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Black Crow

Heresy 203 and growing suspicions anent the Starks

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14 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I don't agree with the underlying logic of this argument.

Saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some figure from antiquity, ergo the white walkers don't have a leader" would be like saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some minor lord from the Fingers" to argue that Littlefinger is not a major antagonist, or is somehow unimportant in the grand scheme of the plot.

"The white walkers have a leader" and "Jon will transfer his soul to a walker body" are not premises that are incompatible with one another. While Jon Snow filling a magical/metaphysical power vacuum might be one context for that theory, it's far from the only one.
 

I stand by my argument, that if there is indeed a Stark connection to the white walkers then it is Jon who will be central to that story arc, embracing his true heritage as a son of Winterfell and what may be the real price of belonging. The Nights King may well be out there, whether he is Coldhands or anybody else, but he will at best be a minor character and not central to the story as Jon and his siblings are

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13 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I don't agree with the underlying logic of this argument.

Saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some figure from antiquity, ergo the white walkers don't have a leader" would be like saying "this story is about the children of Winterfell, not some minor lord from the Fingers" to argue that Littlefinger is not a major antagonist, or is somehow unimportant in the grand scheme of the plot.

"The white walkers have a leader" and "Jon will transfer his soul to a walker body" are not premises that are incompatible with one another. While Jon Snow filling a magical/metaphysical power vacuum might be one context for that theory, it's far from the only one.
____

At a minimum, it may be that things are unbalanced because the last Holly King refused to be sacrificed at his appointed time; for another, it may be that someone far more recently has taken up the mantle.

Even more speculatively, if the position of "King of Winter" is waiting to be claimed, it may be that there exists aspirants to the throne, so to speak; for example, Mance's ascent within the wildlings after the return of the Others might not be wholly altruistic. It's Mance who wanted the Horn, Mance who would not allow the Free Folk to slay Craster, and Mance (through the spearwives) appears to be probing Theon for information about the Winterfell crypts.
 

It may also be the case that Stannis will become NK 2.0 through sheer folly.

The Others are clearly central to the story.  They may or may not have a leader.  We could have the Night's King like on the show, but if he exists, he won't be an important character.  GRRM said he won't write a generic evil darklord, like what the show gave us.

It might be a character we already know who is using the Others (Qyburn, Melisandra, Bloodraven, etc), or it might be an inhuman Darklord who gets replaced by a character we know (Jon is my bet).  Either way, I'd bet big that the end conflicts are between characters we are familiar with, probably the 5 from GRRMs original letter (Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Bran, Jon Snow).

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8 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

The Others are clearly central to the story.  They may or may not have a leader.  We could have the Night's King like on the show, but if he exists, he won't be an important character.  GRRM said he won't write a generic evil darklord, like what the show gave us.

It might be a character we already know who is using the Others (Qyburn, Melisandra, Bloodraven, etc), or it might be an inhuman Darklord who gets replaced by a character we know (Jon is my bet).  Either way, I'd bet big that the end conflicts are between characters we are familiar with, probably the 5 from GRRMs original letter (Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Bran, Jon Snow).

I don't disagree with the surrounding speculation, but just as the last time this topic came up, I find it interesting that people characterize the WWs of the show as being in violation of GRRM's quote on dark lords and evil armies, when for all intents and purposes, they've done nothing at all that is "more evil" than the Others of the books, or even out of their 'character,' such as it is.

For the Free Folk of book world, the Others that ruthlessly slaughter them and send their own friends and family against them as wights must certainly appear to be the ultimate embodiment of evil.

Within this criticism of the white walkers is a tacit acknowledgement that, despite GRRM's comment (which, to be clear, wasn't just about 'dark lords,' but also about their minions, and good vs. evil), the Others read as a typical high fantasy evil army, and the only reason they are not criticized for this is because of an expectation (and GRRM's own promises) that a future volume will redeem them with nuance. 

In short, if the series is never finished, then the Others as written are a bad cliche.

This uncomfortable truth, in turn, leads to strange applications of the 'dark lord' quote where people try to get around the spirit of what GRRM is criticizing by emphasizing the idea of hierarchy, and "dark lords" specifically, and propose that GRRM has avoided the Tolkein trope on the thinnest of technicalities: ASOIAF has its own Ringwraiths, but it's fine, so long as the Ringwraiths don't have a Witch King among their ranks. 

Edited by Matthew.

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1. Not to disturb the argument about the children of Winterfell, but isn't the NK a child of Winterfell if he is a Stark ?

2. My only argument that we will ever hear again of the NK is the story of him. More specific that the story is told by Old Nan. 

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2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I don't disagree with the surrounding speculation, but just as the last time this topic came up, I find it interesting that people characterize the WWs of the show as being in violation of GRRM's quote on dark lords and evil armies, when for all intents and purposes, they've done nothing at all that is "more evil" than the Others of the books, or even out of their 'character,' such as it is.

For the Free Folk of book world, the Others that ruthlessly slaughter them and send their own friends and family against them as wights must certainly appear to be the ultimate embodiment of evil.

Within this criticism of the white walkers is a tacit acknowledgement that, despite GRRM's comment (which, to be clear, wasn't just about 'dark lords,' but also about their minions, and good vs. evil), the Others read as a typical high fantasy evil army, and the only reason they are not criticized for this is because of an expectation (and GRRM's own promises) that a future volume will redeem them with nuance. 

In short, if the series is never finished, then the Others as written are a bad cliche.

This uncomfortable truth, in turn, leads to strange applications of the 'dark lord' quote where people try to get around the spirit of what GRRM is criticizing by emphasizing the idea of hierarchy, and "dark lords" specifically, and propose that GRRM has avoided the Tolkein trope on the thinnest of technicalities: ASOIAF has its own Ringwraiths, but it's fine, so long as the Ringwraiths don't have a Witch King among their ranks. 

The Others as they appear in the legends and in the interpretations of visions by R'hllor fanatics are the "ultimate embodiment of evil", but the Others we see in action are not more evil than any of the main factions in the books:

-An ambush on some NW rangers (maybe with the objective of using Gared to get the direwolf across the wall)

-An assassination attempt on Mormont.

-The attack on the Fist of the First Men

-Herding of the wildlings and NW survivors towards the Wall

-Attack on Hardhome

 

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The Pink Letter list of demands:
 

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII

I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.

I want my bride back. I want the false king's queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want his wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard's heart and eat it.

Whoever sent the letter doesn't know that Theon is with Stannis.

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon IV

Jon was aghast. "Your Grace, this man cannot be trusted. If I keep him here, someone will slit his throat for him. If I send him ranging, he'll just go back over to the wildlings."

"Not me. I'm done with those bloody fools." Rattleshirt tapped the ruby on his wrist. "Ask your red witch, bastard."

Melisandre spoke softly in a strange tongue. The ruby at her throat throbbed slowly, and Jon saw that the smaller stone on Rattleshirt's wrist was brightening and darkening as well. "So long as he wears the gem he is bound to me, blood and soul," the red priestess said. "This man will serve you faithfully. The flames do not lie, Lord Snow."

If the letter is from Mance, he's not bound to Melisandre's ruby anymore.  I doubt that Mance is done with the 'bloody fools'.

There is another possibility.  The King Beyond the Wall and the Lord of Winterfell have joined forces to defeat Jon Snow.  This could be a another case of infiltrating the enemy's forces by joining them, not unlike Jon joining the Wildlings after killing the Halfhand.   "I want my Reek" sounds too much like Ramsey to ignore.  It's Mance who calls Jon 'bastard' and Melisandre 'the red witch'.

Ramsey thinks he will be getting a wildling army courtesy of Mance; but Mance will join forces with Stannis and crush Ramsey when the Wildlings arrive to find Mance miraculously alive.

Edited by LynnS

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6 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I don't disagree with the surrounding speculation, but just as the last time this topic came up, I find it interesting that people characterize the WWs of the show as being in violation of GRRM's quote on dark lords and evil armies, when for all intents and purposes, they've done nothing at all that is "more evil" than the Others of the books, or even out of their 'character,' such as it is.

For the Free Folk of book world, the Others that ruthlessly slaughter them and send their own friends and family against them as wights must certainly appear to be the ultimate embodiment of evil.

Within this criticism of the white walkers is a tacit acknowledgement that, despite GRRM's comment (which, to be clear, wasn't just about 'dark lords,' but also about their minions, and good vs. evil), the Others read as a typical high fantasy evil army, and the only reason they are not criticized for this is because of an expectation (and GRRM's own promises) that a future volume will redeem them with nuance. 

In short, if the series is never finished, then the Others as written are a bad cliche.

This uncomfortable truth, in turn, leads to strange applications of the 'dark lord' quote where people try to get around the spirit of what GRRM is criticizing by emphasizing the idea of hierarchy, and "dark lords" specifically, and propose that GRRM has avoided the Tolkein trope on the thinnest of technicalities: ASOIAF has its own Ringwraiths, but it's fine, so long as the Ringwraiths don't have a Witch King among their ranks. 

It isn't how evil the Others are.   Theon, Ramsay, Lord Frey and others all do things that are plenty evil, but they are mutidimensional characters with reasons for what they did.  GRRM specifically talked about obviously bad characters who look ugly, dress in black, represent the forces of darkness and only exist as one dimensional characters.  This is the same if they have a hierarchy,  a leader or are all equals.

The show Others are exactly that, and if GRRM hasn't say he won't write this way, I'd believe the book Others were the same.  Knowing GRRM, there will be more than subtle nuances showing us the threat isn't what it appears. 

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47 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

Anyone else believe Snarks and Grumpkins were old Starks North of The Wall and Children of the Forest?  Not much to go on here, just trying to turn the ship Starkwards.

Arya describes Jaqen H'gar as a grumkin:
 

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya IX

Jaqen still owed her one death. In Old Nan's stories about men who were given magic wishes by a grumkin, you had to be especially careful with the third wish, because it was the last. Chiswyck and Weese hadn't been very important. The last death has to count, Arya told herself every night when she whispered her names. But now she wondered if that was truly the reason she had hesitated. So long as she could kill with a whisper, Arya need not be afraid of anyone . . . but once she used up the last death, she would only be a mouse again.

This is a take on the monkey's paw story where on the third wish 'nobody' is at the door.   The White Walkers are also described as faceless:
 

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Prologue

Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere.

Coldhands also fits the definition of a faceless man, since he never shows his face or gives his name.  He makes Sam swear three times to silence for the 'life' Sam owes him.

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Samwell IV

Three times he had sworn to keep the secret; once to Bran himself, once to that strange boy Jojen Reed, and last of all to Coldhands. "The world believes the boy is dead," his rescuer had said as they parted. "Let his bones lie undisturbed. We want no seekers coming after us. Swear it, Samwell of the Night's Watch. Swear it for the life you owe me."

The Stranger is also a faceless man and one that fits the description of the White Walkers:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Catelyn IV

Catelyn studied the faces. The Father was bearded, as ever. The Mother smiled, loving and protective. The Warrior had his sword sketched in beneath his face, the Smith his hammer. The Maid was beautiful, the Crone wizened and wise.

And the seventh face . . . the Stranger was neither male nor female, yet both, ever the outcast, the wanderer from far places, less and more than human, unknown and unknowable. Here the face was a black oval, a shadow with stars for eyes. It made Catelyn uneasy. She would get scant comfort there.

 

Snarks and grumkins are almost always mentioned together.  Perhaps Arya is a Snark now.

 

Edited by LynnS

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26 minutes ago, LynnS said:

Arya describes Jaqen H'gar as a grumkin:
 

This is a take on the monkey's paw story where on the third wish 'nobody' is at the door.   The White Walkers are also described as faceless:
 

Coldhands also fits the definition of a faceless man, since he never shows his face or gives his name.  He makes Sam swear three times to silence for the 'life' Sam owes him.

The Stranger is also a faceless man and one that fits the description of the White Walkers:

Snarks and grumkins are almost always mentioned together.  Perhaps Arya is a Snark now.

 

It is funny that once Sansa thought that Arya was a changeling swapped by a grumkin, considering that she is one now :-)

Quote

Once, when she was littler, Sansa had even asked Mother if perhaps there hadn't been some mistake. Perhaps the grumkins had stolen her real sister. But Mother had only laughed and said no, Arya was her daughter and Sansa's trueborn sister, blood of their blood. Sansa could not think why Mother would want to lie about it, so she supposed it had to be true.

It is also interesting that both Ned and Jon seem to have stolen or swapped children.

 

Edited by Tucu

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23 minutes ago, Tucu said:

It is funny that once Sansa thought that Arya was a changeling swapped by a grumkin, considering that she is one now :-)

It is also interesting that both Ned and Jon seem to have stolen or swapped children.

Nice!

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18 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

I'm not sure what the broken promise would be if Jon was Rhaegar's son or why Ned would still be haunted by it after Robert's death.

It's a good question.  

At the moment, I think it's possible Ned promised Lyanna he would tell Jon the truth about his parents one day, and was realizing in AGOT that due to a change in the political weather, he might never keep that promise.   Things looked exceedingly dim for him at this point:

Quote

The thought of Cat was as painful as a bed of nettles. He wondered where she was, what she was doing. He wondered whether he would ever see her again.

If so, the same idea is probably also behind:

Quote

 

The mention of dreams reminded him. "I dreamed about the crow again last night. The one with three eyes. He flew into my bedchamber and told me to come with him, so I did. We went down to the crypts. Father was there, and we talked. He was sad."

"And why was that?" Luwin peered through his tube.

"It was something to do about Jon, I think."

 

Sometimes I wonder if GRRM is haunted by dark disturbing dreams of broken promises on the subject of finishing ASOIAF.

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17 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I stand by my argument, that if there is indeed a Stark connection to the white walkers then it is Jon who will be central to that story arc, embracing his true heritage as a son of Winterfell and what may be the real price of belonging.

I agree with all of this.

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18 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I stand by my argument, that if there is indeed a Stark connection to the white walkers then it is Jon who will be central to that story arc, embracing his true heritage as a son of Winterfell and what may be the real price of belonging. The Nights King may well be out there, whether he is Coldhands or anybody else, but he will at best be a minor character and not central to the story as Jon and his siblings are

To backtrack briefly, I think the same point in observing Littlefinger's plot significance on the previous page still applies: what you are saying here is not somehow disputed or "at odds" with the idea that the Others might have someone/something leading them--a sorcerer, a greenseer, a white walker, whatever.

More succinctly, I feel like you're arguing against a point of view that wasn't being espoused in the first place; speculating about the Others does not make the story "less about" Jon.
 

3 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

The show Others are exactly that, and if GRRM hasn't say he won't write this way, I'd believe the book Others were the same.  Knowing GRRM, there will be more than subtle nuances showing us the threat isn't what it appears. 

This was exactly the point, though.

There is no nuance or characterization to the Others, at this point in the story. It's not that the Others are more evil than any of the human characters - and frankly, I would argue that Ramsay and Euron are cartoonish villains that wouldn't be out of place in the worst dreck of the genre - it's that everything about their presentation makes them a High Fantasy evil army.

Consequently, readers (some, anyway) have waited 20 years for GRRM to do something subversive with them, to make them as interesting as the rest of his story, and we're just taking it on faith that he'll stick the landing. And, given infinite time, I'm sure he would...what I'm less confident about is that he actually has a clear plan of how he's going to achieve that, or that GRRM's idea of "nuanced supernatural antagonists" will be, in practice, all that far off from what he's criticizing. 

IMO, the story as envisioned by GRRM in 1993 was far more generic fantasy, even on the political and character journey side of things--Robb, for example, was to die heroically in battle, but not before dealing a maiming blow to the vile villain King Joffrey, whom he will conveniently meet on the battlefield for a duel of kings.

This is genre fiction nonsense, and I think what the 1993 letter highlights is that ASOIAF is a story that was 'saved' by GRRM's gardener process--if GRRM were a Sanderson-esque architect, ASOIAF would just be another forgettable trilogy among many.

My fear is that the Others are a vestige of a less interesting story, and that GRRM himself is struggling with how he's going to elevate them. It may be that whatever motive he arrives at (or already has) for his Others makes them not technically evil, but it doesn't necessarily mean they will be nuanced.

To use the show as an example, it is their world's point of view - as established in S6 - that the white walkers are not morally evil, they are acting for the sake of the sacred groves, in accordance with the 'mission' that has been magically instilled into them. The Night King isn't Sauron, he's the Lorax.

Edited by Matthew.

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36 minutes ago, Matthew. said:


More succinctly, I feel like you're arguing against a point of view that wasn't being espoused in the first place; speculating about the Others does not make the story "less about" Jon.
 

I fear that as usual we're arguing a little at cross purposes. Whether the white walkers have a leader is moot, given that the most we've ever seen in one place is six and that was way back in the prologue to AGoT. So far as story-telling goes this seems a touch difficult, given that we've had five out of a projected seven books and he hasn't even turned up yet, let alone assumed a significant role and at this late date its hard to see that he can whether he's the Nights King or Rumpelstiltskin. Hence my argument about Jon's likely primacy; resolution of this is going to me more about Jon and "less about" the Nights King rather than the other way around

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

It's a good question.  

At the moment, I think it's possible Ned promised Lyanna he would tell Jon the truth about his parents one day, and was realizing in AGOT that due to a change in the political weather, he might never keep that promise.   Things looked exceedingly dim for him at this point:

If so, the same idea is probably also behind:

Sometimes I wonder if GRRM is haunted by dark disturbing dreams of broken promises on the subject of finishing ASOIAF.

Ha, maybe, but then he edits a Wildcard book and remembers that his time is being spent on more worthwhile pursuits.  :rolleyes:

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13 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Hence my argument about Jon's likely primacy; resolution of this is going to me more about Jon and "less about" the Nights King rather than the other way around

And to reiterate, you're arguing against a point of view that isn't being espoused; "maybe the white walkers have a leader," is not the same as "the Nights King is still around," and neither sentiment is somehow emphasizing the white walkers over Jon Snow.

This would be like if someone responded to one of your various posts exploring the origins of the Others and their relationship with the CotF with "This story isn't about the CotF, it's about Westeros descending into chaos and its impact on Tyrion, Dany, and the children of Winterfell."

Edited by Matthew.

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4 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

It isn't how evil the Others are.   Theon, Ramsay, Lord Frey and others all do things that are plenty evil, but they are mutidimensional characters with reasons for what they did.  GRRM specifically talked about obviously bad characters who look ugly, dress in black, represent the forces of darkness and only exist as one dimensional characters.  This is the same if they have a hierarchy,  a leader or are all equals.

The show Others are exactly that, and if GRRM hasn't say he won't write this way, I'd believe the book Others were the same.  Knowing GRRM, there will be more than subtle nuances showing us the threat isn't what it appears. 

As to this, its all of a parcel with what I've just said above.

In terms of evil armies the blue-eyed lot are far from typical. Yes they kill without mercy, just like everybody else. Its true the dead are raised to kill in their service, but they're dead so what's it matter. They don't torture, maim, humiliate, degrade or enslave the living. A matter of perspective I'll grant you, but there's no sign of a Nights King - or rumpelstiltskin either.

Go back to the synopsis:

"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"

So are the "half -forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others" really the half-forgotten Children of the Forest out of legend, because it they are then we have a much better idea of what's going on; because then you see we have the Ice magic which raises the dead and the old Stark lords [all six of them?] to control them, but all cold servants of the tree-huggers rather than a long dead king out of legend. 

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3 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

And to reiterate, you're arguing against a point of view that isn't being espoused; "maybe the white walkers have a leader," is not the same as "the Nights King is still around," and neither sentiment is somehow emphasizing the white walkers over Jon Snow.

This would be like if someone responded to one of your various posts exploring the origins of the Others and their relationship with the CotF with "This story isn't about the CotF, it's about Westeros descending into chaos and its impact on Tyrion, Dany, and the children of Winterfell."

Nah... we're going to have to continue on our own roads, because ultimately my argument is exactly that last line. The origins are very important because they explain how we have got here, but the story is about Jon and the other protagonists, those "central characters ... growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process". Jon's story arc may be bound intimately with his relationship with Winterfell and arguably with the old Stark lords, but its his story, not theirs no matter how important they may be to it

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6 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Nah... we're going to have to continue on our own roads, because ultimately my argument is exactly that last line. The origins are very important because they explain how we have got here, but the story is about Jon and the other protagonists, those "central characters ... growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process". Jon's story arc may be bound intimately with his relationship with Winterfell and arguably with the old Stark lords, but its his story, not theirs no matter how important they may be to it

:bang:


Continue down our own roads regarding what?

How are "here's what I think might be going on with the Others," and "this is Jon's story" incompatible sentiments?

It is literally only a page ago that you compared the ancient Stark lords to the Nazgul, possibly returning to claim what is theirs--there is no distinction between that idea, and the idea that the NK might still be around, might be among their numbers. And in exploring that idea - or any idea, really - a poster is not somehow being insufficiently deferential to "what the story is really about," or whatever.

Sincerely, I have no idea what this argument is--you issue these words as though they are a "correction," but I have no idea what is to be corrected. 

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