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Black Crow

Heresy 207 :skinchanging

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1 hour ago, redriver said:

Could it be their hair colour as well?

Possible. But I still don't understand what that has to do with the failed coronation. Don't get me wrong, she will die before Cersei. Maybe before Tommen, maybe after Tommen. But right now she is the crown princess. 

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9 hours ago, Millimidget said:

If anything, I feel Whitetree is meant to serve as our mental template for the tree underneath the Nightfort. If the tree at Whitetree is large and monsterous, the tree beneath the Nightfort is likely that much further beyond the Whitetree as the Whitetree is to other weirwoods. In fact, the Nightfort tree is so wild and crazy, it even has an interactive face (edit: in re-reading this, I have to wonder if that's Bran's face in the Nightfort tree; it would certainly add tremendous significance to the image of the baptismal tear shed by the tree, even if the "tear" is indicative of the presence of salt water in the Wall).

Thank you for this very interesting commentary.  I'm open to other ideas about the nature of the weirwood at the Black Gate since it is so strange bursting through the slate floor to reach through the hole of the roof.  I'm guessing this occurred after the Night Fort was abandoned or the branch would have been removed.  There seems to be a requirement for accessing moonlight.

I question whether or not weirwoods are connected by their root system.  Silver maples propagate not only by the seed they produce but through their roots.  When Bran is instructed to go down into the roots of the tree; he ends up at Winterfell and so I wonder how this is accomplished.   

Perhaps the template is that all weirwoods act as gateways and entering one allows access to any weirwood tree or specifically any weirwood that has been given a face.  We do see Bran appear as a sapling tree in his Ghost-Jon encounter in a place where no tree can exist.

It is the similarity between Bran's sapling state and the tree at the Night Fort that lead me to think that Bran is using the power of the gate to appear to Jon and that the tree at the NF is that same sapling.          

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9 hours ago, Millimidget said:

Beyond that, George's description is plainly of a buried tree; specifically, what is confused for its trunk is merely a branch, hence it being thin, twisted, and reaching. This description, to me, is so obviously of a buried tree I'm somewhat amazed that no ASOIAF theory I've read has correctly identified it as such.

While I have not explicitly said the Black Gate was a buried weirwood, I have stated my belief that the Grey King and the Nights King were the same person, and that the description of the Grey KIng's descent to be with his Drowned God is a symbolic way of saying that the Nights King was forced down the well of the Nightfort and sealed into a cell which became the Black Gate. The octagon shape of the kitchen in the Nightfort implies that the well is also octagon in shape, with a staircase spiraling down. All along the staircase would be cells. The existence of the sapling reaching up through the kitchen suggests that the power that was buried in the Wall is escaping.

5 hours ago, SirArthur said:

And I really don't understand where Mycella's golden crown should be. I see a possibility for her to die in the Kingswood with a molten crown like Viserys. Or at any time fullfilling the prophecy. I just don't understand how the failed coronation can fullfil the prophecy. It's a very loose interpretation. 

In the books Myrcella is not yet dead, so we don't know how GRRM will actually handle this.

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16 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

While I have not explicitly said the Black Gate was a buried weirwood, I have stated my belief that the Grey King and the Nights King were the same person, and that the description of the Grey KIng's descent to be with his Drowned God is a symbolic way of saying that the Nights King was forced down the well of the Nightfort and sealed into a cell which became the Black Gate. The octagon shape of the kitchen in the Nightfort implies that the well is also octagon in shape, with a staircase spiraling down. All along the staircase would be cells. The existence of the sapling reaching up through the kitchen suggests that the power that was buried in the Wall is escaping.

I do like this.  Is the Wall then analogous to the sea dragon, the first and largest of it's kind?

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34 minutes ago, LynnS said:

I do like this.  Is the Wall then analogous to the sea dragon, the first and largest of it's kind?

I came back to add that the weirwood sapling is more of a "drowned tree" than a buried tree. The Wall is made of frozen water after all, and the Ironborn connection that I have theorized about would be analogous to a sea dragon. Ice burns just as fire does. I've also suggested - maybe not on this thread but another - that the white walkers could be said to be ice dragons, because of the burning qualities of ice. The Grey King was said to have made Nagga his thrall and heated his hall with her "living flame". Surely this is more symbolic than literal?

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

I came back to add that the weirwood sapling is more of a "drowned tree" than a buried tree. The Wall is made of frozen water after all, and the Ironborn connection that I have theorized about would be analogous to a sea dragon. Ice burns just as fire does. I've also suggested - maybe not on this thread but another - that the white walkers could be said to be ice dragons, because of the burning qualities of ice. The Grey King was said to have made Nagga his thrall and heated his hall with her "living flame". Surely this is more symbolic than literal?

If the Wall is constructed using both fire and ice magic; it may be that the Grey King tapped into the that power, just as Mel suggests can be done, to warm his halls.  The undying also tried to steal 'fire' from Dany by trapping her in the HoU.

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41 minutes ago, LynnS said:

If the Wall is constructed using both fire and ice magic; it may be that the Grey King tapped into the that power, just as Mel suggests can be done, to warm his halls.  The undying also tried to steal 'fire' from Dany by trapping her in the HoU.

Funny you should mention tapping into the power to warm his walls, because that’s exactly what’s happening at Winterfell. Warmed water runs through the walls. To me this is another connection to the Ironborn...having “watery” walls.

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13 hours ago, Millimidget said:

it's extremely unlikely the weirwood underneath the Nightfort (really, the weirwood the Nightfort was built on top of) is connected to the weirwood at Whitetree.

By "connected," what do you mean?

I think Bran's last ADWD chapter more or less establishes that all weirwoods are connected in some sense.  We see him skinchange a local weirwood in Bloodraven's cave, and yet despite that, he's still able to access memories of the Winterfell heart tree, which is about seven hundred miles to the south. 

Re your idea about the Black Gate, that has definitely been suggested in Heresy various times over the years -- here's a fairly recent example -- so you have some company there. 

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

Funny you should mention tapping into the power to warm his walls, because that’s exactly what’s happening at Winterfell. Warmed water runs through the walls. To me this is another connection to the Ironborn...having “watery” walls.

Nice!  I like that too.

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9 hours ago, JNR said:

By "connected," what do you mean?

I think Bran's last ADWD chapter more or less establishes that all weirwoods are connected in some sense.

here's a fairly recent example

By connected, I mean some of the ideas I've read which suggest they're physically connected, at the least by a sizeable root system, with some of the more extreme suggesting it was a branch from the tree at Whitetree. I agree that there's a possible metaphysical connection between the weirwoods, but I'm skeptical that it would be a physical connection. The distances involved seem too great for what appears to be a slow growing, uncommon tree.

I did a double take when I read the date on your "recent" example, until I noticed the year on it. I'll need to read through that thread when I get a chance, and see where it took you.

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For the amount of roots in BR's cave, I assumed they were all physically connected.  Certainly too many roots there to be 1 tree, and we don't even see a tree.  

Maybe this is why weirwoods grow so slow, we see this with ordinary trees.  Pines with shallow roots grow so quickly they can topple under their own weight.  Most of the trees with the deepest roots on record are slow growing short shrubs.

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15 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'm open to other ideas about the nature of the weirwood at the Black Gate since it is so strange bursting through the slate floor to reach through the hole of the roof.  I'm guessing this occurred after the Night Fort was abandoned or the branch would have been removed.

It is the similarity between Bran's sapling state and the tree at the Night Fort that lead me to think that Bran is using the power of the gate to appear to Jon and that the tree at the NF is that same sapling.          

Thank you for your kind words.

I agree, if the branch was visible when the Watch still manned the Nightfort, it would have been removed. Clearly, the Watch had already forgotten much by the time of Jaehaerys' and Alyssane's visit.

I took a moment to research a bit into the silver maple you mentioned. It's an interesting tree, and I especially like that it is known to be a "vigorous resprouter," as such a trait could explain why so many weirwoods were still available to be cut down around the time of Aegon's conquest. Still, so many characteristics of the silver maple seem alien to George's weirwoods. They're fast growing, do well (enough) in an urban environment, produce brittle wood, and only live about a century, their 80-130 year average lifespan being an interesting (and no doubt coincidental) parallel to the intervals between Mance and Raymund Redbeard, and between Redbeard and where I believe Bael fits into the timeline.

Weirwoods as gateways or portals is certainly an interesting concept, and one which I'm sure this board will (re-)explore at some point.

Your last sentence has produced a very intriguing image for me. If Bran and the face in the Nightfort weirwood are connected in the sense that Bran is the face, seeing the desperate branch before seeing the face of the weirwood (a proxy for the full grown weirwood) parallels witnessing the lifecycle of the Nightfort tree. It wouldn't be possible (for Bran) to see the Nightfort weirwood as a sapling (outside of a greenvision), and so this twisted little branch serves as a stand-in.

15 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

While I have not explicitly said the Black Gate was a buried weirwood, I have stated my belief that the Grey King and the Nights King were the same person, and that the description of the Grey KIng's descent to be with his Drowned God is a symbolic way of saying that the Nights King was forced down the well of the Nightfort and sealed into a cell which became the Black Gate.

Certainly an interesting connection.

14 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The Grey King was said to have made Nagga his thrall and heated his hall with her "living flame".

Is that to say that the Grey King is symbolic of Azor Ahai forging Lightbringer by quenching it in the heart of Nissa Nissa? Or maybe the stories of Azor Ahai and Night's King are symbolic of the Grey King? Night's King embodies ice; Azor Ahai embodies fire; the Grey King embodies both fire and ice, and was apparently a powerful greenseer to boot as based on the 1,000 year lifespan.

As for the Ironborn, I see them as Essosian sailors who brought a military force to Westeros to win the Battle for the Dawn and end the Long Night. I can't recall their having any traditions regarding the Long Night, which could be indicative that they experienced it in a very different way from the masses.

They certainly don't seem to be connected to the "First Men," nor do they seem to be Andals. They may have some connection with the Rhoynar, and this could be a possible origin for them; the departure of a significant number of surviving Rhoynar males would leave an opening for a matriarchal society. Their social structure is embodied in few places, most notably the Wall. They adhere to a duotheistic religion, and there's reason to believe Westeros' duotheistic religions originated in Essos. And, for a people who spend much of their life at sea on wooden vessels, they have a surprising amount of fire imagery connected to them.

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Off the subject of skin changing (we are already) I reread Mel's chapter last night when it came up on this thread and was wondering...

Is there any historical precedent for The Slaves of R'hllor?  Most (if not all) societies with slavery had some sort of caste system.  Slaves are the lowest, and priests are the highest or somewhere up there.  I can't think of any society in our history where the religious would consider buying slaves and making them into priests.  This is very different from the handful of Christian Saints who happened to start life as slaves, were freed through no act of the Church, and chose to serve God on their own.

I was wondering what motivates Mel and noticed she asks like she is still a slave.  She is a true believer, but she certainly is not open to putting herself into her god's hands and trusting his will - she has a few quotes that are very much against that:

"Many a priest and priestess before her had been brought down by false visions". 
"R’hllor provided her with all the nourishment her body needed, but that was something best concealed from mortal men" 
"Her sleeves were full of hidden pockets, and she checked them carefully as she did every morning to make certain all her powders were in place". 
"With such sorceries at her command, she should soon have no more need of the feeble tricks of alchemists and pyromancers."
"She made it sound a simple thing, and easy. They need never know how difficult it had been, or how much it had cost her. That was a lesson Melisandre had learned long before Asshai; the more effortless the sorcery appears, the more men fear the sorcerer"

She is very much afraid of failing, and very much seeks to be feared and respected, resorting to tricks or whatever means necessary to accomplish this.  She doesn't act like a desperate crusader determine to win against evil at all costs.  She is driven by fear of failure - more so fear of failure that she didn't perform her part as expected than fear that R'hllor will lose his fight.  It is almost as if she is trying to please a human boss, meet expectations for some sort of quota, or avoid punishment.  She could be brainwashed, magically bound, or simply under the command of someone more powerful.

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

Off the subject of skin changing (we are already) I reread Mel's chapter last night when it came up on this thread and was wondering...

Is there any historical precedent for The Slaves of R'hllor?

After reading a bit of this source I found for you, you need look no further than the Old Testament (ie Judaism). I have to say, it was an awful search to perform, as google was disturbingly fixated on pushing results linking various Christian denominations to slavery, with over 95% of the 160 results I went through focused on that topic.

But, the source I link pretty much nails what you are looking for, and does so in a larger context than you expected. Not only does the Torah contain your example of a priestly class which is enslaved to the divine, they're enslaved explicitly as a replacement offering for first born sons and first born animals. If I have it correct,  the agreement to provide the first born as an offering to the Lord comes at the beginning of Exodus Chapter 13, just as the Israelites exit Egypt. This agreement is later modified, in Exodus Chapter 32 (or thereabouts), following the worshipping of the golden calf. The priestly class had remained faithful, and as such were considered pure enough to serve as payment in lieu of the first born.

Further, this "payment" was not a onetime event, but a recurring payment every generation. It was actually a package deal, consisting of the priestly class, their animals, and a small monetary compensation to offset the difference between the number of first born exchanged for the number of priests. It is literally described as a ransom. Numbers Chapter 3 apparently describes the first such exchange, while Numbers Chapter 18 confirms that it was a recurring payment each generation.

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22 minutes ago, Millimidget said:

Is that to say that the Grey King is symbolic of Azor Ahai forging Lightbringer by quenching it in the heart of Nissa Nissa? Or maybe the stories of Azor Ahai and Night's King are symbolic of the Grey King? Night's King embodies ice; Azor Ahai embodies fire; the Grey King embodies both fire and ice, and was apparently a powerful greenseer to boot as based on the 1,000 year lifespan.

As for the Ironborn, I see them as Essosian sailors who brought a military force to Westeros to win the Battle for the Dawn and end the Long Night. I can't recall their having any traditions regarding the Long Night, which could be indicative that they experienced it in a very different way from the masses.

They certainly don't seem to be connected to the "First Men," nor do they seem to be Andals. They may have some connection with the Rhoynar, and this could be a possible origin for them; the departure of a significant number of surviving Rhoynar males would leave an opening for a matriarchal society. Their social structure is embodied in few places, most notably the Wall. They adhere to a duotheistic religion, and there's reason Westeros' duotheistic religions originated in Essos. And, for a people who spend much of their life at sea on wooden vessels, they have a surprising amount of fire imagery connected to them.

Ice burns just as fire does, so maybe that is the "fire" imagery you are seeing?

Azor Ahai seems to be more of an Esso myth, but his story has some shared elements such as facing a great darkness and fighting it with a magical sword. That being said I don't think he applies to anyone in Westeros. Essos had their own darkness during the Doom, as well as the darkness in the mythos of the people of the Rhoyne calling out to their gods to end the darkness, so it would seem both continents have similar stories. It would be no different than the real world global flood stories from our earth. Noah's was the Biblical version, but it's not the only recorded one.

I was theorizing on another thread that perhaps the reason why the Grey King lived so long was due to greyscale. The disease has much in common with what ails the dead wights. It's currently spread by touch, but the first cases were attributed to the fogs that came after Garin the Great called upon his water god to drown out the dragonlords. The greyscale disease is carried by this fog that still permeates the area around the Bridge of Dreams, and I might point out that fog is made of moisture filled currents of air. The dead north of the Wall are also raised by currents of air typically full of snow and extremely cold winds, but it appears to raise the dead only temporarily. It's more of an animation that is drawing upon the spirits trapped in the bones. We know this, because if the bone is cracked open the limb ceases to move. Presumably the cracking open to the marrow releases the spirit, so there's nothing left to animate. Greyscale, on the other hand, attacks the living, and slowly changes the skin of the infected into a hardened, stone-like exterior, trapping the living soul inside. It would seem that greyscale may even prevent people from dying. The Grey King was said to have a grey shade to his skin-tone, but perhaps the reason why it was grey was due to greyscale? It would also explain his long life. 

The connection to water and air seems to imply that the Ironborn, the wildlings, and the Rhoynar may share common origins. There are a lot of Rhoynar parallels to the wildlings that The Fattest Leach has identified and discusses in her Nymeria thread. There also seems to be compelling evidence that greyscale and whatever inflicts the wights might be the same disease. The cold rising wind could be changing (preserving) the way greyscale works in freezing temperatures so that it only infects and reanimates the spirits of the dead.

The Ironborn are most definitely First Men. The term itself doesn't really indicate people from one particular region, but rather it simply refers to the earliest immigrants to Westeros. IMO the wildlings beyond the Wall are the descendants of the same First Men that the Ironborn are, and that since they were not allied with the Children they were referred to as "the Others". That left the men that were allied with the Children as retaining the lineage of "First Men".

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2 hours ago, Millimidget said:

I agree that there's a possible metaphysical connection between the weirwoods, but I'm skeptical that it would be a physical connection.

A physical connection has been discussed many times too -- the usual comparison drawn is to aspen colonies in places like Utah.  But it's plain weirwoods are fundamentally magical forms of life, so I agree a physical link is not necessarily the case.

2 hours ago, Millimidget said:

I did a double take when I read the date on your "recent" example, until I noticed the year on it. I'll need to read through that thread when I get a chance, and see where it took you.

Well, Heresy goes back about six years, so a post only one year old is pretty newfangled.  

But the concept I've posted several times is the exact same as the one you did: that the "tree" in the Nightfort kitchen is a branch, only a part of a far larger and older weirwood, and that the face of that ancient weirwood is what we call the Black Gate.  

Which of course is exactly why the face appears to be so incredibly old: it is.

If you read the World book, you will see a reference to the Three Singers at Highgarden, cited as triple heart trees located very close to each other, their branches entangled.  I've suggested in the past that this is another instance of the same thing we see at the Nightfort, and is in reality only one weirwood of extreme age, with its primary trunk buried under ground level.

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On 02/04/2018 at 5:15 AM, Black Crow said:

Ultimately I suspect that these weaknesses are deliberate; that we are meant to reflect on the absurdities of such a high wall that can be by-passed and therefore, as we miserable heretics do, question whether it is a man-made structure and what its real purpose might be.

:agree:

On 02/04/2018 at 1:51 PM, Brad Stark said:

Despite GRRM saying Stanis is very much alive,  I feel otherwise.   His life force is tapped by Mel, and his death seems needed to further the plot around Mel and Jon.  He never had the depth of personality of many characters who got less screen time.  There really isn't much he can do to contribute to the story except die.  His time is imminent. 

I'm not sure about this. He looks poised to win the battle in the snow, which would set him up to take Winterfell (potentially). He would then hold a very strong castle and be "free" from Mel while he is there. With winter upon him, it seems unlikely he would leave the castle and return to the Wall; rather, he could stay to "wait out the storm" as the King in the North. (Ha ha. He is a king, and happens to be in the North.) Maybe he'll marry Shireen to Rickon (if Mel doesn't burn her first). Maybe Mel will burn her first, and he will finally see her for what she is and denounce her, leaving Jon to deal with her. He may even set aside Selyse if she participated, and marry Sansa to unite the North under his rule - giving us the long anticipated Stark-Baratheon marriage. [This could lead to an interesting dilemma if Davos does deliver Rickon later on - though I expect Stannis would return Winterfell to him, since he is the rightful heir and Stannis is all about justice.] With Stannis in Winterfell, it could be undead Jon who ends up ruling from the Nightfort.... (how's that for a twist!).

On the other hand, if Stannis does return to the Wall and set up shop at the Nightfort, I expect he'll be around for some time. After all, the Night will be His to rule. 

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7 hours ago, Millimidget said:

After reading a bit of this source I found for you, you need look no further than the Old Testament (ie Judaism). I have to say, it was an awful search to perform, as google was disturbingly fixated on pushing results linking various Christian denominations to slavery, with over 95% of the 160 results I went through focused on that topic.

But, the source I link pretty much nails what you are looking for, and does so in a larger context than you expected. Not only does the Torah contain your example of a priestly class which is enslaved to the divine, they're enslaved explicitly as a replacement offering for first born sons and first born animals. If I have it correct,  the agreement to provide the first born as an offering to the Lord comes at the beginning of Exodus Chapter 13, just as the Israelites exit Egypt. This agreement is later modified, in Exodus Chapter 32 (or thereabouts), following the worshipping of the golden calf. The priestly class had remained faithful, and as such were considered pure enough to serve as payment in lieu of the first born.

Further, this "payment" was not a onetime event, but a recurring payment every generation. It was actually a package deal, consisting of the priestly class, their animals, and a small monetary compensation to offset the difference between the number of first born exchanged for the number of priests. It is literally described as a ransom. Numbers Chapter 3 apparently describes the first such exchange, while Numbers Chapter 18 confirms that it was a recurring payment each generation.

This is a very different situation.  The Levites were a priestly class that were slaves in a metaphorical sense. You were born a Levite, you were born a priest.  Mel, on the other hand, seems sold to the highest bidder.  The Levites would never consider buying gentile slaves to expand their ranks, or selling their own to be slaves to the gentiles.

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Ygritte asserts that the Wall was built to keep wildlings out:

You know nothing, Jon Snow. Daughters are taken, not wives. You’re the ones who steal. You took the whole world, and built the Wall t’ keep the free folk out.” 

  “Did we?” Sometimes Jon forgot how wild she was, and then she would remind him. “How did that happen?” 

  “The gods made the earth for all men t’ share. Only when the kings come with their crowns and steel swords, they claimed it was all theirs. My trees, they said, you can’t eat them apples. My stream, you can’t fish here. My wood, you’re not t’ hunt. My earth, my water, my castle, my daughter, keep your hands away or I’ll chop ’em off, but maybe if you kneel t’ me I’ll let you have a sniff. You call us thieves, but at least a thief has t’ be brave and clever and quick. A kneeler only has t’ kneel.”

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

Ygritte asserts that the Wall was built to keep wildlings out

...by the First Men.  

1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

You took the whole world, and built the Wall t’ keep the free folk out.

That's the interesting bit to me.  

Whatever secret knowledge she may have of the Wall that those south of it lack... that knowledge appears to agree with Jeor Mormont's statement that the Wall was built by the First Men... and wasn't something built by the Others that the First Men stumbled onto one day.

5 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

He looks poised to win the battle in the snow, which would set him up to take Winterfell (potentially).

Agree to the first, not at all sure about the second.  Beating the Boltons on territory he controls, for the moment, is not at all the same as successfully storming Winterfell with its double granite walls eighty and a hundred feet tall.  

Given the horrific weather and the damage his forces have already taken, and will take further in a battle, and the near-total lack of local food to be found... I have no clear idea how Stannis could take Winterfell without inside help.

I can, however, picture Jon being resurrected and ultimately joining Stannis with the wildlings at his back, which might make a considerable difference.

BTW, I still really like your idea that the double Winterfell walls were constructed to create a killing field for a mob of wights and/or Popsicles.  Shoot a few fire arrows down from the inner wall, and the ultra-flammable freeze-dried wights are toast in short order.

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