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Black Crow

Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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14 hours ago, Black Crow said:

That presupposes first that the threat is real and secondly that it is conventional, ie; a large [and presumably ever expanding] horde advancing south like a Dothraki khalasar but without the horses.

There are fairly basic problems with this though. First, what is their objective and why? The evidence we've had so far, scanty as it is. contradicts the killing all living things, and as we discussed earlier, there's no evidence of a military juggernaut.

That's not to deny that they are mad, bad and very dangerous to know, but their purpose seems a little more sophisticated than that and therefore the nature of the threat dealing with it may similarly be different from simply counting heads and calling for airstrikes

So you're willing to accept the synopsis when it says the story is about Westeros, but not when it claims the Others are a real threat? How were they presented there again? Something along the lines of:

Quote

[...] half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call "life".

I agree that their true motivations and objectives may not be so straightforwardly evil... Perhaps they simply move with the cold and darkness and they clear their nature-granted territory of any potential threats; perhaps they need to posses human corpses in order to reproduce, like the zombie ant fungus, or perhaps they kill and raise the dead out of a distorted sense of compassion, because from their perspective that is a better state of existence - mindless drones, yes, but immune to pain and hunger. But the end result would be the same, a huge threat to the living.

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22 hours ago, Matthew. said:

While I'm not generally a GRRM Optimist, I do think that things will move fast once Long Night 2.0 begins in earnest, especially if he has managed to converge various character journeys by that point in time.

Well, I think the plot will move more quickly, but what that really means is... less chronological time passing in the story.  So the Popsicles will have far less time (to do whatever they're going to do) than they have had before.  

They might be able to make it to Winterfell, eventually... but even that would assume they pretty much just ignore the North as it exists east and west, and instead, zip straight down the kingsroad, like a human on a horse would do. 

Will they do that?  That sure isn't what they did the last five books, which was obviously to proceed not just south, but branch out east and west too.  That's why they were able to force the entire population of free folk south.

So while I agree the plot and characters of the whole series are likely to converge, I think the odds are high that place of convergence will be the North (somewhere south of the Wall).

23 hours ago, LynnS said:

I suspect that the further south one travels from the Wall, the weaker the animating magic.

Well, I think the Wall's wards block that completely, or we would constantly be seeing dead characters south of the Wall popping up as wights.  For instance, everyone killed in the attack on Castle Black in book three, including Ygritte.   (This is also why the corpses Jon had placed in the ice cells in book five, as a test, never turned into wights.)

So if the Wall is breached, it will mean those wards are gone.  But whether the wards are gone or not, the Popsicles won't physically accelerate as they gradually move south.  They seem likeliest to do the same thing they did north of the Wall -- branch out east and west.   And the North is awfully damned big.

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7 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

So you're willing to accept the synopsis when it says the story is about Westeros, but not when it claims the Others are a real threat? How were they presented there again? Something along the lines of:

As I said, the Others are mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that's completely different from suggesting that the threat will manifest itself as a mass invasion finishing up on the Neck or the Trident far less the shores of the Narrow Sea :commie:

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2 hours ago, JNR said:

Well, I think the plot will move more quickly, but what that really means is... less chronological time passing in the story.  So the Popsicles will have far less time (to do whatever they're going to do) than they have had before.  

They might be able to make it to Winterfell, eventually... but even that would assume they pretty much just ignore the North as it exists east and west, and instead, zip straight down the kingsroad, like a human on a horse would do. 

Will they do that?  That sure isn't what they did the last five books, which was obviously to proceed not just south, but branch out east and west too.  That's why they were able to force the entire population of free folk south.

So while I agree the plot and characters of the whole series are likely to converge, I think the odds are high that place of convergence will be the North (somewhere south of the Wall).

I suppose this is getting into the realm of "head canon," and what we imagine the final arc will look like, but these are my expectations: the Wall will fall or fail, and the principal characters will largely be concentrated in Winterfell and King's Landing.

With the above in mind, I think quite a bit will necessarily have to happen off page--eg, places like Last Hearth and the Karhold falling, and that there will be chronological jumps (days, weeks) that are happening between and during chapters; not too dramatically, but my expectation is that we'll get a book that's paced more like AGOT and ACOK.

IMO, the Others as they've currently been handled are moving at the speed of plot, and not necessarily reflective of how they might be handled in either plot or chronological pace once GRRM isn't jumping between 10 - 15 disparate character journeys and political schemes. As I see it, the sluggish pace of the Other plot line is attributable to:

-GRRM wanting to age up Bran, Arya, Sansa, Jon, and Dany a bit, as well as Dany's dragons
-The Wall and the sparse population of the far North naturally keeping the Other threat level in check 

Two things that I think can be mostly addressed over the course of TWOW, to make ADOS a more focused book.

Here's a potentially important question: how will the wight growth rate be handled by GRRM? Will it be methodical and geographical in nature, or can GRRM use the plot conceit of the Wall's wards failing to suggest that all of Westeros is suddenly fair game, and have all of the people that have died from the Wo5K, banditry, food scarcity, and winter begin to rise everywhere, simultaneously, as wights?

If he does the latter, it would certainly go a long way toward bringing the Others front and center for the remainder of the story.

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

Well, I think the plot will move more quickly, but what that really means is... less chronological time passing in the story.  So the Popsicles will have far less time (to do whatever they're going to do) than they have had before.  

They might be able to make it to Winterfell, eventually... but even that would assume they pretty much just ignore the North as it exists east and west, and instead, zip straight down the kingsroad, like a human on a horse would do. 

Will they do that?  That sure isn't what they did the last five books, which was obviously to proceed not just south, but branch out east and west too.  That's why they were able to force the entire population of free folk south.

So while I agree the plot and characters of the whole series are likely to converge, I think the odds are high that place of convergence will be the North (somewhere south of the Wall).

Let's think of this invasion in terms of PoVs and points of interest along the way. At the moment we only have Mel, Davos, Asha and Theon in or around the North. Asha and Theon are down at the Battle of Ice, so they can't show us what happens at the Wall. Mel and Davos will both want to converge towards Stannis as soon as they can, or head to a place in the North they consider friendly, like Karhold (in Mel's case) or White Harbor (in Davos's case), if they believe he is dead.

I don't expected them to stay close to the Wall for more than 3 chapters combined, and it can just as easily be 0 if Davos doesn't stop at Eastwatch. Mel may show us the aftermath of Jon's assassination, but then again she may not. Sometimes major events happen off the page, such as the immediate aftermath of Lysa's murder or Dany chaining her dragons. Even if we do get a Mel chapter continuing from the Ides of Marsh, it could simply show us her escape with Selyse and Shireen, without giving away what happens with everything else.

In any case, the pieces are set for Castle Black to be compromised entirely. Wun Wun ripped a queen's man apart, a bunch of mutinous crows murdered the Lord Commander, and the three factions there don't exactly get along. To top it all off, Jon publicly read the Pink Letter, so everyone "knows" that Stannis is dead and Ramsay is keeping Mance Rayeder in a cage. What, you think this situation will just resolve itself back to the status-quo and Castle Black will remain manned? No, not very likely. Especially without Jon.

I'm not sure how much infighting there will be, but Marsh and everyone loyal to him are certain to die. The Night's Watch as a whole will probably not survive such a blow to its leadership structure; the men will simply desert and either strike out on their own or join one of the other groups, neither of which will want to stay at the Wall. Tormund will want to march on Winterfell to rescue Mance and Arya and avenge Jon, while the Queen's men will either want to avenge Stannis or take Mel, Shireen and Selyse somewhere safe.

That's the Wall done for you, small chance of seeing it attacked. If you want to see it fall, the biggest chance of that is if it happens immediately after Jon's assassination, maybe symbolically as the last man of the Night's Watch abandons his vows (you know it's gonna to be Dolorous Edd if that happens).

 

After that... there are no points of interest between Castle Black and Winterfell and no points of interest between Winterfell and White Harbor or The Neck, so how can George depict a slow advance of the Others in terms of story? Where would the action take place?

Even if we look east and west, we don't have any established PoVs at Deepwood Motte, Eastwatch, Karhold, the Dreadfort, on Bear Isle or with the mountain clans. We will probably get a few strategically placed Mel and Davos PoVs in some of these location, especially Karhold, since it's the likeliest place to take a comatose Jon, but for the most part we'll find out what happens in the rest of the North only as ravens and refugees catch up with the main characters. So even if the invasion happens over a period of months, it has no reason to take too many chapters.

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

As I said, the Others are mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that's completely different from suggesting that the threat will manifest itself as a mass invasion finishing up on the Neck or the Trident far less the shores of the Narrow Sea :commie:

So where is the dramatic weight of the story coming from? You know, I can use combative emoticons too! :fencing:

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Winterfell, and if you'd been around for longer you'd know that the Commie is the heretic avatar :rolleyes:

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5 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Winterfell, and if you'd been around for longer you'd know that the Commie is the heretic avatar :rolleyes:

Winterfell matters more for the wish fulfillment of the readers than it does for the living Stark characters, and for Tyrion, Dany and everyone in the South it doesn't matter at all.

And I've seen you use the commie before, so I knew it had its history, but I just couldn't help mentioning it because it's so amusingly contrarian. :D

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1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

Let's think of this invasion in terms of PoVs and points of interest along the way. At the moment we only have Mel, Davos, Asha and Theon in or around the North. Asha and Theon are down at the Battle of Ice, so they can't show us what happens at the Wall. Mel and Davos will both want to converge towards Stannis as soon as they can, or head to a place in the North they consider friendly, like Karhold (in Mel's case) or White Harbor (in Davos's case), if they believe he is dead.

I don't expected them to stay close to the Wall for more than 3 chapters combined, and it can just as easily be 0 if Davos doesn't stop at Eastwatch. Mel may show us the aftermath of Jon's assassination, but then again she may not. Sometimes major events happen off the page, such as the immediate aftermath of Lysa's murder or Dany chaining her dragons. Even if we do get a Mel chapter continuing from the Ides of Marsh, it could simply show us her escape with Selyse and Shireen, without giving away what happens with everything else.

In any case, the pieces are set for Castle Black to be compromised entirely. Wun Wun ripped a queen's man apart, a bunch of mutinous crows murdered the Lord Commander, and the three factions there don't exactly get along. To top it all off, Jon publicly read the Pink Letter, so everyone "knows" that Stannis is dead and Ramsay is keeping Mance Rayeder in a cage. What, you think this situation will just resolve itself back to the status-quo and Castle Black will remain manned? No, not very likely. Especially without Jon.

I'm not sure how much infighting there will be, but Marsh and everyone loyal to him are certain to die. The Night's Watch as a whole will probably not survive such a blow to its leadership structure; the men will simply desert and either strike out on their own or join one of the other groups, neither of which will want to stay at the Wall. Tormund will want to march on Winterfell to rescue Mance and Arya and avenge Jon, while the Queen's men will either want to avenge Stannis or take Mel, Shireen and Selyse somewhere safe.

That's the Wall done for you, small chance of seeing it attacked. If you want to see it fall, the biggest chance of that is if it happens immediately after Jon's assassination, maybe symbolically as the last man of the Night's Watch abandons his vows (you know it's gonna to be Dolorous Edd if that happens).

 

After that... there are no points of interest between Castle Black and Winterfell and no points of interest between Winterfell and White Harbor or The Neck, so how can George depict a slow advance of the Others in terms of story? Where would the action take place?

Even if we look east and west, we don't have any established PoVs at Deepwood Motte, Eastwatch, Karhold, the Dreadfort, on Bear Isle or with the mountain clans. We will probably get a few strategically placed Mel and Davos PoVs in some of these location, especially Karhold, since it's the likeliest place to take a comatose Jon, but for the most part we'll find out what happens in the rest of the North only as ravens and refugees catch up with the main characters. So even if the invasion happens over a period of months, it has no reason to take too many chapters.

What happens at the Wall depends on if Mel believes the pink letter that Stannis is dead, and if in fact she wrote it herself as I believe. 

If Mel believes Stannis is dead,  she will sink into despair believing she failed and the queensmen likely will fall apart. 

If Mel believes Stannis is alive, or she actually wrote the letter herself,  she and the queensmen will take control of the Watch and Wall.

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3 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

What happens at the Wall depends on if Mel believes the pink letter that Stannis is dead, and if in fact she wrote it herself as I believe. 

If Mel believes Stannis is dead,  she will sink into despair believing she failed and the queensmen likely will fall apart. 

If Mel believes Stannis is alive, or she actually wrote the letter herself,  she and the queensmen will take control of the Watch and Wall.

I think the pink letter is genuine, but it contains two layers of lies: lies told by Ramsay (the battle probably didn't last 7 days, he probably didn't catch all the washerwomen, I believe Squirrel escaped), and lies told to him (Stannis's "defeat" is a ploy to get his men inside the castle dressed as Manderlys and Freys). Whatever Mel believes isn't very relevant to her leaving the Wall; Castle Black will simply not be safe anymore for her with Jon "dead".

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Mel is pretty resourceful and also arrogant enough not to worry even if she should. 

Without Jon, Mel, Bowen Marsh and the Wildlings pretty much represent everyone at the Wall.  The wildlings unlikely want any confrontation and just want safe passage South.  Marsh is probably just glad Jon's gone, worried about his own safety,  and possibly the next LC.  Unlikely these 2 groups start anything, and if they do, it will be killing each other.  Mel will have the upper hand and likely control of the Wall,  and not want to give it up with Stanis alive and the Others on their way.

The letter may be genuine,  but if not, it could be an ingenious strategy to remove Jon.  If genuine,  it has no strategic value,  and just is Bolton being a jerk,  which isn't out of character.  Mel had means, motive and opportunity to write it to kill Jon.

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 8:43 AM, JNR said:

When you said "they establish White Harbor and the Three Sisters," that's the truth of the matter behind those four chapters.   GRRM just seemingly cannot resist the urge to tour Westeros... even when doing so consumes precious chapters he absolutely should not be burning on sightseeing.  

I'm not sure, even now, that he's realized he only has ~140 chapters to wrap the series. That's it.  

If he keeps writing pitstop chapters, simply to show off new bits of his continent, ASOIAF will inevitably go to eight books and the odds he will ever finish will approximate zero.  Even now, at seven books, it's obviously a dicey matter.

Good news, everyone!  Haven't you heard that the publisher has asked Martin to divide TWOW into two separate books?  However, Martin has expressed resistance to this idea.  Nevertheless, division into two books would mean that we should receive TWOW, Part I, soon.*  Part II to shortly follow.  I mean, it has to be mostly finished by now.

*"Soon" being a relative concept around these parts.

Edited by Phillip Frye

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4 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Mel is pretty resourceful and also arrogant enough not to worry even if she should. 

Without Jon, Mel, Bowen Marsh and the Wildlings pretty much represent everyone at the Wall.  The wildlings unlikely want any confrontation and just want safe passage South.  Marsh is probably just glad Jon's gone, worried about his own safety,  and possibly the next LC.  Unlikely these 2 groups start anything, and if they do, it will be killing each other.  Mel will have the upper hand and likely control of the Wall,  and not want to give it up with Stanis alive and the Others on their way.

The letter may be genuine,  but if not, it could be an ingenious strategy to remove Jon.  If genuine,  it has no strategic value,  and just is Bolton being a jerk,  which isn't out of character.  Mel had means, motive and opportunity to write it to kill Jon.

You are forgetting Jon had already rallied the wildlings to go against Bolton. Why would they back down now that he's dead? Mance is still there, his sister supposedly is still in danger, and they have even more reason to avenge him.

Mel might know Stannis isn't dead, but that doesn't mean Castle Black is safe. The wildlings feared Stannis, if they think he's dead there's nothing to stop them from lashing out against Mel and her men if they feel like it. And she made them burn their gods. Also, Mel has no reason to kill Jon, and it's a bit late to get him riled up to help Stannis considering it would take a few weeks for them to reach Winterfell.

Marsh won't have time to become Lord Commander. Jon had a lot of supporters, the plotters are dead, period. And nobody there has any reason to make the Night's Watchmen keep their vows. The wildlings would gladly accept any deserters, and Selys/Mel desperately need men, they probably wouldn't object if some wanted to abandon their vows and join them.

But the biggest question is, why miss a perfect opportunity to move the story along at a faster pace? You all complain that George is slow, but when you're making your own predictions, you want things to change as little as possible.

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5 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

You are forgetting Jon had already rallied the wildlings to go against Bolton. Why would they back down now that he's dead? Mance is still there, his sister supposedly is still in danger, and they have even more reason to avenge him.

Mel might know Stannis isn't dead, but that doesn't mean Castle Black is safe. The wildlings feared Stannis, if they think he's dead there's nothing to stop them from lashing out against Mel and her men if they feel like it. And she made them burn their gods. Also, Mel has no reason to kill Jon, and it's a bit late to get him riled up to help Stannis considering it would take a few weeks for them to reach Winterfell.

Marsh won't have time to become Lord Commander. Jon had a lot of supporters, the plotters are dead, period. And nobody there has any reason to make the Night's Watchmen keep their vows. The wildlings would gladly accept any deserters, and Selys/Mel desperately need men, they probably wouldn't object if some wanted to abandon their vows and join them.

But the biggest question is, why miss a perfect opportunity to move the story along at a faster pace? You all complain that George is slow, but when you're making your own predictions, you want things to change as little as possible.

Jon rallied the wildlings against Bolton.  If they think Jon and Stannis are dead, they are likely unrallied.  If not, they will lash out at the Boltons, not Mel.  They have no reason to stay at the Wall either way. 

Mel spent ADWD trying to convince Jon to listen to her.  She gives up frustrated and leaves right before Jon gets the pink letter. 

I predict based on what I think will happen,  not what I'd like to see happen, although in this case they are the same.   I am in the J=R+L and also J=AA camps,  so Jon is central to the plot, and at least this part is moving fast enough with him dead.  

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20 hours ago, Matthew. said:

IMO, the Others as they've currently been handled are moving at the speed of plot

We agree about a lot in this area -- for instance, that by the end of TWOW, the principal characters will be in the North and King's Landing. 

It seems we're using the concept of an accelerating plot in completely different ways, though.  You seem to see a faster plot to mean that more time passes in the world, and GRRM just doesn't write the middle bits (skipping over them), leading to a faster reading experience.

But I mean less time passes.  For me, by definition, if less time is passing the plot is speeding up (more events/day = faster), and hence if more time passes (fewer events/day), it is slowing down.

So if GRRM decides TWOW is going to cover five years, then sure, the Popsicles could conceivably get south of the neck.  But if TWOW covers six months, then IMO there is no chance.

20 hours ago, Matthew. said:

can GRRM use the plot conceit of the Wall's wards failing to suggest that all of Westeros is suddenly fair game, and have all of the people that have died from the Wo5K, banditry, food scarcity, and winter begin to rise everywhere, simultaneously, as wights?

I think this could conceivably happen, but if it does, wights in warmer places are going to rot much faster (cf "ice preserves") and hence, aren't really what I'd call part of the Popsicle threat. 

Still, it would certainly put the south on high alert and encourage them to unify and get their asses north.  :D

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On 4/30/2018 at 8:47 AM, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Hm. Yeah, that's actually why I asked.  

Oh, you mean: "If we believe GRRM is unquestionably right about the supernatural seasons... why don't we give him similar respect on all ASOIAF topics?"

I think we should. 

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12 hours ago, Phillip Frye said:

Good news, everyone!  Haven't you heard that the publisher has asked Martin to divide TWOW into two separate books?

Heh.  My first reaction was "That only happens with the last item in a series.  Examples being the last Sopranos season and the last Harry Potter movie."

My second reaction was: "TWOW probably is in fact the last book that will be published in ASOIAF."  A sobering thought.

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5 minutes ago, JNR said:

Oh, you mean: "If we believe GRRM is unquestionably right about the supernatural seasons... why don't we give him similar respect on all ASOIAF topics?"

I think we should. 

Well, I hadn't gone that far down the path. What I was really wondering was:

  • What evidence do we have in the text that the length and changing of the seasons in Westeros/Planetos are magically-driven? 

and then, after considering that question for a minute:

  • If Martin hadn't already said that magic was involved, would we have been able to draw that conclusion from the books?

 

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1 hour ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Well, I hadn't gone that far down the path. What I was really wondering was:

  • What evidence do we have in the text that the length and changing of the seasons in Westeros/Planetos are magically-driven? 

and then, after considering that question for a minute:

  • If Martin hadn't already said that magic was involved, would we have been able to draw that conclusion from the books?

 

We have this bit from the world book

Quote

Though the Citadel has long sought to learn the manner by which it may predict the length and change of seasons, all efforts have been confounded. Septon Barth appeared to argue, in a fragmentary treatise, that the inconstancy of the seasons was a matter of magical art rather than trustworthy knowledge. Maester Nicol's The Measure of the Days—otherwise a laudable work containing much of use—seems influenced by this argument. Based upon his work on the movement of stars in the firmament, Nicol argues unconvincingly that the seasons might once have been of a regular length, determined solely by the way in which the globe faces the sun in its heavenly course. The notion behind it seems true enough—that the lengthening and shortening of days, if more regular, would have led to more regular seasons—but he could find no evidence that such was ever the case, beyond the most ancient of tales.

 

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