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the trees have eyes

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  1. I think there are two different arguments "for" Ramsay. The first is the institutionalist view: The NW are duty bound to remain neutral, whatever the character and deeds of the rulers, and The Warden of The North and his son are the legitimate authority in The North. This view also tries to compartmentalise what the reader knows about Ramsay (and Roose) and imagine only what Marsh knows. This is a narrow and limited point of view but it's a basis to really assess Marsh's actions (and Jon's) rather than Ramsay's, Ramsay himself being irrelevant to the argument. The second is the team colours point of view: Jon = "bad" so those against Jon = "good" overstates it but those against him are certainly given a partial read. I'm thinking less Ramsay here and more Marsh (or Slynt), there not being much anyone can say about Ramsay except the institutionalist argument for looking the other way.
  2. Mel will definitely get there and it will be fascinating to see. I think she'll simply see Stannis as having led her to Jon and her work in converting Stannis to R'hllor as beneficial and necessary for humanity's salvation and R'hllor's glory, not a failure at all. The casualties are collateral damage and Mel is definitely a believer in the end justifies the means. Loras killed his friends in grief and rage over his lover's death, a hot-blooded action if ever there was one and he feels remorse later. Mel is calculating and her killings (and sacrifices) are tactical and considered calmly. I think she'll just see her mis-diagnosis / failings as bumps in the road to reaching her main goal. Stannis locked them in The Shield Hall until they elected a Lord Commander. He also wanted to take over the garrisoning of the abandoned NW castles. From a distance the first looks like interfering in, even rigging, the election of the next LC and the second would obliterate any image or any vestige of NW neutrality. A lot is made of NW neutrality as a sacred principle and how Jon breaches it over (F)Arya but if he let Stannis take the castles he would be picking a side for all to see. The Lannisters and Boltons would have no trouble concluding which side he had chosen. Jon does pretty well in keeping Stannis at bay. Stannis is also the only person who turned up after all the requests for help. There is both a kind of obligation and a coincidence of purpose in Jon helping Stannis obliquely. This offends the neutrality purists but it seems logical to me. Whether Jon helps discreetly or not, Stannis's actions and presence explode NW neutrality. Speaking generally: I have seen some comments that Ramsay's actions are unknown in The North or at The Wall, him merely being the legitimised son of the Warden of The North. Ramsay's true nature is known in The North, even if the scale of his depravity is not. Lady Hornwood's fate is well known (how not?) and Ramsay only lived because he swapped clothes with Reek. Ser Rodrik believed he had killed Ramsay and brought back his serving man, Reek, who professed his innocence, to await trial for involvement in his master's crimes. The first few moments after the stabbing are going to be chaotic. Wun Wun makes for a pretty big distraction and a giant on the warpath is not something I would want to turn my back on. Leathers could yell at him in The Old Tongue to come and marmalise Marsh or he could rush over to try and keep The Queen's Men from attacking him. Mel, Val, Selyse are all wildcards who could have a large influence on what happens. I would love it if we could finally have this scenario play out on page .
  3. If you find Robert burning people with wildfire for shit and giggles or roasting one of his lords in his own armour instead of a duel while his son strangled himself trying to escape the torture machine he was bound in then we'll talk. Aerys attempting to remove Ned after he had killed his father and brother has a cruel logic to it but is short-sighted; but striking at Robert is foolish as it unites two Houses in opposition and the marriage alliance network makes that four. Robert striking at a pregnant Dany is cruel but it's precisely to avoid the threat of a Targaryen heir leading an invasion and sparking a civil war. Exactly what happens in ADWD when (F)Aegon attacks The Stormlands. It's why there is no voice in opposition on The Small Council except Ned. Note that Robert later rescinds the order..... Of course he's a character. You know very well this is still evasion but your m.o. is shift away from the point you can't answer - evidence of Robert being regarded as a tyrant in the books- and try and focus on the red herring. It's kind of lame. You really haven't. You've made a series of allegations that don't amount to anything like what you claim. Even where they amount to behaviour on Robert's part that deserves criticism it's laughable to deem them tyranny, which has a specific political and governmental meaning. You don't like Robert? Fine. I'll not try and persuade you otherwise but there's no reason to make illogical claims out of dislike. There is no evidence of rape. Before you get on your moral high horse this is a society where marital rape is not recognised and marriages are arranged. Most people have no say in who they sleep with and most women have no say (legally) about when they sleep with their husband. Cersei objects to Robert claiming his rights but she has a way of dealing with it: A Game of Thrones - Eddard XII She lifted her head, defiant. "Your Robert got me with child once," she said, her voice thick with contempt. "My brother found a woman to cleanse me. He never knew. If truth be told, I can scarcely bear for him to touch me, and I have not let him inside me for years. I know other ways to pleasure him, when he leaves his whores long enough to stagger up to my bedchamber. Whatever we do, the king is usually so drunk that he's forgotten it all by the next morning." If you want rape and murder you're better off looking at Roose, Ramsay or Gregor Clegane. Robert murdered no one. The murder of Rhaegar's children was carried out by Tywin's henchmen on Tywin's orders to prove he had thrown his lot in with Robert. Robert orders the assassination of Dany, an order he rescinds on his deathbed while acknowledging it was wrong. Robert did not "terrify" Ned to raise his nephew. He literally did nothing other than express a total lack of remorse over the murder of Rhaegar's children by Tywin's men. You set so low a bar for tyranny that it is absurd. Ned simply acts prudently to protect his blood. Who knows? If the child looked like Ned (or Lyanna) maybe Robert would not give a shit as it's Rhaegar and Targaryens he hates not Ned and Starks. Robert does not "disrespect laws". He orders the release of a man seized without adequate evidence and tries to damp down the rising tension between two powerful Houses. He does it in typical half-arsed Robert style but it's so laughably far from tyranny that I can't make sense of your obsessive focus on this. It's not a 21st century democracy: of course Ned (who claimed Cat acted on his orders), Cat, Jaime and Tyrion are going to receive preferential treatment, they are all connected to the ruling family by marriage alliances and are powerful feudal figures with private armies! This is simply not how the people of Westeros would see it. We don't have monarchy anymore. No one is trying to defend monarchy. But viewing Robert as a tyrant because he is a human being with flaws who happens to be king is pointless. Is he better or worse than people expect/fear, does he allow people to live in relative peace or does he terrorise his nobles or oppress the Smallfolk because he's insane (Aerys) or sees it as some diabolical way of reinforcing his power or extorting wealth (Ivan the Terrible)? Better, yes and no. Is there any point to this rejoinder? We know this and we both know Robert could have followed up but didn't because he is lazy, sloppy and wants to avoid prolonging the crisis. Not because he's some terrible tyrant.... I'm assuming your familiar with the Catnapping arguments. Cat's visit to KL was in secret so as not to tip off the Lannisters that the Starks are on to them (the purpose of her visit is to let Ned know about the attempted murder of Bran). Ned orders Cat to prepare for war (Manderly to build ships and for Moat Cailin defences to be repaired) but to do nothing openly while he gathers evidence against the Lannisters to put before Robert to take them down while forestalling war. Cat's trip back is supposed to be in secret too but she gets careless leading to the chance encounter with Tyrion at The Inn. If she lets him go he will tell his siblings of her presence and situation which looks so suspicious (only one retainer, Winterfell's master-at-arms) and, as they are believed to be all working together and behind the attack on Bran, they will realise they have been rumbled and move against Ned. Taking Tyrion prevents him warning them and gives her a hostage against them striking at Ned. Of course, it's a split second decision and does not work as intended.... Um, are you suggesting Cat could have had Tyrion chopped up by Ser Rodrik right at The Crossroads Inn? The accused can demand trial by combat as Tyrion does at The Eyrie and at KL. Lysa's justice is not justice at all of course and Arya provides evidence that The Hound confessed to killing Mycah, something The Hound himself confirms. Unlike Sandor, Tyrion protests his innocence. I don't see anything to indicate Robert abusing the justice system like Lysa. Quite obviously, ordering Tyrion's release would have spared him that mockery of justice at The Eyrie. I'm glad you accept there are no grounds for holding Tyrion that would not be uncovered by simple enquiry. When you say the case you of course mean the investigation, not the trial. Ned is conducting the investigation and does not intend to go before Robert until he has proof as Robert is married into the family he is investigating. That's usually called a conflict of interest that hinders objectivity not tyranny. Sheesh. Does any of that have anything to do with tyranny? Greyjoy launches a bid for independence not because Robert is a tyrant but simply because he wants to be a king too. Robert actually leaves him as Lord Paramount of The Iron Islands. That's how much of a tyrant he is Dorne wants vengeance for Elia and her children not justice for Robert's "tyranny". They get that with the punishment or untimely deaths of the Lannisters who ordered and carried out the murders. There are indeed Targaryen loyalists like the Darrys who fought on the other side in the civil war. Are they persecuted or do they tick along ok? Are they proscribed and attainted, on the run and hunted and watched by the secret police and agents of The Crown or are they just ticking along in peace? Barristan The Bold sums up Robert's approach, forgive and forget (#Rhaegarexcepted). Robert stayed at the Darrys' castle, that's how little he held their previous allegiance against them or feared assassination. Don't dissemble and attempt smart rejoinders. We are discussing Robert's handling of Cat's seizure of Tyrion which you allege to be tyrannical. There is a piece of evidence, yes, but it is not evidence against Tyrion. Robert absolutely believes that it does. He may be weak, foolish and misguided but he is trying to avoid conflict. I don't see why that is hard to understand, particularly as he knows nothing about Jon Arryn being murdered or the lies that Lysa has told Catelyn at LF's instigation. Yes, but as you invited me earlier let's avoid blanket statements shall we? The people living under the monarch have more of a say than you seem to allow them. Like the Ironborn parading the captive women on The Shield Islands into the Hall and raping one of them on the table right then and there? I mean if this what happened it's a fairly damning incident but is it? It surely would. The people are praying for a king who will re-establish order and protect them not setting up communes for self-government or working on a Bill of Rights. And it can't have escaped you that the breakdown in law and order followed Robert's death so the popular unrest is a reflection of civil war, famine and carnage not a popular movement against his tyranny. Beric specifically acted on a command from Ned in Robert's name and un-Beric is clear that he is defending the people of the realm in the King's stead. He is doing his duty and filling a vacuum until order is re-established. A Storm of Swords - Arya VI "When we left King's Landing we were men of Winterfell and men of Darry and men of Blackhaven, Mallery men and Wylde men. We were knights and squires and men-at-arms, lords and commoners, bound together only by our purpose." The voice came from the man seated amongst the weirwood roots halfway up the wall. "Six score of us set out to bring the king's justice to your brother." The speaker was descending the tangle of steps toward the floor. "Six score brave men and true, led by a fool in a starry cloak." A scarecrow of a man, he wore a ragged black cloak speckled with stars and an iron breastplate dinted by a hundred battles. A thicket of red-gold hair hid most of his face, save for a bald spot above his left ear where his head had been smashed in. "More than eighty of our company are dead now, but others have taken up the swords that fell from their hands." When he reached the floor, the outlaws moved aside to let him pass. One of his eyes was gone, Arya saw, the flesh about the socket scarred and puckered, and he had a dark black ring all around his neck. "With their help, we fight on as best we can, for Robert and the realm." "Robert?" rasped Sandor Clegane, incredulous. "Ned Stark sent us out," said pothelmed Jack-Be-Lucky, "but he was sitting the Iron Throne when he gave us our commands, so we were never truly his men, but Robert's." "Robert is the king of the worms now. Is that why you're down in the earth, to keep his court for him?" "The king is dead," the scarecrow knight admitted, "but we are still king's men, though the royal banner we bore was lost at the Mummer's Ford when your brother's butchers fell upon us." He touched his breast with a fist. "Robert is slain, but his realm remains. And we defend her." I don't know if that could be any clearer about authority stemming from the king, about Robert being associated with defending the realm and those defending the realm and it's people acting at his command and in his name even after his death. It neatly encapsulates the idea (ideal) of kingship and the (highly eulogised) view of Robert but it flatly contradicts your allegation about Beric and is as far from your 21st century notions of equality, a "people's revolution" and Robert's "tyranny" as it is possible to get.
  4. I don't see why. Holding, e.g., Mance or Tormund's son would be a powerful deterrent as these men are powerful and respected. Or, as you mentioned him earlier and do so again later, who would want to do something that would lead The Weeper to have a vendetta against them? The Wildlings have leadership structures and human emotions, they just don't have a landed feudal system where the leaders own the land and require their subordinates to pay homage as vassals. Mance, of course, is the glue that could hold them together, not Jon. As ever, though, I don't see any alternative being offered, just some fairly dismissive criticism. What should Jon have done? No, but I believe he mentioned the most well-known and dangerous leaders of raiding bands. I think there was another one mentioned who died in the battle at The Shadow Tower but I don't remember who. There are other leaders and other raiding bands for sure but not nearly as many as you seemed to make out. You did raise the prospect of hundreds of thousands of wildlings pillaging The North. They are neither orcs nor Dothraki screamers. I'm glad you agree No, unlike Marsh or the argument to keep them north of The Wall I regard them the same as the folk of the 7K. Well, a little bit wilder, but not fundamentally different. That common humanity is really the heart argument for letting them through despite the logistical and public order problems. You and I are reading different stories. The paradigm is not The NW and The Wildlings. That was the status quo ante because humanity forgot about The Others. The paradigm is Humanity and The Others. The NW (all 300 or 500 of them) is just a drop in the bucket of humanity. The Wildlings may be a cupful. This is fair but bear in mind that Stannis had "Mance" executed. Had Stannis agreed to pardon him then both he and Jon could have made use of him, particularly with his son held hostage. As it is he is under Mel's glamour at Castle Black so cannot be used openly but is more a wildcard. The Pink Letter is very confusing but with the reveal that Mance is alive (unless Ramsay killed him) Jon or Stannis, should either be in any position to do so, may be able to make better use of him.
  5. If you really mean that I feel sorry for you. Yes, your "all for Joffrey" evasion is pure nonsense and that's a charitable description. Why do you regard Stannis as a tyrant? But with regard to all the others people have plenty to say about their character and the injustice of their actions. Aerys was known as the mad king for burning people for shit and giggles while Bobby B wanted to jack it all in and go off to Essos and be the sell sword king. Seems you're being evasive and indulging in whataboutism rather than backing up what you say. I think fundamentally you have an issue with kingship, so any abuse of power, favouritism or simply the reality of inequality is all tyranny to you. Just stop. You are being absurd. Utter nonsense. There is an allegation that Tyrion owned the dagger at one time. Maybe he sold it or gave it away, maybe it was stolen. All there is is a line of enquiry that may lead nowhere. As it of course does..... For the same reason Catelyn's visit to KL is kept secret. To avoid making the Lannisters suspicious of what they know or intend. It backfires somewhat. You must be aware that trials only take place after a period of evidence gathering and if the case is weak - or non-existent - it's dropped. As I said your problem is with kingship in general. That seems a pointless complaint given the setting of the story. Unacceptable to who? To you, maybe but that's a pointless value judgment. The people of Westeros don't consider Robert a tyrant. Everyone in Westeros finds Robert acceptable. He's flawed but he's not unpopular let alone loathed or regarded as an unjust tyrant. We're discussing the treatment of Tyrion Lannister, the Queen's brother and son of a Lord Paramount. It may offend your sense of justice but there are good reasons for treading softly before arresting someone of that rank without a shred of evidence. Trying to de-escalate the situation makes a lot of sense. In the meantime Ned can actually try and find some evidence. Problem of course is that would point to Joffrey which would be an even bigger shitstorm. I think you know he's not but generally dislike him and use hyperbole to emphasize this. When pushed you either evade or have some broad criticisms that seem to rest on unrealistic views of medieval monarchies and you have no case against Robert of any substance. Also, George III? This is pre-enlightenment, more a magna carta world, there are no representative assemblies of any kind. What is unacceptable to you would baffle the people of Westeros.
  6. Robert took the throne after a civil war to remove a tyrant. I think you must see the difference however much you pretend otherwise. I mean it's not like we have five volumes, thousands of pages and several dozen povs with characters' internal thoughts the length and breadth of the seven kingdoms. You can't find a single example of anyone in universe considering him a tyrant so you dissemble with this smokescreen that we can never know what anyone thinks as if the only way of conveying information is for the author to have The Goldcloaks grab Pete the turnip seller and demand to know what he thinks of the King . Pure nonsense. Who is? Tyrion did nothing. Justice requires you don't punish the innocent or assume guilt or deprive someone of their liberty without adequate grounds. Ned knew that. So did Catelyn. She took Tyrion (ironically enough) to forestall danger to Ned. That's proves absolutely nothing. All it purports to prove is that the knife belonged to Tyrion at one time, just as LF claims it belonged to him at one time, when in fact it belonged to Robert all the time. The first line of enquiry is to interview Tyrion about the knife and whether he ever owned it. He might breezily say yes (like LF) but that he passed it on to someone else, he might say - as he does to Catelyn - that he never owned it at all. How long should he remain in jail while his presumed guilt trumps his innocence? I shouldn't have to say this but.... You don't hold a trial without a case...... Or at least you shouldn't...... It's not a 21st century democracy. The Queen's brother is not going to be treated the same way as a shopkeeper. Largely because mistreating a shopkeeper won't spark a civil war. I don't know why this bothers you so much but inequality is a fact of life in a feudal society. Inequality or favouritism isn't tyranny. Two noble families were getting close to conflict. Shit hit the fan when Robert was dead. Unless you happen to think Stannis or Renly or Robb or Balon would declare themselves king while Robert was still alive? No? Maybe Joffrey then. Where is the knife? Following up like that would be thoughtful and intelligent but that's not Bobby B. He's careless and finds it all a drag. Lazy and negligent of him but then that's his personality and it comes back to bite him. Hardly tyrannical though.
  7. Can you point to any examples in the series where Robert is regarded as a tyrant? By anyone. He was king for fifteen years so there should be plenty of voices or examples for you to choose from. I wonder why not. Of course she changed her mind. It has nothing to do with having any evidence and was all about the danger Ned might be in if the Lannisters became suspicious of her secret visit. Which they were bound to as it was suspicious, lol. Right, right. Petyr and Joffrey. Not Tyrion. People Robert does not suspect of any wrongdoing and whom he does not put his thumb on the scales of justice to protect. Why should Tyrion not be released though? What tyranny is involved here? If there was evidence Ned would have planned to arrest him. Because there isn't he doesn't. It's grounds for an investigation but if all that turns up is a false accusation why should Tyrion be imprisoned? It's a medieval fantasy world, not the 21st century. You don't arrest the Queen's brother on an unsubstantiated allegation. More accurately, justice could be stopped because of Tyrion's last name but Robert actually moves to stop a miscarriage of justice and unlawful imprisonment because of the family's importance. All that is turned on it's head when Tyrion is framed for Joffrey's murder which is the sort of injustice and "tyranny" you should be worked up about, not sloppy old Bobby B. If only there was a guilty man being set free for us to get worked up about. Funny how someone can be so disappointed by an innocent man being ordered set free It certainly is. Doesn't mean we should mistake the former for the latter either in fantasy or history. He was murdered. Then the shit hit the fan. You might have noticed either or both of those things. It's the worst war since the Robellion and it might be the worst war since the Targaryen conquest but that's what happens with a contested succession. Let's calm down before we compare this to the apocalypse or say the Long Night wasn't even a patch on TWOT5K. He ordered Tyrion released, told Ned he would not arrest Jaime and that he wanted no more fighting between Stark and Lannister. Then he made Ned Hand again, went hunting and was murdered. It's classic Bobby B but should he have put heads on pikes or ordered more arrests and taken hostages for good behaviour from his friend's and his wife's family? What should he have done in your opinion?
  8. Let's not pretend that he doesn't take hostages for good behaviour and send wildlings to garrison the deserted castles. There is a plan of action and it's aim is that the wildlings give assurances of good conduct and/or assist the NW. The Weeper has not agreed to Jon's terms and been let through The Wall. His response was to send back the eyes of the rangers sent to offer the terms. I assume that's a typo on the numbers in his raiding party but the raiders don't lead armies they lead bands of several hundred. Harma Dogshead and Rattleshirt are both dead, The Weeper north of The Wall. I can't think of any other raider or any south of The Wall. You're right on the paltry number the NW now musters. It's why Jon is keen to work with Stannis and to secure Tormund / Mance for leadership of The Wildings so their numbers are boosted. Maybe it wasn't a typo after all. How many Wildlings do you think there are? The raiders were never very many in number and the vast majority of wildlings are just simple folk managing a subsistence living by whatever means they can. They are the free folk not an army of orcs. It might help to consider the situation a refugee crisis rather than analogous to tens of thousands of Dothraki screamers scorching the earth throughout the North. Just look at how easily Stannis defeated Mance's "army" with a couple of thousand, or how Mormont intended to face them with 300 rangers. They are nowhere near as many as you make out and are mostly non-combatants. Mance is absolutely a deserter and oathbreaker. He is also The King beyond The Wall and the one person who can bind The Wildlings together and, to an extent, enforce discipline and a common purpose. Stannis may say that laws should be made of iron not of pudding but if ever there was a reason for a stay of execution / grant of clemency / presidential pardon if the guilty man agrees to co-operate then this is it. You'll note I deliberately reference real world systems of justice where the sentence or verdict written in law can be set aside if the circumstances are deemed to warrant it. It's my view that this is clearly the case here. Executing Mance, rejecting Stannis, leaving the wildlings north of The Wall to die: these are all small-minded, rigid decisions that miss the bigger picture and the adaptability needed to surmount this crisis. Hold your nose if you want but "needs must".
  9. I don't buy any of this. Grey Wind never attacks Roose Bolton either. This doesn't exonerate him from being one of the key figures in The Red Wedding and the author uses an identical technique to show us a plot is afoot against Jon without pointing a blazing arrow at the chief culprits. We're supposed to be able to join the dots. Doubtful. If Marsh is so determined to preserve the Watch then Jon's assassination would be best conducted before he went north of The Wall and in your and his eyes doomed more of the band of brothers to death and wightification. The only thing that changes was the direction Jon was heading in and the immediacy of his departure. Absolutely true but Mance is leading the Wildlings south not to conquer but to survive. Since the re-emergence of The Others the centuries/millennia long status quo ante has changed utterly. The question is whether the Wildlings should be seen as human beings who belong to "The Realms of Men" and should be protected from The Others or if the only good wildling is a dead wildling. Marsh has an answer to that and I hope you don't share it. Unfair? Yes, but what is the alternative other than "let them all die"? If you're prepared to let them all die then it's a very simple situation to deal with. If you're not then there are a host of problems to deal with. Best case scenario is that some wildlings will be reliable and fight while others desert and roam loose. About the same as you would expect for Northerners or the NW itself, they are human too and the series begins with Gared's desertion, leads on to the wildling party who nearly kidnap Bran while he is out riding containing two deserters and continues with Chett and his conspirators plan to murder Mormont and all the NW senior officers at the Fist, a plan interrupted and delayed until Mormont's murder at Craster's. The thing about life and death situations is the immediacy of the need for action. That doesn't mean Jon ignores the problems that are coming later down the line. He takes hostages to ensure good behaviour, he tells Stannis that he could make good use of Mance because he knows the wildlings will be more disciplined and less quarrelsome if Mance is in charge of them, he attempts to secure a loan from Braavos to secure food supplies. It's certainly true that all these efforts could prove futile but the question is whether pessimism should preclude the attempt and the wildlings should be left or shunted north of The Wall. For me, the answer is no. I understand your points but I don't really see you offering any practical alternatives, just criticisms of Jon's decisions and a tendency to lean towards going full Marsh. Crossed what line? Stannis showed up to help, is there not some obligation on Jon / the NW to recognise that in some way. It is surely better to have support than to alienate the one man who helped - or see him get killed. Political neutrality is the operating condition of the NW because otherwise it risks becoming a private army beholden to no one but itself or a mercenary force "for hire". Once The Others emerge and everyone is asked but no one but Stannis shows up to help the reality is the militarily depleted NW need to work with Stannis. This is a no-brainer. And there is no putting the genie back in the bottle regarding neutrality though I think Jon does a good job of not allowing Stannis to basically take over and garrison the castles as he threatens. It's worth pointing out that although The NW see it as their duty to guard The Wall everyone, Stannis included have an interest in doing so and Stannis has zero intention of leaving a few hundred rapists, murderers, thieves, orphans, rebels and political exiles to safeguard The World. Of course this brings politics into The Watch and there is a faction who see Stannis as a lost cause and want no part of him, despite the help he brought them. This strikes me as realistic. Ramsay is really no worse than Vargo Hoat, Gregor Clegane, Qyburn or Euron Greyjoy. You can fault GRRM for writing the antagonists as creepy villains if you want to but that's the story. So letting Wildlings through The Wall is "betraying the northerners"? It's not even spitting distance from saying that to saying all wildlings must remain north of The Wall and die in order to avoid the betrayal of depleting Northern food supplies and all the carnage that will ensue if that were to happen. There's a few mountain clans at The Wall. They have eyes and ears and the NW and Wildlings have tongues so it's beyond belief that they haven't heard what happened on The Fist and why The Wildlings were trying to cross and were allowed to cross over, or that the story has spread, being pretty important news to folks in The North. GRRM obviously wants the Boltons & Freys to clash with Stannis and the Northerners he rallies around him (don't forget he offered to release Jon from his vows and name him Lord of Winterfell) so he focuses the story on that, the build up to "The Battle of Ice" with the crisis at The Wall kept curiously separate. It's an authorial decision for story flow and dramatic effect, not any negligence on Jon's part. That depends what your argument is. Alys Karstark does not consider letting Wildlings through The Wall a betrayal, she finds them useful allies. Given Northern losses in TWOT5K an infusion of new blood might be helpful to more Houses than just Karstark. Again, though, the choice seems clear: let them through with hostages for good behaviour / offer them incentives to bind them into the realm - or leave them to die. 100% responsible? That would imply you consider him solely responsible. I guess he tried really hard to persuade Mel to help then!! But it's this dogmatic insistence of the sacredness of the NW vows that seems the hardest thing to cut through. The issue is how to protect The Realms of Men or, with application to The Wlidlings, how to save as many as can be saved. Mance is unquestionably a deserter and it is likely he will have fought and killed members of The NW. But if he can bring The Wildlings with him, and the reaction to the Shieldhall speech shows he can, then absolutely he should be spared. Executing him on point of principle is cutting off your nose to spite your face. What's a few thousand lives here or there, hey? And those wightified babes and infants couldn't be that hard to "unkill" if they were still crawling, unless they all turned into Chucky. There was a bear on The Fist but no giants are mentioned so either GRRM is keeping his powder dry or we should assume mostly (formerly) human wights. A drop in the bucket? How many do you think there are, millions?! You have argued repeatedly and at length that there is no food for them and that letting wildlings through The Wall is a betrayal of both Northerners and NW as it will consume their scarce resources and that the Wildlings will inevitably turn on them when this happens. You can't have it both ways. Only if you phrase it that way. The rational upside would be the mission's success. Unless you are Marsh, in which case the mission's success is worse than it's failure. A little earlier in this thread you were accusing Jon of not doing enough to convince the Northern Lords of the threat of The Others, saying "He has given up on convincing them of the threat, even though it really shouldn't be hard to find another wight and parade it or it's twitching extremities before the northern lords. Etc". Now you provide the simple answer that they wouldn't listen to his "babble" because it would be regarded as "sophistry". You really can't have it both ways. I found Marsh's information in the store room quite rationally presented though of course it was tinged with bigotry. If it had contained no bigotry, what would have been different though? You raise objections and concerns, as Marsh and I think Yarwyck, to a lesser extent, do. But as I said in my last post I think you will struggle to find practical alternatives to Jon's policies and I see nothing here that offers an alternative.
  10. Of course he's acceptable. The only trouble in Robert's reign is when Balon Greyjoy reaches for a crown. Who does he lock up without trial or dispossess of their estates on a whim, what customary rights and privileges does he revoke and who does he oppress, what people's revolts or discontent is there? No one, no one, none, no one and none. He has his flaws but tyranny is not one of them. You realise there would not be a trial, yes? Catelyn only took Tyrion because of LF's lies and manipulation. She and Ned were both led by LF to suspect Tyrion but agreed they should do nothing until Ned had some proof. They never have any and never could because Tyrion is innocent. The catnapping came about because Cat's visit to KL was in secret and Cat believed Tyrion divulging it to his siblings would lead to Ned being in(even more) danger from the Lannisters. All there is against Tyrion is a malicious allegation with zero proof behind it. Tyrion absolutely should be released because he never should have been arrested. Funny but I always though arresting people without any grounds other than malicious intent or political calculation was tyrannical, not setting them free. If you're looking for 21st or even 20th century justice norms then you'll be disappointed in fantasy, historical fiction or history in any period other than the 21st or 20th century. Trying to prevent two of his most powerful noble families from starting a feud is pretty common sense even if it offends your notion of the purity of the law. He's still right about releasing Tyrion though. You would be better off focusing on Robert ignoring Jaime ordering five of Ned's men cut down in the streets of KL but this seems pretty realistic for the faux-medieval world - nobles have private armies and they quarrel and fight, the king tells them to settle down and binds them to keep the King's peace, things settle down until they flare up again. It's a flawed system but it's not tyrannical.
  11. The thing is not to commit adultery, cuckolding a Lord Paramount and Hand of The King and then orchestrating his murder. The attempt to conceal a crime often leads to more crimes and that's not a shrug of the shoulders "what's a poor murderer to do, we've all been there, folks" moment. Again, I don't think I've heard anyone say that before. He has been manipulating Ned and Catelyn throughout the book and he knows if Ned uncovers he was responsible for Jon Arryn's death he's finished. He may temporarily support Ned - only to avoid Stannis taking the throne - but he's as insincere and slippery as ever. It's only a matter of time before he betrays Ned. And his "love" for Catelyn is akin to Robert's for Lyanna, driven by nostalgia and the elevation of a lost/unattainable love into an unrealistically ideal woman, shorn of any imperfections and flaws, the easiest kind of love to cherish as it can't be tested. We see how deep and meaningful that is when he betrays her and starts grooming her daughter. You're far too generous to LF. No, this shit: He's a heart throb in his youth who becomes a middle aged fat drunk. He remains a womaniser that's for sure. Life is not a song. Robert is not some mythical ideal of kingship or Good King "insert name" from fairy tales or children's fables but he's very far from a tyrant. You mean the dead khal? Remember how, when Robert ordered the assassination, all the members of his Council warned him how dangerous upsetting the Dothraki would be and how much they enjoy seaborn invasions and how it was only a matter of time before they came for revenge? No, I don't either. It's not seen as even a remote risk by anyone. The only argument is over the morality or "honour" of the order. This is your definition of tyranny and your line in the sand moment? Jesus. He's being badgered by Cersei (Oh Robert, you nasty tyrant, you!), can't be arsed to deal with a complex problem and goes hunting to escape the cares and duties of kingship and blow off some steam. He's actually in the right as there is no evidence against Tyrion, just LF's malicious little lie, and is trying to keep two important families he is trying to bring together (Sansa and Joffrey) from quarrelling and coming to blows. I always thought tyrants locked people up with no evidence rather than demanded they be released as there was insufficient proof of their guilt.
  12. So he's not helping Ned, he's helping himself. He's guilty and needs to keep Stannis off the throne. When Ned doesn't oblige he takes Ned out too. So much for help. The only way Ned would accept LF's offer is if he was was venal, corrupt and Machiavellian like LF - in which case LF would have recognised him as dangerous rather than honest and naïve and no way would he have worked to cement Ned's powerbase. Loyal to his friends, absolutely. That's why he won people over and kept their loyalty in return. As for being a traitor, Aerys demanded his head for no reason at all. Half the kingdom were traitors. Would you not regard Ned Stark as loyal? A bitter and jealous younger brother. Not exactly a clinching argument. What? Let's not flood the zone with sh*t. Lazy, negligent, careless, sure. Tyrannical, not a bit. He just wants to party. And this tourney is to honour his best buddy, Ned. And to party. Always to party.... The latter is realpolitik and dealing with the threat of regime change. It used to be called statecraft and now it's called national security and leads to unsavoury actions like the murder of innocents. It shows Robert in a poor light but what triggers the assassination is the news that Dany is pregnant with the prospect of an heir and pretender to trouble Robert and his heirs. There are good grounds to criticise Robert but tyranny is not one of them.
  13. I don't think I've ever head anyone say that before. He manipulates Ned, deceiving him and Catelyn from the very start of the story with his lies about who killed Jon Arryn and the dagger being Tyion's. It's all CYA to deflect any potential suspicion from him and Lysa as the murderers of Jon Arryn but it's clearly in his interest to obstruct Ned's inquiry and point the Starks and Lannisters at each other's throats He "unhelps" Ned quite spectacularly, culminating in the betrayal when Ned attempts to put Stannis, the legitimate heir, on the throne. Robert is undisciplined but is a brave, generous, loyal and charismatic figure in his youth. It's remarked how he turned enemies into friends by being open-handed and that people responded to him with loyalty and affection. This is the Robert Ned was friends with. Middle-aged Robert is soured on life by being in a toxic marriage and trapped in a kingship he has no interest in. He is a deeply unhappy man, drowning his disappointments in drink and entertainment to try and forget that. He's hardly a tyrant, he's so hands off he leaves everything to Jon Arryn or Ned and the Small Council.
  14. We can completely ignore a person's pattern of behaviour and the objections they constantly raise. We can ignore them accusing their Lord Commander of treason for working with the wildlings and we can ignore their leadership position and the clear role the author gives them in opposing the man they later assassinate - and blame it all on their subordinates. We can do this but why would we? It's simply not credible. The author doesn't want to show his hand too clearly in advance, any more than with LF's betrayal of Ned or the Red Wedding but the clues are there and, particularly with hindsight, they're not too hard to follow. Simply focusing on the Pink Letter and Shieldhall speech is far too narrow a lens to see the whole picture. This is bizarre. The NW forgot it's true purpose until it rediscovered it on The Fist of The First Men. If Marsh can't see the value of and the need to work with The Wildlings then he is simply unfit for even a minor command. I wouldn't want The Weeper roaming around or the cannibal clans of The Ice River settling in next door so there are major difficulties ahead with the worst of the raiders but Marsh considers it treason to let any of them through The Wall and wants to leave them all to die. We know this because he tells us so very clearly. It very obviously is neither a betrayal of the letter of NW vows, nor, considering Jon wants The Wildlings to assist The Watch, it's spirit either. The NW is a few hundred men after The Fist, with most of their fighting strength lost beyond The Wall. Stannis and The Wildlings are obvious and necessary allies. As for a betrayal of the northerners, Jon is a son of Eddard Stark of Winterfell!!! And you might ask Alys Karstark about that betrayal, given she married Sigorn, the new Magnar of Thenn. Maybe I misunderstand but it really feels like you agree with Marsh's reasoning. Jon takes none of The NW against Ramsay so you can scarcely say he leaves The Wall completely undefended. He's established new garrisons at previously abandoned castles. The only men he plans to take are some of the wildlings at Castle Black. And the reason he goes is in answer to Ramsay threatening to kill him and everyone else if he doesn't comply with his demands, which Jon can't as he doesn't have half the people demanded anyway. Mance was Mel's prisoner hidden as Rattleshirt by a glamour. He was sent to rescue a grey girl on a dying horse making her way towards The Wall. Mission creep has severely magnified the problem but it's naïve to think The Pink Letter is all about Arya - it's about Bolton's enemies, which is why it demands Mel, Selyse and Shireen as well as (F)Arya, Reek and Jon('s head). And there is absolutely no way Marsh would have tried to assassinate Jon while Stannis and his knights were at The Wall, or the Northern clans who left with him, or Jon's supporters who he sent off to garrison other castles. Once he's isolated the opportunity arises. Fascinating. This is one of Marsh's arguments (without the bile and prejudice). Dead people = more wights, though. That's the piece that's missing here even if humanitarian grounds don't make much impression. Who to save and who to condemn? That's as easy one for Marsh but I think letting the wildlings through The Wall was the right decision. Hardhome is a trickier one because it was always a long shot and risks scarce resources and more lives but that's the reality of command - not all your decisions will turn out to be right. I would be careful about pushing this argument too strongly though - it's logical conclusion was that Jon needed to be killed in order that the Wildings be ejected or killed so the NW can keep themselves alive. Who's next? Stannis's party obviously take up valuable supplies and lodging so they can go. And if self-preservation is a reason for offing Jon, then Marsh's mind is made up long before the Shieldhall speech, don't you think? But they are allowed to make those arguments and they do as you have just recapitulated. They offer no practical alternatives and I suggest you will struggle to as well. The problem of food, the general "wildness" of The Wildlings, the unpleasantness of the worst of the raiders, the difficulty of reaching Hardhome and rescuing thousands trapped there. These are all known and addressed as best they can be. What are the practical alternatives? The only thing I hear is "let them die".
  15. This is confirmed later on A Storm of Swords - Arya III Only six Winterfell men remained of the twenty her father had sent west with Beric Dondarrion, Harwin told her, and they were scattered. "It was a trap, milady. Lord Tywin sent his Mountain across the Red Fork with fire and sword, hoping to draw your lord father. He planned for Lord Eddard to come west himself to deal with Gregor Clegane. If he had he would have been killed, or taken prisoner and traded for the Imp, who was your lady mother's captive at the time. Only the Kingslayer never knew Lord Tywin's plan, and when he heard about his brother's capture he attacked your father in the streets of King's Landing." It's plausible that Robert would have dressed down both Ned and Tywin for squabbling and breaking the King's Peace but as neither were in rebellion against the crown and both could claim they were protecting their family honour / members he probably would have forgiven both. Tywin's conduct in the Riverlands is particularly brutal but as his men carried no banners and wore no livery he has plausible denial.
  16. So you are saying the steward that Ghost tried to bite was the instigator of the plot? It would be a little obvious if Ghost tried to rip Marsh's throat out, I think. The benefit the reader has over the characters in story is realising afterwards what clues the author had dropped in advance - and not being stabbed in the back of course. Of course. But "For The Watch" goes the other way and makes a virtue of Marsh's prejudices and reactionary views which result in an attempted assassination. A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI Jon's anger flared. "No, my lord, I mean to set them to sewing lacy smallclothes. Of course they shall be trained at arms. They shall also churn butter, hew firewood, muck stables, empty chamber pots, and run messages … and in between they will be drilled with spear and sword and longbow." Marsh flushed a deeper shade of red. "The lord commander must pardon my bluntness, but I have no softer way to say this. What you propose is nothing less than treason. For eight thousand years the men of the Night's Watch have stood upon the Wall and fought these wildlings. Now you mean to let them pass, to shelter them in our castles, to feed them and clothe them and teach them how to fight. Lord Snow, must I remind you? You swore an oath." "I know what I swore." Jon said the words. "I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. Were those the same words you said when you took your vows?" This is just one of Marsh's many objections to Jon's policies but it noteworthy he accuses Jon of proposing treason. You can claim Marsh is purely reacting to the Shieldhall speech but the real reason for his opposition is laid bare and the clues are there that the plot has been in the works for a while. Bowen...is that you? I would rather have Wun Wun on my side that a blue-eyed corpse with black hands. Of course Jon makes mistakes, it's part of the reality of command and decision making. Hardhome looks to be a disaster. Leaving all those people to die adn become wights is a problematic decision in its own right, though. I hope you're not trying to suggest that Jon should be removed (by coup or knife) for attempting to bring the Wildlings into a coalition against The Others. That really is the Marsh argument - that they should be left to die and are as much an enemy as The Others. Ygritte, Tormund, Val, we're given very real examples that The Wildlings are just another people though with different traditions. And The Weeper is no more, possibly less disagreeable than Ramsay Bolton.
  17. We do. Slynt, Thorne and Marsh work together. Marsh is Head Steward and, though likely Thorne is the brains they co-operate. A Storm of Swords - Jon XII The sound of voices echoing off the vaulted ceiling brought him back to Castle Black. "I don't know," a man was saying, in a voice thick with doubts. "Maybe if I knew the man better .... Lord Stannis didn't have much good to say of him, I'll tell you that." "When has Stannis Baratheon ever had much good to say of anyone?" Ser Alliser's flinty voice was unmistakable. "If we let Stannis choose our Lord Commander, we become his bannermen in all but name. Tywin Lannister is not like to forget that, and you know it will be Lord Tywin who wins in the end. He's already beaten Stannis once, on the Blackwater." "Lord Tywin favors Slynt," said Bowen Marsh, in a fretful, anxious voice. "I can show you his letter, Othell. 'Our faithful friend and servant,' he called him." That's Thorne and Marsh working on Yarwyck to persuade him to support Slynt for LC. A Dance with Dragons - Jon II Jon found Slynt breaking his fast in the common room. Ser Alliser Thorne was with him, and several of their cronies. They were laughing about something when Jon came down the steps with Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd, and behind them Mully, Horse, Red Jack Crabb, Rusty Flowers, and Owen the Oaf. Three-Finger Hobb was ladling out porridge from his kettle. Queen's men, king's men, and black brothers sat at their separate tables, some bent over bowls of porridge, others filling their bellies with fried bread and bacon. Jon saw Pyp and Grenn at one table, Bowen Marsh at another. Marsh is not explicitly linked with Slynt the way Thorne is at the start of this scene but as we go along: "—and hang him," Jon finished. Janos Slynt's face went as white as milk. The spoon slipped from his fingers. Edd and Emmett crossed the room, their footsteps ringing on the stone floor. Bowen Marsh's mouth opened and closed though no words came out. Ser Alliser Thorne reached for his sword hilt. "I will not hang him," said Jon. "Bring him here." "Oh, Seven save us," he heard Bowen Marsh cry out. The smile that Lord Janos Slynt smiled then had all the sweetness of rancid butter. Until Jon said, "Edd, fetch me a block," and unsheathed Longclaw. Slynt, Thorne and Marsh are linked once more. Given Slynt is grossly insubordinate, defies orders directly to Jon's face and is committing mutiny it's worth asking why. The answer is simple: he doesn't like either Jon, given his political calculations proven in the election, and he doesn't like Jon's policies of working with the wildlings, his personal prejudice that blinkers him to how useful, even essential, they are. I don't follow. Jon has sent those he trusts most away. He sends his friends away to "kill the boy and let the man be born". He sends supporters he trusts like Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd to command at the castles he is seeking to re-establish. Senior officers who do not have an animus against him like Mallister and Pyke return to their commands. Slynt is executed for mutiny and Thorne is sent on rangings north of The Wall. That leaves Marsh as the Head Steward resident at Castle Black as the focus of opposition to Jon. My argument throughout has been that Marsh does not speak "For The Watch" but leads a reactionary faction that launches a coup, the first part of which is the assassination of Jon. Nowhere do I say that Jon has handpicked everyone at Castle Black and deliberately chosen his enemies for some indecipherable reason. My point is that they are a minority not the majority but that they are plotting and are opportunistic in the timing of the execution of the plot. I don't read Jon's thoughts or intentions as abandoning the NW or saying he is done with them. He has deliberately distanced himself from the NW only in the matter of facing the challenge that Ramsay Bolton has thrown down with The Pink Letter and he is attempting to keep the NW out of the struggle by appealing to The Wildlings. There is an element of frustration in his thoughts regarding Marsh, and to a lesser extent Yarwyck, who have been very much an old guard resistant to the reforms of their new commander so he neither wants the NW to fight Ramsay, nor to have to manage Marsh and Yarwyck's resistance and foot-dragging and he is relieved that he can avoid both things be taking the wildlings. Thoughts are internal and conversations are not. As readers we can weigh the information the author gives us by whatever method he chooses but a subordinate needs to be careful with voicing objections or questioning orders, cf. Janos Slynt. I'm still not really understanding your point. Marsh has done nothing obviously wrong until he begins to plot to assassinate Jon. We only get hints of that with Ghost and the behaviour of some stewards and it only becomes clear with the actual assassination attempt. His links with Thorne and Slynt aren't crimes, unless they had earlier plots that we don't know about, it's just information for the reader to understand his character and motivations. As readers we get to assess all the information we are given. If we reach different conclusions then fair enough. He's not done with the NW. He's leading wildlings - rather than the NW who he is keeping out of it - to face a military threat from a dangerous psychopath to the south. Once dealt with he would have been back at Castle Black leading The Watch continuing to work with Stannis, the Northmen (Boltons aside) and the wildlings to face the threat of The Others. It's certainly true that he was motivated to save "Arya" but not that he deserted. If you see him as a deserter I think this is why we interpret it so differently - Marsh becomes the noble hero called to duty rather than the narrow-minded political realist whose plot was already in the works.
  18. I'm not really getting your argument. We know Marsh and Yarwyck are opposed to Jon and that they lead a faction within the NW. We know that Jon has sent those most loyal to him, like Dolorous Ed or Sam away and that officers like Mallister or Pyke who agreed to stand down their own campaigns and support Jon's candidacy are away from Castle Black (by contrast Marsh aligned himself with Slynt). Jon has isolated himself and the plot is afoot before the scene you reference - which is why I referenced Ghost's lunge at one of the stewards, the order that Marsh of course heads. My argument is that Marsh does not speak "For the Watch" but for a close-minded and reactionary group within it. The attempted assassination occurs when Jon is on his own, while a distraction is occurring with Wun Wun and Stannis's knights and is carried out by about half a dozen Stewards led by Marsh. I don't see anything in this to make Marsh either in the majority or the right. I don't follow. What is Jon condemned for in your eyes before the pink letter / Shieldhall speech? I thought that was what you see as warranting his assassination.
  19. No, Slynt and Thorne only tried to have him executed but were prevented by Aemon, who sent ravens to Pyke and Mallister declaring Jon had joined the Wildlings on Qhorin's orders to uncover their plans. So they sent him out to "parley" with Mance but in reality intended him to die "For the Watch". "For the Watch" needs a bit of questioning in certain people's mouths. The conspiracy to assassinate Jon is not a spontaneous event, it's a coterie of stewards led by Marsh. Ghost tried to bite one of them well before Jon's Shieldhall speech, the warning signal that Robb got at The Twins (and ignored) when Grey Wind lunged at the Freys who came to meet him. Jon blames Borroq's boar for putting Ghost on edge and ignores it too. As readers we know what it means. All the Shieldhall speech did was require the plot to be brought forward before Jon can leave.
  20. "We do not know that". We do actually, it's a theme throughout the series. Slynt, Thorne, Marsh are part of a faction within the Watch who are in dialogue with the Iron Throne. The arrival of Stannis and Jon's uneasy arrangements with him are as anathema to these guys as letting wildlings through The Wall. The Pink Letter makes demands that cannot be met and Jon publicly declares he will not take NW members to face Ramsay. I'll meet you halfway and say maybe Marsh does what he believes is right but in that he speaks for himself and his co-conspirators only, not "for The Watch". It's a rather sterile debate in any case. The big issue is The Others and the threat they pose, not the impossible political neutrality the NW can no longer retain once Stannis arrives to help. Marsh & co see Stannis as the enemy as much as Jon, which only shows how small minded GRRM wants to paint them to be.
  21. The big problem with the "For The Watch" argument is that Marsh et al do not speak for The Watch, they are a reactionary cabal who oppose Jon's policies and wish to remove him. They are only able to (maybe, maybe not) assassinate him because Jon has sent those loyal to him away to places like Greyguard and other officers like Cotter Pyke and Denis Mallister are away from Castle Black at their respective posts. Jon was elected LC by the Nights Watch. Admittedly with a bit of manipulation by Sam but both Mallister and Pyke agree to step aside to allow Jon to take the position. Marsh attempts a coup. I'm constantly surprised by how many people accept Marsh's arguments that he and his coterie speak "For The Watch" and are it's core and it's moral backbone, the loyal, dedicated, noble knights in black. The last LC, Mormont, thought and said otherwise very clearly. They're embittered, narrow-minded and limited men, lacking in vision and completely out of their depth. All they've done is plunge Castle Black into chaos and start a revolt.
  22. There's really no need, we just don't see it the same way Bloodraven the big bad, Old Nan the Oracle, ideas I've heard many times before but not my cup of tea. The one thing I agree with is the difficulty of interpreting prophecy or dreams. But then my point was not that Jojen was right about his fate but it is why he is so bleak. Not him realising his mistake as you hypothesize.
  23. There's a difference between stark gibbering terror and feeling uneasy though. Most things Bran has had to deal with are pretty unpleasant or disturbing for an eight year old but his (lack of) reaction is not enough to tie into his dream for me. I would too . Bloodraven is quite a grisly sight. The difference between metaphor, the three eyed crow and reality, an enthroned/entombed near-corpse, is pretty graphic but Bran's training is about opening his third eye, I think? A Dance with Dragons - Bran III The sight of him still frightened Bran—the weirwood roots snaking in and out of his withered flesh, the mushrooms sprouting from his cheeks, the white wooden worm that grew from the socket where one eye had been. He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse. One day I will be like him. The thought filled Bran with dread. Bad enough that he was broken, with his useless legs. Was he doomed to lose the rest too, to spend all of his years with a weirwood growing in him and through him? Lord Brynden drew his life from the tree, Leaf told them. He did not eat, he did not drink. He slept, he dreamed, he watched. I was going to be a knight, Bran remembered. I used to run and climb and fight. It seemed a thousand years ago. What was he now? Only Bran the broken boy, Brandon of House Stark, prince of a lost kingdom, lord of a burned castle, heir to ruins. He had thought the three-eyed crow would be a sorcerer, a wise old wizard who could fix his legs, but that was some stupid child's dream, he realized now. I am too old for such fancies, he told himself. A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. That was as good as being a knight. Almost as good, anyway. Absolutely and there have been and are good reasons to be scared throughout the series for Bran. He's eight and what is happening is creepy and spooky if not downright horrific if his training is to be plugged into the weirnet. Yes he asks that almost as often as eight year olds ask "are we nearly there yet?". It's a long way from Winterfell and Bran has never been more than a day's ride from home before. Yes, but why, I wonder. Why not come himself? Because Jojen has green dreams and Howland knows what he saw seems the most likely reason. And that implies Howland expects Jojen to help Bran somehow. And didn't Howland visit The Isle of Faces around the time of The Tourney at Harrenhall so if there are COTF there we can expect Howland / Jojen to know and to know if there are "bad uns" in the North they should avoid dealing with. I fear for Old Nan and Beth Cassell. Ramsay took the young women from Winterfell for his "sport". He's hardly a philanthropist so there is no reason for him or his men to take an old woman or young child all the way to the Dreadfort or to make any effort to keep them alive. Killed outright is more likely Interesting. He's told us a number of times that he knows "the day I die". I always read that as him having a green dream about his own death and as Meera says to Bran in the cave "he will not even try and fight his fate". He's fulfilled his mission to bring Bran here but now he sees his death approaching. What might cause his death other than homesickness, malnutrition and the hardship of their journey - he is clearly struggling as they near the cave - is an interesting question though. A Dance with Dragons - Bran III The moon was a black hole in the sky. Outside the cave the world went on. Outside the cave the sun rose and set, the moon turned, the cold winds howled. Under the hill, Jojen Reed grew ever more sullen and solitary, to his sister's distress. She would often sit with Bran beside their little fire, talking of everything and nothing, petting Summer where he slept between them, whilst her brother wandered the caverns by himself. Jojen had even taken to climbing up to the cave's mouth when the day was bright. He would stand there for hours, looking out over the forest, wrapped in furs yet shivering all the same. "He wants to go home," Meera told Bran. "He will not even try and fight his fate. He says the greendreams do not lie." Very possibly but are there enough of them left to have competing factions? It's odd that Howland didn't establish any contact with them when he visited or that they never sent the equivalent of Leaf to learn the human tongue "for the Bran boy". Unless of course both things happened and Jojen / Bran are being directed north for a reason. Well this would explain Bloodraven as a warg but not The Others. And what little I know of him is that he was given to duty and that's what led to him plugging into the weirnet and searching out Bran. If it's just one creepy dude's quest for power and a second life I don't know why the COTF would indulge him or Leaf learn the common tongue to assist him in hijacking Bran. The COTF sought BR out and enthroned him as they recognised his power (and I think sense of duty) and Howland/Jojen have brought Bran to them for the same reason. The aim is unclear but the hour is indeed late with The White Walkers threatening to break through The Wall. At least that's my take on it, so much is completely unknown.
  24. Thanks I'd skimmed that thread but not deeply. I'm of the opinion that Jon Snow is still alive and Borroq is too much of an unknown at this point to project too much on to - he gives us a different perspective and personality among The Wildlings like Leathers or Wun Wun. I always read BR's comment about the Singers being present in the ravens as only a fragment of the personality or consciousness remaining, much as the warg eventually loses itself in the host animal. The second life is not life eternal as the raven/wolf/other has a finite lifespan and there is no cheating mortality. I also read the weirnet the same way with the Singers being absorbed into the weirwoods, the differences being the vastly longer lifespan of the tree (indeed we are told that unless a weirwood is killed it effectively grows forever; even if we discount that, which we shouldn't in a story with magic, sequoias and bristlecone pines are known to live for 3,500 - 5,000 years so it's easy to see how the weirwood would be a good choice for a "second life" of a kind and also how the Singers enthroned in the weirwoods came to be regarded as The Old Gods - as long as new greenseers can join the collective and replace those fading away, memory is kept alive forever) and the ability of the weirwood to absorb or "host" multiple Singers (the point about Bran cohabiting the raven with "the shadow of the soul" of a Singer long dead raises an intriguing parallel with the weirwoods with multiple external consciousnesses taking up residence in the same host: this might invalidate the point but we have nothing to show that more than one external consciousness can permanently reside in an animal, Orrell "withering away" inside the eagle once Varamyr took over and Varamyr is only occasionally and temporarily resident, not permanently so.) How a Singer "long dead" comes to be resident in a raven, even as a "shadow of the soul" is something of a mystery. If passed on from raven to raven then that implies both the immortality of the soul and some pretty major invasive species /genetic engineering (via magic) with particular ravens and their offspring becoming either hosts for parasitic souls for ever more or becoming "super ravens", almost a different species, with different intelligence and behaviours. (What happens if the raven or it's mate lays more than one egg?). The alternative would be the soul of The Singer would become unmoored after it's host organism's death but rather than dying a final death after it's equivalent of a second life it would instead take up a new residence in a new raven/organism. This would also imply immortality of the soul and would seem to refute the idea that consciousness dissipates over time / the natural life span of the host organism. (It would be interesting to understand why The Singers chose ravens, other than for convenience and utility, and why Haggon taught Varamyr that some animals, including birds, were best avoided). Neither of these is very satisfactory to me. It's a fascinating and as yet unknowable topic. I always took the stories of the Starks' past and the Kings of Winter locked in their tombs much as I did the stories of Garth Greenhand or Lann the Clever but any myth or fairy tale or ghost story can turn out to have more than a grain of truth and some major impact in story. Could The Others be unmoored wargs/greenseers/Singers? I can see how temporarily inhabiting a dead creature and reanimating it would be a possibility in extremis, hence the discovery of how to raise and control wights, although the how is obviously unexplained, but I still don't see how a warg goes from taking over and inhabiting a living (or dead) creature to creating it's own form held together by cold magic, or where the apparent hatred of humanity or living creatures in general comes from (unless the latter comes from "warging" the dead and effectively becoming warped, unwittingly cursing themselves or making themselves Nazgul). The cold magic element, though, which is not part of the warg / greenseer repertoire suggests we have an external force behind The Others. Which brings us to the thematic element of the series, Ice and Fire in opposition (probably two halves of the whole intended to be in balance rather than opposition but out of kilter), with the white walkers cold made "flesh" (temporarily by magic) and the dragons fire made flesh. I understand the desire to see the Starks as the Ice to the Targaryen fire but both these "meta" elements seem bigger than and beyond humanity. The Targaryen dragons and the Stark wargs seem likely to work together to defeat The Others and though it's possible that meddling by Humans or Singers caused the problem or at least the hostility of The Others I'm not sold on the Starks have more blame than anyone else.
  25. Got it. Wouldn't that imply the immortality of the soul? I don't mean to sound too philosophical but The Singers eventually lose themselves in the ravens or the trees and fade away with only some vestigial memories remaining like echoes in the ravens or becoming part of the weirnet collective. If The Others can ride the cold winds and form icy avatars on demand / in the right circumstances they don't "pass on" or dissipate. It would imply something is holding them here (not to overdo the comparison but like the Nazgul or the dead of Dunharrow). Granted. But the undead (zombie flicks and poplar cultural references abound) are unnatural. If they're Beric then they have a comprehensible motive and morality. If they slaughter with impunity and raise the dead as wights to kill more of whoever they can reach - men, giants and presumably COTF - and display intelligence, cunning and purpose (the prologue to AGOT is an ambush, Hardhome appears to be a trap, they have language, organisation and use tools/weapons) then they're more than just indifferent or casually cruel. Monsters and evil are human constructs but reanimating corpses is a perversion in human terms so I think it's a fair way to regard them even if it appears simplistic.
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