Hi everyone. I'm a (very) long time lurker but this is my first post - other than in the introduction thread. I first read "Game of Thrones" back in 1998 and haven't re-read anything so I get a lot of the great details from visiting this site. So I'm a 20-year sufferer of this incredible story's pace.
Because I haven't re-read much, I am lost in some of the detailed theories of the families of this tale and who may be the child of whomever. I tend to like the bigger theories, those that deal with the main characters or the main thrust of the narrative. So, I'm going to give you one of mine. Maybe it's been discussed before, but I'm not the most computer literate lady in the forum and I may have missed it. Feel free to debunk my theory or direct me to threads that have debunked it or discussed it. Even so, with so many topics, I don't see the harm in bringing something up again that may have already been hammered to death in ages past.
OK, enough blather, here's the theory:
I agree with those who think the Others didn't bring the Long Winter but merely thrive - and attack - when the long winter comes. This time, however, I think the Others are likely to more dangerous and more successful than the previous time. Why? Because their natural predators have been diminished. And those natural predators? Not the dragons, but rather the direwolves. Just as the Others are immune to the normal weapons of humanity (notwithstanding weapons of dragon glass and Valyrian steel) so I believe the direwolves are immune to the ice weapons of the Others and are thus their natural predators.
OK, my evidence is purely circumstantial. But I'll give it anyway.
George originally entitled the last book "A Time for Wolves." I do think he loves double meanings and he has primed us to think the hidden meaning is the most important. Until the end. I thought "A Time for Wolves" meant the return of the Starks, but maybe it is as it states: the time for the direwolves to win the day.
"There must always be a Stark in Winterfell." Maybe that has changed over the centuries from "There must always be direwolves in the North" to deter the Others.
There just has to be more to direwolves than George has given us. Yes, they are huge, ferocious animals that can rip the strongest man to pieces and they are easily - and very closely - warged by Starks, but they can be killed quite readily. The mother of the Stark children's direwolves was killed by a stag (the obvious connection between Stark and Baratheon aside). Lady died easily as did Grey Wind. Other fantastic creatures in the series - dragons, Others, Children, etc. - have great powers, but not so direwolves, at least not as we've been shown. Surely there is more to them than we've been given.
IIRC, the old statues of the Stark kings in the crypt are shown with direwolves as if the direwolves held some high and special place. They no longer do.
The Last Hero went north with 6 (is that right?) men and a dog and won. I believe the "dog" to be a direwolf that brought together the direwolves beyond the Wall that defeated the Others.
I think the Wildlings wiped out the direwolf population north of the wall in order to protect their herds. With their natural predator gone, the Others easily moved south with no one having the knowledge to stop them in their way, especially as the Long Winter gave them their needed environment.
George is, at heart, a hippie who believes humanity's disturbance of a natural order will lead to destruction. The Wildlings disturbed the natural order, and the Others are coming to bring destruction because of it.
So, in the end, I believe the Others will breach the Wall and bring massive destruction to much of the northern half of Westoros only to be defeated (not destroyed) by a pack of direwolves, probably led by Nymeria. Perhaps the wolves will be joined by Dany's dragons who will wipe out the Wights as well. As before, the Others will have to choose peace in order to survive. And, yes, many of the direwolves will die in the final confrontation as well.
So, like I said, this is my pet theory. I'm perfectly OK with it being shot down if need be so I can try to think of another one.
Oh, and glad to finally post for the first time!