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Heresy 184

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Welcome to Heresy 184, the latest edition of the quirky thread where we take an in-depth look at the story and in particular what GRRM has referred to as the real conflict, not the Game of Thrones, but the apparent threat which lies in  the North, in the magical otherlands beyond the Wall.

 

Otherwise Heresy is not of itself a theory but rather a free-flowing and above all a very friendly series of open discussions about the Song of Ice and Ice and Fire.

 

The strength and the beauty and ultimately the value of Heresy as a critical discussion group is that it reflects diversity and open-ness. This is a thread where ideas can be discussed – and argued – freely, because above all it is about an exchange of ideas and sometimes too a remarkably well informed exchange drawing upon an astonishing broad base of literature ranging through Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and so many others all to the way to the Táin Bó Cúailnge and the Mabinogion.

 

If new to the thread, don’t be intimidated by the size and scope of Heresy, or by some of the many ideas we’ve discussed here over the years since it began in 2011. This is very much a come as you are thread with no previous experience required. We’re very welcoming and we’re very good at talking in circles and we don’t mind going over old ground again, especially with a fresh pair of eyes, so just ask. You will neither be monstered, patronized nor directed to follow links, but will be engaged directly. Just be patient and observe the local house rules that the debate be conducted by reference to the text, with respect for the ideas of others, and above all with great good humour

 

With Season 6 of the mummers’ version only a week much of it may impinge on discussion, especially as it will contain material which may or may not reflect on the content of the yet to be finished Winds of Winter. Bear in mind that to coin a phrase many roads lead to the same castle and that whilst the mummers know how the story will end, they are for various reasons treading a different road to get there. Treat anything with caution and above all contain it firmly within spoiler tags – the Westeros Forum rules are very clear on the non-discussion of the mummers’ version outside of the designated area.

 

 

Beyond that, read on…

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And now as usual the slightly spoilerish full text of GRRM's1993  letter to his agent, Ralph Vicinanza. Things have obviously changed a bit since then but If you don’t want to know, don’t read on:

October 1993

Dear Ralph,

Here are the first thirteen chapters (170 pages) of the high fantasy novel I promised you, which I'm calling A Game of Thrones. When completed, this will be the first volume in what I see as an epic trilogy with the overall title, A Song of Ice and Fire.

As you know, I don't outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I'm telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle [sic] characters in the drama.

Roughly speaking, there are three major conflicts set in motion in the chapters enclosed. These will form the major plot threads of the trilogy, intertwining with each other in what should be a complex but exciting (I hope) narrative tapestry. Each of the conflicts presents a major threat to the peace of my imaginary realm, the Seven Kingdoms, and to the lives of the principal characters.

The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize. This will form the backbone of the first volume of the trilogy, A Game of Thrones.

While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarians hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume,A Dance with Dragons.

The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call "life." The only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and and endless night is the Wall, and a handful of men in black called the Night's Watch. Their story will be the heart of my third volume, The Winds of Winter. The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.

The thirteen chapters on hand should give you a notion as to my narrative strategy. All three books will feature a complex mosaic of intercutting points-of-view among various of my large and diverse cast of players. The cast will not always remains the same. Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.

Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow. All of them are introduced at some length in the chapters you have to hand.

This is going to be (I hope) quite an epic. Epic in its scale, epic in its action, and epic in its length. I see all three volumes as big books, running about 700 to 800 manuscript pages, so things are just barely getting underway in the thirteen chapters I've sent you.

I have quite a clear notion of how the story is going to unfold in the first volume, A Game of Thrones. Things will get a lot worse for the poor Starks before they get better, I'm afraid. Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn Tully are both doomed, and will perish at the hands of their enemies. Ned will discover what happened to his friend Jon Arryn, but before he can act on his knowledge, King Robert will have an unfortunate accident, and the throne will pass to his sullen and brutal son Joffrey, still a minor. Joffrey will not be sympathetic and Ned will be accused of treason, but before he is taken he will help his wife and his daughter escape back to Winterfell.

Each of the contending families will learn it has a member of dubious loyalty in its midst. Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the crunch comes she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue. Tyrion Lannister, meanwhile, befriend both Sansa and her sister Arya, while growing more and more disenchanted with his own family.

Young Bran will come out of his coma, after a strange prophetic dream, only to discover that he will never walk again. He will turn to magic, at first in the hope of restoring his legs, but later for its own sake. When his father Eddard Stark is executed, Bran will see the shape of doom descending on all of them, but nothing he can say will stop his brother Robb from calling the banners in rebellion. All the north will be inflamed by war. Robb will win several splendid victories, and maim Joffrey Baratheon on the battlefield, but in the end he will not be able to stand against Jaime and Tyrion Lannister and their allies. Robb Stark will die in battle, and Tyrion Lannister will besiege and burn Winterfell.

Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night's Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Hounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night's Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon's anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving... until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night's Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.

Abandoned by the Night's Watch, Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wildling encampment. Bran's magic, Arya's sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.

Over across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen will discover that her new husband, the Dothraki Khal Drogo, has little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms, much to her brother's frustration. When Viserys presses his claims past the point of tact or wisdom, Khal Drogo will finally grow annoyed and kill him out of hand, eliminating the Targaryen pretender and leaving Daenerys as the last of her line. Daenerys will bide her time, but she will not forget. When the moment is right, she will kill her husband to avenge her brother, and then flee with a trusted friend into the wilderness beyond Vaes Dothrak. There, hunted by Dothraki bloodriders [?] of her life, she stumbles on a cache of dragon's eggs [?] of a young dragon will give Daenerys the power to bend the Dothraki to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.

Tyrion Lannister will continue to travel, to plot, and to play the game of thrones, finally removing his nephew Joffrey in disgust at the boy king's brutality. Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and blaming his brother Tyrion for the murders. Exiled, Tyrion will change sides, making common cause with surviving Starks to bring his brother down, and falling helplessly in love with Arya Stark while he's at it. His passion is, alas, unreciprocated, but no less intense for that, and it will lead to a deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Snow.

[7 Lines Redacted]

But that's the second book...

I hope you'll find some editors who are as excited about all of this as I am. Feel free to share this letter with anyone who wants to know how the story will go.

 

All best,

George R.R. Martin

 

What’s in that redacted passage we don’t know but here’s what appears to be the equally spoilerish original synopsis/publisher’s blurb for Winds of Winter; not the forthcoming one, alas, but one apparently dating back to when it was still to be the third volume of the trilogy and following directly on in content and style from the first synopsis set out above:

Continuing the most imaginative and ambitious epic fantasy since The Lord of the Rings Winter has come at last and no man can say whether it will ever go again. The Wall is broken, the cold dead legions are coming south, and the people of the Seven Kingdoms turn to their queen to protect them. But Daenerys Targaryen is learning what Robert Baratheon learned before her; that it is one thing to win a throne and quite another to sit on one. Before she can hope to defeat the Others, Dany knows she must unite the broken realm behind her. Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands. The Winds of Winter tells the story of Dany’s fight to save her new-won kingdom, of two desperate journeys beyond the known world in to the very hearts of ice and fire, and of the final climactic battle at Winterfell, with life itself in the balance.

 

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Bringing over the last topic on the discussion of the impaled dreamers and what various posters understand that to mean.

 

I think it's implied that Bloodraven and the Children are hoping Bran can do what hundreds before him have failed to do, and that is to find a final solution to destroy the Others. It is also implied that the means used has something to do with flying.

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Halloo!  Didn't make it in time to respond to the last Heresy discussion of second-lifers, as I like to call them. Coldhands is hard to place with all the known variables: wights, Others, skinchangers, whatever Mel is. 

The prominent physical feature of Coldhands is his non-blue eyes. They are black. (Thanks to FFR for reminding me and for the suggestion of Dornish black eyes) So where do these black eyes come from? Dornish eyes is a good possibility if the eyes are their true color, but i think they are Raven's eyes. Coldhands has crow/raven written all over him; the raven's eyes...

 Coldhands stood beside the door, a raven on his arm, both staring at the fire. Reflections from the flames glittered off four black eyes. He does not eat, Bran remembered, and he fears the flames.

... speaks with ravens, has lots of raven friends, ahem, 'flies' to the Wall then back to his cave like good messenger ravens do. 

The children of the forest, Old Nan would have called the singers, but those who sing the song of earth was their own name for themselves, in the True Tongue that no human man could speak . The ravens could speak it, though. Their small black eyes were full of secrets, and they would caw at him and peck his skin when they heard the songs.

Do all the birds have singers in them?”

“All,”Lord Brynden said. “It was the singers who taught the First Men to send messages by raven …but in those days, the birds would speak the words.

Its tough to put a finger on Coldhands. He seems to be some blend of human, skinchanger, singer, and crow. A monster. :D

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Halloo!  Didn't make it in time to respond to the last Heresy discussion of second-lifers, as I like to call them. Coldhands is hard to place with all the known variables: wights, Others, skinchangers, greenseers, whatever Mel is. 

The prominent physical feature of Coldhands is his non-blue eyes. They are black. (Thanks to FFR for reminding me and for the suggestion of Dornish black eyes) So where do these black eyes come from? Dornish eyes is a good possibility if the eyes are their true color, but i think they are Raven's eyes. And Coldhands has crow/raven written all over him;

the raven's eyes...

Quote

 Coldhands stood beside the door, a raven on his arm, both staring at the fire. Reflections from the flames glittered off four black eyes. He does not eat, Bran remembered, and he fears the flames.

 

... speaks with ravens, has lots of raven friends, ahem, 'flies' to the Wall then back to his cave like good messenger ravens do...

 

Quote

The children of the forest, Old Nan would have called the singers, but those who sing the song of earth was their own name for themselves, in the True Tongue that no human man could speak . The ravens could speak it, though. Their small black eyes were full of secrets, and they would caw at him and peck his skin when they heard the songs.

 

 

Quote

"Do all the birds have singers in them?”

“All,”Lord Brynden said. “It was the singers who taught the First Men to send messages by raven …but in those days, the birds would speak the words."

It's tough to put a finger on Coldhands. To me, he seems to be some blend of human, skinchanger, singer, and crow. A monster. :D 

 

I tried to edit, but it's not working. Had to repost. Pay no mind to the previous one. :blush:

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38 minutes ago, aDanceWithFlagons said:

Halloo!  Didn't make it in time to respond to the last Heresy discussion of second-lifers, as I like to call them. Coldhands is hard to place with all the known variables: wights, Others, skinchangers, greenseers, whatever Mel is. 

The prominent physical feature of Coldhands is his non-blue eyes. They are black. (Thanks to FFR for reminding me and for the suggestion of Dornish black eyes) So where do these black eyes come from? Dornish eyes is a good possibility if the eyes are their true color, but i think they are Raven's eyes. And Coldhands has crow/raven written all over him;

the raven's eyes...

... speaks with ravens, has lots of raven friends, ahem, 'flies' to the Wall then back to his cave like good messenger ravens do...

It's tough to put a finger on Coldhands. To me, he seems to be some blend of human, skinchanger, singer, and crow. A monster. :D 

I have a suspicion that the eyes reflect the controller; both Craster's boys and the wights have those starry blue eyes, thus demonstrating their connection. Our Mel has red eyes - and nasty dreams.

Are Coldhands' eyes black or at least dark because he owes allegiance to the crows? Or because he holds no allegiance?

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..maester and greenseer must work together..to defeat the Others...

I am looking forward to BR coming together with Marwyn.

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At Feather's request here are the words for the Battle of Sowerby Bridge which I referenced on the previous thread as a possible alternative view of the vaunted Battle for the Dawn:

The Battle of Sowerby Bridge were fought on the forty-fourth of March.
The King Cross Fusiliers were there. They marched as stiff as starch.
They marched as far as Bolton Brow and the enemy hove in sight,
And they called us generals nasty names and challenged us to fight.

CHORUS: We were amongst them. We were amongst them.
We slished and we slashed and we slaughtered and we slew
Till the air for miles around were blue.
For an hour and a quarter, we held the foe at bay.
There were only two were left that day, and we were amongst them.

At break of day down Copley way, we went to fight the foe.
Our good scout Billy Higgins come to tell the tale of woe.
He said the enemy had advanced, so we retired pell-mell.
They shouted to surrender but we shouted, "Go to 'ell".

The enemy then retired into the wilds of Shibden Glen.
The switchback were invaded by an 'undred thousand men.
They hung their wounded out to dry across the aerial flight,
And they stuffed their guts wi' monkey-nuts and challenged us to fight.

We chased the enemy round the town till their stockings all fell down,
From Cavering Slacks to Boulder Clough and to Norland Town.
We came across a public house and there we raised a cheer,
For in that cellar we did find an hundred casks of beer.

FINAL CHORUS: We were amongst them. We were amongst them.
We supped and we drank and we drained and we drew
'Till the air for miles around were pheeeeew!
For an hour and a quarter, we put that beer away.
There were only two carried home that day, and we were amongst them.

The song in its present form is relatively modern, although there was a battle at Sowerby Bridge, outside the Yorkshire town of Halifax in the 1640s which was indeed, as the song infers a half a dozen men and a dog affair. Bolton Brow and all the other names referenced are local to the area, and for transatlantic readers a public house is a tavern or bar.

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12 minutes ago, Arry'sFleas said:

..maester and greenseer must work together..to defeat the Others...

I am looking forward to BR coming together with Marwyn.

Marwyn I suspect is up to no good and aint going to make it to the last page but is destined to meet a sticky end long before we get that far. 

Sam and Bran may be a different matter entirely.

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4 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Bringing over the last topic on the discussion of the impaled dreamers and what various posters understand that to mean.

 

I think it's implied that Bloodraven and the Children are hoping Bran can do what hundreds before him have failed to do, and that is to find a final solution to destroy the Others. It is also implied that the means used has something to do with flying.

What legends actually detail experiences of flying in Westeros outside of dragons?  The Andal Arryn who mounted an eagle to slay the Griffin King comes to mind.  The World Book also mentioned a daughter of Garth Greenhand who was supposed to be able to skinchange into a crane and founded House Crane.  Are there others?  It would be curious if the Griffin King was sort of a holdover skinchanger and that mounting an eagle was actually skinchanging into one.  

 

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21 minutes ago, Summer Is Coming! said:

What legends actually detail experiences of flying in Westeros outside of dragons?  The Andal Arryn who mounted an eagle to slay the Griffin King comes to mind.  The World Book also mentioned a daughter of Garth Greenhand who was supposed to be able to skinchange into a crane and founded House Crane.  Are there others?  It would be curious if the Griffin King was sort of a holdover skinchanger and that mounting an eagle was actually skinchanging into one.  

 

Ah but you're forgetting the crows :commie:

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I just thought a few lines seemed "inspirational" is all.

They marched as far as Bolton Brow and the enemy hove in sight,

We slished and we slashed and we slaughtered and we slew
Till the air for miles around were blue.

The switchback were invaded by an 'undred thousand men.

'Till the air for miles around were pheeeeew!

Hey @wolfmaid7 there's your Year of the Great Stink!  lol

 

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8 hours ago, aDanceWithFlagons said:

Halloo!  Didn't make it in time to respond to the last Heresy discussion of second-lifers, as I like to call them. Coldhands is hard to place with all the known variables: wights, Others, skinchangers, greenseers, whatever Mel is. 

The prominent physical feature of Coldhands is his non-blue eyes. They are black. (Thanks to FFR for reminding me and for the suggestion of Dornish black eyes) So where do these black eyes come from? Dornish eyes is a good possibility if the eyes are their true color, but i think they are Raven's eyes. And Coldhands has crow/raven written all over him;

the raven's eyes...

 

... speaks with ravens, has lots of raven friends, ahem, 'flies' to the Wall then back to his cave like good messenger ravens do...

 

 

 

It's tough to put a finger on Coldhands. To me, he seems to be some blend of human, skinchanger, singer, and crow. A monster. :D 

 

I tried to edit, but it's not working. Had to repost. Pay no mind to the previous one. :blush:

 

I hadn't remembered that his eyes were black. I do remember the crows, however, so I can get on board with a connection to Bloodraven all right. Do you think he's just a dead body that Bloodraven uses to skinchange into?

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10 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

 

I hadn't remembered that his eyes were black. I do remember the crows, however, so I can get on board with a connection to Bloodraven all right. Do you think he's just a dead body that Bloodraven uses to skinchange into?

 

Well, no. Maybe. I think he is his own man. A man influenced by the ravens and the singers. Maybe he's been so long with the birds that he became one of them. A skinchangers hazzard, that is. Especially if your dead and dont have any friends but birds and an elk. The black eyes are what got me looking into the raven connection. And the singers use the ravens. 

.

.

Or he could have been pulled from the weirwoods for all I know. Like an Other who gets a new body for an old soul.  But Coldhands body could be just a temporary vessel to carry out his mission. When Bran asks Coldhands about his hands, he looks at them as if he had never noticed them before. 

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6 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Marwyn I suspect is up to no good and aint going to make it to the last page but is destined to meet a sticky end long before we get that far. 

Sam and Bran may be a different matter entirely.

Bran and Sam for the win. Somehow, they can make it work. Bran with his tree and Sam with a glass candle could be the key to communication, although I'd like to see a face-to-face interaction. 

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8 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Are Coldhands' eyes black or at least dark because he owes allegiance to the crows? Or because he holds no allegiance?

I think it's the crows and ravens. 

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Agreed, but I think he's his own man in his own body. He's just been dead for so long that it doesn't matter.

I still reckon him to be the Russian/Harlequin to Bloodraven's Kurtz

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14 hours ago, Summer Is Coming! said:

What legends actually detail experiences of flying in Westeros outside of dragons?  The Andal Arryn who mounted an eagle to slay the Griffin King comes to mind.  The World Book also mentioned a daughter of Garth Greenhand who was supposed to be able to skinchange into a crane and founded House Crane.  Are there others?  It would be curious if the Griffin King was sort of a holdover skinchanger and that mounting an eagle was actually skinchanging into one.  

 

A good question. I don't think Bloodraven means skinchanging though.

 

ADwD Bran II

You will never walk again, Bran," the pale lips promised, "but you will fly."

 

He tells Bran this after Bran just walked in the skin of Hodor. So logically "fly" does mean flying in the skin of someone else either or Bran could walk as well as fly.

 

 

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Exactly so and in addition Varamyr has a sense of flying as he leaves both his own and Thistle's body behind.

In the end his soul is claimed by One-eye, but perhaps those dreamers Bran sees impaled on spikes are those who flew from their own bodies but failed to find another.

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