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Phylum of Alexandria

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  1. Well, maybe I'm more sanguine because I only started the books in 2015. I haven't had to endure the wait since 2011, let alone those dedicated readers from the late 90s. I'm a sweet summer child who has yet to learn of the winter...
  2. Hopefully that's all it is. I'm not a huge fan of Lemongate from a storytelling perspective, though I can't count it out.
  3. The HBO series did me a tremendous service in showing me what narrative horrors that rushing can bring to a story like this. So, I'm okay with the wait. Just stay happy, healthy, and inspired, Mr. Martin!
  4. Well, we know that GRRM has something in mind with those lemons in Braavos. Maybe Dany's claim isn't what she thinks it is? I don't know. I guess we'll have to see how it shakes out!
  5. My brother calls us "obsessive nerd psychopaths."
  6. Again: speculation, but I think GRRM's purpose here is twofold. First, by having these interlopers arrive on the scene in Act Two, seizing the hero's narrative and looking (as Tyrion cynically notes) as if they came straight out of a story, GRRM wants to juxtapose the imitation heroes with the characters we've been following, whose successes feel much more earned. He seems to be making a genre commentary, in a sense. Hidden Prince Aegon is the fairytale hero come alive, and yet something doesn't smell right. Given that he's trying to seize both Jon and Dany's respective narratives, readers come to appreciate how Jon and Dany don't quite follow those tropes, and so of course many root for this mummer's dragon to be taken down. And yet, I think GRRM's second purpose will be to subvert our sense of rooting for the hero. Aegon's success is unearned, and he's in over his head, but still, Dany's actions as a dragonriding conqueror shouldn't be cheered. With great power comes great responsibility, and with great dragonfire comes untold carnage and desolation. People in over their heads shouldn't be burned alive.
  7. I dunno, I think you may be minimizing Bran's moral transgressions here. Bran's skinchanging Hodor is never presented as a good thing. Even when it's a necessary evil, the evil nevertheless remains. Like Stannis' burning of Shireen, the show presented us with some end points confirmed by GRRM to be in his story. As with Shireen's burning, the text we have with Bran presents a primrose path to that tragedy (whereas the show has random gotcha shock). "Go down into the crypts. When I woke, I told him to take me down, to see if Father was truly there. At first he didn't know what I was saying, but I got him to the steps by telling him to go here and go there, only then he wouldn't go down. He just stood on the top step and said 'Hodor,' like he was scared of the dark, but I had a torch. It made me so mad I almost gave him a swat in the head, like Old Nan is always doing." He saw the way the maester was frowning and hurriedly added, "I didn't, though." "Good. Hodor is a man, not a mule to be beaten." --AGOT "Abomination. That had always been Haggon's favorite word. Abomination, abomination, abomination. To eat of human meat was abomination, to mate as wolf with wolf was abomination, and to seize the body of another man was the worst abomination of all." --ADWD You mentioned the first time Bran enters Hodor's mind as a necessary evil. We could argue the second time is the same. Still, it's a violation: "Bran ripped Hodor's longsword from his belt. Deep inside he could hear poor Hodor whimpering still, but outside he was seven feet of fury with old iron in his hand." And then there's the third chapter of ADWD, where it seems Bran has developed a new habit: "But after they were gone, he slipped inside Hodor's skin and followed them. The big stableboy no longer fought him as he had the first time, back in the lake tower during the storm. Like a dog who has had all the fight whipped out of him, Hodor would curl up and hide whenever Bran reached out for him. His hiding place was somewhere deep within him, a pit where not even Bran could touch him. No one wants to hurt you, Hodor, he said silently, to the child-man whose flesh he'd taken. I just want to be strong again for a while. I'll give it back, the way I always do." --ADWD "No one ever knew when he was wearing Hodor's skin. Bran only had to smile, do as he was told, and mutter "Hodor" from time to time, and he could follow Meera and Jojen, grinning happily, without anyone suspecting it was really him. He often tagged along, whether he was wanted or not." --ADWD Bran is young, so he doesn't understand the full extent of what he's doing. I am of the mind that the "Hold the Door" moment will be the point at which Bran finally understands the cost of his meddling, both with time and with a human mind. I also am of the mind that GRRM will keep the time tinkering to a minimum, with this tragedy being the most prominent scene. Both because he has shown such restraint with time-travel narratives in past stories, because he is a resolute existentialist (and thus a believer in individual agency), and because magic in his stories are almost always more of a complication that reveals character than a plot device to resolve things.
  8. I don't like to speculate on mythic underpinnings of the story too much, not only because Elio has warned against that with respect to how GRRM writes, but it can easily become a Rorshach rabbithole of interpretations that take you everywhere and nowhere. That said, LmL has pointed out the Lucifer/Venus/Morningstar-Evenstar connections in the story, and I have a hard time believing that GRRM isn't aware of what he's doing there. He even has a few minor characters named Lucifer. Thematically it makes sense, both to connect a glorious rise to a tragic fall, and to have the in-story myths of ending the long night tied to similar characters who caused the long night. There is a poetic symmetry that GRRM seems to like there. What precisely it will mean for the Dawn sword, I can't say.
  9. I'm happy to share my speculation for those who want to know, but I don't have too much interest in arguing in favor of my take over others. I think there's a lot of evidence in favor of the Blackfyre content, but it takes effort to build up, and people tend to remain locked onto their pet theory anyway. So it's not something I'm invested in. As I said, if no one ends up furthering the Blackfyre cause by the end of the ASOIAF story, GRRM will have proved to be very sloppy with his storytelling. For me, Aegon has the most evidence pointing his way, but feel free to disagree. Maybe the person proven to be incorrect can buy the winner some toaster strudel?
  10. My guess is that the Aegon plot is ultimately in service to tragedy. I don't think Dany will go full villain like in the show. However, I do think the aftermath of the Dance of the Dragons will likely be her lowest point right at the brink, from which she will finally pull away. Given that we have already been following Arienne on her way to Aegon, she will likely provide us an inside view of his team as Dany comes crashing down (if the overall structure of the event mirrors the Battle of the Blackwater, all the better). I certainly already get the feeling that both Arienne and Aegon are out of their depths as players--I think Aegon especially will culminate as another Quentyn: he hoped and hoped that the song he was moving through was his own hero narrative, but alas, he was just a pawn. That doesn't make his death any less tragic. I think we need a human connection to the costs that Dany's actions will incur, particularly since we probably won't get too much of that on the Mereen side of things. Dany the Conqueror needs a reckoning, not just in terms of plot and her character, but from us readers. My take is that the tragic end of a wannabe interloper who is nevertheless relatable will be key in that emotional shift.
  11. For me, it's hard to be precise about it. I don't have a one-to-one correspondence between the degree of someone's moral transgression and my extent of moral disgust. Like, I can acknowledge that there are a few people who are more repellent than Tywin Lannister (Gregor, Roose, Ramsey, Euron), but anyone beyond Tywin has basically reached my maximum level of revulsion, so it's a plateau from there on out. Ramsey might be worse than Roose, but they're both absolutely monstrous to me, so it's hard to really say. As for Euron, the full extent of his monstrosity remains to be confirmed. There are certainly some disturbing hints though. For those who have read The Forsaken chapter in TWOW, Added to that, there are indications that he is a greenseer, and by extension also a skinchanger. Given this, and Thistle's resistance to Varamyr's attempted possession, it's possible that Euron's removing the tongues of his crew hints at his successful possession of these people--he made it easier for himself to enter their minds the first time, and repeatedly, until they stopped resisting. Chilling. Okay I feel gross....
  12. I agree that Dany's "rescuing" of the Lhazarene women highlights some really selective reasoning on her part. For me, though, the most egregious moment comes after Mirri Maz Duur makes it clear to Dany why she intervened so viciously: it was revenge, because Dany was guilty of atrocity. Dany was a conqueror, gathering slaves and resources for further conquest. The damage to the Lhazarene had already been done by the time Dany had stepped in, and Dany wasn't condeming the murder, desolation, and enslavement--just the rape. Dany's actions were ultimately hollow, even if they were sincerely felt. Mirri's actions against Drogo and Rhaego were certainly monstrous, but she was absolutely correct. But Dany has not even a moment acknowledging the truth of her words, then or later. She thinks of Eroeh, and the futility of her protection given her future murder--but not of the damage that had already been done for the sake of her crown. Not only that, but Dany doesn't even kill Mirri in the heat of passion; nor does she give her a swift execution that is rationalized by some notion of justice. Her execution is premeditated, but it is cold revenge as excruciating blood sacrifice. Notes of Stannis, but to me closer to the calculated, seething rage of Tywin. I concede that, especially by the time of ADWD, when she has had ample experience of grabbing and holding power, Dany's reflections on Robert's Rebellion show some signs that she's not being as logical and reflective as she could be with respect to Robert and Ned. Indeed, her talk about Ned with Barristan ends abruptly because she thinks about Hazzea, and how she is now the mother of monsters--and she pushes away the thought, without closing the loop on Ned. We don't know everything that went through her head, and her later attempts to reign in her dragons and to make compromises for peace indicate that there was some attempt to atone for her oversteps. But, especially after her final chapter, I think it's clear that Dany is going through this in a very piecemeal fashion in her head, not putting it all together for a coherent picture of what others have done, what she has done, and what it means for her vision of the world. She's thinking very selectively, reactively. In the short term, this can have some grave consequences as she embraces her role as conqueror once again. Still, I do think that, by stories' end, Dany will have a more honest, comprehensive, view on her life story, including how her early life trauma was rooted more in her father's madness and cruelty than in Ned's rebellion against such injustice.
  13. I agree that Sandor has a link to Brienne and to Dunk as being a not-actually-a-knight who proves to be truer and more heroic than most actual knights. Or at least, he has shown some promise in that respect, and following his recovery/rebirth on the Quiet Isle, will likely take greater steps in that direction. He is also quite tall. But, I think, the parallels stop there. For Brienne, her "establishing shot" in the ASOIAF story is one that, visually, would look almost identical to the conclusion of the legendary Dunk melee. For Sandor, he has several scenes in AGOT before the tourney, and in that key scene gallantly intervenes to protect Loras the trickster. For Dunk and Brienne, there is the possible interpretation that knighthood has been made to be beastly. For Sandor, it's the opposite: the Hound, who we know to be an angry cynic who hates knights and wants to kill his brother, in fact looks quite chivalrous in this scene (it's even noted that he avoids making any swipes at Gregor's unprotected head). Structurally, visually, and thematically, it's quite different from the other two. Sandor, Brienne, and Dunk are all used by GRRM to explore the question "what is a true knight anyway?," but I think Brienne and Dunk are used to explore the question in ways that are closer to one another than they are to Sandor's narrative. Potentially, Brienne is somewhere in between the other two, connecting them, though that will be clearer by the next book. Sandor is the long-disillusioned Romantic who eventually learns that ideals are important to have after all; his arc seems to be largely one of redemption and renewal. Brienne is the young idealist who seriously risks losing her ideals amidst the punishing ordeals of her reality: a potential Hound (or Pretty Meris)-in-waiting. But Brienne is also someone who adopts the role of a knight despite a severe social disadvantage: her gender. This is similar to Dunk, who adopts the role of a knight despite his severe disadvantages relating to class. And this similarity gives their respective arcs a similar structure, at least in terms of establishing and proving themselves. Not to mention that Brienne can be a bit clueless in reasoning sometimes, and has even been called "thick as a castle wall." However, given that we know that the D&E series will end with the tragedy of Summerhall, I am guessing that Dunk's narrative arc will be how his role and responsibilities as protector will change and grow more complicated as he, and especially his charge Egg, will rise in power. So they all seem unique, but Brienne's story just seems to have deep connections to Dunk, whereas Sandor does not. I guess what you say about Bonifer Hasty is technically possible, but there are so many unknowns in that sense, that I don't feel comfortable resting on so many assumptions. It doesn't feel parsimonious to me, though I acknowledge that we don't know everything that GRRM has in mind.
  14. That's fair. I could have reworded that comment better. I stand by my position that it's a sleight of hand on GRRM's part, but it's a very well done sleight of hand, and so it doesn't actually read as ambiguous on its own. The reason I called it ambiguous is because I was able to tease out a plausible alternative interpretation to the exchange, one that is compatible with the Blackfyre Theory. But, sure, I concede that on the face of it, the passage reads simply and naturally like he's correcting Kevan about Rhaegar's son. GRRM can be rather devious when he wants to be. Why do I seek out an alternative interpretation? Because the face-value interpretation raises major questions for other details in the story. If Aegon is simply Rhaegar's son, then all of the details surrounding Illyrio that are crammed into Tyrion's first three ADWD chapters just amount to one big, obscenely indulgent tangent. To say nothing about the existence of the Blackfyre Rebellion itself. I appreciate that Dunk & Egg is its own series, but there have been several mentions of the Blackfyres and the Golden Company's motives in ASOIAF proper. I think that GRRM is generally quite economical with his worldbuilding. If a worldbuilding tidibit doesn't directly support the scene it's mentioned in, it often serves as foreshadowing for later events. So, if someone doesn't end up trying to further the Blackfyre cause in the present timeline, I will say that GRRM had slopped up his own story. (EDIT: Similarly, I think R + L = J is a thing, but in-story it hasn't actually been revealed. Having two secret Targaryen princes in the story would be a bad writing choice, particularly since one of the characters was just recently introduced. But, to have the recently introduced hero-interloper announce himself in-story as a secret Targ prince, while ultimately proving to be false, is a good way of getting naive readers to think about this notion of secret Targs, to ramp up the foreshadowing, so the Jon reveal wouldn't feel like it came out of nowhere.) So, I am convinced that Aegon is a Blackfyre. Based that belief, and on my understanding of GRRM's ambiguous writing of key scenes in past books, I attempted to correct for the sleight of hand, and I provided my interpretation in the comment you quoted.
  15. Ultimately, I think that this approach is something that we need to take for all kinds of topics. At this point, we all have a fairly fixed perception of what's going on in the narrative and where we anticipate it will go. Obviously, if posters are having fun and learning from one another, then it makes sense to continue posting and hashing things out. But if the discussion is marked by frustration, exasperation, or even just the sense of stasis after everything, of no change from any party....well, the posters can always agree to disagree and wait it out. Such an approach is certainly better than to develop animosity or a bad faith dynamic, which I sense has developed among some commenters (not on this particular thread, I don't think).
  16. I think that's a fair defense of Ser Bonifer. I just thought I should mention, in defense of Brienne being the one with a special connection to Dunk, she seems to be written with significant parallels with Dunk. It's not simple a matter of height and a shield. They both start as not-officially-knights who prove themselves to be the truest knights around. They both reluctantly take in a youth who they start to mentor and protect. Brienne is first seen by Catelyn in a tourney melee in which she wins by bringing her opponent to the ground, very similar to how Dunk wins his melee trial in The Hedge Knight. It just makes more sense for GRRM to grant that connection to Brienne rather than a minor character like Bonifer Hasty. It's not like this will be plot-relevant information at all, and probably won't even be revealed to the ancestor. So if the familial connection to Dunk serves any sort of purpose, it's probably to highlight for readers the common links of their stories.
  17. I don't quite get the rationale of the dragon eggs. While it's likely the case that Daynes will end up having dragonrider stock as well, it's very unlikely that this would be well known. And even if it were known, why would the Daynes be more likely to hatch dragon eggs than Targaryens or Blackfyres? Why wouldn't Illyrio just give them to his son, Egg?
  18. Barristan does defend Ned to some extent, but he doesn't push his queen very hard, or explain the situation to her. He could have easily explained how Aerys had murdered Ned's father and brother, and that the rebellion was at least for an understandable cause, but he doesn't. He gives her truth, but it's a very guarded truth. From Dany's perspective in AGOT, there was no indication at all that he had kidnapped or raped Lyanna: "Her brother Rhaegar battling the Usurper in the bloody waters of the Trident and dying for the woman he loved." As @Nathan Stark said, Dany has been going on limited information. Jorah may have given a little more context, and Barristan even more, but no one has ever really explained to her what went on and who did what...aside from Viserys. She'll learn eventually though. It will be a tough lesson for her, but I think she'll own up to Ned Stark's decency and her father's lunacy.
  19. I am just wondering what you were thinking here when mentioning Sandor's motives fighting Gregor. We all know that Sandor hates Gregor, and he constantly has talked about how he will kill his brother. To the extent that a huge part of the fandom used to #GetHype with the promise of a CleganeBowl. But the thing is, we already had CleganeBowl early in the story, and it was that altercation at the tourney. Sandor had the perfect opportunity to try to kill Gregor there. It would be in the context of saving Loras from his brother's unsportsmanlike wrath upon losing. It would be shocking, for sure, but he would still be the hero of the day. But...in fact, this is how Sandor fended off Ser Gregor: "Thrice Ned saw Ser Gregor aim savage blows at the hound's-head helmet, yet not once did Sandor send a cut at his brother's unprotected face." —AGOT To me, this is the first indication that Sandor is trying to be a different, better person. Despite pitting himself against the brother he had wanted to kill his entire life, he decided he could be a bigger man than the so-called Mountain.
  20. Agreed. I will say that GRRM's usage of time travel in previous stories indicates that he at least tries to use it carefully. And we all know that he usually makes magical powers more trouble than they're worth, or at least having unforeseen consequences that go well beyond their utility as a plot device. So I'm actually not so worried about the time-traveling Bran part of the story.
  21. Could be. I agree that not every mystery will be revealed by story's end (assuming we ever get to the story's end). I don't think they would actually care about Rhaenys and Aegon, except to use claim of being Rhaegar's son as Young Griff's ticket to the throne and to gather allies in Westeros. If what you propose about Kevan and Pycelle's death is true, perhaps it would just mean Varys wanted an ambiguous murder scene that will divide the court as to who did it. I don't know. I like the observation though.
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