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Storm God

An analysis of the First Men, and a theory about the Night's King

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CONTAINS BOTH BOOK AND TV SPOILERS :)

First of all, I would like to ask you to forget all you think you know about First Men culture in the north, northern honour, and the legendary myths that too often are assumed to be fact. 

Secondly, I would like to remind you what Lord Commander Mormont once said in aGoT Tyrion III, that in the Night's Watch heyday the builders continuously added height to the wall. And that reportedly (can't find the source as of now) GRRM was surprised by how big the wall portrayed in the TV series is, even though the wall there is shorter than in the books. He's clearly misjudged the size of the wall.

 

This will be a very long post. TL;DR at the end!

 

 

I hypothesize that the wall didn't exist as we know it in the early days. The "wall" was nothing more than the nightfort and it's fortifications. I would also like to claim that the origin of the Night's Watch is very different from what we are led to believe. Lastly, I will cast doubt over the stories we are told about the 13th LC, the Night's King.

 

First off, to destroy all you think about First Men culture. 

The First Men didn't believe in the old gods until long after their arrival in Westeros. The religion of the First Men were theistic dualism, where there's a god of the sea, and a god of the air. I refer here to the Drowned/Storm gods of the Ironborn, and the Lady of the waves/Lord of the skies of the three sisters, and lastly, to the gods who summons storm in the legend of storms end. Let's not forget about how both the Sistermen and Ironborn have a deeply entrenched reaver culture, living in rocky lands where vegetation barely grows. This terrain is less than ideal for the deep-rooted weirwoods, and lack of weirwood means lack of religious centres. Folklore about mermaid kings are also plentiful. I'm mentioning the mermaid king because of slight similarity to the First Men water god. And because the old pagan gods of Europe often ended up as characters in folklore and fairytales. Or as saints of the catholic church... But enough about the original religion, on the the old gods. Apparently the old gods are rather dark and demanding. The First Men practised ritual blood sacrifice, as witnessed by Bran in the Weirnet. Either blood sacrifice is a leftover ritual from the original religion (think about the Ironborn practice of drowning their believers, or northern lords doing executions themselves). Or also something adopted from the CotF, depending on the "Jojen Paste"-theory.

First Men culture which we associate with the North today is vastly different from early on FM culture. FM culture (and politics, and religious practices, and technology, and......) have in modern The North seen a modernization. Through natural evolution and cultural exchange with Andals, Targ/Valyrian, Essosi, etc. You want to get a glimpse of early FM culture, look to the Mountain clans of the Vale, the Hill clans of the North, the Skagosi, the wildlings, but most of all, look to the Thenn. The Thenn, except for some of the rather vile sins they've commited in order to survive the desolate north (cannibalism), still speak the old tounge. They still practice tribal despotism. They still forge and wield arms and armour of bronze. The Thenns are more akin to the First Men of old, than the Starks we're presented. And maybe, just maybe, the lack of disregard for consuming human flesh is related to the ancient practice of blood sacrifice.

In GoT 6:05, we're shown how the CotF creates the others. Yes, the show has diverged. But D&D knows stuff we don't. We've seen how they in some instances aren't reinventing the story, but rather adapting it to the world they've created. I propose that the others wasn't created by the CotF in the books, but by malpractice and misguided rituals conducted by the early FM converts. Keep in mind the etymology of Winterfell. I've seen that some fans on these forums have read Winterfell, "the place where winter fell", as in the place where the others/winter was defeated during the long night. Though it could also mean "the place where winter fell", as in the place where long winter as we know it first fell and the others first appeared. 

 

Bran the Builder have a lot of achievements credited to him. He supposedly lived during the age of heroes and still lived 2000 years later after the long night, when he built the Wall, Winterfell, and took part in designing Storm's End. We aren't paying any heed to how Storm's End was completed after 7 tries, showing clear Andal influence. And Andals with their faith entered Westeros much later. We don't mind how the wall was actually built slowly through the aeons, as told by LC Mormont. And we barely notice how the oldest keep in Winterfell isn't known as Bran's Keep, but the First Keep.The First Men only had the architectural technology to build ringforts of the like seen on the Fist of the First Men. So what does this tell us of Bran the Builder? It would seem that the northern hero Bran is either the personification of several different Stark rulers (who may or may not have been known as Bran(don)). Perhaps he did settle his people on the hill where Winterfell later was built. And perhaps he, or another Bran, built the wall. Though probably not the wall we know.

The oldest and largest castle along the wall is without question the Nightfort. Infamous for it's dark tales, and houser of the black gate. If Bran built (at least a part of) the wall, it would make sense that it all started with the Nightfort. Thus the wall at the very beginning is simply a massive fortress, housing enough men to patrol the northern outskirts of Westeros. 

 

Even though there are several tiers of vassalage, the landed nobles of Westeros usually use two titles. Lords and Kings. Simplified, nobles who hold land are considered lords, and the lords who are independent sovereigns call themselves kings (with exceptions like ser, prince, magnar, etc.) Though the Night's Watch doesn't serve a king, their LC styles himself lord in light of his servitude to all the realms of men.

Calling yourself king meant having the power to remain sovereign from other lords. In the ages of old House Stark weren't Kings of the North/in the North. The Starks were kings of Winter(fell). The head of House Bolton styled himself the Red King. House Reed were the Mars Kings, Dustins the Barrow Kings, and the list goes on. Before the wall, the free folk we know today weren't differentiated from other first men. With no wall, no cause for them to evolve different ways of life from the FM nowadays south of the wall. Back then, a king-beyond-the-wall would simply be a sovereign lord in what now is beyond the wall. Among those lords, were Joramun. And with no wall, the Night's King might never have been neither Lord Commander, nor crow.  

If Joramun was indeed a king of a semi-settled people, there is one place beyond the wall, except in the valley of the Thenns, with clear evidence of being built by organized labour. The ancient ringfort on top of the Fist of the First Men. Not only is it close to the Frostfangs where Joramun is believed to be buried, it has a distance to the Nightfort similar to that of Winterfell. If the King of the Nightfort was indeed a threat to the Starks, they would be equally threatening to a lord reigning from the Fist of the First Men. Thus their alliance was born.

But if the Night's King wasn't a LC of the Night's Watch who broke his vows, why did he feel the wrath of the Starks?

Because northern honour is a new consept. First born out of necessity to bond against invading andals, followed by years of mostly peaceful growth and amplified in recent years by respect and loyalty to the late Lord Ned Stark. Just look how quick and remorselessly the Boltons, the Dustins, and the Karstarks are in their plotting and betrayal. Men are men, wherever in the world they are. The Starks didn't go from Kings of Winter to Kings of the North by asking nicely. They brought every opposing king into the fold through war. For a thousand years did they war with the barrow kings. They enforced their rule over the Red King of House Bolton through repeatedly crushing their rebellions. Fear, war and spilled blood unified the north, not honour. Maybe the 13th king of the Night(fort) was a threat to the ambition of the Starks.

 

Under the Nightfort lies the Black Gate. It is ancient, and demands an oath different to what the Night's Watch now swears. The oath it wants to hear does not demand lifelong servitude, that the speaker forsakes all land, takes no wife, father no children. The oath have changed over time. 

Assuming my above assumptions are correct, what if peace among First Men and the Others was achieved through marriage? After fighting against the Others for 13 generations the Last Hero, 13th leader of the warriors who banded together against the Others, secures peace with the Others by taking one of theirs as a bride. Their home a tower shaped in ice by the others, and a castle of stone built by the 13th, who is a Bran Stark (later given the epithet "the Builder"), now lord of The Nightfort. His warband become the Night's Watch.

 

Peace means compromise, which sows dissent. The 13th is betrayed by Starks of Winterfell and Joramun of the Fist of the First Men, both preferring the extermination of the Others. The others raises a wall to seperate the alliance, to secure their domain, and as a show of force. Believing them lost, Winterfell forsakes their allies north of the wall. The wall is fortified by the men south of it, who continuously build it ever higher. Fear drives those south of the wall to isolate the men north of it. Over time the harsh climate and political isolation devolves the political institutions of the free folk. They descend into anarchy, and becomes the wildlings we know today. Eventually, people think the enlargement effort carried out by men also meant men laid the walls foundations.

Victors write history, and only the Starks are left to do so. If both Nightfort and Winterfell were ruled by Starks, the betrayal (and perhaps kinslaying) would be stricken from history to make people forget the treatchery. The Night's Watch are now forbidden to take wives, to hold lands, and they are reformed into an elective military order forever awaiting the revenge of the Others.

As to why the Others have now reappeared, I have no answer. Though I doubt the saga is called ice and fire only because it sounds fancy.

 

TL;DR:

Early First Men converts to the Old Gods accidentaly(?) created the Others by fusing blood sacrifice of their previous religion, and the magic of the Old Gods.

The Night's Watch was originally a semi-organized warband. Their 13th leader, a Stark (Brandon the Builder?), secured peace with the others through marriage. Became the Last Hero, and 13th leader of what we now know as the Night's Watch. Nightfort built by Brandon and the Others.

House Stark of Winterfell and Lord Joramun of the Fist of the First Men didn't want peace and compromise. Wanting to exterminate the others they betray the 13th King of the Nightfort (Last Hero). 

The Others raise (a smaller version of) the wall to seperate the Stark/Joramun alliance, and to secure their own realm. 

The wall is manned by men south of it. Men north of it isolated out of fear for the Others. Night's Watch (re)formed as a military order. 

Others wipe out Joramun's keep on the Fist of the First men. His realm descend into anarchy, the Others no longer threatened so the south never touched. 

House Starks unify the north and remove the records of them betraying the King of the Nightfort.

 

I'm somewhat new to this forum, and it appears that heresy is discussing some things somewhat similar to this. If I'm simply repeating what others have suggested before me, apologies. And it's quite late where I am, plus I'm sort of juggling two different theories. Feel free to point out obvious mistakes I've made.

So, any thoughts?

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Not a mistake, an enigma  Moat Cailin. There is no back story to this fortress and yet Kings of Winter, Barrow Kings, Red Kings and Marsh Kings are said to have collaborated in it's defense at varying times. It is said to have been used by the CotF to bring down the "hammer of waters" in a failed attempt to isolate the North from the South. It was said to have been built 2000 years before the wall. But no information on who built it or why it was built.

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