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  1. I have noticed a pattern of different Essos cultures taking on unique physiological characteristics with an affinity towards certain creatures. Dothraki - Horses Ghiscari - Harpy Leng - Tigers Its not very overt, but their is a theme of snakes in Quartheen culture. We first see snakes at Vaes Tolorro, which I believe had been established to be a ruin of a former larger regional Qarth based culture. We are further shown snake imagery upon Dany's arrival at Qarth and With the most ancient of buildings shaped as a snake. Why are the Qarth "Milk Men" so tall and pale? Me thinks an ancient religious affinity to snakes is the source.
  2. The fused stone gargoyles of Dragonstone are attributed to the Valyrians, but examples made of regular stone make it complicated. I have noticed that the term gargoyles and grotesques are used interchangeably. Both Maester Cressen and Davos blend the terms when describing the thousand fused stone gargoyles on the walls of Dragonstone. Based on this synonymous use of the terms, I suggest that the two remaining grotesques on Standfast would also be considered gargoyles. There are also two other locations with identified gargoyles. The weathered little inn on Dragonstone Island where Salladhor Saan told the legend of Lightbringer, and the gargoyles on the ruins of the First Keep of Winterfell. Compare the similarities in physical conditions between these examples of gargoyle architecture. “so eroded by rain and salt that his features were all but obliterated.” - Weathered Inn “so badly abraded by wind and weather that it was hard to say what they had been” - Standfast “shapeless, rain-worn” - Winterfell First Keep I personally see a pattern, they appear to have been equally eroded by the elements disfiguring their details and I believe share a common cultural origin in the ancient past. Let's start comparing. Both the First Keep of Winterfell and Standfast share similar stories of aging into ruin, the only difference is that Standfast was partially rebuilt and renovated with modern features, while Winterfell's First Keep was left abandoned to rot with the crows. The gargoyle that Davos placed his hand on for luck was not on the weathered inn, but on the ground out front. I suggest that the gargoyle is a remnant of a local ruin placed before the inn, similar in condition to the gargoyles at Winterfell First Keep after the fire. The number of gargoyles vary greatly between the First Keep and Standfast, based on its original design the Standfast tower had a total of four gargoyles on each corner, while Bran could move along the edge of the First Keep by swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle. This brings the First Keep closer in resemblance to Dragonstone, where a thousand merlons were replaced with gargoyles on the walls. A big difference between the First Keep and Standfast however is the design, Standfast displays the First Men architecture of square corners and the First Keep was a drum. It is noted that drum towers were unheard of among the First Men, the exception being Bran the Builder who is attributed to having built both Winterfell and the drumed Storms End. Bran the Builder being a prominent Age of Heroes figure. Could Standfast date back to the Age of Heroes? Woven into the Dunk POV of the Sworn Sword which featured Standfast is the history of House Osgrey. House Osgrey were once the Marshals of the Northmarch, liege to House Gardener who were descendants of Garth Greenhand, also a prominent Age of Heroes figure. The local Chequy River is named after the Osgrey chequy lion sigil, which puts the family back to the naming of local geographic features. I believe House Osgrey predates the Andal migration/invasion and the Long Night. As per Eustance Osgrey: As Perwyn Osgrey was not acknowledged as the families founder, the Osgrey name would be older than Coldmoat itself. Standfast sounds to be one of the referenced watchtower on a hill and is older than Coldmoat, from an earlier quote.“Standfast...stood bravely atop a rocky hill..no more than a towerhouse” However, it's Eustance Osgrey who points a direct line between House Osgrey and the Age of Heroes with his reference to ancient green king customs as a diplomatic option. The offer was not well received. I feel confident that Standfast dates back to the Age of Heroes based on the physical deterioration resulting in a partial collapse and history of the local old blood nobility. Now we enter what many will classify as the tinfoil section of this analysis. So if Standfast and Winterfell can trace gargoyle construction back to the Age of Heroes, what was happening on Dragonstone Island then? The waist high gargoyle sounds to be placed on the ground, not attached to the weathered inn. There is no indication that inn is anything other than old, the only connection with the Age of Heroes is the Nissa Nissa sacrifice story told within. However, the existence of an obliterated gargoyle on Dragonstone comparable to other examples of Westeros gargoyle architecture with links to the Age of Heroes does run counter to the narrative that the fused stone gargoyles of Dragonstone Castle was only created in the past 600 years, after the arrival of the Valyrians. Thing is, fused stone construction like Dragonstone and the base level of the Hightower are all but impossible to date by looking at them, as they do not erode. It's very hard to accurately date Dragonstone by looking at it. Just saying. Lets visit Essos for a moment and look at the accents of a fused stone project. “sphinxes, manticores, dragons, and creatures stranger still.” Certainly sounds similar to Davos’s description of Dragonstone gargoyles. “each different from all the others; wyverns, griffins, demons, manticores, minotaurs, basilisks, hellhounds, cockatrice” I think that GRRM was having a little fun, Tyrion oft described as a gargoyle unable to identify an example. Even if the carvings were not meant to represent gargoyles, what puzzles me is why was the Long Bridge arch not shaped with fused stone? Fused stone is not carved, but shaped. The description of the bridge was quite clear that the roadway was the only component built of fused stone, why not do the archway as well? If the Valyrians created Dragonstone with a thousand twelve foot fused stone statues, what was holding them back at the Long Bridge at the “height of their glory”? In fact, a review of Valyrian fused stone achievements, while awesome in scale, are in effect acts of paving roads and poured walls at Volantis,Tyrosh and Naath. Exception is Dragonstone where fused stone architectural accents are everywhere. Dragonstone is the most incredible artistic structure in Westeros, hands down and its all made in fused stone! Check out the backdrop on pages 60,140-141 and 338 in F&B, that is some incredible artistic detail and is only visual hints of the castle as a whole. And yet, 200 years after arriving on Dragonstone the Valyrian dragonlords packed up and left, abandoning a fused stone marvel to be a refuge for a self exiled dragonlord family, scorned as cowards. The Valyrian empire's quickly faded interest in Dragonstone doesn’t make sense considering the effort to create one thousand unique twelve foot statues in fused stone and towers shaped as dragons. Unless…...when the Valyrians arrived at Dragonstone 600 years past Dragonstone was already there, unchanged fused stone built in the Age of Heroes with all the other examples of gargoyle architecture in Westeros. The Valyrians were slaver’s and conquers, I also contend that they are purple eyed liars regarding their own history….they were never shepherds. Who built the gargoyles? What really happened during the Age of Heroes in Westeros? Extra Fun Fact! - How many Valyrian Sphinx statues are described on Dragonstone? Answer - None, not one example of the signature Valyrian architectural style is described on Dragonstone, almost like it was not a thing when it was built...
  3. The shadows spawned by Melisandre with the blood of Stannis were very effective in conducting the anonymous assassinations of Ser Cortnay Penrose and Renley Baratheon. Two methods are demonstrated, pushing/throwing a victim from heights with appearance of suicide and shadowy sword attacks implicating innocents in close proximity. By all accounts the pair got away with the murders, but Varys is onto them. Varys knew to connect the pattern, he had identified Mel as a shadowbinder early. Spawning shadows is not a skill unique to Mel, as shadowbinders are open and active in Asshai. Begs to question if there has been other shadowbinders active in Westeros? Why not? The marine route to and from Asshai can be done along the sight of land and considering Storm’s End walls were built warded against shadows...I think the Age of Heroes was a little bit magicy. When in history then? The details of the murder of Septon Moon outside of Oldtown jumped out at me on the first reading of Fire and Blood. I believe the unknown women in the tent with Septon Moon got the same wrongful murder accusation Brienne of Tarth and Catelyn Stark received. Whatever intentions the women bedding down with Septon Moon had, I don’t believe cutting him was part of it as she was totally unprepared for it. She was barefoot and half naked, if you were planning to murder someone and then run away would you not plan to be wearing shoes and clothes? She shrieked. If you are planning to murder someone and then run away, would you not be quiet? Though, I suppose Brienne made the same mistake in the minds of her accusers. If this woman had slit Septon Moon’s throat would she not be covered in blood? This woman was running “wide eyed and terrified” from something, and I don’t believe it was from a dying Septon Moon. The quick acting poisoned wine was given to her so her account of a shadow sword was never heard. If it was a spawned shadow that killed Septon Moon, who would have done the deed? Who had most to gain from the death of Septon Moon? The Hightowers. The Hightowers had been dithering on dealing with the Moon’s mob outside Oldtown and were probably open to options. After the death of Septon Moon his followers scattered allowing for a one sided Hightower mop up and an unhurt Oldtown citizenry. Let's think like Varys for a moment, if there was a shadowbinder active at the time are there other suspicious deaths where people are dying in rooms everyone thought them to be alone in? Do they have connections to the Hightowers? Found two more within a five year period: The High Septon - died in very suspicious circumstances alone in his room. No details about the manner of death and followed was a very immediate chain of events for his replacement. In my mind the killing of the High Septon was part of the coordinated Hightower plan, not a response. If the High Septon had not been murdered and replaced in a single night then in all likelihood dragonfire would have been felt in Oldtown. There was motivation. King Maegor Targaryen - died impaled on the Iron Throne, guards swear he was alone. Maegor at that moment was contemplating the reality that he did not have enough support to field an army to control his realm, but Balerion was within reach. At that moment mounting the Black Dread and burning it all, including Oldtown, was a distinct possibility. The list of people with motive to kill Maegor were many, Hightowers included. All three of these deaths had a result of limiting civilian casualties, particularly in Oldtown. As to who spawned my theorized shadows I am leaning towards Lady Patrice Hightower, reputed witch who had visited the High Septon hours before his mysterious death. The first of the proposed linked incidents. Common variable amongst all known and proposed examples of shadow assassinations is timing, all five died at night. Renly Baratheon Ser Cortnay Penrose High Septon Maegor Targaryen Septon Moon If the walls of Storms End are warded against spawned shadows then at some point during the Age of Heroes the Durrandon Storm Kings built those defenses to protect from a shadowbinding foe, an age when the Hightowers were actors. Could shadowbinding be a Hightower family secret, only used in times when Oldtown is in grave danger? Euron may need to watch for shadows at his back as he approaches Oldtown…because whenever Oldtown is threatened convenient deaths occur when the sun goes down. Bonus Extra Shiny Tinfoil Are there other potential shadow assassinations in Westerosi history? Mysterious sword attacks, or people falling from great heights with questionable stories of suicide. Was Ashara pushed?
  4. I have been rethinking the Wall ever since the Alysanne Targaryen incident appeared in F&B. Does it not seem counter intuitive that a barrier of ice would hold back magical ice beings? A common theme of ASOIAF is that the maester's ancient historical narrative is inaccurate, starting with the Others in the AGOT prologue and Maester Luwin dismissing the Others in subsequent chapters. I would not be surprised if it is discovered that the Wall was raised by the Others to defend against dragons, and that they could pass through with ease.
  5. Was doing some searching research on the Jade Compendium and this quote jumped out at me! What happens to a creature stabbed by Lightbringer. Blood began to boil Smoke poured from mouth Melting eyes Body burst into flame. I am re reading F&B and just got past Barth's grisly death account of Princess Aerea, the progression from boiling blood to smoking mouth to melting eyes is exactly how it went for the Princess!! Only deviation from the description in the Jade Compendium is the Princess not bursting into flames, which could very well had been her fate if Barth and Benifer had not placed her into ice water. Feels wrong to make an association between a blow from Lightbringer and the horror inspired death Princess Aerea suffered, but here we are...
  6. According the description, the Smoking Sea was "to the north" of Valyria and probably the Fourteen Flames. Typical caldera collapses occur when a lot of volcanic material is exploded outwards, causing a collapse into the resulting void. The description of the Doom confuses me, opening rents, swallowed palaces/temples/towns...the region of the Smoking Sea having just splintered into itself. Its like Valyria crumbled into its volcanic self, resulting in an overall loss of mass, as opposed to a proper eruption. For a more classic caldera, I suggest you look at Marahai in the Jade Sea.
  7. "All along the south coast of Cape Wrath rose crumbling stone watchtowers, raised in ancient days to give warning of Dornish raiders stealing in across the sea. Villages had grown up about the towers. A few had flowered into towns." TWOW - Aianne ll It may not have been an organized navy, but Dornish were a genuine navy threat at one point in history to warrant the Stormland construction of a series of watchtowers. I suspect that this predates the arrival of Nymeria, when Dorne was still divided between the Stony and Sandy Dornish cultural groups. Possibly even older than the Long Night considering the crumbling description and evolution into towns. Castle Wyl is my guess on where the the ancient Dornish naval power called its home port.
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