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Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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23 hours ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

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

Ah.  Well, I probably would not have drawn the conclusion... but the concept, as a hypothesis worth analyzing and exploring, would absolutely have crossed my mind.

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22 hours ago, Matthew. said:

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.

It's possible.   However, the wight horses are almost certainly as slow and clumsy as all other wights appear to be; for instance, the one we see Ser Puddles riding is literally dragging its guts behind it, not galloping.  I'm not sure any form of wight can do such a thing as jog, even.

The ice spiders we have yet to encounter, so presumably something significant would have to change for them to emerge.

It's also interesting to guess what might have happened in the Long Night in this department.  For instance, were wights appearing in Essos?  

I would guess not.  While we know from GRRM that the Long Night was a global phenomenon, we also know Westeros was the most strongly affected, because only it "extends so far north" -- so you can see the direct connection GRRM is making there -- and there are definitely no legends or myths about wights or Popsicles in Essos. 

So this does suggest to me that there are geographical/meteorological limits to the Popsicles' power to raise wights (assuming they do raise wights), even once the Wall and its wards are down.

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

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

The wildlings aren't the native population of Westeros though, the children and the giants are. The wildlings are part of the First Men who took their lands from them, so if we're blaming entire populations for what their ancestors did, their hands aren't clean either. A full reversal of history would require ALL humans to abandon Westeros: the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men too, kneelers and wildlings alike.

4 hours ago, Feather Crystal 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:

I believe empathy is a very important subject in this series. Not just because George is making us empathize with a lot of characters, including morally grey ones like Cersei and Theon, but because empathy is the main quality of the primary characters (Jon, Dany and Tyrion), and empathy is what seems to be needed to make people stand together and overcome great adversity.

I think a complicated plot orchestrated by the wildlings so they can get south of the Wall would undermine this by removing a great deal of the empathy readers built up towards them. George already made us accept their raiding (which involves theft, murder, kidnapping, rape) as an unfortunate consequence of the hard life they live. Manipulating the one person who showed them empathy and stabbing them in the back would be "evil" by any account, and with their "otherness" officially confirmed, their theme would switch from empathy and solidarity to confirmation of xenophopic fears. The fact that Jon, the victim of this manipulation, is our emotional proxy to the wildlings would pretty much cement this.

So even though the twist in itself is interesting, overall I don't like where it would take the story. I feel something similar about Dany's arc; I think her character would be greatly diminished if she abandoned her crusade against slavery to chase some hollow queenship in a land she's never seen. That's not to say I want Dany to be a lawful good, white knight type of character who fights for justice and freedom, not at all... but I want her to have some strong motivations that I can empathize with before they inevitably lead her down a dark (or grey) path. A hard switch towards Westeros would be a shallow, selfish choice, harder to sympathize with.

Another counter argument is that it is a very, very complicated plan that hinges entirely on Jon, since he's the only one willing to let the wildlings in and accept their ways as much as possible. Without Jon, Stannis would have armed them with sticks and used them as arrow fodder, and Bowen Marsh would have never allowed Tormund and his men past the Wall. Did they know that Jon would be sent to scout with Qhorin, that Qhorin would ask him to infiltrate their camp, that Jon would fall in love with Ygritte and empathize with them, that he would survive the attack on the Wall, that his brothers wouldn't execute him for breaking his vows, that he would be chosen Lord Commander and that Stannis would allow him to have some autonomy and even take advice from him? Because without all that, their ruse wouldn't have worked.

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3 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

I think a complicated plot orchestrated by the wildlings so they can get south of the Wall would undermine this by removing a great deal of the empathy readers built up towards them. George already made us accept their raiding (which involves theft, murder, kidnapping, rape) as an unfortunate consequence of the hard life they live. Manipulating the one person who showed them empathy and stabbing them in the back would be "evil" by any account, and with their "otherness" officially confirmed, their theme would switch from empathy and solidarity to confirmation of xenophopic fears. The fact that Jon, the victim of this manipulation, is our emotional proxy to the wildlings would pretty much cement this.

The reader has yet to "change sides" though. We are hoping for the Starks to finally get their revenge and rise up and retake Winterfell, but what a conundrum if we learn the Stark's ancient history of how they came to have the castle and its not as honorable as our dear Ned?

Theon is an interesting case, because as Balon's eldest son he's the heir apparent, but the Ironborn refused to accept him as their rightful king and instead organized a kingsmoot and chose his uncle Euron to sit the Seastone chair. Here is our example of how Winterfell's story could have played out, but unlike Theon, the historical Lord of Winterfell's son - or maybe even the Lord's bastard son - had enough support to force his inheritance. And isn't that pretty much Jon's dream? To inherit Winterfell? Doesn't he fight Robb in his dream? Holding Winterfell is his deepest desire, and he feels very conflicted and guilty about it.

Back to Theon...do readers empathize with him? I would say "yes". I root for him, and view Euron as a despicable uncle that usurped him, but Theon was weak, perhaps made so by growing up under Ned's honorable roof. He became vulnerable and naive, and an easy target for Ramsay. Theon tried to be a Greyjoy when he took Winterfell, but ultimately didn't have the skill set. He was raised as a Stark, which is ironic since Starks used to know how to be bastards like Ramsay.

Right now the readers, (save myself and maybe some others) trust the wildlings, but that viewpoint is influenced by Jon. What does Jon know? Ygritte keeps telling him that he knows nothing, but he's trying to kill the boy, and maybe Marsh and Co are doing him a favor by killing the boy, so that he can be raised a man. A man that will finally know something! He needs a near death experience to fully open his third eye. Maybe Bran will come to him while unconscious and he'll fly high above Westeros and see the truths unfolding all around?

The wildlings view their conquest of Winterfell as a righteous cause to retake what once belonged to them. How is that fulfillment of xenophobic fears? 

 

3 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Another counter argument is that it is a very, very complicated plan that hinges entirely on Jon, since he's the only one willing to let the wildlings in and accept their ways as much as possible. Without Jon, Stannis would have armed them with sticks and used them as arrow fodder, and Bowen Marsh would have never allowed Tormund and his men past the Wall. Did they know that Jon would be sent to scout with Qhorin, that Qhorin would ask him to infiltrate their camp, that Jon would fall in love with Ygritte and empathize with them, that he would survive the attack on the Wall, that his brothers wouldn't execute him for breaking his vows, that he would be chosen Lord Commander and that Stannis would allow him to have some autonomy and even take advice from him? Because without all that, their ruse wouldn't have worked.

Mance's plan was to create a threat and hope that the Nights Watch would eventually be forced to save the wildlings. All the politics of the Watch would not have affected this plan. Jon was convenient for sure, but I think Mance always knew who he was, and that's why no one ever killed him. Why would Mance protect Jon? Because Jon is the Bastard O'Winterfell whose father is Bael.

edited to add: neither Jon nor Mance knew Stannis would come, and neither side planned for such a possibility.

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Mel also has an interesting reaction to Mance.  She saves him because she thinks he'll be useful.   And then we have Mance's son sent away because of fear over what Mel would do.   If bloodlines mean nothing to wildlings and Mance is just a random bastard, why is he so important?

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57 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

The reader has yet to "change sides" though. We are hoping for the Starks to finally get their revenge and rise up and retake Winterfell, but what a conundrum if we learn the Stark's ancient history of how they came to have the castle and its not as honorable as our dear Ned?

Why would the reader change sides? Do we blame Tommen and Myrcella for Cersei? Do we blame Tyrion for Tywin? Do we blame Dany for the Mad King? Any horrible thing the Starks might have done 100 generations ago should not affect the way we view the Starks and half-Starks of today.

Seeing a nation or a family as one massive conglomerate and blaming children for their father's sins over hundreds or thousands of years is a very xenophobic thing to do and can only lead to more hate. George even points this out in one of Jaime's chapters with the Blackwoods and the Brackens. With all the intermarriages, trysts, kidnappings and rescues, there is probably a lot of wildling blood in the noble families of the North, and a lot of lordly blood in the wildlings, so ancient history should be moot.

57 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

Theon is an interesting case, because as Balon's eldest son he's the heir apparent, but the Ironborn refused to accept him as their rightful king and instead organized a kingsmoot and chose his uncle Euron to sit the Seastone chair. Here is our example of how Winterfell's story could have played out, but unlike Theon, the historical Lord of Winterfell's son - or maybe even the Lord's bastard son - had enough support to force his inheritance. And isn't that pretty much Jon's dream? To inherit Winterfell? Doesn't he fight Robb in his dream? Holding Winterfell is his deepest desire, and he feels very conflicted and guilty about it.

Jon's dream is infantile. He calls himself the Lord of Winterfell as he and Robb are fighting with wooden swords; it's a dream born out of the comfort and habit of a sheltered childhood (even though he is a bastard). Is this really how we want the story to conclude? Some Disney ending where the protagonists achieve their dreams?

A more interesting message would be that sometimes you have to abandon your childhood dreams when faced with the realities and responsibilities of adulthood, and sometimes by doing that you can achieve something greater. That's what I read in "Kill the boy and let the man be born". Jon was already offered Winterfell, but without the support of his family and having to destroy the Stark gods to get it, it didn't mean that much to him. As Lord Commander, he could guide his black brothers, he could try to save the wildlings, he could man the Wall and defend the realm, things he actually cared about, so that's what he chose.

This is a theme we see with Dany as well, contrasting the castles in the sky she builds about Westeros to the realities of slavery in Essos and people who actually need her and could benefit from her intervention, and even more clearly with Bran, who used to dream of being a knight, but must accept the sadder, though possibly more important, fate of being a three eyed crow.

1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

Back to Theon...do readers empathize with him? I would say "yes". I root for him, and view Euron as a despicable uncle that usurped him, but Theon was weak, perhaps made so by growing up under Ned's honorable roof. He became vulnerable and naive, and an easy target for Ramsay. Theon tried to be a Greyjoy when he took Winterfell, but ultimately didn't have the skill set. He was raised as a Stark, which is ironic since Starks used to know how to be bastards like Ramsay.

"Rooting for" a character shouldn't necessarily mean "hoping he gets X or Y castle", though. I get the feeling a lot of readers and theorists have these ultimately simplistic hopes that beloved characters end up in the "right place". Jon gets Winterfell, Tyrion gets Casterly Rock, Dany becomes queen of Westeros, Bran returns home, and all the minor character equivalents.

But the characters don't really need to end up in these predictable places in order to actualize themselves. They can be more than these castles and institutions. They can earn the recognition and respect we, as fans, want them to get by actually doing something useful for other people, or by achieving something grand by themselves.

Dany's legacy of conquering Essos and breaking the chains of every slave on the continent is ultimately more interesting than a Targaryen queen coming home. Jon making sure a good chunk of people survive the Others' invasion instead of the entire North being decimated is more interesting than the wildlings placing him on the seat of WInterfell. Tyrion finding Tysha and trying do right by her and his presume daughter even though each day he sees her is a painful reminder of his guilt is a much more powerful (and bittersweet) ending for him than simply taking Casterly Rock.

2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The wildlings view their conquest of Winterfell as a righteous cause to retake what once belonged to them. How is that fulfillment of xenophobic fears? 

First of all they would be xenophobic for still hating the Northmen, but what I meant was that characters like Alyser Thorne, Janos Slynt, Bowen Marsh, etc. would be vindicated in their attitude towards wildlings. If the wildlings fabricated everything to retake the North, it turns out they were right all along not to trust them.

It would be very weird to go back and reread a chapter with Janos Slynt and have to say "Oh yeah, this guy is a beacon of wisdom. From the Seven Kingdom's perspective, it would have been better to just murder Mance at a parlay. Too bad Jon is a soft idiot, or a traitor with bad blood."

2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Why would Mance protect Jon? Because Jon is the Bastard O'Winterfell whose father is Bael.

That's a bit too crackpot for me! :P Though I'm in the minority myself, hoping Jon's parentage is never fully confirmed and doesn't become relevant to the plot.

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1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

Why would the reader change sides? Do we blame Tommen and Myrcella for Cersei? Do we blame Tyrion for Tywin? Do we blame Dany for the Mad King? Any horrible thing the Starks might have done 100 generations ago should not affect the way we view the Starks and half-Starks of today.

Seeing a nation or a family as one massive conglomerate and blaming children for their father's sins over hundreds or thousands of years is a very xenophobic thing to do and can only lead to more hate. George even points this out in one of Jaime's chapters with the Blackwoods and the Brackens. With all the intermarriages, trysts, kidnappings and rescues, there is probably a lot of wildling blood in the noble families of the North, and a lot of lordly blood in the wildlings, so ancient history should be moot.

I think the goal is to at least make the reader feel conflicted. Wouldn't that be interesting? Who are the good guys and how is that defined? One Lord acts in an aggressive and pushy way, makes (subjectively) unreasonable demands, and requires compliance enforced with severe consequences. The other Lord acts in a kind and friendly way, asking nicely. Would the kind and friendly Lord necessarily obtain compliance, or would his bannermen push the limits like those of Tytos Lannister? Cersei famously said, (at least on the mummer's version) "when you play the game of thrones you win or you die". I'm assuming the son that enforced the line of inheritance was a serious player of the game of thrones, while the ancestors of the wildlings thought they had a choice of who would lead, much like the Ironborn's idea of a kingsmoot. The anticipated changed viewpoint will have nothing to do with forgiving or overlooking the sins of the forefathers, but rather from learning that the history of the Starks versus the wildlings was a victory of feudalism over democracy. In this respect, this story could be futuristic.

 

1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

First of all they would be xenophobic for still hating the Northmen, but what I meant was that characters like Alyser Thorne, Janos Slynt, Bowen Marsh, etc. would be vindicated in their attitude towards wildlings. If the wildlings fabricated everything to retake the North, it turns out they were right all along not to trust them.

It would be very weird to go back and reread a chapter with Janos Slynt and have to say "Oh yeah, this guy is a beacon of wisdom. From the Seven Kingdom's perspective, it would have been better to just murder Mance at a parlay. Too bad Jon is a soft idiot, or a traitor with bad blood."

Janos Slynt was a corrupt man who took bribes when he headed up the City Watch, and after he was raised to Lord he became nouveau riche with all of the presumed vulgarity and ostentation the stereotype portrays. He's not in the same league as Bowen Marsh, who actually takes his job at the Wall seriously, and dutifully followed Jon's orders even though he disagreed, until he thought Jon had gone too far. I tend to believe he really did view Jon as a threat to the safety of the Watch, and was compelled to stop him. His tears when he stabbed Jon show his conflicted emotions, echoing how Jaime broke his Kingsguard vows and slayed the king. Jon was never a traitor, and wasn't quite an idiot, but he was played. His love for Ygritte clouded his rational mind and the way he perceived the wildlings. He thought he had built relationships, but it was just as Melisandre warned: 

  “This is my place as it is yours, and soon enough you may have grave need of me. Do not refuse my friendship, Jon. I have seen you in the storm, hard-pressed, with enemies on every side. You have so many enemies. Shall I tell you their names?”

  “I know their names.”

  “Do not be so certain.” The ruby at Melisandre’s throat gleamed red. “It is not the foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.”

  “It is always cold on the Wall.”

  “You think so?”

  “I know so, my lady.”

  “Then you know nothing, Jon Snow,” she whispered.

 

Bowen Marsh never hid his displeasure from Jon, so he couldn't have been "those who smile when you are looking", but more certainly one of the foes who cursed Jon to his face. I don't think he was forced into stabbing Jon. I think he thought it was necessary. It's the wildlings Jon needs to beware of, because he thinks he's made friends.

 

1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

That's a bit too crackpot for me! :P Though I'm in the minority myself, hoping Jon's parentage is never fully confirmed and doesn't become relevant to the plot.

 

That's OK. I'm not here to debate Jon's parents, although it is one of the stories that camouflages GRRM's slight of hand. Its a magic trick to keep you looking "over here" until he surprises us in the end.

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10 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

I think the goal is to at least make the reader feel conflicted. Wouldn't that be interesting? Who are the good guys and how is that defined? One Lord acts in an aggressive and pushy way, makes (subjectively) unreasonable demands, and requires compliance enforced with severe consequences. The other Lord acts in a kind and friendly way, asking nicely. Would the kind and friendly Lord necessarily obtain compliance, or would his bannermen push the limits like those of Tytos Lannister? Cersei famously said, (at least on the mummer's version) "when you play the game of thrones you win or you die". I'm assuming the son that enforced the line of inheritance was a serious player of the game of thrones, while the ancestors of the wildlings thought they had a choice of who would lead, much like the Ironborn's idea of a kingsmoot. The anticipated changed viewpoint will have nothing to do with forgiving or overlooking the sins of the forefathers, but rather from learning that the history of the Starks versus the wildlings was a victory of feudalism over democracy. In this respect, this story could be futuristic.

I think the goal you mention is achieved anyway. We do get to contrast the wildling way of life with the one in the North. We do get to question who does more harm to the other side. And I think the desired conclusion is that they're all human, with qualities and flaws. Every group in the world of ice and fire has had its heroes and its villains; the Starks themselves produced the Night's King, but also the man who slew him.

Linking everything to one event in the past (that the wildlings somehow still remember, in spite of their low culture, and the Starks do not) weakens the choices of everyone who existed since, including the choices of the people in the present to put that old grievance aside.

And besides, the preferred system of the wildlings is not democracy, but anarchy; they only choose a leader once in a few generations, and even then it's the prospective king who goes around initiating the union, the people aren't necessarily looking for a leader. If you want to look technically at the "will of the people", the Starks would not have succeeded way back then without a lot of support, so even though the wildlings might have been driven out because they disagreed, it's likely that the majority of the population chose to support the Stark kings... So where is the legitimacy of the wildlings coming from?

If you think we should be romanticizing their culture, think again. Anarchy is a system that is very cruel to the weak. Maybe it sounds empowering when they say "a man may own a woman or he may own a knife", but rape is very much a reality with the wildlings, as we see at Craster's keep, for instance. The heavier implications are that when people can't defend themselves, or don't have a family to defend them, you can do whatever you want to them, they implicitly accept it. The Ironborn are similar; sure, they may be democratic among themselves (although they highly value violence, so an axe to the skull might be considered a good political counter-argument, as long as it's not on holy ground), but they sure don't respect other people's property and freedom. So you may see why many might legitimately prefer the relative safety of the Starks' feudalism.

10 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Janos Slynt was a corrupt man who took bribes when he headed up the City Watch, and after he was raised to Lord he became nouveau riche with all of the presumed vulgarity and ostentation the stereotype portrays. He's not in the same league as Bowen Marsh, who actually takes his job at the Wall seriously

It doesn't matter if they are good men or not, it matters that they are xenophobic towards the wildlings and the subtext portrays them as misguided and wrong. If a grand wildling conspiracy were to be revealed, you could then go back to their xenophobic position and it would read as entirely justified and wise. There may be situations where that may be a somewhat legitimate point - not so much being xenophobic, but being weary of an old enemy (and Jon is weary of the wildlings, within reason) - but I really don't think this is what George was going for here.

Like I said, the message would be "these people only pretend to be at their weakest so they can elicit sympathy and stab you in the back". To make some real world comparisons, this would be like saying that the Jews were behind the Nazis and orchestrated the Holocaust so they can take over Israel, or that black people invented slavery so they can take over America. I doubt George would like alt-righters and Holocaust deniers to go around saying "Oh, it makes total sense, it's just like that twist in the ASoIaF series! You know, with the wildlings? They're gonna screw you over if you don't kick them when they're down."

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5 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

It doesn't matter if they are good men or not, it matters that they are xenophobic towards the wildlings and the subtext portrays them as misguided and wrong. If a grand wildling conspiracy were to be revealed, you could then go back to their xenophobic position and it would read as entirely justified and wise. There may be situations where that may be a somewhat legitimate point - not so much being xenophobic, but being weary of an old enemy (and Jon is weary of the wildlings, within reason) - but I really don't think this is what George was going for here.

The wildlings weren't just people that decided to remain north of the Wall. If they were there would be established trading routes that allowed them to pass back and forth through the Wall. In the past the Watch did trade with the wildlings, but they refrained from allowing them to pass the Wall itself, so its clear that they were denied this privilege. 

5 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Like I said, the message would be "these people only pretend to be at their weakest so they can elicit sympathy and stab you in the back". To make some real world comparisons, this would be like saying that the Jews were behind the Nazis and orchestrated the Holocaust so they can take over Israel, or that black people invented slavery so they can take over America. I doubt George would like alt-righters and Holocaust deniers to go around saying "Oh, it makes total sense, it's just like that twist in the ASoIaF series! You know, with the wildlings? They're gonna screw you over if you don't kick them when they're down."

Oh my lord, this is nothing like the tortured Jews of Germany nor the slaves of America! Who am I talking to? Kanye? Seriously? The wildlings developed and acted upon a deliberate plan to get through the Wall. It was a plan started way before there were even white walker sightings. The first inklings of an idea occurred when Mance abandoned the Watch after meeting the woods witch. How many years do you think it took him to reach every clan after that? The timeline suggests it began after Mance paid a visit to Winterfell when Jon was a boy:

  The king laughed. “Your Mance! Why not? I promised you a tale before, of how I knew you. Have you puzzled it out yet?” 

  Jon shook his head. “Did Rattleshirt send word ahead?”     

  “By wing? We have no trained ravens. No, I knew your face. I’ve seen it before. Twice.”     

  It made no sense at first, but as Jon turned it over in his mind, dawn broke. “When you were a brother of the Watch . . .”     

  “Very good! Yes, that was the first time.  You were just a boy, and I was all in black, one of a dozen riding escort to old Lord Commander Qorgyle when he came down to see your father at Winterfell. I was walking the wall around the yard when I came on you and your brother Robb. It had snowed the night before, and the two of you had built a great mountain above the gate and were waiting for someone likely to pass underneath.” 

  “I remember,” said Jon with a startled laugh. A young black brother on the wallwalk, yes . . .     

  “You swore not to tell.”     

  And kept my vow. That one, at least. “We dumped the snow on Fat Tom. He was Father’s slowest guardsman.” Tom had chased them around the yard afterward, until all three were red as autumn apples...

 

After this particular visit is when Mance defects from the Watch. It couldn't have been after his second visit to see Robert, because he mentions Qhorin Halfhand:

 

Mance: …As to a crown, do you see one?” 

Jon: “I see a woman.” He glanced at Dalla. 

Mance: Mance took her by the hand and pulled her close. “My lady is blameless. I met her on my return from your father’s castle. The Halfhand was carved of old oak, but I am made of flesh, and I have a great fondness for the charms of women …

 

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

After this particular visit is when Mance defects from the Watch. It couldn't have been after his second visit to see Robert, because he mentions Qhorin Halfhand:

 

Mance: …As to a crown, do you see one?” 

Jon: “I see a woman.” He glanced at Dalla. 

Mance: Mance took her by the hand and pulled her close. “My lady is blameless. I met her on my return from your father’s castle. The Halfhand was carved of old oak, but I am made of flesh, and I have a great fondness for the charms of women …

 

That’s an excellent point.  At first I didn’t see the significance of mentioning Qhorin in this quote but I think you’re right.  Once he left the Night’s Watch there is no prohibition in giving in to one’s fondness for women men, so why compare yourself to Qhorin?  But while he was with the Night’s Watch his relationship with Dalla would have been a violation of his oath, and perhaps a source of conflict between him and Qhorin at the time.  Interesting.  

This also makes a bit more sense time wise.  Mance would have been pretty busy after Robert’s visit in getting back to the Wall and assembling his host at the Frostfangs to also start a relationship and then a marriage to Dalla.  

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How does the timeline fit?  He met Dalla while a boy returning from Winterfell,  then gets lost ranging and attacked by a shadow cat?  Or did he keep Dalla as a secret for years?  Or did he just make up the shadow cat story?

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Oh my lord, this is nothing like the tortured Jews of Germany nor the slaves of America! Who am I talking to? Kanye? Seriously? The wildlings developed and acted upon a deliberate plan to get through the Wall. It was a plan started way before there were even white walker sightings. The first inklings of an idea occurred when Mance abandoned the Watch after meeting the woods witch. How many years do you think it took him to reach every clan after that? The timeline suggests it began after Mance paid a visit to Winterfell when Jon was a boy:

What Kanye are you referring to? If it's a poster or a celebrity it's not someone I'm familiar with.

I'm not sure you understood my comparison, or maybe I don't fully understand your position. What I got from you was that the Others are a fabricated threat the wildlings are using so they can get past the Wall and conquer the North and Winterfell, which millennia ago used to be theirs. Maybe you meant it's only Mance who orchestrated this plan and the wildlings themselves are also being manipulated, but you seemed to imply that some of them, like Ygritte, Tormund, Val, etc., know as well, since they are manipulating Jon, so I am a bit confused.

The resulting narrative seems to be following these steps:

  • Group of marginalized outsiders fabricate a fake threat, or a real threat that is in fact under their control.
  • Said group uses the threat to make itself look more vulnerable and elicit pity from the "insider" group.
  • Once the "insiders" fall for the trap and decide to help, the "outsiders" turn against them and make them into the real victims.

Am I off base here? Please tell me if I am, but that's how I read it. And what I'm saying is that this is exactly the kind of fake narrative that hate groups like to project on various minorities so they can justify their hate and pretend it's really them who are (about to be) victimized. So a scenario where the wildlings fabricated the Others as part of some arcane plot to take over the North would be - structurally and thematically - the realisation of a xenophobic conspiracy theory.

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Just now, Brad Stark said:

How does the timeline fit?  He met Dalla while a boy returning from Winterfell,  then gets lost ranging and attacked by a shadow cat?  Or did he keep Dalla as a secret for years?  Or did he just make up the shadow cat story?

Jon was a boy at the time but Mance wasn’t, he was a young ranger.  If Mance met her after he left the Night’s Watch (which I also assumed from the context of the quote) why make the comparison to Qhorin or the other members of the Night’s Watch who also engaged in relationships with women?  He may just be saying that Dalla was not the reason he left the Night’s Watch (in other words having a relationship with a woman wasn’t exactly unheard of for members of the Night’s Watch).

 Instead he left the Night’s Watch over the issue of the cloak.  Which I suspect may be a clue that Mance was Lord Qorgyle’s bastard, and a black cloak with three red spots being roughly the equivalent of the inverse of House Qorgyle’s sigil, three black scorpions on a red field, a bastard sigil, analogous to the Blackfyre sigil.  In other words Mance thought he was special, but trapped in an organization where no one was allowed to stand out.  This is why he left.

But once he left the Night’s Watch he was then free to marry Dalla, who he may have already met and had a relationship with while being in the Night’s Watch.

For example, let’s say Ygritte never died or Jon had broken his vows with Val.  But Jon ultimately leaves the Night’s Watch to act on his claim to Winterfell.  After he leaves he then would be free to marry Ygritte or Val, but they would not be the cause of his desertion.

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59 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

That’s an excellent point.  At first I didn’t see the significance of mentioning Qhorin in this quote but I think you’re right.  Once he left the Night’s Watch there is no prohibition in giving in to one’s fondness for women men, so why compare yourself to Qhorin?  But while he was with the Night’s Watch his relationship with Dalla would have been a violation of his oath, and perhaps a source of conflict between him and Qhorin at the time.  Interesting.  

This also makes a bit more sense time wise.  Mance would have been pretty busy after Robert’s visit in getting back to the Wall and assembling his host at the Frostfangs to also start a relationship and then a marriage to Dalla.  

It would have taken Mance years to become King Beyond the Wall. It's said he went to various factions and talked to them, or even fought their leaders MMA-style to win support. I think his shadow cat attack was an impetus that fueled his defection. He also may have learned about how to create white walkers from the woods witch, which may have led to his plan to become KBtW, and to lead the wildlings to freedom. What is the purpose of the King Beyond the Wall if not to promise the wildlings a way to break free of the Wall?

36 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

How does the timeline fit?  He met Dalla while a boy returning from Winterfell,  then gets lost ranging and attacked by a shadow cat?  Or did he keep Dalla as a secret for years?  Or did he just make up the shadow cat story?

Ninja'd by Frey family reunion! :ph34r:

18 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

What Kanye are you referring to? If it's a poster or a celebrity it's not someone I'm familiar with.

I'm not sure you understood my comparison, or maybe I don't fully understand your position. What I got from you was that the Others are a fabricated threat the wildlings are using so they can get past the Wall and conquer the North and Winterfell, which millennia ago used to be theirs. Maybe you meant it's only Mance who orchestrated this plan and the wildlings themselves are also being manipulated, but you seemed to imply that some of them, like Ygritte, Tormund, Val, etc., know as well, since they are manipulating Jon, so I am a bit confused.

The resulting narrative seems to be following these steps:

  • Group of marginalized outsiders fabricate a fake threat, or a real threat that is in fact under their control.
  • Said group uses the threat to make itself look more vulnerable and elicit pity from the "insider" group.
  • Once the "insiders" fall for the trap and decide to help, the "outsiders" turn against them and make them into the real victims.

Am I off base here? Please tell me if I am, but that's how I read it. And what I'm saying is that this is exactly the kind of fake narrative that hate groups like to project on various minorities so they can justify their hate and pretend it's really them who are (about to be) victimized. So a scenario where the wildlings fabricated the Others as part of some arcane plot to take over the North would be - structurally and thematically - the realisation of a xenophobic conspiracy theory.

You must not be American if you don't know who Kanye is! lol Kanye West is a rapper who also famously says some really stupid things, including comparing criticisms heaped upon him as being "lynched by the media".

I am saying that the wildlings created the white walkers and wights on purpose with the goal of convincing the Watch that the wildlings aren't the real threat - that white walkers and wights really do exist. 

The wildlings burn their dead, so where did these wights come from unless they were manufactured? Ygritte told Jon about all the old graves they dug releasing "shades" into the world. She thought they were looking for the horn of Joramun, but I think Mance also wanted some dead bodies to raise, and then after the wights started following them - killing outliers and catching villagers unawares - they inadvertently created more. These were all casualties and consequences of working magic.

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43 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

Jon was a boy at the time but Mance wasn’t, he was a young ranger.  If Mance met her after he left the Night’s Watch (which I also assumed from the context of the quote) why make the comparison to Qhorin or the other members of the Night’s Watch who also engaged in relationships with women?  He may just be saying that Dalla was not the reason he left the Night’s Watch (in other words having a relationship with a woman wasn’t exactly unheard of for members of the Night’s Watch).

 Instead he left the Night’s Watch over the issue of the cloak.  Which I suspect may be a clue that Mance was Lord Qorgyle’s bastard, and a black cloak with three red spots being roughly the equivalent of the inverse of House Qorgyle’s sigil, three black scorpions on a red field, a bastard sigil, analogous to the Blackfyre sigil.  In other words Mance thought he was special, but trapped in an organization where no one was allowed to stand out.  This is why he left.

But once he left the Night’s Watch he was then free to marry Dalla, who he may have already met and had a relationship with while being in the Night’s Watch.

For example, let’s say Ygritte never died or Jon had broken his vows with Val.  But Jon ultimately leaves the Night’s Watch to act on his claim to Winterfell.  After he leaves he then would be free to marry Ygritte or Val, but they would not be the cause of his desertion.

From the context of that quote and the lack of older children, I always assumed that Mance met Dalla in 298 after he returned from his last visit to Winterfell (during Robert's visit)

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18 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Though I'm in the minority myself, hoping Jon's parentage is never fully confirmed and doesn't become relevant to the plot.

GRRM's stated flatly in two different contexts that (1) Jon will eventually learn his parentage and (2) so will the reader.  

Relevance to the plot will of course be in the eye of the beholder, though.  It's a little like calling X plot development more "interesting" than Y plot development -- a very subjective concept.

3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

! Who am I talking to? Kanye?

This may be the most plausible theory I've read on this board in months.  It explains so much!

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26 minutes ago, Tucu said:

From the context of that quote and the lack of older children, I always assumed that Mance met Dalla in 298 after he returned from his last visit to Winterfell (during Robert's visit)

You are presuming that they saw each other, fell madly in love, and that children would follow quickly. That isn't the wildling way. I propose it happened this way: met the woods witch that repaired his cloak, noted the beautiful Dallah and perhaps even Val, learned what he could about how to create white walkers, goes off to build support to become King Beyond the Wall, and then comes back to steal his bride after he earns his title so the wildling priestess doesn't cut his throat! Otherwise why would a priestess with high social standing accept a defector of the Nights Watch as a husband unless his position was higher than hers?

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37 minutes ago, JNR said:

This may be the most plausible theory I've read on this board in months.  It explains so much!

:rofl:

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5 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

You must not be American if you don't know who Kanye is! lol Kanye West is a rapper who also famously says some really stupid things, including comparing criticisms heaped upon him as being "lynched by the media".

I'm actually Romanian, don't let the tropical avatar and the late hours fool you. I did find Kanye West on a quick google search, but I didn't know what the connection was... I like to think the things I say aren't actually that stupid. Unpopular, now, that's another thing. :D

10 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I am saying that the wildlings created the white walkers and wights on purpose with the goal of convincing the Watch that the wildlings aren't the real threat - that white walkers and wights really do exist. 

The wildlings burn their dead, so where did these wights come from unless they were manufactured? Ygritte told Jon about all the old graves they dug releasing "shades" into the world. She thought they were looking for the horn of Joramun, but I think Mance also wanted some dead bodies to raise, and then after the wights started following them - killing outliers and catching villagers unawares - they inadvertently created more. These were all casualties and consequences of working magic.

The wildlings stirring up the Others, that I can believe, the released shades are a good hint towards this, but I don't think they did it on purpose or that they are in any way in control of them. It's possible they didn't even realize it was their fault.

You're asking where the first wights came from if the wildlings are burning their dead. The answer is simple: the Others started by killing isolated people and turning them into wights - hunters, travelers, the old who went out into the cold to die, some offered to them as sacrifice, then nomadic families, small hamlets, etc. We don't know how far back this threat reappeared and how long it took before the wildlings became aware of it. Now it's growing exponentially, and it's about to reach critical mass.

The problem with the wildlings using the Others to make a point is that it barely worked by a miracle. Bowen Marsh wanted to seal all the gates and keep the wildlings out at any costs; Stannis only let them through as captives because he desperately needed men. Without a lot of pieces falling exactly in the right place, the wildlings would have been screwed, and I would argue most of them are screwed anyway, those who went to Hardhome, joined the Weeper or struck out on their own.

To think Mance and a bunch of co-conspirator would have also had to groom Jon to sympathize with them just in case he got any political power, which he eventually did due to factors outside of Mance's control, stretches credibility, especially in a series where master plotters like Illyrio, Varys, Tywin, Tyrion, Doran, Littlefinger, etc. often have their plans go awry because it's impossible to control every little element in play. For example, even if the wildlings specifically wanted him alive, Jon could have easily died in the battle at Castle Black due to a stray arrow (the battle was at night, mind you) or a slip and fall caused by his injured leg.

If it turns out that everything was planned, it will be like a medieval fantasy version of Ocean's Eleven. :P

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51 minutes ago, JNR said:

This may be the most plausible theory I've read on this board in months.  It explains so much!

Is this really the height of your argumentative prowess? Throwing out insults and hiding behind quotes? George flatly stated that A Dance with Dragons will be about Dany's return to Westeros and the conflicts that creates. So where is she? Maybe you shouldn't rely on outdated quotes and formulate your own ideas for a change. Impress me.

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