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Is Barristan Simply Wrong About Meraxes?

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On 4/10/2017 at 9:22 PM, JNR said:

That's true, but that content is still not POV fiction.  Virtually everything in the two novellas comes secondhand, not observed or thought or felt.

In this sense it is wildly different from the canon, which is nothing but POV fiction... which makes much more of the information trustworthy. 

For instance, if Ned thinks the Winterfell crypts are cold, while walking down the crypt stairs, he's experiencing that in that moment, and you know for sure the crypts are really cold.  Can't be doubted.   When he hears Robert say Lyanna was more beautiful than her statue, we know for sure Robert really said that (though not that that's objectively true).   

But the maester who wrote TPATQ was not a POV character who was there at the time, didn't see it happen, and he came by the information in a less certain way.

This doesn't make me feel confident we know the truth about what happened to Meraxes "long ago" -- only that Gyldayn thinks we do.


What we have is a contradiction between what Archmaester Gyldayn wrote forty or more years ago, and what Barristan Selmy said today, about dragons neither of them ever personally witnessed alive.

That Selmy is a POV does not make him any more likely to be correct. POVs are more than capable of being mistaken about things they personally experienced, let alone things which occurred centuries before they lived.

I imagine you are aware of the contradictions between Selmy's current recollection of the Storm's End tourney, and the information Gerold Hightower wrote in the White Book over fifteen years ago about the tourney and surrounding events close to when they occurred.

Selmy never personally witnessed Aegon and his sisters. His claims about their dragons aren't based on anything he personally witnessed, let alone anything we witness through his POV. Perhaps Selmy is correct, and none of their dragons were ever brought down in flight.

But there is no getting around the fact that the story that Meraxes was brought down by a bolt while in flight exists today in Selmy's world at the same time he says it never happened, and that the story has existed in Selmy's world for forty or more years whether he is ignorant of the story, rejects it, or whatever the case.

It is reasonable for different readers to interpret information differently, and to come to different conclusions about the accuracy of information in the series, whether that information comes from a POV character, or from a non-POV character or source which appears or is mentioned in a POV.

But the attempt to dismiss the information as "non-canon," or written by anyone other than GRRM, doesn't have any legs to stand on. Selmy was taught, or learned, or settled on the belief he stated, no less than Gyldayn.

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The story that Meraxes was brought down with a bolt to the eye does clearly exist in Selmy's world... and Selmy clearly either hasn't heard it, or has, and he simply doesn't believe it.

I don't think it takes much imagination to guess the odds of a dragon in mid-flight being hit in the eye by a crossbow bolt in such a way as not only to blind it, but also kill it.  They are, to put it politely, weensy.

The novellas do suggest Meraxes was in mid-flight, too:


Scorpions were cranked upwards to loose iron bolts of the sort that had once felled Meraxes

So as readers, we can choose which source we deem more informed on this topic: Gyldayn the scholar or Selmy the warrior.  As I said before, I choose Selmy.  Those who choose Gyldayn may ultimately turn out to be right.

But as for the World book's trustworthiness,  as I said before, you don't have to take it from me.  You can take it from the series author:


"So who knows if it's really true or not!" Martin chuckled.

You can take your argument about the canonical reality of the World book to him.  (I'll be interested to hear what he has to say about Ser Elmo and Ser Kermit, apparently two famed knights of the Order of Muppet, both mentioned in the World book and neither mentioned in canon.)

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