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Lord Varys

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  1. Robert's Rebellion was no rebellion against the Iron Throne as such, neither were the Blackfyre Rebellions (and of those only one is confirmed to have been a major thing, the First, and even that only last about a year). Nope, there were no wars of significance throughout the reigns of Jaehaerys I and Viserys I. And as I said above, even the huge bloodletting of the Dance didn't involve most/all regions - there was no war in the Vale, no war in the North, no war in Dorne, no war in the Stormlands that we know of, and no war in most of the Reach, and most of the West. Most of the war took place in the Riverlands, the Crownlands, and the along the march line of the Hightower army. That doesn't mean the Dance didn't affect the Realm at large due to trade being disrupted, etc. but vast regions got completely unscathed out of that war. And that was the most devastating war in Westerosi history (at least supposedly). By comparison the Blackfyre Rebellion, issues with the Vulture Kings, etc. were milder affairs. Daeron's Conquest was another huge war, to be sure, but even that one mostly affected Dorne (and the other regions only in the sense that men went to war and never came back - but war and destruction didn't come to their lands). There are the Wars of Conquest (pretty bloodless affairs, if you look at them in detail), and then the First Dornish War. That's it. Maegor fought smaller campaigns against the Faith, but that wasn't a proper war. More like slaughtering rabble, and Prince Aegon never had the chance to fight a proper war, either. A single battle isn't a war. How do you know that? Do you know how bloody the wars between the Seven Kingdoms prior to the Conquest were? Or how long some of those wars lasted? The wars under the Targaryens were all pretty short affairs. And, you know, rebellions and wars of successions would have been common in the Seven Kingdoms in addition to the continuous warfare among those kingdoms. Or do you think no Stark, Lannister, Gardener, Arryn, Durrandon, etc. ever challenged the succession at sword point? Not to mention great lords in the border regions betraying their lords to other kings, etc. That isn't the case. Most men don't die in war. This is medieval warfare. People clash and when the lines break one side is going to win. The victor doesn't butcher thousands of men in the enemy army. Men fighting in wars don't take the black. Why should they? Victors send, perhaps, defeated lords and rebels to the Wall, but not common men. They go home to their farms and fields and families.
  2. There are no such independence movements. Euron Greyjoy wants to sit the Iron Throne, not win independence for his worthless rocks. The kingdom of the North and the Trident did not form out of a desire for independence but out of a war council where people basically didn't know what else to do. The Stormlands have no independence movement whatsoever (Lyonel Baratheon crowned himself, but not for the sake of independence but to get back at his former friend and king for a broken marriage contract), especially not since House Baratheons claims the Iron Throne. And there is no indication whatsoever that the Vale wants to split, and most definitely not Dorne. There is definitely a struggle for power within the framework of the system, but most regions do not want to see their great lords wear crowns. We know there was continuous warfare in Westeros prior to the Conquest. There is no way around that. And there is no continuous warfare in Westeros since the Conquest.
  3. Well, we don't know but neither can out guys in Westeros. Did Maegor the Cruel meet Arthur Dayne to check his abilities? Or did Dunk and the Dragonknight ever meet each other? No. People can only judge the abilities of the people they knew - some men, like Selmy, have met and judge the abilities of a lot of warriors, so if he Arthur Dayne was better than Ser Duncan the Tall (in his later years) or Gregor Clegane would have been no match against Maelys the Monstrous then I would take his opinion on such matters seriously. Aside from that, every generation of knights would have 'the best knights of Westerosi history' and the best of those (or that with the largest fame) would then enter the pantheon of the greatest knights ever among who many Kingsguard, royal princes, great knights and lords, etc. find themselves. The latter are those we learn about, those who end up being mentioned alongside the legendary heroes in song and story.
  4. Lord Varys

    Most Powerful Houses- what evidence?

    She likely ate something. Silverwing might not necessarily be dependent on humans to provide her with food. Especially not in the North. The whole thing was a process of slow decline - the weaker the NW, the more endangered is the North. The Umbers and clansmen can't protect their smallfolk from raiders, either. A truly fertile land would quickly allow the people working it to spread through the North like men spread through the Reach. But that never happened. The North is weak because the people spread out and thus unable to defend themselves against savages with ridiculous weapons and armor. Either they are too stupid to build strong and fortified towns or keeps in the lands close to the Wall, or they lack the means - and some of those means would be resources in food and people to do the work. If the population of the Gifts lived, of the most part, in fortified market towns like Stoney Sept the wildlings would be no real threat to them (unless they came by the thousands). I guess you have to wait and see what winter does to the wildlings, no? And the North. We have yet to see that. Summer is a thing beyond the Wall, too. But long winters are likely routinely cutting the population up there in half, or reducing it even more. Fertile lands in Westeros wouldn't be lands where people can only live (barely) in summer. It would be those lands on which people can also thrive in winter. And those lands simply aren't in the North. Living in the northern reaches of Westeros means you basically play Russian Roulette with your own life, considering that every winter could be longer and crueler than the provisions you and your village can get from the land you live allow you to survive. And you know this. But down in the Reach surviving winter doesn't pose even remotely the same kind of problem.
  5. George might certainly make notes and stuff, writing down ideas (if that's how he works, he could also juggle things in his head and forget, misremember and change them without ever putting them to paper or screen), but it seems he really doesn't write the kind of things we would call proper outlines - which, by and far, are basically plans for an entire novel or even a series of novels, setting down the skeleton and a lot of flesh of the story that's supposed to be written. Authors working with such outlines also tweak things here and there while they write, but if they stick to the outline the story doesn't change all that much. George has gone on record that he doesn't like to know where his own stories go, he doesn't like wasting time and energy mapping out stuff in detail and having to go back and write all that out. For him that seems to be somewhat mechanical. He likes to work directly with the story he is writing, one word, page, chapter at a time. But if you work that way, you simply do not have a proper outline. I mean, we all can reasonably guess at what the story is about and where it is going in its very broad strokes. But we all have no clue what's going to happen to the main characters, and neither does George. Or rather: he doesn't know it with the same security as he would know it if he had already written and finished the series. Because he doesn't know how things do change on the way. I don't doubt that there are arcs and plot elements that will remain - more or less - the same as George originally imagined them. But, quite frankly, I don't think those are all that many. The very fact that there was no five-year-gap (and prior to that no considerable passage of time during the first three books) might have made that impossible. Not to mention the introduction of many additional characters.
  6. Lord Varys

    Military Strengths and More!

    @Switzeran (Don't you feel for those Swedes who so nearly kicked out 'my team' and spared me from looking more games with the family ;-)?) I guess there might be some potential among the lesser prominent/known houses for those men who are willing to throw away their lives in winter, considering Robb started his war in summer when other types of men would have been drawn to his banner and would have been conscripted by him and his lords. The Ryswells and the Dustins and the Flints and Lockes and Tallharts might still have some of that sort left. The Umbers and Karstarks clearly are down to these types of guys, and Stannis' clansmen are completely made up of such people, too (they are not all old and useless mouths, but they are willing to die 'for the Ned's little girl' all the same). And if we take that into account then the Boltons have already lost. Their men don't see his cause as a thing they want to die for. Even if the battle went very badly for Stannis, if you have men who simply refuse to break or yield no matter how the odds are, men who gladly die in battle, then your army has an insane advantage. The really interesting question is how many men will survive the pointless battles between Stannis and the Boltons. If one of those becomes another Fishfeed then the loss of life would be considerable, playing right into the hands of the Others. Right now Stannis and Roose combined have about 10,000 men, give or take. How many men will survive and be able to continue the fight after everything is over? Three quarters of them? Two thirds? Only half? Or even fewer? One hopes the survivors will make their way to the Wall to lend the guys up there a hand. Any other conventional campaign in the middle of winter would be utter madness.
  7. He constantly rewrites things. That's why everything looks as well planned as it does. But it isn't. It never was. The man starts with a less complex story and then, in the middle of the writing process he comes up with a better, more interesting idea, and then he goes back and rewrites the earlier chapters. And so on and so forth. And it shows. I mean, in light of what we know now AGoT could need a good rewrite - not all that much in regards to plot lines, but in regards to world-building elements and background details. Ned should think about his mother Lyarra Stark, when he visits Lord Rickard and the others in the crypts. The idea that George knows character arcs doesn't seem to be the case. He knows he where he wants to go, but whether he ends up feeling the plants in his garden will suffer that design at this point is by no means clear. If the structure of the garden doesn't allow George to write the story he originally wanted to write he won't write that story. That's why he abandoned the five-year-gap. If you know character arcs and outcomes you basically have an outline. A very rough outline perhaps, but still an outline. And that's not the gardening approach. That's just writing along and looking where the story takes you, not taking the story where you want it to go.
  8. Lord Varys

    What did Eddard want to do with Rhaegar's children?

    An infant cannot really take the black. Prince Aegon could have been made a ward of the Crown which was handed to the Faith to be raised to become a septon. Considering the Great Sept is in KL that wouldn't have been that big of a risk. Sure, problems could have come from that later in life, but not necessarily. If Robert hadn't bloodied his throne to the extent that he did - not punishing the murderer of Aerys II and allowing the murder of the children to go unpunished - the remaining Targaryen loyalists (especially the Martells) wouldn't have had that great an issue with the new Baratheon regime. And Princess Rhaenys (or Daenerys) would have been ideally suited to be married to Robert's heir, just like Jaehaera married Aegon III.
  9. Sorry, no. Even, the Dance, supposedly the most devastating war in Westerosi history, was a relative bloodless affair as far as we know. Sure, there was a lot of fighting in the Riverlands, in the Crownlands, in the Gullet, and in the Reach along the marching line of the Hightower army - but that's it, as far as we know. Dorne, most of the Reach, most of the West (the Ironborn only ravaged the coasts), the entire North, the entire Vale, and the Stormlands were not affected by the fighting. This doesn't mean that not thousands of people died, but it is pretty obvious that many a Westerosi living through the Dance could have shrugged this war off just as the people of the Vale shrug the so-called War of the Five Kings off, claiming that there is peace in the Seven Kingdoms - at least at the part where they are living. And the Blackfyre rebellions all seem to have been shorter and more bloodless affairs than the Dance.
  10. Lord Varys

    Most Powerful Houses- what evidence?

    Queenscrown never feasted Queen Alysanne and her entire entourage. She flew to the Wall on her dragon, and you don't carry an entourage on your dragon. It wasn't even part of the New Gift back then, because the New Gift wasn't yet made. But those lands up there aren't 'good farmland' if you compare them to good Westerosi farmland. That's in the Reach and the Vale and the West and the Riverlands. Apparently, those lands weren't worth it to stay there and fight for them when the strength of the NW declined. Really 'good farmland' should allow you to produce a surplus to multiply your numbers and to build up the strength to fight off some savages who try to steal your women and your winter provisions, no? It is a merit point that Jojen Reed cannot be an expert on the quality of farmland, considering the circumstances he lives in and the fact that he first left the Neck when he went to Winterfell. But we can extend this to most of nobility, of course. When it comes to judging farmlands then the average lord should have pretty much no clue what this means. They rule the land, they do not work it, nor do they learn how to work it as far as we know.
  11. The Realm has long been united. The North, the Iron Islands, and Dorne are still somewhat set apart, but even they need really good enough incentives (or mad enough rulers) to go along with a secessionist movement. The Seven Kingdoms are one, and it is a ridiculous idea for anyone in the West, the Stormlands, the Reach, the Vale, or the Riverlands that they could become an 'independent kingdom' once again. There is no benefit in that whatsoever.
  12. Lord Varys

    Most Powerful Houses- what evidence?

    @Corvo the Crow While your reasoning makes some sense on a technical level, the problem is that we do not have complete maps. We know there are woods in the North, the Reach, the Riverlands, etc. which are nowhere to be seen on the maps we have. The maps we have include only some of them - some of them the largest forests in Westeros. We have no idea whether there are as many forests (in smaller pieces, to insignificant to make it on the maps) in the Umber lands than there are in the Karstark lands. The Umbers do have wood to spare considering that they were ask to provide the Manderlys with the wood to build a fleet for Robb. I mean, there are a lot of places - castles, towns, villages, etc. especially in the Riverlands - that never made it on any maps, never mind that they are of considerable significance for the plot of the novels. Not even TWoIaF or TLoIaF rectified that issue, sadly. And when we cut down to the chase of the men then it might be that the Umbers chose to send more of their woodsfolk to Robb while keeping their farmers behind to bring in what crops they had still on the fields. We have no reason to believe - especially in the North where the armies were marshaled very quickly - that the various lords recruited men in a way to allow us to make representative guesstimates on the profession of the men that joined the armies. That isn't 'good farmland' by Westerosi standards, it is just land where people barely survive in huts and hovels. The Valley of the Thenns seems to be somewhat miraculously fertile when compared to the average land north of the Wall but even that land can likely not compete with really fertile land in Westeros. The farther north we go, the longer winter has the lands in its grip, and the lesser rewards any lands is going to give you when you compare it to land in the south (where winter's teeth are not felt as strongly - or not at all). Even if we assume that the lands in the northern reaches of Westeros were as fertile as those in the south when we look at the fertility of the soil, etc. then there is still the issue of the summer snows and the longer, crueler winters. In the Reach, Dorne, the Vale, the Riverlands, and the West people might already bring in their first or second harvest while the North is still in winter's grip (either in spring or still in winter which isn't all that wintery in those regions), while they might also reap some more harvests in autumn while autumn storms (like the one that has hit Stannis and Roose right now) destroy all the crops left on the fields in the North. All that has effects on the quality of the food and the heath, life expectancy and quality of the population up in the northern regions.
  13. Lord Varys

    Loyal Houses

    No, they supposedly know ways how you can get to Moat Cailin to attack it from the sides and not from behind. But you don't need the crannogmen for that, you can also just take the castle the Ironborn way, as Victarion did. However, chances are pretty bad that either strategy would have worked while Moat Cailin was still a proper castle, manned and held by a sizable garrison. The crannogmen are no real threat to Moat Cailin, nor is it likely that a properly armed army with armored warhorses and knights can pass through the Neck the crannogmen way. At least not without scouts seeing them. And then - getting an army north of the Neck doesn't you mean you have conquered the North. Many an Andal king would have landed armies in the North by ship, anyway. They were then defeated or retreated, and one actually assumes that the men the Arryns sent to the North after the Seven Kingdoms had formed were more numerous than the small armies of petty First Men and Andal kings.
  14. Lord Varys

    Loyal Houses

    See above: What when two branches of House Stark fought for control of the North. Do you assume by default the Manderlys knew magically who would win the struggle and who had the right of it in the conflict? Nobody credits the crannogmen about keeping invasion forces out of the North.
  15. Lord Varys

    Loyal Houses

    No, we actually can shut up about stuff we don't know anything about. We don't have to, though ;-). Man, you don't understand. Were the Greens or the Blacks disloyal, or were they both loyal to House Targaryen? They were, but to different branches of said house. And from the point of view of the other branch they were the vilest of traitors. If there were succession and civil wars in the North then treasonous branches of the Houses Reed and Manderly may have been eradicated, while those loyal to the winner of those struggles might have been rewarded with the lands and titles of the traitors. The idea that the members of those Northern houses just magically always chose the right side - the side of 'the rightful king' as well as the side of the guy who would win the war - is fitting for a fairy-tale setting but not this series. However, I'm reasonably confident that neither the Manderlys nor the Reeds are likely to have ever tried to crown themselves. The idea that the Reeds rule the Neck for 4,000 years is nowhere confirmed, though, nor whether they were the house that bent the knee to the Starks or even the first house to rule the Neck after the last Marsh king gave up his crown. There could have been other houses ruling the Neck in-between, especially since the Reeds are only the first among equals not some great overlords. This doesn't the Manderlys didn't involve themselves in schemes and plots to control Winterfell during the various marriages between these two houses. It is easy to be loyal to a house when it is just one dude with a bunch of kids (as it is during the series) and quite another when House Stark has a lot of brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, etc. to contend with. I mean, it isn't always as clear who the rightful guy in charge is, no? Not when crowns are at stake, and definitely not in the North where the men eat you alive when you are not strong.
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