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Walda

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  1. Nonsense! Skahaz risks nothing by shaving his head and doing his best to crawl up Dany's shapely butt. Which happens to be exactly what Reznak does too (or would do, if he wasn't bald already). Reznak was wealthier than Skahaz in the old Meereen. I am not sure Skahaz was even a Great Master - we don't see any of his relatives among the hostages, or the Great Masters Dany executed. His pyramid is modest and not in the old area of town near the Great Pyramid. More like the residence of a sadistic slave-trader made good than of a man born into such wealth and privilege that he needed no trade at all, and could instead devote himself to the rule of the slave city. Neither man is wonderful, but Reznak doesn't want to torture girls in front of their fathers, and is clearly interested in protecting his class of people (the Great Master families) from harm. Skahaz delights in threatening Reznak's constituency, and never misses an opportunity to shake them down for money, but I don't see him doing anything to improve the lives of any former slave from Meereen, Yunkaii, or Astapor. In fact, when Reznak's protege, Hizdhar attempts to stop the Sons of the Harpy murdering Dany's people in the night, Skahaz is doing everything in his power to stop him and turn Dany against him. It seems to me that Reznak and the Green Grace want Dany to become the wife of the new King of Meereen, who they will rule through. Through her husband's persuasion, Dany will learn to accept the legitamacy of slaving by degrees. She will make peace with Yunkai and let the masters re-establish Astapoor, and retain chattle rights over their slaves in Meereen, and she will permit men to sell themselves into slavery if they wish, and little by little become the Harpy. And she will kill her dragons, then become a slave to her husband. Skahaz wants to control the police of Meereen, not to make life better for its populace, but to strike terror in its heart. Any reasonably sucessful wine trader or confectioner can expect their daughters to be taken and tortured, if they are not paying off Skahaz. Maybe even if they are. Skahaz is the one the freed slaves have most reason to fear. Anyone can shave their pate (Well, except chrome domes like Reznak). Once the hair is gone, it takes more than a quick glance to tell the former nobleman from the former slave, but easy to know who the boss of these people is. Likewise the Brazen Beasts are a mix of shavepates and freedmen, hard to distinguish one from the other in uniform, but easy to know who controls them. Not Reznak. Neither man is an ideal advisor for Dany, but both appear to be working for her, after their own fashion. I would say Skahaz is the more dangerous because a/ he is a sadist and b/ Dany trusts him more and c/ he has expanded his influence through the Shavepates and the Brazen Beasts while Reznak's base, the Great Masters, have been leaving Meereen and are losing influence and wealth.
  2. In real life there is Corsica and Hokkaido in the north. In the corresponding latitude south is Tasmania, the South Island of New Zealand, and Chiloè Island. So, mostly complex,unpredictable and cold wet weather (although not so much in Corsica). Stunning mountainous scenery (Especially New Zealand). Temperate rainforests below the tree line, alpine bogs above. Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand have lots of agriculture. Apples, sheep, dairys. Corsica has citrus fruit. But most of these islands are are more famous for their "unspoilt wilderness" - usually meaning the terraine was too hard to make a go of it in agriculture. Hokkaido in particular had a hunting and fishing economy for a long time after the islands near it had become agricultural economies. In all these islands, maritime activities are important. Whaling stations, or the base for fleets that supply them. Strategic bases for colonizing navies. Safe harbors for tall ships trading saws for timbers. Ship building for icebreakers to supply places closer to the poles, for fishing and drying cod. They seem more like Ibben and Norvos than Dragonstone. But Dragonstone always had the great naval significance. The Valyrians saw that when they selected it as the Westernmost outpost of Valyria. They were not interested in conquering Westeros at that time, but through Dragonstone they could create trade between Westeros and the Freehold, and control that trade. They could, with a very small population, protect the Free Cities from any attack from the kingdoms of the west. Aegon and his sisters were able to build a huge navy there, and to identify a time of weakness to invade the mainland. The first thing they did when they landed on the mainland was build a fort and a port, one to defend and the other to supply. They conquered the coastal areas nearest Dragonstone first, then headed up the rivers and out to bays further south and west. They had no luck above the Neck, or in Dorne, but thanks in part to the previous maritime conquests by the Ironborn, creating a populace ready to try the devil they didn't know, and partly to their own navy, they triumphed in the other five kingdoms. Stannis complains that he ought to have Storm's End, but he is aware of the military significance of Dragonstone. It was the last place Aerys had been able to hold, but the storm that Daenerys was born in wiped out his navy for Stannis, making it possible for him to capture the island. Stannis took the position of Master of Ships and made sure the bulk of his brother's fleet was stationed around Dragonstone. He made sure that the Royal fleet was rebuilt stronger than ever, and had the ships and men to smash Balon's pretensions at Fairport, and still have plenty of boats to transport Robert's and Eddard's forces to Pyke. Then, he ensured that Robert continued to build the Royal fleet after Balon knelt. When Jon Arryn died, Stannis had most of the Royal Navy and all of the admirals berthed at Dragonstone rather than King's Landing. As if he had been preparing to fight against his brother for years. How he really felt about Storm's End became clear when Ser Courtney Penrose died. He went back to Dragonstone. Storm's End is a great fortress and a foothold on the mainland, and his ancestral home, and was his by rights (now I suppose, Shireen's by rights) but Dragonstone is a better place to launch an invasion from. So fertile soils are not a great consideration on Dragonstone. What matters is fresh water, and a comparatively sheltered large deep harbor, for a large naval force, sitting right at the mouth of Blackwater Bay. It is Tarth rather than Storms End that has this strategic significance in Shipbreaker Bay, and Widow's Watch for the Bite, Estermont for the Sea of Dorne. Gulltown has the best position to control the Bay of Crabs. Baelish Keep might look like nothing much on the map, but it is a great strategic position to surveil/control all the maritime trade of the Seven Kingdoms with Braavos. And Braavos is a better place to control the north of Westeros from than most ports in Westeros. Someone with a large fleet and a base in Pentos is in a good position to surveil/ blockade the southern coast of Westeros. The trade from the far South and the golden West have to get through the pirate infested Stepstones to the three sisters of the Freehold, so obviously they are strategically and commercially important as well. Although pirates generally have less united fleets than nations or cartels.
  3. Please explain. I came here today because I re-read this (AGoT Ch 2 Catelyn I) I had not noticed before how out-of-place the Valyrian sword was in the black pool by the ancient weirwood. Nor had I noticed there was at least one earlier Ice, that there might be an Ice in one piece still. Eddard's Ice was forged about 130 BC, before Daenys the Dreamer foresaw the Doom of Valyria, before the Targaryens had left Valyria, but after Dragonstone had been built as the Westernmost outpost of Valyria. Was Ice a gift from Dragonstone (or from Valyria) to the King of Winter? Was it a commission because Ice Eyes or Bran the Breaker had broken the family sword? The transaction shows us that at least one King of Winter had some kind of non-violent contact with Valyria, or at least Dragonstone. And that the Valyrians were willing to arm him. -- On Ser Waymar's interaction with the Others, the Other approached Ser Waymar with a drawn longsword, at front guard or short guard. It is unclear if the blade was out before Ser Waymar warned "Come no farther". Waymar's own stance is an extraordinary choice: holding his sword in both hands, high over his head. As if he was preparing to be a ritual sacrifice. We know from various comments about 'drawn steel' that in Westeros, that is a signal that you are intending to fight. Robb displayed a bare sword on his lap when Tyrion asked an audience with him, to show him the enmity between their families. In Braavos simply carrying a sword was a sign you were prepared to fight any bravo you came across. The Others understood Waymar was issuing a challenge, and did him the courtesy of having only one of them answer his challenge. The shattering of Royce's sword seems to signal that the sport is over, and all the Others gather around to stab him with their longswords, rather than leave his dispatch to the one who fought him. Stabbing seems an odd way to use a longsword, and the frenzied way they do it, shredding his cloak, seems an inefficient as well as inelegant way of killing him. But that is how they do it. We know the Ice that was melted down to make Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail is not Dawn. The swords co-exist, and perhaps they met at the Tower of Joy in the red sands of Dorne. I suppose it is possible that Dawn was an earlier Ice. The old Kings of Winter in the crypt at Winterfell have swords of iron across their laps, so old that all that is left of some of them are a red line of rust. Admittedly, none of the last dozen Lords of Winterfell have a statue with Ice across its lap. They swords they rest with are not so fancy. Osha took Eddard's sword, forged after his death by Mikken on Bran's command. Meera took Lord Rickard's, Bran took Uncle Brandon's. (Incidentally, while Bran claims that Eddard had the statues of Lyanna and Brandon made because he loved them, that only Lords and monarchs were really entitled to statues. But I think Brandon was the Lord of Winterfell in the short time between his father dying and his own death. That statue is clearly in defiance of Aerys Targaryen, second of his name. King Robert protests Lyanna's presence in the crypt, but Eddard insists she belongs there. Perhaps because both Robert and Eddard know she was briefly the Queen of the realm. Although Robert would rather not acknowledge as much.) Hodor took a "much older" sword, that also seems to be much larger. Well spotted with rust, but we don't know which statue it was taken from. Lady Dustin notices a sword missing when Theon is guiding her past Beron Stark who ruled in Bloodraven's time. But Theon doesn't remember the name of the king the sword came from, and it might not have been the sword removed by Hodor - When Rickon had learnt that Robb was going to war he and Shaggy had gone to the crypts, and when Gage and Mikken found him (AGoT Ch53 Bran VI) I doubt a four-year-old would be able to snatch or slash with a sword as heavy as the one Hodor took. There is no mention of returning the sword to the statue, or of the part of the crypt Rickon was in when he weilded it. The swords in the crypts are generally described as longsword, and iron. Nothing indicates they are at all fancy. There are several indications they are all rusty. Eddard's sword had Mikken's mark, so I guess we could assume the swords were all castle-forged. The Starks having the history they do, we can be sure even their ghosts' swords have a honed edge, less decoration and more decollation than a southern ceremonial sword. But none so fancy that a later ancestor would covet it. No Valyrian steel (likely no steel at all). If a former Ice lay in the crypts, it would not have a milky translucent blade, or generate heat, or be engraved with magical runes, nothing that would tempt anyone to take it rather than another of the scores of rusty iron longswords around it. Meera complains that Rickard's sword is heavy, but she doesn't exchange it for another. She is shorter than Osha, who wears the newest sword on her back. Osha knew Mikken and Gage, who would be sharing his wood supply with the forge. She might even have seen the sword forged. I am guessing it was longer and heavier than Meera's, and that Hodor's was the heaviest and largest of the four they took. Bran's sword might have been smaller and lighter than Meera's, but Meera knows her Royal protocol too well to choose before the prince or to ask her liege to swap. Bran's sword is likely Mikken's too. Hodor's sword is the only one we hear of after they leave the crypts. Bran sees Meera often using her trident, net, and helm, but not her sword. He never mentions his own sword, either. Perhaps Hodor carries all three, like a pack horse. I guess there is no reason a former Ice would not be a plain looking iron sword. It is implied the nine black iron longswords on the crown of winter that Torren ceded to Aegon share symbolism with the swords in the crypt that keep the dead from walking. On the other hand, the iron swords of the Wildlings (and the bronze of the Thenns) have not done much to stop the dead from walking, and the Others' armor is impervious to iron, and they can shatter iron blades.
  4. I have just read The Wall from Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1936). It is a historical fantasy where a couple of children crawl through a hedge to meet Puck, who on this occassion introduces them to a Roman soldier guarding Hadrian's Wall. I think GRRM must have read it - there is a marked resemblance between this and GRRM'S Wall. Of course, one expects some similarity between stories based on the same location and historical facts, but the similarities that struck me especially were more about characters, especially the development of Jon's character and relationships. (The framing conceit might also have influenced C S Lewis's Narnia.) This particular story is directly comparable to Jon's arc, especially in Game of Thrones, (say, AGoT Ch.19 Jon III or Ch.26 Jon IV), and Jon's relationship with Tormund, or the position of the Wildlings generally (in Kipling's story the Picts have just observed another enemy landing and would be glad of an alliance, or at least, a cessation of hostilities with the Romans). The two boys in Kipling's story go hunting wolves north of the wall with a 'tame' pict. They came to the wall as boys, with Parnesius at first struggling to fit in with the men on the wall, for he was nobly born and they had been sent there as punishment for their crimes. But then he meets Pertinax, whose father had died, and his wealthy but unkindly uncle had sent him to the Wall by force and trickery. As they become friends, Parnesius learns to how to read, and lead, and respect his cohort. There has been a mention of Kipling in this thread before, his poem on the unattainable Blue Roses for a dead love. Well, GRRM hasn't been explicit about the TOJ storyline, so it is hard to tell. Also
  5. Thank you. That's a plausible and well-argued theory.
  6. Just learnt a little more about labyrinths and mazes. It is the mazes that have the dead ends. Labyrinths are convoluted paths with no branches or alternate routes. You can get lost in a maze. There is no way of getting lost in a labyrinth. So Ariadne's clew and Daedalus' advice ("Always forward and down, neither left nor right") were equally superfluous in Theseus' quest. And the Minotaur chose to live there. Which, like the legend as a whole, makes no sense at all. Mind blown. Although there is a parallel with Dany in the House of the Undying (Dany=Theseus, Pyat Pree=Daedalus/Ariadne, the Undying=the Minotaur). In fact, Dany's arc in general might be based on the story of the labours of Theseus.
  7. There are probably going to be a lot of major character deaths in Winds of Winter. He needs to set these deaths up to have the disastrous impact they deserve, ensure that they are most untimely by our reckoning. But he needs to ensure they don't die before they have been to the places they need to visit, seen the people they need to see, sired the heirs they needed to sire, discovered the secrets they needed to discover, sent the messages they needed to send. Otherwise, mysteries like Ned's promise to Lyanna and what happened at the Tower of Joy and (especially) why, are going to be 'resolved' the way the mystery of the dragonbone dagger was resolved- with a character who was out of the loop deducing it from whatever they could recall. Or worse, whatever they were told/saw in a dream/learnt from a tree or a crow. Worst case of all: told by a raven who was skinchanged by a guy that was shown a dream by a tree. I would honestly rather L+R remained in its current state than have it 'resolved' by dreams and portents. My guess is he has to time the killing of Tyrion, Dany, Jaime,Cersei, Brienne, Stannis, Sansa, Arya,Rickon and Bran so that Penny, JonCon, Illyrio, Jorah, Asha, Sam, Arianne,Nym, Hota and Barristan can know enough to carry the narritive load for A Dream of Spring. Eta: Or maybe he has too many paid gigs with deadlines due to find time to finish Winds in 2022.
  8. Although we have not seen this go spectacularly wrong yet. Escorting Cersei on her Walk of Shame is all we have yet seen the Poor Fellows do, and as Brienne saw on her way to Duskendale, they had formed without royal sanction before they arrived with the bones of the martyrs in King's Landing. The worst thing done to Cersei, her capture, was at the hands of a score or a couple of dozen unarmed septas. The worst thing done to Osney, a scourging he came to and submitted to of his own somewhat coerced will. The Warrior's Sons wouldn't have re-formed without Cersei's proclamation. But again, all we have seen them do is form and protect the Great Sept of Baelor. Perhaps escort Tommen to his blessing, if that has happened off-page. Lancel has given up Darry for them, but at the moment, the only clear consequence of that has been the annulling his marriage to Gatehouse Ami. That is a bit humiliating for Amerie, but not obviously a perilous mistake. Especially if Lyle Crakehall, a solid Lannister bannerman, becomes Castellan for the Frey widow of Darry. We also don't know yet of any dire consequence of Ser Bonifer and the Holy Eighty-Six taking over Harrenhal. True, history and the foreshadowing don't favor any of them. In fact, while the old-time Warrior's sons boasted great knights and sorcerers, they seem to deserve at least a brief mention in this thread. "Rebel and Burn" seems to have been their entire gameplan. But for this new incarnation, we have to wait and see what happens in Winds of Winter in order to have a fair appreciation of just how bad an idea it was to revive them, and whether the High Sparrow was as stupid as Cersei to suggest it.
  9. Oh Barristan. Such a good Queensguard, such a bad Hand. I just know he has handed Meereen to Skahaz, who, if he is not the Harpy, will be, just as soon as all the warriors but his Brazen Beasts leave the city and he slams the gates shut behind them. Barristan has an endearing level of self-awareness. It is a rare quality, and one that does nothing to improve his battle plans. King Mine-by-rights is much better at commanding armies, and gives the stealth missions to stealthy people like Davos and Melisandre. If Dany ever meets him again, I don't think she will thank him.
  10. Vargo Hoat's plan to work for Tywin, double cross Tywin, take Harrenhal for Bolton, take Tywin's son prisoner, cut off his hand, use it to get a lordship from a guy that's already dead and couldn't give him a lordship without killing his own son, killing the Maester of Harrenhal and giving Tywin's son his personal medic, staying in Harrenhal when Bolton left. The Brave Companions are a notably small company, indicating that anyone who could leave had left before they arrived in Westeros. They had enemies in Essos. Zollo would rather cross the salt-water than face his fate in Essos, or attempt to rejoin a Khalasar. They have escaped slaves - not just any slaves, but Unsullied owned by the Red Temple at Volantis. They might have recruited Qyburn,Timeon, Ut after they arrived in Westeros? I can see that the maester and the septon would follow a crew like the Brave Companions the way vultures and hyenas follow weakening animals. It looks like Hoat was forced by extingencies into making one poor choice after another from the time they left Essos to the time they raided the Crossroads Inn. From the outside, the Brave Companions seem to work just the same with and without Hoat's leadership. I am pretty sure a lot of Hoat's commands were direct orders from Tywin, who seems to have decided that he had the right not to pay them. I also think Tywin knew what he was doing when he made Lorch Castellan of Harrenhal. The Brave Companions were part of how Tywin communicated and co-ordinated with Bolton, and Gregor's forces another part, until they set up their MaesterNet (which required both Bolton and Tywin have access to castles that Ravens could fly to.) So a lot of Hoat's lousy planning might be due to Bolton's lies, and Tywin's commands. Other could have been seen as wise if the consequences had played out another way. Cutting off Jaime's sword hand was an act of tactical genius that worked to keep Jaime ransomable and the Brave Companions safe - but they underestimated Tywin. Hoat could not have foreseen that he would needed better medical attention than he got when Brienne bit his ear off. Gregor's crew seem to be as expert in lopping off limbs as Qyburn. They kept Hoat alive in spite of the sepsis from the ear bite. Or maybe the notion that the ear had killed him was Timeon's misapprehension. He perhaps would rather invent a grudge against Brienne for killing the commander he deserted, than put the blame on Gregor. Perhaps he thought he might have a chance of passing as one of Gregor's men, if he could escape Brienne and Randyll Tarly. For planned idiocy, Balon takes the crown. And Euron paid the Iron Price for that crown. I know Victarion sees Euron as a strategic genius, but that is Victarion. It seems to me that the people Euron burns hardest are the strongest supporters of his cause, and his kin, who have cultural prohibitions against killing him. This strikes me as inherently self-limiting behaviour. He is Balon's true successor. Even Theon can't compete against that level of idiocy.
  11. This is the main contention - that the main plot is going to bring Daenerys and her dragons to Westeros, to unite the Dothraki, and sack King's Landing and reclaim (or melt) the Iron Throne as the Stallion that Mounts the World, to make the true fiery sword of the Prince that was Promised to lift the Long Night and fight the Others , and maybe marry Jon Snow and die in childbirth or like Nissa Nissa at the Wall. None of which can happen while Dany stays in Essos. And when the latest books feature Dany not at all, or chilling in Meereen, it is interpreted as putting her story arc in a holding pattern. Tyrion's story has also lost its urgency since he killed his father. In fact it is downright irritating -constantly muttering about where whores go upon establishing that his first wife wasn't one. Tysha is so obviously a flimsy subplot that is headed nowhere. If she is the Sailor's wife (and Ah ha! a whore after all) then Yna has already prophesied he'll be dead when they next meet. (Mind you, he might have died and come back stronger after meeting Prince Garin). As if we'd forget he murdered Shae, hit Penny, creepily sqeezed Sansa's boob after deciding no to molest her, threatened his sister with rape. But Tyrion as a character is more than a hard bargin for women. We know that the Tysha thing is a very minor subplot, a red herring, a dead end that sheds no light on what he is doing and where he is going. Even without Tysha, his jaunt into slavery and flirtation with Penny and the Second Sons is a wild goose chase until and unless he becomes Dany's Hand and rides a dragon back to Westeros, taking Dany and her Unsullied and freedmen and Dothraki hoards with him. Then there is Arya, in assassin school, being nobody. Again, in a holding pattern. She needs to meet up with Nymeria, remember who she is, get the pack back together. Again, won't happen in Essos. These are not the only characters in a holding pattern. Bran is being eaten by a tree, Davos is imprisoned every time he gets off a ship, Brienne was on a seaside tour until she met the woman she swore her sword to. Sansa is some stupid princess in some stupid tower. But at least they are in Westeros, where the central story has to happen. I guess ADwD had to have a period of time where Bran learns to be a wizard and Dany learns to rule and ride dragons, Arya learns to assassinate and Jon to command an army, Sansa learns to negotiate with Lords, and Rickon learns to warg in the Old School Stark style. But I also think that GRRM, the man that killed the main character, might not be telling the story we expect him to tell. As you point out, the Meereenese chapters are carefully written, the characters as multidimensional as the Westerosi. If the Long Night descends and Westeros becomes a howling wilderness where the Others with their ice-spiders hunt down everything with warm blood, where is every survivor destined to end up? Maybe Westeros will come to Dany (and the free cities, and the slave cities, and anywhere that still has a little light, food, or safe harbor.) Yes, I would throw the book at the wall (ie. My bedroom wall), but it is not like I haven't done that before, either.
  12. There's Jon (ADwD, Ch 29 Jon VIII) and there's Jeor (AGoT Ch 48 Jon VI) Before Jon becomes a brother of the Night's Watch, he knows the name ends in 'ar'. He hears Jeor (a northerner) pronounce it 'ar' Ever since he joined the wildlings, Jon thinks of the Septon as merely a drunkard, even when he is sober or absent. Jon is the only one who says the word as a mocking homonym for 'cellar door' (well, him and the appendices after ASoS.) Melisandre gives the man his correct name, showing no contempt for his human failings, does not mock the officer or his office as mortal envoy of the false gods. . Jaime and Tyrion both first think of the oldest Kettleblack as "Ser Oswald". Perhaps remembering the Kingsguard used to have knights like Ser Oswell Whent, before the rise of Ser Osmund Kettleblack. When Tyrion asks if Cercei met Penny in Braavos, Penny tells him (ADwD, Ch 33 Tyrion VIII) This could be GRRM retconning an unfortunate slip of the ASoS pen into an ADwD plot point. Who did Oppo meet? The Kingsguard knight, or his father? And who does Tyrion think he met? I would guess, the wrong one. Tyrion misremembers the son's name and doesn't know the father exists. Or that they are both quietly allied to Petyr Baelish. . As well as PoV characters remembering names after their own fashion, there are names that are deliberately close rather than the same in spelling, used to indicate kinship to more illustrious people, without causing offence. (AFfC, Ch 21 The Queenmaker) (AFfC, Ch 14 Brienne III) Then there are people like Rennifer Longwaters and his ancestors (AFfC Ch 8 Jaime I) Oakenfist was the legitimised Velaryon bastard who was known in his lifetime as Alyn of Hull. Bastardry is stigmatising, no inheritance, suspicions of bad blood. But a bastard name means ones noble sire acknowledges the blood is his own. Or at least, some noble family has claimed the child. So a bastard name implies an education, in letters and in arms, and patronage. Jon Snow was likely groomed for command because Winterfell would support him. Just as Benjen probably became head ranger because his brother would heed his plans. We know how people like Ser Hugh of the Vale and Ser Duncan the Tall get their names, created with their knighthoods. Disguising the absence of a surname or eliding one that would shame him. Although it seems odd to me that Jon Arryn's squire had no family name he wished to guild with glory, nor any desire to attach himself to the Arryns or King Robert, who both liked him well enough to knight him. I can understand the opposite situation better: no mother ever called her child Kegs or Spare Boot. But they were not sent to the wall for the honour of their father's name. And then, there's what happens when High Valyrian names are pronounced in the Valyrian of the Free Cities or Slaver's Bay, or the regional accents of the common tongue of Westeros. The only example I can think of is (ASoS Ch 47 Arya IX) The Sandsnake is given the diminutive Nym, not Nan, so that might be a sign that Northerners pronounce it differently. In English, Nan is a diminutive of Anne, which is a very common name. Exactly the sort of thing one would call a servant. Possibly even if they were not named Anne (in the same way that carriage drivers would be referred to as "James" regardless of who drove the carriage). The Valyrian and the Ghiscari have glyphs (they might even be the same glyphs). From what Tyrion can read of Benerro's fire glyphs, each one (or at least, each one he can decipher) represents a word rather than a syllable or a sound. Which means the written language would be no guide to pronunciation. The unsullied can read Ghiscari glyphs, at least so far as remembering their name requires them to. Presumably they can also pronounce the names in Astapori Valyrian, to avoid being "culled". But those names can also be correctly pronounced in as many different languages as the unsullied speak. It reminds me of when the Astapori named Dany 'Mhysa' (ASoS Ch 42 Daenerys IV) So Serra/Seara and Dalla/Daella. being really the same names is a very reasonable interpretation. (Unless you are claiming that Mance's wife lived 236 years and is Daella Targaryen. But you aren't.) GRRM does so much with names, revealing and erasing identities, it is almost certain, if he meant the names to be the same, he would have the characters quite different, and the outcome of their story.
  13. It was behind the outermost wall of Highgarden. I don't know if it was or could be guarded, or how, but they would have to get past the wall first. Then, there was the second wall. Maybe they could hope it wasn't or couldn't be used to decimate the diggers. Two walls with only a moat between them seemed to work for Winterfell, until they were scaled by Theon, who opened the gates for the Flayed Men. I guess the same could happen if Highgarden was poorly defended, but at least the thorns would slow them down. And Highgarden has a third wall.
  14. If I understand the Tyrells, their brier labyrinth would be a particularly thorny one, and even if the foliage was scorched away and the branches were charcoal, their thorns would remain. So your question reads more like "why would you use barbed wire as a defence mechanism" The obvious answer is that, even after it was burnt, pushing through the maze would be harmful for the horses, and slow work even for men. Where I live there is a thorny shrub called wait-a-while that has fine dangling whips of recurved thorns that catch on to your pack or clothing fast, and you have to carefully unpick each thorn to get yourself free, or your hat or whatever. At least it isn't poisonous, as some thorns are. But it is very effective at slowing you down. And when you see it, you avoid it. Thorns were enough of an issue in the Vietnam war to be used as a justification for napalm. A flimsy pretext, maybe, but most US army ordnance works better on open desert plains. And pitched battles with cavalry and siege engines also work better without acres of thorns and false paths and booby-traps. Another advantage of the maze - if you know the way, you can get horses and yourself through safely, undetected. Burning the maze would ruin any element of surprise. Invaders would have to wait until the fire burnt out before they could cross. The wood in the maze could be green and require a lot of starter fuel to catch. There is a high wall to negotiate before you could light it. You can't navigate it while it is burning, or just producing lots of smoke. It will still be a hinderance when it is burnt. Some mazes (eg. Louis XIV one at Versailles) incorporated water features, which could make it harder to burn and even if the hedge part was thoroughly burnt, the maze of irrigation channels would still stand (minus any wooden bridges that would normally allow a crossing.) Elaborate water features are a renaissance thing, but GRRM has a number of post-medieval technologies and these include the elaborate fountains, canals, and waterworks of Qarth, Ghoyan Drohe, Asatapor, Meereen, Braavos, and Highgarden. So I would suppose the Highgarden labyrinth would have irrigation features, just like the other parts of the garden. There would be at least one entrance to the castle that wasn't through the maze. Renly brought his great host of the chivalry of the South to Highgarden. The normal activities of a castle require cart access (although the King's wheelhouse was too large to fit through the main gates of Winterfell). I would expect that horsemen would be able to enter the gates two by two if not four by four. Highgarden also has tourney-mad horse-breeding inhabitants. It would be too tedious to have to navigate a maze every time one of the boys wanted to attend a tourney. More than any of these considerations, house Gardener built Highgarden as a centre of government, not as a defensive outpost. The point of the castle was to draw envoys in and impress them with pomp. Not to keep invaders out and distress them with fire. That is why they have a huge sept and elaborate groves and collonades full of strolling players. That is why their defensive labyrinth is also an entertainment feature. Also, the difference between a labyrinth and a maze - a labyrith implies tunnels, dead ends, and monsterous beasts confined within it. It is not just a maze, but a maze intended to confine beasts while allowing the keepers in and out.
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