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Heresy 185

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Welcome to Heresy 185, 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 under way there’s a temptation to bring it into discussion, especially as it contains material which may or may not reflect on the content of the yet to be finished Winds of Winter. Some of it impinges directly [and positively] on some aspects of Heresy  –  but tempting though it is, the Westeros Forum rules are very clear on the non-discussion of the mummers’ version outside of the designated area, so play nicely and avoid it, please.

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 a lot of it remains relevant so 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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And now to kick it off properly:

The synopsis was written a long time ago and a lot has changed over the years as the story has evolved and expanded, but particularly in view of developments elsewhere I think that it might be worth looking at the individual story arcs and track the changes on a character by character basis.

 

While it might be obvious the biggest problem which GRRM has faced is the filling of the infamous five year gap and this in turn arises from the fact that notwithstanding the enthusiasm of Targaryen loyalists, the Stark family, not the dragonlords are at the centre of the story, and in particular it is primarily about the children of Winterfell. The story requires that their troubles begin while they are still together rather than scattered by marriage and career; which means it has to start young before taking the stage as adults. Notwithstanding GRRM’s best efforts the 5 year gap has never been satisfactorily closed and his efforts to do have led the story off in strange and interesting directions, far removed from the relatively tight narrative promised in the synopsis.

 

Nevertheless, although the story has changed considerably in the process I’d argue that some of the character story arcs remain the same, albeit with some names changed to protect the guilty. For this essay I want to primarily look at Jon, but would be glad if others would take up some of the other principal characters.

 

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.

 

First the differences. We don’t have Catelyn, Bran and Arya turning up after the burning of Winterfell, but beyond that…

Jon does indeed mature into a ranger of great daring, and though Benjen Stark disappears for reasons yet unrevealed Mormont is certainly like an uncle to Jon and Jon does become Lord Commander.

When it then becomes interesting is that it is not the Lannisters but the Boltons who burn Winterfell and at first Jon does refuse to get involved – until the flight of the false Arya to the Wall followed by the Pink Letter. At which point the story so far published finishes with Jon about to march on Winterfell only to be stabbed – not a fate likely to be predicted in the synopsis.

Otherwise the broad arc is pretty much there

As to where next there’s the business of getting inside Arya’s knickers. This appears in the synopsis to be important so I’m still with it happening, but substituting Sansa as more convincing. But we’ll see...

Any takers for another character?

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5 hours ago, Black Crow said:

And now to kick it off properly:

The synopsis was written a long time ago and a lot has changed over the years as the story has evolved and expanded, but particularly in view of developments elsewhere I think that it might be worth looking at the individual story arcs and track the changes on a character by character basis.

 

 

 

While it might be obvious the biggest problem which GRRM has faced is the filling of the infamous five year gap and this in turn arises from the fact that notwithstanding the enthusiasm of Targaryen loyalists, the Stark family, not the dragonlords are at the centre of the story, and in particular it is primarily about the children of Winterfell. The story requires that their troubles begin while they are still together rather than scattered by marriage and career; which means it has to start young before taking the stage as adults. Notwithstanding GRRM’s best efforts the 5 year gap has never been satisfactorily closed and his efforts to do have led the story off in strange and interesting directions, far removed from the relatively tight narrative promised in the synopsis.

 

 

 

Nevertheless, although the story has changed considerably in the process I’d argue that some of the character story arcs remain the same, albeit with some names changed to protect the guilty. For this essay I want to primarily look at Jon, but would be glad if others would take up some of the other principal characters.

 

 

 

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.

 

First the differences. We don’t have Catelyn, Bran and Arya turning up after the burning of Winterfell, but beyond that…

 

Jon does indeed mature into a ranger of great daring, and though Benjen Stark disappears for reasons yet unrevealed Mormont is certainly like an uncle to Jon and Jon does become Lord Commander.

 

When it then becomes interesting is that it is not the Lannisters but the Boltons who burn Winterfell and at first Jon does refuse to get involved – until the flight of the false Arya to the Wall followed by the Pink Letter. At which point the story so far published finishes with Jon about to march on Winterfell only to be stabbed – not a fate likely to be predicted in the synopsis.

 

Otherwise the broad arc is pretty much there

As to where next there’s the business of getting inside Arya’s knickers. This appears in the synopsis to be important so I’m still with it happening, but substituting Sansa as more convincing. But we’ll see...

Any takers for another character?

I never considered Jon and Arya hooking up before the synopsis but i do think Arya will make it to the Wall wearing Daeron the singers face and boots.That coupled with how Arya was frequently taken for a boy and the appearance of an Arya Flint on the Stark family tree leads to believe that Arya may have a similar experiance on the Wall.

I don't know how long we have to go in this series,if its enough to establish any kind of relationship between Jon any of the Stark girls.Plus mentally this is a trip going from thinking this person was a sibling to a love interest.

If Jon does have a love interest in this i'm looking at Val.I doubt they will live happily ever after though.

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Not convinced on Val at all these days. As written in the synopsis the relationship with one of his sisters appears to be a strong element in his arc especially when linked to the revelation of his true identity. Whilst we're certainly set up for Arya at the beginning "George doesn't do obvious" I think that there's a realisation that the gap in age and story arc is too great. Substituting Sansa makes a lot of sense both in the closing of the gap and the reconciling of childhood differences.

I do agree though that Arya will return, wearing Dareon's boots, if not his face, but see that as part of the re-uniting of the children of Winterfell rather than anything more intense.

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Jon is of the north, and at least one parent is a Stark, so no matter how that turns out it would still be icky to have him end up with either Sansa or Arya, so I don't think that will actually happen. Obviously GRRM has changed some details from this original synopsis. Sansa never married Joffrey nor bore him a child, so it's possible that the romance between Jon and Arya got nixed as well.

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12 hours ago, Black Crow said:

 

 

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.

 

 

I think you undersell the differences. The only thing that has come to pass from that excerpt is this "Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north."

All the rest did happen differently or not at all. Jon didn't succeed his uncle, Benjen never even was LC. Jon was never a ranger, only a steward. The whole Catelyn flight story is missing and neither Jon nor Arya are tormented by passion for each other throughout the triology.

 

More and more I think that large parts of the outline were ditched before he even finished AGoT.

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Completely missing from his original synopsis is the mythological dimension. I suspect that's what's causing him to take so long over each book now - every page is packed with multiple levels of meaning. Related to the above, if Jon is to be Azor Ahai, he'll need a Nissa Nissa to sacrifice in a bittersweet ending. If he's still tied to the eventual survivors being Jon, Arya and Bran, that does rather suggest poor Sansa as the tragic love interest.

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38 minutes ago, Armstark said:

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.

the source of the torment is indeed different but the torment is still there and seems to be still related with the true parentage.

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The synopsis also has Arya traveling with her mother and Bran to the Wall. Nothing is said about her going to Braavos to the House of Black and White, nor her interest in becoming "no one". Her role has greatly expanded from what was suggested above.

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The JonxSansa ship all depends on the truth of Jon's parentage. GRRM hasn't published it yet. 

I hope GRRM told the D&D that R+L=J , but, I also hope GRRM changed it, or lied to them about it. 

Also depends on whether Jon gets out of his NW vows by dying/resurecting. 

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4 hours ago, Armstark said:

I think you undersell the differences. The only thing that has come to pass from that excerpt is this "Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north."

All the rest did happen differently or not at all... Jon was never a ranger, only a steward.

So Ser Alleser  was wont to remind him. 

In reality that is as unfair as it is inaccurate. Jon rode with Mormont on the great ranging; went into the Frostfangs with Qhorin Halfhand; rode out of them behind Mance Rayder; climbed the Wall; made a dramatic escape to warn Castle Black - and then defended it and the Wall against all comers.

He then became Lord Commander and whether it was in succession to Uncle Benjen or Uncle Mormont makes no difference to his story arc.

4 hours ago, Armstark said:

The whole Catelyn flight story is missing and neither Jon nor Arya are tormented by passion for each other throughout the triology.

More and more I think that large parts of the outline were ditched before he even finished AGoT.

And there we have to disagree. The flight story. Winterfell has burned much later than originally proposed and after Catelyn's death, but it was the Boltons who burned it and Jon's initial refusal to get involved - per the synopsis has been turned on its head by the Pink letter, and with neither of his fugitive sisters having yet succeeded in reaching the Wall, in the books at least, it seems more than a touch premature to declare this story-line "ditched" or abandoned.

Aside from the apparent significance of the Jon + sister story-line, what's also interesting about the synopsis is that with the exception of Danaerys the Dragonlord, Jon's personal story arc is far more comprehensive than anyone else's. GRRM obviously had a far better idea of exactly where Jon is going in all of this.

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3 hours ago, House Cambodia said:

Completely missing from his original synopsis is the mythological dimension. I suspect that's what's causing him to take so long over each book now - every page is packed with multiple levels of meaning. Related to the above, if Jon is to be Azor Ahai, he'll need a Nissa Nissa to sacrifice in a bittersweet ending. If he's still tied to the eventual survivors being Jon, Arya and Bran, that does rather suggest poor Sansa as the tragic love interest.

Jon has already lost Ygritte and I remain more than mindful of the statement that the "icky" problem of sibling love will be an issue until Jon's parentage is revealed at the end.

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3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The synopsis also has Arya traveling with her mother and Bran to the Wall. Nothing is said about her going to Braavos to the House of Black and White, nor her interest in becoming "no one". Her role has greatly expanded from what was suggested above.

Indeed. Once the bones are picked out there's actually very little about Arya in there and I'd suggest this is another reason for substituting Sansa in the relationship with Jon. While it makes a lot of sense in itself it also frees up Arya for a proper role which she doesn't actually have in the synopsis.

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2 hours ago, Lord Pumpkin said:

The JonxSansa ship all depends on the truth of Jon's parentage. GRRM hasn't published it yet. 

I hope GRRM told the D&D that R+L=J , but, I also hope GRRM changed it, or lied to them about it. 

Also depends on whether Jon gets out of his NW vows by dying/resurecting. 

The mummers' version, we're firmly told by the management, is strictly off limits althoughwe are given to understand that the mummers were closeted a year or so back with GRRM in Santa Fe specifically in order to be briefed on the ultimate story arcs of the principal characters.

As to your first statement, the synopsis explicitly says that this particular storyline will be resolved when the "the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book". The grisly details of that particular secret are obviously going to have to wait, but it leaves no doubt that Jon is not the son of Eddard Stark.

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16 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

but it leaves no doubt that Jon is not the son of Eddard Stark.

I actually think that he really is Eddark Stark's son, but I won't derail your current topic. ;)

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4 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I actually think that he really is Eddard Stark's son, but I won't derail your current topic. ;)

A theory in itself, as you say, but one which appears to be contradicted by the statement in the synopsis.

" 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 "

If we leave aside for the moment the question of whether this aspect of the story arc will or will not happen, the torment arises because they believe themselves to be brother and sister. The "secret of Jon's true parentage" clearly tells us, that whatever the secret they are not brother and sister and since Arya's [and Sansa's] parentage is not in doubt then the late Lord Eddard is not Jon's father.

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9 hours ago, Black Crow said:

As written in the synopsis the relationship with one of his sisters appears to be a strong element in his arc especially when linked to the revelation of his true identity.


With five (well, four) books worth of character arc to draw upon, I think we can pretty confidently state that a relationship with his sisters is not a strong element of his character journey as written. What GRRM originally proposed was growing complications from a love triangle with Tyrion, and that Arya would be present at the Wall as early as aGoT, an entire social dynamic that no longer exists.

As a practical matter, GRRM has two books left to have Jon come back, to resolve whatever his plotline is going to be in the North and with the Others, to resolve Sansa's plotline in the Vale, and then have Sansa and Jon begin interacting in a way that blossoms into romance; not impossible, but to be frank, it doesn't feel organic to the story we're being told.

Though, that said, there are people who have been proposing that Sansa would end up with Jon (and since ADWD, Aegon VI) for years, based on supposed foreshadowing from the D&E novels where Lady Ashford is defended by a sequence of champions that matches Sansa's proposed betrothals: Baratheon > Tyrell > Lannister > Hardyng > Targaryen.
____

I'm still with Armstark though, I think the story we're getting is not just different in terms of various character journeys, but even different in the underlying arcs. The War of the Five Kings is different than the war GRRM originally planned; not just in scope, but in that the conflict itself was masterminded by Littlefinger, a major antagonist that is absent from the 1993 letter. While the letter itself is recognizably a description of the story that would eventually become aGoT, I think it has little guidance to offer in terms of where the story is heading.

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38 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

A theory in itself, as you say, but one which appears to be contradicted by the statement in the synopsis.

" 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 "

If we leave aside for the moment the question of whether this aspect of the story arc will or will not happen, the torment arises because they believe themselves to be brother and sister. The "secret of Jon's true parentage" clearly tells us, that whatever the secret they are not brother and sister and since Arya's [and Sansa's] parentage is not in doubt then the late Lord Eddard is not Jon's father.

We've already seen many changes from the original synopsis, and "Jon's true parentage" has become one of the biggest mysteries in the story. GRRM "doesn't do obvious" and I think he's led many readers off on a rabbit hunt, but the ironic thing is...he's already told us who his parents are. That's what is really funny to me.

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8 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I'm still with Armstark though, I think the story we're getting is not just different in terms of various character journeys, but even different in the underlying arcs. The War of the Five Kings is different than the war GRRM originally planned; not just in scope, but in that the conflict itself was masterminded by Littlefinger, a major antagonist that is absent from the 1993 letter. While the letter itself is recognizably a description of the story that would eventually become aGoT, I think it has little guidance to offer in terms of where the story is heading.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the question of Jon and Sansa [or Arya - although I do think that one has gone] for I think that in terms of the expanded story and its expanded timelines we're still on track and its not something that would have happened long ago if it was going to happen.

What I do still think significant though is that what I hadn't fully realised until starting in on this particular exercise is that in terms of the principals only Jon Snow and Danaerys the Dragonlord have their character arcs laid out. There are references aplenty to some of the other characters but nothing to compare with the paragraphs on Jon and Dany which strongly suggests that GRRM had a good idea of where he wanted to go with them, but less so with the others.

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