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Matthew.

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  1. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    The most likely answer is that GRRM never once paused and thought "why does the Black Gate speak Common," but as your example highlights, this seems like an extremely minor thing in terms of suspension of disbelief--like, it doesn't take much imagination here on the reader's part to apply some head canon. If someone really needed a reason, then perhaps the Black Gate has interacted with Andalized individuals, or perhaps it can 'know' anything that weirnet knows, or perhaps it is just inherent to its magic as a gatekeeper that it can operate as a universal translator and communicator, that it follows Babel fish rules.
  2. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    Inasmuch as there are any rules at all to the magic, I think this is closest to the truth; on Planetos, sacrifice seems to occasionally yield magical results, and that fact, in turn, appears to shape superstitions. eg,--burn people, and you'll be blessed by the fire god. I dare not go any deeper than that though, as Martin's philosophy on writing magic is pretty dissimilar to the approach that has become more pervasive in genre pulp, where magic functions more like a fictional science, with well established rules. He elaborated on this in an interview he did with the Russian edition of Esquire, saying that he wants the 'supernatural' to be distinct from the natural in that regard--that there is no recipe or book an in-world character can follow to get predictable results, that his magic by design will suddenly work (or fail), that it is always dangerous to utilize.
  3. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    In addition to the similarities in the experience of consuming the acorns and fruit respectively, the trees are aesthetic contrasts--white/red for the weirwood, black/blue for the tree from which Shade of the Evening is taken. Something I've floated here in the past is that there's an occasional motif in the world of pairing weirwood and ebony - the doors and chairs in the House of Black and White, one of the doors Dany sees in the HOTU - and that the ebony wood being paired with weirwood is taken from the Shade of the Evening Trees. Just to run with the premise you raise about the HoTU's chosen location, in addition to the Undying seeming so corpse-like and immobile as to be initially mistaken for being dead, we might compare that to the way Bloodraven is described, as well as the other greenseers that Bran sees: (side note: the text seems to suggest that, even among the CotF, greenseers are rare--a room full of them is certainly interesting; I wonder if this is something that was not that atypical in the days before the CotF's decline, or if they were gathered and enthroned at some point to work a particular bit of great magic)
  4. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    The visions were distracting her while she was being fed upon, and would have succeeded if it weren't for Drogon's interference. The most likely explanation is that this was just business as usual for how they feed. However, there might be some room for additional motives being at play--when they begin going through their "three treasons you will know" routine they may have essentially been operating like Greek oracles, spouting insights that are not their own by the compulsion of the Shade of the Evening, and it may be that the decision to kill (and feed) on Dany was made on the fly, that - like Mirri Maz Duur - they wanted to defy whatever prophesies she might fulfill.
  5. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    I would agree, and I'd go so far as to say that even the visions that are depicting real events are meant to be more like fever dream recreation, to embody the spirit of the event, rather than to literally recreate the scene with absolute fidelity. To use an in-world analogy, I don't feel as though these visions of the past are to be interpreted the same as, say, a weirwood vision of the past--I think they're more akin to Eddard's TOJ dream. Your elaboration on the vision of Stannis is a perfect example; I don't think it reads as literally displaying Stannis in a particular moment or as he truly 'is,' but rather, the flourishes of him having no shadow and his sword "glowing like sunset" symbolize certain ideas. So too with most of the other visions, IMO.
  6. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    It would be easier in theory, and one of the reasons I'm critical of the choice to narrowly stick to the "POV system" (not the usage of multiple POVs, but the structure of chapters) is that I don't think the stylistic differences between chapters is sufficiently interesting or distinct enough to justify the extent to which the structure has both been a straitjacket and a significant contributor to page count and plotline bloat; to reiterate the most extreme example, he's not doing anything so experimental as the multi-POV first person narration one can find in Ulysses or As I Lay Dying. POVs differ far more in content (what the character is thinking, what is happening) than in prose, vocabulary, grammar; I highlighted the Bran chapter because GRRM's not narrating as a child, just as Victarion is (as per GRRM) "dumb as a stump," but his chapters are still filled with narration that is mostly exhibiting GRRM's voice and eloquence. More succinctly, the quibble at hand is, when it comes to the "subjective, limited" part of "third person limited/subjective," just how subjective was the framing of the HOTU? How limited the knowledge expressed in the characterizations? Is it as subjective as a wolf dream, or as open as some of the other more mystical and surreal chapters? Personally, I think it reads more as GRRM's 3rd person voice being ambiguous (but still accurately defining the figures, such as "the dying prince"), rather than Dany being internally ambiguous, but I understand why others might disagree, or find it to be inherently more fruitful to question whether or not the characterizations reflect Dany's biases--and, in turn, what those biases might reveal about the visions.
  7. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    What Bran can see wasn't really what I meant - though I will note that the characterization of the moon doesn't fit the 'wolf language' either - I meant the atmospheric framing and repetition. I don't find it necessary to establish the logic for why Bran the character would look at a half moon, think "the moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife," and then think that precise thought, verbatim, a month later, when it is more fitting to view this as narration from GRRM that is establishing the tone for the chapter. Similarly, there's no problem with what happened in the Victarion chapter. I'm not citing these as criticisms of GRRM, I'm citing them to show that there's no reason as a reader to hold ASOIAF accountable to the rules of first person narration when the author made a deliberate choice to not utilize first person narration--he wanted the comfortable middle ground that third person limited occupies between first person and third person omniscient. I agree that the figure might not be Rhaegar, but for different reasons; the narrator framing the scene as depicting a "dying prince" who murmurs a woman's name, to my mind is misleading because the narrator is accurately characterizing the vision, but leaving it ambiguous enough for the reader to leap to the wrong prince. The problem I have with the idea of it being Dany's thoughts is that, as you cited, there is the Rhaegar/Elia moment where the narrator is sharing her internal monologue, and the way she thinks during that scene doesn't align with the presentation of the dying prince--ambiguous labeling of figures makes sense for the narrator, it makes less sense for character thoughts, that he would be a "dying prince" rather than "Rhaegar" or "her brother." Put another way, the common analogy for third person limited is that it's "like a camera over the POV character's shoulder;" so the point of contention would be, is the narration presenting what the camera sees, or Dany's interpretations of what she thinks she sees? Given the surrounding context, I lean toward the former.
  8. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    Sure, I'm just spitballing based on the underlying idea. Some additional thoughts: if we treat the stone kings as "stone beasts," the First Keep is a drum tower (so it could be the smoking tower), and Melisandre is still near enough to play a role in the shadow fire. To throw out something I considered in relation to your post, speculation about Melisandre performing a resurrection or 'dragon waking' ritual more commonly assumes a ritual performed at the Wall, but we might also make the case for a ritual performed at Winterfell, potentially with dire consequences. If there are spirits in the crypts, Melisandre might unintentionally release something. For example, spirits returning either in Stannis' body, Jon's body, or in Melisandre's stone dragon, fulfilling the "lie" portion of the vision. Just to piggyback on this, not only is Winterfell razed, but with Bran and Rickon's departure, that chapter is the exact moment at which there is no longer a Stark in Winterfell. And, on the more crackpot front, Bran and co. have stolen a couple of the swords from the crypts, the ones that are ostensibly there to keep the spirits locked in their tombs.
  9. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    If we expand the scope of the vision, I think the stone kings are an interesting potentiality. The main reservation I have is that I am strongly inclined to view that string of visions as having a structure: Three deaths that helped to shape Dany's path, three figures/factions to which Dany is to be a 'bride' (with bride not necessarily being literal, just as daughter isn't literal), three lies to slay. Granted, there's no reason I'll turn out to be remotely right on that front, but when I think of the 'stone beast,' I'm not only trying to determine what the stone beast actually is, but in what sense it might be a lie--so are there some ways we can incorporate the stone kings into that concept? A sincere question, as there's a couple interesting things going on around Winterfell at the moment that might potentially lay the groundwork for the spawning of a 'lie' that also relates to the crypts--a king attached to a shadowbinder that is about to siege Winterfell, Jon's recent death, and Mance searching the crypts.
  10. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    I acknowledged wolf dreams in the prior post, and they're precisely why I wouldn't go so far as to say with 100% certitude what GRRM aspires to stylistically within the HOTU, but if I'm going to take the wolf dreams into account, I must also take the aforementioned Will and Victarion chapters into account, as well as writing like this: Part of the appeal of third person limited writing is that the author can still bring a certain amount of their own voice to the prose; as a point of contrast, Roger Zelazny was a poet, but is mostly meticulous in maintaining Corwin's prose as the style of the Amber novels--direct, often terse. Zelazny sets aside his own 'voice' and effectively narrates in a way that feels true to Corwin. ASOIAF, regardless of the actual POV character, more consistently exhibits GRRM's voice for narrative descriptions, which I don't think is a bad thing. Were the narration to fully embrace character voice, this would be a more bizarre read, like Ulysses. Edit: To belabor the point, we might on the one hand observe that the author makes deliberate word choices in wolf dreams that are suited to the subjectivity of the viewpoint (a wolf), but even that is in pursuit of interesting prose--OTOH, one will find plenty of eloquent narration in Victarion, Brienne, Cersei, and Arya chapters, rather than tethering all prose to the language level and intellect of the corresponding character; that tends to be limited to their internal monologues. So I must disagree that things like "dying prince" fit as Dany's thoughts--at the least, I see it up for debate. In particular, that is a moment in which Dany is being bombarded and overwhelmed as the Undying feed, so I'm not sure she had much time for interpreting (much less developing particularly poetic interpretations) in the moment, and mostly began to analyze what she'd seen after the fact.
  11. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    GRRM is the third person limited/subjective narrator, and Dany is the viewpoint character to whom his narration is limited--the text you cite is the third person narrator narrating Dany's thoughts. "The man had her brother's hair," not "the man has my brother's hair." I would also reiterate the AGOT Prologue example: Note the knowledge discrepancy between the narrator's knowledge and Will's subjective rationalizations of what is unfolding--or more glaring, the Victarion chapter where the 'narrator' is continuing to describe things independent of Victarion's presence: The above is the most explicit example, but there's plenty of narration throughout the text that is written in the author's voice, rather than strictly describing what characters are looking at, how they're engaging with what they're looking at, and so forth. Moments where GRRM allows his own prose to flourish. Again, his writing during Dany's pyre, the Sorrows, Bran III ADWD, and various other moments in which the sense of time and place seem to collapse are the moments in which GRRM is most distinctly 'breaking' from the voice of his characters. To be clear, I acknowledge the pedantic nature of this criticism, and the fact that the way the author channels a subjective voice (eg, wolf dreams) often means that the line between character definition and narrator definition is not always clear, but I consider it pertinent in this instance because I feel that making "what does Dany know/understand" a standard for interpreting the visions and their descriptions to be an error. For example, given her willingness to make internal leaps during the Rhaegar/Elia scene, I don't know that it is stylistically consistent for Dany to later observe a figure that is defined both knowledgeably and ambiguously as a "dying prince."
  12. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    I still think the assumption that "beast" is Dany's definition is a potentially erroneous treatment of the text, that it is excessively leaning toward discussing the text as though it is first person, with the POV as the narrator, which is not the case. IMO, emphasis shouldn't just be placed on the vision in isolation, but on the idea that the "stone beast" might also embody a lie that is to be slain by Dany. Moqorro has a vision that seems more straightforwardly relevant to Targaryens, Blackfyres, the mummer's dragon, and a potential Dance 2.0 between Dany and Aegon, but it might also include the "stone beast," particularly if it results from Melisandre's attempt to wake dragons from stone and thrust some sort of fraud upon Westeros, a fraud not unlike her false Lightbringer:
  13. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    Dany's dragons (or any living dragon), perhaps not, but a petrified dragon, or dead dragon within a petrified egg might be a "stone beast," particularly in the narrative voice GRRM is utilizing in that chapter--which is purposely surreal and ambiguous. Given that it is included in the "slayer of lies" group of visions, I take it as a given that it is not a true dragon of any variety - not one of Dany's, or any others that might theoretically live or be awakened - but I do think it is something that will be raised by Mel in a failed attempt to reawaken a dragon; furthermore, I'm not reading the vision as a literal representation of a future event, but as a symbolic representation (in much the same way that the cloth dragon or winter rose are representative)--that the "stone beast" will take wing in the form of a terrible shadow drawn out of the stone, rather than there being a literal moving stone beast flying about.
  14. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    Stannis is the most straightforward read, though I think some Heretics have also floated the idea that it might represent a Jon who has been resurrected by ice magic. I prefer Stannis, as "a sword that glows like sunset" seems evocative of a false Lightbringer, a sword that cannot bring the dawn; should Stannis survive the battle of Winterfell and take up residence in the Nightfort as he had been planning, the vision could also have greater implications than just suggesting that Stannis is a false Azor Ahai.
  15. Matthew.

    Heresy 217 Dreams and Dust

    I apologize for the highly pedantic note, but it seems pertinent in HOTU chapter discussion to be cautious in interpreting narrator descriptions; often, narration and character perception blend, and the distinction mostly doesn't matter, but the distinction does exist. The narrator rarely exercises too much omniscience or independence from the subjectivity of the viewpoint character, but such breaks do occur--for example, in the AGOT Prologue ("the Others made no sound"), and in the ADWD chapter where Victarion is being 'healed' by Moqorro. The point being that the purposely ambiguous descriptions within the HOTU ('stone beast,' 'dying prince,' etc.) are not necessarily to be read as Dany's interpretations. The narrator describes a "blue flower" growing in the Wall, and a "cloth dragon," but Dany herself in her conversations with Jorah recognizes these as a blue rose and a mummer's dragon, respectively. In that sense, the ambiguous use of "stone beast" could imply something that doesn't appreciably resemble a dragon to Dany, but it could also just be the author being purposely ambiguous and tricky, or poetic, as it tends to be his style for his prose to loosen up during moments of mysticism (see also: the author's prose during Dany's pyre scene). With all of that in mind, I personally view this as being one of the chapters where the third person narrator is most explicitly channeling the author's literary voice, and do not view many of the descriptions as being tethered to Dany's knowledge or 'voice.'
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