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About Damon_Tor

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    The Mad Maester of Orkmont

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  1. I doubt it. The High Septons have been Hightower creatures by default since the religion became established on the continent, so one would expect a Hightower-aligned High Septon to behave similarly to every other High Septon, but the High Sparrow is a fairly radical departure. The implication of this appears to be that the Hightowers are losing their grip on the Faith. After all this time one has to wonder "why"? To me the Sparrow Movement most closely resembles the zealotry you see from those under the influence of the hivemind in "And Seven Times Never Kill Man" which raises the possibility there is some kind of Mind Control at work, though who is pulling the strings isn't clear. The most obvious candidate would be Bloodraven/The Children of the Forest (they're the alien mind-control gestalt in the series, after all) but it's also possible that with magic returned a gestalt formed among the smallfolk of its own accord due to the proliferation of telepathic genes during the period where magic was inert, which would mean that nobody is at the wheel of that particular truck. I know a lot of people like the idea that the High Sparrow is a Faceless Man, but that doesn't fit well in my opinion. Its also possible that the schism we see in the Citadel between the magic users and the abolitionists exists within the Faith as well, and the High Sparrow is an agent of the magic-using faction.
  2. The Hightowers are the power behind both the Citadel and the Faith, so their control over the culture of Westeros is staggering, and they are almost certainly players in the Mythic game we the readers only get to see peripherally, and I'm inclined to think of them as the head of the First Men Resistance faction against the Children of the Forest , and so form the two poles of that mythic conflict. It's not surprising that the three Kingsguard present at the Tower of Joy were a Hightower, a Dayne and a Whent, three of the most important houses in that faction. I believe Jorah's infatuation with Lynesse and his victory at the tournament were both owed to magical manipulation by the Hightowers. Leyton had some reason for wanting Lynesse on Bear Island at least temporarily so he engineered the situation via sorcery. As to why: Bear Island is one of the few places with relatively easy access to the North Beyond the Wall via the Frozen Shore. If the Hightowers/Citadel/Faith have agents beyond the wall (and they certainly do) then Bear Island makes sense as a point of contact for those agents, especially if one wants to cut the Night's Watch out for some reason. Consider the rift we know exists within the Citadel surrounding magic: there are those who want magic suppressed and those who want to use it. It's possible that at one time messages from the Hightower agents beyond the Wall would pass through Castle Black or one of the other Castles on the Wall, but perhaps as the rift in the Citadel grew wider trust was stretched thin and Leyton wanted a more direct line. Maybe Lynesse had a fairly short mission, to set up agents on Bear Island who would handle correspondences from that point onward, and after it was done she was free to do what she wanted, which meant leaving Jorah. Or maybe she was supposed to stay longer and act as a go-between directly but she went rogue and abandoned her mission. Or maybe once she had accomplished her mission on Bear Island she was supposed to find her way to Essos, and she is still on mission for her family. Supporting this interpretation, Humfrey Hightower seems to have faith that she can and provide him with a fleet.
  3. Are we just going to pretend that Preston isn't doing a multi-part series on Taena right now? I know he's not popular here, but so far his analysis of Taena seems uncontroversial.
  4. The unusual tact of marrying the Stark heir to a Southron girl was supposedly put into Rickard's head by the Maesters. So while it doesn't seem likely that Rickard was plotting against the throne, the Maesters certainly were. Not that this marriage would itself be a threat to the Targaryens, but it was absolutely a move in the long-standing mythic feud between the Citadel/Hightower faction and the Children of the Forest and their puppets (which includes the Targaryens, but more relevant to this plot, the Starks). By mingling the line of House Stark with Whent blood (and thus, likely the blood of House Hoare), it's likely they sought to cut off House Stark from being manipulated by the Children due to the Hoare mental resistance. This is why, of all the Maesters, the Stark children got one of the few with a Valyrian Steel link, there to supervise this project and intervene if necessary. It's also not a coincidence that it just so happened that the drugs he gave Bran had anti-psychic properties.
  5. A weapon yes. Winter with a capital "W" is a doomsday weapon created by the Children of the Forest to force humanity to submit to them. I don't believe the Others are a part of that weapon: I believe the Others are the humans who looked for a solution that did not require submission. They used magic of some sort to adapt themselves to the Winter because that was preferable to surrender, so when the bulk of humanity accepted the terms of the Children and the Winter receded they were forced to retreat with it to the far North. This would leave them understandably bitter towards the rest of humanity: they would think of them as cowards at best and collaborators at worst. It would also make them a more nuanced, tragic sort of villain. What follows from this, is also the idea that the Others are not responsible for the return of the Winter. Most likely the Children designed the curse with a "deadman switch" which would automatically reactivate it if conditions of the treaty failed to be met. After 8000 years those conditions have faded into superstition (things like "There must always be a Stark at Winterfell" but there are likely many more). So as the Winter returns due to these conditions being broken, the Others are simply following it South.
  6. The most interesting names are the ones GRRM seems to have invented wholecloth, names without a real-world counterpart, especially as pertains to family names. To me, tracking those names and deciphering them is a key to some of the deeper mysteries of the series. Some are easily dismissed as being a slight permutation of a real surname (ie, Lancaster -> Lannister) but some are not so easily ignored. For example, the name "Lothston" does not appear to be a real surname, so it appears GRRM invented it. Together with all the weird breadcrumbs about house Lothston scattered around the novels and novellas, one wonders if they are of hidden importance. Any surname with "ton" at the end could be a place name, but with no place called "Loth's Town" or anything similar, we've got to translate it; it appears to mean "Hateful Stone" which is a very interesting name for a house deeply connected to Harrenhal. Then you note that their sigil is a bat (a winged beast) and connect Lucas Lothston to the origins of the Shadow Fire Blackfyre rebellion you start to have a real contender for one of the more obscure lines of prophecy. Then consider that the Whents are almost certainly descended from the Lothstons, and that Catelyn Stark's mother was a Whent. And remember that Sansa was very oddly described as a wolf/bat creature in a very strange dream sequence, and also consider that her trajectory is taking her to a place where she could possibly become Lady of Harrenhal. Many pieces to an interesting puzzle all falling into place simply by analyzing one of a handful of family names GRRM didn't simply pull out of a phonebook.
  7. IMO, #2 is the closest. At the end of ADoS the sun rises, barely pokes above the Southern horizon, then sets again. It's the last time any of our PoV characters see the sun. However, we're left with a full understanding of the prophecy and the knowledge that it is in fulfillment, something we (like our PoV characters) will never see, but we have faith will come. A dream. But there is no big battle with the Others. That isn't the point, and GRRM doesn't write like that.
  8. It's critical to remember that we have no reason to believe The Other cause the Winter. Correlation does not imply causation. My personal hypothesis is that the Winter is a doomsday weapon created by the Children of the Forest, intended to cow the humans into submission and force them to accept their terms. The Others were the humans who refused to bend the knee, and instead used magic to transform themselves into the ice-creatures we see today, creatures who could survive in spite of the Winter. The Winter is back because it's on a deadman's switch, a switch linked to a number of clauses in the treaty between the First Men and the Children. This is automatic, so if there isn't, for example, a Stark in Winterfell, the Winter starts again. When the First Men agreed to the terms of the CotF and they called off the Winter after the war, the Others were forced North to survive. They're coming back now not to bring the Winter (it's coming regardless) but they're going to follow it South and try to reclaim what had been theirs, what was taken from them by what they see as a craven people who would rather prostrate themselves before their enemy and literally worship them as Gods than to make hard choices and live free.
  9. Anyone who wants a peek under GRRM's hood should read Meathouse Man. George is extremely progressive, and on an intellectual level I think he truly believes he is a feminist, but deep down inside him someplace he really seems to hate women.
  10. There's only one explanation I'm aware of that accounts for every word of the stanza. I decided to work backwards from the prophecy, specifically looking for past events that could be a smoking tower, and naturally Harrenhal was the standout. Since we know that the line of House Hoare survived the burning of Harrenhal at least up to Harren the Red, one wonders if the prophecy is about the survival of their bloodline: to this end, one can easily find a "Stone beast taking wing" in the continuing story of Harrenhal. House Lothston has a winged beast for a sigil) and their name appears to mean "hateful stone". Notably, "Lothston" does not appear to be a real surname: it is entirely the invention of GRRM, so one has to wonder how much thought was put into it and why. As for shadow fire, consider that the Blackfyre Rebellion was only possible because Aegon IV indulged his lusts, and that behavior appears to have been enabled by Lucas Lothston, who became known to history as "The Pander" which is another word for a pimp. How much was Lucas responsible for Aegon IV becoming the man he would become? If he was indeed "The Pander" did he do more than arrange for his wife and daughter to bed the king? Did he arrange other trysts? And of course this pandering is what allowed Lucas Lothston to take Harrenhal for himself, and House Lothston would hold Harrenhal longer than any other, seemingly immune to whatever "curse" had driven previous holders into extinction. And it's likely the bloodline continues beyond the death of the last Lothston: when Danelle Lothston fell out of favor (supposedly there was some Dracula nonsense going on, but who knows how true that was) Harrenhal went to House Whent, knights in service of House Lothston. Notably, Whent's sigil is a modification of Lothston's, which usually means the lesser house is a cadet branch of the greater. So who do we know who are descendants of house Whent in our story? Why, Catelyn Stark and all her children of course. And one of those children is currently pretending to be the only daughter of the current Lord of Harrenhal, putting her in a very interesting position in regard to that castle. And what is that daughter currently calling herself? Alayne Stone. And there is a very strange dream she has where she is both a wolf and a bat. Not a fish, the Tully sigil, a bat, the sigil of the Whents and Lothstons. The stone beast takes wing. So the question is, why is this relevant: even if we assume that this is true, that the blood of House Hoare lives on in house Whent and thus in Sansa, why does Daenerys have to slay this particular lie? Why does it matter if a descendant of House Hoare is Lady of Harrenhal? One of the great mysteries of the story is what happened to the dragons? Why did they stop hatching? There are rumors the Citadel or the Faith of the Seven poisoned the dragons, but that's never been confirmed, and it wouldn't explain why no Targaryen was able to hatch new ones for so, so long. But interestingly, there are a few dates that closely align and raise some eyebrows: the last living dragon died only three years after Lucas Lothston took possession of Harrenhal, and Daenerys was able to hatch her dragons after the last Whent was driven from the castle during the War of the Five Kings. Other dates which align perfectly: Aegon the Conqueror decided to conquer Westeros the very same day Harren Hoare took up residence inside the castle. And of course the loss of dragons coincides with the loss of magic. Did magic die because dragons died, or did dragons die because magic did? Unclear, but SOMETHING caused this, and an enduring mystery of the series is: what? Rumors abound that Harrenhall was built of atrocities: rafters cut from Heart Trees, human blood mixed into the mortar. And yet we hear nothing of Harrenhal possessing magical power, except, I suppose, the rumored curse which drove everyone (except, it seems, Lothstons and Whents) from it. Is it possible Harrenhal was built with a specific purpose, a weapon against Dragons, or perhaps against magic in general? Perhaps this magic only works when someone with Hoare's blood holds lordship over the castle: this would explain why the dragons flourished while Harrenhal passed from house to house then died when Lothston took posession and returned when Whent lost it. If Sansa becomes Lady of Harrenhal, which seems possible, would this anti-dragon magic reactivate? Will Daenerys "feel" this threat to her dragons like Aegon seemed to? In any case, it's easy to see how this would create a threat for Daenerys.
  11. Got to agree here. Trying to shoehorn romance into a novel written by the guy who wrote Meathouse Man seems like an exercise in masochism to me.
  12. They lose in the same sense that Jesus "loses" when he's crucified, and it's bittersweet for the same reasons. You need to read some more GRRM if you think he's into "climactic" storytelling. But as I said, this is academic. We will never see book 7. We will never know for sure.
  13. You're making several assumptions. Most notably, you seem to be under the impression that they're going to fight the Others. More damning, you're under the impression they're going fight them and win. The Others aren't there to be "beaten". This is not a story about an evil army of inhuman monsters that need to set on fire. That's not how GRRM works, that's not what he values. If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention. My money is the last book ends with one of the few surviving POV characters watching the last sun rise. It barely peeks over the horizon in the southern sky, then dips down moments later, and is never seen again, at least not in that character's lifetime. They don't "win". At best, some of the characters we care about are "safe" in castles with geothermal heat sources, but Winter with a capital "W" is here and when they say it's going to last a generation they mean exactly that. The ending is "bittersweet" in that we will have some understanding of what the various prophecies mean and the knowledge that they are in fruition, that they will someday bring the Spring, but we the readers, like our narrators, will not get to see it manifest: Spring is, after all, a dream. And for the record, I seriously doubt Daenerys will be the one to live to that last peek of sunlight. The thematics demand she dies in childbirth, literal or figurative. Though she likely makes it JUST to the end. But of course this is all purely academic: Winds of Winter will be released semi-complete by Martin's publisher after they settle their lawsuit against his estate, but we won't get even that for A Dream of Spring. So the ending will forever be for each of us what we want it to be. For many people, that means a big battle with dragons and the "bad guys" lose and "good guys" get medals and have a parade, and that's okay. Maybe it's for the best we never know how it ends. Maybe that was always the plan. Maybe that's even the point.
  14. They aren't "good" either. They are alien. Good and evil aren't useful terms when discussing what the trees and their puppets want: if there's anything GRRM likes writing about, it's utterly alien collective consciousnesses that figure out humans have warm cozy brains to cuddle up inside. Evil? No, but nothing approaching human concepts of morality can be applied to them.
  15. To figure out Arya's future, we've got to figure out what the Faceless Men are up to. Why is "Jaquen Hagar" in Westeros, specifically in the Red Keep's dungeon? I'm operating on the assumption he was exactly where he wanted to be, as we have no reason to believe otherwise. As such, it seems likely his goal was to travel North and join the Night's Watch. But why? We're later shown that full face-shifting abilities like his are very rare, something only a very advanced member of their cult can achieve, so what target North of the Wall is so dangerous they had to send one of their best, who has information-gather abilities which require establishing an identity half a continent away? There's only one who fits this description, and that would be Bloodraven. It's not difficult to guess at a reason the Faceless Men would want Bloodraven dead. His continued life-beyond-life could easily be seen as an affront to nature: the Many Faced God has been cheated, and all men must die. Or maybe there's more to it. Maybe they're taking sides int he Great War (not that it's entirely clear what side Bloodraven is on, but that's another matter) Maybe they were paid to kill Bloodraven decades ago by Bittersteel and have been trying ever since. We don't have anything concrete here, but none of the speculation requires much of a stretch. So what changed? Bloodraven changed: Bloodraven took an apprentice. It isn't clear exactly when or how "Hagar" knew this had happened, but when it did clearly his plan had to change. Bloodraven had taken on a powerful psychic, Brandon Stark, to be his heir, and the Faceless Man no longer felt up to the task, but the Many Faced God had given him a gift, another powerful psychic of that same bloodline. Leaving for Oldtown for unknown purposes, the Faceless Man sent Arya off to Braavos to be indoctrinated into his order. So her purpose then, as far as the Faceless Men are concerned, would be to kill Bloodraven, who by the conclusion of the story will be indistinguishable from Bran in one way or another. Will she do it? Will she who was once Arya kill the thing that was once Bran?
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