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Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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9 hours ago, JNR said:

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.

I suppose I was imagining that when the Wall falls, proper Long Night weather conditions would also be well under way. Even if there is some limit on the Other's capacity to raise the dead (besides the Wall's wards), individual Others might conceivably travel faster via wight horse, or pale spider, and spread themselves out to begin raising the dead that have been left behind by the Wo5K.

Either way, the Others have an army of corpses waiting for them, thanks to a variety of factors in the first several books; I'd never imagined them as a threat that would move as a singular mass, but that Westeros would find itself under widespread siege, with several concurrent battles for survival taking place, with the "most important," for lack of a better phrase, being centered around Winterfell.

I'd assumed the assaults of the Others would take the form of a multi-front siege because the wights have no morale that needs to be maintained, no need for supply lines, and no need for sleep--and every bit of attrition from starvation, cold, in-fighting, and conflicts with the wights just expands their pool of potential soldiers.

Similarly, just as there are elements of the first five books that will escalate the Other threat, I'm also assuming that various things we've seen thus far will come into play as a part of the resistance/battle for survival: dragonglass, wildfire, Valyrian steel, burning swords, warded locations such as Storm's End, etc.; I may be wrong, but I'm assuming that GRRM has a lot of his 'pieces' in place for Long Night 2.0 to unfold in relatively dramatic fashion once the Wall has failed. :dunno:

"Pieces" here meaning various plot elements that I'm assuming will come back into relevance in the end game, and not the characters themselves; on that front, one must wonder if they will ever be in place to get the ball rolling on the final arc.

Edit: However, for clarity, I agree that the Others themselves will not push south of the Neck en masse - assuming that more than a handful of them exist - anytime soon (if ever), and that the threat to the south will primarily be the rising dead and the long winter.

Edited by Matthew.

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14 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?  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.

Where did you hear or read this spectacular news? From what I've read, GRRM is pissed at the readers right now for dissing his newest releases, and is punishing us all by announcing that he's going to discontinue releasing sample chapters and will no longer read samples at appearances.

20 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

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".

IMO Mance wrote the pink letter to lure Jon to Winterfell, and I believe it was part of the plan all along. Long-theory-short the Starks of old took Winterfell from (______?) and forced this person, along with his/her family and their followers beyond the Wall. Mance has a plan to take it back by first getting Jon to allow the wildlings through the Wall with the retaking of Winterfell being part two. The blizzard emanating out of Winterfell is the Wall disintegrating and exhausting through the underground tunnels. I am expecting that along with the blizzard - the cold winds will bring magic and we'll soon see white walkers raising the dead within Winterfell. Theon told Stannis that the castle was "filled with ghosts". He knows that there are swords missing from crypts and the dead are already rising.

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1 hour ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

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?

 

I think the way Old Nan tells the tale of the Long Night - with the Others first appearing during a long, brutal winter - does invite the reader to make an association between the emergence of the Others and the long winter--and, by extension, an association between the seasons and magic.

IMO, things like the Doom, the philosophy of the Red Priesthood, the suggestion that fire magic is strengthening, and the title of the series are all things that might lead one to naturally associate the seasons and magic.

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23 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

Where did you hear or read this spectacular news? From what I've read, GRRM is pissed at the readers right now for dissing his newest releases, and is punishing us all by announcing that he's going to discontinue releasing sample chapters and will no longer read samples at appearances.

This is the actual phrase used by GRRM in one of his comments in his blog:

Quote

Some of my publishers have suggested breaking up WINDS as we did with FEAST and DANCE. I am resisting that notion.

if he gets away with it, the hardcover TWOW will be a very heavy book

Edited by Tucu

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45 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I suppose I was imagining that when the Wall falls, proper Long Night weather conditions would also be well under way. Even if there is some limit on the Other's capacity to raise the dead (besides the Wall's wards), individual Others might conceivably travel faster via wight horse, or pale spider, and spread themselves out to begin raising the dead that have been left behind by the Wo5K.

Either way, the Others have an army of corpses waiting for them, thanks to a variety of factors in the first several books; I'd never imagined them as a threat that would move as a singular mass, but that Westeros would find itself under widespread siege, with several concurrent battles for survival taking place, with the "most important," for lack of a better phrase, being centered around Winterfell.

I'd assumed the assaults of the Others would take the form of a multi-front siege because the wights have no morale that needs to be maintained, no need for supply lines, and no need for sleep--and every bit of attrition from starvation, cold, in-fighting, and conflicts with the wights just expands their pool of potential soldiers.

Similarly, just as there are elements of the first five books that will escalate the Other threat, I'm also assuming that various things we've seen thus far will come into play as a part of the resistance/battle for survival: wildfire, Valyrian steel, burning swords, warded locations such as Storm's End, etc.; I may be wrong, but I'm assuming that GRRM has a lot of his 'pieces' in place for Long Night 2.0 to unfold in relatively dramatic fashion once the Wall has failed. :dunno:

Edit: However, for clarity, I agree that the Others themselves will not push south of the Neck en masse - assuming that more than a handful of them exist - anytime soon (if ever), and that the threat to the south will primarily be the rising dead and the long winter.

I have a hypothesis that Mance will be responsible for bringing down the Wall and unintentionally  triggering the emergence of the WW at full strength. He was obsessed with searching tombs and crypts looking for the Horn of Winter; later he was looking for the door of the crypts of Winterfell. Once the Wall is down, all the magic contained in it combined with the winter will multiply the number of white shadows. Melisandre managed to create two shadow assassins out of Stannis' magical lineage; how many can we get from the magic stored in the Wall?

 

Edited by Tucu

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43 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

From what I've read, GRRM is pissed at the readers right now for dissing his newest releases, and is punishing us all by announcing that he's going to discontinue releasing sample chapters and will no longer read samples at appearances.

Isn't this because he doesn't HAVE any more chapters, sample or otherwise, to read? That would indicate that he is indeed writing the book. The sample chapters so far have been chapters excluded from Dance because of book length, I think. 

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21 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Winterfell matters more for the wish fulfillment of the readers than it does for the living Stark characters.

 

That statement at least is nonsense. Jon and Winterfell are intertwined and likewise Sansa with her snowflake communion and building a model of the place, while Bran although forced to journey north is still very closely attached.

On the other hand is you're looking for wish fulfillment, that appears to be found in Essos:D

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Anent POVs on the Wall, its an interesting question. We have only really had two and one of them may or may not be dead. Mel I'm inclined to discount. All things are possible of course but I saw her guest appearance as just that, a chance to explain the reasonings behind an important but mysterious character, but nothing more.

An entirely new POV is possible, but like Mel any new one is just going to be a guest appearance to explain something that can't be explained from the outside.

My money would be on Jon. Varamyr told us a lot about skinchanging, though some of it seems unreliable and Bran has also given us more insight from a slightly different perspective, both in ADwD. I think that more needs to be revealed and ultimately along with that the connection between the Starks and things that go bump in the night. I can easily see the events at the Wall being narrated/experienced by Jon, perhaps at first through Ghost's eyes, as he adjusts to his altered state and reveals what it is like to be dead.

Its worth remember that GRRM has split his POVs geographically before, leaving the north untouched while he concentrated on events elsewhere. Jon could be the first POV on the Wall [or beyond] following his assassination but that doesn't have to be in the first hundred pages of the book.

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

IMO Mance wrote the pink letter to lure Jon to Winterfell, and I believe it was part of the plan all along. Long-theory-short the Starks of old took Winterfell from (______?) and forced this person, along with his/her family and their followers beyond the Wall. Mance has a plan to take it back by first getting Jon to allow the wildlings through the Wall with the retaking of Winterfell being part two. The blizzard emanating out of Winterfell is the Wall disintegrating and exhausting through the underground tunnels. I am expecting that along with the blizzard - the cold winds will bring magic and we'll soon see white walkers raising the dead within Winterfell. Theon told Stannis that the castle was "filled with ghosts". He knows that there are swords missing from crypts and the dead are already rising.

I like the idea of the dead rising at Winterfell before the Others "officially" march down past the Wall, maybe as @Tucu said, via more white shadows being born there, but I don't think Mance plotted anything. It would be too complicated and there's no set up for it. One of the rules I go by is, if the twist is there just for shock value, it's probably wrong. If it ties together nicely into the overall arc, then it has a chance to be correct.

I think most of us want to Pink Letter to be written by someone else because the implications are just so horrible, but if you put what he's done to the wildling women and Mance out of your mind, it's a lot more interesting if it's true, because it gives an insight into one episode from the Battle of Winterfell we're probably not going to see directly. If Stannis's men gain access to the castle by dressing up as Freys, neither Asha nor Theon are likely to be part of it, so the letter will be the closest thing we've got to a live witness.

We know someone entered the castle and brought Ramsay Lightbringer and maybe a few heads, we know something happened to Roose because Ramsay refers to himself as the Lord of Winterfell and the recipient of these trophies, and the smear of wax instead of the seal suggest some commotion had started as he was finishing the letter and he had it sent in a hurry, probably just before going out to see what was going on. I expect a second letter to arrive soon announcing Stannis's victory, but it will come too late.

1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Anent POVs on the Wall, its an interesting question. We have only really had two and one of them may or may not be dead. Mel I'm inclined to discount. All things are possible of course but I saw her guest appearance as just that, a chance to explain the reasonings behind an important but mysterious character, but nothing more.

An entirely new POV is possible, but like Mel any new one is just going to be a guest appearance to explain something that can't be explained from the outside.

My money would be on Jon. Varamyr told us a lot about skinchanging, though some of it seems unreliable and Bran has also given us more insight from a slightly different perspective, both in ADwD. I think that more needs to be revealed and ultimately along with that the connection between the Starks and things that go bump in the night. I can easily see the events at the Wall being narrated/experienced by Jon, perhaps at first through Ghost's eyes, as he adjusts to his altered state and reveals what it is like to be dead.

Its worth remember that GRRM has split his POVs geographically before, leaving the north untouched while he concentrated on events elsewhere. Jon could be the first POV on the Wall [or beyond] following his assassination but that doesn't have to be in the first hundred pages of the book.

I have some reservation about Mel getting more chapters, but I think she's more likely than Jon for the time being, and it's not like we have a third option at Castle Black. I know we all expect Jon to be brought back, and it's highly likely his consciousness will spend some time inside Ghost, but that's not the kind of thing George would reveal right away.

The pacing has to be set for fresh, unspoiled readers, not obsessive theorists who think they already know, so it's almost certain we'll spend a part of the story pretending Jon is dead, like it happened with Bran and Rickon in Clash and with Dany after she flew on Drogon. Then we might get a Ghost chapter shortly before he is resurrected, but I doubt there would be more, because realistically, what can you show from the PoV of a wolf? Assuming things don't get cheesy, like Ghost writing stuff in the snow and presiding over councils.

I'll actually even say we might not get a Jon PoV for a long time after he is resurrected either... It would be the perfect way for George to create some mystery - let readers ask themselves whether or not that's really "Jon" or a wight, a husk like Beric or a puppet controlled by someone else - and at the same time manage his characters efficiently, since this would give Davos and Asha, and maybe Theon and Mel, a reason to remain relevant as PoVs. Going straight into Jon's head would diminish that mystery, and following him around as Ghost for several chapters would be silly when there are human characters that can relay a lot more information more realistically.

Edit: So, to frame my theory in accordance with the above, Jon will only come back after the Others invade and Stannis goes to face them on a suicide mission; in the meantime we might get one solitary Ghost PoV; the last we will see of Stannis will be in a Mel PoV as she finally abandons him; Jon will be resurrected, but with Stannis defeated there won't be enough men to fight back against the Others; Jon will decide to take all survivors to White Harbor and flee by sea; we will see the events of White Harbor through Asha, Davos, Theon and Mel PoV chapters, their arrival to Braavos will be the second or third Arya chapter, and after all that we will get the first genuine Jon chapter in Winds. I believe this goes a long way to solving the issue with the number of chapters needed to depict these events.

Edited by The Coconut God

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34 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

I like the idea of the dead rising at Winterfell before the Others "officially" march down past the Wall, maybe as @Tucu said, via more white shadows being born there, but I don't think Mance plotted anything. It would be too complicated and there's no set up for it. One of the rules I go by is, if the twist is there just for shock value, it's probably wrong. If it ties together nicely into the overall arc, then it has a chance to be correct.

There is a setup.  Most readers just don't recognize that it has been hiding in plain site. The Fattest Leach collected some of my ideas and started a reread thread for me so it's not under my name, but it's my theory. In a nutshell the wildlings are the Others. I think its kind of telling that we have restricted POVs at the Wall, because maybe we won't need one? Most ofl the action will now center around Winterfell, but I wouldn't rule out a "dreamy-near-death" Jon POV similar to Varamyr when he died, except instead of experiencing "true death" he's pulled back into his body somehow.

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

There is a setup.  Most readers just don't recognize that it has been hiding in plain site. The Fattest Leach collected some of my ideas and started a reread thread for me so it's not under my name, but it's my theory. In a nutshell the wildlings are the Others. I think its kind of telling that we have restricted POVs at the Wall, because maybe we won't need one? Most ofl the action will now center around Winterfell, but I wouldn't rule out a "dreamy-near-death" Jon POV similar to Varamyr when he died, except instead of experiencing "true death" he's pulled back into his body somehow.

A possible link between the Others and the wildlings is hinted in the world book

Quote

Archmaester Fomas's Lies of the Ancients—though little regarded these days for its erroneous claims regarding the founding of Valyria and certain lineal claims in the Reach and westerlands—does speculate that the Others of legend were nothing more than a tribe of the First Men, ancestors of the wildlings, that had established itself in the far north. Because of the Long Night, these early wildlings were then pressured to begin a wave of conquests to the south. That they became monstrous in the tales told thereafter, according to Fomas, reflects the desire of the Night's Watch and the Starks to give themselves a more heroic identity as saviors of mankind, and not merely the beneficiaries of a struggle over dominion.

I would expect the relationship to be subtle. The Others would end being a conspiracy of leaders of some groups of CoTF, some tribes of First Men and the weirwoods; first created to survive the Long Night, ended by Brandon the Breaker and now reborn to survive the clash of Ice and Fire.

 

Edited by Tucu

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37 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

There is a setup.  Most readers just don't recognize that it has been hiding in plain site. The Fattest Leach collected some of my ideas and started a reread thread for me so it's not under my name, but it's my theory. In a nutshell the wildlings are the Others. I think its kind of telling that we have restricted POVs at the Wall, because maybe we won't need one? Most ofl the action will now center around Winterfell, but I wouldn't rule out a "dreamy-near-death" Jon POV similar to Varamyr when he died, except instead of experiencing "true death" he's pulled back into his body somehow.

What does this lead to, though?

Are the wildlings treacherous and evil? So the people who wanted to let them die were right all along? It feels like an oddly right wing message from a decidedly leftist writer. "You may feel empathy and compassion towards those people on the other side of the border; in your mercy, you may tempted to let them come into your country, but just remember they're only trying to manipulate you so they can stab you in the back!!"

Are they supposed to be better plotters that Illyrion, Varys, Tywin, Littlefinger, etc? It sounds like a very complicated plan compared to their means and their knowledge. And what about the wildlings that we know are harmed or killed by the Others because it's been confirmed by third party characters? Such as Cotter's Pike letter from Hardhome and the Lyseni whose ship is requisitioned in Braavos, to name a few.

I can see the Others being of wildling and/or Ironborn descent, and I can see the wildlings being unwittingly responsible for setting them loose, but I can't see them being affiliated in this conflict. I wouldn't mind if it can still be interpreted in the background that Mance might have had some nefarious plans, but I prefer the character, and the wildlings in general, in their mainstream interpretation.

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59 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

What does this lead to, though?

Are the wildlings treacherous and evil? So the people who wanted to let them die were right all along? It feels like an oddly right wing message from a decidedly leftist writer. "You may feel empathy and compassion towards those people on the other side of the border; in your mercy, you may tempted to let them come into your country, but just remember they're only trying to manipulate you so they can stab you in the back!!"

Are they supposed to be better plotters that Illyrion, Varys, Tywin, Littlefinger, etc? It sounds like a very complicated plan compared to their means and their knowledge. And what about the wildlings that we know are harmed or killed by the Others because it's been confirmed by third party characters? Such as Cotter's Pike letter from Hardhome and the Lyseni whose ship is requisitioned in Braavos, to name a few.

I can see the Others being of wildling and/or Ironborn descent, and I can see the wildlings being unwittingly responsible for setting them loose, but I can't see them being affiliated in this conflict. I wouldn't mind if it can still be interpreted in the background that Mance might have had some nefarious plans, but I prefer the character, and the wildlings in general, in their mainstream interpretation.

The motivation of the leaders could be easy to understand. The coming winter may not be survivable north of the Wall. They plan to save a percentage and the rest can be sacrificed.

I mentioned this before; Val managed to reach Tormund on her own in a half blind horse. I would put her as one of the conspirators

Edited by Tucu

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8 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

IMO Mance wrote the pink letter to lure Jon to Winterfell, and I believe it was part of the plan all along. Long-theory-short the Starks of old took Winterfell from (______?) and forced this person, along with his/her family and their followers beyond the Wall. Mance has a plan to take it back by first getting Jon to allow the wildlings through the Wall with the retaking of Winterfell being part two. The blizzard emanating out of Winterfell is the Wall disintegrating and exhausting through the underground tunnels. I am expecting that along with the blizzard - the cold winds will bring magic and we'll soon see white walkers raising the dead within Winterfell. Theon told Stannis that the castle was "filled with ghosts". He knows that there are swords missing from crypts and the dead are already rising.

Mance writing the letter never made sense to me.  If he wanted Jon to move South, he'd have stayed at the Wall and tried something from there.  Of course,  something could have changed,  but I don't know what. 

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7 hours ago, Tucu said:

I have a hypothesis that Mance will be responsible for bringing down the Wall and unintentionally  triggering the emergence of the WW at full strength. He was obsessed with searching tombs and crypts looking for the Horn of Winter; later he was looking for the door of the crypts of Winterfell.

Mance seems unusually interested in old dead guys.  I've suggested before that he was looking for something else, and the search for the horn was just a cover story.  Perhaps he believes whatever he wants is in the Winterfell crypts, and that is why he went.

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46 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

If [Mance] wanted Jon to move South, he'd have stayed at the Wall and tried something from there.  Of course,  something could have changed,  but I don't know what. 

Well, because GURM had Jon ready to move south before Marsh & Co. got stabby, I expect that Jon will be headed north of the Wall soon after the book begins.  After all, a wise man once predicted that he would get to the CoTF's cave via the sinkhole to take a bite out of Bloodraven, and who could disagree with that?

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8 hours ago, Ghost+Nymeria4Eva said:

Isn't this because he doesn't HAVE any more chapters, sample or otherwise, to read? That would indicate that he is indeed writing the book. The sample chapters so far have been chapters excluded from Dance because of book length, I think. 

Actually, I have always thought that Martin has pages:  many, many pages.  The publisher's statements (relayed by Martin at NotABlog) confirms my long-standing fear that he has too many pages.  The problem is that Martin won't stop reworking the material and release any of it.  He might even have a good reason for this if the material that he has already produced isn't up to standard.

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6 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

In a nutshell the wildlings are the Others.

I agree that the wildlings are working with the Others.  The sheep (wildlings) are being herded by the wolves (Others) towards the Wall with the wolves (Others) picking off the occasional weak, straggling sheep (wildling) to ensure they keep moving in the right direction.

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10 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

I have some reservation about Mel getting more chapters, but I think she's more likely than Jon for the time being, and it's not like we have a third option at Castle Black. I know we all expect Jon to be brought back, and it's highly likely his consciousness will spend some time inside Ghost, but that's not the kind of thing George would reveal right away.

The pacing has to be set for fresh, unspoiled readers, not obsessive theorists who think they already know, so it's almost certain we'll spend a part of the story pretending Jon is dead, like it happened with Bran and Rickon in Clash and with Dany after she flew on Drogon. Then we might get a Ghost chapter shortly before he is resurrected, but I doubt there would be more, because realistically, what can you show from the PoV of a wolf? Assuming things don't get cheesy, like Ghost writing stuff in the snow and presiding over councils.

 

I agree that the mystery about Jon's fate will wait, but there's no need for an intrusive Mel POV. GRRM has plenty of stuff to feed his readers in the meantime including the battles outside Winterfell and Meereen. We can come back to Jon five minutes after he's been stabbed but that chapter might well be late and perhaps even towards the end of the book, while in the meantime we range over the Reach, the Vale, Winterfell and yes, Essos. GRRM has never been concerned with harmonising his internal chronologies so why start now

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15 hours ago, Tucu said:

A possible link between the Others and the wildlings is hinted in the world book

I would expect the relationship to be subtle. The Others would end being a conspiracy of leaders of some groups of CoTF, some tribes of First Men and the weirwoods; first created to survive the Long Night, ended by Brandon the Breaker and now reborn to survive the clash of Ice and Fire.

 

:cheers:  This is awesome! Thank you for finding and sharing this!

 

14 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

What does this lead to, though?

Are the wildlings treacherous and evil? So the people who wanted to let them die were right all along? It feels like an oddly right wing message from a decidedly leftist writer. "You may feel empathy and compassion towards those people on the other side of the border; in your mercy, you may tempted to let them come into your country, but just remember they're only trying to manipulate you so they can stab you in the back!!"

Are they supposed to be better plotters that Illyrion, Varys, Tywin, Littlefinger, etc? It sounds like a very complicated plan compared to their means and their knowledge. And what about the wildlings that we know are harmed or killed by the Others because it's been confirmed by third party characters? Such as Cotter's Pike letter from Hardhome and the Lyseni whose ship is requisitioned in Braavos, to name a few.

I can see the Others being of wildling and/or Ironborn descent, and I can see the wildlings being unwittingly responsible for setting them loose, but I can't see them being affiliated in this conflict. I wouldn't mind if it can still be interpreted in the background that Mance might have had some nefarious plans, but I prefer the character, and the wildlings in general, in their mainstream interpretation.

Are the wildlings treacherous and evil? To quote Ygritte, that depends upon where you are standing.

  “Winterfell’s not in the south,” Jon objected.

  “Yes it is. Everything below the Wall’s south to us.”

  He had never thought of it that way. “I suppose it’s all in where you’re standing.”

  “Aye,” Ygritte agreed. “It always is.”

  “Tell me,” Jon urged her. It would be hours before Qhorin came up, and a story would help keep him awake. “I want to hear this tale of yours.”

  “Might be you won’t like it much.”

  “I’ll hear it all the same.”

  “Brave black crow,” she mocked. “Well, long before he was king over the free folk, Bael was a great raider.”

  Stonesnake gave a snort. “A murderer, robber, and raper, is what you mean.”

  “That’s all in where you’re standing too,” Ygritte said.

 

We've talked before on Heresy about the "otherisation" of individuals or peoples. ASOIAF is written in such a way to cause the reader to sympathize with the Starks, with the Lannisters as being portrayed as "evil", but is "evil" the dictating motivation behind Tywin or Cersei? Or do they make choices that protect and promote their family? They are ruthless, but where did honor get Ned Stark? IMO GRRM has setup the wildlings as a group of people that have been "otherized". But what if we knew the truth behind their position? What if they used to hold Winterfell and the north, but were forced out by the Starks? The wildling backstory is about a group of people that refused to kneel. I don't know if it's implicit in the text, but on one of the GOT dvds that Ygritte "narrates" says they refused to kneel to the son after the father died. She said they don't follow someone just because their father was the previous lord. Basically leaders earn their position. It's not a birthright. 

GRRM may be "leftist", but would you agree that he empathizes with Native Americans? The wildlings are symbolically Native Americans forced onto a reservation, but Mance is clever and he's figured out a plan that gets most of the wildlings south of the Wall with the least amount of casualties by creating a false narrative....well, the white walkers and wights aren't false, but like any magic it's a double-bladed sword without a hilt. The wildlings were bound to lose some of their people to the magical creatures they've created, but notice that Mance is mostly concerned about the wights:

  “The Old Bear commanded,” said Jon. “This place was high and strong, and he made it stronger. He dug pits and planted stakes, laid up food and water. He was ready for . . .”

  “. . . me?” finished Mance Rayder. “Aye, he was. Had I been fool enough to storm this hill, I might have lost five men for every crow I slew and still counted myself lucky.” His mouth grew hard. “But when the dead walk, walls and stakes and swords mean nothing. You cannot fight the dead, Jon Snow. No man knows that half so well as me.” He gazed up at the darkening sky and said, “The crows may have helped us more than they know. I’d wondered why we’d suffered no attacks. But there’s still a hundred leagues to go, and the cold is rising. Varamyr, send your wolves sniffing after the wights, I won’t have them taking us unawares. My Lord of Bones, double all the patrols, and make certain every man has torch and flint. Styr, Jarl, you ride at first light.”

 

You're entitled to your preferred narrative. I was just pointing out that there is evidence of a setup.

 

10 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Mance writing the letter never made sense to me.  If he wanted Jon to move South, he'd have stayed at the Wall and tried something from there.  Of course,  something could have changed,  but I don't know what. 

 

Other than Ramsay, Mance would know about every detail in that letter - gleaned by his length of stay as Bael. He's already used the dead wights as "soldiers" north of the Wall - a trip down in the crypts could supply backup at Winterfell. If my theory is correct and the lower levels are tombs of the previous occupants of Winterfell, they would be more inclined to be allies of Mance rather than defenders of Starks. The lower levels have iron bars blocking closing off the stairs, presumably because its unsafe, but IMO its a ward to keep the dead from rising.

 

9 hours ago, Phillip Frye said:

I agree that the wildlings are working with the Others.  The sheep (wildlings) are being herded by the wolves (Others) towards the Wall with the wolves (Others) picking off the occasional weak, straggling sheep (wildling) to ensure they keep moving in the right direction.

The white walkers are herding the wights and acting as Mance's vanguard, and was between Mance's group and LC Jeor Mormont's group at the Fist. The wights attacked the Watch, and then Mance's group scavenged the remains.

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