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Maia

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  1. Maia

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    I have been on a Le Guin kick lately - specifically on her 2000-ies output, which didn't get the attention it deserved, IMHO. So, I blew through her "Lavinia" and "The Annals of the Western Shore" trilogy - "Gifts", "Voices" and "Powers". I liked all of them, though IMHO the "4th wall" device, not with the reader, but with Vergil, was somewhat unnecessary in "Lavinia". Otherwise it was a really well-written thought experiment on how the events of the "Aenaeid" may have looked from the perspective of the titular character and what life of the ancient Latin tribes may have been like. The "Western Shore" trilogy takes place in a fictional world, parts of which are inspired by ancient Italy and other historical cultures. And, going against the grain of contemporary fantasy, the stakes are mostly very personal and in the end the young PoV characters basically just find themselves. I still found the stories very gripping and loved "Gifts" and "Powers". "Voices" is also fairly good, but it runs out of steam 2/3 of the way through and the ending didn't seem plausible to me. Also read "The Daughter of Ordren", a minor Earthsea story. I will probably be dropping Gareth Powell's space opera series after "The Fleet of Knives" turned one of the previously interesting PoVs into an annoying straw person and generally lost my interest. "The Vanisher's Palace" by Aliette de Boddard disappointed me too. "The Unkindest Tide" by Seanan McGuire kinda sits in the middle for me in that I feel that she is adhering to a formula that is becoming very stale and is unnecessarily recycling some previous stuff for superfluous side-missions, when there was really more than enough potential in the main plot about the Selkies. I am also getting increasingly irritated at how However, I still liked what there was of the main plot and the resolution was fairly satisfying. "Sister Noon" by Karen Joy Fowler - a historical novel set in the 19th century San Francisco. Not up to the level of "We are All Completely Besides Ourselves", but intriguing historical personages such as Mary E. Pleasant make up for it.
  2. Maia

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    I stumbled across Holly Black's "The Cruel Prince", then the sequel "The Wicked King" and somehow blew through the rest of her "Faerie" books, which are quick reads. Not normally my cup of tea, because all of them prominently feature YA romance, but there must be something in her approach to faeries and the problems of teenage girls that kept me interested. Also, there is a decent variation between different heroines, their circumstances and their flames. The on-going trilogy is definitely the most engaging though, not least because the heroine is so unapologetically ambitious and power-hungry, which female protagonists seldom get to be, even when they are "Kick-ass". She remains somewhat sympathetic because it is very understandable what drives her, yet she also chose her course. I don't currently see how the "romance" part in could ever be strong-armed into the usual tropes either, which gives me hope that maybe it won't be? Maybe, just maybe the happy ending for this couple isn't written in stone? "Winter of the Witch" by Katherine Arden. Well, it somewhat redeems the colossal disappointment that the middle book of the trilogy was for me, but not quite. I knew what historical event this trilogy was likely aimed towards and wasn't wrong, but I feel that a lot of clear contrivances were needed to get there. It also explains why one annoying character kept re-appearing like a bad penny, but I didn't find the pay-off to be satisfying enough. Use of Russian legends and mythology remains the point of attraction, but on the whole I feel that the trilogy didn't deliver on the promise of "The Bear and the Nightingale". "Record of the Spaceborn Few" by Becky Chambers. I felt that it was the weakest of the "Wayfarer" series. Not because of it's relative lack of a cohesive plot, but because so much of what plot there is agressively conflicts with the worldbuilding. I liked the Exodan litany. Currently reading "Lavinia" by Ursula Le Guin.
  3. Which is so odd, because from their description in the text, the Duopotamians might well have been PoC - tan skin, dark hair and eyes, to such an extent that there have _never_ been a light-eyed, light-haired person in residence in living memory until Kari al'Thor and Rand arrived, etc. Yes, the Andorans are North-European in appearnce, but the Two Rivers people look very distinct from them, which is even a plot point. If anything, they probably should have cast PoC as all the 2 Rivers folks, both main and minor - the Caucasian, light-eyed Mat actor might detract from Rand sticking out there as much as he did. I very much doubt that they'll make him wear tinted lenses, because this is almost never done. Not to mention that, hypocrtically, nobody seems much bothered by the fact that Rosamund Pike looks nothing like the book description of Moiraine.
  4. Maia

    Third Quarter 2019 Reading

    Has been a long time since I posted in one of these threads - despite really appreciating them as a source of recommendations. Shaem, shame, shame! Anyway, here are some things that I have been reading recently: The Haunting of Tramcar 015 by P. Djèlí Clark. Egypt became a world power in late 19th century because one mad alchemist pierced the veil to the world of magic and not only do they have all manner of djinn-powered magi-tech in the alternative early 20-ieth century, but also a Ministry regulating and overseeing all that stuff. We follow the 2 agents investigating the titular haunting. Liked it a lot - it is refreshing to see alternative settings with magic that is based on non-European traditions and the novella is charmingly written. I am looking forward to his upcoming novel in this setting. The Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Picked it on a whim and loved it - a brilliant and irascible old woman is dying and thinking back about her life and how it was interwined with the turbulent history of the 20-ieth century. Beautifully written and made me want to look more into the "Penguin Essentials" line. Call the Midwife books by Jennifer Worth - I have recently watched the 5 seasons of the series on Netflix and was curious about the source material. As I suspected, they went somewhat overboard with happy endings in the show and meandered quite a bit once they ran out of the source material. Still pretty worthwhile and the books are a vivid testimony of how lucky we are not to live 70 or so years earlier, leave alone farther in the past than that. The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty - by pure chance yet another fantasy series which begins in Cairo and features djinn, but this one is set in alternative last years of 18th century. A young woman who makes her way as a confidence trickster and a sometimes midwife/ folk healer learns that magic is real. Despite the fact that the first book features some tropes that I am heartily tired of, but which seem de rigeur for young female protagonists, I enjoyed it. And the second book is the opposite of the middle book slump and I really loved it, even though I have no idea where the things are going to go from there. The Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay - yes, there is nothing new there, just the usual, well-written, comfortable Kay, not much happens, but I still enjoyed it. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon - liked it, but preferred the first half to the second, because too many things seem pre-ordained, happen in convenient nicks of time, etc. I find the setting interesting and although it is a standalone, there definitely are some questions still remaining. But some things are kind of muddled without being hooks for possible sequels, i.e.:
  5. Good news! Hopefully, a certain wizard isn't in it, because he is a completely ridiculous character, who brings down the narrative.
  6. Maia

    Dany the Mad Queen was a terrible idea

    What are you even talking about?! Tarlys did rebel against and betray Olenna, who was depicted in the show as their rightful overlord. And who supported Dany. They killed people who remained loyal to House Tyrell with the goal of becoming the lords of Highgarden themselves. I mean, if you think that the Freys and the Boltons didn't rebel against Robb and Edmure and betray them, they just chose to support king Joffrey when they committed the Red Wedding, then well enough, I guess, from your PoV the Tarlys wouldn't be traitors either. The Tarlys are pretty much what Boltons would have been if Domeric Bolton had lived and been Roose's heir. @Rose of Red Lake: Except we know from Quentyn's and Tyrion's PoVs in ADwD that Dany's peace wasn't going to work long-term, because it was no longer up to Meerenese or even their fellow Ghiscari. Powerful interests invested a lot of money in quashing Meeren and only a series of military victories could prevent it. I also don't remember Drogon burning people who weren't attacking him in the books - IIRC the victims were trampled by other people due to panic.
  7. Maia

    Dany the Mad Queen was a terrible idea

    This is not what happens at all? Tyrion is fully aware in ADwD that the Volantenes are coming, that the Dothraki have been invited and that it was not up to Ghiscari any more, if it ever was. Also, lots of money has been spent by all the anti-Meeren parties, which could only be recouped by a sack. This is what gets me - in the books any long-term peace is clearly impossible without some resounding military victories. Meeren just doesn't have the resources to survive on it's own and the other slaver cities of Essos are highly motivated to quash it with prejudice. The Dothraki, too, are a major problem, as they are the reason why the Ghiscari are cut off from the fertile soil and, as a result, have little to offer in trade. It is so odd to me that Dany's failure in this impossible situation is supposed to be the sign that she would never make a good ruler. I have seen the sentiment that Dany was written to be the deconstruction of Alexander the Great, or, possibly, Ghengis-Khan, whose background was rather similar to hers. Except - GRRM would not let her be them, not really. Both of them were capable and innovative administrators, after all, as well as conquerors and destroyers, but Martin spends more time on Dany's sexuality than on her empire-building. I am not sure, honestly. It wouldn't be plausible for one person to achieve such a huge paradigm shift among the culture set in it's ways in such a short amount of time. The best that could be hoped for is that anti-slavery ideals would get adopted into a popular religion, like already happened with the Faith. Which may well happen in the books. I suspect that Dany's sin in the books is supposed to be that she is unwilling to commit to anti-slavery crusade in Essos and give up her intention to return to Westeros. Clearly, eradicating slavery is a work of a lifetime and more. She may have fallen into it more or less by chance, but it is now her moral duty to go the distance. But she won't. It wouldn't have mattered if GRRM intended to give us the second Long Night deserving of the name, but if Dany is supposed to be the Fire to the Others Ice, he probably doesn't. I mean, Valyria with it's hundreds of dragons and fire sorcery was the proper anti-thesis of the "night that lasted a generation". Dany, with her 3 young dragons - less impressive than what the Targaryens had during their century on Dragonstone or the Conquest or 150 years after the Conquest, can only be seen as an equivalent to a minor incursion, surely.
  8. Maia

    Dany the Mad Queen was a terrible idea

    The mountain clans _are_ northeners. Northeners who didn't want to join the Stark kingdom and had to be conquered, subdued, and held docile via child hostages, who were sometimes executed, for a long time before they accepted the Kings of Winter as their overlords. Of course they did it to increase their power - to "steal" it from competitors. Nobody elected the Starks to rule the North - they conquered and massacred and murdered until their rule became uncontested. As did all the formerly royal Houses of Westeros. In the books, simple soldiers aren't taken prisoner after a battle - they either manage to run away after a defeat, or they are killed. Sometimes, they may be lucky enough to be able to change allegiance - but that's usually only something that mercenaries can get away with. If their lord bends the knee, they get spared with him. Robb was chivalric towards nobles and knights in the books - he didn't care about the commoners at all, except for the personnel of Winterfell. Did he take simple soldiers captive in the show? Even if he did, it was far from normal. He also did nothing to stop his own soldiers depredations on the allied Riverfolk, as, IIRC, was demonstrated via Brienne in the show. As to Tywin he only stopped execution of civilians in the show, because he knew that he would be staying at Harrenhal for some time and needed servants. In the books, some folks, including Arya, were just rounded up and driven to Harrenhal for this purpose. After the Battle of the Blackwater, all Stannis's nobles, who had been taken prisoner, were given the choice of swearing to Joffrey or dying. Only the R'llor fanatics among them chose the latter. This should have been the case for any winner, if the narrative remained somewhat realistic. There was no need to stoop to "kill them all!" insanity to show this. No effective leader can be a good person with clean hands - certainly not back in the Middle Ages and not even now. One of the things that distinguish the great Danish show "The Killing" (Forbrydelsen) from it's US copycat, is the brilliant depiction of the moral fall of a genuinely idealistic and promising politician, who has to compromise his principles again and again, in the attempt to win an election. And yet, what is the solution? Not to try at all? Well that's another example of Tyrion's abyssmal advice to Dany - it would have been far better for the citizens of KL, if she had taken the city with her unsullied immediately upon arrival, instead of using her Westerosi allies to do it. Unlike the Reach and Dornish troops, the Unsullied would not have sacked the city without an order. I mean, imagine the Dornish, with all that pent-up hate, being let loose on the KL! And the Reachmen wouldn't have been far behind. Also a "benevolent dictator" is somehow very workable as long as it is a Stark, right? Queen Sansa? King Bran? Or Tyrion, even, if show Bran doesn't intend to truly rule. A lot of people expected it or wanted it to happen because: Dany was introduced as a member of the antagonist family, who were initially presented as complete villains. Yes, so was Tyrion, but from the very beginning he was shown to sympathise with various Starks and like them more than he did his own folks. Also, he is a man and we are used to men being anti-heroes and getting redemption arcs. Once people guessed Jon's identity, it became clear that Dany was his competitor as a claimant to the throne and as a prophecised hero. We are conditioned by hoary tropes to expect that in such as situation the man is the hero and the woman is the villain - Arthur vs Morgan, etc. Dany is a grey character - she is ambitious, she is ruthless. Given her circumstances, she couldn't have been anything else if she were to become significant. She believes in and takes solace in her birthright - so does everybody else among the noble PoVs, of course, but the Targaryens were introduced as justly deposed, so it is seen negatively. She has to deal with the fallout of her mistakes and negative consequences of her decisions - something that Jon, for instance, has nearly always been protected from by the narrative. She is a foreigner. She occasionally has visions - which is not a sign of insanity in that universe, but is in ours. Etc. Making her a villain was a really low-hanging fruit with some unpleasant implications - which is why some of us didn't think that GRRM would go there. But that doesn't even make any sense in the show - his wondering. It seems to come from some parallel universe, where the characters are still the shades of grey, rather than St. Tyrion, St. Varys, St. Jon, weebo-martyr Cersei and Lucifer-Hitler Dany. Yes, it would have made vastly more sense for the situation to be such that Jon could legitimately wonder about his decision. In fact, the show ending relies so heavily on gaslighting, character inconsistency, reliance on the poor memory of the audience, etc., that one can almost hope that something more nuanced was envisioned at some point. For instance, if Cersei remained the same character who was prepared to poison Tommen and herself while sitting on the Iron Throne in season 2, who blew up the sept in season 6 and easily got over Tommen's death, she would have planned for the ways to kill Dany even if the city surrendered. The failed attempt on Dany after she accepted or was in the act of accepting the surrender would then have led to the sack, aggravated by the wildfire caches under the city. It also would have made Dany very angry, distrustful and hard-line, and a legitimate danger to Sansa and anybody who didn't fall in line immediately. She would have blamed Tyrion - with some justification, because of his constant Cersei-stanning during the last 2 seasons, and he would have been looking at execution. The things could have proceeded as they did from there, without violating any of the previously established characterizations. Oh, and Varys should have been treated as what he was in the show - as somebody who became so addicted to kingmaking, that he just couldn't stop until he found the perfect puppet. It was super-weird how early in the season 7 they expressly reminded the audience that he wanted to replace Robert with Viserys with the help of Drogo's Dothraki (!), yet the show then proceeded to treat him as a saint who was genuinely all for the good of the realm. I don't remember - did the show also show that he was present when LF lied to Cat about the assassin's dagger and sparked the Stark-Lannister war? In any case, he also helped Tyrion kill Tywin, who was a force for stability and came to Dany _because_ she was a successful conqueror, so that, too, was on him. As is the fact that he let the twincest continue, when he could have ensured that it was discovered early on. It is ludicrous how after all of this the show tried to ham-fistedly depict him as a good man who was killed unjustly.
  9. Maia

    Dany the Mad Queen was a terrible idea

    Jon, chapter 53, ADwD: "Aye, and why not?" Old Flint stomped his cane against the ice. "Wards, we always called them, when Winterfell _demanded boys_ of us, but they were hostages, and none the worse for it". "None but them _whose sires displeased the Kings o'Winter_", said The Norrey. "Those came home shorter by a head". Jon subsequently assures the clan lords that he would be willing and able to execute child hostages that Tormund's people are going to provide, should the situation call for it. I have my doubts that he would have actually done it, but Starks of old were certainly child-killers, when pushed, and it eventually helped them gain respect and obedience of other northeners. Which also makes mockery of such arguments as "but Dany executed _innocent_ slavers!" and "westerosi don't practice collective punishment!"
  10. Maia

    Dany the Mad Queen was a terrible idea

    Yea, this is incredibly hypocritical, though. Because why are the Starks the rightful rulers of the North? Because, according to the books, their ancestors conquered and massacred and executed child hostages until their rule became uncontested and the North united. Ditto every other lord paramount, except for the Tyrells and the Tullys, who were nominated by Aegon the Conqueror. Are we supposed to think that they are morally superior to Dany because their ancestors were the ones who did all the dirty work, so that they themselves didn't have to? The _only_ reason that the Starks are important political players is birthright. Yes, even Jon massively profited from his "blood of Winterfell" and the noble upbringing that resulted from it. The whole "ambition to rule is bad" thing is Disney morality at it's most unrealistic, which is particularly ironic given that we live in a world where ambition is the first and the completely non-negotiable pre-requisite for somebody to eventually become a leader of their country. Nor is there historically any reason to conclude that lack of ambition would result in a good ruler. Louis XVI is the parade example for this fallacy. He didn't want to be king, but felt that it was his duty. And before you bring up Cincinnatus and Washington - they were both quite ambitious (apart from the fact that Cincinnatus likely wasn't real), as their biographies _prior_ to being offered ultimate power amply testified. They weren't some shmoes who got power repeatedly pushed at them just because. This is not comparable, though, because Tarlys turned on Olenna, who in the show was presented as their rightful overlord and who did accept Dany as her queen. They were not just prisoners of war, they were traitors and thus comparable to Lord Karstark, the Freys and the Boltons. Which is why Tyrion's and Varys's reactions to their executions felt so out of place. Robb didn't even offer the black to Lord Karstark, but we were supposed to think that Dany was showing signs of becoming a mad despot?! I beg to differ, as far as the show is concerned. In the show, Ramsey had more northern support than the Starks and they had to resort to "foreign" help such as wildlings and the Valemen, to triumph. They were also the ones attacking Ramsey. He is "elected" by the victors, yes. The losers - who in the show were presented as the majority of the powerful northern nobles, didn't get a vote. He is also "elected" because of his Stark blood and being male - i.e. birthright + bigotry. Yea, but in the context of the show, this doesn't make sense. Jon didn't have to deal with show Karstarks and Umbers who betrayed the Starks and handed Rickon to Ramsey - they all conveniently died. He showed mercy to their children - but note that Sansa, who is presented as the worthy queen in the end, was against it.
  11. Doesn't Dany reference Varys's intention to put Viserys on the throne early in season 7? Before pointing out that Varys betrayed everybody whom he had ever served and promising to burn him, should he turn on her? It is in the show - in a rather nonsensical and unexplained manner. Of course, in the same conversation Dany also indicated that while Viserys may have stupidly believed that he'd be received with open arms in Westeros, she herself knew better - only to make a 180 on this insight in a hurry, because "it is like poetry, it rhymes", I guess. Show consistency!
  12. Maia

    Master thread on what the Show means for the book plot

    Well, sometimes things change quite quickly, if the circumstances are ripe for it. For instance, look at the drastic changes that happened in large parts of Byzantine Empire between 628 and 634, ditto the fall of the Sassanid Empire, etc. with attendant changes in religions. _If_ GRRM is actually serious about the devastation that the Others, the wars and the grayscale epidemic _should_ bring, a strong resurgence of the Old Gods religion isn't out of the question, provided that it is shown to be effective, where the Faith is revealed as impotent. And the Red religion will come to be seen as malignant, I guess, since they are part of "Fire", which is apparently supposed to be as bad as the Others(?!!). Not something that I can behind - surely Valyria was this at it's peak, but it seems to be GRRM's plan, so them's the breaks. I am not talking about the meaningless sound-bytes from the show, which have no basis in the books. But as you say - apocalyptic, which _should_ mean radical change regardless of any people's plans. Westeros has been frozen in a very primitive form of feudalism for millenia, apparently - surely it is time for something to kick at least parts of it into Renaissance? Or even more sophisticated late Middle Ages, with a reasonable number of towns and cities, proper justiciary, etc. With the devastations taking the role the Black Death had iRL. Die-off among higher nobility would help with all of that. So? Noble Arryns as rulers of the Vale still can end. And Bran is the Tully heir after Edmure and his unborn kid - which could bolster his claim to kingship, given that he'd be somebody from a formerly royal House and in control of the 2 important territories - potentially. The Riverlands would make a good royal domain in the future. Indeed, Martin's quote does look like a mean joke in hindsight. Not nearly as important. Roman Empire and Byzantine Em
  13. Maia

    Master thread on what the Show means for the book plot

    Not if fight against the Others leads to the massive resurgence of the Old Gods religion. Also, more Great Houses need to fall - there has to be sweeping change of political landscape at the end of the series, otherwise it would have all been quite pointless and a waste of time. If Arryns, Tullys and Baratheons - who are all teering on the edge of extinction, are gone, the Lannisters are seriously disgraced, and the Starks are seen as the heroes with a divine connection, then it could work. Bran being the king of Westeros is part of the original outline of ASoIaF and, I guess, something that GRRM is really keen on, because the show-runners clearly weren't interested in the character and allegedly wanted to write him out completely. Yes, it doesn't make much sense from where the things stand at the end of ADwD. No wonder that Martin has been struggling with TWoW for so long. I thought that all the complaints about how haphazard and anti-sanitary KL was when compared to other great cities might have been hinting that maybe they are going to build a new capital after it is destroyed. And location on the God's Eye would be more central and provide that Old Gods connection. Martin does need to provide good justifications for the kingdoms staying together, though. Devastation after the Others, the greyscale epidemic and the civil wars could do it, but then Northern secession could not be presented as a good thing, so I dunno, maybe it doesn't actually come to pass. Concerning Jon - maybe he never leaves the NW in the books, given that it mainly happened to spike Dany's ascent to the throne in the show and FAegon is going to it much better in the books?
  14. Yes. It is a fundamentally stupid ending that will require huge contrivances in the books and it also manages to hit all the problematic sexist tropes. After all, Lysa, Cersei and Dany - the only 3 women wielding high-level direct power in books so far are now apparently equally evil and mad. Also, it sure looks like all 3 are going to be murdered by the men they love, to stop them from commiting further insanities. Whee! Yes, yes, we have also seen plenty of problematic powerful men. But powerful men come on a spectrum of ability and goodness, and there are plenty who are one or the other or some compromise between the 2. Oh and let's not forget that Cat also dared to "meddle" in politics, with disastrous results and has also gone mad before she died. All the bigots who prevented female succession in the history books are proven right, because Dany is worse than Maegor the cruel and Mad Aerys combined! This despite women dragonriders in FaB not even getting enough clout or inspiring enough fear to have much of a say in governance and war or to stop male nobles from trying to force them into marriages. But Dany having dragons that are just about 2 years old is being treated like she has a nuclear bomb, when not even Balerion, Meraxes and Vhagar were that. Sansa is still just 13 in the books and is rather far from the point of becoming a significant power - not to mention that since she is very much about _soft_ power, it really doesn't make sense for her to come into her own until she is several years older and has time to build up her influence network. So far, she has mostly been just a window into the doing of other people. The whole QiTN thing also doesn't seem believable book-wise - IMHO it was a desperate face-saving manouevre on the part of the show. BTW the world isn't going to be broken and remade, after all, so that Westeros maybe finally moves towards the Renaissance, due to the combination of a huge die-off and the eastern influences that preserved the heritage of a previous great civilization. No, it is the same old, same old, only slightly dinged, with the feudal nobility firmly in power, the family that is 8K old back on top, etc. And this is supposed to be a satisfying ending?! It seems like the change from sociological story-telling to psychological, as adressed in the excellent article in Scientific American wasn't just a show thing, but very much a book thing too. In fact, sociological story-telling was only ever there to camouflage the strings of a very traditional story, with the only surprise being the Fisher King instead of Arthur getting to be the "good ruler" in the end. But never Morgan Le Fay, that would be a step too far. This ending belongs together with such jewels of GRRM's original series outline as "forbidden passion" between Jon and Arya, Jon-Arya-Tyrion love triangle, evil King Jaime sacking Winterfell, etc. Though at least there Bran would have been an adult, who had been ruling for years, before Dany even showed up.
  15. Maia

    Master thread on what the Show means for the book plot

    Isn't Davos conveniently fetching one for him? And it is fairly useful, since he, at least, is aware of the danger of the Others and can start to prepare the North for it, though with only a very partial success. Indeed not. That's the whole point - the "ungrateful northeners" plot fits Stannis's arc far more than Dany's. Nor is there really time for him to march south, if GRRM is serious about the Long Night. If he is not, well, anything can happen, but IMHO the incessant squabbling for power is getting fairly boring and repetitive. There is a full roster of people fighting in the south already. Why? Massey didn't even leave yet and it is very doubtful that he'd be able to find many sellswords willing to go fight in the North in winter, particularly not if they have to land as far north as Eastwatch. Especially since there is currently a recruitment craze in southern Essos. And if Davos brings Rickon, Stannis will have the White Harbour Port to use, which is a far more reasonable place to land an army, supposing that Massey actually manages to hire one eventually and chooses to bring it to Stannis, rather than FAegon. Masseys used to be very tight with Targaryens, after all. Roose is an interesting enemy, Ramsey not so much. It is entirely possible that Roose won't be finished when Winterfell falls, but manages to escape and to remain a thorn in the protagonist's side, helps the Others out of spite or whatever. However, there are only 2 books left and new things need to be happening, rather than the constant regurgitation of what we have already seen before. Basically, it all hinges on the question - will Martin treat the Long Night in the same lacklustre way as the show did or will he stretch his muscles as a horror writer (which he used to be quite good as) and make it something memorable? I am unabashedly for the latter - which is why I think that we saw almost nothing of Jon's book arc in the show. Instead, it seems to me that he mostly inherited Stannis's and FAegon's plots. I used to think that Jon was not dead and would be healed by the same ritual as Mirri used on Drogo, only performed properly, rather than with the intention of turning the patient into a vegetable. Unlike the fire-wights, Drogo's wound was actually healed. But after what we have seen in the show about Jon's ending, I am not sure. Also, having the funky flaming blood would be very helpful in a scenario where the Others are not a droid army. Yea, book Jon was already breaking his vows and leaving the Wall when he was killed, so the "death" loophole in the oaths is completely unnecessary. It is also quite ludicrous to think that people would believe in it and accept it without question, like they did in the show, where even Cersei somehow totally bought that Jon was still super-honorable, rather than a power-hungry oathbreaker. He could have just left the Wall at the end of ADwD and been saved from the charges of desertion by Robb's will turning up, if that's where GRRM was going. But is it? Given how quickly the whole KiTN thing was dispensed with in the show and Jon's ending, I kinda doubt it. IMHO, Jon getting assassinated was in part to _stop_ him from going down that road. Very much so, always provided that GRRM didn't become as enamored with incessant power struggles as D&D and still intends to deal with the threat of the Others and the Long Night, which should be devastating even without them, properly. His intended endings for the main characters, as presented by the show, raised some doubts in my mind, but I am still hoping that he isn't going for the cheap and underwhelming resolution.
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