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  1. Bran saw shadows near his sisters: one with a terrible canine face, and another that was a golden, shining man. Comparable to the shadows in Mirri's tent: a wolf and a burning man. Seems to me these are likely the major forces in 'a song of ice and fire', appearing with major POV characters who are about to experience them (or what is the point of these shadows?) But there is a third force seen by Bran: the giant. If the conflict were binary as Mel believes, I just feel the division would be clearer to see, but there's always confusion. Bloodraven and Bran are happy and safe in the dark (mother's milk etc). Mel hates it. Dany fears being lost and howling in the dark forever. Are they thinking of the same thing? There's a curtain of light at ultimate north. But Mel says the choice is between life and death, darkness and light, so her idea of the Great Other won't fit here. And a small thing, but she refers to the Other as the 'Soul of Ice' - not a heart, hearts are special to R'hllor. So what is this heart of winter? To see it Bran has to look north and north, to the end of the world, and then keep going, through the curtain of light. In the real world, when you run out of north, you are heading south again. In asoiaf, maybe you're at some mystic place where ice burns, north meets south, love and hate can mate etc. Last thing: there's a little bit of ambiguity in Bran's terror at the heart of winter. Like the red priest shaking his fist at the moon - either the moon is evil, or something evil is happening to the moon. Same with the heart of winter. tldr: it's complicated. Not as simple as north = winter = darkness = cold = ultimate foe.
  2. Because he regained consciousness, and she was shaken by having to look him in the eye and hear his last words. Otherwise I think she would have killed him. Also she thought he was going to die anyway. He was close to death and fading fast. Also (and I don't know how genuine this was to her, maybe not at all) - when the killing was suggested to her as a mercy, a kindness; she switched to the 'tougher' option. Honestly I don't think she had time to think this through - she was steeling herself to be strong and a wolf, but we don't see her wrestle through the moral issues, and we still don't. She must do, but the narrative hides this from us.
  3. I'm expecting there was more magic in the past, not less. We have a rationalist in the books - Tyrion - and he's shown to be terribly, terribly wrong.
  4. There may be an ultimate evil beyond the Others. Bran's visions suggest it - there's an even bigger giant above the shining man, and the dog-headed man. Not to mention the thing beyond the curtain of light that absolutely terrified him.
  5. There are plenty of books and readers within asoiaf, and the author gives them a lot of respect, so destroying a book is a significant event. Books are usually a record of the world and the part of humans it. My guess is Roose and Joff destroy the world by proxy when they destroy books.
  6. I don't know where or what these wikis are, but they did some great research on Cersei. Maybe posters here in this forum give more weight to narrative force and flow - see the wood but not the trees, sort of thing.
  7. How so? This far into the story, we all have a pretty strong idea of what the general shape of it is. Don't you?
  8. I'm nearest to this one. Though I'm sure Roose only knows himself as a 'normal' mortal, he carries his ghosts with him, similar to Victarion and others, not seeing the puppet strings that pull him. This will only get more obvious as magic grows in the world. Second thing: magical blood. There are plenty, plenty referenced to humans hybridising with monsters and beasts. Bloodmages are highlighted too. That's enough to take seriously the idea that Roose (and others!) is not fully human. Not a vampire though - like an Other, he's disgusted by blood (cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins.) Strange then that he's usually shown drinking hot spiced wine, when red wine is likened to blood across the books. When he's about to get his hands dirty, maybe. (Excellent thread everyone, and the best OP I've seen for ages.)
  9. No and no. There are a lot of unresolved issues with the world before winter; the biggest being that evil prospers (if not at the individual level, then at the group). The twist with the Others that avoids them being boring evil monsters could be that humanity, given freedom (and maybe influenced by fire), has fallen into evil itself, and a second life under absolute mental control would actually be better - sin and suffering eliminated. Alternatively (or as well), the Others may exploit their spirit slaves to product a magnificent civilisation. Qarth on steroids. Either way, the two ways of being can't exist in the same place. More than that, the Others seem to hate the living world, sunshine and hot red blood and all.
  10. It is wolf's blood. But that's not the name of some dreaded mental condition (we're in a high fantasy novel here, not a medical text book) - it's more like a god's gift; from the little we know, it means eagerness and talent for fighting, and a passion for justice (e.g. knight of the laughing tree). A degree of blood-thirstiness too, and the direwolves only enhance that. But the main source I think is that wolf-headed figure in the spirit world, seen as wolf-headed Bran, wolf-headed Rob, wolf-headed dancer in Mirri's ritual. Something that can be separated from Arya.
  11. It's not madness, it's magic - Arya is a god's instrument and that comes at a price. When the gods (alien hive-minds, whatever) are defeated, Arya will be fine, or at least normal. (I feel reasonably well disposed towards Dany...)
  12. The bolded quite possibly was prompted by Moqorro. This is what Melisandre says on Edric: "The Lord of Light cherishes the innocent. There is no sacrifice more precious. From his king's blood and his untainted fire, a dragon shall be born." It's still very strange. The priests buy slaves to train as temple prostitutes (or soldiers, or priests). Mel is a serial seducer. Thoros was a hedonist, but he says this: "[...] I was no very holy priest [...] I prayed the prayers and i spoke the spells, but I would also lead raids on the kitchens, and from time to time they found girls in my bed. Such wicked girls, I never knew how they got there." Hard to know what the Lord of Light really wants, but I suspect the red priests get holier and colder as winter approaches. Even Mel - the ice magic of the Wall really seems to suit her.
  13. Funny I never really saw that connection before: the tree wants to drag the moon down a well, and lo and behold, down the well is a glowing white door. Made of the tree wood. As imagery goes, it's kind of complicated.
  14. Mmm, yes - he has total faith in Aeron and in tradition, and that hides the religious angle - he probably doesn't know himself. A religion for pirates can't make too many demands on you anyway. Which is brings us to back to the undefiled by mortal lust thing - lust has to be a fire thing generally; Dany is crazy with desire for Daario, and the ironborn celebrate with wine and women, but not totally sure about the red priests. Thoros had a great time in his younger days, but describes it as a sinful time with wicked girls. Mel definitely uses lust to make her shadow babies, but might not feel it. Moqorro almost certainly not (pink priests take life more seriously anyway).
  15. Reading about a bit, Asha is sceptical about the Drowned God, but Victarion is - serious about everything, of course - and thinks confidently that Aeron speaks with the voice of the Drowned God. Also, Victarion dresses the part - his full armour is basically a giant kraken costume. In asoiaf, what's on the outside (usually) reflects what's on the inside, especially important when religion's involved (see Thoros' extreme reaction to the Hound helm). Possibly Victarion, religious or no, is already an instrument of the Drowned God. (still reading)
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