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Matthew.

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  1. I agree that Ashara being one of Elia's ladies seems important, and I believe there's an SSM where GRRM says something to the effect that Ashara wasn't nailed down in Starfall, and that they have boats in Dorne, so he's all but explicitly telling us that we'll eventually learn more about her actions during the Rebellion. My three guesses as to the significance are: - If the place with the Red Door is actually in Dorne, she had some role in that conspiracy (which would go toward your theory that Dany is actually Ashara's daughter - If Aegon VI is the real deal, Ashara is the one that helped swap him out of KL, and she's possibly still alive to vouch for his identity - Ashara knew something about Lyanna's disappearance, and she (or one of her servants) is the one that tipped Eddard off and prompted his journey into the Red Mountains
  2. That dream, Jon's unresolved parentage, and the oft-discussed "I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow" are all suggestive and compelling, though Jaime has a dream in which he and Brienne are wielding burning swords as well. Jaime's dream also overlaps in other ways with both Jon's dream in ADWD, and Dany's dream of fighting Robert's host in ASOS--they all dream of themselves fighting the ghosts of their past, with the ghosts adorned in imagery of mist and ice. In addition to the question as to whether or not AAR and PTWP are the same thing, and whether Dany or someone else best fits a particular prophesy, I'm also left wondering whether or not "AAR" isn't a role that has been guaranteed to a single figure by birth, but rather, something that is up for grabs--eg, Dany, Jaime, Jon, Brienne and perhaps others all have the potential to become AAR. Alternately, perhaps the "three heads of the dragon" are three people that will all undergo their own personal variation of the Azor Ahai journey in the build up to Long Night 2.0.
  3. I agree, and while I have my own theories about a new Lightbringer (as a literal sword) being forged, I'm content to accept Drogon as a "burning sword;" besides the fact that I don't think it's that unreasonable as a figurative interpretation, I think that Dany also has a lot going for her in terms of her character arc. Particularly, more than any other character - at least for now - I think that her journey in AGOT is the one that most closely thematically parallels the AA/Nissa Nissa tale: she slowly 'forged' her weapon over the course of the novel, beginning by leaving the eggs in burning braziers, holding them close to her belly while she was pregnant with Rhaego, and finally sacrificed what she loved most in the world to acquire her magical weapon. In addition, while a lot of emphasis is being placed on the idea of AAR defeating the Others, there appear to be certain revolutionary expectations being placed on the coming of the fire messiah as well: Obviously, a lot of that is colored by Benerro's personal ambitions, and the political situation in Volantis, but the notion of a prophesied figure coming to re-order the world is not exclusive to Benerro's preaching, and perhaps not exclusive to the AAR prophesy. It's reminiscent to me of Aeron's Shade of the Evening visions of Euron: (Spoilers TWOW) There's also the Dothraki idea of a prophesied messiah - a conqueror whose Khalasar will stretch to the ends of the earth, and who appears to Dany in her HoTU visions with a burning city in the background - and this allusion to prophesy from the Green Grace: The coming of a prophesied figure whose enemies will die in fire appears to be a bit of a running theme.
  4. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    I would revisit one prospect I've considered in the past: that perhaps the tale did not travel eastward orally, but through dreams and visions, since this is a world where one can experience visions and farsight through a variety of means (Shade of the Evening, fires, green dreams, glass candles, etc.) For example, the Red Wedding appears in symbolic form in the HotU, even though the real event occurs half a world away. As a hypothetical, the true event would be the Last Hero slaying the Others with Dawn, which appears in the dreams and visions of seers in the east in non-literal form--eg, a seer in Asshai has a vision of a figure with a burning sword fighting "the darkness," and those visions spawn the myth of Azor Ahai, with various cultures putting their personal spin on the myth.
  5. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Alternately, the blade could have been a joint effort--human metalworking and CotF spells, assuming that the Last Hero/dragonsteel and the first SotM/Dawn are the same, as the LH seeking the aide of the CotF becomes less relevant if they're different figures, wielding different blades. I like your thinking here, and those quotes from Maester Aemon bring me to mind of something I've wondered in the past about both Dawn and Valyrian steel: is there some missing X-Factor necessary to bring them up to their full potential? As it stands, none of the magical swords appear to be true firebrands. One possible scenario is that these weapons are meant to be ideally wielded by a fire wight that can set the blades ablaze with their own blood, ala Beric. However, jumping off from your Dany quote, it may be that a sacrifice will be necessary to create a true Lightbringer 2.0. If that were the case, Dany or Mel seem like possible prospects, though I have a crackpot theory that Ice might be reforged and quenched in Stoneheart's heart to absorb her animating fire. Edit: Also, we haven't seen Dawn in the present era, so I wonder whether the blade is behaving differently now that magic is strengthening.
  6. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    We've discussed in the past the prospect that "First Men" might have been a scholarly term developed later to lump the various early humans together under one umbrella. An alternative prospect could also be that it was a term coined by the First Men themselves to imply preeminent social status, or a certain amount of cultural arrogance relative to the other pre-Andal humans. In addition to some of the oddities you cite, such as Moat Cailin, it may be that there are also competing founder myths--Garth Greenhand and the First King, both viewed as High King figures that are responsible for leading humanity across the Arm of Dorne. The former is associated with fertility and verdancy, while the latter is more vaguely defined, and possibly has little cultural relevance outside of Barrowton. Even so, a myth about a king that could have lead the FM across the Arm of the Dorne, and made his way north of the Neck by the time he died might be noteworthy. I'm personally inclined toward the notion that the First Men were distinct from, say, the crannogmen (who may have been living in harmony with the CotF even before the Pact), and distinct also from whoever built Moat Cailin; IMO, the First Men did not arrive as a slow trickle of pioneers, but as organized aggressors, and it is against the First Men specifically that the Hammer of the Waters was utilized.
  7. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Sure, and he does say "Valyria has hardly begun to rise," rather than "Valyria doesn't exist," though he wasn't necessarily choosing his words carefully. I don't think dragons will be a part of the show, but "fire lot business," for lack of a better phrase, might play a role. One of the things teased in the early press release about the show is that it would cover "the mysteries of the East."
  8. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    I disagree--it's one aspect to analyze, but not the only aspect. There is always the broader awareness that the character's words were chosen by the author, and those words may fit within a larger narrative framework. BC summarized this quite well previously, with the example of the NK's identity; realistically, Old Nan can't possibly know whether the NK was a Stark, or whether he existed at all, but in a narrative sense, we might view this as the author laying the foundation for future revelations, and nothing particularly interesting proceeds from the NK being, say, a Flint, or a Norrey, whereas him being a Stark presents more tantalizing options. So too with the conversation GRRM has crafted between Sam and Jon--maybe it leads to no particular narrative follow through, but the seeds have been laid. It is not wondering about "anything," as though the conversation has sprung up apropos of nothing. Timeline Talk has specifically been prompted by the contents of AFFC/ADWD, as well as the author's own comments on the subject. I might prefer the longer timeline, but I see no reason to be hostile or close-minded to other points of view.
  9. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Right, which is why I explicitly characterized it as speculation, and not a statement of fact. Nonetheless, at the narrative level, GRRM is not necessarily writing that character speculation in a vacuum--it is occurring in the broader context of Jon and Sam's conversation about the quality of the oral histories (and the Watch's information), with similar conversations being repeated between Hoster Blackwood and Jaime, as well as Asha and Rodrik the Reader. I'm content to label all of that as worldbuilding, but even so, the author has now planted sufficient seeds that one might wonder whether or not he plans to cultivate those seeds into something more, which returns to the question Feather raised: is this just character speculation, or are they clues? If so, what are some consequences those clues would point toward?
  10. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    I wasn't saying the term itself is anachronistic--"dragonsteel" would fit as a term that was coined by Andals after the fact if the LH was wielding Dawn or a firebrand, but Jon also floats the speculation that it could mean Valyrian steel. If the LH lived 8,000 years ago, that premise would seem anachronistic, but if he lived 5,000 or 6,000 years ago, then what's possible becomes a little more open to debate. For example, there may not have been a Valyrian empire 6,000 years ago, but some of the magic that would subsequently become associated with Valyria might have been in play--early dragonbinders, glass candle users, fire sorcerers, forgers of magical swords, etc. As to what Sam might think a shorter time line looks like, the quotes from Hoster Blackwood (if I recall correctly) that you posted on the prior page give a potential range for the Andals of anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. So, a shortened timeline could be LN 6,000 years ago, Andal invasion 2 - 3,000 years ago, and Sam's sentiment that the septons set down their accounts thousands of years after the LN would still stand. To reiterate, I say all of this as someone who favors the longer timeline laid out by Luwin and Bran in AGOT, but it seems fair to ask what the implications would be if these more recent passages in AFFC/ADWD are building toward some kind of revelation, or shift in our understanding of the traditional timeline.
  11. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Perhaps other posters have some better ideas on this front, but the most noteworthy consequence I can see for moving the LN closer to 5,000/6,000 years ago, rather than 8,000 years ago, is that it's moving closer and closer to the point at which we might hypothesize that Valyria was founded. Granted, the founding of Valyria is yet another area where exact dates are hard to come by, though Dany references the notion of a "young Valyria" conquering Old Ghis 5,000 years ago, so that might give us some rough guidance. Martin's most recent comments on the subject would preclude the notion that Valyria proper - the expansionist city state with its hordes of dragons - exists, but that doesn't necessarily mean that some Proto-Valyrian culture did not exist, or even the magic that would lay the foundation for Valyrian's eventual rise did not exist, magic that may have originated somewhere other than the Fourteen Flames. In short, this is an era in which the Valyrian Freehold doesn't exist, but what about dragonbinding? Glass Candles? Fire sorcery? Valyrian steel? Returning to the conversation between Sam and Jon, this is also the point at which the reader is introduced to the notion of the Last Hero wielding "dragonsteel." I've always been content to say that "dragonsteel" could just as easily have been a term that was coined to describe a firebrand, or any magical weapon that might be efficacious against the Others (eg, Dawn), rather than literal Valryian steel; nonetheless, the more one shortens the timeline, the less anachronistic the latter notion becomes. It's not an interpretation I would favor, but it's the closest I can come to an argument for why, in story terms, it would be important for the "traditional" dates to be wrong.
  12. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    GRRM has weighed in semi-recently on timeline talk, specifically in regards to the timing of the GOT prequel show, which is supposed to be set during the Age of Heroes/Long Night: https://ew.com/author-interviews/2018/11/19/george-rr-martin-interview/ While this might suggest a shorter time line, it seems more like a thing he decided to start doing in AFFC for the sake of worldbuilding, and preempting pedantic questions at conventions from the "stopwatch and ruler" crowd. When he says "I think it's closer to 5,000 years," as though he himself is uncertain, I don't think that's an entirely tricky or coy answer--with the way he writes, I don't think he wants to be beholden to a meticulously specific set of dates.
  13. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    My proposal years ago - at least as I recall it, as I have too many Other theories to keep track of - was that Mance might indeed be responsible for the return of the Others, though I view his search for the Horn as sincere. One possible chain of events would be roughly as follows: - Thousands of years ago, Joramun is at war with the Others, and he binds the spirits of defeated WWs in the Frostfangs (perhaps with some ritual involving bones, cold iron, and magical wards) - Mance (shortly after his desertion), driven by sincere love for the Free Folk, and a distaste for what the Wall represents, sets out on a search for the Horn, and acquires an early band of followers based on that quest - They fuck up, and let things loose from the Frostfangs, leaving the spirits free to ride the cold winds, or return to the Heart of Winter, or return to weirnet, or however else one wants to interpret the WWs - Mance, carrying a burden of guilt for the crisis he helped create, makes himself a contender for King-beyond-the-Wall and begins unifying the Free Folk to fight the WWs - The war is going badly, so he makes a second, larger scale attempt to search for the Horn in the hopes that it can be used as leverage to negotiate safe passage through the Wall I'm not as keen on the idea as I was years ago, but the return of the Others is one of the mysteries where I've had the most trouble settling on an answer that I find satisfying.
  14. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Well, at least in the past, you have disagreed with me over Ygritte's comment about letting shades loose in the world, as its my position that she might not have just been expressing a superstitious fear, and that there might be more to her comment than meets the eye. I'm suggesting that, just as the WF crypts might be preventing the spirits from running loose and creating new bodies, some of the graves in the Frostfangs might have been serving a similar function--after all, if Joramun had magic at his disposal to create the Horn, and he was fighting the Others of the NK era, then he might have been able to imprison the WWs and prevent them from acquiring new bodies. Granted, some of that disagreement is over chronology and motive, but I maintain that the Frostfangs excavation in aCoK isn't necessarily Mance's first attempt to find the Horn--just his largest, latest, and most desperate attempt. Similarly, while his motives as of aCoK/aSoS appear to be about using the Horn as leverage to negotiate passage through the Wall, the search might have initially begun as a sincere quest to destroy the Wall that the Free Folk so despise.
  15. Matthew.

    Heresy 225 and the Snowflakes of Doom

    Huh. Whenever the topics surrounding the crypts - iron swords to keep spirits in the crypts, Eddard's dreams of the Kings of Winter watching him with "eyes of ice," and Hodor's temporary fear of the crypts following Eddard's death - arose, I thought that it was already your interpretation that the spirits in the crypts can become white walkers, and the crypts are acting as a prison. I know you don't agree with me on this, but that was my interpretation of Ygritte's comment about letting shades loose into the world--that it wasn't just superstitious blather, that they'd broken old wards and let shades/spirits loose to re-acquire white walker bodies.
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