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  1. Walda

    Was Gregor Guilty?

    @Daniel von Gothenburg, I'm an athiest, but I don't want to offend believers and would like them to contribute to the thread in good conscience. (Wiccans included. I realise I have called some Wiccan deities imaginary in the OP, my apologies) ASoIaF is set in a mediaeval world, and explored through the eyes of people who absolutely believe in the gods. Aeron, Hotah, Melisandre are devouts, and even skeptical, cynical Tyrion has trained as a septon. Theon have been heard by the gods and Davos hears them. GRRM has written a world where the gods are as real to their peoples as dragons and basilisks, without which you really won't understand their concepts of law, Justice, war, vengence, hospitality, ownership, kinship, feasting, fasting, medicine, agriculture, catergorising animals, the relative magicalness of water, mud, bronze, iron, the relative wickedness of giants and dwarfs ... Nearly everything important about everyone, really. They are not as embedded in their beliefs as real people in the historical middle ages were, and in their world a season can last years, dragons and sorcery are real, prophecies can foretell the future, the dead can rise again, there is evidence of the Gods intervening in the ruins of Valyria and Chorayne, in the destiny of the Selasori Qhoran and Stannis, of Drogo and the Dragons. Whatever our real-world beliefs are has nothing to do with it Although, I can see that GRRM made a thourough study of the Catholic catechism and the bible including the apocrypha in his youth - there are almost as many nods to bible stories as there are to Tolkien in these books.
  2. Walda

    Do you think winds of winter

    I'm guessing it is going to be more like A Feast for Crows. Because GRRM is not like D&D, slaving away to make everyone happy - the viewer, the network, the actors, the author and his publishers, oh no, piss on that. GRRM's signature move is 'kill your darlings'. Not just his words (although we know he rewrites a lot). Your darlings. In AGoT he killed the main protagonist just to start the series. At the Red Wedding he destroyed the Stark cause. All the Starks that are still alive are fugitives forging Stark-free identities as wargs and bastards and such now. But Feast was the worst subversion of reader's expectations so far. We thought, after waiting so long, being trolled so often, that he would deliver us from the suspenseful state in which he had left Jon, and Tyrion, and Dany, didn't we? And Lady Stoneheart, wtf, yes? For our hopes and expectations we got Brienne. Our fascinated anticipation of Dorne was answered by Arys and Hota and Arrieffinganne. Not to mention my personal least favourite part of all the books, the salt in the wounds, the condescending farrago of excuses and lies and insults to the intellectual abilities of the most dedicated admirers of his work, that he chose to title 'Chapter 46'. He knew when he wrote it that the pre-orders alone would put him on the NYT bestseller list the week of release, and HBO would be obliged to add another zero or two to the cheque if they wanted the TV rights. So who was sorry then? This is not an author who cares about your expectations, except how he can subvert them in order to frustrate your most fervant hopes. All he cares about now is his art. And this is not the final book, where we finally know the whole story and can see his art and its intention as clearly as we ever will. Not by a long shot. I'm guessing this will be his last chance to thoroughly disappoint us. So of course he will. Those new points of view you hated that he said he would never inflict on us again? They will all be back, with friends. If he is the author I think he is, Jon will stay dead, and after pointless and meandering journeys to all the places whores don't go, Tyrion will die too. And Danerys. And her dragons. The story will mostly be about new characters doing a heap of travelling and eating and world-building from new points of view nobody cares about. The only Stark points of view will be Rickon and maybe Alayne, cloaked in a new identity, chilling out in some place far from the action. But there will be heaps of treats for 'Arrianne fans' (which is what GRRM calls the most extraordinary creatures his fertile imagination ever spawned). He laughs at your pain. He doesn't care how many times you throw the book at the wall in disgust and frustration. More fool you for breaking the internet in your haste to pre-order. Sucker. I'm guessing it will be his longest so far, and in two parts, but if you think the pace will pick up in The Winds of Winter, you haven't been paying attention.
  3. No, I think Dareon most likely learnt the song - he is praised for the quality of his voice, rather than celebrated for his songwriting. Because Dareon came from the Reach, it is likely a song that was popular in the Reach, told a tale that was of the Reach, familiar to an audience from the Reach. So if the song had a tower in it, it wouldn't be Queenscrown, or the Eyrie, or Starfall, even if the historical truth of the tale was that the prince was not a prince, the princess was not a princess, the tower was not a tower, and the legendary event was sung of in Chorayne or Andalous long before the Reach was settled. If the song was from Oldtown, or anywhere near Oldtown, the tower would become Hightower. Because it adds drama to the song in a way that appeals to an Oldtown audience. We can see how very regional the differences in the mythos of songs are, pretty nearly every time songs are sung, and even when they are not- for example when Brienne and Nimble Dick Crabb argue about heros Brienne has travelled more than Dick, has heard the songs of other places. She knows the singers sing of six maids in a pool at Maidenpool, and that audiences outside of Crackclaw point will be politely bored (at best) by a song of Ser Clarence, while in the region where his heads still whisper they always want to hear the one about how he killed the squisher king. You get clues about singers from the songs they sing - Marrillion is probably from the Riverlands, Tom 'o' Sevens is too, but he has been in the game longer, and if he hasn't travelled further, he knows more of the preferences of Northern audiences (although, the song he made for them did include the howling of wolves that Marrillion claimed they loved to hear). The songs themselves tell us of local things and ways - for instance, the Dornishman's wife is popular in places where there is a predjudice against Dornishmen, and not sung in Dorne. The wildlings of the north don't sing that song either, but Mance does. That is significant. I'm assuming that, as an apprentice singer in the Reach, Dareon learnt the songs of the Reach, and that he was born in the region and had not travelled beyond it before he was sent to the wall, and therefore did not develop a wide repertoire of songs for purposes like enticing men from all regions of the seven kingdoms into the Night's Watch, or pleasuring the courtesans of Braavos, until he was put in those places. (Unlike Tom'o'Sevens and Mance, Dareon does not seem to have much interest in ethnomusicology). Given what we know of songs and singers in ASoIaF, it seems a reasonable assumption to me. Edit: @The Green Bard, would you give me the chapter where Tom'o'Sevens sings the song? I haven't found it yet, but I did find another possibility that meets the OP's criteria. If Dareon wrote the song himself, it might have been about Jon and Ygritte. Jon found her dying beneath Hardin's tower.
  4. Walda

    Was Gregor Guilty?

    Following on from a side topic in the Kevan and Pycelles Death thread. Did Gregor rape Elia? Did he smash the skull of the babe in her arms against a wall? Had he received orders to kill Rhaegars heirs this way, or did he do it for the lulz? Could he have slain the mother and child and yet be innocent in the eyes of the seven? Or did the gods confine their verdict to Tyrion's case when Gregor fought the Red Viper? Do the gods play any part in trials by combat? Do they provide supernatural help or hindrance to one side or the other? Do they sometimes get it wrong, or leave it to the mortals to decize? Or do they always, because the gods of Westeros are as imaginary as the gods of Norse/ Greek/ Egyptian/ Assyrian legend, and therefore as silent?
  5. I'm sure the narrative purpose in mentioning the song is to remind us of Ned's visit to Ashara at Starfall. It seems to me, too, that it is dripping with dramatic irony, as the last time Arya was depreciating a 'stupid princess' it was Elmer's betrothed, who she did not know was herself. So I'm taking this as a hint that Ashara's death had something to do with Jon, is intimately relevant to Arya. But it doesn't follow that the song is about Ashara. Dareon is from the reach and there is a tower there that is so high it is a wonder of the man-made world. I'm guessing the song is about a Hightower princess from long ago, as that would have greater appeal in the Reach (especially in Oldtown) than a song about some smelly Dornish slut. Also, I don't think Ashara's story was a good one for a song. It would be sure to bring pain to those at Starfall and in the court at Kings Landing who loved her. Because she was 'dishonored', her story is told in whispers and rumours outside of Dorne. Cersei, who was at court with her, did not really know why she jumped. Eddard forbade anyone in his household to mention her name. That Dareon would hear some version of her story, and be motivated to write a song of it seems as unlikely as his being taught a song about a Dornish princess in the Reach. It occurs to me too that Dareon came in through the window of Lord Rowan's daughter at Goldengrove, and might have reason to wish she defenestrated herself after betraying him and having him sent to the wall. If he wrote the song himself, I bet the vain pup made himself the prince.
  6. Walda

    Tysha's real identity

    Hmm. Could be. Interesting. If she was on foot when she met the Lannister guards, the croft she was evicted from was on Lannister lands, and not more than a week's walk away. I thought Tysha was actually a set-up by Tywin, intended to interest Jaime in girls other than Cersei. Maybe Tysha knew she was to seduce Tywin's son, and didn't realize she was supposed to go for the good looking one. More likely, the set up happened by Tywin, on being told by his steward that there was still a young girl living in the croft he had wanted new tenants in, decided to time the eviction until Jaime was home and have his men herd her towards Jaime so he could 'rescue' her from 'outlaws', and the rest followed on from there. It makes no sense that there were outlaws less than a day's ride from one of the most ruthless and well-organised Lords in Westeros, Commander of the West, no less, on his own lands, which were crawling with his own men. Or at least, if there were outlaws, they would be sneaking around gingerly like Mance and company, not attempting to rape obviously penniless starvelings on the high road to Casterley Rock. It also seems odd to me that Jaime didn't manage to capture them. Either way, she wasn't a whore - had very little idea of sex when she met Tyrion, and was 'paid' for her insolent marriage by gang-rape. There isn't anything to suggest she had been given a payment before she met them.
  7. Walda

    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    I don't have a problem with him removing the real Aegon - that would show an unexpected loyalty to the dragons, to Rhaegar's line of descent. The problem I have is with "leaving" another in his place. Another, whose skull had fortuitously been caved in, disguising the baby's features. Elia raped and murdered, Rhaenys stabbed hundreds of times. Varys not going to the trouble of getting Elia and Rhaenys out of there, going to considerable trouble to find a baby that could be brained - paying for it with arbor gold rather than a sliver stag. Did he kill a puppy before that? Has he trained in the art of three spears and short sword, as well as the crossbow and poisons? It seems to me that he couldn't personally care much for any of them, to either leave them to die brutal deaths, or to administer or arrange them to die brutal deaths, whichever. The only advantage to this tale is, it gives Aegon or fAegon a reason to believe he is the real deal. Aegon is a bit lacklustre for an 18 year old. He is not as street-smart or as book-smart as Dany or Robb, he is used to being told what to do, he has had a Lord's education, but an indifferent one (Tyrion could put the Half-maester right in half a dozen places, and Haldon doesn't like being answered back, he has a half-septa too, and a knight can make a knight, so what sort of master at arms is Duck?) I don't think he has a snowflakes chance of getting his bum on the iron throne, for all that Varys can do.
  8. Walda

    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    It is a great catch - Pycelle and Kevan mimic the deaths of Aegon and Rhaenys. Except, Aegon isn't dead, according to Varys. There is a 'for the children' theme with Ned as well as Varys, and we know in Ned's case, when he crossed his fingers and wrote 'heir' rather than 'son, Joffrey', telling himself that he was doing it 'for the children'... well, it didn't do much good for any children, especially not Barra and Mya and whatever other bastard he was imagining to himself. Really, he was giving Cersei every justification to accuse him of playing Robert false. And he was playing Robert false. (I find it hard to believe it had never occurred to him that Joffrey was not his biological son, before the incident at Darry. Robert understood the art of negotiation, the subtleties of makinge friends and influencing people, in a way that Eddard never did. Tywin's 'gift' of the bodies of the royal children after the sack of King's Landing? Well, I'm not sure it was Amory Lorch and Gregor Clegane that did the dirty work - seems to me that Varys might have had his reasons for ensuring that Lord Tywin and his men were stuck with those atrocities, and Lord Tywin made lemonade with crushed and stabbed baby lemons, passing the blame for the atrocities, and nominally the throne, on to Robert, while remaining the power behind it. Of course he would rather have had his own son, before he knew that Aegon and Rhaenys were dead. But their being dead gave Robert a fig-leaf of pretension to the throne (if we ignore Viserys and Daenarys, like they did), and Tywin controlled the city, so it was either that or Ned's exhausted and war-weary host could be slaughtered before Robert and his host of wounded and exhausted men from the Trident even got there. Can't help but think that Ned must have crossed his fingers and held off on that one for the sake of the children that would die if the Lannister and Stark armies tore each other apart in the streets of King's Landing. When Robert arrived, he settled it all amicably, sent Ned off to settle with Mace and those forces that Tywin could claim if he were acting in the interest of his old chum Aerys, as he could pretend to have been. He could pretend that Ned had killed their King, have stared down the fat flower and friends like he did when Mace asked him what they were doing about the Dornishmen demanding vengeance for Elia. But why, when he had Robert taking all the blame, and he controlled Robert and could ensure his own blood inherited the throne. Interestingly, both Tywin and Eddard seem to want nothing to do with Robert after the deal was done, whatever it was. So yeah, whatever children Varys is doing it for, it isn't because he has an interest in implementing a scheme for universal pediatric speech therapy and early education throughout Westeros. And I don't think he wants the Targaryens back, or he would have done something better for Viserys and Daenarys. They were probably lucky to be out of King's Landing - Varys is the person that could have got from the throne room to the nursery faster than Gregor could get from the flagpole above the Guardsroom on the outer wall (where he hoisted down the Targaryen colours) to the nursery chambers of Prince Rhaegar in Maegor's Keep (Which I suspect was in or near the same place where Arya in her cat-chasing encountered Tommen and Myrcella and their Septa.) Also, I don't think Pycelle was clobbered by a crossbow administered by Varys, but by the huge iron reading candle stick, administered by the mute girl, the 'sweet child' that brought him his sweet milk and tended him so faithfully over the first five books. That is why there were rivers of wax in his brains. It also means that both he and Kevan were killed by the children, not Varys. Tywin was also killed more by Varys than Tyrion. It was Varys that told Tyrion exactly how to get to his father's chamber, that put Shae's chest of pretty things exactly below the crossbow he decided to install on the wall of the Hand's bedroom, that got Shae a private audience with the Hand so she might get her stuff back (that is, if Varys had not already handed Shae over to Tywin - I have this feeling the time that Shae and Tyrion got it on at Varys', there was one candle there so that Tywin could watch what was going on from some dark corner. In either case, it would be very Varys to make himself useful by knowing how to smuggle her in and out of the tower of the hand discreetly.) So, yeah, Varys planned it out. Set up Tyrion to make a rash act, then telling him how to while telling him not to, knowing he would. And he did.
  9. Walda

    The Meaning of Horses

    On my first reading of ASoS I noticed the care GRRM took in describing the three horses Brienne, Jaime, and Cleos rode from the Inn of the Kneeling Man ("a lumbering brown plow horse" for Brienne, " a knight's palfrey, dapple grey and spirited" for Cleos - with a saddle in Bolton colours, and "an anceint white gelding blind in one eye" for Jaime.) As I read on, it seemed to me that these three types of horses (big, fast, poor) were reappearing in a "three mounts shall you ride" pattern, for example, Brienne on the big grey courser, Hyle on the chestnut palfrey, and Pod on the gelded rounsey. So I did some keyword searches with respect to horses: a/ Brown, dray, plow, b/ dapple, grey, spirited, palfrey c/ Ancient, white, one-eyed, gelding on the strength of the results I added 'warhorse', 'destrier', and 'courser' to group A, as it seemed to me that Lord Darry's former stable hand in Wendish town made a point of saying a warhorse was not the same as a plow horse, because people like Brother Gilliam would try to harness horses like Stranger, and while Hullen might know the difference between a destrier and a courser, they were equally warhorses as far as Sansa was concerned, and possibly as far as Gregor Clegane was concerned, too. I added "sorrel" and "gait" to group B, as gait is what defines a palfrey. I wish I had added "chestnut" and "bay" as well as "sorrel", as quite a lot of the road horses are that color brown (and quite a few of the big horses are greys). To group C I added " piebald", "rounsey", "stot" and "swayback". I am now almost certain I should have added "mule" "charger" "garron" to my list. It seems to me now that Dray/ Rounsey/ Mule is just the poor man's version of Warhorse/ Palfrey/ Gelding. Anyway, these searches, rather than nicely crystallizing around Brienne, or a particular set of horses, has rather expanded my groups of three. For example: As Lord Commander, Jon takes a grey gelding to the Godswood to swear in the new Nightswatchmen (including Leathers) when he meets Wun Wun and company. He takes a palfrey to Moletown, where he sees the faces on the three trees, and where he invites Mance's people to join the watch. When he welcomes Tormund's host to Castle Black, Satin saddles him up a firey grey courser, a stallion. As the steward of the Lord Commander, Jon leaves for the Great Ranging on a garron. At Queenscrown he changes to a sway-backed black mare (who is nonetheless a swift and tireless roadhorse), he exchanges her for a black gelding at Molestown, which he rides back to Castle Black. We are not told the horse that Theon leaves Winterfell on, but we know it isn't Smiler. At a guess it would most likely be a palfrey or a hunter ( palfrey because and a road horse was what was required, and hunter, because Theon had spent a lot of time on hunters, and might have a favourite horse of his own. I could imagine that Robb might foresee and attempt to ally Catelyn's concerns about Theon riding to war by not giving him a warhorse, just the sort of minor quibble to keep her from the point that Ned would raise if he were able to weigh in, that Theon had goaded Robb (and Catelyn) into leaving Winterfell.) He takes up the heavy courser when he takes up his identity as Prince Theon. He takes up the old broken stot as Reek, so Theon has had three mounts (or possibly, his first horses went unnamed and undescribed because he is going to have a third horse). Robb also meets the 'three mounts' criteria: at Winterfell he rides a big grey and white gelding into the Wolfswood (with Bran on Dancer, and Theon on an unspecified mount), then the grey stallion to war, returning on the piebald. Tyrion has the blood bay courser mare that Jaime gave him as a birthday present, swaps it for Jyck's spotted gelding for his arrival at the Eyrie (and I'm guessing, his departure), and then swaps that horse for a "a formidable brown courser armored as heavily as he was" at the Green Fork. Drogo also seems to have three mounts: the lean red stallion that he falls from, the stallion that Rakharo chose and Aggo felled (note the tree-magic reference - as Seams has pointed out, it happens a lot around horses) for his pyre, and the "great grey stallion, limned in smoke, it's mane a nimbus of blue flame" that Dany saw him depart on. Joffrey rides a "blood bay courser, fast as the wind" along the Trident with Sansa (on her chestnut mare - shades of brown being strongly associated with Sansa as well as with horses), and to the defence of King's Landing with Hearteater. He flees the riots on a tall grey palfrey, and he and Margery steal Tyrion's place as the most absurd sight at his wedding feast by entering the feast hall on "matched white chargers" Brienne on her grey appears in yet another group of three with Ser Creighton (swayback brown gelding with rhumey eyes) and Ser Illifer (weedy half-starved horse - but a war horse, in that it was the one he took into battle.) As well as the individual 'three mounts' and the trios of riders on war/hack/pack horses, some horses might link to people with one eye/ear/hand. Of course, a lame horse isn't going to figure much in the narrative (there is Roose Bolton's favourite courser coming up lame, the day he raped Ramsey's mother, but mostly the story is too fast-paced to wait on a lame horse). There are a few horses blind in one eye (Val's horse, for instance) , which I think might be throwing out foreshadowings and parallels to characters like Timett, Jack-be-Lucky, Ser Philip Foote of Nightsong, Crowfood Umber, Yna, long dead Lord Jonnel Stark, or, obviously, BloodRaven. (I bet @The Fattest Leech has found the one-eye and wood references to horses already) There are plenty of Black Stallions in the narrative (typically destriers or coursers), and I notice both Ser Waymar and Lord Beric lose an eye and have big black horses. Brienne is one of a number of people who lose an ear or part of an ear (her injury seems to mirror Lord Hoat's, and Shagwell's, but Jorah has lost a bit of an ear, and there are a few others I can't immediately recall). Jaime of course loses a hand, and as the force of narrative is likely to make him and Brienne two of a group of three, I'm guessing there will be a one-eyed person joining them. Maybe actually one-eyed, or maybe, like Lord Walder Frey, or Edmure Tully's one-eyed pike, metaphorically one-eyed and described as such in the narrative. Geldings seem to be an ill omen as well as red horses. Little Cat used to wait for old Lord Hoster Tully to come home from endlessly facilitating disputes between the Blackwoods and the Brakens, on a brown gelding. Stevron greets Robb at the gate at the Green Fork on a gelding. Ser Illyn rides a gelding, and a one-eyed mule watches him duel Jaime in a stable. I'm particularly struck by the horses that Prince Aegon, Griff, and Halder ride to meet the Golden Company. We know from the start that it is too soon, and too rash, and Aegon is too trusting of the Golden Company and Tyrion both, while the Griffin shows us there is no fool like an old fool. The 'best' horse they have is a large grey gelding, so pale he is almost white, so Aegon rides that. Griff is (we infer) on the same white courser he rode up the throat on beside Homeless Harry Strickland (Griff is, I suspect, due to lose a hand, if he doesn't get his throat cut first). Haldon has a 'lesser mount'. It is probably not the mare with the sweet gait that Ser Rolly shared with Tyrion when they first met, as they didn't take horses onto the Shy Maid, and they were certainly not walking them along the Rhoyne - so Haldon's horse is, like the gelding and the courser, newly purchased. We can suspect it is inferior to both. After all, he is a half-maester. Full maesters don't get horses at all, but donkeys and mules. Brienne, Arya, and Horse are 'horse faced'. Patchface is described as piebald (because of his alopecia - a trait which he shares with Ser Archibald Yronwood, and could probably be applied to nearly any bald man that still had bits of hair left). Ser Robert Strong has a chest "worthy of a plowhorse", and Hodor is compared to and described as a large horse. Smiler is thus named because he bit off part of the cheek of his last owner - the loss of an ear tends to also result in a cheek injury, a la Myrcella, so there could be a connextion between those bad-tempered destriers and people who have lost an ear. Freys <3 Greys: There are a lot of Freys on grey palfreys. Merret, Petyr, Ryman. Cleos. Lady Dustin gives the Walders a pair of fine grey colts. I notice that Cleos' spirited grey palfrey had a pink and black saddle - the Bolton colours. Perhaps Lady Dustin gave the horse as a tribute to Lord Bolton, or perhaps as a gift to Lord Bolton's son Domeric. Such a fine horse, such a fine saddle, could hardly have been ridden into battle by a mere henchman - unless said henchman was pretending to be Lord Roose, as happened when Ramsey met his father at Moat Calin. I'm wondering if the Freys have been given gift-greys (or purchased them) from Lady Dustin, also (Perhaps the wedding of the Leech Lord to Fat Walda would give her the opportunity?). In addition to the bad-luck Red stallion of the Dustin sigil, Lady Dustin has her Ryswell arms, with their Black, Grey, Brown and Gold horses. I notice there hasn't been a reference to a golden or palamino horse in the narrative yet. Perhaps the famous Dornish sand steeds, whose color has not been noticed in the narrative thus far, are the color of sand. When Brienne is in Rosby, she notices Podrick following her, and a septon in a hurry on a fine grey palfrey. I'm wondering if the septon might have been a Frey, and suspect he was hurrying to King's Landing, perhaps to get there before the High Sparrow and his quarrel. Speaking of gift horses - Symond, Rhaegar and Ser Lucan Frey are another group of three. They are all given palfreys by Lord Manderley, although he doesn't say what colour. Freys are not the only people with greys: Ser Arys has one, Jaime has Glory, Barristan has a dapple and Jhogo a plain grey. Tatters has a huge grey war horse, Loras a grey mare, Hibald a grey road-horse. Ser Bonifer and his 86 ride tall grey geldings. While horses are unlucky for Freys, greys seem to be more generally a horse for people who know what they are about. Grey is also associated with mist (very bad - a vehicle for the Others), and the grey plauge, Garrin's curse, the Grey Kings of the Iron Isles. Proud Marttyn Cassel, faithful Theo Wull, Ethan Glover, ser Mark Ryswell, Howland Reed appear as "grey wraiths on horses made of mist". Lord Dustin isn't noticed in Eddard's dream, on his great red stallion in the red lands. SweetRobin rides a grey mule and Penny her grey dog, if they count. ( I think now that Camels, elephants, mammoths, goats, unicorns, donkeys, elk, zebras, dogs and pigs probably do count, if used as a mount, although they might not have exactly the same meaning as horses. Mules seem to be as good as geldings - they are as likely to bear fruit as geldings, anyway. And Garrons are analogous to small weedy horses. Interestingly, this "3 mounts" pattern seems to be exclusive of dragons, except in the explicit 'three mounts shall ye ride' of Daenarys. The trios of riders do not seem to have a connection with the three heads of the dragon, either, as far as I can see. There does seem to be foreshadowing for flying horses and flying pigs and griffins/flying lions, though, so maybe later. Some other individuals that might become 'three mount' people are: Tommen: Rides the quintain on Joffrey's thirteenth name day on his pony, and later, as King, under Loras's supervision, rides the quintain on a bigger white charger ... one more horse to go. Loras: his slim grey courser at the Tourney of the Hand, his stallion (probably a destrier or a heavy courser, as he was in a melee) at Bitterbridge, and the horse he rode to the gates of Dragonstone, or from them. (We know there is something very strange happening there, because he has not died, and we the readers are not getting as much information on what he is up to now as characters like Mace and Swyft) Dolorus Ed: he mentions 'losing' a white horse in a snow storm, and he is in charge of the mules at Longbarrow. One more mount and he will have three. White horses: Pate dreams of "being a maester in a castle, in service to some open-handed lord who would honor him for his wisdom and bestow a fine white horse on him to thank him for his service...How high he would ride." Although he realises later that he will have "no chain, no seat at the lord's high table, no tall white horse to ride. His days would be spent listening to the ravens quork and scrubbing shit stains off Archmaester Walgrave's smallclothes." Of course, his fate is worse than that, but as his body is still moving around, it could conceivably end up in either scenario. Jaime dreams of two figures on silent, pale destriers, under Casterley Rock. One he identifies as Eddard Stark, the other he doesn't identify at all. Behind them are his original Kingsguard. Tommon has a white horse, Triarch Horanro, the rider that Varamyr heard shouting "that the Weeper was gathering warriors to cross the Bridge of Skulls", the Girl General, Griff, Ser Mandon Moore. The Kingsguard, generally (although not exclusively). They seem to symbolise puissance, or at least, the trappings of power. The dream of power. Come to that, we don't know if Dolorous Edd's white horse was real or imaginary. Sam (who rides a plow horse), sang to Gilly's baby that the Smith's motif are "hammer, plow, and fire bright" I'm thinking War hammer, plow horse, firey: like those big black destriers the Cleganes, Lord Bracken, Lord Blackwood, King Robert, Prince Rhaegar ride. Of course, R'hollr also has red fire, and grey ash, and white, and black char. So he figures in the horse symbols too. And the Old God of Wood. For instance, when Stranger makes a fuss crossing the river, and the branch of a tree sweeps some of the oarsmen into the stream, and when Ser Godry Farring's courser led the King-Beyond-the-Wall/Rattleshirt to the weir-wood wicker cage to be burnt with his Old Gods. There are lots of destriers around Arya's PoV of the Red Wedding. In contrast to the many palfreys in Catelyn's. Tyrek's palfrey was found, but not it's rider. There is imagery about a sack of flour over a horse (Mycah, sweetRobin, Brienne) Out of time, and that is all I have for now. Edit 15th Feb: Rereading the Hota chapter where the Sand Snakes are introduced, Lady Nym rides a golden horse.
  10. Adding on to @John Suburbs said (in frantic agreement)- Petyr Baelish does everything. Cersei, Renly, Eddard, Tyrion have all been his unwitting pawns. We first meet Bronn on the road to the Eyrie, as he hungrily watches Chiggen, his brother-in-arms, expertly butcher Tyrion's horse. (AGoT, Ch.31 Tyrion IV) His leaness shows he is no Riverlands henchman, living off the fat of a peaceful ten-year summer. His familiarity with Dothraki customs and Chiggen's expert butchery give us a clue - until very recently, they had been fighting in Essos, probably, like Jorah, in the disputed lands, where they had become acquainted with Dothraki ways. Bronn prefers his horseflesh fried with onions, the way fat Belwas prefers his liver, hinting they might have gone further east, perhaps trading Dothraki slaves with the slave cities ,as Jorah had. It is hardly surprising that such a man should be found at the Inn at the Crossroads. The melee with a purse of 20,000 gold dragons would draw such to the capital - if they had left the ship that brought them from Essos at a port north or west of Duskendale (or disembarked long before they met Tyrion on his easy-paced trip back from the Wall -less likely, because they are still very lean, and notably not wasteful with food, and not rusty with the knife skills). The suspicious thing is why such hardbitten mercenaries as Bronn and Chiggen (and such a coward as Marillion) would take up Catelyn's offer to make themselves the enemy of Tywin Lannister, the richest man in Westeros, who happened to be recruiting sell swords from Essos at the time. Marillion knows a Lannister when he sees one (and has heard Alia of Braavos, in spite of his dislike of the Northern clime. Although 'blizzards and bearskins' (AGoT, Ch.28 Catelyn V) might refer to tales told to him by Jorah Mormont in Essos. It is unlikely an 18 year old from Wendish Town would have first-hand knowledge of either.) Even the Whents, Freys, and Brackens Caitlyn directs her appeals for unpaid and dubious acts of fealty to hesitate (all but old . Why, if the melee had brought them to the inn, ssd
  11. Walda

    Think I found a little bird

    I don't think Littlefinger taught Marei to read. That is more a Varys thing. But I don't think Marei is that simple. I suspect she is another of Lord Velaryon's by-blows, as she has the silver hair and green eyes. She is older than the other girls, and solemn, which makes me think she has come to the game (or at least, to King's Landing) after enjoying a better life, or at least, a life that she had preferred. Maybe one where she was better provided for, and educated. Dancy strikes me more as being a simple common girl on her way up in the world, pleased to have made it to the classiest brothel in the capital. We know it was Marei that persuaded Dancy to hit on Tyrion. (ACoK, Ch.29 Tyrion VII) Noticing Alayaya's gains in literacy compared to the other girls (because she was more rested and had more leisure for reading than the other girls while Tyrion was spending his time with Shae) is a tip to Marei that Alayaya isn't hard at work in the secluded turret room. But my main reason for suspecting that Marei isn't spying for Varys is: (ACoK,Ch.15 Tyrion III) Varys already knows about this. Varys directed Tyrion to Chataya's. He knew Tyrion's need, he knows who Tyrion's whore really is, he knows the secret tunnel, he knows Chataya. He doesn't need Marei to spy on Dancy and Alayaya. He has Chataya, and through her, any other girl in the brothel, on Chataya's recommendation. And of course Chataya would have the most confidence in the discretion of her own daughter, whom she personally has trained from birth. Varys didn't need Marei to turn Alayaya over to Cersei, and if ordered to fetch Tyrion's whore to the Red Keep (as I suspect Tywin did) he would have known they were after Shae. Chataya's brothel seems to me to be under attack from someone who does need spies to find out who Tyrion is seeing - it has recently been raided by Goldcloaks, a child murdered in it, it's mother too, half a dozen gentlemen retainers killed on it's doorstep. Chataya's supplies of good wine dried up in the King's Landing siege, and after, a whore in it publicly revealed to be the favourite of the Hand and flogged ... Many gentlemen might prefer to visit quieter premises with less public exposure and better booze after these events. Petyr Baelish is a competing brothel owner with a certain ruthlessness and a purse that pays the Goldcloaks. It's easy to see why he might not lose by Chataya's brothel becoming the public face of King's Landing brothels and wearing the whip for their collective sins. It is easy for me to see that taking a child from it's mother to be threatened with death (killed, in Barra's case) and severely beaten (her own child), would be Petyr Baelish's way of letting Chataya know there is a new master of whispers in town, that she must sell out (her secrets to) or get out (of King's Landing). It is harder for me to understand why Varys would suddenly turn on Chataya this way, or how he would use Marei in these circumstances. ETA: John might also have deduced Marei's age from the text of the book (ACoK,Ch.29 Tyrion VII) At least in Tyrion's perception, Marei is older than Shae. And no other point of view makes reference to Shae's age, or Marei's, that I know of. Although Marei could of course be much older than Tyrion believes she is - brothels don't attract customers by advertising they have the oldest girls in town.
  12. Walda

    Think I found a little bird

    I don't think she is Varys's little bird, but Petyr Baelish's. She is how Littlefinger finds out about Tyrion and Alayaya, and how he supplants Varys in Cersei's trust (ACoK, Ch.54 Tyrion XII) Varys advised Cersei to send Ned to the Wall. Littlefinger paid Slynt's goldcloaks to push him forward and put his head on the block. Littlefinger was able to put ideas into Joffrey's head about how a King should act in such circumstances. I don't think Ilyn Payne needed any convincing or bribing - he loves his job. Still, if Varys had held sway, Ned would still be alive. I'm not sure if Varys regards Littlefinger as an existential threat, or a colleague. Most of the time that he is 'telling' Tyrion things, he is actually sounding out Tyrion for what he believes. (ACoK, Ch.08 Tyrion II) Varys knows it was Petyr Baelish that paid Slynt and Slynt's underlings to raid Chataya's and kill Barra. And sent two goldcloaks with a commission sealed with Cersei's seal, and an understanding that the message within was that they were to kill Gendry. Yet he lets Tyrion believe it was Cersei, who has known about Gendry's existence for years, and never attempted to have him or his mother removed from the King's Landing (where they live in the very shadow of the Red Keep), or prevented Robert from providing for him, through Varys. I'm guessing Varys paid Chataya to keep Barra's mother in the brothel and off the market, too ... it doesn't make financial sense for Chataya to do that in the unlikely event that Robert might return to the girl he had used and moved on from. So even though Varys has acted for a long while in a way that is clearly the opposite of Littlefinger, and very probably has a grievance of his own in the matter, he refrains from shunting the blame Tyrion heaps onto Cersei, to where it rightly belongs. It's hard to tell if Varys is so circumspect because he fears Baelish, or because he is complicit. In the same chapter, he regains control of the City Watch via Tyrion and Ser Jacelyn, and has the masters of the White Hart and the Moonrunner forestalled, which seem to me more like an attack on Baelish's power base than a friendly move. I think Baelish has something to do with the Antler men - that his dinners with Lady Tanda were about that. Varys also attempts to interest Tyrion in Lady Tanda's treasons when he sends Janos Slynt to the wall. Tyrion doesn't, but not long after, Varys produces the list of Antler men traders/merchants/craftsmen for Tyrion to arrest. Again, this seems like a direct attack on Baelish's powerbase. I'm pretty sure that Bronn is also one of Petyr Baelish's little birds (ASoS, Ch.68 Sansa VI) Certainly, it wasn't Tyrion that brought him to the notice of Lord Tywin, or reccommended him for a knighthood. (ASoS, Ch.12 Tyrion II) And I bet, if we ever see Marei again, her platinum hair and green eyes will be set off beautifully by the silver and jade jewellery Tyrion sent via Bronn, supposedly to Alayaya. When Lords Varys and Baelish are around, there is a lot of slippage between a command being given and it's execution.
  13. Walda

    For the record... and posterity!

    1. Jon's parentage I think Jon is the legitimate son of Oberyn Martell and the Prince That Was Promised. Just based on his widow's peak, dark eyes, age, and unStarklike intelligence. Not sure if he ended up with his uncle Eddard or if the Starks took him on in some baby-swap to protect him from Targaryen rulers (including cousin Robert Baratheon) who would kill him for his kingsblood. 2. Tyrion is a Targ A+J=T 3. Bran didn't eat Jojen 4. the PL was written by I think Tywin had a communication system that relied on three maesters writing letters that purported to be from, say, Lady Walda at the Twins, but the hand it was written in would reveal that it came in fact from, say, Ramsey at the Dreadfort or Tywin in King's Landing, or perhaps that the missive was to be relayed on to White Harbor or Winterfell, so it looked like it had been sent from the Riverlands. Qyburn informs Roose of 'Lady Walda's' letter, prompting Roose to send Tallhart and Glover to Duskendale, but it is only after Arya sees a raven arrive from the Twins that they learn of King Robb's marriage and Elmer is told that he won't be marrying a princess after all, and they learn they are now Lannister loyalists. Roose was already comfortably aware that Tywin was in King's Landing and not inclined to undo them. There can only be a certain number of birds at the Twins that know their way to Harrenhal, and at this point in the war, it is critical for Bolton to know what happened on the Blackwater, the intentions of Lord Manderley at Whiteharbor, the depredations of the Ironborn at Moat Calin, Deepwood Motte and Winterfell, the dispositions of the Dreadfort, Robb's actions in the Westerlands, Edmure's in the Riverlands, if Lysa will stir from the Eyrie, the current locations of Ser Gregor Clegane, Randolf Tarly, Mathis Rowan, the Redwyne fleet. It makes little sense to squander the limited number of birds available to transmit that intel on early morning love letters from Lady Bolton to her husband. If she must write to him, it would more naturally be in the post-script of a raven from Lord Walder packed with as much intel as his sons and commanders enable him to collate. So, I'm guessing the messages that Roose receives from Qyburn are not coming from any raven out of the Twins, and Tothmure, Lucan, Harra, and the head steward were killed because they could recognise people's marks on the paperwork that dictated how the internal bureaucracy of Harrenhal operated under Lord Tywin and Lady Whent. Arya knows that Lucan is illiterate, but Ser Lyonel Frey, second son of Lady Genna, sister to Lord Tywin Lannister, only knows that Lucan can recognise his mark, and the Freys are cowardly and cautious, which puts a target on any staff that know things like that Ser Lyonel was not really a prisoner, that his uncle armed him with a new sword, that he was an obvious channel of contact between the Freys and Lord Tywin. Tywin brought three maesters to Harrenhal (ACoK, Ch.30 Arya VII), and when he comes to Kings Landing in the aftermath of the battle of Blackwater, there are three maesters to tend to Joffrey when he cuts his hand on the throne.(ACoK, Ch.65 Sansa VIII) After Tywin dies, we learn that there are three maesters with Roose. In the same place (ADwD, Ch.37 The Prince of Winterfell) Coincidentally, Roose tells the northerners gathered to witness the wedding of fArya and Ramsey there are three military forces marching on Winterfell (Stannis and the clansmen from Deepwood Motte, Crowfood Umber from the North, the Karstarks from the East). Theon knows Arnolf Karstark was only awaiting a signal from Roose Bolton to turn his cloak. Just as Roose was only awaiting a signal from Lord Tywin to turn his cloak when he was being leeched by Arya at Harrenhal. Qyburn delivered the message, but it seems to me he is more likely a conduit of information from the scouts and freeriders of Gregor Clegane via their former brothers in arms, the Brave Companions. If he was getting his intel from Lord Vargo's foraging parties, that would remove the need for a raven from the Twins, and I'm wondering how the maesters of Oldtown would behave if they knew Qyburn had taken over Tothmure's place at Harrenhal - Pycelle for one would not be inclined to communicate with him by choice. I'm guessing the other two hosts also have secret daggers that provide Roose with information, not all of which he chooses to share unadulterated with his banner lords. I'm guessing Ramsey is illiterate, and his letters are dictated to amanuenses who could, if they chose, use his mark as easily as Arya contemplated using Ser Lyonel's. The pink letter was written by someone who could recognise Mance Raydar by sight, someone who doesn't believe Mance Raydar was burnt to death at the Wall by King Stannis. Someone with more recent knowledge of the Wall than Stannis, because they know that Selyse has stayed on at Castle Black not left for the Night Fort yet. They also know of Val and of Mance's son. My guess is the clansmen, a Flint, Wull, Norrey or Liddle. That the letter was from someone near Castle Black, someone who wants a new Acting Lord Commander for Castle Black, because they don't want wildlings populating the gift. They have a mole in Winterfell, and they know who Mance is. Some of them have also met Ramsey and perhaps know him well enough to write in what they imagine is his style. I think the mountain clans are also responsible for the three heads with the eyes cut out (done deliberately to implicate the Weeper and to entice Jon Snow to leave Castle Black and fight the Weeper), and they are also responsible for the face on the Drunkard, the Chestnut, and the Oak guarding the Kingsroad between Castle Black and Moles Town. I don't know if they are in league with Roose, or his three maesters - perhaps the three maesters are only relevant to the PL in that it explains why Ramsey's hand writing changes. 5. Red door/lemon tree = Yeah, I don't know about this one. I agree that lemon trees seem to be a better match for Lys or Dorne than Braavos. Then again, lemon trees are small and can grow in rocky ground and with brackish water, if they have a good micro-climate - say, a warm brick wall that radiates heat at the end of a sunny but cold day, and shelters it from cold winds and sleet and ice-storms. On the Isle of the Gods, R'hllor's house might have a red wall as well as a red door, and braziers that kept it warm even in winter. The Sealord has a glass house. Surrounded by water, both isles are less likely to have frosts, or at least less severe frosts than places further from the water. So it isn't impossible to have a lemon tree in Braavos, although trees of any description are atypical there. There is definitely an association between lemons and poison in the books. And between citrus generally and Dorne and poison. 6. Lanna is the daughter of Tyrion 7. Theon will not be killed before the heart tree at the CV. Theon is going to die for sure - in a sense he died when he became Reek. He asked the Old Gods for a sword, and to die as Theon not Reek. So he will die. But before he formed his Stark affinities, he was Ironborn. So when he dies (possibly when he is killed before the heart tree at the Crofters Village), there will be water involved, and once dead he will rise harder and stronger.
  14. Walda

    Who builds better ships?

    And the main purpose of "pitch" is to chuck it at the enemy in battle. And hempen rope is used mainly for hanging people. It is as if GRRM didn't give much thought to naval engineering until Clash of Kings forced him to, although he had clearly plotted a fair bit of naval action in the current books from the start - Viserys' (now Daenerys') plans to invade Westeros necessarily involved ships, and rightly bothered King Robert from the start. In retrospect, Stannis departing to Dragonstone with the entire Royal fleet ought to concerned both Robert and Eddard more than it did too. But these plot points, and foreshadowing for future Ironborn raids, were clearly there from the start. Perhaps the lack of detail is because the first three books have been told largely from land-lubber points of view. In the whole of A Game of Thrones, the only use of 'pitch' is to describe something black. I could only find one reference to tar (for heads) as well (although this could be because I searched with white space before and after the tar, to avoid wading through endless references to Starks, Targaryens, and bastards). But it could also be because GRRM always intended to ease us into the period detail, rather than launch straight into excruciating particulars, Patrick O'Brian style. (Which, of course, would also kind of force GRRM to commit to a particular period's technology - in boat styles, he cherry-picks from ancient Greek triremes to 19th century whalers - perhaps doing a quiet bit of tightening up certain specifications in Feast and Dance. And he already gets criticized for extraneous details. Still, I bet he regrets making the Ibbanese deep sea whalers, obsessed with bringing blubber to the world somehow, apparently because they just like to smell of it?) Game is a terrestrial-based book, focused on the Starks in the North and King's Landing. Dany is in an exotic land far from it, on a horseback, in a tribe with a cultural aversion to seawater. The only actual sea voyage in it is Catelyn's trip on Storm Dancer from White Harbor to King's Landing. Apart from that, Vayan Poole finds the Wind Witch, and whether it was really out of Braavos or Myr, nobody got on it and it didn't sail from King's Landing. There were other proposed sea voyages that came to nothing: Khal Drogo talked of getting a fleet of ships and invading Westeros when he set out for Slaver's Bay via Lhazareen lands (which implied Meereen had a navy - although we didn't hear anything about it directly until Dance). Ser Jorah talks to Dany of going to Asshai (apparently overland) and getting a ship to Pentos from there. Clash of Kings gets right into the naval theme straight up, first chapter Dragonstone, on the eve of Stannis setting off for the mainland. It introduces Davos, so we have a seafarers point of view for the first time. Immediately after Davos's first chapter we are re-introduced to Theon as a seafarer and a point of view character. Tyrion does a dockside tour of military defences of King's Landing before sending Myrcella to Dorne, Dany meets Quhuru Mo of the Cinnamon Wind, negotiates with Qartheen trading guilds for ships, heads off to the docks of Qarth where she conveniently finds three sent for her from Pentos. Jojen warns that the sea is coming to Winterfell, Theon gives us a short excursion to the Stoney Shore and a longer one to Pyke. Davos gives us a quick tour on the naval side of Storms Ends, as well as a naval view of the Battle of Blackwater. But still, there is not a lot about how ships are built and sailed. The focus is on military rather than naval concerns, even when the battles are on water. The tar is for heads or rum, perhaps except for on the Qartheen docks where (ACoK, Ch.63 Daenerys V) Not a wiff of bilge-water, raw fish, seaweed. Most of his choices don't seem to be even outdoors smells. The hot tar might be for waterproofing vessels or piers, but then again, maybe it is being used to warm honey to roast mice with. Pitch is for lighting, immediately prior to catapulting casks or barrels of it. Also for lighting, as in fuel for torches in the crypts of Winterfell. The one reference relating pitch to boat-building implies that it is something you only smell in the fresh-sawn timber of a brand new boat like the Sea Bitch: (ACoK, Ch.24 Theon II) Tar on the other hand (the only time it is mentioned in relation to ships), is a smell associated with hard use: (AFfC, Ch.34 Cat Of The Canals) Storm of Swords has a lot of people navigating rivers - wildlings coming down the Milkwater, Lannisters on the forks of the Trident, Davos and Tyrion on Blackwater bay, Daenarys observing the Worm and invading Meereen from the Skahazdahn. Sansa takes her first ever sail to the Fingers on the Merling King, and we could assume from her deft familiarity with boats that the Maid of Tarth has some coastal sailing experience too. Stannis gets to the wall without a point of view character, and while he brings men from Eastwatch with him, it is not until Feast for Crows that we start to learn of the Black Brother's fleet. When I look at it, it seems striking that there is so little sea, and so much water in Storm. In Feast, Arya and Samwell becomes seaborne points of view and gain maritime experience in Braavos, while the Ironborn get three new points of view, all experienced mariners. Euron returns from abroad with plans that scatter them across the oceans of Planetos. Arianne and Brienne travel along the coastlines of Westeros. Even compared to Feast, the maritime themes really ramp up in A Dance with Dragons. Tyrion, Victarion and Quentyn go by sea to Meereen. Daenarys is blockaded by a Qartheen and a Meereenese navy. Davos sails from the Sisters to White Harbor with many an appraising glance at their naval defences, Reek gives us a good look at the defences of Moat Calin, and Asha of Deepwood Motte. Even landlocked points of view get a glimpse of the sea: Melisandre sees visions of a port city, Jon gets dispatches from the fleet he sent out of Eastwatch to Hardhome. Tycho Nestoris comes to him, and to Asha. Qyburn brings news from the docks of King's Landing about their fleets in the Stepstones and Dragonstone, the depredations of Euron's and the landing of JonCon's in the Reach, to Cersei and Kevan. Dance also retcons maritime stories into earlier histories - a voyage across the bite with Wylla the fishwife into Eddard's backstory, maritime invasions of Blackfyres into Westerosi history. In Dance and Feast, there seems to be more effort taken with the nautical details - although this could be because there are more nautically informed points of view. There are more mentions of hemp rope, resin, cooperage, more thought given to the function of docks and the nature of harbours than previously. The world has opened up and become much larger, but paradoxically, the distances between places have become smaller, the peoples more cosmopolitan, largely though sea travel. There are clearly at least two big naval battles preparing for Winds of Winter. One that might start between Victarion and some other navy, but will end between Victarion and Euron, over dragons, in the South seas. Another would be the Targaryen conquests of Westeros. Aegon and the Golden Company have already started one. Dany with the Dothraki might start another. Harder to tell if these two will stay on the same side, and which side Sallador, Aurane, Redwyne will take. That would be on the Narrow sea. Unless Dany and/or Euron decide to come at the Kingdoms from the Shivering or Sunset seas, taking their chances on an unmapped and unknown route (Euron might have done this already -the Reader suspected he was lying about retrieving his hell-horn from the ruins of Valyria. Maybe he wasn't even on the summer sea). House Manderley seem to be taking an interested in things happening nearer the shivering seas, around Skagos and Hardhome. If the winds are cold enough, they could be battles of survival on ice more than battles for territory on sea. Still, most real-world "battle on the ice" stories are really maritime survival stories of men who started out in pursuit of territory (eg. Shakleton, Franklin, Amundsen). Dragons can fly to from and over boats, can burn them to the waterline, or melt a path through ice for them to navigate. They can burn wights too. Also, it seems to me that the relationship between dragons and ships is a bit like the relationship between aircraft and aircraft carriers. They don't seem to go any distance over seas without the ships, but they do seem perfectly able to keep themselves alive with fish and frolic when they travel with ships.
  15. Walda

    Who builds better ships?

    Groleo of Pentos points out that he is not a shipwright, but adds that (ADwD, Ch.30 Daenerys V) Rope and canvas are both made from hemp, pitch from pines. Boats need timbers that are knot-free, with a fine, straight grain, dense and buoyant, strong and light, not prone to rot or warp. That almost invariably means well seasoned wood from very old trees, typically hundreds of years old, that have grown in dense wet forests (where they have to compete for scarce sunlight by growing straight and tall, while resisting rot). It is often important that the wood for the hull can be steamed and bent into shape (rainforest timbers like teak are good for this). For the load-bearing timbers of the frame, strength is required so a wood with a high silica content. For knees (the curved part of the boat frame that bore the highest load) what is needed is a tree that not only grows tall with a thick straight trunk, but also has thick strong primary branches as well (because that angle between the trunk and the branch is shaped into the knee, and it needs to be strong) English oak is good, white oak is better - but the boat builder, or a forester that understands boat building, has to go out and spot the particular trees that will do individually, and they have to be felled and transported and milled in ways that preserve their structural integrity. So, it seems to me that Braavos is probably not on the face of it a good place for profitable ship building enterprises in spite of its large merchant and defensive navies - no trees, no room for hemp cultivation - there is hardly enough real estate and water to grow fresh produce to meet the needs of the denizens of the city. Like most things, their wood, pitch, canvas and hemp have to be shipped in from elsewhere. They need water and fuel to make the steam to bend the wood, too. On the plus side, as the aquaduct and canals show, they are very cluey about getting in water. And fuels make good ballast. But getting the materials in to Braavos is always going to be more expensive than building a shipyard in a place like Bear Island or White Harbor, that is surrounded by them. Ship building is also very labour intensive, requiring a variety of highly skilled artisans and a hoard of unskilled labourers too. This gives an economic advantage to a culture that embraces slavery, especially one where slaves are trained up in particular areas of expertise. It is no accident that the great naval powers of the sixteenth century (and of the classical world) were all slave traders, and their navys grew as the slave trade grew. A culture that embraced colonisation is more likely to have governments and non-state actors that will invest in large ships of war and transports (for troops and for slaves). Braavos has a democratic government with an emphasis on free trade - that tends to support smaller and slower boats. travelling slowly in convoys along trade routes to deep harbours with docks and warehouses, avoiding shoals and shallows and hopefully pirates, that they cannot hope to out-manoeuvre, with their big bellies filled until the waterline is almost to the deck, and their crews as small as can be contrived. On the plus side for a Braavosi boat-builder, there is a strong and constant demand for ships and ship repairs in Braavos. Braavos also has the most powerful bank in the world, it is led by a sealord, and it's navy (like Britain's) is it's wooden walls. Both their traders and their government understand the value of a navy and are prepared to invest in one. State investment and subsidisation have historically been a critical factor in the building of large navies and innovative ships. With a state keen enough to put in the money, the expenses of sourcing materials from other lands and paying for labour that other places exploit for nothing, become less of an issue. A ship, once built, can give service for up to a century, and (if a trading vessel) might return the cost of it's building with only one or two voyages (to the spice isles or some other super-profitable venture). A military ship might be the difference between being a powerful trading empire, and not existing at all, so the expense of a navy might be, like the expense of deep harbours, regarded as a common good, a justifiable and prudent item to invest customs duties and poll taxes in. Given the constant link between slave-trading expansionist colonial powers and naval might in real-world history, it seems to me that Braavos is must be on the verge of becoming that, or that in fact the Bank of Braavos has triangulated the slave trade a long time ago, but the Braavosi that Arya and Sam meet are unaware of the role of the bank and the sealord, the trade and the navy, in other parts of the world. Thinking about it, a city state with a large navy, that isn't supporting colonial factories full of unwaged, unfranchised compulsory workers requires a greater suspension of disbelief than magical dragons. Westeros also seems to be notably lacking in expansionist ambition. Except for Euron, the Westerosi navies aspire only to conquer each other . Volantis is a different story, though. (ADwD, Ch.14 Tyrion IV) this passage implies that the Stormlands, Tyrosh, Pentos, Qohor and Norvos also had navies. Lys and Volantis clearly still do. New Ghis, Tolos, and Mantarys might be allied with Yunkai'i because they realise that they are the next in line to be sacked, if Daenerys is left to decide the matter. But it seems to me that Volantis and Qarth have imperial ambitions, and are using their alliance with the Yunkai to get in and carve themselves out a concession in Slaver's bay. Volantis, first child of Valyria, is not a natural ally of the Ghiscari. (ADwD,Ch.16 Daenerys III) That might just be the way the Green Grace spins it to Daenarys, but it explains why the cities of Slaver's bay, so dependant on international trade, have no navy or merchant navy to speak of. (A slave-trading city without a colonising navy is almost as much of an oddity as a free city with one). Yunkai has a forest of birch (which rots easily), and Meereen has groves of olive (knotty gnarly wood) but it seems nobody has attempted to replant the cedars (excellent maritime timber, good to work, but strong) in the last 300 years. It is interesting that, in Slaver's bay and apparently throughout the world, copper has low value and apparently none to shipbuilders. The English started cladding the hulls of their boats with copper to make them fast, waterproof and protect from shipworm in the fifteenth century. It caught on, and the price of copper boomed whenever the ship building trade did for the next three centuries. GRRM's naval technology must be older - although he has naval technologies from a broad time range. Stuff like Victarion's collapsible telescopes (late 18th century technology) on the one hand, and on the other, the Swan ships from the Summer Isles (bronze age technology, but apparently vastly superior thanks to the choice of wood for their hulls). There doesn't seem to be any technological impediment to lining hulls with copper, beyond nobody thinking to do it. Renly and the Dothraki have no trouble getting their hands on copper tubs. the Dornish wear copper helmets, Maester Balabar has a copper funnel, Marwyn, Haggon and Ramsey have copper kettles and Braavos has copper domes... so the coppersmiths are clearly up to the task, as soon as someone realises the advantages of lining their ships bottoms with it. I think perhaps the Summer Islands naval forces are a cross between the South Sea Islands waka taua and Tolkien's elven ships. Hizdahr's rooms in the Great Pyramid of Meereen have supporting spars of black oak, that seem very good for ship building purposes. There was enough combustible material in the pyramids of Hazkar and Yherizan to keep them burning in the rain for days, and enough combustible material in the pyramids of Astapor to burn them out too. Looking at places that have forests that might yield suitable timbers: Lots of places in the North of Westeros: wolfswood, Deepwood, the Neck,Umber lands, Hornwood forests, in the Gift around the Night's Fort and Queenscrown, in the hills of the Norries and the Flints, Bear Island. We know there is a navy, newly built, in the White Knife at White Harbor, and that Jorah Mormont built a single ship in Bear Island. But the North seems to have had no naval forces in living memory apart from these recent and not extensive efforts. Historically, there are strong hints of a navy in firth at White Knife long before the Manderleys arrived: (ADwD, Ch.29 Davos IV) At Winterfell, the only allusion to naval forces in the ancient North are Bran the Shipwright and Bran the Burner. It seems odd and slightly suspicious to me that the West Coast of the North, and Bear Island, which has been harried by the Ironmen in Maege Mormont's time, and visited by Tyroshi slavers in Jorah's, should have no ship building industry but the one ship he banged together to escape to Essos in. Same for Deepwood Motte, Moat Calin, Greywater. I could understand if King Arys II or Aegon I had given some ultimatum that the North would have no navy but that of the crown, although it seems to me that Robert Baratheon might have relaxed rules like that, especially when putting down Balon's first rebellion, and afterwood ensuring the peace was kept. This account from the Wolf Den also makes mention of reavers from the Three Sisters, and kings from the Vale. A navy from the Vale (which we have otherwise heard nothing about) fighting with a Northern navy (ditto). The Sistermen don't seem to have lost their appetite for plunder, smuggling and betrayal, although they display a semblence of respect for the authority of the true Warden of the East by only conspiring against him in secret. The forests of the Mountains of the Moon and the Giant's Lance have the right sort of timber, and even supposing the Mountains of the Moon are too rugged and clan-infested to harvest and transport timber, there are Snakewood and Coldwater Burn right there in the webs of the Fingers, just the places to stuff hidden navies, and their slippery Lord Protector is just the type to hide an army in the inlets supposedly allied with his Lord Declarant rival, Bronze Yohn. Petyr Baelish has also been investing himself in the Gulltown merchant navy these last twenty years at least. The Riverlands are too far inland for the most part, and too long converted to agriculture, to furnish or feel the need for a navy since Harren built Harrenhal. Seaguard and Oldstones might have been useful places to have a navy before then, and we know from Merret's epilogue that there are forests around Oldstones with Elms (buoyant timber, resistant to rotting). The woods around Harrenhal could be accessed by river, but given the proximity to the God's Eye they might be sacred or part of the Pact of the God's Eye. The other possible site for shipbuilding in the Riverlands would be along the Trident between Castle Darry to the Saltpans. The combination of the timber and the river to transport it, and the bay and docks at the Saltpans, to float the finished product in and out, might make it a worthwhile. But it doesn't seem to be an industry that is already established. Perhaps the shallowness of the tidal estuary around the Quiet Isle makes the draft too shallow or the currents too strong to float ships out safely. I'm not sure if they grow hemp or if that was just a notion of Ser Hyle's, but the cleared parts of the Riverlands seem to be a good place for it. In the far North, beyond the wall, there are the forests of the Frostfangs and the Haunted forest and just about everywhere else before the plains of the Lands of Always Winter. There are also whole tribes of Wildlings dependant on fishing and harassed by slave traders from Tyrosh and Lys. But they don't seem to have had a navy. Perhaps because the Night's Watch at Eastwatch have been assiduously policing them to prevent them building warships or training crews to man boats to slip around to the south in. King's Wood does have a Navy, as to be expected in a place established by a naval power 300 years ago precisely because it had a good harbour and was surrounded by the right trees for shipbuilding. Dragonstone, where that Naval power had been based for a generation before the conquest, which definitely did have ships then, did not appear to have ships in the era of Aerys II. Dragonstone did destroy Aerys fleet, the night Daenerys was born. I'm not sure if Robert's fleet was entirely built in King's Landing and then sailed to Dragonstone, or if it was partly built on Dragonstone after Jon Arryn died. The Velaryons seem to have had ships, so maybe Dragonstone still had ship builders. It seems that the Storm Lords, that made their name as a naval force, have not had a ship to speak of since Steffon Baratheon died, in spite of the availability of natural resorces. I would think that Crackclaw point would be a good place for smugglers to repair their ships, although Duskendale would be a better place for a shipyard. And there is a market in Duskendale for repairing ships, if not actually for building them. We know Lannisport had a fleet that was burnt at anchor in Balon's first rebellion, and apparently never replaced. That Dorne had not had a fleet since Nymeria burnt her boats. Other places that seem to me should have navies and shipwrights, that I don't think we have heard of yet, are Ibben, the Basalisk Isles, Qohor, the Isle of Cedars, and New Ghis We know that the Ironborn do have a fleet, and at least two shipwrights. Ambrode, who is old, and Sigrin who in Theon's opinion is thick witted. Still, there is no doubt the Ironborn have leathally fast ships. So, to answer the OP's question, I would say the best warships would be built by the Ironborn, and that Pentoshi shipwrights make more and better trading vessels than the Braavosi. I'd rate Braavos above the Reach for shipwrights, because they are a culture focused on trading by sea, while the Reach seem to do a lot of wine and agriculture, so while their real estate and labour might be slightly less expensive than Braavos, their skilled labour would be in seasonal competition with agriculture (which would drive up wages as well as lowering the general focus on boat-building.) It is also likely that they would be doing a lot of trading up the Mander, to the Westerlands, Riverlands and Crownlands. So they might prefer to build small boats with shallow draft, carracks and barges only just sturdy enough to get to the Sheild Iles, rather than more expensive large sea-going vessels, which would only be really necessary for international shipping out of the Arbor and Oldtown. Oldtown's shipwrights might be spurred to innovation by having a Citadel, but I don't know. Marwyn seems to be the only Archmaester that goes down to the docks, and he hasn't shown much interested in naval engineering. There is no mention of shipwrights at Oldtown, and Humphrey Hightower is in Lys, attempting to supplement their small naval force with Lyseni sellswords. The Oldtown navy does at least appear to be orderly and alert, in marked contrast to Renly's huge army. Willas, at Highgarden, with his interest in astronomy and studiousness, might also be a force for naval innovation. We haven't really learnt enough about what is happening at Highgarden - all we know is that the Tyrells are right on to the Ironborn invasion, to the extent Cersei allows. I'm guessing that Winds of Winter will be all about naval forces and naval battles, given how much of what we know about the navies of Planetos was set up in Dance with Dragons. TL;DR Iron Isles, Pentos, Braavos, Reach in that order.