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  1. Aebram

    The search goes on for the Hooded Man

    That's a fair point. Benjen has been missing for so long, we really have no idea what he's up to at this point. Personally, I think he's the one who buried that cache of dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men. We know that it had been buried recently, and it was wrapped in a black cloak. But the dragonglass itself suggests that the Children of the Forest are involved. So some greenseer may have given Ben information that shaped his decision about what to do next.
  2. Aebram

    The search goes on for the Hooded Man

    He does fit a lot of the facts, but not all. I think that anyone who arrived at Winterfell before the wedding must know about Theon. There isn't much to do for fun in a half-ruined castle in Winter; so I expect that everyone has spent a lot of time just talking, exchanging news and gossip. And of course, Theon was part of the wedding ceremony. So no one would be surprised to encounter him, or wonder how he still breathes. The HM must be someone who arrived very recently.
  3. Aebram

    The search goes on for the Hooded Man

    A lot of other readers have had the same reaction. But it just doesn't seem to fit the facts. If it's Durden, why would he be surprised to encounter Theon, or wonder how he still lives, or refer to himself as a kinslayer when he knows the truth, or reach for an imaginary dagger that he can't actually use?
  4. Good morrow to all! I thought I'd take a shot at unraveling this puzzle. This is not a Theory as much as an analysis, a collecting and organizing of facts from many different sources in one place ... plus my own best guess. I started writing down some notes after following a recent thread suggesting that the Hooded Man is Torren Liddle, the mountain clan leader. I don't think that's correct. I agree with Jon Suburbs' comment there, that the speaking style of the Hooded Man is a clue to who he is, or isn't. Even though the HM only says three lines, they're all quite elegantly phrased. It seems clear that he is well-educated. He probably grew up in a castle where he was taught by a maester. So he's highborn. I don't think the mountain clans have maesters? Torren's speaking style certainly is much different from that of anyone raised in a castle. In rereading the text, I noticed quite a number of points that I hadn't seen mentioned in the Forum. This is one of my favorite Mysteries. As a writer myself, I'm impressed by how much information about the HM George managed to pack into a short passage. Then I did some more searching, both in the forum and the wider Web. I've read many pages of posts ... not all of them. There are a LOT of posts about the HM, but after reading 30 or 40 pages of them, I find that they mostly revolve around the same handful of candidates (assuming we count "some random Northman" as one person). However, there are a number of interesting clues scattered through various posts, some going back to at least 2012. It turns out that most of the things I "discovered" had already been noticed by others ... After so many years, does it seem like the good theories are all taken? Still, there are probably other newcomers to this forum besides me who I haven't read all those old posts. Bringing all the clues together in one place may be helpful. And perhaps I have an original thought or two to contribute. Let's review the text: Besides his educated speaking style, what else have we learned? The HM comes striding through a heavy snowstorm. Theon "trudged," but the HM was "striding." This suggests that he's physically healthy and strong, and possibly tall as well, since long legs make it easier to walk through deep snow. Their eyes met. Some posters have suggested that Theon recognized this man, but I don't think so. This is a Theon POV chapter; so if he recognized the HM, I think the text would tell us. It was night; there might have been no light except from a distant torch or lantern, and the HM was of course wearing a hood. Maybe Theon couldn't see much besides the eyes. Some have suggested that the hood was down, and Theon could see his face clearly. The text is not specific; but the fact that the cloak is described as "hooded" seems like an indication that the HM was wearing the hood at the time. Otherwise why mention it? And if you're wearing a hooded cloak during a heavy snowstorm, wouldn't you have the hood on? The HM clearly does recognize Theon. He seems surprised to see Theon at Winterfell. He didn't even know that Theon was still alive. This suggests that he's been in some remote place where he didn't get the latest news of the realm, although the "kinslayer" reference suggests that he has heard (falsely) that Theon had Bran and Rickon killed. More importantly, his reaction implies that he just arrived at Winterfell very recently. How did he get in? We know that castles in Westeros, as well as here on real-life Earth, often have a secret exit. It's usually an underground tunnel that extends some distance from the castle, so that in the event of an attack, the inhabitants can escape through the tunnel and emerge outside the enemy forces. An exit is also an entrance; and its location might be known to family members, friends, and close allies of House Stark. Also, of course, Winterfell has those crypts, and possibly other hidden or long-forgotten passages. It's been suggested that this was the real reason why Lady Dustin wanted to visit the crypts: she knew that the secret tunnel connected to them, and she wanted to make sure that the access was not blocked. At this time, Winterfell was occupied by forces of Houses Bolton, Manderly, and Frey, as well as some wedding guests and their own retainers. So no one was likely to raise an alarm about seeing one more unfamiliar face around the castle. The fact that the HM was striding, rather than creeping or sneaking, suggests that he didn't expect to be recognized. The HM's attitude toward Theon seems somewhat superior or authoritative. This suggests that he is someone who is accustomed to being in command of other men. The HM reaches for his dagger after their eyes meet, not before. Why would he do this? I've thought of two possible explanations. 1. He thinks that Theon might recognize him and alert others to his presence. This would make sense if he's someone that Theon has met, but only occasionally: a friend or relative of House Stark who visited Winterfell a few times while Theon was there. When he saw that Theon didn't recognize him, he no longer felt threatened. 2. He reaches for his dagger out of simple anger towards the man that betrayed Robb and (supposedly) killed Bran and Rickon. This would make sense if he's a relative, friend, or just a sympathizer to House Stark. So to summarize what we know about the Hooded Man: - He is strong and healthy. - He's well-educated. - He's accustomed to command. - He's either a member of House Stark, or a trusted friend or ally (since he knew about the secret entrance to the castle). - He just arrived at Winterfell quite recently. - Until he saw Theon, he didn't think there was anyone in the castle who would recognize him. - He knows Theon well enough to recognize him, but not well enough for Theon to recognize the HM. - Until this moment in the story, he didn't know that Theon was at Winterfell, or even that he was still alive. - He has heard (falsely) that Theon had Bran and Rickon killed, and may be angry about it -- not quite angry enough to kill him over it, but enough to reach for his dagger. With all that in mind, who the heck is he? Someone who knows the story better than me may be able to use these facts to narrow down the possibilities to a single character. I'm not that good, but I think we can rule out the number of people. For starters, the fact that the HM is highborn and educated rules out people such as Harwin, Davos, and Dagmer Cleftjaw. They wouldn't speak as eloquently as the HM. Well, maybe Davos would; but I think there are other facts that rule him out. Some readers have suggested the "Durden" theory: that Theon is actually having a vision of some alternate or future version of himself. This doesn't make sense to me. Future-Theon would have all of real-Theon's memories; why would he be surprised to encounter himself anywhere? There's a theory that the HM is a vision of Euron Greyjoy, projecting himself into Theon's mind via a glass candle. This doesn't seem to fit the facts. A projected vision wouldn't come striding through the snow. Theon would hear someone call his name, and when he turned to look, it would just magically be there. And the things the HM says and does, such as reaching for his dagger, don't seem to fit this scenario. Euron's such a sadistic SOB, he'd probably throw back his hood and reveal himself, just to freak Theon out. There's an intriguing theory at: https://cantuse.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/the-hooded-man-uncloaked/ -- that the HM is actually Mors Umber, and that he has killed Roger Ryswell and disguised himself as Roger using one of Melisandre's magic bracelets. I see some problems with this. It requires the bracelet to be a "plug-and-play" device, something that can be used by a person with no experience or training in the magical arts. Remember this from ADWD 31 (Melisandre): This doesn't seem like a job for an amateur. Also, since Umber and Ryswell are allies, I don't see Mors killing Roger just to advance his plan. However, Cantuse does point out a lot of intriguing facts. There definitely seems to be something fishy going on with Roger. Perhaps he's involved in the murders at Winterfell. (I'm not convinced that the spearwives did the killing. The dialog is ambiguous about this, and I don't see how it would advance their plan to rescue fArya. But that's a whole separate topic.) Some have suggested that the HM isn't anyone important, just some random Northman. I don't think so because, in that case, there is no point to this whole scene. It doesn't give us any insights into the story line or Theon's personality. GRRM wouldn't waste paragraphs on this unless it was essential to the story in some way. The dialogue, being so brief, doesn't give us many clues, but I did try to track down a few points. The sentence, "I leave you to him," seemed familiar, so I searched all five e-books for the words '-- leave you to --" to allow for variations. It turns out that there are only a few occurrences: two by Jon Snow, and one each by Jaime, Edmure, and sea-captain Moreo. Could Jaime be the HM? It's a stretch, but I suppose it's possible. The last we heard of him, Brienne had lured him off somewhere, presumably to meet with Lady Stoneheart. Perhaps LS sent Jaime to Winterfell to rescue "Arya," or to kill some of her enemies who were there. He wouldn't know about the secret entrance to the castle, but LS would; she could have told him how to get in. He had probably met Theon briefly when he came to Winterfell with King Robert in AGOT. So there was some slight chance that Theon would recognize him. On the other hand, there are likely quite a few other people at Winterfell who would recognize Jaime. So if he was the HM, he would probably be sneaking rather than striding. At night, during a snowstorm, in a deserted part of the castle, he might have felt safe enough to stride. But I think he's a long shot to be the HM. The nickname "Theon Turncloak" is pretty common; just in ADWD, it appears 12 other times. So that's not much help. Some readers have suggested that the HM could be the Blackfish, and that was my own first hunch, just by intuition. Admittedly, Winterfell is a loooong way from Riverrun. But being a Tully, as well as Lady Stark's uncle, he probably has friends and allies throughout the Riverlands and the North, and possibly among the crannogmen too; so he would have help all along the way. The biggest hole I see in this theory is, why would BF go there? He probably has more important things to do in his home territories. But he might go there to rescue his (supposed) niece, or to get revenge against Frey & Bolton for their treachery and murders. Benjen Stark is a popular candidate for HM, and he does seem to check all the boxes. He disappeared North of the Wall, but he could have returned South in secret. He might have used the Black Gate, or the same caves that Gendel and Gorn used to raid the North. Or maybe the Children of the Forest helped him, as Bran suggested, and showed him a route. Some readers believe that the HM can't be Benjen, because Theon would have recognized him; but the timeline says otherwise. The story doesn't tell us exactly when Benjen left Winterfell to join the Night's Watch. But there's an SSM stating that he left shortly after Ned returned home from Robert's Rebellion. Theon wasn't brought to WF until after Balon's rebellion, about 8 years later; Benjen was long gone by then. It's possible that the only time Theon and Benjen were ever together was at the Starks' welcoming feast for King Robert. So as with Jaime, the two might have met, but only briefly. There are other lords and ladies at Winterfell who may have met Ben at some time, but not recently, since he joined the Watch some 17 years before the events of ADWD. So he could have been pretty confident that he wouldn't be recognized. Some have said that Benjen wouldn't go to WF because he'd be deserting the Watch if he did that. But not every black brother who journeys South of the Wall is a deserter. They sometimes go South to fight wildling raiders, recruit new members, deliver important messages, etc. And House Stark has always been a valuable supporter of the Watch. Protecting or rescuing Starks, or Winterfell itself, might be considered legitimate NW business. Also, it's possible that the COTF brought Benjen up to speed (or he already knew) about the Others, the Long Night, prophecies, etc. If, as some say, the words "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" are more than a family tradition, Benjen's return there might have important metaphysical ramifications. With all that in mind, I'd say that Benjen is the most likely person to be under that hood. But admittedly, there are other possibilities, and I didn't find a smoking-gun proof.
  5. Aebram

    Do you think we will ever see Valyria?

    Just to play devil's advocate, I'll ask: what do we actually know about the current state of Valyria? The answer seems to be: nothing. We know some of its history, but we haven't heard from anyone who's actually been there in the last few hundred years. Gerion Lannister went there, or tried to, and never returned; but we don't know what really happened to him. Perhaps he was killed by pirates on his way there, or sunk by a storm on his way home with a shipload of Valyrian steel and other treasures. Pirates and storms are common in that part of the world.
  6. Aebram

    Languages used in Westeros and Essos

    If the Common Tongue is English, then by historical parallel, the Old Tongue would represent the Celtic languages that were spoken in the British Isles before the Anglo-Saxons arrived. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_English
  7. I've been trying to post an article with a couple of quotes. I wrote it with a plain-text editor; I manually entered the quote and un-quote symbols with the square brackets, and then pasted the whole thing into the forum input box, like I've done before. But it doesn't work correctly any more. I end up with a quote-within-a-quote, nested 2 or 3 levels; and I can't edit it after I've pasted it in. Are there any instructions anywhere on how to use the new input box?
  8. Aebram

    Languages used in Westeros and Essos

    Yes. It's a fantasy; GRRM can make it work however he likes. But it's not commonplace for a story and accompanying maps to have dozens of clear parallels to actual English geography and history.
  9. Aebram

    Languages used in Westeros and Essos

    Martin is not Tolkien (as he likes to point out from time to time). ASOIAF is full of story elements that are just exaggerated, fantasized versions of actual English history. With so many Westerosi characters, if their real names were not what we see in the text, he would have needed a long list to keep track of their real names and the English versions. That just seems unlikely to me. But maybe someone can ask him about this at a future con or other public appearance.
  10. Aebram

    Languages used in Westeros and Essos

    I'm convinced that the common tongue is just English. Many of the Westerosi characters have English names such as Stark, Connington, or Bolton. Also, many of the towns and other places have names made of English words, such as Kings Landing, High Heart, Etc. On the other hand, across the Narrow Sea, we have person and pace names that sound completely different. A few seem European, such as Tycho the banker, but most look completely made-up to me. Also, a little study of the map makes it clear that Westeros is fantasy England, and the Free Cities are fantasy Europe. Valyria is fantasy Rome: a once-great empire that has collapsed, leaving behind some great engineering works, and a language that evolved into several modern tongues. Slaver's Bay with its pyramids is fantasy Egypt, although the geographic parallels start to break down at that point.
  11. Aebram

    This is Lapis Lazuli

    And, Thanks! I, for one, enjoy these little tidbits of real-life history. They're interesting, and they help us appreciate the depth of GRRM's research and knowledge.
  12. Excuse me for quoting myself, but (as Dacey just mentioned while I was typing this), there is another thread running about this, or at least there was; it may have ended. Something I wrote there is relevant to where this discussion is heading.
  13. Good morrow to all! I've been musing about Roslin Frey. I think something is "up" with her, a mystery that has yet to be solved. A search of the Forum turned up only one post with her name in the Topic line. She deserves more attention than that. I have a few ideas ... Let's review a few facts. TL;DR people, just bear with me through #2. 1. She's pretty. I think it's safe to say that the Freys are a notoriously unattractive House. They often have weak chins and/or beady eyes that give them a weasel-esque appearence. Several also have bad skin, mental defects, or other chronic problems. (Although I suppose that could be just the law of averages; there are so many Freys.) And personality-wise, they seem to be a somewhat selfish and quarrelsome bunch. Yet Roslin seems beautiful, healthy, and well-mannered. A few searches of the Forum, and of the wider Web, show that many readers have wondered about this. The consensus seems to be that Walder Frey chose a comely daughter for this marriage in order to make sure that Edmure wouldn't back out at the last minute. But I find that explanation wanting. For one thing, it doesn't account for the fact that ... 2. No one told Edmure she was pretty. When Lame Lothar told Edmure that he must marry Roslin (ASOS 35, Catelyn IV), he didn't mention that she was comely. Why in seven Hells not? Isn't that a totally obvious thing to mention when you're trying to convince a man to marry a woman he's never met? But Lothar just said that "she has a gentle nature and a gift for music." This, I think, is the strangest fact in this whole sub-plot. The only explanation I can think of is that, at the time, Lothar didn't actually know what "Roslin" looked like, because when he left the Twins, his relatives were still trying to find a suitable impostor. Yes, I'm suggesting that Edmure didn't marry Roslin; he married "fRoslin." She's an impostor, chosen to fulfil some evil purpose for house Frey. What evil purpose? I thought of a few possibilities; I'll list them below, after we finish with the Facts. 3. Too much smoke for there not to be a fire. After Lothar tells Edmure and his family about Roslin, questions are asked about her by several characters. On the way to the Twins, we have this (ASOS 45, Catelyn V): "With so many different mothers, a few of the maids are bound to turn up comely," said Ser Marq Piper, "but why should the old wretch give you a pretty one?" "No reason at all, " said Edmure in a glum tone. After they arrive and meet the lovely Roslin (ASOS 49, Catelyn VI), Edmure wonders: "Why would the old weasel refuse to let me choose unless he meant to foist off someone hideous? ... Is it possible the girl is barren?" Catelyn then visits the Frey's maester and discusses this at some length. I don't think GRRM would expend that many paragraphs on a false alarm. There must be something going on here, a puzzle for us to solve. 4. Roslin's behavior. Roslin's demeanor is strange at some key moments. Tears upon meeting Edmure; a forced smile at the wedding; white with fear at the bedding. A couple of characters remark on this. Edmure, ASOS 49 (Catelyn VI): "I believe she liked me. Why was she crying?" Catelyn: "She's a maid on the eve of her wedding. A few tears are to be expected." So we have a sort of double clue here: one character behaving oddly, and other characters noticing and talking about it. Later, I noticed some slight similarity between Roslin's behavior and that of Jeyne Poole ("fArya") at her own false wedding. Roslin, ASOS 51 (Catelyn VII): "Roslin's smile had a fixed quality to it, as if someone had sewn it onto her face.' Jeyne, ADWD 37 (The Prince of Winterfell): "Her face was pale, bloodless. A face carved of ice ..." 5. Other aspects of Roslin's appearance. The text mentions that Roslin has a gap between her front teeth. There are no other Freys that have this. A search of all five ebooks for the word "gap" reveals that the only other characters with a tooth gap are Tormund Thunderfist and a stableboy at Pyke. (Also Bronn, but that doesn't count; he got it when he cracked a tooth while fighting Ser Vardis at the Eyrie.) Upon meeting her (ASOS 49, Catelyn VI) Catelyn notes that she and Benfrey, her (alleged) brother, do look like siblings. Of course, that doesn't rule out the possibility that she could be a cousin, or a bastard, or just someone who was chosen for her resemblance. House Frey is populous; the Riverlands are probably full of bastards with a Freyish look. 6. Motives, or a lack thereof. Some readers think that Lord Frey wouldn't sabotage this marriage, because he wants a grandson who will someday be lord of Riverrun. But remember, this was part of the Red Wedding conspiracy, which had already been underway for some time. Tywin's comment about winning wars with quills and ravens occurred in ASOS 4 (Tyrion I). Lord Walder knew in advance that Riverrun would be given to one of his sons. So he had no need to get Edmure married to a trueborn Frey. In fact, it's actually in House Frey's best interest to ensure that Edmure will not produce a trueborn heir. Later in the story, after the Red Wedding, Genna Lannister (who is married to Emmon Frey) tells her cousin Jaime, "That muttonhead Ser Ryman puts a noose around Edmure's neck, but will not hang him. And Roslin Frey has a trout growing in her belly. My grandsons will never be secure in Riverrun so long as any Tully heir remains alive." (AFFC 33, Jaime V) 7. Missing relatives. Except for Benfrey, Roslin's other living siblings (Perwyn, Willamen, and Olyvar) are absent from the wedding. To keep them from giving away the scam? Robb asks about Olyvar, and Ryman Frey says that he is away from the castle on "duty," but doesn't give any details. That must have been a pretty urgent duty, to keep a lordling away from his own sister's wedding. ..... ..... ..... So we have some evidence that Walder Frey married Edmure to fRoslin, presumably in order to ensure that there would not be aTully heir to challenge House Frey's hold on Riverrun. But I'm not sure exactly how that would work. Here are a few possibilities, although I must admit that I'm not crazy about any of them. An infertile wife would have been effective; but it turned out that "Roslin" did get pregnant. Of course, medical science is quite primitive in this world. Perhaps fRoslin is a young whore who had been with a number of men but never got pregnant. After a while, people would assume she was infertile. But it might have just been random chance; or perhaps she has some medical condition that makes fertilization difficult but not impossible. If that's the case, her pregnancy might be an unexpected setback to Walder's plot. There may be another murder or two in the works. Catelyn questioned the Frey's maester about the possibilty of "Roslin" being infertile, but no one seems to have asked about her virginity. Is it possible that she's already pregnant? Perhaps the father was a blond-haired Lannister, or a dark-skinned Summer Islander, and the Freys expect that the child's bastard heritage will be obvious at a glance once it's born. That would cause a scandal, but it wouldn't rule out the possibility of her bearing Edmure a child of his own afterwards.. Another possibility, though admittedly remote, is that fRoslin had been infected with some disease, and she was expected to pass it to Edmure. That would explain why she needed to be comely, so that Edmure wouldn't hesitate to have close contact with her. If nothing else, I'm sure Walder got a chuckle from the idea of marrying Edmure to a bastard, or perhaps to a serving girl or whore with no highborn blood at all. The false bride might be just one more way for Walder to insult House Tully, like the unappetizing food at the wedding feast. I'm not sure how that affects the inheritance issue. If a lord marries a bastard, are their children legitimate? Can they inherit? I think the answer is, "yes, but it complicates things." Trueborn relatives might dispute the succession. What do you think???
  14. Four dragons is quite a sum. So this man is not only young, handsome, curly-haired, and Westerosi; he's also wealthy. Another box checked for him being a Lannister. But there are quite a few unanswered questions. What's Tyrek doing in Braavos? How did he die? He had no wounds; and the text doesn't mention anything that would indicate a sickness. That suggests that he was poisoned, or more likely he poisoned himself with a drink from the Temple pool. With this story line, we'll never know. Seems kind of unsatisfying. Darn it, now I want to re-read all the books, to see if there's another missing person that this could be. Of course, his face is now hanging on a wall somewhere in the Temple. Maybe some POV character will put it on and get a flash of revealing memories.
  15. Aebram

    Tyrek Lannister's personality?

    We have precious little to go on, but you did say to speculate, so here's my groat's worth. Growing up in House Lannister, he had a cousin who became Queen, and an uncle who was Warden of the West and Hand to a few Kings ... and some of the Kings were his cousins (or nephews? Sorry, I always have trouble with those). But he was a little too far down the line of succession to have high status himself; and after his father died, he may have pretty-much lived as a ward of Tywin. His family made him a squire to drunken King Robert, and later they married him to the infant "Lady" Hayford. With all that in mind, it's possible that he felt manipulated and resentful towards his House, and decided to escape somehow. But the timing raises other questions. He disappeared during the riot in King's Landing, I doubt that he could have engineered that. Perhaps he was already planning an escape and seized the opportunity. Here's a thought: maybe he actually disappeared before the riot, not during it. He knew that half the Court would go to the docks to see Myrcella's departure. He secretly arranged passage out of Kings Landing on another ship. He slipped away from the crowd while everyone was watching Myrcella; and since he wasn't especially important, no one noticed until later. The timing of the riot was just a bit of good luck for him. It gave everyone a false suspicion about what happened to him.