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The Grey Wolf Strikes Back

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  1. @The Bard of Banefort The fact they're keeping Harrold Westerling alive makes me think they're going with Criston just being the Green Lord Commander, which, as you say, doesn't make much sense when his only real claim to fame is literally crowning Aegon II. @BlackLightning I think what @Takiedevushkikakzvezdy is saying is that what is in GRRM's head doesn't always translate to what appears on paper (Darkstar being a "bad boy" like Oberyn, Daemon being a rogue who was equal parts light and dark, the Dance being about two sides you can find things to sympathize with/like about, etc.) and no one around him seems willing to tell him that (or really give him any constructive criticism at all).
  2. @Lord Varys For me, main characters are the POVs. Considering a Targaryen history book is the only place we're likely to get in-depth information on previous generations of Kingsguard, I have to somewhat disagree. The fact that the Greens lose 800 to the Blacks 100 and Aegon + Sunfyre are taken out of the war for over a year makes Rook's Rest less than decisive in my opinion. Similarly, the fact that both Green commanders are taken out at First Tumbleton, causing the army to degenerate into lawlessness, makes it less than decisive in my opinion. Anyway, I think we should drop the subject since we both seem to agree the military aspect of the Dance is poorly thought-out at best.
  3. @Lord Varys The Greens only win one battle in the Crownlands before Rook's Rest (Duskendale). First Tumbleton is a pyrrhic victory because Roddy manages to somehow kill both Bryndon and Ormund single-handedly. Tywin, Joffrey, etc. to me are supporting characters. Its not about Criston Cole having a front seat in the narrative. Its about important historical characters in general not being fleshed out and historical characters with a certain reputation in ASOIAF not living up to that reputation when GRRM presents us with these fake histories. How would Ulf and Hugh even know there were traitors, let alone meet them in secret, especially when neither was the soul of discretion? I know the Triarchy aren't true Greens and, as my posts should have made clear, that isn't my issue, which is that they win one pyrrhic victory before disappearing from the narrative, which is part of a larger problem surrounding the Greens generally being jobbers (in the wrestling sense of the word).
  4. The Blacks only ever 1) suffer minimal casualties or 2) inflict such heavy casualties on the Greens when they happen to loss that the scales even out more or less. For example, at the Gullet, the Velaryons do lose a third of their fleet in addition to Driftmark getting sacked but the Triarchy loses two-thirds of its ships and thus ends up being a one-scene wonder. Another example would be the Honeywine, where the Greens win but both sides take "heavy losses".
  5. Hugh and Ulf were both illiterate and we have no idea how far Larys' network reached (though we do know he stayed in and mainly focused on destabilizing KL) so I'm inclined to believe the Two Betrayers switched sides entirely of their own volition.
  6. @Lord Varys You might not care about the battles but me and plenty of other people do seeing as the Dance is supposed to be a civil war and if the strategies + tactics don't make sense (on top of being just plain boring) then what we're watching isn't a gripping family drama or a historical tragedy but a comedic farce bordering on the parodic. Furthermore, characters like Tywin, Balon, and Joffrey don't need arcs because they're 1) not main characters and 2) dynamic as well as idiosyncratic, with more details being revealed as the series progresses. As for Criston Cole, the problem is he isn't presented as a great knight in addition to being a monster, traitor, insert whatever negative word you want. He doesn't perform any great chivalric deeds, win major battles that cripple or frighten the Blacks, his death doesn't really affect the outcome of the war nor does it affect any major characters or their plans, etc. In short, he has the sobriquet of Warwick and the controversial reputation of Jaime but nothing to actually back it up beyond turning Breakbones into Brokenbones at one tourney and knocking Dark Sister out of Daemon's hands at another, which hardly means anything in the grand scheme of things. As you once said, if he'd rescued Viserys or Rhaenyra from drowning when a pontoon bridge collapsed or hunted down outlaws like Arthur Dayne or won a truly great victory during the Dance, then his reputation and death would hold weight. Another idea I personally like is that he saw Aemond as the son he'd never have and that Aemond in turn saw him as a surrogate father (because I can't imagine Viserys was ever close to his sons due to his favoritism as well as how said sons turned out) due to personally training the one-eyed prince.
  7. @Lord Varys Let's go over the battles, shall we? 1) Burning Mill and Storming of Stone Hedge: The Brackens get outmaneuvered, with Amos getting killed immediately after killing Samwell. Then, to add insult to injury, Humphrey is captured because he was dumb enough to not leave behind a strong enough force with which to defend Stone Hedge. (The only consolation is that Daemon and Caraxes' presence somewhat mitigate this.) Finally, the fact that the storming of Stone Hedge spells the end of Green strength in the Riverlands despite GRRM not showing us what happened to the other Green Riverlanders such as the Vances of Atranta. 2) Rook's Rest: Despite having two dragons, one of them being freaking Vhagar, Meleys still manages to utterly wreck Aegon and Sunfyre in what is their first engagement. 3) Gullet: The Triarchy suffers such heavy losses it plays no further role and in fact starts tearing itself apart. 4) Honeywine: In the leadup to it the Blacks practice effective guerilla tactics, something the Greens never do. During the battle itself, the Blacks outmaneuver the Greens (something that almost never happens in reverse) and are on the verge of winning before Daeron bails Ormund out without any prior buildup, lending the whole affair a "draconia ex machina" flavor. 5) Fall of King's Landing/March on Harrenhal: Aemond and Cole were dumb enough to denude KL of dragons and men despite the threat presented by Rhaenyra and her dragonseeds with minimal pushback from the Green council. (This is honestly worsened by the fact GRRM took Helaena out as an active participant by reducing her to a grieving mother similar to Rhaenyra after Luke's death.) 6) Red Fork: The Lannisters try to force a river crossing three times before deciding to change tactics, with their commander dying in this first engagement. 7) Acorn Hall: The Lannisters win only for the new commander, Adrian Tarbeck, to die in a minor battle shortly thereafter. 8) Fishfeed: The Lannisters are constantly on the backfoot and reacting, leading to their demise. (The only consolation is that the Blacks actually pay a heavy price for their victory on account of their choice of tactics.) 9) Butcher's Ball: Aemond is dumb enough to abandon Cole deep in enemy territory, with the famed "Kingmaker" dying unceremoniously without having actually accomplished much or resolving his narrative issues with Rhaenyra in a way that both makes no sense given his latter reputation but also is plain unsatisfying from a narrative/character arc perspective as well. 10) First Tumbleton: Despite Ormund shattering their ranks with a volley of arrows followed by a cavalry charge, Roddy and his Winter Wolves are so badass they cut their way through ten times their number to kill both Ormund and Bryndon, the latter two dying despite Roddy losing a whole arm to Bryndon in the opening moments of their duel and Ormund having a Valyrian steel sword. Seriously, if Hugh and Ulf hadn't switched swides, which the Greens did nothing to facilitate and thus can't take credit for, the Greens would have been finished then and there seeing as Tessarion was no match for Vermithor, let alone the Bronze Fury AND Silverwing. 11) Fall of Dragonstone: Baela and Moondancer are so incredibly badass that the admittedly injured but much larger Sunfyre is permanently grounded and Aegon crippled while Baela suffers at most temporary burn injuries. 12) Second Tumbleton: Daeron's death is literally "rocks fall, everyone dies". More importantly, the Blacks somehow only suffer 100 casualties despite Vermithor running amok and latter three dragons duking it out on the ground. Seriously, Lords Dedding and Piper die along with all their retinue yet somehow those men and any other Black casualties amount to less than 100. Oh, and somehow only the Riverlands can drum up multiple armies (even if they are on their last legs by this point) yet when Borros and his less than 5K Stormlanders are defeated its treated as if that's all the Stormlands can muster (even though we know they can muster more and that there are men available to lead them such as Royce Caron and Steffon Connington). Likewise, the Hightowers respond to Aegon II's demand for fresh armies by saying they're tapped out yet when Corlys sends his peace missives its noted that the Hightowers have the strength and connections to reignite the war by themselves. On top of that when Unwin retreats following Second Tumbleton the Reach army still numbers in the thousands. Finally, the Lannisters are capable of upwards of 30K+ yet can't send another army after losing only 8K between Red Fork and Fishfeed? It doesn't make any sense, especially since we see Johanna (in mimicry of her future descendant, Tywin) wish death and destruction upon all the Ironborn and to that end invades them first chance she gets. The idea that such a woman would make peace with the regime that unleashed the hated Ironborn upon her people's shores rather than send another army to wreck their shit safe in the knowledge that Casterly Rock is impregnable to retaliation even by dragonflame (and thus her children are safe) is a bit hard to swallow. Oh, and the storming of Stone Hedge takes the Green Riverlanders out of the fighting but conveniently for the Blacks Humphrey does have some men to contribute when he wants to switch sides. Finally, the Redwynes declaring for Aegon but then doing nothing despite the fact that they're related by blood to both the Peakes and the Hightowers and Gyldayn mentioning that as one of the reasons why the Hightowers alone could reignite the conflict if Lyonel wished to refuse Corlys' peace offer. Speaking of Lyonel, the fact that he was barely a man grown being presented as a reason why he couldn't send another army to aid Aegon II falls apart when you remember the Hightowers are a big, fucking family and he could have easily sent some random, obscure cousin (like that guy Myles) to lead this new army in his stead. 13) Muddy Mess: Borros and his Stormlanders are killed/defeated in their first (and thus only) engagement. To pour salt on the wound, Borros, despite being described as a seasoned commander who's both clashed with Dornishmen multiple times and slain at least one Vulture King, makes numerous amateur blunders (charging at dusk (which means his men didn't get a chance to rest), ignoring Black Aly's archers on the nearby hill, not checking the surrounding forest for enemy forces that then predictably flanked him, etc.) that result in him getting defeated by a bunch of teens (and in the case of Bloody Ben one pre-teen!) that actually outnumber him. (The Wiki's wrong on that front. The Blacks had 6K at the Kingsroad whereas Borros' main strength was less than 4.6K.) Notice the pattern of only the Greens hemorrhaging commanders (often in their very first engagement), never earning or winning genuinely decisive victories, always getting flanked and never using guerilla tactics, suffering heavy losses even when they win, never being able to replenish their numbers, etc.? Likewise, notice how only the major Green leaders have just one, conveniently underage son, to succeed them when they fall in battle? Its almost like things were pre-set for Corlys' peace missive to have maximal effect... All this despite F & B making a big deal about the Greens having more men (yet we have more named Blacks than Greens), more wealth, commanding the three greatest cities in Westeros, etc., with the Blacks supposedly only advantages being dragons and ships (because the Targaryens for some reason were perfectly happy being at the Velaryons' mercy even when they weren't getting along).
  8. @Minsc I agree. I wouldn't complain about the Dance half as much as I do if the Greens were at least as competent as they are unlikable but they aren't and that makes it hard to stay interested in the conflict because there's no genuine tension. Btw, who is the smug guy in front of Aemond in the episode 8 trailer? Aegon or Daeron because if its supposed to be Aegon the actor looks both younger and shorter than the actor for adult Aemond, who I have a good feeling about despite him having only one line in the trailer. Something about the way the actor says "nephews" just exudes confidence and danger.
  9. @C.T. Phipps I'm not sure you have to be post-pubescent to be aware of sex in a medieval society like Westeros. I mean, you'd see the horses, dogs, etc. getting it on from a young age after all. Plus, I don't remember them actually discussing intimacy.
  10. @Corvinus85 Cregan's uncle was refusing to give up his authority as regent despite Cregan reaching the age of majority. Eventually, Cregan rebelled and had his uncle + said uncle's three sons imprisoned. I totally agree that we should see a glimpse of the tensions at court being mirrored by the realm at large but I don't think that's likely to happen.
  11. Am I the only one who gets Freudian vibes from Aemond x Alys? Dude falls for a Strong bastard who is roughly his mother's age and, again like his mother, looks younger than her years. Heck, if Alicent is dark-haired in canon (which I doubt we'll ever know) that's another similarity!
  12. @C.T. Phipps I'm not sure the ages are different for Alicent's children but Aemond definitely still comes after Helaena, who was born pre-timeskip, and hasn't hit puberty. Just to be clear, I'm pretty sure only Aegon and Helaena were born before the jump so Aemond at most is 9 or 10.
  13. @Ran Except 3yos don't act the way Joffrey does in that scene, nor would I expect a 5yo like Luke to be carrying a knife on his person, medieval times or not, when he's coming straight from bed. I honestly think things like this (not to mention GRRM's stated difficulty with POVs with Bran's) partly stem from the fact GRRM has no siblings or children so he doesn't actually have much personal experience to draw on when writing.
  14. @C.T. Phipps Aemond isn't an adult in that scene, whether by our standards or even the standards of Westeros. He's less than ten years old. Around Bran's age in AGOT. That's what's supposed to give the scene its punch. A child has just been permanently maimed by OTHER children. If Aemond were truly an adult the scene (whether that be 16 in Westeros or 18 in the US) would be read like some comical revenge movie.
  15. I think that has more to do with the fact that in Westeros security fluctuates based on the needs of the plot. Just look at how Sansa is subjected to hyper-surveillance in KL in an era rife with disappearances, imposters, dramatic escapes, etc. precisely because of things like minimal bureaucracy, a weak centralized government, long travel times and even slower information speed, etc. As for the Kingsguard, I imagine they weren't there because they were sleeping. Didn't Ser Harrold say something about Ser Criston getting the night shift? And as for our favorite Kingmaker, he's only one guy at the end of the day. He can't guard or keep an eye on five kids who ought to each be sleeping in their own apartments. The fact of the matter is no one responded in a timely manner. Not the Kingsguard, not the household guard, not the parents, no one, and Aemond's eye paid the price.
  16. @butterweedstrover Aemond was a child the same as the rest of them. Furthermore, the first blow was struck by Rhaenyra and Daemon's kids. On top of that, they drew a knife and used it AFTER blinding Aemond with sand, at which point he wasn't a threat. Not to mention the fact all Aemond had to hand was a rock and, if I recall the scene correctly, he spends more time holding it up threateningly than actually using it. Hell, at one point, he was flat on his back, surrounded, and getting pummeled! Yes, Aemond said some unwise things but from my perspective the Blacks kids were quite clearly more in the wrong there than him. Especially, when you consider the fact that Rhaena isn't actually automatically entitled to Vhagar just because her mother rode it. Heck, if you look at the actual dialogue, Aemond in the beginning is a bit smug but hardly out-of-line when he says that Vhagar has a new rider and that if Rhaena wanted her that badly she shouldn't have waited. Honestly, the idea that Aemond is in the wrong for hitting a girl AFTER said girl attacks him (along with her sister and two of her cousins!) strikes me as emblematic of everything wrong with the "can't hit a girl" mentality. Now, if you said that, as the eldest, Aemond had a responsibility to de-esscalate the situation, then you might have a point but the fact of the matter is he was still a child regardless and the Blacks kids conducted themselves in a similarly bad, if not worse, manner.
  17. @Corvo the Crow I think most of what you said is correct re genetics. As for advice, I'd suggest the following: 1) Divide the material into smaller chunks you can work on each day (by subject, system, etc.) with more time being devoted to pathology, physiology, pharmacology, and microbiology (of those pathology is the most important, roughly 30-40% of the exam), 2) Give yourself breaks and one day off (One reason I've been struggling with my own test prep is because of burnout and the lack of a life outside of studying in my room), 3) Find a study partner who can help you stay motivated (Another reason I'm struggling incidentally), and 4) Do practice problems every day (UWorld is the most popular QBank but at least one person I know prefers Amboss) and once a month a practice exam, either NBME or USLME (I'd start with 20 and work my way up to 40 or 80 depending on your comfort level). From what a few other people have told me, its best to learn (particularly if you're strapped for time) by focusing more on actual questions than taking notes or reading textbooks, which I can sort of see since the QBanks tend to have both in-depth explanations of the right and wrong answers as well as a brief summary of the question's main topic and explanation you can jot down/cut and paste/screenshot/etc. One last thing I'll say is that the actual process of registering for the USLME is a lot more bureaucratic than one would expect so make sure to start filling out your application well in advance of your target session. Oh, and if you'd like an online study buddy, I'd be happy to volunteer. We're all in the same boat after all (though whether said boat turns out to be the Titanic or one of its life rafts remains to be seen). P.S. There are a lot of free resources (including entire QBanks and exams!) available through certain WhatsApp and Telegram groups.
  18. @BlackLightning The High Septon grants annulments and if they're anything like the RL medieval Catholic Church, impotence or sterility would be valid grounds.
  19. Only explanation for changing Laenor's death that I can think of would be to make Addam and Alyn his actual children by an Essosified Marilda seeing as F & B hints pretty strongly that they're actually Corlys' bastards. And I find the idea that Aemond should have asked permission laughable. As is made clear in both the book and the show, his request would have been denied (on top of tipping off the Blacks they need to claim Vhagar asap). And its not like Laena got Viserys' permission when she claimed Vhagar even though he's the king and Vhagar's last two riders were Targaryen. Aemond is a bit more sympathetic in the show version. Not only did the Blacks throw the first punch, they outnumber him four-to-one (on top of baby Joff being replaced by the near-in-age not-twins) and used the knife after blinding him with sand. As for Criston, I got the impression that being a Kingsguard he was on duty outside the royal apartments the way he was in episode 4, not actively walking the walls. And I think people underestimate how easy it would be to sneak around, escape, hide, fake your death, impersonate someone, etc. in those times.
  20. @dsjj251 I always got the impression GRRM was aiming for a "pox on both their houses" but bungled that message by making one side more dislikable and incompetent.
  21. @The Bard of Banefort In Aemond's defense Alys does look younger than her years (like his mother incidentally, talk about Freudian subtext) and may be using magic. (While I'm glad GRRM didn't go all the way as happened in RL I have to admit I am surprised the Valyrians actually drew a line at relationships between father-daughter and mother-son.)
  22. @Corvinus85 The line wasn't that there were more sea battles than land battles but that there were both, which is still contradicted by the text since there's only one battle (Gullet) seeing as the Redwynes declare for Aegon but then do nothing. Another line that makes no sense is how the Dance supposedly divided families more than ever before, pitting fathers against sons and brother against brother, which outside a few isolated incidents like the Tullys and Cargylls, is patently untrue.
  23. @Tha_Prince_Ali Good luck! I'm studying for the USLME Step 1 and about to start rotations.
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