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Hedge Knight

Hedge Knight (5/8)

  1. I think people have given good reasons why Ned didn’t say Ashara. I also don’t think there’s any good reason to believe that the Ashara rumors were strategically encouraged by Ned, I think that’s people overthinking things. It’s also not clear how widely believed that story is - it was a common rumor at Winterfell 15 years ago and Cersei shows it wasn’t strictly limited to there, but people forget that she throws out two other accusations before she brings up Ashara, so it doesn’t seem like she has any firm belief on the matter. What I’m curious about is Wylla’s backstory. Was she already working at Starfall before the end of the Rebellion, or did she only start working there afterwards? And if it’s the latter, where did she come from (probably the ToJ, but before that?)? If you set aside the Doylist reasons why George would want Ned Dayne to bring up the subject, I find it curious that he was told anything at all about Jon Snow. Ned Stark is as tight lipped as possible about the subject and Jon lives under his roof. What reason was there to tell Ned Dayne, who was born years later, any cover story at all? In a vacuum that makes the most sense to me in a scenario where Wylla being Jon’s mother is a cover story the Daynes themselves were told, but in the grand scheme of things it still seems likely that they were aware of who Jon was, which leads me to believe there might not be a good non-Doylist reason for Ned Dayne being told that.
  2. I don’t really understand why shaving his head would be necessary when everyone believes he is from Lys, as he says. Even commoners there have Valyrian features so what would be suspicious about him having silver hair?
  3. I continue to be fascinated by your insistence that one cannot “look to” someone for sex or romance or passion or comfort or companionship or whatever. I’ve encountered a lot of people in these debates arguing that “looked to” can mean different things (which is true obviously) and thus may not be sexual, but I can’t recall anyone other than you insisting that it cannot mean that and yet you act as if you’re the arbiter of the English language in declaring this to be obvious. That you can’t even put forward anything specific in the response here makes my point. I don’t know about you but if my older brother was brutally murdered I might not hold a grudge over his promiscuous habits. We already know Brandon was no virgin, that Martin thinks it’s very possible he left multiple bastards behind, and I doubt Ned was unaware of his nature so regardless of whether he was the father of Ashara’s child this point does not hold. What is this based on? None of the Harrenhal mentions in the first two books include Ashara and in Howland’s long story in book 3 she gets one line about how she danced with a few guys. How is that half? That we can’t know for sure until then doesn’t mean we can’t make predictions or that Martin has not given us the clues needed to make an accurate prediction. Aegon wasn’t born yet so he did not know this at the time. Do you think it makes sense for Barristan to think she may have killed herself in grief for them (especially Aerys) in this scenario? I don’t know how that’s more plausible than him being unsure if she was in love with the guy she hooked up with at Harrenhal or if it was just physical. Given that the most she’s been mentioned with any of the other guys is dancing with Oberyn, and some of the existence of some of these guys (a betrothed or a rapist) is entirely speculative i feel confident in saying the evidence for them is not as strong as “Stark.” If she “looked to” Stark for a marriage, why exactly does Barristan think confessing his love would have caused her to “look to” him instead? This theory just seems to me like a prime example of working backwards from the assumption that Ashara didn’t hook up with a Stark and then trying to find anything to fill the gaps. Nothing in the text so far suggests Aerys raped Ashara, or that Rhaegar made a secret betrothal to her while married to Elia, or that them or any of the other guys listed had any romantic or sexual involvement with Ashara. Like a lot of other theories about Ashara it’s based on “this is not impossible and I think it would be cool/interesting.” But that doesn’t make it probable or more likely than the most straightforward reading of the text given, that doesn’t require a bunch of different assumptions that are never suggested anywhere in the books. I also don’t see how any of the suggested ideas explain all of the mysteries around Harrenhal or are necessary to do so?
  4. This is essentially just restating what I said, that Martin IMO gives the reader enough hints to put the pieces together while leaving it ambiguous enough for people to get distracted by speculative alternatives. By specifying that the child was a girl, I think it does the exact opposite, I think it’s designed to make the reader question the N + A = J story. What exactly is such a possibility that doesn’t rely on a bunch of speculation that’s never established or even really hinted at in the text? I don’t see what makes it the most boring aside from the fact that it’s more predictable from the text? Unpredictability is not the end all be all of good or exciting writing. Good twists have evidence planted ahead of time so readers have a chance to figure things out. Just throwing something out of the blue doesn’t make it good just because it’s surprising. I also don’t think “Ashara Dayne is yet another secret Targaryen” (one proposed idea you’ve thrown out) is particularly interesting. I don’t have a strong view on this either way, but I find it a bit rich that you describe the idea the child lived as tinfoil when you’re presenting theories that have less basis in the text or (IMO) probability of being true as likely or at least reasonable. Why does this passage need to answer all the surrounding questions about Harrenhal? Why do the answers to all those questions need to involve Ashara Dayne? We will probably get answers from characters like Howland, JonCon, maybe some Bran visions, additional revelations from Barristan, etc. The biggest reveals will probably be about The Knight of the Laughing Tree and how that was the origin of the Rhaegar-Lyanna story that put the rest of the events in motion. We don’t have any reason to believe that Ashara’s dishonor was in any way related to that. I get that you’re not married to any particular theory, but if you really feel this strongly that there are alternatives more likely than Ashara + Brandon (or Ned) then I’d like to see a specific set of answers to the 4 questions I had above that you feel are more plausible. Not asking for a firm prediction, just something you think makes more sense than Ashara + a Stark.
  5. I don’t think textual analysis or interpretation is scientific. I 100% agree with this, and I think Martin writing this passage to relay Barristan’s memories in such an indirect and ambiguous way successfully misled many people away from the implications of the text - which IMO are meant to hint at a major twist from what was previously stated about Ashara - in favor of boundless speculation. I know you concede that Ashara is a red herring for Jon’s mother but I think it’s important to emphasize that again because people taking R + L = J for granted makes them misinterpret this passage IMO because they don’t even conceive of revealing it to be true as a twist at this point. Up to this point in the story, Ashara has been suspect #1 for Jon’s mother, and basically all we’ve heard about her is that she conceived Jon with Ned or fell in love with him at Harrenhal. Barristan’s thoughts about a stillborn daughter are a huge curveball to an unsuspecting reader - what is this about a daughter? If Ashara isn’t Jon’s mother then who is? And if the reader grasps the cryptic hints that Brandon was “Stark” then they realize the entire N + A story is false. For some people this isn’t enough of a twist because R + L has been accepted as canon for so long but it’s a fitting twist on the text we’ve been given about Ashara so far - we’re told she and Ned are Jon’s parents, the truth is she is they’re not and Ned isn’t the Stark she had a thing with. I know this, but I think people can fall back on this too much to dismiss text that’s inconvenient for speculative theories. I’m not saying Barristan must be 100% right about everything. But I do think Martin is using Barristan, the first POV who knew Ashara to think about her, and one of the few who can shed light on her and Harrenhal, to relay information about the backstory to the reader and hint at future plot twists. Martin doesn’t spin a wheel to randomly determine what characters believe. I think we can make reasonable inferences about which details are most likely to be true or false keeping mind that this is a work of fiction. If Ashara didn’t commit suicide or the baby wasn’t actually stillborn, then it’s reasonable to assume Barristan wouldn’t know about that. He also can’t know for sure why she killed herself if she did. But I think that after the Jon rumors, Barristan thinking she had a stillborn daughter is a pretty good indication that she was in fact pregnant at some point. And the gender of the baby is also unlikely to be false IMO - I think it’s clearly meant to convey that Jon was not her child, if the final reveal is that she did in fact have a stillborn kid but it was a boy then that seems kinda pointless. Likewise if she had a son who was still alive (e.g. Young Griff) I think the baby’s gender would have been kept ambiguous in this passage. I think he’s also likely to be right about who the baby’s father is if I am right that he thinks it’s Brandon. If Martin has him believe that and subtly hint at it after the N + A rumors in earlier books I think it’s much more likely that it’s setting up the twist that it was Brandon rather than meant to be some sort of cryptic double fakeout in favor of someone who hasn’t been set up at all by the text so far. But it isn’t a matter of that. I’ve said repeatedly that it’s entirely possible there’s more to Ashara’s story. What I have said is that I don’t think that scenario is mutually exclusive with her having a child with “Stark” and that I don’t think there’s solid evidence for the assumptions you make about what specifically she must have been involved in. Why are any of us arguing about a book series that hasn’t had a new book in 13 years? I’m here for the same reason you are. I think it’s pretty clear from the text that Rhaegar organized Harrenhal with the intent of talking to the lords about potentially having his father forced to step aside and Aerys foiled this by showing up unexpectedly. I don’t think there’s any reason to assume Ashara had anything to do with this, that her “dishonor” must somehow be connected to the realm spiraling into war, or that this somehow negates the possibility of her having a child with a Stark and I do not think you have provided good textual evidence to make that case. I’d be happy to answer any additional questions, but I’d also appreciate if you tried to answer the 4 questions I had above with specific answers that you believe have more textual support that mine do.
  6. I’ve gotten into these objections in my replies to other people, but I want to lay out in one post the fundamental problem I have with theories based around the notion that dishonored means something other than (consensual) sex and that “Stark” is not the man who dishonored her or fathered her child. This passage presents four mysteries to the reader: 1) What does “dishonored” mean? 2) Who is the “man who dishonored her?” 3) Who is the father of the stillborn child mentioned? 4) What does it mean that she “looked to” Stark? Setting aside which Stark it is, the theory that “Stark” is the father of the child, dishonored her by having sex out of wedlock and getting her pregnant, and that this is what “looked to” is referring to answers all these questions and makes internal sense as far as how Barristan’s narrative flows and the words he uses (e.g. it makes sense that an old highborn guy would consider premarital sex and pregnancy to be dishonor, that he thinks Ashara might have committed suicide partially over grief from the child’s father dying, or that he’d wonder/fantasize about whether his crush would have hooked up with him instead of the other guy if only he’d told her how he felt). It also fits with prior text about Ashara, which is overwhelmingly focused on stories about her having a child or falling in love with a Stark, especially if you accept some leeway for the rumors being somewhat off base (e.g. Jon is not the kid or IMO how Ned wasn’t the Stark) for the sake of mystery. On the other hand, the alternative theories suffer from the problem that there aren’t, as far as I can tell, any proposed answers that have solid grounding in the text beyond speculation. Going through the 4 questions above 1 by 1: 1) None of the prior text about Ashara hints at any sort of dishonor unrelated to having a child with a Stark. Nor can I think of any passages mentioning a dishonor occurring at Harrenhal or around that time to an unnamed woman that could plausibly be Ashara. 2) If not Stark, there’s no real basis to identify any man who could have “dishonored” her. Not just for the reason above that there’s no hint of what such a dishonor could have been, but also because Ashara doesn’t interact with any non-Stark men in the books beyond dances with Oberyn, JonCon, and an unidentified KG. None of these guys seem like good candidates to be this man. People will throw out names like Aerys on the basis that he’s an asshole and a sexual predator so maybe he raped or otherwise dishonored her, but beyond having no textual basis besides Aerys’s cruelty, such theories don’t make sense because Barristan thinks Ashara may have committed suicide out of grief for this man (along with the stillbirth). Barristan thinking she killed herself over Aerys is not plausible IMO. This also puts a hole in many other theories about Ashara being dishonored in the form of some humiliation or insult, let alone rape. There are scenarios where a woman might grieve a man who committed a great wrong against her, but generally I’d expect the possible universe of perpetrators in that case to be very narrow: family, lovers, close friends, etc. We’ve established that there’s no mention of (non-Stark) lovers, nor close friendship with any men. That leaves family. Her father and oldest brother are still nameless and we know nothing about them, they aren’t even mentioned as being at Harrenhal. Arthur fits in the sense that he was at Harrenhal, she presumably loved him, and he died just before she did, but we’ve been given no reason to think he would commit some great dishonor against her, or that Barristan would identify him that way in his thoughts given the full extent of Arthur’s relationship with both her and him. 3) As there are no mentions or hints of any other lovers, there’s no solid basis for theories about someone else being the father. The most common suggestions I see are Rhaegar, Aerys (by rape), or Lewyn. I’ve addressed Aerys already. There’s no evidence for Ashara being Lewyn’s paramour beyond both being Dornish, and Arianne’s dialogue all but confirms it wasn’t her as she talks about the woman as still being alive and now an old woman whose beauty has faded. The Rhaegar theory is largely based on the third head prophecy and the idea that as Elia’s companion and his best friend’s sister Ashara would be a natural choice to carry it. This suffers from a few problems: Rhaegar and Ashara have these indirect connections but are never talked about in the same context at all, and more importantly, the story is the building to the revelation that Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna and conceived a third head with her. I don’t think we’re going to get “and he made a 4th one with Ashara” on top of that. And if this is also supposed to the be the “dishonor” at Harrenhal it doesn’t make sense because Ashara hadn’t given birth to Aegon yet and it wasn’t known that she couldn’t bear more children. 4) Beyond all the other reasons here why “looked to” Stark having a romantic/sexual meaning makes sense, alternatives have to explain why Barristan would feel like confessing his feelings to Ashara would have caused her to “look to” him instead and produce a better outcome. He thinks about this specifically in the context of how she never knew he loved her because he stayed silent as his vow of celibacy meant that no good could come of it, but as no good came from silence he wonders if things would have been different if he had confessed and she had “looked to” him instead of Stark. A lot of the proposed theories here like she “looked to” Stark for generic help with something or for a marriage/betrothal to cover up her pregnancy don’t provide a good answer to these questions. I wanted to lay these out in one post to see if anyone has a theory that provides solid answers, ideally based on more than speculation, to any or all of these questions. I’m not saying there’s no chance George could throw something at us out of left field, but in that case it’s probably impossible to predict and until then I’m inclined to think Occam’s Razor is a good guide here and IMO it points at her conceiving a child with a Stark (Brandon I think) at Harrenhal.
  7. You provided a list of reasons that either have nothing to do with Ashara or where her involvement is based almost purely on speculation. I don’t find any reason for any of this to negate the implications of the actual text we’ve been given as erroneous or less important than these highly speculative theories. I think Ashara’s role in the story will have some relation to what the text we’ve been given about her is largely about (love or tryst with a Stark) and not purely based on who she’s related to. That doesn’t preclude her having a role on top of that, but I do not buy the idea that her relation to Arthur or the theoretical descent from Targaryens (which I think is wrong for reasons previously stated) or being a companion to Elia somehow implies that she had nothing going on with Brandon or Ned.
  8. Ok, I think this is the crux of our disagreement because I see nothing in the books to suggest that whatever “dishonor” happened to Ashara was central to the politics at Harrenhal and the realm spiraling into war. You seem to be extrapolating that entirely from her dancing with a few guys in a story two books prior and I think that’s a stretch to say the least. This theory at least provides a valid reason to think Barristan might believe she’d grieve the guy. But, as you concede, it suffers from the same issue as the others in that we’ve been given absolutely no information to suggest she was betrothed or that a betrothal was broken at Harrenhal. Other than the Starks the dances at Harrenhal with a KG, Oberyn, and JonCon are the full extent of her interactions (even in rumor) with any other guys in the books. Nor are there any stories I can think of from that time involving an unnamed woman where Ashara seems like a clear candidate. The other issue is it still leaves the matters of who the father of the child is and what Ashara “looked to” Stark for and why Barristan thinks confessing his love to Ashara might have caused her to “look to” him for that instead and potentially cause things to turn out for the better?
  9. But the “what if?” he asks himself is not “what if I never joined the Kingsguard?” it’s “what if I unhorsed Rhaegar and crowned her and she learned how I felt?” All of the alternatives proposed in this thread feel like working backwards from the assumption that the passage is not referring to Ashara having a child with a Stark and throwing out any other hypotheticals that come to mind. But the reason I’m pretty confident in my position is that I haven’t heard any other theories that 1) propose a “dishonor” that is supported by any solid textual evidence elsewhere and 2) satisfy not just the question of “what was the dishonor?” but provide a reasonable explanation as to a) why Barristan would think Ashara may have committed suicide out of grief for the man who did it and b) why, after citing his vow of celibacy as the reason he held back, he would feel like telling Ashara how he felt would cause her to “look to” him instead of Stark and produce a better outcome than what ultimately happened to her?
  10. If that’s the case then what exactly is Barristan thinking of when he wonders what would have happened if she had “looked to” him instead of Stark had he told her his feelings? As a Kingsguard he couldn’t have married her nor would claiming the child as his own avoid scandal or dishonor.
  11. I ask again, if Aerys is the man who dishonored her, why would Barristan think she may have committed suicide out of grief for him? It doesn’t make sense. Given that the buildup to the “looked to” line is all about how Barristan never told her he loved her because he was sworn to celibacy and nothing good could come of it, I think the most natural reading of the line is him wondering if he would have been her romantic partner at Harrenhal instead of “Stark” if he had said something.
  12. ASOIAF genetics do not follow real world logic and houses having distinct looks across centuries is common. The Rhoynish have also only been in Dorne for about 1,000 years and many of the Stony Dornish (like the Daynes) still have fair features.
  13. How does Aerys fit the context of the line, where Barristan thinks Ashara may have grieved this man enough to commit suicide (along with the stillbirth)? I'm obviously willing to believe Aerys would rape someone given his track record, but I can't see how Barristan would possibly think Ashara might have committed suicide out of grief for his death in that scenario, and aside from his general nature there's no evidence to suggest it elsewhere, Ashara and him have never been mentioned in any sort of context together.
  14. I'm sorry are you George RR Martin? You have no more authority than me to say what he's doing here. Again, let's remember Ashara's initial purpose in the story, the only one we can be sure she has at this point - the very first red herring presented for Jon's parentage. And while in the fanbase we take R + L = J for granted for many reasons, in the text itself this has never been suggested or directly insinuated. The books, as of the end of ADWD, are still operating off the assumption that the reader believes Jon to be the bastard son of Ned, and the mystery is all about who the mother is. Revealing the truth about Ashara is a part of unraveling the mystery around Jon's parentage, and as such, plays a very important role in the story. And FWIW, I do think it's possible that Ashara faked her death, and/or played a major role in e.g. events at the ToJ or the aftermath, but I also don't see any reason to think that's mutually exclusive with her having an affair with Brandon. Is that theoretically possible? Sure, but I don't see any reason why would we judge that to be the most likely scenario here. And I don't know why you're to trying to imply I have some fixation on her "needing" sex instead of just reading the text and making very reasonable inferences about it. If you think Ashara's story in the books is too focused on sex and love, then take it up with George RR Martin. What do you think the significance of Ashara having purple eyes is? The dance partner line, in telling the story of how she danced with Ned, provides a possible basis for (depending on your view) either the formation of a Ned-Ashara romance or the rumors of such a thing. That Howland also relayed a few other men she danced with is not especially suspicious IMO and I don't think that's because I'm not thinking about it enough. That Rhaegar apparently organized Harrenhal as a chance to plot against his father until Aerys unexpectedly showed up does is not a strong basis for concluding that Ashara and her dance partners must have been part of a conspiracy. Am I saying it's impossible for that to be true? No, but I think the textual evidence for the claim is very weak and the likelihood is a lot lower than you're portraying it. Funnily enough, I would consider "who Ashara Dayne danced with," to be a tangential fragment that doesn't necessitate additional explanation. I'm not saying that a revelation about Brandon and Ashara is the only thing that will be revealed about Harrenhal in the last two books. The Knight of the Laughing Tree story clearly is building to a big revelation or two that will be crucial to the backstory of the series. But based on what we have so far, we've been given no reason to think Ashara Dayne had any involvement in that. The only other reason he gives is the stillbirth of the child. The idea that Aerys's death would be included in the same line as the other reason why she committed suicide is beyond dubious. Setting aside any absolute claims about what happened or other possibilities, do you honestly think the chances it refers to that are higher than the chances it refers to the death of the child's father (whether Brandon or not)? And I've said that Barristan being unsure as to what extent Ashara's hookup with Brandon (or the child's father, if you don't want to accept him specifically) involved emotional attachment and feelings instead of just lust is a perfect rational basis for him being uncertain as to whether that motivated her suicide. A much more likely scenario IMO than him being uncertain if she mourned Aerys or Lewyn enough to kill herself. I'm literally responding to what you wrote. I never accused you of firmly believing that's why she did it, I'm saying I don't find to be a remotely plausible scenario as you seemingly do. I think this is another example of you getting fixated on the idea that Barristan's choice of words must somehow reflect Ashara's thoughts when there is no reason to make that assumption. Barristan is an old highborn Stormlander. That he would find a young noblewoman having sex and getting pregnant out of wedlock to constitute being "dishonored" is par for the course, whether or not she or Dornish people in general would have the same view. As I've said before, the main reason why I think a sexual/romantic interpretation of that line makes the most sense is that it provides an obvious basis for why Barristan thinks she would have committed suicide over the death of a man who "dishonored" her (and as I previously stated, I don't think the bit of uncertainty is weird given that he wouldn't be likely to know to what extent feelings were involved in the affair), while alternative explanations require assuming some sort of undefined dishonor that has not been hinted at in any way committed by an unknown man where there's nobody who we've been given any reason to think that both a) would do such a thing and b) would realistically be mourned by Ashara enough for Barristan to think she may have committed suicide because of it. As someone else pointed out, Martin has all but stated explicitly that the Dayne's purple eyes are not because of Targaryen descent. I see in your last post that you think he's just trying to mislead people, but nobody else is obligated to think that's the most likely scenario here instead of just taking the clear implication of his words. Martin is not shy about refusing to answer a question or giving a thoroughly ambiguous one if he doesn't want to give something away. My fundamental problem with this debate is that you have completely different standards for assessing evidence: claims you disagree with are considered dubious if they don't have ironclad proof and any alternative explanation is remotely possible, while your claims just need to be possible and have some sort of loose inspiration in the text from which a bunch of additional assumptions are made to be considered likely.
  15. So I agree that Ned and Ashara weren’t a thing, and I’m skeptical Ned even had a crush. But that doesn't change the fact that there is almost no mention of Ashara in the text outside of the context of rumors or stories involving her and a Stark, and aside from Meera’s Harrenhal story, always including mention of a child or them falling in love. There’s more textual basis to think something romantic or sexual happened between her and a Stark than any of the theories you’re throwing out. To save space I won’t quote paragraph 2, just summarize my response: - That the “man who dishonored her” is mentioned in the same breath as the stillborn child in the context of how she may have committed suicide out of grief for the both of them is a reasonable basis to link the two. Is it definitive proof? No, but it’s more textually supported than any of the alternatives suggested. Barristan desiring Ashara doesn’t factor into my interpretation of that line. - That Barristan thinks she grieved the death of the man who dishonored her weighs heavily against the proposed alternatives (I see you argued to the contrary further down so I’ll elaborate later) - If it was sexual I think it’s very reasonable to think that Barristan isn’t just guessing who it was. Primarily because this is a story and Barristan knows whatever GRRM wants him to know, and this passage is clearly the author using Barristan, one of very few POV characters who was at Harrenhal, to shed light on a past mystery involving long dead characters. But you do seem to have strong feelings that Brandon (or Ned) was not the father. Do you not see why I find it weird that you’re adamant that the text doesn’t support the possibility that she hooked up with a Stark but you’re open to the Lewyn theory when the only piece of textual evidence is just that he had a paramour, and the idea it was Ashara is debunked in the next line when Arianne says she’s alive and old? Ashara is already plainly a red herring for Jon’s parentage, it’s basically the one think we can definitively say about her purpose in the story at this point. Your theory about the dances being part of a conspiracy is entirely supposition that stretches the text way further than any of my interpretations do. Yes, it’s entirely believable that he would. Your argument about Barbrey is not a strong one IMO (there’s no reason to assume Ashara wasn’t also willing in this scenario, Barbrey makes it clear that their affair continued after the betrothal, and Martin’s comments make it clear that Barbrey was far from the only girl Brandon slept with). There’s also the fact that Brandon thought Lyanna was forcibly abducted, and even if he didn’t think that there’s a big difference between a discreet hookup at a tourney and the married crown prince running off with a betrothed maiden. And in general, it is not at all unusual for men in patriarchal societies to zealously guard the “virtue” of their female relatives while not holding themselves to the same standard. This is a very basic feminist critique of patriarchy and this double standard is the entire reason why noblemen can screw around freely and only mildly hurt their reputation while a woman doing the same even once is disastrous for her reputation and prospects. I’m sorry but the idea that Barristan would think Ashara would grieve Aerys enough to commit suicide because he was her family’s liege even in a scenario where he humiliated or raped her is crazy. Ashara surely knew Rhaegar given their relations to Elia and Arthur but the two are never mentioned in the same context and we have no reason to believe he dishonored her in any way at Harrenhal or that she would kill herself over him. Ashara and Lewyn are also never mentioned together, we’re given no reason to think he dishonored her, and that he belonged to her liege’s family is a weak basis for thinking she’d kill herself over him. Oberyn was not dead at the time so I’m not sure why you mentioned him. If Ashara had a brief fling with Brandon at Harrenhal, it isn’t odd that Barristan is unsure as to whether she caught feelings enough to kill herself or just had casual sex absent any strong emotional attachment (or somewhere inbetween those two extremes). I don’t think Ashara was a damsel in distress at Harrenhal and I don’t think we have any basis to say she wouldn’t give in to desire. We know almost nothing about her, but the vast majority of what we’ve been told about her revolves around her having a child or falling in love with someone. The “intrigue” theory is almost entirely hypothesizing way beyond what is stated or implied about her in the text and isn’t even mutually exclusive with her hooking up with Brandon (or someone else) in any case.
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