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Matthew.

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  1. Matthew.

    Heresy 211 Eight Cairns

    In addition to the incident before Bran's fall, Summer and Shaggydog also begin howling just before the raven arrives to bring word of Eddard's death (though Bran had already sensed the news was coming after he and Rickon had visited the crypts): Other moments that might demonstrate direwolf premonition would be Grey Wind freaking out outside of the Twins as Robb arrives for the Red Wedding, and Ghost's strong reaction to the Fist of the First Men.
  2. Matthew.

    Heresy 211 Eight Cairns

    I don't know about more overt connections, but I had the distinct impression that the way Dany's journey through the House of the Undying was written took partial inspiration from the final episode of season 2, where Cooper is wandering through the Black Lodge.
  3. Matthew.

    Heresy 211 Eight Cairns

    I suspect Darkstar is going through the Westerosi equivalent of a goth phase ("oh, I can't be Sword of the Morning? Fine, then I'll be of the night!") and isn't to be viewed as a dark lord type, but yes, he is an irredeemably corny character--ditto for Euron, IMO.
  4. Matthew.

    Heresy 211 Eight Cairns

    Her POV has little to say about the priesthood as a culture or institution, and nothing at all to say about Benerro, even obliquely--eg, no references to a "high priest," or leadership, or whatever. At one point, I was also quite certain that I remembered her POV chapter that way, but I've both re-read it and double checked with the text search engine, and not found a supporting quote, though it's certainly possible I've missed something; nonetheless, I suspect that this falls under the "feels true" category, in that it can be reconciled with the general tone of her POV chapter. I agree; some symbols are there, as easter eggs, homage, referential jokes, and sometimes foreshadowing, but not nearly to the extent that fan theory crafting would suggest, and rarely (if ever) as the foundation for understanding a plot idea or future revelation. At the risk of being overly critical of this method of interpreting the text, my thought is often "okay--but how does that work as a revelation on the page?" Five books of scattered symbols and obscure references might work as an essay length forum post, but whether or not it works as a storytelling idea that is intuitive and impactful to the reader is something else entirely.
  5. Matthew.

    Heresy 211 Eight Cairns

    I agree with this interpretation. I would also add that, in addition to Dragonstone being Dany's place of birth, if Melisandre went to Stannis while Viserys was still alive, then Dany was technically the Lady/Princess of Dragonstone under Targaryen inheritance at that point in time, so it may be that Melisandre places great importance on Dragonstone in her interpretation. This is what I think as well, and I personally don't think there's any trick in the way that Dany seems to suit many of the qualities that Melisandre is looking for. I think it's supposed to be explicitly obvious, right from the beginning of aCoK (knowing what we know of Dany in the east) that Melisandre has fucked up, and that her and Stannis' arc is being played for dramatic irony. Waking dragons from stone, the red comet present during Dany's pyre (and literally named the Bleeding Star by the Dothraki), a vision of "a hero reborn in the sea" (Dothraki Sea, IMO), talk of sacrificing father and son in ADWD, etc. Not actually known, or even necessarily suggested. All we really have to go on is an SSM that Melisandre sought out Stannis for her own reasons, that she wasn't sent under anyone's orders, as well as her own arrogance about her abilities as a seer in relation to the rest of her order. Perhaps she's overcompensating, or feels like she has something to prove to the rest of the priesthood--or maybe she was already working independently for years, even decades, and it's her time with the shadowbinders that had the greatest influence on her present actions, not anything involving internal Red Priesthood politics. Afterall, the only other shadowbinder in the narrative attached herself to Dany pretty early in the game--long before she was even on Benerro's radar.
  6. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    There's a difference between being a member of the current iteration of the Golden Company and being a Blackfyre supporter--some members are not even Westerosi, and others are more recent exiles (eg, Duck) who have no relationship to the Blackfyre rebellion; it is a collection of strays, many of whom would gladly attach themselves to any cause that will bring them home. In any theoretical scenario where there are Blackfyre supporters still remaining - and, to be clear, I'm not sold on that theory, and I'm not necessarily convinced that Aegon VI is either a Targ or a Blackfyre - it may be that only Illyrio, Varys, and Myles Toyne/Blackheart know the truth, the plans they made "known to them alone," according to Connington. Edit: The point of the above being that it is Myles Toyne that committed the GC to the conspiracy, and what he knew (if anything) about Aegon may have been a decisive factor in that commitment. It could alternately be the case that Harry Strickland was let in on whatever it was that Toyne knew, the rest of the GC briefed by Strickland, and that Connington himself and Aegon are the most ignorant members of the conspiracy. It's not wholly clear at what point Connington is brought into the conspiracy; the bits and pieces of story we have, as Connington tells it, is that he spent five years in exile with the Golden Company before being driven from the company in disgrace and presumed to have drunk himself to death, living afterward as Griff with his "son."
  7. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    To the Blackfyre supporters, it would matter--it's not about the genetics (the blood of the dragon), per se, but the factional dispute, so sneaking a Blackfyre onto the throne would be a victory. That said, while I do think the Blackfyre line of thinking has merit, I actually think it's something of a false choice to suggest that Varys has to either be a Targaryen loyalist or a Blackfyre loyalist--if anything, his speech to Kevan Lannister suggests that the political currency that the name Aegon VI carries is just a means to an end, and that birthright rule is dumb, with an emphasis on the idea that Varys' enthusiasm for Aegon relates to the way he was raised, not to his "right" to rule. Similarly, Illyrio could be straightforwardly motivated by opportunism (perhaps with an added personal layer, if Aegon is his son), and the GC might just be glad to have a ticket home--even though some, like Connington, might be true believers in the cause.
  8. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    The bolded is an important element of the Aerys II sections--in addition, that particular section repeatedly cites Pycelle as a source of information and context, so what that entire section has to say about Aerys II and Tywin should be viewed through that lens.
  9. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    Do you mean this passage? The context is that Jaime didn't understand Tywin, not that he didn't know the identity of his father; the person in question is almost certainly Tywin, not only because it cites a well established character trait, but because of the use of "lord father"--in comparison to, say, Dany and Barristan, who use the phrase "royal father" in reference to Aerys.
  10. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    To be fair, there is a difference between aspiration and execution; GRRM tells me I should be careful about interpreting his prophecies, while the actual contents of the five published books tells me that simple answers are mostly reliable, and the visions and prophecies are (IMO) among the most clumsy content of the books--for example, the interview that prompted that response cited the GoHH visions, which includes on-the-nose symbols like Catelyn as a fish, Euron as a drowned crow, and a Faceless Man as...errr, a man with no face. An earnest question: What, to this point, would we characterize as a fulfilled prophecy that was cleverly done--that had a misleading initial interpretation (from the perspective of the reader, not of characters in world), and played out in an ironic or unexpected fashion? This is not to disagree with the actual underlying premise regarding the topic: both TPtwP and MMD's unintentional(?) "when the sun rises in the east..." prophecy are areas where I suspect GRRM has a good payoff planned--emphasis on planned, rather than published; what has happened in the interim, while a variety of topics await their 20+ year planned payoffs, is a lot of bloat, as every mage, mystic, priest, and weary traveler resting on a weirwood stump is utilized as a lame foreshadowing device. Reader expectations (and interpretations) have been shaped accordingly.
  11. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    By that same token, Tyrion notes several of Lemore's physical features, so a failure to observe Ashara's most persistently mentioned quality - haunting violet eyes - seems a glaring omission. However, I acknowledge that's not really damning, or even contradictory, as GRRM isn't immune to relying on convenience and contrivance for the sake of the plot--and when it comes to assessing the plausibility of theories, one of my philosophies is: "disappointment is always an option." I'm not fond of criticisms that largely amount to "X can't be true, because X as a writing choice wouldn't satisfy me, personally!," so it may just be that this is a reveal that is going to fall flat with me as a reader That said, it gives me enough doubt to be more inclined toward other identities for Lemore; you listed some of your thoughts, but other prospects I've seen floated are that she's Tyene Sand's mother, as well as a whole theory about how she's Malora Hightower (with the "Maid" in Mad Maid not being read too literally in that instance), that the Hightowers were in on the Aegon VI conspiracy as far back as when Gerold was the LC of the KG, and that Leyton Hightower has married off his children in a politically advantageous way, in preparation for Aegon's arrival--to give Aegon a proper army.
  12. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    I agree--if Aegon VI is the real deal, then the SSM about Ashara "not being nailed down in Starfall" and being one of Elia's companions would tie all of that together, as she would be in a good position to have access to Aegon VI. Edit: However, if Ashara survived, where is she? The most straightforward response to that would be Lemore, but if Ashara is Lemore, with GRRM conveniently writing around having Tyrion take note of her eyes...I don't know, it's possible, but it seems like a real cop out. Technically, her secret identity is less important than Aegon VI's, so I don't know why GRRM wouldn't just reveal it as a bundle deal alongside Connington and Aegon VI--it would just be stringing out a relatively minor reveal in a way that's somewhat contrived. Of course, it's also possible that she both helped swap Aegon VI and legitimately died at the end of the war--or that she swapped him out, but isn't in his coterie, and is playing some role that has yet to be revealed.
  13. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    I'm not so sure about this particular scenario; Connington's internal monologue would suggest that he legitimately believes that Aegon is Rhaegar's son: Also, if Jon Connington is gay (I can't recall whether this is explicitly confirmed, or just implied), I'm going to hazard a guess that his dancing with Ashara at Harrenhal (as per the Meera's story) was more for appearances than from passion. (random side note from Connington's POV: in his thoughts, Septa Lemore is never Septa Lemore--she's Lemore, or "Lady Lemore." I probably shouldn't read too much into that usage of "Lady," but still...)
  14. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    I agree, and as you said earlier, "soon after" is hardly a specific unit of time (IMO, in the context of grief over the loss of a child, it could be reasonably applied to weeks, even months) so it's unclear how strictly we should read that in attempting to establish a timeline between the supposed stillbirth and Ashara's death--furthermore, we have no idea whether or not "soon after" is purely Barristan's conjecture. For example, Barristan may have heard rumors of a stillbirth (with no particular date attached) and rumors of her death, and correlated the two - in both causation and proximity in time - on his own. Even if Jon were as much as a year older, I think prior posts have made a reasonable case as to why everyone involved would be willing to look the other way--best to avoid even the slightest danger of a messy inheritance dispute. Nonetheless, besides potential timeline issues, I think another issue with Eddard and Ashara as Jon's parents is that the secrecy that is being maintained by both Eddard and Starfall (Edric Dayne, for example, has been raised to believe that Wylla is Jon's mother) seems, under those circumstances, peculiar. As Harwin says, Eddard and Ashara were not pledged to anyone else, noble bastards are not that rare, and Dorne seems particularly open-minded about sexual relationships--so if Ashara is Jon's mother, is everyone lying to protect her reputation, even though the rumors are swirling anyway, and the truth isn't really that damaging to her reputation in the first place? Perhaps, but I think Ashara's prospects as Jon's mother are lower than Wylla and Lyanna. Why? This seems to assume that concealment - Jon's protection - is the only factor in play, but I don't feel that's entirely true to Eddard's characterization. For one thing, we don't know what exactly it was that Eddard promised Lyanna on her deathbed, and the extent to which that may have tied his hands, or put him in an uncomfortable, even dangerous position that he felt obligated to fulfill. For another, I personally read Eddard as a character who would have wanted to raise Lyanna's son (in a scenario where that's the case) in Winterfell, and would be willing to accept the consequences of that act--rather than leaving Lyanna's son to be raised by strangers in Starfall, or in Essos, or wherever; even when such an act potentially endangers both Jon, and Eddard himself. To me, this very much seems like a "I'll cross that bridge when I get to it" type of problem, if the scenario we're supposing is a young Eddard, fresh from the loss of the sister he loved, deciding what to do with said sister's son. Put another way, this is a line of criticism that seems to emphasize how Jon should have "logically" been protected (eg, accounting for all future variables), without also acknowledging the extent to which emotion, love, loss, and oath may also have been driving Eddard's decisions at that point in time.
  15. Matthew.

    Heresy 210 and the Babes in the Wood

    My exact thought as well; grief over the man that had 'dishonored' her at Harrenhal could just as easily mean grief over the way things had played out with Eddard, including both his betrothal to Catelyn, and his role in slaying Arthur. That said, as much as I want to be an Eddard+Ashara advocate, my suspicion is that Ashara's final days (and her disappearance) have more to do with Rhaegar than with Eddard--if Young Griff is who he is proclaimed to be (though I personally lean toward him being false), then Ashara is a prime candidate to have aided in the swap, and there's plenty of crackpot potential in Rhaegar's proclamation that "there must be one more" in the HotU vision, as well as Dany's house with the red door. Whatever the case, the SSM about Ashara suggests she was not idle during the Rebellion.
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