marks a death experienced as untimely or premature.[37] In the Iliad, Aphrodite anoints Hector's corpse with "ambrosial oil of roses"[38] to maintain the integrity of his body against abuse in death.[39] In Greek and Latin poetry, roses grow in the blessed afterlife of the Elysian Fields.[40]

Bloodless sacrifice to the dead could include rose garlands and violets as well as libations of wine,[41] and Latin purpureus expressed the red-to-purple color range of roses and violets particularly as flowers of death.[37] In ancient etymology, purpureus was thought related to Greek porphyreos in the sense of suffusing the skin with purple blood in bruising or wounding.[37] The Augustan epic poet Vergil uses the metaphor of a purple flower to describe the premature, bloody deaths of young men in battle:[42] the death of Pallas evokes both the violet of Attis and the hyacinth generated from the dying blood of Apollo's beloved Hyacinthus.[43]Claudian writes of the "bloody splendor" of roses in the meadow from which Proserpina will be abducted to the underworld, with hyacinths and violets contributing to the lush flora.[44]Roses and the ominous presence of thorns may intimate bloodshed and mortality even in the discourse of love.[45]

Conversely, roses in a funerary context can allude to festive banqueting, since Roman families met at burial sites on several occasions throughout the year for libations and a shared meal that celebrated both the cherished memory of the beloved dead and the continuity of life through the family line.[46] In Roman tomb painting, red roses often spill bountifully onto light ground.[37] These ageless flowers created a perpetual Rosalia and are an expression of Roman beliefs in the soul's continued existence.[47]

The bones or ashes of the deceased may be imagined as generating flowers, as in one Latin epitaph that reads:

Here lies Optatus, a child ennobled by devotion: I pray that his ashes may be violets and roses, and I ask that the Earth, who is his mother now, be light upon him, for the boy's life was a burden to no one.[48]

Roses were planted at some tombs and mausoleums, and adjacent grounds might be cultivated as gardens to grow roses for adornment or even produce to sell for cemetery upkeep or administrative costs.[49] In the 19th to the 21st centuries, a profusion of cut and cultivated flowers was still a characteristic of Italian cemeteries to a degree that distinguished them from Anglo-American practice.[50] This difference is one of the Roman Catholic practices criticized by some Protestants, especially in the 19th century, as too "pagan" in origin.[51]

 

I wonder if Rhaegar knew something of Lyanna's fate when he gave her the queen of beauty's laurel.  In this context, it doesn't seem a romantic gesture at all.

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Classical mythology preserves a number of stories in which blood and flowers are linked in divine metamorphosis.[26] When Adonis, beloved of Aphrodite, was killed by a boar during a hunt, his blood produced a flower. A central myth of the Roman rites of Cybele is the self-castration of her consort Attis, from whose blood a violet-colored flower sprang. In the Gnostic text On the Origin of the World, possibly dating to the early 4th century,[27] the rose was the first flower to come into being, created from the virgin blood of Psyche ("Soul") after she united sexually with Eros.[28] In the 4th-century poem Cupid Crucified by the Gallo-Roman poet Ausonius, the god Cupid (the Roman equivalent of Eros) is tortured in the underworld by goddesses disappointed in love, and the blood from his wounds causes roses to grow.[29]

In Egyptian religion, funerary wreaths of laurel, palm, feathers, papyrus, or precious metals represented the "crown of justification" that the deceased was to receive when he was judged in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony of the afterlife. In the Imperial period, the wreath might be roses, under the influence of the Romanized cult of Isis.[30]

 

 

 

 

Edited by LynnS

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On 10/16/2017 at 10:00 AM, Brad Stark said:

Cersei and Jaime's incest matter for a different reason.  Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen only have a claim to the throne based on Robert being their father.  If the incest were discovered, they'd be bastards with no royal blood.

That's true from a plot standpoint, of course.

However, it's still clear there is a substantial cultural taboo against brother/sister incest in Westeros society, and that it would likely have applied to Ned and Lyanna as well. 

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Long before his sister's flowering or the advent of his own manhood, they had seen mares and stallions in the fields and dogs and bitches in the kennels and played at doing the same. Once their mother's maid had caught them at it . . . he did not recall just what they had been doing, but whatever it was had horrified Lady Joanna. She'd sent the maid away, moved Jaime's bedchamber to the other side of Casterly Rock, set a guard outside Cersei's, and told them that they must never do that again or she would have no choice but to tell their lord father. 

So while it's theoretically possible Ned and Lyanna messed around at some point, that premise is not likely to be something Jon would believe could be responsible for his conception, especially if it broke the established timeline of his birth relative to the Rebellion, which it would unless he also found out he was older than he was ever told.

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22 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I believe the story is being framed to evoke the idea of the Night's King as a warg, "binding his brothers with sorcery," and ruling the night in his wolf dreams.

Theoretically possible, though it would stretch the concept of skinchanging to its outermost limit to picture one guy commanding all his fellow NW (dozens? hundreds?) for multiple years against their will.

However, even in this scenario, it doesn't appear likely that this same entity would still be alive and well thousands of years later, and to play some sort of  role in the last two books.

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2 hours ago, LynnS said:

 

Classical mythology preserves a number of stories in which blood and flowers are linked in divine metamorphosis.[26] When Adonis, beloved of Aphrodite, was killed by a boar during a hunt, his blood produced a flower. A central myth of the Roman rites of Cybele is the self-castration of her consort Attis, from whose blood a violet-colored flower sprang. In the Gnostic text On the Origin of the World, possibly dating to the early 4th century,[27] the rose was the first flower to come into being, created from the virgin blood of Psyche ("Soul") after she united sexually with Eros.[28] In the 4th-century poem Cupid Crucified by the Gallo-Roman poet Ausonius, the god Cupid (the Roman equivalent of Eros) is tortured in the underworld by goddesses disappointed in love, and the blood from his wounds causes roses to grow.[29]

In Egyptian religion, funerary wreaths of laurel, palm, feathers, papyrus, or precious metals represented the "crown of justification" that the deceased was to receive when he was judged in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony of the afterlife. In the Imperial period, the wreath might be roses, under the influence of the Romanized cult of Isis.[30]

2 hours ago, LynnS said:

I came across this interesting reference to crowns which seems to fit the symbolism of Ned's dreams:

I wonder if Rhaegar knew something of Lyanna's fate when he gave her the queen of beauty's laurel.  In this context, it doesn't seem a romantic gesture at all.

 

 

 

I agree with this idea. I had not known the info in the quote you gave about classical mythology and the blood and flowers connection. Thanks for sharing. One of the reasons I speculated on this was because of the various "blood blooms" we read about throuhgout the story, including the ones Theon comments on as he makes his way back to Winterfell as Reek. Blood seems to bloom like a flower in times of death or transformation.

A Dance with Dragons - Reek II

Reek passed the rotted carcass of a horse, an arrow jutting from its neck. A long white snake slithered into its empty eye socket at his approach. Behind the horse he spied the rider, or what remained of him. The crows had stripped the flesh from the man's face, and a feral dog had burrowed beneath his mail to get at his entrails. Farther on, another corpse had sunk so deep into the muck that only his face and fingers showed.
Closer to the towers, corpses littered the ground on every side. Blood-blooms had sprouted from their gaping wounds, pale flowers with petals plump and moist as a woman's lips.
The garrison will never know me. Some might recall the boy he'd been before he learned his name, but Reek would be a stranger to them. It had been a long while since he last looked into a glass, but he knew how old he must appear. His hair had turned white; much of it had fallen out, and what was left was stiff and dry as straw. The dungeons had left him weak as an old woman and so thin a strong wind could knock him down.

I agree it is quite possible that this was not a romantic gesture from Rhaegar, and in turn also could mean that blue flower in the chink of ice thingy is also not romantic.

 

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On ‎10‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 7:17 PM, Brad Stark said:

Ned not being Jon's father is relatively obvious to the reader, and should be to Jon for the same reasons, especially if he knows Lyanna is his mother.  There is no social taboo against incest in Westeros, or at least not on the level of our world.  So he probably won't believe he is the son of Ned and Lyanna, but if it does, it won't be much worse than believing he is the Son of Ned and a mystery woman.  I agree that I doubt Jon cares much about being Rhaegar's son.

I beg to differ about no social taboo against incest in Westeros.  George hits us over the head that there is a taboo in both the South and North of Westeros:  From Catelyn's POV:

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Bastards were common enough, but incest was a monstrous sin to both old gods and new, and the children of such wickedness were named abominations in sept and godswood alike.

The fact that a child born of incest is considered an abomination is repeated about seven times in the series in regards to both Craster and Cersei.  Just to recap, the ASOIAF names the following as abominations:  1) incest, 2) cannibalism, 3) slavery, 4) breeding wolf to wolf and skinchanging a human (among the skinchanger crowd), and 5) wights.

I did raise my eyebrow a bit, that we have the product of incest as an abomination and then this line:

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Abomination.  That had been Haggon's favorite word.  Abomination, abomination, abomination.  To eat of human meat was abomination, to mate wolf with wolf was abomination, and to seize the body of another was the worst abomination of all.

It's just interesting to me that both the product of incest is an abomination, and then later to mate "wolf" with "wolf" was called an abomination as well.

For the record, I think we know enough of Eddard to doubt that he mated "wolf" to "wolf" with Lyanna, but I see Brandon as a serious possibility.

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

Theoretically possible, though it would stretch the concept of skinchanging to its outermost limit to picture one guy commanding all his fellow NW (dozens? hundreds?) for multiple years against their will.

However, even in this scenario, it doesn't appear likely that this same entity would still be alive and well thousands of years later, and to play some sort of  role in the last two books.

Which is pretty well exactly what GRRM said when people started getting excited about the "Nights King" in the mummers' version

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

Theoretically possible, though it would stretch the concept of skinchanging to its outermost limit to picture one guy commanding all his fellow NW (dozens? hundreds?) for multiple years against their will.

I don't really disagree that it would be taking skinchanging to an undesirable extreme of efficacy, but unless "binding his brothers with sorcery" - and, for the sake of argument, I'm treating that aspect of the story as true, even though the NK could just as easily have never lived at all, or just been some guy who broke his oaths by using the NW as a personal army, and was retroactively maligned with superstitious tales - is some magic we've not yet seen, I think it fair to use a comparison point to two things we've seen in Westeros: skinchanging, and 'enslaving' men as wights.

The point being that while there is not enough detail to the story to draw specific conclusions, there are enough supernatural elements to suggest, IMO, that it is not just a story about a mundane human breaking his oaths.

As to whether he'd still be around, while Old Nan's tale itself gives us little to go on to suggest extraordinary longevity, the possibility exists within the setting--we have one undead ranger with Coldhands, another unnaturally long lived ranger in Bloodraven, and some sort of consciousness that seemingly dwells within the Black Gate.

What was the Night's Queen? What did the NK 'become' in order to love her? 

Edited by Matthew.

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

I beg to differ about no social taboo against incest in Westeros.  George hits us over the head that there is a taboo in both the South and North of Westeros:  From Catelyn's POV:

The fact that a child born of incest is considered an abomination is repeated about seven times in the series in regards to both Craster and Cersei.  Just to recap, the ASOIAF names the following as abominations:  1) incest, 2) cannibalism, 3) slavery, 4) breeding wolf to wolf and skinchanging a human (among the skinchanger crowd), and 5) wights.

I did raise my eyebrow a bit, that we have the product of incest as an abomination and then this line:

It's just interesting to me that both the product of incest is an abomination, and then later to mate "wolf" with "wolf" was called an abomination as well.

For the record, I think we know enough of Eddard to doubt that he mated "wolf" to "wolf" with Lyanna, but I see Brandon as a serious possibility.

I don't even see that as a serious possibility. Apart from the moral issues I don't see it is a credible plot device, in the way that Rhaegar and Ser Arthur might be.

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10 hours ago, Black Crow said:

It depends how you define important. I'm not convinced by the union of Ice and Fire thing and if Jon has a significance in that respect it is as a son of Winterfell and ultimately the counterbalance to Fire. If there is any "non-political" intervention going on my primary candidate would be Mel, having failed to recruit him and re-interpeting those skull not as a danger to Jon but the reverse, ie; Jon representing the danger 

I am leaning towards Mel writing the Pink Letter.  She tries very hard to bring Jon around to her way of thinking and Jon gets the letter right after she gives up.  She reenters to see the letter read but leaves again before Jon is killed.  She isn't above killing anyone if it suits her purpose, she is one of few people with all the information in the letter (including anything she lied about or saw in the flames), and we have the quote by GRRM that she is the most misunderstood character in the books.  Jon is one of the few people she can't get rid of just by asking for him burnt.

I also wonder about "his red whore".  It isn't inappropriate, as Mel has seduced Stannis, and tried to seduce Jon.  But it is unlikely she tried to seduce anyone else (she isn't interested in sex, she is stealing life force from those with certain bloodlines).  Would Stannis call her a whore in his letter?  We know Jon didn't write it.  Selyse might know, and so might Davos, but who else might call her a whore?

Edited by Brad Stark

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1 minute ago, Matthew. said:

I don't really disagree that it would be taking skinchanging to an undesirable extreme of efficacy, but unless "binding his brothers with sorcery" - and, for the sake of argument, I'm treating that aspect of the story as true, even though the NK could just as easily have never lived at all, or just been some guy who broke his oaths by using the NW as a personal army, and was retroactively maligned with superstitious tales - is some magic we've not yet seen, I think it fair to use a comparison point to two things we've seen in Westeros: skinchanging, and 'enslaving' men as wights.

The point being that while there is not enough detail to the story to draw specific conclusions, there are enough supernatural elements to suggest, IMO, that it is not just a story about a mundane human breaking his oaths.

As to whether he'd still be around, Old Nan's tale itself gives us little to go on to suggest extraordinary longevity, but the setting itself certainly does--we have one undead ranger with Coldhands, another unnaturally long lived ranger in Bloodraven, and some sort of consciousness that seemingly dwells within the Black Gate.

What was the Night's Queen? What did the NK 'become' in order to love her? 

As to the binding, I'm still inclined to see that as an excuse/plea for mercy rather than a serious case of mind control, but as for the Nights King; I agree its theoretically possible that he might well live on, perhaps as Coldhands, but not as the arch villain of the mummers' version.

If we go along with the theory that the white walkers are, or were originally, the old Stark Lords and that the Nights King was the last; then there is a serious possibility that a dead Jon will become a walker. If so then a Nights King, spoken of only vaguely in the book as a legendary figure from long ago, even if revealed as Coldhands, will be irrelevant in plot terms by comparison with an Icy Jon. 

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8 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

As to the binding, I'm still inclined to see that as an excuse/plea for mercy rather than a serious case of mind control, but as for the Nights King; I agree its theoretically possible that he might well live on, perhaps as Coldhands, but not as the arch villain of the mummers' version.

A desire to "disprove" the show is clouding discussion--I think you are not seriously considering the potential end consequences of theories that you yourself have recently proposed.

If the ancient Starks were living out their second lives by transferring their spirit to walker bodies, what might this potentially suggest for the Night's King?

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

As to the binding, I'm still inclined to see that as an excuse/plea for mercy rather than a serious case of mind control, but as for the Nights King; I agree its theoretically possible that he might well live on, perhaps as Coldhands, but not as the arch villain of the mummers' version.

If we go along with the theory that the white walkers are, or were originally, the old Stark Lords and that the Nights King was the last; then there is a serious possibility that a dead Jon will become a walker. If so then a Nights King, spoken of only vaguely in the book as a legendary figure from long ago, even if revealed as Coldhands, will be irrelevant in plot terms by comparison with an Icy Jon. 

I am inclined to believe the Night's King tale was included as foreshadowing, most likely what will happen either to Jon or Bran. 

I've often suspected the power the Others' have was originally given to the Starks by the Children (hence Kings of Winter), and the White Walkers were created to kill the Starks after they betrayed the Children.

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4 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I agree with this idea. I had not known the info in the quote you gave about classical mythology and the blood and flowers connection. Thanks for sharing. One of the reasons I speculated on this was because of the various "blood blooms" we read about throuhgout the story, including the ones Theon comments on as he makes his way back to Winterfell as Reek. Blood seems to bloom like a flower in times of death or transformation.

A Dance with Dragons - Reek II

Reek passed the rotted carcass of a horse, an arrow jutting from its neck. A long white snake slithered into its empty eye socket at his approach. Behind the horse he spied the rider, or what remained of him. The crows had stripped the flesh from the man's face, and a feral dog had burrowed beneath his mail to get at his entrails. Farther on, another corpse had sunk so deep into the muck that only his face and fingers showed.
Closer to the towers, corpses littered the ground on every side. Blood-blooms had sprouted from their gaping wounds, pale flowers with petals plump and moist as a woman's lips.
The garrison will never know me. Some might recall the boy he'd been before he learned his name, but Reek would be a stranger to them. It had been a long while since he last looked into a glass, but he knew how old he must appear. His hair had turned white; much of it had fallen out, and what was left was stiff and dry as straw. The dungeons had left him weak as an old woman and so thin a strong wind could knock him down.

I agree it is quite possible that this was not a romantic gesture from Rhaegar, and in turn also could mean that blue flower in the chink of ice thingy is also not romantic.

 

I was quite surprised to read that roses were grown in glass gardens adjacent to the family tomb, to be used for funerary purposes and remembrance.  Ned's comment that he brings Lyanna flowers whenever he can, seems to have another meaning in this context.  If winter roses are used specifically for this purpose at Winterfell; then I can see how giving Lyanna a crown of pale blue roses would cause an uproar. 

Unfortunately, this is the only time we are told what the QoLaB's crown looks like.  My guess is that it is normally made up of a variety of flowers rather than blue roses.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Immortality

I'm not sure about the blue flower growing in a chink of the Wall.  Jorah calls it a rose but I don't know.

It could represent Shireen:

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:House_Florent.PNG

A wreath of blue flowers? A circle of star-flowers?

 

Edited by LynnS

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2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

A desire to "disprove" the show is clouding discussion--I think you are not seriously considering the potential end consequences of theories that you yourself have recently proposed.

If the ancient Starks were living out their second lives by transferring their spirit to walker bodies, what might this potentially suggest for the Night's King?

Not at all, as I went on to say in that same post the implications of dead Stark wargs becoming white walkers and consequently that being Jon's outcome far outweigh the appearance of a little-mentioned figure from legend. The story as discussed above revolves around the children of Winterfell not some mouldy relic of times gone by, powerful or otherwise. Coldhands, as I conceded might turn out to be the man, but this is about Jon, not him

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

I am inclined to believe the Night's King tale was included as foreshadowing, most likely what will happen either to Jon or Bran. 

I've often suspected the power the Others' have was originally given to the Starks by the Children (hence Kings of Winter), and the White Walkers were created to kill the Starks after they betrayed the Children.

I think it more likely that the walkers are [or originally were*] the old Stark lords and like the Nazgul they have returned to claim what was theirs - like the Golden Company.

*but like the Golden Company younger generations are needed to keep the numbers up, hence Craster's sons

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2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I don't even see that as a serious possibility. Apart from the moral issues I don't see it is a credible plot device, in the way that Rhaegar and Ser Arthur might be.

I'm surprised to hear you say that since as you've repeated a number of times, Jon's significance is as a son of Winterfell.  If that's the case, than Jon being the only son of the eldest son of the Lord of Winterfell becomes pretty intriguing.

I'm becoming more convinced of it as I go back through the story arcs and character conflicts that GRRM has established early on in the series.  Jon has an internal conflict within himself that starts way back in AGOT and continues all the way up until his death in ADWD.  Jon's internal conflict is between his oath to the Night's Watch and his dark desire to be the Lord of Winterfell.

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"Sometimes I'd imagine my father burning.  At other times, my sister."  Jon Snow was staring at him, a look equal parts horror and fascination.  Tyrion guffawed.  "Don't look at me that way, bastard.  I know your secret.  You've dreamt the same kind of dreams."

"No," Jon Snow, said, horrified.  "I wouldn't..."

"No?  Never?"  Tyrion raised an eyebrow.  "Well no doubt the Starks have been terribly good to you.  I'm certain Lady Stark treats you as if you were one of her own.  And your brother Robb, he's always been kind, and why not?  He gets Winterfell and you get the Wall.  And your father... he must have good reasons for packing you off to the Night's Watch..."

"Stop it," Jon Snow said, his face dark with anger.  "The Night's Watch is a noble calling!"

 

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And when at last he did sleep, he dreamt, and that was even worse.  In the dream, the corpse he fought had blue eyes, black hands, and his father's face, but he dared not tell Mormont that.

 

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Yet in his nightmare he faced it again... and this time the burning corpse wore Lord Eddard's features.  It was his father's skin that burst and blackened, his father's eyes that ran liquid down his cheeks like jellied tears.  Jon did not understand what it might mean, but it frightened him more than he could say.

 

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They were not little boys when they fought, but knights and mighty heroes.  "I'm Prince Aemon the Dragonknight," Jon would call out, and Robb would shout back, "Well I'm Florian the Fool."  Or Robb would say, "I'm the Young Dragon," and Jon would reply, "I'm Ser Ryam Redwyne."

That morning he called it first.  "I'm Lord of Winterfell!" he cried, as he had a hundred times before.  Only this time, this time, Robb had answered, "You can't be Lord of Winterfell, you're bastard-born.  My lady mother says you can't ever be the Lord of Winterfell."

I thought I had forgotten that.  Jon could taste blood in his mouth, from the blow he'd taken.

 

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The world dissolved into a red mist.  Jon stabbed and slashed and cut.  He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard.  Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck.  "I am the Lord of Winterfell," Jon screamed.  It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow.  Longclaw took his head off.

This internal conflict that Jon has within himself is mirrored by an external conflict he has with Cat, who very much regards Jon as a threat to her children's inheritance of Winterfell.

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He is set on this.  Catelyn knew how stubborn her son could be.  "A bastard cannot inherit."

"Not unless he is legitimized by a royal decree," said Robb.  "There is more precedent for that than for releasing a Sworn Brother from his oath."

"Precedent," she said bitterly.  "Yes, Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed.  And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that?  I know you trust Jon.  But can you trust his sons?  Or their sons?  The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones.  If you make Jon legitimate, there is no way to turn him bastard again.  Should he wed and breed, any sons you may have by Jeyne will never be safe."

 

While you would think that this conflict would end with the death of Robb and the "death" of Cat, her desire for her lineage to continue as Kings of the North may be continuing even after her death and resurrection. 

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A trestle table had been set up across the cave, in a cleft in the rock.  Behind it sat a woman all in grey, cloaked and hooded.  In her hands was a crown, a bronze circlet ringed by iron swords.  She was studying it, her fingers stroking the blades as if to test their sharpness.  Her eyes glimmered under her hood.

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The woman in grey gave no answer.  She studied the sword, the parchment, the bronze-and-iron crown.

Martin has set up a conflict between Cat and Jon, and an internal conflict between Jon's oath and his desire for Winterfell.  Jon being the son of Arthur and Rhaegar does nothing to add to either of these conflicts.  But Jon being the son of Brandon, the first born, an abomination born of incest, sets up a very interesting dynamic.

Especially if it turns out that one of the promises that Lyanna exhorted from Ned, was a promise to legitimize her son with Brandon Stark.  Lyanna's "promise me" haunts Ned up to his final days in the black cell.

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When he slept, he dreamed: dark disturbing dreams of blood and broken promises.

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Promise me, Ned, his sister had whispered from her bed of blood.  She had loved the scent of winter roses.

"Gods save me," Ned wept.  "I am going mad."

I'm not sure what the broken promise would be if Jon was Rhaegar's son or why Ned would still be haunted by it after Robert's death.  But if Jon was Brandon's son, then the broken promise might have very well been asking Ned to have Jon legitimized.  And Ned's guilt can be explained by both not legitimizing Jon, and then having Jon join the Night's Watch to perhaps ensure that a conflict between his children and the son of his brother and sister never arises. 

Note that Ned starts to have flashbacks to Lyanna's "promise me Ned" when he is with Robert in the Winterfell crypts.  I wonder if Ned's proximity to the king, the person that can legally legitimize Jon, is starting create guilt within Ned.

Ned has a very interesting dream about Lyanna and the promise which happens immediately after the chapter where he confronts Cersei about her children being the product of incest:

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He was walking though the crypts of beneath Winterfell, as he had walked a thousand times before.  The Kings of Winter watched him pass with eyes of ice, and the direwolves at their feet turned their great stone heads and snarled.  Last of all, he came to the tomb where his father slept, with Brandon and Lyanna beside him.  "Promise me, Ned," Lyanna's statute whispered.  She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.

Ned is clearly haunted by the promise.  And it appears that subconsciously he feels anger from the Kings of Winter and their direwolves, anger connected to the promise that Lyanna exhorts from Ned.  For Ned, the stone Kings can very well represent the lineage of Winterfell.  Where the first born son of the king is supposed to inherit Winterfell. 

If Jon is the son of Brandon and Lyanna then it is understandable that Ned would keep this a secret because after all incest is considered an abomination in the north as in the south.  It would be a huge stain to be kept hidden.  But as the years go by, and he has children and a son who is supposed to inherit Winterfell, keeping the secret takes on an added importance, it prevents a succession war with his children with Catelyn, and the only child of his sister and brother.  So suddenly Jon joining the Night's Watch becomes a solution to Ned's problem but it also could cause an additional level of guilt.  After all Jon joins the Night's Watch without realizing what he is potentially giving up.

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"You are a boy of fourteen," Benjen said.  "Not a man, not yet.  Until you have known a woman, you cannot understand what you would be giving up."

"I don't care about that!" Jon said hotly.

"You might, if you knew what it meant," Benjen said.  "If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son."

 

Edited by Frey family reunion

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45 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

 

If Jon is the son of Brandon and Lyanna then it is understandable that Ned would keep this a secret because after all incest is considered an abomination in the north as in the south.  It would be a huge stain to be kept hidden.  But as the years go by, and he has children and a son who is supposed to inherit Winterfell, keeping the secret takes on an added importance, it prevents a succession war with his children with Catelyn, and the only child of his sister and brother.  So suddenly Jon joining the Night's Watch becomes a solution to Ned's problem but it also could cause an additional level of guilt.  After all Jon joins the Night's Watch without realizing what he is potentially giving up.

 

Oh my.  That's works for Robert as Jon's father as well. LOL!  And the stakes are higher as a king's son, because Robert would likely to do exactly what Stannis is offering to do... give Winterfell to Jon.  Then Jon would have both Cately and Cersei after him. 

Edited by LynnS

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3 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I don't really disagree that it would be taking skinchanging to an undesirable extreme of efficacy, but unless "binding his brothers with sorcery" - and, for the sake of argument, I'm treating that aspect of the story as true, even though the NK could just as easily have never lived at all, or just been some guy who broke his oaths by using the NW as a personal army, and was retroactively maligned with superstitious tales - is some magic we've not yet seen, I think it fair to use a comparison point to two things we've seen in Westeros: skinchanging, and 'enslaving' men as wights.

I think this is what the broken horn is all about.  Another binding horn to 'wake the sleepers' or bind his brothers with strange sorcery.  The white walkers seem to be another form of shadow binding.   Stark shadows encased in ice bodies in other words.   Jon wonders if blowing the horn of Joramun will put them back to sleep... except that the horn is broken.

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59 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

I think it more likely that the walkers are [or originally were*] the old Stark lords and like the Nazgul they have returned to claim what was theirs - like the Golden Company.

*but like the Golden Company younger generations are needed to keep the numbers up, hence Craster's sons

"A storm of petals, blue as the eyes of death" would certainly support the notion that Starks once ended up as white walkers.  Defending the Wall in life and in death?

Edited by LynnS

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Not at all, as I went on to say in that same post the implications of dead Stark wargs becoming white walkers and consequently that being Jon's outcome far outweigh the appearance of a little-mentioned figure from legend. The story as discussed above revolves around the children of Winterfell not some mouldy relic of times gone by, powerful or otherwise. Coldhands, as I conceded might turn out to be the man, but this is about Jon, not him

I don't agree with the underlying logic of this argument.

Saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some figure from antiquity, ergo the white walkers don't have a leader" would be like saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some minor lord from the Fingers" to argue that Littlefinger is not a major antagonist, or is somehow unimportant in the grand scheme of the plot.

"The white walkers have a leader" and "Jon will transfer his soul to a walker body" are not premises that are incompatible with one another. While Jon Snow filling a magical/metaphysical power vacuum might be one context for that theory, it's far from the only one.
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At a minimum, it may be that things are unbalanced because the last Holly King refused to be sacrificed at his appointed time; for another, it may be that someone far more recently has taken up the mantle.

Even more speculatively, if the position of "King of Winter" is waiting to be claimed, it may be that there exists aspirants to the throne, so to speak; for example, Mance's ascent within the wildlings after the return of the Others might not be wholly altruistic. It's Mance who wanted the Horn, Mance who would not allow the Free Folk to slay Craster, and Mance (through the spearwives) appears to be probing Theon for information about the Winterfell crypts.
 

It may also be the case that Stannis will become NK 2.0 through sheer folly.

Edited by Matthew.

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