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Skahaz mo Kandaq

Fate and Predestination

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I started reading the series in 2006.  It was hard to get through Sansa's and Jon's chapters but I managed to get far enough into the first book to get me really interested in the story.  I have read all of the books up to Sons.  One of the questions that I often think about is the role of fate.  Predetermination.  How much is choice and how much is predetermined.  I don't expect we will get a direct answer from the author.  That's just how Martin rolls.  

Whether you believe in predetermination or not you cannot argue that people don't start the race on the same line.  That's reality for asoiaf and for our world.  Some are born gifted and blessed while others are born deprived.  It's not only looks and abilities but the circumstances of birth that matter.  Tyrion was lucky to be born Lannister and escaped the fate of other unwanted children.  Cursed with ugliness but blessed with a sharp mind (and Papa's unlimited bank account), Tyrion finds a way to get out of trouble.   Daenerys was born under difficult circumstances but she is gifted with beauty, intelligence, and courage.  She suffered poverty and abuse but managed to rise to the top.  Robert Arryn is spoiled rotten but how much different he might have been if he had been born to a poor family.  Why was Benjen Stark the first ranger?  Can we really say that Benjen was better than Halfhand?  One is high born and the other low born.  These are interesting questions to ponder.  At least for me. 

I enjoy discussing Daenerys and her dragons.  I will use the birth of the dragons as my example here but you are welcome to use your own if you would care to discuss.  My opinion, Daenerys was going to hatch those eggs.  Call it fate.  It has been predicted that she would do this.  Azor Ahai will wake dragons from stone and she did.  A fated event is something that will happen.   Daenerys will hatch those eggs even if Drogo had survived his wounds.  Drogo can't stay undefeated forever.  Someone will beat him in a fight sooner or later.  Daenerys will find a way to hatch those eggs and take control of her own khalasar. 

I think the answer is fate plays a bigger role with some characters than others.  The second most strongly fated person in the story is Bran.  I am no longer sure of his fate.  I was thinking he would take Bloodraven's place but the way ahead is looking darker for him.  I wouldn't be surprised if Bran turns bitter after he learns who crippled him and why.  He might go over to the other side just to get back at Jaime, Cersei, Roose, and Walder.  He could become the boy version of his vengeful sister on steroids unleashing hell on the Lannisters and the Freys. 

 

 

Edited by Skahaz mo Kandaq

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Everyone has a destiny.  What you can call a set path.  I think that applies to real life too.  The effect destiny has depends on who that person is.  The path that Dany is on will affect more lives than the path of someone like Catelyn.  Dany is the main character and Catelyn is just a regular POV character.  What Catelyn does affect the fate of the Starks and the Tullys.  Westeros will function fine without the Starks or the Tullys.  Some other family will just fill in the vacuum.  What Dany does affect the lives of millions and she can end slavery.  Her destiny is the most important and she has the means to change her world.  Bran's destiny is pretty set.  He's to take the place of the 3 eyed raven and attach himself to that tree for the rest of his life. 

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I don't know.   I kind of want to argue that Dany hatched dragons because she was the only one with the eggs--given by Illyrio.   Illyrio is not God, but he was the benefactor.  On the other hand, he could have given the eggs to Viserys, Aegon or Drogo even, so perhaps there is something to fate.  GRRM called the dragon hatching a miracle.   Miracles happen every day, but rarely of such consequence.  It's a miracle that Bran survived his fall and it seems that the injuries sustained in the fall made Bran susceptible to the great power he revealed or attained in his coma.   Still Dany and Bran are magical people where someone like Pate is not.  I think magic plays a huge part in how this drama unfolds.  You have a handful of magical characters then a secondary tier of characters who are interfered with by magic, like Jamie and his crazy dreams or Cersei and Rhaegar and their driving prophecy.  

What about Old Nan?  Her tales seem to be historical fact more than legend.   Has she just got an excellent memory or is her memory in fact blessed?  Should Sandor Clegane overcome his hatred and fear of fire would it be a miracle, an effect of maturity or simple healing?  

Cersei and Rhaegar, perhaps Aegon 5, are driven by prophecy that seems to be self fulfilling.   Rhaegar took it upon himself to determine who TPTWP was--twice.   Cersei had no more than 3 children.   Fate or choice?   

Are the Faceless Men magical?  Are the slaves in Mereen blessed where the slaves of Asatpor with the same savior suffered horror?   Is Dany a savior or downfall for every place she goes?   What of Bloodraven--live beyond mortal life span and an ability to see past, present and future?  What of those characters magical and otherwise who possess magical swords or horns?   Is it a blessing, curse or meaningless to have wolf dreams, dragon dreams or weirwood dreams?   

I would be more persuaded to argue predestination or fate for a story that does not contain magic.  GRRM himself said that we would not see gods in ASOIAF, so I think we have to take them--all of them, on faith alone.   

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Predestination and fate is a huge part of Bran's chapters, though not necessarily directly to do with him. It is more to do with Jojen, who seems resigned to the fact that he knows exactly how and when he will die. Despite all the crackpot Jojen-Paste theories, (ASoIaF's answer to the MLP creepypasta 'Cupcakes'), the hint is that it'll occur at Greywater Watch.

The idea of fate is brought up head-on by the Reedlings, showing their different attitudes and personalities:

Quote

...Meera thought so too, later that night when she and Jojen met Bran in his room to play a three-sided game of tiles, but her brother shook his head. "The things I see in green dreams can't be changed."
That made his sister angry. "Why would the gods send a warning if we can't heed it and change what's to come?"
"I don't know," Jojen said sadly.

 

The workaround is that visions are open to interpretation and can be fulfilled without it adhering to exactly what the person seeing them expects it to be. As Mel put it, the fault is in the reader and not the book.

We also cannot rule out simple "self-fulfilling prophecy", which I think most of Daenerys or Cersei's are. They are constantly on the lookout for things that might be related to what they have been told is fate, to the point where it is inevitable the "prophecies" will come true.

The only true possible way I could see something could become "destiny" or "fate" is the possibility that Bran can consciously affect the past in his visions, by speaking to them through the tree and them listening. However, everything like this would still be stuck to the same rules Jojen puts forward that you cannot change what the green dreams tell you. Perhaps this is because the source is from the future -- where these events are already past-tense.

Hypothetically, if Future!Bran is the Three-Eyed-Crow, and appears in the dreams of Jojen and his younger self, all he will do is cause the events that already occurred. It might even make sense how Jojen knows when he will die -- because to the sender of the dream, the event is already in the past.

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On 12/9/2017 at 2:00 AM, Skahaz mo Kandaq said:

I think the answer is fate plays a bigger role with some characters than others.

Sure.  The powerful have the means to shape and reshape their environment.  What they do whether by free will or by a path chosen for them will have more effect on the many.  

On 12/10/2017 at 10:40 AM, Faera said:

The only true possible way I could see something could become "destiny" or "fate" is the possibility that Bran can consciously affect the past in his visions, by speaking to them through the tree and them listening. However, everything like this would still be stuck to the same rules Jojen puts forward that you cannot change what the green dreams tell you. Perhaps this is because the source is from the future -- where these events are already past-tense.

I don't think Bran can change the past.  He can see the past and convey that information to people and that has value in itself.  But we have to take this with caution because the information is getting filtered through the mind of a bitter, angry ten-year-old who could likely use that information to avenge his family rather than for anything constructive.  

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7 hours ago, Widowmaker 811 said:

I don't think Bran can change the past. 

I don't think he can change the past, either. I'm very much in favour of the idea that any attempt he makes to change the past simply causes the present to happen in the first place. Try as he might to affect the past and change it, he'll just end up causing what has already occurred. Hence why I think it is stuck to the same rules Jojen applies to Green Dreams -- you can't change what has already been set down.

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I do not believe in predetermination, fate, or karma in real life and through that prism haven't believed in it in ASOIAF though I can accept why in-universe characters can believe in fate or find evidence of their so-called destinies.  I think it makes Danerys potentially more heroic if she accomplishes a great deal of change not because she born/meant to do so, but because the choices she freely made in the situations she found herself in (which were the consequences of choices she and others made).  Her abilities, background, experiences all inform those choices, but they are choices nonetheless.

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I don't want to get into a long philosophical debate on this but I seem to recall the renowned Stephen Hawking commenting that free will doesn't really exist. 

1 hour ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

I do not believe in predetermination, fate, or karma in real life and through that prism haven't believed in it in ASOIAF though I can accept why in-universe characters can believe in fate or find evidence of their so-called destinies.  I think it makes Danerys potentially more heroic if she accomplishes a great deal of change not because she born/meant to do so, but because the choices she freely made in the situations she found herself in (which were the consequences of choices she and others made).  Her abilities, background, experiences all inform those choices, but they are choices nonetheless.

The existence of free will make the story better.

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I think an interesting case about predeterminism is in the case of Rhaego. He was part of a prophecy (the stallion that mounts the world) and we later get a suggestion in the House of the Undying that perhaps there was a version of the future where he could have existed. I don't have an opinion about whether this is a case where fate or destiny was broken/defied or not, but I think it makes for an interesting thought. You could argue the vision was just to tempt Daenerys, but then you get into the trap of people picking and choosing which visions were a "trap" and which were actually prophetic.

Edited by Traverys

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Free Will vs. Predestination in ASOIAF.  It all depends on whether GRRM is truly a 'gardener' vs. an 'architect', respectively.  In the former, the plants have a certain freedom to grow organically, surprising even the one who planted them with their 'choices'; in the latter, the plans are set, the ink dry.  By not finishing the series, he, being the old romantic that he is, is by default ensuring the former, albeit subconsciously.

Edited by ravenous reader

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11 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

I do not believe in predetermination, fate, or karma in real life and through that prism haven't believed in it in ASOIAF though I can accept why in-universe characters can believe in fate or find evidence of their so-called destinies.  I think it makes Danerys potentially more heroic if she accomplishes a great deal of change not because she born/meant to do so, but because the choices she freely made in the situations she found herself in (which were the consequences of choices she and others made).  Her abilities, background, experiences all inform those choices, but they are choices nonetheless.

:agree:

And in ASoIaF everything is about the choices the characters make - or fail to make. 

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On 12/13/2017 at 8:48 PM, Traverys said:

I think an interesting case about predeterminism is in the case of Rhaego. He was part of a prophecy (the stallion that mounts the world) and we later get a suggestion in the House of the Undying that perhaps there was a version of the future where he could have existed. I don't have an opinion about whether this is a case where fate or destiny was broken/defied or not, but I think it makes for an interesting thought. You could argue the vision was just to tempt Daenerys, but then you get into the trap of people picking and choosing which visions were a "trap" and which were actually prophetic.

Those old Dothraki women were having visions but can only express those visions in their own terms.  Terms based on what they know and what they experience.  A horse is a prey animal and a stallion is still a horse only with his balls intact and nothing more.  A god-like leader taking on the form of a horse is not picking the best form factor in terms of fighting ability, but because those women are Dothraki and horses are big parts of their lives they can only express this god-like leader in the form of a stallion.  The Dothraki are dominated by males and a khaleesi do not lead the khals into battle.  Their cultural bias prevented them from seeing the truth being presented right in front of their eyes.  Rhaego was not to be.  It will be the little girl in front of them that will become the leader of the whole Dothraki nation.  The entire world will be her khalasar.  That's my interpretation. 

On your idea that Rhaego is a possible future and the women only saw one possible outcome.  I also think this is possible but then you get into a trap of people picking which visions they like and discarding those which they don't and using it to support the outcome they want to see. 

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On 12/13/2017 at 6:53 PM, James Fenimore Cooper XXII said:

I don't want to get into a long philosophical debate on this but I seem to recall the renowned Stephen Hawking commenting that free will doesn't really exist. 

The existence of free will make the story better.

Does it? 

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8 hours ago, Skahaz mo Kandaq said:

On your idea that Rhaego is a possible future and the women only saw one possible outcome.  I also think this is possible but then you get into a trap of people picking which visions they like and discarding those which they don't and using it to support the outcome they want to see. 

Right, I agree. I don't mean to bring offense, but I am aware of culture, the Dothraki, and their worldview. To me it just seems there must be some significance of the male, silver-haired Dothraki (commonly assumed to be a depiction of Rhaego). To decide that some people are more prophetic than others also enters into traps that people risk when they don't consider all House of the Undying visions equally.

I understand your case that Daenerys is really the "stallion (mare?) the mounts the world" that they predicted. I don't doubt that she could fit this role. But one must also make a connection between our initial interpretation of this prophecy (her unborn son) and the vision she sees in the House of the Undying. There's nothing about Daenerys that is masculine in the traditional sense, so I would find it hard to believe that it was a vision she had of herself.

The vision was intended to cause people to make the connection between the prophecy and the vision of Rhaego in the House of the Undying. What else are we to make of a male, silver-haired dothraki? Going back to her son's death: magic interfered... and magical people often have a knack for prophecy. So is it unreasonable to consider (yes, only a consideration) that prophecy/fate/destiny is part of the universal magic that we witness throughout the series? I honestly don't have a strong opinion, but I'm not convinced that Rhaego was never a possible future. If we say that this particular vision was insignificant, then (as you and I both said), we have to start doubting the significance of all visions provided in that chapter.

All of this, again, is just to point out a unique exception to the predeterminism that otherwise seems to be implied through various prophecies and predictions. I'm not comfortable saying that the Dosh Khaleen were inaccurate (surely horselord seers would know the difference between a mare and a stallion?) and that they were not predicting a future where Rhaego could have existed.

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