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Ida Hearst

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    A Song of the Lands of the World of Ice and Fire and Blood and Dunk and Egg; GoT fan films (working on putting one together, hmu if you're interested); theories about the Big Mysteries

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  1. Ida Hearst

    Stannis Baratheon Predictions

    I have a sort of retrodiction that occurred to me a while ago -- that we'll eventually find out that Stannis died once before, and that Melisandre brought him back. I don't have much support for this other than "it's a feeling", but it kind of seems apt as a reason for Melisandre's absurd-seeming confidence in Stannis. (To make it really dramatic, Stannis could have found out about Cersei & Jamie, then beeen, say, poisoned or something, and reawakened as he was being spirited away to Dragonstone... but I guess I'd better stop it before I venture too far into fanfiction territory.)
  2. Ida Hearst

    Crasters White Walker arrangement

    Only the Stark-in-Winterfell thing does not work out timewise: the Others are clearly on the move way before the AGoT prologue (as they're the reasons for the empty villages, either directly or indirectly by motivating Mance to collect people & motivating people to join him).
  3. Ida Hearst

    Craster and the Others: Why?

    Never thought I'd see a Hansonian take on ASoIaF It makes sense though -- after all, they're blue and distant, with few discernible features. I'm still pretty sure they make more sense as a tool than as a species. (Specifically, a tool of one faction among the Children of the Forest - longer rationale here.) Also considering how they can only be destroyed by specific other tools (dragonglass, Valyrian steel), and then fall apart in much the same way ordinary weapons do when hit by the Others' swords.
  4. Ida Hearst

    The High Sparrow's Plan

    I think we're actually likely to see the opposite -- a huge influx of R'hllor worshippers from Essos that tramples over the Faith by sheer number and fanaticism. Volantis is clearly due a slave revolt, and I wouldn't be surprised if Melisandre (or some other Red Priestess) brings lots of freshly converted ex-slaves across the Narrow Sea all the way from ex-Slaver's Bay.
  5. Ida Hearst

    Valyrian Sphinxes, the Descolada and the Others

    First of all, thanks for the interesting read -- I've only read Ender's Game so far, this is the first thing that made me want to check out the rest too. Second -- I think the idea that the Others are a tool for self-defense and survival makes a lot of sense -- and it would also explain why we haven't seen many factions within the Others, as we have with every other "side" in this story. My personal hypothesis is that there are at least two different factions among the remaining Children of the Forest ("remaining" not necessarily in humanoid shape -- remember they're still in the trees and stones, and their greenseers may have been watching through ravens' eyes all this time), one of which is bent on reclaiming Westeros as their habitat, or at least ending the threat of humans encroaching on their last refuges once and for all. (The ones protecting Bran & Bloodraven would seem to belong to a different faction, one resigned to fading.) In this view, the irregular winters look a lot like a population control measure that is being escalated now for some reason. (I think the reason might be Summerhall, but there's no way to tell at this point.)
  6. Ida Hearst

    Summerhall is central to the series

    I don't think it's too early. Considering that the CotF (and by extension probably the Others) live on longer timescales than humans, it does not seem like a stretch that it would take ~40 years for the reaction to become noticeable. Add in some internecine conflict about whether to deploy the Others at all (assuming my factions theory turns out to be anywhere near the truth), and the timeline makes perfect sense. It would also help explain the level of desperation among the various tribes of the free folk, if the threat of the Others has been growing up north for a while instead of suddenly coming up closer to AGoT.
  7. Ida Hearst

    Summerhall is central to the series

    That's what I thought until I read the passage on Summerhall in TWoIaF. It's just so obviously, uncharacteristically fragmentary, it's hard to read as anything else than a cop-out. (I used to be deep into Star Wars lore before the reboot, and this is exactly what they'd always do in secondary material when they didn't want to spoil upcoming media.) To be clear, I think Summerhall works great as a sidenote in history as well, as a symbolic foil for Daenerys and an illustration of the Targaryen obsession with dragons. I won't be disappointed if that's "all" it is -- but all things considered, I have a strong suspicion that there's going to be more to it.
  8. I think the tragedy at Summerhall will turn out to be central to many of the big mysteries in the series, based on three arguments: The argument from elision; The argument from publication history; The argument from symbolism. The argument from elision Every educated person in Westeros probably knows about the tragedy at Summerhall. It's a comparatively recent dramatic event that affected the fate of House Targaryen (King Aegon V. and his heir were killed there; Prince Rhaegar was born there); there is at least one popular song about it (Jenny's song); and there are even characters in the books that were alive at the time (e.g. Maester Aemon). Yet all we hear about it, in a series that revels in memories of the past, are a few tantalizing hints: Alester Florent lamenting "Did we learn nothing from Summerhall?" (ASoS, Davos III), the Ghost of High Heart saying she "gorged on grief at Summerhall" (ASoS, Arya VIII), and Daenerys musing about the "shadow of Summerhall" that haunted her brother Rhaegar (ASoS, Daenerys IV). While this in itself would be nothing out of the usual for the series, the treatment that the tragedy gets in The World of Ice and Fire is more revealing. Here, the author uses the conceit that Archmaester Gyldayn's report of the events is mostly blotted out by ink except for -- again -- tantalizing hints about "seven eggs, to honor the seven gods", "pyromancers" and "wildfire". This is not only a very weak explanation given the number both of likely survivors and of witnesses to the events before the tragedy, if not the tragedy itself, but also a marked departure from the rest of the book. This indicates that there is information about Summerhall that is known to at least some of the characters, but yet to be revealed to the readers, most likely in order to make the endgame of the series harder to guess. The argument from publication history The tragedy at Summerhall was first mentioned in "A Storm of Swords", published in 2000. However, one of the tragedy's protagonists (and likely its instigator) appeared in the very first Westeros story published after A Game of Thrones, the first "Dunk and Egg" novella The Hedge Knight (1998): Aegon Targaeryen, called "Egg" and later dubbed Aegon V, "the Unlikely". Since then, the backstory of Aegon V has been expanded in two further novellas, The Sworn Sword (2003) and The Mystery Knight (2010) -- the last of which also includes the first in-person appearance of Egg's great-uncle Bloodraven, who later allies with the Children of the Forest to become the Three-Eyed Crow. The fact that George R.R. Martin's second story cycle set in Westeros focuses on the central figure of the Summerhall tragedy is suggestive enough. That Aegon V's back story might be more relevant to the main series than immediately apparent could also explain why the fourth volume in the "Dunk and Egg" cycle -- The She-Wolves of Winterfell, scheduled for publication in 2013 -- was put on hold mid-writing by GRRM, "until I've delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER". All of this might of course be coincidence -- the Dunk & Egg cycle might just be a particularly appealing storytelling opportunity for GRRM, close enough to the main series for some crossovers but sufficiently removed to not interfere; and the fourth novella might really just not have been finished in time for the anthology it was intended for, and put on hold so Martin could focus on TWoW -- but combined with the other clues it does seem that there might be more going on. The argument from symbolism The name is Summerhall (as opposed to, say, Winterfell), and it's associated with fire. 'Nuff said. ...or maybe not quite: It's also associated with the Targaryens, the fickle newcomers (latest in a long line of invaders, from the point of view of the Children of the Forest), as opposed to Winterfell, which is associated with the Starks, the stable descendants of the First Men (aka first invaders). The First Men and the Children (or at least one faction of them) made a deal back in the Long Night. The Targaryens, on the other hand, are an active threat. NB. crossposted from my blog, because I haven't seen it discussed here in this way and I'd appreciate feedback & input.
  9. Ida Hearst

    The Others "inside" man

    Also, as the Others are linked to the Children of the Forest (in whatever way -- I personally think they're the tool of a revanchist CotF faction), that would make the last bit of dialogue in ADwD so much more meaningful --:-- "For the Children."
  10. Ida Hearst

    The Fall of the Great Houses

    Lots of good points here -- so actually dying out / extinction of the line seems unlikely for most. Even if there are heirs, though... how likely is it that e.g. the Baratheons, Tullys or Starks will be able to regain the position they've lost? (I do suppose the Starks will, but I'm by no means sure.) And how stable will their replacements be, if you look at what's happening with the Boltons or in the Riverlands? But again, I'm mostly interested in the structural questions. Why would GRRM show us all the internecine squabbles in Dorne and the Iron Islands, and Jaime digging through the muck of the Riverlands crises, and Littlefinger giving lengthy expositions on the tenuous claims in the Vale? Sure, those are interesting in their own right, and world-building and showing your work and all that. And sure, some of them may contribute to the main narrative(s) in unexpected ways in the books to come. But the motivation that seems obvious to me in retrospect is that it serves to show us how the hold of all the big established families in Westeros is slipping. To me, this makes especially AFFC and ASoS much more interesting to (re)read.
  11. Ida Hearst

    Shadow Maps

    I like this explanation best so far -- that's a sort of shadow that is obvious and observable enough for the name "shadow maps" to make sense to ordinary people, and perhaps moon shadows are also one of the ways in which the maesters attempt to predict the change of seasons? Another image that came to mind for me when reading the description was that of map overlays on transparent-ish paper -- that's something I could see being a lot of use in Westeros (if they can manufacture paper, or something similar, of that sort). So that you have one master map that shows roads & rivers & fields & holdfasts, but then you have "shadow maps" that you put over them to see harvest sizes, hill tribe territories, weather patterns, whatever... things that would either introduce too much detail into the master map or that are more changeable than the land itself.
  12. Ida Hearst

    The Fall of the Great Houses

    Many narrative & structural choices in ASoIaF make sense if we view them in terms of the great houses of Westeros falling. The elite of the Seven Kingdoms is crumbling (erratically ground up in war, as it may seem to the characters; but almost systematically when viewed from outside), potentially making room for something new. Consider: Before AGoT, the ruling families of the Seven Kingdoms are Martell (Dorne), Tyrell (Reach), Baratheon (Stormlands), Tully (Riverlands), Arryn (Vale), Lannister (Westerlands), Stark (North), and Greyjoy (Iron Islands). -- Yes, those are actually 8; so either Dorne is a principality rather than a kingdom, or the Greyjoys are not a Great House, as Marq Piper would have it. Whichever you prefer. Now we get to watch the crumble. House Arryn is arguably the first to show cracks. With Jon Arryn dead and his heir a sickly boy, things are looking bleak for them from the outset -- and the kerfuffle about where to foster Robert shows that the characters are very much aware of this. At this point I'm pretty sure that Robert Arryn will die in TWoW; after all, it's winter and the boy never was healthy to begin with. From Bran's fall to the Red Wedding, AGoT through ASoS show the Fall of the House of Stark in cruel and explicit detail. Yes, there's a Rickon somewhere still about prancing with unicorns, but I'd reckon he is not long for this world either. The Baratheons fell hard, with the last holdout choking in the snow. Whatever happens to Stannis, the stormlands are lost to them, and an heir seems pretty unlikely. The fall of the Lannisters has been dragging on for a while, but at this point it's all but settled. Since I'm doing predictions already, here's to Cersei having one last kid -- with kettleblack hair. (Which would be a nice nod to the first book's central mystery, too.) House Tully still sort of exists; they've lost their seat, Edmure is captive, but there's a child in the offing and the Blackfish is still around, if outlawed. Let's see how well the trouts do when the rivers freeze over. In the books, House Tyrell still kind of seems to be on the ascendancy... but in the show they've already gone boom. I don't give them much of a chance. The Martells have been chewing each other up for a while. Poor Quentyn may or may not be a crisp, and if the show is any indication their gender-neutral succession rules might not save them this time. Expect the Dorne chapters of TWoW to spell further doom for that house. And the Greyjoys, well, that's pretty much up in the air now -- but judging from what we've seen so far, they seem to be well on their way to ending each other in a way that mirrors the internecine warfare of the Baratheons, the grudge-fueled kinslaying of the Lannisters, and the deadly dragon dreams of the Martells. In any case, this perspective has helped me make some sense of the choice of POV chapters in AFFC and ASoS. The author is not just telling secondary stories at the margins of the main plot (as especially the Dorne and Iron Islands chapters often felt to me). The fall of the great houses is (a big part of) the plot of AFFC/ASoS, leaving the Seven Kingdoms in an utterly broken state that enables the rise of something entirely new. What do you think?
  13. Ida Hearst

    Share Your Fan Site

    I made a blog devoted to suggesting solutions to the "Big Mysteries" of ASoIaF (most notably the irregular seasons). I was considering putting my theories & considerations on here, and may do that over time, but for hashing out all of the background considerations the format of a personal blog seemed more appropriate for now. (More egoistically, I also wanted my speculations "on record" in one place in case I miraculously turn out to be right about any of them.) It's still growing, and here: https://asongoftheearth.blogspot.com/
  14. I've long suspected that the Children are somehow behind the irregular seasons, most likely to keep the populations of humans in check, as Sophia Wilson suggested. Remember that Leaf tells Bran that "The gods gave us [the Children of the Forest] long lives but not great numbers, lest we overrun the world as deer will overrun a wood where there are no wolves to hunt them." (ADwD, Bran III). It makes sense that a warlike faction of the Children decided to create the Others to contain the numbers of humans, and are still doing that by controlling the seasons (either through the Others or directly, depending on whether "the Others bring the cold, or the cold brings the Others", as it were). The reason I'm assuming different factions among the Children is that Leaf and her kind seem to be content with the idea of "dwindling", of going out of this world, whereas those controlling the Others seem to be set on wreaking havoc on mankind. Similarly, this solves the apparent contradiction between (some of) the Children creating the Others back in the Dawn Age, and (some other) Children helping the First Men build the wall to keep them contained. This points to the existence of at least one warlike faction among the Children, and one that aims for coexistence and/or is resigned to the end of the Children at the time of the novels. I've written more about those ideas and their ramifications here, if anyone's interested: https://asongoftheearth.blogspot.com/