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  1. It is not really weird, though. Consider the transition from Capet-Valois to Capet-Bourbon branch of French kings. Very comparable to the Stark - Karstark situation. IIRC, there were only a couple of other cadet branches that lasted a few generations in the 700+ years of their holding the throne. From the family tree it seems very likely that the combination of Robert's and Greyjoy Rebellions put an end to the Stark cadet branch of Artos the Implacable that still existed in Lord Rickard's generation. @Arrow of the Morning: I really think that the Ashara Dayne thing was a misdirection, but even if it was real and there had been serious consideration of a marriage, it wouldn't necessarily have been a particularly exceptional match. In ASoIaF second sons make good marriages to daughters/sisters of lords all the time.
  2. I hope that Myrcella survives the series and becomes a learned and famous septa like Hildegard of Bingen. I hate deterministic prophecies - they rob the characters both of responsibility and of any real achievement. And Maggy's one is the worst of the bunch. Prophecies as probabilities and as something that could be fulfilled by different people who fit the requirements or even derailed entirely add spice to the narrative - prophecies and visions that are set in stone and can only be misunderstood turn the characters into puppets. IMHO, YMMV. As to Cersei, dragging her along to the end of the series despite her incompetence and craziness would be boring and turn her into a Villain Sue. What happened to mistakes having consequences that attracted many to ASoIaF in the first place? She very much needs to die in TWoW - it would be a travesty if she didn't. The Westerlands and the rest of the Lannisters aren't going to put up with failure forever, particularly not from a woman.
  3. If you look at the Stark family tree from FaB, which encompasses the last 2 centuries or so, then it is evident that second sons of a lord didn't go to the Wall. At least not as young men, since they all had wives, etc. In fact, it seems that third and fourth sons also all married, with one possible exception - but then, he may have just died young. The North is huge and a lord Stark could use all the help that he can get from his brothers to rule it effectively. The travel time alone to reach the places where disputes needed solving or some shady stuff needed looking into requires weeks or months. Not to mention that a brother would pick up the pieces should a lord fail to produce heirs or die young. So, there should have been both power and prestige, as well as important function to carry out for Ned as a second son in the North. In fact, given Brandon's Robert-like traits, it wouldn't have surprised me if Ned ended up with all the nitty-gritty work of ruling if his brother had lived. It is actually highly unusual and a big exception compared to the other noble houses of the North depicted in the books that Benjen as an only surviving brother of a lord joined the NW, and it certainly greatly contributed to the downfall of the Starks. Lord Rickard may have also hoped for a southern career for Ned, maybe at court, perhaps as a member of the Small Council eventually. Or he may have just hoped that Ned's southern experience would help the Starks build up closer ties, political and economical ones, with the south. Lyanna's betrothal to Robert was the result of his and Ned's friendship, for instance. There were certainly many different options available to him. In general, second sons of powerful lords in ASoIaF don't seem to have any difficulties finding brides. There are even odder matches, like Ser Daven Lannister having been in negotions for the only daughter of Lord Redwyne when Tywin made his deal with the Freys or Ned's Stark great-aunt having been married to the second son of the junior (landless) Royce line. I don't agree that Ned was romantically interested in Ashara Dayne, I think that it was Brandon and that he was the father of her allegedly stillborn daughter. @Yaya: I think that Robert and Brandon were too alike to be friends. They would have quarreled over women, competed too much, etc. Opposites attract and all that.
  4. Martin said: "My Littlefinger would have never turned Sansa over to Ramsay. Never. "He's obsessed with her. Half the time he thinks she's the daughter he never had — that he wishes he had, if he'd married Catelyn. And half the time he thinks she is Catelyn, and he wants her for himself." "He's not going to give her to somebody who would do bad things to her. "That's going to be very different in the books," I quickly googled this quote here: https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/1347396/Game-of-Thrones-George-RR-Martin-Sansa-books-HBO-Winds-Winter-release-date but it was the "Rant and Rave" thread that first made me aware of it. OTOH, the search function on this forum sucks and I couldn't find it there again. All of the differences that I mention as certain in my previous post come from the research on interviews and quotes from Hibberd's book cited there. IIRC the last 15-20 pages have the gist of it. For all we know Harry is going to die shortly in WoW. And wasn't there a lot of talk here and elsewhere in the past about how a "right woman" may have been able to manage Robert and he would have remained a better man? I don't really share this opinion, but it may be that Sansa-Harry, to the extent that it happens, goes in this direction. Anyway, some more thoughts on the book possibilities: If GRRM holds to king Bran, could it be that some of un-Cat's importance as a character is tied to putting him on the throne? She already has Robb's crown... I can't fathom how GRRM could have thought that the 5-year gap was negotiable if he holds to king Bran, sigh. And for that matter, why did he progress the time-line so little in AFFC/ADwD? And finished ADwD on multiple cliffhangers, which again preclude progressing the time-line between books? No wonder that he has such problems finishing the series - he is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The story has grown so different from his early outline that the envisioned ending from that outline no longer fits. This makes it difficult to judge how seriously he is going to take the second Long Night. If it is supposed to be more than a damp squib, like in the show, then the Others really need to overrun the North and reach the Riverlands. There are foreshadowings of them eventually reaching the Trident in the books, and it makes no sense whatsoever for any non-northern armies to be able to operate in the North in Winter. There is also the strongly implied significance of Harrenhal, of the Island of Faces, etc. But it would mean that TWoW needs to show the Others south of the Wall relatively early. I favor a number of them sneaking into the North before the Wall comes down. Possibly on ships sent to Hardhome - then it could work like in "Dracula", seemingly empty ships arriving/being discovered somewhere, foreboding, etc. Or the wildlings from the Frozen Shore who worship them as gods could smuggle them through or around the Wall. The Others overruning the North wouldn't necessarily mean that all the people there would die in the short term either - Old Nan's tales strongly suggest the existence of human enclaves in the Other-controlled territories in the past and Tormund hinted that the wildlings had some partially effective defences against them, but frustratingly didn't go into detail. Old castles may have in-built protections as well. Whereas part of the population would be able to escape south. Not to forget Euron, who looks either like a stooge for the Others or a representative of some other malignant force. There is also a very big question about what the resolution to the Other problem could even look like. GRRM is on record with his admiration of the ending of LoTR and it's "magic needs to depart for the age of Man to begin", but it has been done a million times and is, frankly, rather boring. There is a very good reason for it in LoTR, which was conceived as mythological "history" for Great Britain that in Tolkien's opinion didn't have enough of it. Or in the many fantasy stories where magic is a metaphor for childhood - of people or civilizations. Like in the zillion takes on "The Matter of Britain" or re-working of historical events with insertion of magic into the background, etc. But would it actually feel satisfying if Westeros loses it's distinguishing characteristics like it's rogue seasons and becomes "just like us" for no real reason? Not IMHO. Nor do I think that the resolution of the conflict with the Others should cancel the long and fierce Winter after nearly 10 years of Summer, like in the show. The books could show Westeros recovering from it in an epilogue to the last book volume, after all. I am not even sure that we need to have certainty that the Others have been defeated/eradicated for all time.
  5. OTOH, speaking of the Tullys, didn't Targaryen loyalists in the Riverlands, such as Whents, Darrys and Goodbrooks lose much of their land after Robert was victorious? Shouldn't the Tullys have been the ones to profit from it? And yes, given that they usually were on the winning side or neutral during various preceding conflicts, they should have gotten significantly stronger than they were at the time of the Conquest. For that matter, do we know what happened to Harroways lands? Regarding Stannis's Florent marriage - not only would he have whined about it if Robert had forced him into it, Cersei would have spitefully crowed about it as well, just like she did about Dragonstone allegedly being meant as a snub (according to GRRM it wasn't). But could it be that no other Reach house of note wanted a marriage tie to the Baratheons at the time? I mean, it made political sense for the Baratheons to forge such a match with an implicit threat to the Tyrells, but maybe everybody else in the Reach expected the new regime to crash and burn and the Florents were the only ones prepared to gamble on it? Or Stannis was personally so hated and feared there ditto? As to Lord Alester's daughters, Sam's mother was already married with children, and maybe his aunt was as well? When lord's daughter isn't available, a niece from the next-oldest branch makes sense, particularly with a good dowry. Another person who may have arranged the marriage - as in convinced Stannis, not forced him, may have been maester Cressen. Of course, some of the proposed matches in ASoIaF just don't make any sense - like Ser Daven Lannister having been in negotiations for lord Redwyne's daughter when Tywin arranged a Frey marriage for him. Like, why? Why would lord Redwyne have ever considered an obscure landless Lannister a viable match for his daughter?
  6. Well, due to all the research by the poster @The Dragon Demands and the analysis of Hibberd's book by @Count Balerion back in the "Rant and Rave" thread, we now know a few things that won't be the same in the books, i.e.: Sansa's plot-line is going to be very different and LF would have never given her to Ramsey - that's from GRRM himself. We know, of course, that she was just a stand-in for Jeyne Poole in the show, but IIRC some people thought that she might still somehow end up in Ramsey's clutches in the books as well. Thankfully, no. This also precludes Harry the Heir from revealing himself to be another abuser. Rickon still has an important role to play according to GRRM - which hints at Stannis defeating the Boltons and briefly holding the North, IMHO. Or maybe even the Starks continuing through him, to the joy of all those who worship patrilineal inheritance? Sigh. Hodor's "hold the door" was meant as "hold the enemies off with a sword, while being skin-changed by Bran". So, the lack of actual doors in the Children's Cave is not an obstacle, sigh. The Night King is purely a show creation - again, we knew this, but some thought that GRRM might have had something similar in mind. Viserion falling to NK ditto, the result of the D&D's desire to bring a huge Army of the Dead south cinematically - and, I guess, them being influenced by a WoW commercial? Which looks very similar indeed, now that I have seen it. What is interesting is that they talk of how they didn't want _just_ the NK and a few Others being able to cross - which might be a hint at something that I have suspected since ADwD. Namely, that some Others are already in the North, but in hiding and are circumspectedly building up. Or will be shortly, after catching a ride on the ships sent to Hardhome. I have long suspected that the wights being brought in inert form through the Wall back in AGoT and then "reviving" was a test of whether the Others themselves could do the same. The tidbit in FaB that hints at certain tribes of wildlings from the Frozen Shore worshipping the Others as "the gods of snow" makes it even more likely that they'd be game for smuggling inert Others through the Wall (some of them were with Tormund's people) or around it, on their boats. Now, we don't know for sure if anything prevents the Others from just sailing around or crossing the gorge at the Shadow Tower, but the Wall wouldn't be much of deterrent otherwise. This is very speculative, I know. Sadly, I can no longer deny that this "moral" comes through in GRRM's ASoIAF writings and whatever can be gleaned from the early outline of the then-trilogy, and yes, the show. Except that not even sexual abuse can make one worthy, it seems. See Crown Princess Aelora from FaB. Or even Dany after her wedding night and before her dragon dream. Yes, in every individual case it can be justified, but if you take GRRM's treatment of women who want power and agency in the novels, DoTD writings and FaB in aggregate, a pretty disheartening picture emerges: Lysa. Got to rule the Vale for a short time. A crazy, incompetent woman, her husband's murderer, eventually put down by her lover to protect Sansa. Does/did GRRM really intend to copy this with Dany?!!! Catelyn. Was partly raised as her father's heir and wanted to have agency in her family's affairs. Was regent of the North for a short time, failed badly as such. Could be fairly astute when advising other people, but whenever she took action, it ended in disaster. Which makes it easy for those so inclined to blame her for the fall of the Starks. Goes mad before her death (this is going to be a trend). Cersei. Always wanted to be her father's heir and rule in her own right, as well as have sexual agency. The stupidest of her 3 siblings, once Jaime actually starts using his brain. Cruel, impulsive, spiteful, but still dangerous because of her "low cunning". The reason for the War of Five Kings due to her insane insistance on not bearing any of Robert's children and general handling of Robert's coutriers (including his brothers). Greatly contributed to Joffrey being a psycho. Her PoV reveals her to be a Mad Queen. Do we really need a second one?!!! So that when the reasonable males Bran and Tyrion come to pick up the pieces everybody can sigh with relief and praise patriarchy for finally saving them from "the monstrous regiment of women"? GRRM seemed to think so when he allegedly told D&D that he intended for Bran to be king at the end. Arianne. A foolish, willfully ignorant young woman, who doesn't want to put up with being replaced as her father's heir because of her gender. Nearly caused a war once already and seems well on-track to cause another in the preview chapters. Not yet mad, but give her time. Asha. Introduced as competent and her father's chosen heir. After losing the kingsmoot seems to have also lost her brains and commits the same mistake that she rightly criticized her hapless brother for, namely playing a sitting duck in a hostile castle without any hope of support from her people. Currently a captive and some think that she is going to be sacrificed in her brother's place. Melisandre - a real seer who can't interpret her visions worth a damn, as opposed to male Moqorro's very precise foretellings. Dany? If we look at the early outline of ASoIaF trilogy, the one with the super-villain Jaime and Tyrion flipping from the Lannisters to the Starks and then somehow putting Bran on the throne, women in it are restricted to being antagonists (Sansa, Dany, Cat towards Jon), source of conflict between men (Cat, Arya) and love interests (Arya). If we look at DoTD/FaB, then GRRM chose to retcon the whole "a daughter inherits after the sons, but before other male relatives" law that people cite incessantly in the series proper into something that barely ever happened. Which, conveniently, reduced the number of women who could have played significant roles historically. He had reduced the importance of and/or villified the women who have been already mentioned in the books, such as Visenya, Alysanne, Rhaenyra, Joanna Lannister. The rest of them he either had die in chidlbirth at rates by far exceeding those of medieval queens of England, their daughters and granddaughters (I looked) - and that, despite the maesters having an understanding of aseptics and antiseptics that was only achieved in the second half of 19th century iRL and Targaryen supposed resistance against infections, or be mainly notable for their sexual escapades. Notably, most female dragonriders had zero political or military clout and got pushed around by various men who tried to force them into marriages. But Dany's dragons are somehow unstoppable WMDs and the equivalent of the One Ring? Yea, right. Oh, and both times that women functioned as Masters of Whisperers, it ended badly for everybody. Etc., etc. As to all the bigots who prevented women from succeeding to the throne in DoTD novellas and FaB, if GRRM still holds to his "king Bran" plan, it seems that he intends to prove them right! It would be pretty unconscionable, not to mention stupid if she did it on purpose and without some overriding necessity - like, say, a massive grey plague epidemic that needs to be stopped. But doing a number of targeted strikes if needed would be totally OK. Ditto if a surrender turns to be fake and a trap. It is not paranoia, if they are really out to get you. And yes, it would totally justify striking back at anybody who is or might be attacking, even if there are civilians in the way. Murderizing everything _but_ your target, less so. In the books not even Balerion would have been able to do what was depicted in the show, though, and Dany's dragons are much smaller. OTOH, some things need to be broken - including the Slaver cities and the Dothraki themselves. Between them they stifle any economic growth and halfway bearable human existence in the region. So, the solution is "them that has, gets"? You shouldn't stand up for yourself nor try to change things around you for the better? Which, you know, requires having power or influence on those that have it. Here is what I find irritating and baffling, not to mention more than a little hypocritical - according to FaB and DoTD materials Dany's dragons aren't anything close to nuclear weapons. Not even Balerion, Meraxes and Vhagar were that, really. The Conquest could only happen because of a unique political situation at the time, with a lot of preparation and planning. And brinkmanship and diplomacy. Nor were even the original trio untouchable - Visenya was nearly killed on the Field of Fire, it were more Orys and his men rather than Rhaenys that won the battle against Argilac and she _was_ killed in Dorne with her dragon. Not to mention all the dragons just killed by people during the Dance of the Dragons. Dany's dragons aren't really comparable to those of the Conqueror trio and until now they were more of a PR/morale thing rather than the source of her victories. Oh, and in FaB dragon-riding women are being totally pushed around and forced into marriages by dragonless men. Nuclear weapons? Pfft. Well, Drogon destroyed it, didn't he? So, the symbolic implication should be fairly clear. OTOH, from the world-building perspective, the House, the Heart and the Undying and the odd dwarfish creatures, etc. seem like a dark mirror the Children of the Forest and the greenseers in their caves. Well, duh? I mean, the same applies to an army. Maybe he does, but that's kinda hypocritical. Destruction is destruction. And 8K years of near-complete stagnation is nothing to brag about either. Not to mention that Targaryen dynasty goes back to Valyria, which allegedly existed for 3 millenia and change too. Actually, no. It just shows, yet again, that if that is what he had in mind, then Martin is a man of his time, who was inspired by even older and more biased influences, like The Matter of Brittain and The Fisher King. What has been done a million times is a woman who can't handle teh power and it drives her mad. The Dark Phoenix. Which GRRM has already, regrettably, overused in ASoIaF and related writings. Somebody like Dany as a hero was not only not done a million times, it wasn't done at all, back when the series was conceived and the first books written. Nor was it done much since. Which is what made her interesting. But being a truly morally grey hero or anti-hero is sadly still largely reserved to men.
  7. I want to thank you for your perseverance and for all the interesting tidbits that you researched and shared in this thread! Good work. I was going through it these last couple of weeks, since I pretty much dropped out of all things GoT and ASoIaF related for the last 2 years. As to HoTD, frankly, I can't fathom what GRRM was thinking when he was writing the material for it. I felt that his depiction of women in it and and in FaB was quite problematic and disappointing back when I believed that a great queen was the endgame. Who, by all means could have been Sansa marrying Aegon and doing Catherine the Great, as long as it was well done. But with Bran as endgame, wow! It seems like Martin was going to prove all the naysayers of female succession right?! I honestly don't see how this can be salvaged. I expect it to crash and burn - deservedly so. They should have done the pre-Fall Valyria as Rome with dragons, founding of Braavos and the Faceless Men, Aenar, Daenys the Dreamer - that could have worked. YMMV. I like the Stark siblings - and IMHO a happy ending would have been for at least some of them to come and stay together helping and supporting each other, not to separate forever after a brief and fraught interaction. I hated where the show had left them. I am also a fan of Tyrion, but of the book version, and I am in no way inclined to white-wash him. His character was destroyed in the show. I disagree with the notion that the North is this super-special country where nobody looks to their own self-interest and everybody is suicidally loyal to their dead overlords. In books it is fairly clear that Bolton _could_ have been successful if he had a reasonable heir instead of Ramsey. Even Jon thought so. Tywin's idea was to wait out what looked to become a very fierce and long winter, have Sansa produce a healthy Lannister-Stark heir and then maybe try to claim the North in his name, buying off the starving opposition. It wasn't a bad plan, if several things fell out his way, but it wasn't the only one. He could also have lived with Bolton in charge. And IMHO it was mostly intended to fend off Tyrion's ambitions for Casterly Rock. Oh, and I wanted to thank you too for all the fascinating excerpts from Hibberd's book and the analysis thereof. You have suffered so that we won't have to! Well, thanks to this thread we know that GRRM is on-record with Sansa's plot-line being very different in the books, so there is that. I think that both @The Dragon Demands and @Count Balerion posted the relevant quote some pages back.
  8. We don't know anything about what was happening in Essos at the time, where the Golden Company was, etc. At which point the seriousness of the rebellion and Robert's popularity became clear to Varys, how long did he expect it to drag on, only for it to conclude so decisively. What schemes he may have been running that failed*. Etc. Ditto concerning Illyrio - we know nothing about what he was up to and can't reasonably conclude that he wasn't as or even more involved in whatever Varys was doing back then. In the series proper the events outran Varys too and the Golden Company wasn't standing at attention waiting for his and Illyrio's signal. Like, the support of the Reach was there for the taking after Renly's death, but fAegon and the Golden Company just weren't in position to take advantage of it. Timing is everything. The fact remains that Varys sabotaged every Westerosi government that he claimed to serve over the period of more than 2 decades and there must be a reason for that. Ditto for the whole fAegon project. And no, I don't buy that it was all some social experiment aimed at creating a "perfect king". Or that after undermining Rhaegar as much as we now know he did, Varys suddenly discovered an undying devotion to his son. It wouldn't surprise me if Varys is a bastard of Maelys the Monstrous - the parallels between Egg preserving his cover by shaving his head and Varys's complete baldness are far too on the nose. Being of "king's blood" may have been considered as particular boon by the sorcerer who gelded him, if he shared some of Melisandre's beliefs. I think it likely that Illyrio is of a collateral Blackfyre ancestry as well - his change from a youth of overworldly beauty and martial prowess into a whale of a man is very like Aegon IV. Sera, I don't know, but we have only Illyrio's word that she was ever a whore and it isn't like the man is trustworthy. I mean, she might have been, even as a Blackfyre fallen on hard times, or she might just have been a Lyseni who could produce a child with proper appearance. Hm, now it occurs to me that Varys's initial motivation could have been just revenge for the War of Ninepenny Kings and it only evolved into another plot to grab the throne later. I mean, not only was it a final triumph of Targaryens over the Blackfyres, but both Aerys and Tywin were there personally, etc. *One of his schemes that succeded IMHO was finally driving Aerys and Tywin apart, which was what made the rebellion possible in the first place. There was no way that he didn't know about Cersei sneaking out for her tryst with Jaime. In fact, the whole idea about making Jaime a KG may have come from him. Didn't Cersei tell Sansa how she considered Varys her loyal friend when she "first came to court" or something? Which, as we now know was during the reign of Aerys.
  9. All the kids are/were skinchangers - you don't need to be physically impaired to be one. Forget the show. According to Varamyr Jon is a powerful one and so is Arya, since she does it across the Narrow Sea and with more than one kind of animal. Rickon was clearly actively skinchanging too. It would make sense if Sansa managed to develop her ability as well, with some animal that allowed her to gather information. Far from being gods, these kids need all the help they can get to be significant for the narrative. The Starks are 13, 11, 9-10 and 5-6 years old for Pete's sake! It would be completely implausible for them to do anything of importance without magic. At best they could be somebody's puppets. Even with magic it would be a huge, huge contrivance for them to be movers and shakers, frankly. As to the actual subject of the thread - yes, I believe that either Nymeria or Shaggy (should anything happen to Rickon with his wolf surviving) will make their way to Sansa at some point - either to help her or to provide a proof of her identity. Doesn't mean that she'd bond them though - in fact I think it more likely that Bran would guide the wolf in question to her.
  10. But the Stark kids aren't really where they would have been with the 5-year-gap - they are still children, far too young to plausibly play whatever roles GRRM initially envisioned for them. Frankly, even Jon and Dany are too young, but would have been borderline acceptable if it had been just the 2 of them. Yes, there were exceptional historical individuals who managed to accomplish great things while still in their teens, though in many cases looking a bit deeper it turns out that during their early forays they were just "the face", while experienced people in the background were doing the actual work and making decisions. So, for the most part it was more of an on-the-job apprenticeship than independent achievement. Obviously in a YA series a group of young teens and children saving or taking over the world could have worked even so, but nothing could be further from the tone that ASoIaF established previously and which made it great. IMHO, this is the main bone of contention for GRRM and the reason for his difficulties. Another thing is that back in the 90-ties Martin was ahead of the pack with his depictions of women in the fantasy genre, but by now maybe he needs to re-think how they come across in aggregate. In every single case it can be justified, but when taken all together and with addition of FaB, novellas and whatever of his intent may be glimsed from the show, certain disappointing tendencies are impossible to overlook, IMHO. Not sure if he is aware of it, though, given that FaB and "Dance of the Dragons" novellas are actually a step back from the novels in that department.
  11. Maybe something happened to their pretender and they had been unable to deploy him in time. A Sickness, for instance or an injury. It wouldn't surprise me if IlIyrio himself was that person and he is really Aelor. The fact that he speaks Westerosi Common language as a native and that he and Varys talk in it when they are alone in AGoT is very suspicious IMHO. Or maybe the man inconveniently died. Additionally, the events may have somewhat outpaced Varys and the Rebellion ended sooner than he expected, with Robert being more popular ditto.
  12. Renly only controlled the Reachmen _after_ he proclaimed himself. Before that he would have only had the Stormlands. And, of course, everybody expected Tywin to make short work of Robb at the time. So, when Renly made his claim he expected it to come down to himself and his forces against Tywin's and Jaime's hosts, which were bigger than what he could have gotten from the Stormlands alone. Regarding Stannis, if he wanted Renly's allegiance, he should have contacted him and proclaimed himself sooner instead of sitting idle on his rock and creating an impression that he wasn't going to dispute Joffrey's succession and Cersei's regency. Ditto Robb's allegiance. Even so, it is doubtful that many Reachmen would have supported a Stannis-Renly combo, since many of them, the Tyrells foremost of those, had beef with Stannis and/or the Florents and were reasonably afraid of them being in power. But the Stormlanders + Stannis ships and forces + Florents + Stannis's command experience and Renly's charisma may have been enough. There is no indication that Mace would have joined Renly without the promise of a grandchild on the Iron Throne, something that he wanted so badly that he was prepared to marry Margaery to Joff, despite all the rumors about his bastardy and terrible personality. It made great sense for Mace to remain neutral and sit that one out, he had to be enticed by marriage and Handship to throw his hat in the ring for Renly. Or do you think that Renly honestly considered Mace the best available candidate for his Hand? I suspect that there was more to it. Renly was dangerous to Cersei's children in the same way that Robert's bastards were - he was the image of young Robert and invited comparisons. Additionally, he was a great lord with his own power base, there was bad blood between him and Joffrey and second generation of a new dynasty is always the most vulnerable. It made sense to get rid of him if possible. Ned was a completely different case.
  13. It does work quite well if Autumn storms are fierce enough that they make sailing very dangerous. Much as I like Brienne and the look at the immediate aftermath of war that she provided, it wasn't really necessary. She could have been criss-crossing Westeros for those 5 years and re-appeared as a world-weary adventurer, still looking. Not sure what there is to pick up with LF, just don't have such fierce opposition to him so early on, it could have grown gradually and come to the boil after 5 years. As to Stannis, he would have been sandwiched between the wildlings to the north and Bolton to the south and could have been bogged down fighting both, as well as stockpiling resources. In fact, a lot of what happened with him in ADwD didn't make all that much sense to me - leaving the Wall while the Others were still so demonstrably active, for instance. It would have been much more feasible if they had gone quiet for a few years after their attempt to drive the wildlings into breaking through the Wall for them failed, which would have lulled Stannis and Jon into complacency and led to them leaving on a military campaign down south. Very much so, IMHO. All these young kids successfully becoming movers and shakers in their own right goes against the very things that made ASoIaF so good and distinguished it from the run of the mill fantasy of the time. I.e. a certain amount of internal plausibility and consequence. But because Martin failed to properly advance the timeline during the books itself - which could have easily taken twice as much in-world time as they did with a little tweaking, as well as to fit in a 5-year gap, we get the worst of all worlds - the kids are absurdly young _and_ all of them will have to succeed "by the seat of their pants", since they had no chance to be trained/gain experience. IMHO GRRM really needs to rethink his plans for the young PoVs and keep them more as the windows on other characters/events rather than making them independent actors, as he originally planned. Oh, and he really needs to drop the "king Bran" idea, which makes no sense at this point, if it ever did. This is a classical example of an author failing "to kill his darlings" IMHO - as in refusing to give up his early plans that no longer work. A "gardener"-style writer in particular should be open to change later on. Martin's TV-induced habit of ending every individual book with as much bang and cliffhangers as possible without thinking ahead doesn't help either. Like, the need for a gap should have been obvious to him writing ASoS and he could have forgone some of the things that in his opinion required immediate follow-ups. He also could have made use of mid-book time gaps like writers of historical novels do. Absolutely. Not to mention that everybody would have scrambled for resources during the Autumn, preparing for a very long and hard Winter. Which could handily explain warfare dying down. Historically, there frequently were periods of things simmering down for a few years during a prolongued conflict, even when it seemed unlikely that they would. General exhaustion, epidemics, weather, etc. could have been used to believably explain it. Oh, and BTW, I don't see why Martin felt that Cersei's regency had to be so event-filled, rather than a steady decline that could have come to a cusp when story picked up after five years. In fact, if the show in any way reflects his intended ending and in aggregate with FaB et al. I now have serious reservations about his depictions of and take on women and women in power in particular.
  14. IMHO, Martin's attempts to hold on to his initially envisioned endings for the main characters of AGoT when they no longer made sense combined with a weird inability to properly advance the timeline are the main reasons for the mess he found himself in after ASoS. This is a typical case of "kill your darlings" failure. By which I don't mean killing the characters, necessarily, but that certain ideas he had for younger characters could have only worked if he had managed to age them by a decade or more in the course of the series and should have been abandoned when he took a different route. I always liked Bran, but I was really surprised when I read that according to GRRM before his fall we were supposed to think of Bran as "a young King Arthur" and the main protagonist. And his whole development until now, not to mention his age (10 at most in ADwD) makes King Bran even less believable. Generally "kids save the kingdom/world flying by the seat of their pants!" which would need to happen for the surviving Starks to play important active roles in whatever outcome, seems badly at odds with the setting and the previous tone of the series. As does the notion of the Second Long Night being pretty trivial, like it would need to be if Dany and her baby dragons were supposed by GRRM to represent Fire to it's Ice. I know, I know - it is a well-worn fantasy cliché that the long-advertized return of Ancient Evil(tm) and/or the end of the world(tm) is averted within a year and without too much lasting damage once it fully reveals itself. But ASoIaF was far too nuanced and mindful of cause and effect for this simplistic framework to be satisfying after ACoK at the latest. The plot wasn't unreasonably complicated, though. My feeling is that it is his getting bogged in the minutiae as well as his unwillingness to let the PoVs go once they have served their purpose. If you are a gardener, you must also be able to prune and to be flexible if things develop in unexpected directions. While the ending of ASoS, great in itself, created some difficulties for a 5-10 year gap, GRRM still should have gone with it. Yes, it would have required certain contrivances, but no more than what was already present in the previous books. We didn't need to see a step-by-step of Tyrion becoming darker or Cersei frittering away her authority - we could have been presented with the results. Ditto everybody else. Much as I like AFFC and ADwD, it is not true that the events of ASoS required an immediate follow-up - looking at history it happened frequently enough that situations remained in precarious balance for years after some dramatic change, even under an incompetent leadership (and Cersei really didn't need to be quite as incompetent/crazy if her situation eroded over a decade instead of a few months). Martin could have postulated weather phenomena that made sailing very dangerous during a lengthy Autumn, for instance and voilá everybody would have had to stay more or less put. Ditto people being exhausted from war and needing to prepare for a ferocious Winter.
  15. As somebody who loves historical novels and movies/series, I could never understand this position, whenever it cropped up in relation to sf/fantasy universes. The SW (or ST, etc.) galaxy is big enough to accomodate lots of different stories. Fixation on the few central characters never made a huge amount of sense, particularly the "there can only be one" lightsaber wielding force-user character on each side at a time" that both OT and ST adhered to. OT as the original gets the pass there, though the awkward shoe-horning of Leia into "there is another" stuck out like a sore thumb because of it's complete lack of plausibility. TLJ going in the same direction was quite disappointing for me. Grogu is still a child 20 years later, so it makes perfect sense that he doesn't feature in ST. His character is obviously a seed for the after-ST continuity. It also is perfectly clear, IMHO, that he won't stay with Luke. As to Snoke, I suspect that we have seen his origins, as it were. I.e. he was the eventual product of all these experiments with Grogu's blood. YMMV. Why? There is room for lots of interesting stuff to happen between RoJ and ST. Maybe her efforts prevented the ST situation from getting much worse - if the New Order had Thrawn, say. Or maybe there are other dangers in that universe for her/Rebels characters to deal with. I thought that they were supposed to be "yellowface" in TOS? I.e. to evoke Mongols and generally "Asian hordes". Not that it was better, mind you.
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