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Many-Faced Votary

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  1. I agree completely. It is also important to remember that Mr. Martin is a romanticist -- classically so. This should inform the nature of his character arcs and the ending of his story. As such, although Tyrion is the primary character who is most likely to take a dark turn -- which he has already done at the end of A Storm of Swords and largely fallen further throughout A Dance with Dragons -- and to stay there, I think it is very likely that he will ultimately temper this with heroic deeds as a way to atone (whether directly or indirectly), and even that he will redeem himself in some measure. I do not believe Tyrion will have a happy ending, and he should absolutely not be forgiven by the narrative for the evil he has willingly and selfishly propagated or for the personality flaws which he has allowed to rule him; but I am very much of the opinion that his fate will be bittersweet. As you have explained, Tyrion is clearly the "villain" of the supposed "Big Five" (or Six, if we were to include Sansa along with Arya, Bran, Dany, Jon, and Tyrion). If some degree of hope is likely in his ending, I find it difficult to believe that the others will have anything less than bittersweet in theirs, in the literary sense as seen in Mr. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
  2. Under the tutelage and with the urging of the prudent Jon Arryn, Robert did a fairly good job leveraging his charisma to hold the realm together, appease most of the powerful lords, and honor those who served him loyally. Supernatural elements overwhelming political pettiness and masters of the game of thrones making their moves notwithstanding, his only real mistake when it came to his brothers' castles was in the sense that he did not account for dying before Joffrey even came of age, and consequently did not make any final decision on who would inherit which castle and how the Baratheon dynasty would recognize crown princes. Renly just so happened to be a selfish, arrogant, vain, superficial, and power-hungry child playing at war and willing to completely disregard societal norms interwoven with the fabric of the feudal society to the extent that every single future succession would have resulted in bloody war had he won, merely for the sake of a crown to which he had no claim of any sort: not by blood, nor by a sense of duty, nor by his claim of merit, nor even by martial might (for his military understanding was extremely lacking, and his proposed strategy to battle Stannis fundamentally terrible). Robert could not have known he would grow into such a man; or that the realm would erupt into a historic civil war over the succession after his demise, which was untimely, in the first place. Stannis was too quick to see the slight in not receiving Storm's End, either not perceiving or not appreciating that Dragonstone was historically granted to the heir apparent (or heir presumptive, in some cases), and that "Prince of Dragonstone" was almost always synonymous with "Heir to the Iron Throne." He had much to learn, especially in A Clash of Kings; fortunately for him and for the readers following his arc, he received that opportunity, and his defeat at Blackwater and the good offices of Davos have resulted in him reconsidering his approach and behavior, thereby making his actions increasingly heroic. However, Renly was never able to develop or or outgrow his initial personality in any way, so he died as he lived: all image and no substance.
  3. I think it is willful self-deception at best and malicious prevarication at worst to suggest that the show spoils the book series in any meaningful way. Interestingly, the opinion that the ending of the show is broadly the same as the ending of the books seems to occur most often in two major brackets: those who were -- and in many cases, still are -- show apologists, and those who take their likes and dislikes when it comes to characters too seriously and are hoping the aspects of the ending which pleased them will be germane. Please forgive me if I am not overly eager to agree with the prevailing views of these groups. Even the showrunners have not made a confident statement about the similarity of the endings since the series aired, despite multiple such claims prior to then. Note that these are the same people who claimed that Season 5 was "very much within the books;" any self-respecting reader who bothered to analyze the show to any extent would realize how erroneous and frankly insulting this statement is. Judging by the pattern of their writing, including but not limited to the inability to use or understand literary elements, misunderstanding of themes, lack of characterization, insufficient seeding, poor plotting, uneven pacing, suffusive bigotry, unearned and cheap twists, unrelenting nihilism, and so forth, it could not be clearer that Season 8 was the exemplar of their approach and more of the same -- nothing more and nothing less.
  4. One of the biggest problems with this hypothesis, from a narrative perspective, is that Jon is most likely already a bastard Targaryen prince. (Naturally, this is operating under the assumption that R+L=J; a secret annulment is exceedingly unlikely in the books, and would never be recognized regardless of its veracity anyway.) The arc of Brynden Rivers is also diminished if we come across another Targaryen bastard who manages to attain the perception of legitimacy. Simply from a storytelling perspective, Aegon VI "Targaryen" would best fulfill a different aspect of presumptive royalty. Additionally, Daenerys is already the last legitimate and trueborn Targaryen scion beyond any reasonable doubt. Taken together, the above suggests that Aegon is probably fAegon, and is either a Blackfyre pretender or a random child who happened to have the right looks; both would fit Varys thematically, for vastly different reasons. Such would also render fAegon the mummer's dragon, one of the lies Dany must slay -- be that the false claim or the person himself, though I personally am inclined to believe the former. The textual support has satisfied me to the point of adopting a particular perspective, but I can absolutely understand why readers continue to have different hypotheses! We shall see when the next book comes out (*knocks on wood*). I agree, to an extent; but I have come to believe the conflicting details are deliberate obfuscation, something Mr. Martin is wont to engage in when he deems it suitable. To me, the most consistent, symbolically strong, and thematically sound hypothesis is the Blackfyre one.
  5. I agree wholeheartedly. Thirdly and most importantly, seeking vengeance or even a simulacrum of justice through violence would be a character regression for Sandor. After all, the Gravedigger is likely Sandor Clegane, but as the Elder Brother said, The Hound is dead. He has moved on, and if his story arc is not yet complete, he will likely engage in acts of heroism and fulfill the duties of a true knight despite lacking knighthood; for Sansa has been a very positive influence on him, even as he tempered her original naïveté. This is not the abomination; we have no need for the glorification of revenge, the careless heedlessness of characterization and use of random character flips, poorly implemented spectacle over substance, or the affirmation of nihilistic worldviews here.
  6. Jon and Satin will have a romantic relationship, or at least, Jon has subconscious feelings for Satin. I was not originally against the idea because I have something against Satin or against this relationship abstractly. Rather, I felt there was insufficient seeding for Jon being bisexual, and I originally wondered what such a relationship might add. By way of explaining the value: @Lord Varysrecently put it best by suggesting Satin "helps Jon become human again," and by proposing a parallel with Daenerys and Irri -- any avid reader knows how often Jon and Dany are in parallel! One can argue there was only one PoV character at the Wall before Melisandre, so the description of Satin falls to him; but the inopportune moments by and unnecessary redundancy with which Jon contemplates Satin's attractiveness or grace seem noteworthy. It certainly contrasts with how he considers other characters, including other men who have been described as attractive. Additionally, there are several instances of double entendres in prose and dialogue between Satin and Jon, which reflect some of the scenes developing Brienne and Jaime's relationship. Mr. Martin excels at this type of language, and he uses it to great effect when these two pairs are -- for the sake of comparison here -- sparring. Assuming a relationship is indeed established, the biggest concern is one of pacing, but I believe that is symptomatic of the host of problems which restricting the remainder of the series to two books inherently introduces. I am firmly of the belief that a minimum of three books is necessary to complete A Song of Ice and Fire; this relationship could very well fill the gaps between Jon's resurrection, help explain the likely recovery of much of his humanity, and parallel him yet another time with Daenerys, as they would presumably be each other's third and final romantic partner. Jaime will be the valonqar. My objection was largely because I did not like the misogynistic undertones: the reasonable man putting down the crazy (read: hysterical) woman, in a manner that is very evocative of domestic abuse. I had no doubt Mr. Martin would accomplish this with literary merit, but I thought that the pattern of ineffectual queens and probable justification of this act by the narrative would result in unfortunate implications. However, I do now believe that this is likely; Jaime fulfilling the prophecy is the most narratively sound decision for multiple reasons, and will end the arcs of both twins appropriately. Jaime will perhaps not be the "good" twin to Cersei's "evil" per se, but he will have reasons both righteous (Mad Queen Cersei attempting to complete the job that Mad King Aerys started seems probable, considering Cersei's rapid descent into paranoia throughout A Feast for Crows and the slipping of her sanity since) and self-righteous (Cersei's abuse and abandonment of him might strike a chord, particularly if she directly or indirectly reminds him of her narcissism or indiscretions). This means that the reader will have to understand his act was not borne purely from good or selfless reasons -- as much as outright murder can ever be -- especially as he will likely abuse the trust of his sister and (former) lover Cersei, as he once did with his king Aerys. Leaving such analyses to the reader is very characteristic of Mr. Martin. I also like the idea that Jaime lives after fulfilling this prophecy, which entails him living with knowledge of his actions, both for good (saving King's Landing once again) and for evil (no doubt the culmination of their relationship, which was arguably mutually abusive but certainly included Cersei's emotional manipulation of Jaime, will offer Jaime a selfish and unforgivable additional reason to murder his twin sister). Incidentally, someone living as Kingslayer, Queenslayer, and Kinslayer would make for an extremely interesting story, especially for the reader, who apprehends why. fAegon is a Blackfyre, rather than either the real Aegon or some rando who has no claim to so-called royal blood. This one requires much more comprehensive explanation, and I do not have the time to explain why I changed my views. Suffice it to say that I find very compelling symbolism, foreshadowing, thematic cohesion, and so forth to believe that Aegon VI Targaryen will be the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders. One significant consequence of this theory is potentially providing Varys with a relatable motivation. The most duplicitous, and quite possibly the most complex, character in the series might well ultimately have the most understandable and basic drive of all: that of love. If fAegon is the son of Serra Blackfyre and Illyrio Mopatis, and Varys is Serra's brother, he would be the boy's uncle, and akin to his godfather considering his close relationship with Illyrio.
  7. I personally believe that the biggest problem is Mr. Martin attempting to fit square pegs into round sockets, or more aptly, nonagonal pegs into heptagonal sockets. In order to satisfactorily conclude Act II of A Song of Ice and Fire and to cover all of Act III -- which is to say, retaining literary merit, especially in maintaining quality and thematic cohesion; addressing all major character development organically; passing through all major and a sufficient amount of minor plot points using what was seeded; specifically transitioning into and ultimately out of winter and the Long Night, as well as ensuring Daenerys logically and suitably makes her way to Westeros after receiving the opportunity to leave Essos; and so forth -- a minimum of another three books of at least the length of A Storm of Swords seems necessary. As many others in this thread have suggested, it is likely that Mr. Martin has rewritten many chapters and indeed sections of the next book multiple times, and probably primarily because of his attempt to rush the remainder of the story. I do not know why; it appears to me that it would serve both himself and the readers best if he allowed himself at least one additional book in the series. After all, the original "trilogy" has long since ceased to be one. While I understand the appeal of seven books for Seven Kingdoms, the name is a misnomer, and the mild symbolism with this and the Faith of the Seven is not worth what this arbitrary limit would detract from the narrative. Furthermore, whilst I can relate to the desire to establish a limit lest he continues expanding the series, something more sensible like three books apiece for each of the three acts would be a superior choice for such a constraint.
  8. After all, the only acceptable course of action is to misinterpret the text and use intellectually dishonest arguments to make Dany look as bad as possible.
  9. This vision is a metaphor for the War of the Five Kings. The beautiful woman is symbolic of Westeros. As Daenerys recalls earlier in the same book, "Viserys always said the Seven Kingdoms were more beautiful than any other place in the world" (Daenerys II, A Clash of Kings). The four ugly little men ravaging her are reflective of the pettiness inherent to the high lords playing the Game of Thrones, in which the various self-styled kings are ravaging the Seven Kingdoms. The reason there are four rather than five is that there were only four kings at a time during the war proper: Balon declared after Renly was assassinated, after this point in the books.
  10. My apologies! That was unclear phrasing on my part. The first part was meant to clarify that Dany was not even remotely characterized as Her Satanic Majesty in Season 8 before "The Bells" despite the writers' best efforts to vilify her, and much less so in Seasons 1 through 7, which had already blackwashed her significantly from the books. For the second part, my argument is that there was virtually no difference between the characters we were supposed to think of as "good" and those we were supposed to think of as "evil." The distinction was only in how the show itself - - and promotional materials -- arbitrarily framed them. For an example, let us take Season 6. Because sexism was unfortunately always a fundamental part of the show, I am comparing three women specifically: Cersei with Sansa and with Daenerys. It is first important to note that, until "The Winds of Winter", show!Cersei had consistently been a heavily whitewashed character who did very little wrong and only reacted to clear and present threats against her children in the narrative, even if other characters and promotional materials incorrectly called her evil and ruthless. Recall that Sansa killed her abuser (Ramsay) at a juncture in which it was clear he had lost all his power and was in no position to hurt her again. Her feeding him alive to his own dogs was framed triumphantly. (I will ignore the revolting rape-revenge tropes here as it would open a can of worms that would take us off topic.) Contrast this with Cersei's villainous monologue to Septa Unella. She claimed that she "only does things that feel good to her" (a clear retcon), including the murder of her own abuser (Robert). Recall that they were still living together as husband and wife (so he inherently retained all the power, including the ability of martial rape), that he was the King (with the obvious power difference that entailed), that he had struck her across the face the episode prior, and that his discovering her treasonous twincest would result in the death of her children, her brother and lover, and herself. However, this speech framed this as a villainous action that exemplified how evil she was. This is a staggering double standard, solely because we were meant to see Cersei as a villain and Sansa as a hero. Daenerys burned down a misogynistic, patriarchal church: that of the Dothraki. She smirked while decisively destroying and claiming an entire culture (obviously nonsensical, but it canonically occurred on the show). This moment was framed as empowering and positive. Cersei blew up a misogynistic, patriarchal church: the Faith of the Seven, by virtue of killing the High Sparrow (and all his followers somehow... again, nonsensical, but it happened). She did this when she had no other recourse to save herself from losing the remnants of her power and Tommen from his abuser (Margaery), although the latter became irrelevant since she was randomly a selfish, deranged, kinslaying, mass-murdering hedonist now. In any case, this was framed as an act of true evil. This is once again a staggering double standard, once more because we were meant to see Cersei as a villain and Daenerys as a hero.
  11. Dynasty and family name are only relevant in the sense that noble women are the only ones who are likely to possess sufficient agency to appreciably interact with the world and demonstrate their strength. This is even more true than with men, who have much more options at every level in society -- as limited as commoners as a whole are. Melisandre is an example of a powerful woman, who was a child slave and probably born a commoner in Westeros. Daenerys started the story with virtually nothing, as an exiled princess of a deposed dynasty living in penury and fear for most of her life, and who was a glorified slave and broodmare for most of the first book. I think it is safe to say she is a strong woman independent of her family name and social status, even if her and Viserys being the last Targaryen scions is what enabled the marriage.
  12. @BlackLightning There are several likely reasons for the Daenerys advertisements. Part of it, as you alluded to, is an endeavor to build hype for House of the Dragon, which is after all a Targaryen-centric prequel. Part of it is that HBO is trying to sell Mad Queen Dany as a tragic and intelligent story, as opposed to the utterly misogynistic and unearned cheap twist that it was. To an extent is, this is also a way to retcon the terrible justifications propounded by D&D, in trying to reframe this in a marginally less negative light. (To be clear, I am not a fan of Show!Daenerys in the slightest; she is absolutely nothing like Book!Daenerys, whom I love. However, even on the show, the characterization -- whether "criminally insane" in 8x05 or "pure evil" in 8x06, since they couldn't make up their minds -- is utterly inconsistent with the person we saw on our screens, inconsistent as she herself was. This is true in Season 8, which attempted to blackwash her to an irking extent with no subtlety whatsoever, and much more so on all the previous seasons, as vilified as she was on the show before then as well. However, ultimately, she was just like almost every other character, supposed "heroes" and "villains" alike -- on Game of Thrones, the distinction was only one of framing.) Part of it is an attempt to obfuscate just how despicable virtually everyone on the show was, especially by the end. Part of it is an attempt to hide that the "bittersweet" ending was "bitter" only for Daenerys and "sweet" for all the other surviving named characters, even though the elective monarchy that was implemented was a huge step backwards -- which, naturally, is utterly fitting when considering the nihilism that was always inherent to GoT. Part of it is a means of attempting to appease or at least pacify Dany fans -- not that this is likely, for obvious reasons.
  13. To be clear, the shortened season lengths had virtually nothing to do with the problems you mentioned; they merely exacerbated the same. Seasons 5 and 6 had the normal ten episodes. However, they offered no character development whatsoever, with the sole exception of -- unironically -- Olly; there were only random 180-degree turns. The timeline was utterly nonsensical, inconsistent, and indeed confusing to a distracting extent. Plot twists were completely unearned and done to "shock" with no buildup or justification. Telepathy and teleportation featured heavily, again to a distracting extent. It is not even as if they did not have the screentime in these seasons; particularly from Season 6 onward, a lot of screentime was burned unnecessarily on people moving and engaging in mundane actions, while anything that could betray their oh-so-clever "shocks" (i.e., everything that matters for enabling such) was not shown. All of these concerns were less prominent but still present in the earlier seasons as well; they were simply obfuscated by the use of GRRM's work, as they did bother to adapt parts of the books then, particularly in the first season. Granted, Seasons 7 and 8 were on a level of their own with respect to how atrocious they were, even relative to the previous two seasons; but the show being rushed was merely one of many factors, particularly if we consider that Season 5 was already rushed in the sense of "adapting" both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons (but in reality being almost completely original).
  14. One of the funniest things about Cheryl's destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor is that it is apparently common knowledge, such that the lack of consequences is shamelessly lampshaded in the show without a hint of self-awareness. Pot Hie and Arya Todd were casually discussing the fact that Cheryl blew up the Sept -- and then they moved on to Jonny Cardboard defeating the Boltons and being crowned King in the North, which shocked Arya, who had been living as Walder Filch for about a fortnight. Why would the Lord Paramount of the Trident, who was rewarded by the Lannister regime for his part in the fall of House Stark, which their allies House Bolton had replaced as Lords Paramount of the North, not be told this at any point? Yet somehow be privy to how the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed? Why was the conflict named "The Battle of the Bastards" in-universe? That is one aspect of a single scene, the discussion of which I cut short because the lack of logic extended far beyond the current scope of the discussion, including Arya's presence there in the first place, what she had been doing before then, and so forth. Furthermore, this is only one example of the phenomenon I was discussing; and this astounding lack of logic is absolutely par for the course for Game of Thrones. This show doesn't even make sense at the most basic narrative level, never mind fundamentals of continuity, thematic cohesion, and cause-and-effect logic, which are inherently elementary elements of any narrative. The writers have to earn those Emmys somehow, right? Because the smallfolk of King's Landing are totes chill with the mass-murdering, kinslaying, heathen Queen Regnant with no claim to the throne and very poor public perception as Queen Regent. Because the Reach is fine with the their liege lords being all but wiped out. Because random powerful lords such as Randy Tarly know no Queen but the Queen somehow on the Iron Throne with no claim and no previous support, whose name is Lannister. Because Eurovision is a walking diabolus ex machina who is inexplicably eager to support Cheryl for an extremely bad, unwitnessed marriage pact. Because House Tyrell can't fight due to their sigil being a rose, and Highgarden is easier to capture than the flag on an preschool playground; so the giant sacks of gold they happened to have lying around paid off the debt to the Iron Bank, which impressed Tycho Dumbstoris to the point he offered Cheryl another huge loan, supplemented by his earlier anachronistic, nonsensical, and religiously insensitive and ignorant (on the part of the writers) support of her "casting off the yoke of superstition" by blowing up the analogue to the Vatican. This does not even bring up the endless teleportation and telepathy which made all of this possible.
  15. A very major theme in A Song of Ice and Fire is that death should never be "satisfying." Most if not all instances of purportedly righteous deaths and other forms of comeuppance are carefully constructed and implemented for two primary reasons: firstly, to pervert wish fulfillment and thereby illustrate that vindictiveness is never warranted; and secondly, to demonstrate that vengeance is shortsighted and universally detrimental, and that justice should be pursued. There are countless examples to this end, but two major ones are commonly cited for this phenomenon. No doubt most readers hoped that Theon Greyjoy would be taught a lesson after his chapters in A Clash of Kings... and Ramsay Snow gave him one, in the most horrifying way. The even more abhorrent and significantly more disproportionate fate is that of Jeyne Poole, who suffered unimaginable abuse at Ramsay's hands; she had at one point in A Game of Thrones commented dismissively on Mychah's death. They did not deserve anything like these punishments; no one could "deserve" such, which is the entire point. This can apply to almost every commonly anticipated (in-universe and in real life) sanction in the series and histories. For example, Joffrey Baratheon did not deserve to die horribly in his helpless mother's arms as a young teenager, Cersei Lannister did not deserve to undergo such an utterly misogynistic and gendered punishment due to crimes for which a clear double standard was mostly present, Vargo Hoat did not deserve to forcibly be fed to himself in pieces, Serala of Myr did not deserve to be mutilated and burned alive, etc. No one can "deserve" such gruesome fates, especially in context. The conclusion that we are meant to draw might fit in our world much more than that of Ice and Fire due to values dissonance, but we are readers are meant to acknowledge and understand that we should pursue justice to the best of our ability (collectively as a society and individually as people), and that it is worth considering if we ever have the right to pass a judgment of death -- or, at least, whether we should ever wish significant harm or death upon others.
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