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Lord Varys

New TWoIaF excerpt from the App [spoiler]

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I've said it multiple times. The numbers as we have them refer to the population as it is in the present day, not as they were in ancient times. The continuous warfare, the general enmity between the kingdoms, and the fact that no united effort was made to plant and harvest to feed the whole Realm would have inevitably led to famines and death during winter, especially (but not only) in the North.

This. To suggest the relative strength of each kingdom is supposed to remain constant over a period of thousands of years is, in a word, silly. Justifying doing so by simply writing off periodic 'fluctuations' as something akin to statistical noise is just as silly. There are most certainly fluctuations throughout such a long period of time, and we have no way of knowing where or when such fluctuations occurred. Thus, using the current numbers to estimate strength in the distant past is effectively useless.

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This. To suggest the relative strength of each kingdom is supposed to remain constant over a period of thousands of years is, in a word, silly. Justifying doing so by simply writing off periodic 'fluctuations' as something akin to statistical noise is just as silly. There are most certainly fluctuations throughout such a long period of time, and we have no way of knowing where or when such fluctuations occurred. Thus, using the current numbers to estimate strength in the distant past is effectively useless.

But the assumption that is being made here is that the North's population change was disproportionate to the rest of Westeros, to prevent the Stark Kings from being superpowerful for the period they lived in. Yet it could just as well have been a change in the opposite direction, meaning that the North could have been proportionally MORE populous then that it is today.

My point is that population fluctuations cannot be used to counter the argument that the Starks ruling an entire sub-continent would have been far more powerful than any petty southron king of the time, because there is no reason why the North would have been disproportionately underpopulated compared to the South at the time.

I can fully get behind the idea that the ENTIRE Westeros was far less populated back then. But that should be applied equally to all regions, and not arbitrarily to the North alone.

Remember, if this was 3000 years ago, the entire Westeros had been settled for well over 5000 years at that point.

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I will say that "Valyrian steel" should have been removed from the description of Lady Forlorn. Not sure what happened there, but in any case, ignore it.

This has to mean that the Lady Forlorn mentioned in the WOIAF and the Lady Forlorn that Lyn Corbray wields are not the same sword, right?

EDIT: or not, I see no confirmation anywhere in the series that LF is Valyrian steel. That appears to be a very popular assumption, completely un-confirmed by anything in writing.

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TBH race doesn't seem to matter very much in westeros. House Arryn is proud to be of Andal descent, yet happily marries into houses with unknown or first men ancestry: Royce, Tully(actual origin unknown, probably from the andal period, but likely a mixture of first men and andal descent), Waynwood (unknown), and historically Targaryen.

While is it true that race doesn't matter much, it is also true that cultural background seems to be preserved among the main families. The Starks married some southern ladies, including Cat, but everyone saw Robb as a true Northman even when he inherited the Tully looks. The Brakens and the Blackwoods have intermarried several times, Mace mother-in-law was a Florent, and there are weddings betwen Marcher lords and Dorsnih families, but their respective feuds remain as they were.

If nothing else, the composition of the Lords Declarant proves that the old alliances and balances of power have been kept unaltered. It's not a matter of obscure conspirancies, but just the fact that families that have been allies for thousands of years act together as a lobby to defend their interests, and when possible, grasp some more power.

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This has to mean that the Lady Forlorn mentioned in the WOIAF and the Lady Forlorn that Lyn Corbray wields are not the same sword, right?

EDIT: or not, I see no confirmation anywhere in the series that LF is Valyrian steel. That appears to be a very popular assumption, completely un-confirmed by anything in writing.

Oh yeah, quoting myself. Always fun.

There will surely be several other "popular assumptions" blown out of the water by this book. This one is pretty surprising, because as someone else pointed out, a normal steel sword lasting so long is a bit unlikely, but surely not impossible. The blade could've been damaged and repaired several times, or even reforged with the old hilt.

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This has to mean that the Lady Forlorn mentioned in the WOIAF and the Lady Forlorn that Lyn Corbray wields are not the same sword, right?

EDIT: or not, I see no confirmation anywhere in the series that LF is Valyrian steel. That appears to be a very popular assumption, completely un-confirmed by anything in writing.

Here is the description of Lady Forlorn in AFFC. It's clearly Valyrian:

Candlelight rippled along the smoke-grey steel of Corbray’s blade, so dark that it put Sansa in mind of Ice, her father’s greatsword.

Lady Forlorn is also called a Valyrian sword in the MUSH

http://www.westeros.org/BoD/Houses/Entry/House_Corbray/

{Ser Corwyn} (b. 100), a famous knight, wielder of the Valyrian steel sword Lady Forlorn, a regent of King Aegon III, killed at a parley outside Runestone (d. 135),

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I guess this should help somewhat to resolve 'the burning Royce-Bolton question'.

What question?

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We already know from the second chapter of AGOT that Valyrian blades in Westeros sometimes carried names of older swords, Ice going back to the Age of Heroes or so. It could he played off as a Maester making an anachronism. A number of the Valyrian blades seem to have been acquired soon before the Doom, not millennia ago.

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Here is the description of Lady Forlorn in AFFC. It's clearly Valyrian:

Lady Forlorn is also called a Valyrian sword in the MUSH

http://www.westeros.org/BoD/Houses/Entry/House_Corbray/

That's pretty strong evidence, you're right.

We already know from the second chapter of AGOT that Valyrian blades in Westeros sometimes carried names of older swords, Ice going back to the Age of Heroes or so. It could he played off as a Maester making an anachronism. A number of the Valyrian blades seem to have been acquired soon before the Doom, not millennia ago.

That's where I was going with my first post, and "maester anachronism" is a good explanation.

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TSS also suggests that Lady Forlorn is Valyrian steel. Gwayne Corbray can stand against Daemon for an hour or so, in the end, 'the Lady falters', but she does not break. A normal sword would not have survived this long.



But as I've said above, it would much more sense to assume that the Lady Forlorn during the Battle of the Seven Stars was a Valyrian steel blade. It cuts through the impostor Arys' head pretty quickly, and it is explicitly mentioned that this was a steel helmet.



As to the populations:



The North was always scarcely populated, and much more scarcely in older times during the times, I'd imagine (due to the seasons, the warfare. etc.). I do not doubt that the united North could have taken on some of the petty kings down in the South - but this most likely would have invited attacks from another side, most likely the sea.



FNR,



the Wolf's Den thing does not confirm or deny whether there were Andal attacks on the Neck and the North prior to all that. All it does confirm is that the Rape of the Three Sisters occurred after the Marsh King bent the knee to Winterfell. But that's not my point. I was suggesting that the Andals could have tried to invade the Neck under the Marsh Kings, and the North under the Kings of Winters prior to the raising of the Wolf's Den or the Rape of the Three Sisters.



Colonel Green,



the questions whether the Boltons founded House Royce because some ancient Bolton kings bore the given name 'Royce'. Not very likely now, since the Royce apparently were a very ancient and powerful First Men house when the Andals arrived in the Vale.


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TSS also suggests that Lady Forlorn is Valyrian steel. Gwayne Corbray can stand against Daemon for an hour or so, in the end, 'the Lady falters', but she does not break. A normal sword would not have survived this long.

But as I've said above, it would much more sense to assume that the Lady Forlorn during the Battle of the Seven Stars was a Valyrian steel blade. It cuts through the impostor Arys' head pretty quickly, and it is explicitly mentioned that this was a steel helmet.

Remember Yandel's sources. Everything in the details of the battle must be taken with a grain of salt.

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Yes, of course, but then Yandel (Ran/Linda) should have had included a comment, that this sword was not the Valyrian steel Lady Forlorn of later years. But apparently such a line is missing. I'm pretty sure that Yandel is commenting a lot on his ancient/untrustworthy/fairy tale sources, and there is really no reason why he would miss such an important thing. Valyrian steel blades are famous weapons, and should be an important topic for his target audience (i.e. Robert and his sons).


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If there's reasonabl doubt about when the Andal invasion took place, then even the maesters may question if it was before or after the rise of the Valyrians. Conventional Westerosi historiography may say that it was the same sword, but discrepancy in the dating of events might show that it wasn't.


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Valyria wasn't built in a day.



Valyria won its fifth and final war against Old Ghis 5,000 years ago.



May have taken a while for Valyria to even get off the ground: for all we knew up to now, they might have discovered dragons 7,000 years ago.



According to Roman legend, their city was founded in 753 BC. The last Punic War, at the end of which they salted the fields of a burned Carthage, was in 146 BC. Difference of some 600 years.



We really never knew how much time passed ab urbe condita, between when the Valyrians first found dragons in the Fourteen Fires, and when they reduced Ghis to ash.


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I think this is the first instance in which we've seen the specific term "High King" used in ASOIAF. When Aegon landed he didn't declare himself High King, he declared himself King and demoted the other Kings to lords. The Stark material doesn't mention the Starks historically using a High King title. I don't recall any mention of a High King from the Westerlands material (though obviously that was an oral report, and parts were necessarily left out). I'll be curious to see if the specific title of "High King" was ever used elsewhere in Westerosi history.



Also interesting is that "King of the True Men" title used by Osgood Shett that Yandel finds "vainglorious". What specific honor was Shett claiming, and why did Yandel seem to find the title so pompous? Supposedly the title goes back 10,000 years to the Dawn Age---is "King of the True Men" just another name for King of the First Men, and Yandel finds Shett's claiming of that title presumptuous? (If so, Yandel's phrasing here is odd. According to the table of contents, the Vale section comes after the Dawn Age/Coming of the First Men material, and also after the Northern material that we know mentions the idea of some First King, yet it treats the "King of the True Men" title here as something not yet mentioned.) Or does "King of the True Men" refer to something else? To be King of the True Men might imply the existence of false men, and what historical group might be considered false men? The Others? The Children? Some ancient mythical group that hasn't yet been mentioned? Or might it be a relic of some as-yet-unmentioned schism among the First Men, with one group denoting themselves "true men"?





But as I've said above, it would much more sense to assume that the Lady Forlorn during the Battle of the Seven Stars was a Valyrian steel blade. It cuts through the impostor Arys' head pretty quickly, and it is explicitly mentioned that this was a steel helmet.





This account also has Torgold Tollett ripping a woman's head off with his bare hands. Clearly there's some embellishment going on here.



Ran said upthread that Lady Forlorn should not have been described as Valyrian steel. He then brought up the example of Ice, a Valyrian steel sword named for an earlier sword. The current Lady Forlorn seems to be Valyrian steel. It sounds like, like Ice, the current Lady Forlorn (which is Valyrian steel) was named for an earlier Lady Forlorn that was not Valyrian steel.





More importantly, the Corbrays apparently point to Lady Forlorn when discussing who slew King Robar. That would make little sense if they did not believe/knew that the Valyrian steel Lady Forlorn was the very weapon that was used during the Battle of the Seven Stars.





. . . That makes no sense. The excerpt says,



The Corbrays of Heart’s Home have always insisted that 
it was Ser Jaime Corbray who dealt the mortal blow, and for proof they point to Lady Forlorn, reclaimed for House Corbray after the battle.


Obviously they're not literally pointing to their actual sword and saying "Our ancestor must have been the one to kill the guy wielding this six thousand years ago, otherwise there's no way we'd have this sword in our possession today!" That's nonsensical. The sword Lady Forlorn was reclaimed according to the septons/singers by House Corbray specifically after the Battle of Seven Stars. House Corbray uses that historical tidbit---that history remembers the Corbrays retrieving Lady Forlorn after the Battle of Seven Stars---as evidence that a Corbray most likely killed High King Robar Royce. (If Ser Jaime Corbray hadn't killed Royce, the argument would go, someone else would have ended up with the sword after the battle. That the Corbrays were able to retrieve it is taken as evidence that a Corbray must have killed Royce, the person wielding it.) They're metaphorically pointing to the historical Lady Forlorn (specifically, its chain of custody); they're not literally pointing to the literal modern Lady Forlorn.





Yes, of course, but then Yandel (Ran/Linda) should have had included a comment, that this sword was not the Valyrian steel Lady Forlorn of later years. But apparently such a line is missing.





Or that information is conveyed later in the excerpt, so Yandel felt no need to highlight it here.



And again, Ran said that Lady Forlorn should not have been described as Valyrian steel. I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about here.


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I think this is the first instance in which we've seen the specific term "High King" used in ASOIAF. When Aegon landed he didn't declare himself High King, he declared himself King and demoted the other Kings to lords. The Stark material doesn't mention the Starks historically using a High King title. I don't recall any mention of a High King from the Westerlands material (though obviously that was an oral report, and parts were necessarily left out). I'll be curious to see if the specific title of "High King" was ever used elsewhere in Westerosi history.

The ancient kings of the iron islansd used the style "High King", since they were chosen by the multiple kings of salt and rock.

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Lord Varys

On population.

The North was always sparsely populated, yes. Then as now, that fact cannot be disputed. But even though it is sparsely populated, Martin says it can raise as many men as the entire Vale.

The argument that it was less populated back then due to all the wars does not hold water, given that EVERY kingdom - both in the North and the South - had conatant warfare going on. The North was not unique in that respect. So as much as this would have reduced the North's population , it would have done the same for the Vale, The Riverlands, the Reach etc.

Similarly, there is no indication that Winters back then were more severe than Winters today, so no reason exists why the North would be disproportionately less populated than any other Kingdom in Westeros, compared to today.

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I've always been under the impression that the North was, comparatively speaking, depopulated as a result of the Long Night. In Old Nan's story of the thirteen heroes they set off into the "dead lands" in search of the children, which clearly suggests that they set off from somewhere that wasn't dead; say Westeros below the Neck.


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