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Matthew.

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  1. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    I can't justify it, but one of the theories of the Others I have goes along these lines: the walkers are not the "spirits" of Craster's sons transferred to a walker body, but the inverse--the sons are used to make the ice body, and the ice body used to house foreign spirits. For example, I think they were originally made to house the spirits of the weirwood, though I think they can also house the spirits of the Winterfell crypts (which, themselves, might be essentially the same thing as the idea of the old gods/spirits going into the trees, stones, and earth). I acknowledge up front that there's no chance of me persuading anyone else toward something so speculative, but Asha presents a legend that I think was an allusion to the magic in play: The more earthly interpretation is that this is just a bastardized reference to wood dancers, but I find the inclusion of the greenseers gives the tale an added layer of magical potential--IMO, this legend either relates to the creation of the WWs, the creation of the Green Men, or perhaps a little of both.
  2. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    As to the first question, I don't see what you mean. Possibilities immediately present themselves: -The Others have "masters" responsible for creating new white walkers from the tributes taken from Craster's Keep; the CotF, a human sorcerer (as Val is often speculated to be), or some distinct unrevealed race (as per Voice's interpretation) being just a few proposals -Alternately, regardless of whatever ritual and circumstances created the Others in ancient times, they now perpetuate themselves; accordingly, the "first Others" are those made in antiquity, some of which either survived by hiding in the heart of winter and have returned because their magic has strengthened, or were magically bound and recently unleashed, and have begun perpetuating themselves again As to the latter, the question raised seems to be built upon an assumption that I wouldn't take as a given. We don't actually have insight into the entire Free Folk--we have insight into Craster's Keep (because it was visited by POV characters), and insight into the wildlings who joined Mance (because they interacted with POV characters). For all we know, there are several wildlings scattered in the Frostfangs, the Frozen Shore, etc. who chose to "get right with the gods" instead of joining Mance. As to why one would find Mance's pitch to fight the WWs - as expressed by Osha - appealing, as opposed to living like Craster, I think that's straightforward: if being right with the gods means living huddling, terrified in your hovel during a multi-year winter, kinslaying, hoping you can stay right with the gods by giving offerings when you run short on sons...better to take Mance's gambit, IMO. I would also personally add that I think the wildlings are, especially after 8,000 years, only slightly less ignorant of their foe than the Watch, and I definitely don't think any of them knows what happens to Craster's sons, assuming the theory of the sons is correct; rather, I think they 'know' the Others can be appeased, without understanding the consequences of appeasement.
  3. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    These are not necessarily opposing ideas, though--when I assess a theory as "plausible" I do not mean that as a byword for flawless or "likely true," I mean "this is a concept that proceeds from the text, and reasonably could be expanded upon by the author in a future volume." Regardless of what one subjectively feels about the strength of the foundation, the foundation unquestionably exists within the text, it is not just some fans' wild speculation. I call "Crasters Sons" plausible because it's not even an imaginative interpretation of the text, it is just taking the contents of ASOIAF at face value, which could also imply that said text is a red herring, but the red herring as a literary technique is contingent upon the expectation that the "red herring" will be treated plausibly by the reader to distract from the clues that are pointing to the real truth. Thus, we return to the wives: their words are not, at this point in an incomplete story, demonstrably true or demonstrably false; they are unverified. _____ These assessments of whether or not the truth (or cover story) is satisfactory or "believable" are, to my mind, too subjective to rise to the level of refutation--as said previously, we are at the mercy of however it is that GRRM is defining believable, and the extent to which he is taking it on faith that the reader will suspend some disbelief ("put away the ruler and stopwatch, and enjoy the story") for the sake of what GRRM might consider the most interesting story he could tell. The unreliability of personal incredulity as a standard is made immediately apparent within just the sample size of this thread, where several different readers have read the same passage, and come to different conclusions as to what is and is not believable or "makes sense" regarding those passages, as I attempted to elaborate with the example of the wildlings' behavior in a scenario where nothing is happening at Craster's Keep. I mean, to a certain type of reader, ASOIAF itself presents a world that is too inherently silly and cartoonish for them to ever believe in the first place--eg, an 8,000 year old dynasty that lives in a place called the Dreadfort, depicts torture on their house sigil, references their propensity for torture in their house words, and is represented presently by a patriarch and heir who are uncharismatic sociopaths.
  4. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    I don't know if such a technicality would really serve as a deterrent against attempting to steal Craster's daughters, but that still only explains one specific motive for raiding his compound--other motives being to steal his food, to kill him for giving shelter and information to the Watch, or to kill him just for being generally despicable. As BC said, what I mean is that Craster's Keep is somewhere between Castle Black and wherever Royce and co. were attacked, and one might presume it is also in the vicinity of the attack on Benjen--at the least Othor and Jaffer showing up near the Wall suggests that Craster is not outside of the sphere of Other and wight attacks. I did not mean that Royce was attacked literally moments after visiting Craster, but it is only days (at the most) from wherever the prologue attack occurred:
  5. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    Yes, but that still comes with the caveat that I think GRRM relies on convenient ignorance--and, as you say, coincidence. So, some thoughts... For one, the wiggle room I'll grant GRRM here is that he has established a context in which the Others are well suited to stealth--they do not leave tracks in the snow, they're compared to shadows and tricks of light, their armor is reflective...and should any rangers happen to catch them in the act and go missing, the default assumption of the Watch is going to be that the missing rangers ran afoul of wildlings. And, explicitly, Mormont's policy is "don't meddle in Craster's business." Edit: For clarity, my interpretation would be that the Watch believes the sons are dying of exposure, but doesn't actually know what is happening. Nonetheless, you're right, if the 'Crasters Sons' theory is correct, then the author is asking us to suspend a certain amount of disbelief; yet I think that's also true if everything surrounding Craster's Keep is just misdirection and misinformation--that interpretation comes packed with its own set of overly convenient coincidences. From the outset, we are trading decades of Watch ineptitude for decades of wildlings ineptitude...or extraordinary luck or martial prowess on Craster's part. Jon sums it up: Like Jon, I find that awfully curious. Craster lives in a poorly defended compound full of daughters in a culture where they steal wives; he's also notorious, as Tormund, Ygritte, and Mance at the least all know of him. He's a friend to the Watch, and has a reputation as a kinslayer. Everything about Craster screams "this is a guy who should have been killed years ago by his fellow wildlngs;" instead he appears to have lived a fairy long life. Another obverse to the Watch's well maintained ignorance is Craster and his wives maintaining their convictions; have they never discovered a tiny corpse? Sheep dead of exposure, half eaten by animals? Have no wives, like Gilly, been so desperate to save the sons that they've defied Craster and gone into the white cold, only to discover that there's nothing really out there? _____ Other overly convenient factors, if nothing is actually happening at Craster's Keep-- In a story where "the Others are back" is a major plot element, there's a character practicing a seemingly singular, decades long religion that coincidentally pays obeisance to the Others at the exact same time that the Others have returned, a religion that posits that obeisance keeps his compound safe, and coincidentally, all circumstantial evidence reinforces his belief: Royce attacked after visiting his compound, Benjen and crew attacked looking for Royce, Othor and Jaffer showing up well southeast of Craster's compound (suggesting Craster's Keep is not too far south to have been attacked by that point), game long fled (fleeing what?) in the lead up to Craster's Keep, the NW being attacked and harried after the Fist, yet going for days afterward without the Others attacking the Keep, without incident until Craster was killed. In short, while I understand skepticism of taking Craster's Keep at face value, "Craster's Keep as red herring" is also assuming quite a lot of contrivance on the author's part in order to 'sell' the misdirect.
  6. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    This is still, for all intents and purposes, a case for reasonable doubt, and not a true refutation. My view of the "Crasters Sons" theory is that it is plausibly built from the text, not that it is de facto canon, or the only plausible theory. Subjectively, it's also the route I expect the author to go, but to the extent that it is possible, I try to separate what I think is plausible from what I expect, and what I expect from what I think would be "good writing." (eg, "Bran interacts with the past" is an idea that I hate, but think is plausible) I am not assuming that what Craster's wives believe must be true, I'm assuming it could be true--and unless there's text that authoritatively refutes the abstract idea that the Others could be collecting sacrifices, I see no reason to not take Craster's Keep into consideration when discussing what revelations may unfold when it comes to the Others. In other words, if truth remains to be seen, and it would be presumption to treat the wives words as confirmed truth (which, to be clear, I have not done), it would also be presumption to treat them as false. When I treat all text as having inherent potential, I am not talking about the credibility of fictional characters as witnesses, I am talking about the meta-awareness that their words were written by GRRM, that everything was written by GRRM, and while he may be using their words to confuse or deceive, he might also be using their words to inform and contextualize.
  7. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    Since we're re-litigating ancient disagreements, it's interesting (to me, anyway) how we can sometimes be both so close and so far in certain things; I believe Craster's sons are being given to the WWs, but I'm drawing almost the opposite significance from both Ygritte's comments, and even Craster's own comments. For one thing, Ygritte says that Craster is "more Jon's kind" than a wildling within that same conversation, which I'm not sure lends itself to reading Craster as someone who has inherited a wildling role (no matter how distasteful the wildlings might find that role); indeed, Ygritte says Craster's blood is black, and the one other reference to the idea of sacrificing to the Others does not regard a wildling, it regards a Lord Commander of the ancient Night's Watch--a Stark, if Old Nan is to be believed. Furthermore, how Craster perceives himself and his offerings seems pretty blunt: Craster doesn't view himself as a cursed man, carrying the burden of Mance and the wildling's sins--Mance's sins are his own problem to solve, and he better get right with the gods.
  8. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    Well, I break from Heresy here, in that I do indeed think their return (with 'return' here being defined as them being active in the world, as opposed to them openly attacking and revealing their presence) is recent, in relative terms--maybe upwards of 50 years on the long end, but I'm personally inclined to think they were either unbound or regained their magic only within the last few years before aGoT. While I understand your incredulity, I feel that this only makes the case for reasonable doubt--it observes that there are unanswered questions, which doesn't necessarily mean they're unanswerable questions, particularly in the context of an incomplete story. Craster giving his sons to the cold, Craster's claim that he has no cause to fear the Others (I think the context is compelling on this front), "they'll be here soon, the sons;" this may be unproven text, but it is still text. And not just a throwaway blurb--the author introduced a story, expanded and reinforced that story in a subsequent volume, and capped the whole thing off with a potential revelation. A red herring, perhaps, but persistent enough to be treated credibly. To return to Mormont and co., I agree that the Watch's ostensible ignorance here might be silly (though, I think GRRM has the wiggle room to say that, just as nobody except Sam cared enough to help Gilly, nobody stuck around to see Craster's cruelty play out, especially if they just think it's superstitious nonsense)... but verisimilitude is a subjective thing. Ultimately, we're at the mercy of what GRRM defines as believable--or where he thinks he can get away with people suspending disbelief. I'm being repetitive in this criticism of GRRM, but I find that he generally relies way too much on the selective and overly convenient ignorance of his characters for the sake of his reveals, which leads to situations like the Green Men sitting in the center of Westeros for 10,000 years, but remaining essentially unknowable, all so he can surprise the reader later; or the Watch forgetting about obsidian killing Others (even though that information is definitely in their annals...nobody thought it'd be a good idea to read that shit as a part of the preparations for the Great Ranging?), Eddard apparently being skeptical about magic and the CoTF despite his friendship with Howland Reed, and so forth... ______ I'll also note that, with one of the storytelling themes being the return of magic, it is entirely possible that two things are true of Craster's Keep: for a long time, his sons were given to the cold, and simply died of exposure...and more recently, his sons are being given to the cold, and something else entirely has been happening. The offerings were just one of many things he did to fulfill his duties as a "godly man," except being a godly man has gained new significance in a world where rituals have power once again. We might make a comparison to Targaryens who self-immolated, drank wildfire, or tried to awaken dragons at Summerhall: for a long time, all of that stuff ended in tragedy and futility. Now... dragons have returned to the world, Dany is Unburnt, the glass candles are burning, the Starks have collectively awakened their magic, and the trees have eyes again.
  9. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    Edit: oops, double post Edit 2: Welp, since it's already here, and taking up space... I'm wondering what the narrative structure of that HBO prequel series is going to be--a string of episodic vignettes, set over hundreds, or thousands of years, or as a cohesive narrative told from several view points? On the one hand, "here's the story of Lann the Clever; tune in next week for the story of Azor Ahai!" seems odd, even as a single season of television. On the other hand, telling some version of ancient history where all of those stories come together for the Long Night would basically just be a repeat of ASOIAF.
  10. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    I did not intend for that to be an exhaustive list of every iteration of "what has been happening north of the Wall in the lead up to aGoT," just as two illustrations of how many "blanks" the reader must fill in, how many different things one might conclude from reading the same story. Though, for clarity, I'm taking Craster (or any other theory of how the Others might be made, or bolster their numbers) into account when I say the Others might have been preparing for their invasion for an indeterminate period before they attacked the giants/Thenns/etc.
  11. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    It also firmly puts to rest the notion that any of that Empire of the Dawn/Color Emperors business is a part of some deeply embedded world lore that was present from the outset, though for anyone who has listened to GRRM talk about his worldbuilding (and that he takes pretty much the opposite approach to Tolkien on that front), it'll just be confirming what was already suspected. I was taking into account some of the prior posts on the topic--for example, how long the wildlings were fighting the Others before the prologue, as well as where the prologue attack might have taken place, and the significance (if any) as to how far north the attack occurred. I'm elaborating that, from my point of view, I think it's entirely plausible to read the text and come away with the impression that unexplained disappearances, and even outright war between the giants/Thenns/ice river clans and the Others were going on for years before aGoT without the Watch being aware--furthermore, I think there's an authorial intent behind having the attack occur closer to, say, the Fist, than Thenn. So, you might have one read that goes: Royce and co. push hard chasing raiders, they reach the extreme northwestern margins of the Haunted Forest, and are among the earliest causalities of Long Night 2.0 ...while another might go: For an indeterminate period, the Others are adding to both their own numbers (assuming the crafting of new walkers, or new walker bodies), and picking up wights in dribs and drabs, gradually sending their new 'recruits' to the Heart of Winter to await the true assault. Eventually, they descend on the giants in numbers. The giants, Thenns, ice river clans, and Hornfoots resist (again, for an indeterminate length of time); they progress into the Haunted Forest, and Mance is going to take a stab at standing against the Others; some Free Folk choose to fight with Mance, while others (like Osha and the wildlings that run into Bran) choose to flee. Royce and co. run into the Others midway through the Haunted Forest, a type of attack that - unbeknownst to the Watch - has become common for the wildlings--reflecting the Watch's ignorance, their failure to establish a healthy relationship with the Free Folk, and how catastrophically unprepared the Night Watch is to fulfill its true role. ____ Again, I'm not attempting to advocate for a "correct" interpretation, I'm actually laying out that certain things that might feel intuitively true are actually open questions, and the fact that we can't definitively lay down an irrefutable timeline for Mance's desertion, assent, his unifying of the wildlings, and how that relates chronologically to the return of the Others (and, in turn, how long the Others have been "back" vs. how long they've been openly attacking people and raising the dead) reflects the potential for revelation on all of those fronts.
  12. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    This might qualify as Heresy-adjacent, given the subject matter One of the GoT spin-off shows is going to be set during the Age of Heroes/Long Night: http://ew.com/tv/2018/06/08/game-thrones-prequel-jane-goldman/ The "it's not the story we think we know" stuff is eye-roll worthy, but D&D aren't involved, so maybe it'll be good
  13. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    While we have come to mostly similar conclusions - the Others have only returned relatively recently, the Others weren't the initial reason that Mance became a King-beyond-the-Wall contender, the Watch has no idea what is going on - but with different perceptions underlying those conclusions. With that in mind, I'll give my thought process here, not as some kind of counterpoint/disagreement, but just to articulate the way I perceive the size of the far north, as well as the circumstances surrounding the Watch's (and the Free Folk's) ignorance and why I don't take it as a given that the Prologue attack needs to be at the extreme north, why I'd assumed a different authorial intent to the attack. Based on the map in ADWD and the maps in The Lands of Ice and Fire - a project which GRRM has candidly admitted was supposed to be an easy cash grab, and instead he became absorbed in the process of trying to get the terrain right, to the detriment of TWOW's progress -, if the Wall is 300 miles long, Thenn and the upper borders of the Haunted Forest are in the neighborhood of 600 miles north of the Wall, with the stretches of wildling occupied land between the Frostfangs and the Shivering Sea being comparable in length to the Wall. ...err, the point being that my perception of the Prologue is not that we're seeing people push to the far north, only to find themselves among the earliest causalities of the Other invasion--I take the attack as an indication of how far the Others have expanded their sphere of influence, and that the Watch has no idea what is happening under its nose because of how poor relations are between the Watch and the Free Folk, and how understaffed the Watch is in relation to the size of the north. I read the intent here as establishing that, from the outset, the Watch cannot fulfill its duty, and things only get worse from there. As an additional variable, how did the attacks of the Others begin? As a proper invasion, with frontal assaults, or as a period of unexplained disappearances - a hunter disappears here, a small raiding party goes missing there - with the Others slowly acquiring wights until they could employ more direct tactics? If its the latter, it alters the potential of the timeline that is in play--in addition to other factors, such as the Thenns, cave dwellers, and giants having a degree of isolation in culture, language, and geography. IMO, it wasn't just the Watch that was slow to catch on to what was happening.
  14. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    I would think that the terrain of the Haunted Forest - both the trees, and the river to the northwest of Craster's Keep according to the map in ASOS -, as well as the risk of being ambushed, would be important moderating factors for rangers traveling on horseback; in addition, we cannot clearly define whether the rangers arrived at Craster's Keep in the evening and only spent the night, or arrived early and spent most of the day there probing for gossip. Whenever things like this become a topic of conversation, I cannot help but think of...: http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Chronology_and_Distances The question "how many miles per day could the rangers travel" may not be something that GRRM ever asked himself when writing the Prologue, so there is probably an element of futility in attempting to nail down a location that relates realistically to a particular distance per day; more likely, the number of days was arbitrarily chosen, and the location of the attack itself probably a vaguely defined "somewhere to the northwest of Craster's Keep" within GRRM's head.
  15. Matthew.

    Heresy 209 Of Ice and of Fire

    I think most "Bran leads the Others" theories are assuming that he'd be managing the hordes through skinchanging/greensight in the safety of his weirwood throne, not that he'll lead in person as a field marshal; though, I suppose, some variations might assume that Bran is transplanting his mind into a walker body.
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