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  1. I was honestly a little surprised by your list of three. The current story can't be finished without revealing the mystery of the Others, but it could be finished without ever going to the Heart of Winter. The current story can't be finished without revealing more about greenseeing and the Children of the Forest, but it could be finished without ever going to the Isle of Faces or meeting the green men. Asshai isn't even tangentially related to any necessary reveal. It would be fun to find out more about your three, but I think the story could easily be completed without revealing anything more about those.
  2. Sure, that's why he tried to get elected Lord Commander, because he has no ambitions.
  3. Ned knows to be generally suspicious, but Ned just isn't devious. The idea that the gold cloaks would show up, say they're behind him, and then all turn on him just isn't a thought that would go through Ned's head.
  4. Littlefinger wanted Ned to bend. You're suggesting Ned could have suddenly just completely changed his spots. You're also implying that Ned should have known that Littlefinger was lying when he said he'd get the gold cloaks. Littlefinger had been watching and nudging Ned the whole time. He knew Ned wouldn't anticipate the betrayal.
  5. Robert wasn't really interested in governing and Littlefinger's role was mostly limited to raising money. If Ned compromises his principles and listens to him, then Littlefinger is in position to have the new regent in his pocket. Once Sansa was married to Joffrey, Ned could no longer afford to have the secret exposed. Littlefinger would be positioning himself to be the power behind the throne. I doubt that would be his final goal, but he would definitely be gaining power if the regent is willing and/or forced to listen to him.
  6. What was so complicated about his original plan? He thought he could get the Starks to believe the Lannisters killed Jon Arryn to cover up their incest. The resulting fallout would create lots of opportunities for him to advance. The fact that Bran stumbled on Jamie and Cersei just meant the everything happened quicker than he could have reasonably expected. After he sided with the Lannisters against the Starks he looked ahead and made new plans. I don't think he mapped everything out from the beginning. For example, I'm sure he would have made different plans if Ned had listened to his advice.
  7. You're right. Having him arrested and waiting trial could also have potentially defused an explosive situation. Marsh just watched the wildings roar out their approval of Jon and saw how riled up they were. What does he think is going to happen when minutes later he knifes Jon in the middle of the yard? Even if you accept that Marsh thinks Jon is a traitor, he still chose a boneheaded way to deal with it. It's not like Jon was leaving right that minute and had to be stopped immediately.
  8. Sorry if that wasn't clear. I wasn't speculating about whether that might have happened. I was posing a hypothetical to illustrate the inherent vagueness of the vows.
  9. This is an excellent point. If you take out the metaphors, flowery language, and the list of don'ts, the vows are just I shall live and die at my post. I am the watcher on the walls, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. That's surprisingly vague when you think about it. No mention of the Others, giants, or wildings. No defining the realms of men. For example, the Watch predates the Andals who were clearly foreign invaders of Westeros. Could the Watch have been used to fight against the Andals? Who exactly decides anyways? The Watch has been around for thousands of years but there's only been a single unifying king for the last 300 years. When there were lots of little kings who was deciding what "guarding the realms of men" meant?
  10. True but those in the hall were clearly taking it at face value since their reaction was so swift and strong. I'm not making an argument here about the truth of any part of the letter. You've correctly pointed out what Bowen and company's reaction was to what they were hearing. It just made me curios to go back and look at what the wildings were reacting to.
  11. I read through the letter again to see what would make the wildings react so strongly. Here's the letter again. "Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore. Your false king's friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me. I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell. I want my bride back. I want the false king's queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want this wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard's heart and eat it. Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell." Seems to me it could only be the Mance part. I doubt the wildings would care that much about Stannis or his family. The certainly don't know who "Reek" is. There are a lot of interesting implications if the wildings are really on the warpath to get Mance back.
  12. Whether you meant these as jokes or not, both of these had me laughing. I was finding this whole skin-tone thread tedious, but this made it worthwhile. Well played, sir. Well played.
  13. Am I missing something? He was mocked and insulted about his looks. Oh, and his dad had a kind of gross way of making money. That's your candidate for worst backstory in the books?
  14. I think they'd need to separate them even just to keep Rorge manageable. If he's got Biter at his back, he'll be harder to control and order around. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the Watch normally splits up co-criminals after they join the watch.
  15. I've always viewed this more as Sandor believably having a strong psychological impact on Sansa. She starts as a sheltered and privileged adolescent. She meets someone with a strong presence who tells her things that are the opposite of what's she's always believed or been told. She's troubled and repulsed by him but then her world falls apart and things seem much more like what he was telling her the whole time. To top it off, when she's in real danger he's the one of the few who seems interested in actually protecting her. It seems perfectly natural to me that she would find herself thinking about him a lot. Plus, she's going through puberty which means sex becomes part of every third thought.
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