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Durran Durrandon

The Long Night and the Great Summer

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One God, Two Gods, Red God, Blue God: The Long Night and the Great Summer

 

This essay was intended as the first in a series of extensions of my essay on Melisandre and the Night’s Queen. Having written it. It kind of stands pretty well on its own. That said, it is rooted it my other essay. It partially rests on my contention that the Others are human in origin, or maybe human created in origin. Drawing on parallels between Melisandre and the Night’s Queen, I argued that a priesthood similar to the Red Priests, which I will refer to as the Blue Priests existed before the Long Night. It is likely an anachronistic comparison. The Blue Priests were more likely to be a less formal shamanic order living among the First Men of the North, not a formal priesthood. That said, I think that the parallels between the Red Priests and the Others are strong enough to consider them to be the  primary catalyzing forces in the eschatology of Planetos, which is the focus of this essay. You may want to read Melisandre and the Night’s Queen first. I will reference it towards the end of this essay.

 

So, let’s begin.

 

The Great Summer and the Long Night

 

“When I was a boy,” Tyrion replied, “my wet nurse told me that one day, if men were good, the gods would give the world a summer without ending. Perhaps we’ve been better than we thought, and the Great Summer is finally at hand.” (GoT 223)

 

This quote comes early in Game of Thrones in a conversation between Tyrion and Jeor Mormont.  Two chapters later and a continent away,  Jeor’s son, Jorah Mormont, makes a similar comment to Daenerys, when she states that the common people of Westeros pray for the return of Viserys, quote:

 

“The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends,” Ser Jorah told her. (GoT 249)

 

The Great Summer, the idea that in the end times, the gods would create heaven on earth by establishing a summer without end, seems to be deeply rooted in the traditions of Westeros. They have a name for it.  Now, it’s hardly mentioned after this, but I think that is because Martin doesn’t want us thinking about it too much. It stands in stark contrast with the more commonly referenced end time scenario throughout the books,  the Long Night, where Martin is drawing our focus.  In the scene with Tyrion and Jeor, Jeor immediately crushes Tyrion’s glib comment about the Great Summer warning that they are in fact entering this much darker end times  scenario, quote:

 

“Already the days grow shorter. There can be no mistake, Aemon has had letters from the Citadel, findings in accord with his own. The end of summer stares us in the face . . .I tell you, my lord, the darkness is coming. There are wild things in the woods, direwolves and mammoths and snow bears the size of aurochs, and I have seen darker shapes in my dreams . . .

 

The fisherfolk near Eastwatch have glimpsed white walkers on the shore . . . These are old bones, Lannister, but they have never felt a chill like this. Tell the king what I say, I pray you. Winter is coming, and when the Long Night falls, only the Night’s Watch will stand between the realm and the darkness that sweeps from the north. The gods help us all if we are not ready.” (GoT 223-224)

 

In the following books, this is the  scenario dominates Melisandre’s messianic view of Stannis as Azor Ahai. His role is to fight the Darkness. So that over the next three books, it seems that the sole purpose of Azor Ahai being reborn, according to prophecy and  the end game of the Red Priests, is to stop the Long Night and defeat the Others.  After Tyrion and Jorah’s mention of the Great Summer in Game of Thrones, this idea disappears until being brought up in Dance with Dragons. When it shows back up, it shows up dramatically, quote:

 

Haldon nodded. “Benerro has sent forth the word from Volantis. Her coming is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. From smoke and salt was she born to make the world a new. She is Azor Ahai returned … and her triumph over darkness will bring a summer that will never end … death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn …” (ADwD 308)

 

Bennero is the high priest of the Red Temple in Volantis. Up until now, we had been led to believe that Azor Ahai was to be reborn to stop the Long Night, but now we are told that the messiah will also bring eternal summer and an end to death, at least, for the chosen. The planet either dies frozen in eternal ice swarmed by the Others, or Azor Ahai is victorious and his followers are rewarded with heaven on earth.

 

The Long Night

 

Before we take a closer look at this, we need to take a closer look at the Long Night. What caused it and the random seasons? There are different levels of depth we can go to in answering this questions. If you want the maximum detail of one view of this theory, I suggest that you look at LML’s explanation here or here. It’s quite good. In this essay, I will give you a mid level detail version, with my particular view on it.

 

We are only given one real explanation of what caused the Long Night. It comes from the The World of Ice and Fire, in the form of a legend that originates in the far eastern land of Yi Ti.

 

So let’s read that description and then I will get back to the references in the main series:

 

“The Golden Empire’s first ruler was the God-on-Earth, the only son of the Lion of Night and the Maiden-Made-of-Light, who traveled in a palanquin carved from a single pearl and carried by a hundred queens, his wives. He ruled for ten thousand years until he ascended to the stars to join his forebears. Dominion then passed to his eldest son, the Pearl Emperor, who ruled for a thousand years. Power then passed to the Jade Emperor, the Tourmaline Emperor, the Onyx Emperor, the Topaz Emperor, and the Opal Emperor. Each reigning for a shorter and more troubled time than the previous emperor, for wild men and beasts pressed the borders of the Empire, lesser kings grew proud and rebellious, and the common people gave themselves to sin. When the daughter of the Opal Emperor ascended to power as the Amethyst Empress, her envious brother cast her down and proclaimed himself the Bloodstone Emperor  . . . it was the Blood Betrayal, as his usurpation is named, that ushered in the age of darkness called the Long Night. Despairing of the evil that had been unleashed on earth, the Maiden-Made-of-Light turned her back upon the world, and the Lion of Night came forth in all his wroth to punish the wickedness of men.”  (TWOIAF 712)

 

Now for me the link between The Bloodstone Emperor and the Amethyst Empress and Azhor Ahai and Nissa Nissa was intuitive. I couldn't back it up at first, but I had the instinct that these were different versions of the same myth. Indulge me for a minute, and just assume they are, as I go through the other layers of myth, the connections will become more obvious.

Okay, now let’s look at the myth of Azor Ahai:

 

“A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred fires, he summoned his wife. ‘Nissa Nissa,’ he said to her, for that was her name, ‘bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world.’ She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.” (CoK 158)

 

We can forgive ourselves if on our first read we did not pay much attention to the second to last line here. There is a lot going on in this scene and this story, but look at it now. “It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon. . .”  Wait, what? Is there a crack in the moon? No one has ever mentioned it. Is this literal? Is it symbolic? Does the cry of ecstasy hint at sexual symbolism as the sword penetrates her heart? Did Nissa Nissa die in childbirth? Is she the cracking moon? Just stop a moment and think about why this line was included.

 

Okay now, let’s interject yet another layer, possibly explaining this moon reference. This time is it from Game of Thrones:

 

“A trader from Qarth once told me that dragons came from the moon,” blond Doreah said as she warmed a towel over the fire. . .

 

Silvery-wet hair tumbled across her eyes as Dany turned her head, curious. “The moon?”

 

“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”

 

The two Dothraki girls giggled and laughed. “You are foolish strawhead slave,” Irri said. “Moon is no egg. Moon is god, woman wife of sun. It is known.” (GoT 253)

 

Suddenly the crack in the moon caused by Nissa Nissa’s anguished and ecstatic cry seems to be referencing something significant. This idea that there was a second moon that was destroyed (which we all certainly ignored on our first read), symbolically or literally, suddenly seems important, and even the dismissal by Daenerys Dothraki handmaidens seems relevant. “Moon is god, woman wife of sun.” Nissa Nissa was a woman, the wife of Azor Ahai, who killed her, as the sun kills the second moon, with a kiss, with a sword through the heart, with an act of penetration that causes anguish and ecstasy, cracking the moon. The two myths are one story, we just need a sword:

 

The comet was splendid and scary all at once. “The Red Sword,” the Bull named it; he claimed it looked like a sword, the blade still red-hot from the forge. When Arya squinted the right way she could see the sword too, only it wasn’t a new sword, it was Ice, her father’s greatsword, all ripply Valyrian steel, and the red was Lord Eddard’s blood on the blade after Ser Ilyn the King’s Justice had cut off his head. (CoK 43)

 

The Bull, Gendry, the smith sees the comet as a red sword. Now imagine the comet as the newly forged Lightbringer, on the outbound path of its orbit. It appears to be coming from the sun as it approaches Plantetos, and strikes the moon, cracking and destroying it. This is the gestalt of our myths. Azor Ahai, the sun, stabs the moon, Nissa Nissa through the heart with Lightbringer, the comet. The moon cracks like an egg and the debris falls burning, a thousand, thousand falling stars. The debris could be the source of the oily black stone referenced throughout the books, the stone from the sky, worshiped by the Bloodstone Emperor, and possibly the fallen star that the founder  of House Dayne followed to Westeros.  Before  we get into the implications of this, let’s look to see if we can find anymore confirmation in the text . . .  and here it is in Dance , quote:

Benerro jabbed a finger at the moon, made a fist, spread his hands wide.  When his voice rose in a crescendo, flames leapt from his fingers with a sudden whoosh and made the crowd gasp.  The priest could trace fiery letters in the air as well. Valyrian glyphs.  Tyrion recognized perhaps two in ten; one was Doom, the other Darkness.  (ADWD 378 )

 

Benerro jabs his finger at the moon miming the collision of the comet with the. He makes a fist representing the moon and then fans out his fingers which erupt in flame. The moon explodes in flame.  He traces the symbols for doom and darkness, the Long Night. The collision of the comet with the moon, the tempering of Lightbringer in the heart of Nissa Nissa, causes the Long Night.

 

But wait, it was the Blood Betrayal, the Bloodstone Emperor that caused the Long Night. True. This is the connection. The Bloodstone Emperor was Azor Ahai. The Amethyst Empress was Nissa Nissa, to the extent that they were real people and not mythological stand-ins for cosmological events.

 

So, let's look at implications. If you have made it this far,  you are a geek, and when I suggested a thousand, thousand meteors fell to earth you probably envisioned clouds of dust shooting up into the atmosphere causing a nuclear winter-death of the dinosaurs type scenario. Likely, you are working up an explanation for the random shifting seasons that involves the destruction of the moon causing an unstable wobble in the planet's axial alignment. You are also doubting the plausibility of a comet destroying a moon, (and then surviving to reappear later) Stop it. Quit sciencing. This is fantasy. It’s a magic comet and a magic moon. . .

 

Okay, let’s science just a little bit, and take a look at what Septon Barth had to say as told in The World of Ice and Fire, quote:

 

Septon Barth appeared to argue, in a fragmentary treatise, that the inconstancy of the seasons was a matter of magical art rather than trustworthy knowledge. Maester Nicol’s The Measure of the Days —otherwise a laudable work containing much of use—seems influenced by this argument. Based upon his work on the movement of stars in the firmament, Nicol argues unconvincingly that the seasons might once have been of a regular length, determined solely by the way in which the globe faces the sun in its heavenly course. The notion behind it seems true enough—that the lengthening and shortening of days, if more regular, would have led to more regular seasons—but he could find no evidence that such was ever the case, beyond the most ancient of tales. (WoIaF 39-40)

 

Okay, so it looks like we are being told that the winters and summers are caused by the length of the days. Actually, you may remember from the beginning of this essay. Jeor Mormont said this to Tyrion back on page 249 of Game of Throne, so it is established pretty early on in the series. The World of Ice and Fire confirms that the lengthening and shortening of days is caused by the axial tilt of the planet, “the way the globe face the sun in its heavenly course.” Science! The current lengthening and shortening of days, however is random enough to be unpredictable by the maesters. The planet wobbles. However the most ancient tales indicate that the seasons used to be regular, but there is nothing else supporting those tales. So, yeah, the planet is wobbly, but not because of the gravitational pull of the moon or anything like that.  We should only treat this as scientific as the text makes it.

 

This event is astrological, not astronomical. Yes, the meteorites should have super heated the atmosphere causing a mass extinction, and yes the dust cloud caused by their impact should have caused an ice age or something, but I think Martin is making a distinction between science fiction and fantasy here, and simply ignoring the scientific consequences. The consequences are magical. The astrological force that was associated with summer, the moon, Nissa Nissa was destroyed, so the northern hemisphere toppled into what could have been permanent winter, as it tilted away from the sun.

 

So we can still anticipate the complaint, “But George said the cause of the Long Night and random seasons was magical, not scientific. Why are you trying to give a scientific explanation at all.”  I’m really not.  We have it in writing that the seasons are caused by the lengthening and shortening of days and thus the axial tilt. This is all written, so what he must have meant when he said it was magical is that the slow random wobble in the axial tilt is magical, which is why the maesters can’t find a predictable pattern to it.

 

Why reject a dust cloud causing the Long Night? It’s simpler. The wobbling axial tilt can explain both the original Long Night and the random seasons without needing an additional explanation. Also, if magic can explain the axial tilt and its randomness, then we can easily imagine a magical act, committed by the Last Hero, Azor Ahai, the Song of the Children of Mother Rhoyne, or the Woman with a Monkey’s Tale, ending the Long Night by correcting the extreme tilt, if still leaving it a bit random. The sudden clearing of a global dust cloud, my an act of magic seems less likely, and wouldn’t explain the seasons continuing to be unstable. Add to this that a new Long Night has already beginning. The current winter that has begun is called the Long Night by Jeor at the beginning of the story. It’s not a normal winter; it brings with it the Others. There is no dust cloud causing it.  It is being caused by a change in the tilt of the planet. Finally, there is no way to invert a dust cloud in a way that would allow for the possibility of the Great Summer that Benerro is proposing. The Great Summer in the context of what we know of the seasons requires an axial tilt.

 

No, there will be no Great Summer in the books. We know the next book titles, The Winds of Winter and Dreams of Spring. They don’t allow much room for a Great Summer. However, there has to be a possibility of Great Summer for the plot, because this possibility and goal is focus of the Red Priests wielding magic that is directly reciprocal to that of the Others.

 

The Great Summer Revisited

 

Is the Great Summer a good idea, anyhow? It’s easy to think of this as a paradise, where the rules of climate are suspended. Benerro says death will bend its knee, so we might imagine food being magically plentiful and people not getting sick and living forever. You know, water gardens for everyone! The idea of the Great Summer stands in contrast with the Long Night, however, which wasn’t a paradise for anyone except for the Others. If we imagine it’s opposite, their world tilted with the northern hemisphere towards the sun, so far that the sun never sets in the far north, as it never rose during the Long Night, and think about the real world ramifications of this, it quickly turns into a nightmare. This nightmare clearly must have occurred in the southern hemisphere of Planetos during the Long Night. However, the world map appears to only go down to the equator or slightly passed. We have no talles from these regions telling us what happened there, but some references to what happens during long summers have been made in the World of Ice and Fire. A two year drought that came with the summer following the Spring Sickness of 209 AE. I think this is much more like what we would really expected, where extended strong summers would have serious climate consequences and cause real problems. If we begin to think in terms of droughts and plagues in an eternally hot climate, it’s easy to imagine the northern hemisphere looking much like Dorne or worse, like the The World of Ice and Fire’s description of Sothyros, covered with jungle, plague, and the nastiest animals imaginable. The point being that this is a hellscape, for everyone and of course, genocide for the Others. After all, we have seen what the eternal life offered by the Red Priests looks like. Just look at Berric Donderian and Lady Stone Heart. They might be able to live in this hellscape, but haunt might be a better description. I demonstrated in my earlier essay that Melisandre and maybe some of the other Red Priests have undergone a transformation similar to what Beric has undergone, both having smoking black blood.  It's possible that only those Red Priests and those raised back to life by them could survive at all.

 

None of this is to say that this is what Benerro wants. This isn’t about Benerro being evil. It’s about him being as deluded as Melisandre. They have real magic, a false god, and a dogmatic dualistic theology that fails to comprehend the need for balance.

 

So why is a new Long Night happening now? It is possible that the return of the comet has signaled the return of magic into the world and with it, the strengthening of the magic of the remaining winter moon. It is possible that the return of the comet had influenced the recent long summer to begin with. The pertinent question is what role does the agency of the factions in the story play in bringing on Long Night. Have the Others done something to make this happen? Assuming they are aware of the Red Priests and their goals, their motivation would be clear. Do the Red Priests have the intention of doing something magical to bring on the Great Summer?I don’t feel like I can speak to any of these questions with real evidence, so I will leave it there except to leave with one last quote from Bran’s dream in Game:

 

He lifted his eyes and saw clear across the narrow sea . . . to Asshai by the Shadow, where dragons stirred beneath the sunrise. Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal . . . he looked past the Wall . . . and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.

Now you know , the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live . (GoT 173-174)

It seems that set up early in the text is the idea that the magic involved in pushing the seasons in one direction or the other is likely located at Asshai, or north of it in the actual Shadow and in the far north, in the Heart of Winter.








 

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Very cool Durran D, and good to see your fingers typing at the keyboard again! Thanks very much for the shoutout. :)

I really wanted to hear more about your idea about shamanic ice-priestess tradition, that's a really exciting idea. I think we have symbolic stand-ins for these ice priestesses in the person of Val in ADWD, as well as Alys Karstark at her wedding (she's even called "winter's lady" in that scene). I wonder if the Sansa snow-castle scene might not have clues about this as well. It's also tantalizing to think about the possibility of Dawn Age Westeros being slightly less patriarchal, because Bronze Age & Stone Age civilizations often were (the mother goddess being the oldest form of a deity found anywhere on earth).

 A related question - do you think there's a hidden meaning to redheads being described as "kissed by fire?" 

Mad for the Long Night mechanics, I don't really see a point arguing about it as its only tangential to your essay  I will briefly mention that the idea of the meteor impacts throwing up a dust cloud is not only a logical extrapolation - in many of the scenes which I have identified as metaphors for the Long Night, there is a mention of dust and ash and smoke rising to the heavens or choking people, such as in the Alchemical Wedding scene where the roiling smoke chokes the Dothraki. I just found a nice one in the Mystery Knight, where Bloodraven plants the flag of the Black Dragon in the ground and set it afire: "It burned for a long time, sending up a twisted plume of smoke they could be seen for leagues around."

There is also evidence of the earth being knocked off its access, perhaps, in some of the Hodor scenes such as the trek to the top of Bloodraven's hill while attacked by Others. Hodor may be playing the role of the planet himself - take a look and see what you think. There be more of this at the Queenscrown scene and the Nightfort scene - these are all scenes where Bran skinchanges Hodor, fwiw.

No question a Long Summer would be as bad as a Long Night, we are on the same page there  

My main question for you concerning the fall of another Long Night has to do with the idea of the sun hiding its face. The Long Night is not only a viscous winter - it's a prolonged period of total darkness, the sun hidden. We don't have that yet - we have a motherfucker of a winter coming, no doubt, and the Others are stirring, no doubt, but they haven't invaded Westeros yet. Why? Perhaps because the sun still shines. Right now, they have to hide during the day.  I think for us to have another actual Long Night, and a full scale invasion of the Others, we need to hide the sun still, and that hasn't happened yet. My question is: do you agree that the sun needs to be hidden before the official "Long Night" comes again, and if so, what might cause it? My thinking of course is that we need another comet-moon collision and possibly a meteor to strike the north, perhaps the Wall. Otherwise (chuckle), I don't see how the sun is hidden. Perhaps NK just raises his arms in the "come at me Snow" pose and the clouds just cover the sun, but I tend to suspect it will happen in similar fashion to the original.  

 

 

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As for how a cloud cover is dispersed to end the LN - that's one I haven't solved, you're right to point that out as a potential issue. Something just occurred to me, though: what can clear out smoke? Wind, that's what. Maybe the winds of winter don't just bring horrible things?

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It's by no means an insurmountable objection. I just find it to be untidy.i want the Long Night, the usual seasons, and the potential Great Summer to function under a unified principle, and I think it is supported in the text.

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Very cool Durran D, and good to see your fingers typing at the keyboard again! Thanks very much for the shoutout. :)

I really wanted to hear more about your idea about shamanic ice-priestess tradition, that's a really exciting idea. I think we have symbolic stand-ins for these ice priestesses in the person of Val in ADWD, as well as Alys Karstark at her wedding (she's even called "winter's lady" in that scene). I wonder if the Sansa snow-castle scene might not have clues about this as well. It's also tantalizing to think about the possibility of Dawn Age Westeros being slightly less patriarchal, because Bronze Age & Stone Age civilizations often were (the mother goddess being the oldest form of a deity found anywhere on earth).

 

 

This is a deeply speculative area. What sets me off most about Val is her reaction to Shireen and the level at which she seems to deeply know something about Greyscale that we don't. The whole question of why anyone settled north of the wall after the Long Night is sketchy. It sin the queue of topics I wold like to work on, but it is the least developed in my head. I completely think the Sansa snow castle scene / High Heart prophecy involves Sansa killing Littlefinger, however.

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Mad for the Long Night mechanics, I don't really see a point arguing about it as its only tangential to your essay  I will briefly mention that the idea of the meteor impacts throwing up a dust cloud is not only a logical extrapolation - in many of the scenes which I have identified as metaphors for the Long Night, there is a mention of dust and ash and smoke rising to the heavens or choking people, such as in the Alchemical Wedding scene where the roiling smoke chokes the Dothraki. I just found a nice one in the Mystery Knight, where Bloodraven plants the flag of the Black Dragon in the ground and set it afire: "It burned for a long time, sending up a twisted plume of smoke they could be seen for leagues around."

 

 

 

Yeah, I had an immediate reaction to this while listening to your podcast in my car. It was a long the lines of damn it LML this scene is perfect, why can't you just let the smoke be smoke. So yeah, no big deal I love the your description of the Alchemical Wedding, but I disagree on this minor note.

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My main question for you concerning the fall of another Long Night has to do with the idea of the sun hiding its face. The Long Night is not only a viscous winter - it's a prolonged period of total darkness, the sun hidden. We don't have that yet - we have a motherfucker of a winter coming, no doubt, and the Others are stirring, no doubt, but they haven't invaded Westeros yet. Why? Perhaps because the sun still shines. Right now, they have to hide during the day.  I think for us to have another actual Long Night, and a full scale invasion of the Others, we need to hide the sun still, and that hasn't happened yet. My question is: do you agree that the sun needs to be hidden before the official "Long Night" comes again, and if so, what might cause it? My thinking of course is that we need another comet-moon collision and possibly a meteor to strike the north, perhaps the Wall. Otherwise (chuckle), I don't see how the sun is hidden. 

 

 

Legit question. Mormont states that the days are getting shorter and that Aemon's measurements show they are going into winter. It's just started to get wintry by the time of Dance. The sun certainly needs to hide its face, but I would point out that the legends never say the moon and the stars hide their faces. The sun will hide its face under the horizon as the tilt continues to grow more extreme, just as the sun never rises when you are at the north pole during the deep winter. The North and maybe all of Westeros will be in total darkness when it reaches its peak. Maybe the upper half of Essos will be as well, it could just keep tilting, there is no actual limit. It stops where George wants it to stop. This would be sufficient for the legends to say the sun hid its face for a generation.

The great part of this is we will know  when Winds of Winter comes out. This will be settled.

Either:

A) That comet whips back around and plows into the moon, in which case I will bake you a cake that says your are right and I am wrong, because you will certainly deserve it, or
B ) The days will keep getting shorter until there is continual night, meaning I am right, or C
C) The winter will just be really bad, but neither will happen, and we will be left scratching our heads a bit.

We will see.
 

 

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 Perhaps NK just raises his arms in the "come at me Snow" pose and the clouds just cover the sun, but I tend to suspect it will happen in similar fashion to the original.  

 

 

He would never say that. He would say, "Dance with me, then."

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What do you make of the legend that a long summer means a long winter?  I just cannot commit to 1 theory it seems, but 1 of my theories about the Long Night is that it was preceded by a long summer and that is where the "superstition" as Grand Maester Pycelle calls it comes from.  Since Pycelle dismisses it, I took note.

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What do you make of the legend that a long summer means a long winter?  I just cannot commit to 1 theory it seems, but 1 of my theories about the Long Night is that it was preceded by a long summer and that is where the "superstition" as Grand Maester Pycelle calls it comes from.  Since Pycelle dismisses it, I took note.

Well committing to a single theory isn't very fun.

I tend to think the seasons were regular before the Long Night as Septon Barth postulates that the were regular at one point. It's possible that the seasons were getting out out wack before the Long Night, but I don't see any reason to think so.

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What do you make of the legend that a long summer means a long winter?  I just cannot commit to 1 theory it seems, but 1 of my theories about the Long Night is that it was preceded by a long summer and that is where the "superstition" as Grand Maester Pycelle calls it comes from.  Since Pycelle dismisses it, I took note.

It's tempting to dismiss Pycelle, because, well you know. It's Pycelle. However, I think the maesters are quite informed on this one. It's clear from both the world book and the the main series that the maesters have put quite a bit of work into determining a pattern to the seasons and simply failed, They pretty good at measuring the shift of seasons though, and figuring out early on when they are starting to shift. If you think about this, it would be one of the first scientific skills they would try to master to ingratiate their order to the lords of Westeros. Predicting the seasons would be a big deal. My point being that if there was any truth to long winters regularly following long summers, they would know.

I would rather suspect that since their seems to be a standing prophecy that a new Long Night would follow a long summer, that this idea has worked its way into folk lore under the idea that a long summer means a long winter. Or else, it could just be that the common folk are a bit desperate to be able to predict seasons and more willing to accept anecdotal evidence rather than looking at complete sets of data, as the maesters would do.

 

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I really wanted to hear more about your idea about shamanic ice-priestess tradition, that's a really exciting idea. I think we have symbolic stand-ins for these ice priestesses in the person of Val in ADWD, as well as Alys Karstark at her wedding (she's even called "winter's lady" in that scene). I wonder if the Sansa snow-castle scene might not have clues about this as well. It's also tantalizing to think about the possibility of Dawn Age Westeros being slightly less patriarchal, because Bronze Age & Stone Age civilizations often were (the mother goddess being the oldest form of a deity found anywhere on earth).

 A related question - do you think there's a hidden meaning to redheads being described as "kissed by fire?" 

 

 

I don't know "kissed by" seems to have some implications in that Thoros resurrects Berric with "The Last Kiss". Berric gives LSH the "kiss of life" Tyrion receives the kiss of the Grey Lord when he drowns in the Rhoyne. However, if there is a deeper significance to kissed by fire in the description of  Ygritte's hair, I haven't seen it. It's meant to be good luck, which honestly could be a natural thing for people who are cold all the time. That is at least the level I take it at on first pass.  Jon makes a pretty big distinction between Ygritte's hair being "kissed by fire" and Mel's hair being "fire and blood", which I take as a big neon sign above Mel's head associating her with the Targs on some level.

As for matriarchy. I think that deserves another read through of the First Men section of the World of Ice and Fire. Beyond that we do have the woman in Bran's vision sacrificing someone in front of the Heart Tree of Winterfell.

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I don't know "kissed by" seems to have some implications in that Thoros resurrects Berric with "The Last Kiss". Berric gives LSH the "kiss of life" Tyrion receives the kiss of the Grey Lord when he drowns in the Rhoyne. However, if there is a deeper significance to kissed by fire in the description of  Ygritte's hair, I haven't seen it. It's meant to be good luck, which honestly could be a natural thing for people who are cold all the time. That is at least the level I take it at on first pass.  Jon makes a pretty big distinction between Ygritte's hair being "kissed by fire" and Mel's hair being "fire and blood", which I take as a big neon sign above Mel's head associating her with the Targs on some level.

As for matriarchy. I think that deserves another read through of the First Men section of the World of Ice and Fire. Beyond that we do have the woman in Bran's vision sacrificing someone in front of the Heart Tree of Winterfell.

I was thinking along the lines of what it says that "kissed by fire" is even a saying, and is associated with good luck. I have several notions of the original nights watch wielding fire magic, or even being fire magicians or fire-undead themselves, so I'm wondering if the saying might not indicate a foggy memory of those kissed by fire (in the Lord Beric sense) as being immune to the cold magic, something like that. I doubt red hair has anything to do with it, unless perhaps the GEotD people were the redheads - I'm looking at the broader context of this idea being found in the far north. 

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He would never say that. He would say, "Dance with me, then."

Jon Snow = a wolf

Dances with Jon Snow = dances with wolves

Ergo, Nights King = Tom Cruise

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Legit question. Mormont states that the days are getting shorter and that Aemon's measurements show they are going into winter. It's just started to get wintry by the time of Dance. The sun certainly needs to hide its face, but I would point out that the legends never say the moon and the stars hide their faces. The sun will hide its face under the horizon as the tilt continues to grow more extreme, just as the sun never rises when you are at the north pole during the deep winter. The North and maybe all of Westeros will be in total darkness when it reaches its peak. Maybe the upper half of Essos will be as well, it could just keep tilting, there is no actual limit. It stops where George wants it to stop. This would be sufficient for the legends to say the sun hid its face for a generation.
The great part of this is we will know  when Winds of Winter comes out. This will be settled.

Either:

A) That comet whips back around and plows into the moon, in which case I will bake you a cake that says your are right and I am wrong, because you will certainly deserve it, or
B ) The days will keep getting shorter until there is continual night, meaning I am right, or C
C) The winter will just be really bad, but neither will happen, and we will be left scratching our heads a bit.

We will see.
 

 

It's pretty fun to try to interpret George's hints about the positioning of celestial bodies hidden inside metaphors which are being acted out by people who have only primitive knowledge of astronomy. :)  The planet lying on its side is interesting - I don't buy it, of course, because I think he's spelling out the sun-comet-moon collision in detail, as well as the meteors causing darkness - but if you are right, we will know, which is exciting in and of itself. Many have asked me questions about how much of my stuff will ever be proven or disproven in the books vs. left for us to wonder about, which is a valid concern. I like the comet returning to hit the other moon thing because similarly, we will know if it happens or not. If it does happen, it would go a long way to proving much of my theorizing. We'll know early on in TWOW if either of our ideas is happenin- we'll either see the comet again, or we'll see the sun gradually become lower on the horizon. 

I posed this question a couple of months ago in an open ended post - I asked if people thought we will get another Long Night (no sun, full scale Others invasion) and if so, what will be the cause. I was a bit surprised that basically nobody had any good guesses about how another Long Night might fall. Nobody knows how the last one fell, so people have just put it out of mind. But most do expect another LN - it's the real Chekov's gun in the story - but nobody has thought much about how. Your idea of the planet tilting is by far the best alternative to another comet-moon collision I've seen... I mean what would really shock me is the sun just darkened and disappeared with no explanation. I don't expect that, because I don't think anything in Martinland is simply irrational like that. The Doom had a specific cause, and so does the seasonal wackiness, and so too does the Long Night. 

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Kevin Costner

DERP That's what I meant... damn the 80's were a long time ago. 

 

And in that case "Waterworld" links the Deep Ones and the Night's King, which we already suspected. 

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DERP That's what I meant... damn the 80's were a long time ago. 

 

And in that case "Waterworld" links the Deep Ones and the Night's King, which we already suspected. 

The Red Priest are in it with the Deep Ones to cause global warming and flood Planetos. It is know.

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It's pretty fun to try to interpret George's hints about the positioning of celestial bodies hidden inside metaphors which are being acted out by people who have only primitive knowledge of astronomy. :)  The planet lying on its side is interesting - I don't buy it, of course, because I think he's spelling out the sun-comet-moon collision in detail, as well as the meteors causing darkness - but if you are right, we will know, which is exciting in and of itself. Many have asked me questions about how much of my stuff will ever be proven or disproven in the books vs. left for us to wonder about, which is a valid concern. I like the comet returning to hit the other moon thing because similarly, we will know if it happens or not. If it does happen, it would go a long way to proving much of my theorizing. We'll know early on in TWOW if either of our ideas is happenin- we'll either see the comet again, or we'll see the sun gradually become lower on the horizon.

For the record the angle of tilt wouldn't need to be 90 degrees. It depends obn where you place the equator and how far north you think the map goes, but I would guess that if the planet titled from an Earth normal tilt to  21 to 24 degrees, to say 45 degrees everything north of Lannisport, Duskendale, Pentos, Vaes Dothrak, etc. would be bathed in darkness.  A little over 60 degree would turn out the lights on all of Weseros and over 2/3rds of Essos.. Certainly it is enough to create legends of total darkness.

But agreed that good the about the comet/dust cloud theory or the planet tilt is that we will have an answer. We still might be arguing about who fulfilled the role of Azor Ahai, if anyone after the last book is long read. And yes, if the sun just goes dark, that would be lame.

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I like your theory and I like LML's theory too.

I do agree that the 'cause' is going to be the interesting part.  We already seem to know the answer, it's already happened with the stories of the Last Hero and Azor Ahai, it's the details that might help make the question; How did it happen - what was the cause?

It's interesting because both sides need to have a contribution as in, Fire needs to exist so that the earth doesn't become too cold and by extension, Light is needed for things to grow.  Conversely, Ice is needed so that the earth isn't scorched over leading to an inability to grow food, as well as to provide nutrients to that food once it is growing.  So it's a symbiotic relationship though it seems like neither side seems to know this as far as the religious manifestations go.  R'hllor's priests like Mel are all about defeating he whose name may not be spoken.  If there's a priest/priestess or even a God behind the Others, they too seem to be about the opposite, no sunlight, and defeating all things warmblooded.  That each needs the other is clear to us.  But in the context of the story, the symbiotic relationship is less clear but there may be clues.

While we can explain the cause of the Long Night by way of science and magic, either by volcanic eruptions that lead to ice ages or by way of a comet hitting a moon.  Either by an axial tilt that is not typical (to Earth) or by one elemental faction holding sway over the other via their magics.

It's interesting because on Earth, we don't know for certain what caused our Ice Age(s), though we may have a good list of candidates and contributors to causation.  Volcanic eruptions could cause an Ice Age if serious enough.  Likewise, solar output variations, atmospheric composition as well as space material can contribute to or possibly cause an Ice Age as well, so the causes can come from both within and without the planet proper.  Then there's the Milankovitch Cycles or perhaps more easily discerned, astronomical or 'solar seasons' which occur on a rough cycle of 21k to 41k years.  Maybe this is line with the scientific explanation of things, that Planetos has reached that point in their cycle?  The magical part is how it gets explained within the story.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

The other curious thing is not just the 'cause' but the solution and the propulsion of characters toward that without knowing the reasoning behind it, necessarily.  I find that to be the more fascinating thing and possibly the things that will be hardest to apply any scientific-type of reasoning to in the end.  Say for example if Bran ends up being a crucial element to either bringing on the LN or assisting in its end... will he know that ultimately he's bringing balance or even counterbalance or will he simply be under some false assumption whatever they may be?  Or, is GRRM even going to go to that length to provide clarity at all? 

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