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Asshai Backward

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    If there is a bright center of the universe...this isn't it
  1. Asshai Backward

    Arthur Dayne?

    I. and IV. Jaimie was unrecognizable after he grew a beard. Perhaps Arthur is unrecognizable after he shaves his beard off--much like old what's-his-name that snuck into King's Landing with Catelyn. Barristan is another example of someone who used the beard disguise. I don't believe it is ever mentioned whether or not Arthur was bearded. Are any examples of bearded Kingsguard, or is that against the code? II. This one has always bothered me. "Halfhand" is a wildling sounding nickname, and clearly something he earned later in life. Every other ranger of note has a surname that indicates their identity. Some might like the idea of the mysterious stranger, and I do, under some circumstances, but this one flashes like a red light for me. Especially since he serves as one of the main witnesses for the defense of Mance's identity. III. I'm not sure if you've quoted it exactly, but if you have, would the ages line up, with maybe a bit of a stretch of the meaning of "not much older," if Arthur heard the story from the infamous Black Brother who showed up at Harrenhal? Someone regaling the knights he was attempting to recruit with stories of the wonder and beauty of the far North? IV. My first point notwithstanding, this is a very knightly thing to me, and indicative of almost obtuse dedication to some code or set of personal standards. Shaving in this sort of time period isn't easy in the first place. Going to the trouble of staying clean shaven in the coldest place in Planetos shows a lot of dedication--either to being clean shaven, or to maintaining a disguise.
  2. Asshai Backward

    Who do you think is Mance’s father?

    Probably true. Orphaned wildlings, northmen, and even maybe the occasional promising foundling that Yoren totes back to the Wall. The orphan story is told by Selyse, however, and isn't really corroborated by anyone else, as far as I know. The whole orphan thing sounds like it could just be a random rumor that has spread, or it could be an intentional lie planted by someone who is aware that Mance's origin story is a bit more complicated. Here's a version--the Watch takes some prisoners. A powerful Watchman falls for his captive, who is in wilding essence his wife anyway. She gets pregnant, but manages to escape from the Shadow Tower. Powerful Watchman sends a force out to retake her, but she dies in the process, and only the baby/toddler is left.
  3. Asshai Backward

    Craster, Mance, BR, Aemon, Rhaegar, and Harrenhal.

    The whole interaction between Qhorin and Mormont always struck me as odd. Qhorin seems to be the one really calling the shots there. The whole exchange seems staged in a way--like he's trying to feed Jon a whole song and dance. No small coincidence that the mission Q chose for his team was the one to make contact. The only possible excuse Mormont could have for abandoning the strategic advantage of the Wall would be the idea that some sort of Sorcery existed that had to be rooted out before the wildlings could use it. Classic "WMD" stuff there. Gosh, whatever advantages the watch had at the Fist would have been insignificant compared to the Wall. Despite being mounted and trained, I just don't see how the Watch expected to win a battle against 20,000(?) wildlings in the open. Inflict serious damage, yes, maybe. But if Mance truly had the horn and meant to use it, as Mormont and Qhorin must have feared, I don't think their plan was going to effectively combat that possibility. But, on the other hand, I guess that was maybe Qhorin's improvised plan, which Jon failed at--get himself embedded, and destroy the Horn. Without the Horn, there is no way the wildlings get past the Wall...unless they do one of the many things Mance says he could do, like storm the Shadow Tower, swarm the wall in a dozen places, etc. I'm still not sure why Mance didn't keep sending wildling over the wall where Jon went. I mean, sure, send the strike team over, but the ropes are in place. Why not keep sending men over? I never thought about it, and maybe having Coldhands for an escort makes it moot anyway, but it sure made Bran's journey easier not having any Wildlings to worry about.
  4. Asshai Backward

    Craster, Mance, BR, Aemon, Rhaegar, and Harrenhal.

    Sorry, chasing a squirrel here. But, what good does it do to saddle your fleetest horse? Speed won't help a whole lot north of the wall, and unless it was a flying horse... The way this reads, though, is that Mance had a standing stable of horses south of the wall, and that he could easily cross over whenever he felt like it. While I don't doubt that among Mance's immense skill set, ice climbing wasn't among them, I've always wondered if he was privy to Sam's door, and if he was able to use it even though he'd deserted. Much quicker and reliable than scaling the wall, with all its attendant problems. GRRM does an excellent job describing Jon's harrowing ascent, and it reads pretty true to real life climbing. Having Mance just bop over, presumable rappel or go down a staircase on the other side, and then travel on foot until he could flag down or waylay the nearest horseman strains even fantastical credulity. Therefore, I would suspect Mance had a well-developed cadre of sympathizers in place south of the wall. What any of this means, I know not. By association, however, since it was Coldhands that showed Sam the door, and Coldhands who took Bran to BR, if Mance was aware of the door, it stands to (at least shaky) reason that Mance, Coldhands, and BR are in some sort of cahoots.
  5. Asshai Backward

    Craster, Mance, BR, Aemon, Rhaegar, and Harrenhal.

    I agree with the part that Qhorin was up to something. He's been ranging for years with this accomplished "A-team" of badasses, and then he just decides to throw Jon into the mix? Nah. The whole plan was to embed Jon, and the creator of that plan (strap on your hats and get your 'fan fic" memes ready to go) was...Mance, Q's old friend. Mance knew he'd never take the wall by battle, and that the only way to get the wildlings through would be if Jon took them. The wildlings weren't going to just go to the wall and beg. Mance knew it would take some bloodshed and strife, and I'm pretty sure he didn't really have every detail mapped out. Pretty convoluted, I know, but Mance was able to make the leap of faith that it would work, because he is aware that Jon is the PTWP. In the end, Jon was in metaphor, if not fact, Joramun's Horn. The only way Mance had to get the wildlings safely to the other side was to have a powerful ally in the watch. Qhorin's views on the wildlings dovetail with this, and I think he was hip to the idea that getting them past the Wall before they were wightified was in the best interests of the Watch, and all mankind. Setting all that aside, I AM in agreement that there is more to Mance and Qhorin and even Craster then meets the eye. I love the speculation of it, but from my experience reading these threads, some hate it, and go out of their way to quash it.
  6. Asshai Backward

    Mance Rayder's background story?

    --Lack of backstory for Qhorin is a mystery, to me. In a book series in which family lineage and history is so important as to necessitate a companion book of reference, as well as novellas that further flesh out historical characters, Q's lack of any backstory beyond a fight with some wildlings one time where he lost half a hand stands out like a sore thumb--or severed finger. Most, if not all leaders of the NW have recognizable surnames, backstories, or both. Even minor ranger characters get more development than Qhorin does. But, if you and others aren't curious, no big whoop. Its a big book. It really not have much bearing on the story in the end, but it has always piqued my critical thinking bone. I'd read a novella about the adventures of a young Q and The Mance. --Since hundreds of black brothers must be aware of Mance's orphan upbringing at the wall, why not one account? Maybe Donal Noye referencing some story of Lil' Mance making a wall of building blocks and toppling it with a stick giant. This is the kind of rich tapestry that GRRM weaves. --To learn more about the man, his motivations, the motivations of the wildlings, and the impending invasion of the Others. What, specifically, was in Mance's character to make him go from freewheeling skirt chaser to the self-ordained savior of the wildlings? Skirt chasing Mance would've/could've hightailed it for Braavos and life would have been a lot easier. --Was tongue in cheek speculation. Anyway, I'm not a dyed in the wool Mance-Is-Anybody But Who The Book Claims, but I feel this has always been an interesting gray area to speculate on, although these types of threads almost always get filled up with absolutists.
  7. Asshai Backward

    Mance Rayder's background story?

    Qhorin is more of a mystery than Mance. As far as I know, there is not one bit of background on him as far as where he came from or what, if any sort of surname he had before losing half of his hand well after he was an established ranger. The shadow cat story has always come across as allegorical to me, but that is just my interpretation. It is certainly possible it is the literal truth. Mallister has the type of bio that is believable, so I do agree, if there is more to Mance's story, he would certainly know about it, as he was the ST commander for a good portion of Mance's life--although at 33 years, if Mance is 45ish as I suspect, then Mallister was conveniently not in command when the orphan was found. Jon/Sam missed an opportunity to query Mallister while he was a Castle Black--unless they did, and nothing was said worth noting. Or he's senile enough to not remember. Anyway, I have just enough doubt about Rayder and Qhorin to fuel seeds of suspicion, but not enough evidence to fertilize the fuel of certitude.
  8. Asshai Backward

    Mance Rayder's background story?

    It seems as though Mance's history is pretty much hearsay prior to his visit to Winterfell some 12-15 years prior to current events, at which point he would have been 30ish? Not meaning to go all tinfoil, but I don't necessarily trust the stories. An orphan raised at the wall doesn't gain the skill set Mance Rayder has. If that were the case, every orphan in Flea Bottom should have been sent to the Wall to get the same education and training.