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Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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12 minutes ago, Tucu said:

How would that simplify the story in any way? Why invading the free cities, fighting the dothraki, the stone men and other threats makes this any simpler?

Well, Jon wouldn't really "invade". He would rather get tangled up in Dany's conflicts (and she in his) as they become allies, and that's exactly what condensing the story means. Also, some of the Free Cities can easily surrender or be defeated in a single chapter or a single paragraph. We've already seen that in ASoS, it only takes 6 chapters for Dany to get the Unsullied and defeat Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen.

If Dany recalls the sacking of Qohor as her khalasar marches towards Norvos and in the same chapter receives an envoy from Lorath who states that the city is swearing allegiance to her, we wouldn't feel like we missed anything, but Westeros has a lot of major and minor interconnected characters who we are invested in, so there would have to be a lot more political details about how they receive Dany, how she sees them, who and why they choose to ally with, etc.

The wight invasion wouldn't have to be presented in the same amount of detail because it wouldn't be a political and military drama, but more like a natural disaster. Many of these character would be killed, and those who escape would be rolled into a faction of refugees and stripped of political power. The intricacies of who they'd ally with would matter less if they no longer have a castle and a feudal domain at their disposal.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

Well, Jon wouldn't really "invade". He would rather get tangled up in Dany's conflicts (and she in his) as they become allies, and that's exactly what condensing the story means. Also, some of the Free Cities can easily surrender or be defeated in a single chapter or a single paragraph. We've already seen that in ASoS, it only takes 6 chapters for Dany to get the Unsullied and defeat Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen.

If Dany recalls the sacking of Qohor as her khalasar marches towards Norvos and in the same chapter receives an envoy from Lorath who states that the city is swearing allegiance to her, we wouldn't feel like we missed anything, but Westeros has a lot of major and minor interconnected characters who we are invested in, so there would have to be a lot more political details about how they receive Dany, how she sees them, who and why they choose to ally with, etc.

The wight invasion wouldn't have to be presented in the same amount of detail because it wouldn't be a political and military drama, but more like a natural disaster. Many of these character would be killed, and those who escape would be rolled into a faction of refugees and stripped of political power. The intricacies of who they'd ally with would matter less if they no longer have a castle and a feudal domain at their disposal.

If you want the plot to become that simple we could get a chapter that only says:

"And Dany invaded Westeros in a day; so now we get to fight the evil WW that so far have only killed two people".

Edited by Tucu

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6 minutes ago, Tucu said:

If you want the plot to become that simple we could get a chapter that only says:

"And Dany invaded Westeros in a day; so now we get to fight the evil WW that so far have only killed two people".

It shouldn't shock you, really, plenty of things happened off-screen in the books. :D The Others claiming parts of Westeros where we don't have any PoVs and Dany extending her influence over cities that we don't know very well are perfect things to relate indirectly without making the readers feel cheated. The story could progress quickly over relatively few pages.

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1 hour ago, Tucu said:

How would that simplify the story in any way? Why invading the free cities, fighting the dothraki, the stone men and other threats makes this any simpler?

Quite, and apart from that it moves away from the Starks and Winterfell

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Quite, and apart from that it moves away from the Starks and Winterfell

Speaking of Starks and their travels. I read this bit of SSM from 2012:

Quote

And what lies really north in my books—we haven’t explored that yet, but we will in the last two books

Who are the POVs best positioned for a journey like that? is this for the expected journey to the Heart of Winter?

Davos is heading to Skagos, so the onion knight might be unlucky enough to be sent even further north in his quest for Rickon

Bran is likely bound to the trees now, Jojen is dying and Meera wants to go home. Can Bran skinchange Hodor for weeks? Hodor and Summer would make a good exploration team.

The third option is Jon/Ghost; he is well equipped for the journey and will give Jon something interesting to do before his eventual resurrection

 

Edited by Tucu

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Quite, and apart from that it moves away from the Starks and Winterfell

You and your love for Winterfell... :D

George already made us get used to the idea that the Starks lost that castle. Stannis's victory over the Boltons and the Freys will give us cathartic satisfaction for the great Stark tragedy; dramatically speaking we don't need anything more.

Make no mistake about it, this will be a Stark victory, even if King Stannis is in command. He got crucial advice from Jon, men from the mountain clans and insider support from the Grand Northern Conspiracy. The glory very much belongs to the Starks. Later on, when the Northmen abandon him and Stannis loses Winterfell to the Others, the defeat will be his alone.

 

And look, as far as Dany's story in TWoW is concerned, we already know we'll get the Battle of Fire, a few chapters with the Dothraki and some sort of resolution in Meereen. Lhazar would happily declare for Dany if she can keep the Dothraki from raiding them, and presumably the Ghiscari will be defeated and all their cities will submit to Dany. Qarth will get a resolution as well, otherwise it wouldn't have been brought up again, but we don't need to see any more than an envoy offering submission. That's already half of Essos right there.

Qohor wouldn't take more than a chapter. Since we don't know much about it, there's no dramatic need for more. But a victory there would have enormous symbolic importance, since the Siege of Qohor was the one major historical event that greatly increased the popularity of the Unsullied and dealt such a blow to the Dothraki that they largely stopped attacking cities. Both of those groups are very important in Dany's story. Saath and Morosh are basically colonies of Lorath and none of them keep slaves, so they would have little interest to oppose her. A passing mention is more than enough for them.

From then on, we already have established plot points in Volantis with the slave rebellion and in Pentos with Illyrio and the Tattered Prince, and a less obvious one in Norvos with Mellario Martell. These are larger arcs, but I would expect at least one of them to belong to Tyrion. What do we have left? Only Braavos, the most important player on the continent, and the Lemontea cities, which are weakened by war and bereft of the Golden Company? I know you desperately want Dany in Westeros, and maybe George will completely ignore the set up and shove her that way regardless, but as Egg often said to Dunk... "It's right there!".

Edited by The Coconut God

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27 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Who are the POVs best positioned for a journey like that? is this for the expected journey to the Heart of Winter?

My vote goes to Jaime and Brienne with the BWB.

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6 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

My vote goes to Jaime and Brienne with the BWB.

Those two are bound by their oaths to deliver Sansa and Arya. I would expect them to be heading to the Vale.

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4 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Those two are bound by their oaths to deliver Sansa and Arya. I would expect them to be heading to the Vale.

Catelyn made them swear they would bring her back her daughters, but at that time she didn't know her sons were alive. Jaime and Brienne don't know where Sansa and Arya are, but what if Bran contacts them? Wouldn't they go to him? Jamie crippling him was what started the whole war, it would be very fitting.

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53 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Speaking of Starks and their travels. I read this bit of SSM from 2012:

Who are the POVs best positioned for a journey like that? is this for the expected journey to the Heart of Winter?

Davos is heading to Skagos, so the onion knight might be unlucky enough to be sent even further north in his quest for Rickon

Bran is likely bound to the trees now, Jojen is dying and Meera wants to go home. Can Bran skinchange Hodor for weeks? Hodor and Summer would make a good exploration team.

The third option is Jon/Ghost; he is well equipped for the journey and will give Jon something interesting to do before his eventual resurrection

 

Depends how you define resurrection. If he becomes Coldhands how better equipped could he be to journey into the Heart of Winter...

Continuing the most imaginative and ambitious epic fantasy since The Lord of the Rings Winter has come at last and no man can say whether it will ever go again. The Wall is broken, the cold dead legions are coming south, and the people of the Seven Kingdoms turn to their queen to protect them. But Daenerys Targaryen is learning what Robert Baratheon learned before her; that it is one thing to win a throne and quite another to sit on one. Before she can hope to defeat the Others, Dany knows she must unite the broken realm behind her. Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands. The Winds of Winter tells the story of Dany’s fight to save her new-won kingdom, of two desperate journeys beyond the known world in to the very hearts of ice and fire, and of the final climactic battle at Winterfell, with life itself in the balance.

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29 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

My vote goes to Jaime and Brienne with the BWB.

They aint Starks and don't have a dog in the race when it comes to confronting Winter. Jon Snow does.

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On 5/5/2018 at 11:54 AM, Matthew. said:

Lets say, in theory, that the Wall falling is the Epilogue of Book X; how soon within Book Y, in terms of chapter count, does the author finally get around to the Others attacking a place we care about, peopled with POVs that we're interested in? IMO, if GRRM has converged his characters by the time the Wall falls, it shouldn't take much in the way of chapter count at all.

Well, it depends on what different readers care about, of course.

As they spread out east and west, they will almost certainly be attacking the garrisons at Wall castles.  Do we care?  What if any POVs will be there?  We can't know yet.  I would care, if for instance Jon were alive and at Eastwatch; I can't speak for others.

Next phase, once the Wall is lost, would presumably be places like Last Hearth.  Who's there at that point in a future book?  Will readers care? Will GRRM bother writing such chapters, or just telling us that happened with a line of dialogue from someone who knows?  Dunno. 

If Davos finds and retrieves Rickon and is returning south over land and is attacked by Popsicles and wights, will readers care?  Maybe we'll find out.

However, as the North expands geographically east and west in accordance with the map, the Blue-Eyed Bunch aren't likely to ignore all that territory any more than they ignored the full area beyond the Wall... which was the major reason behind their sluggish progress in the last five books.   As they spread out, their progress south will inevitably decline, just as it did before.   

On 5/5/2018 at 11:54 AM, Matthew. said:

I don't think the Long Night book(s) are going to be paced like AFFC/ADWD, where you have some cliffhanger involving the Others, then ten chapters of like...Brienne on a quixotic quest

I don't either; if anything GRRM seems to have his hands remarkably full finishing in only two books.  

(This is particularly true if he means to emulate his favorite bit of LOTR, the Scouring of the Shire, and go into some detail not just about the Dance with Dragons, and the War for the Dawn, but their aftermath and consequences... the staggering damage done to Westeros and its people as a result.   Tolkien spent hundreds of pages on the aftermath of his war, and I wonder if GRRM means to as well.)

But none of that requires him to put the Popsicles and wights in the south, or shift the main stage to Essos, which simply couldn't work logistically.  

Instead, I think GRRM will just make the North the main stage of the story.   Which is to say, southron POV characters and military force will move north, belatedly perceiving the peril to their entire continent when they learn of the fall of the Wall, to bolster whatever resistance is left (free folk, Watch remnants, etc).  

This will accelerate the overall plot without requiring the Popsicles and wights to have some sort of psychic knowledge of Westeros or human politics (which they show zero sign of having at present)... or transforming them all into Usain Bolt clones who can now miraculously cover millions of square miles of the North in a fraction of the time they needed to cover much less territory beyond the Wall over the previous five books.

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49 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Depends how you define resurrection. If he becomes Coldhands how better equipped could he be to journey into the Heart of Winter...

Continuing the most imaginative and ambitious epic fantasy since The Lord of the Rings Winter has come at last and no man can say whether it will ever go again. The Wall is broken, the cold dead legions are coming south, and the people of the Seven Kingdoms turn to their queen to protect them. But Daenerys Targaryen is learning what Robert Baratheon learned before her; that it is one thing to win a throne and quite another to sit on one. Before she can hope to defeat the Others, Dany knows she must unite the broken realm behind her. Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands. The Winds of Winter tells the story of Dany’s fight to save her new-won kingdom, of two desperate journeys beyond the known world in to the very hearts of ice and fire, and of the final climactic battle at Winterfell, with life itself in the balance.

True, I forgot about that possibility. For some reason I expect him to spend half a book as a wolf.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, JNR said:

As they spread out east and west, they will almost certainly be attacking the garrisons at Wall castles.  Do we care?  What if any POVs will be there?  We can't know yet.  I would care, if for instance Jon were alive and at Eastwatch; I can't speak for others.

Next phase, once the Wall is lost, would presumably be places like Last Hearth.  Who's there at that point in a future book?  Will readers care? Will GRRM bother writing such chapters, or just telling us that happened with a line of dialogue from someone who knows?  Dunno. 

If Davos finds and retrieves Rickon and is returning south over land and is attacked by Popsicles and wights, will readers care?  Maybe we'll find out.

Two important factors in the above would be:
-at what point in the narrative does the Wall fail
-how catastrophic is its failure

If its the Horn that breaks the Wall, and the nature of that destruction is total, then there won't be a series of battles along the Wall; furthermore, if there's not a single POV character that is farther north than Winterfell, a certain amount of the Other's movement can occur between chapters, or between books--exactly the way pacing was handled in aGoT and aCoK, before character arcs became tedious travelogues. 

Lots of "ifs" there, of course, and heavily subject to reader expectation, but my subjective expectation was that the Wall falling would be the climax of one book, and the following book would have Winterfell already in full-on panic mode.
 

4 hours ago, JNR said:

However, as the North expands geographically east and west in accordance with the map, the Blue-Eyed Bunch aren't likely to ignore all that territory any more than they ignored the full area beyond the Wall... which was the major reason behind their sluggish progress in the last five books. 

If the only motive that drives the Others is "kill all the humans," then maybe, but if they have a destination and a purpose, then we might see a more focused attack; this depends on what we learn about the Others going forward.

As to the latter, I personally think a different set of in-book and out-of-book factors have limited their pace.

Out-of-book:
-GRRM is spinning his wheels on the Others because the civil war part massively "grew in the telling," so the narrative has been perpetually unready for the Others to come to the fore

I think there's a limit to how much verisimilitude can be forced onto this situation when the real issue (IMO) is essentially "the climax of the story hasn't begun because the author isn't ready for it to begin," though I do think there are in-world limits on the Others that will eventually be removed.

In-book:
-It is still summer in the early part of the narrative; presumably, the Others must limit themselves and the wights to night time movement, cold climates like the Frozen Shore, and the protective canopy of the Haunted Forest

-It may quite literally be impossible for them to assault the Wall, so they might have no choice except to "wait around" in the north

-There are no proper cities north of the Wall, so they acquire wights in small increments, while the rest of Westeros presents an opportunity for exponential growth

-Magic getting stronger, or having greater efficacy in certain circumstances (eg, Melisandre is stronger at Asshai and the Wall than elsewhere) may apply to the Others as well, and we may see their potency increase as the end game approaches; if I'm not mistaken, there's a GRRM quote where he teases that the Others can do some impressive stuff with ice, so we haven't seen everything in their bag of tricks

4 hours ago, JNR said:

This will accelerate the overall plot without requiring the Popsicles and wights to have some sort of psychic knowledge of Westeros or human politics (which they show zero sign of having at present)... or transforming them all into Usain Bolt clones who can now miraculously cover millions of square miles of the North in a fraction of the time they needed to cover much less territory beyond the Wall over the previous five books.

I don't disagree that the North will be the center of the final arc, though I don't think that necessarily means the south will be untouched by the wight threat, nor do I think the wights and Others need to move quickly physically for the narrative to move quickly--again, time can pass between and during chapters at a variable pace, something that the author already does.

And for the record, while you jest about supernatural knowledge, farsight and foresight are real plot elements. I have no idea what sort of magic or knowledge the Others might have at their disposal, but I disagree that we haven't seen anything that shows deliberation in the way they choose their targets: the First Ranger went missing, and one of his wightified companions attempted a focused attack on the leader of the Watch; later the wight horde and the Others make a targeted strike on the Fist.

That could just be a string of lucky coincidences for the Others, but given that we've only actually 'seen' them twice, and that it is a deliberate plot element that a lot of the lore surrounding them is lost to antiquity (or was never known in the first place), there is plenty of room for revelation when it comes to their motives and potential.

Edit: Furthermore, I'm not suggesting that the Others might select their targets based on "human politics," but they might target locations that are magically important (theoretically, Winterfell); it may also be the case that, if they do have any magical/unnatural instincts and senses guiding them, the fact that the siege of Winterfell is about to generate quite a lot of corpses might also make it an attractive beacon.

Edited by Matthew.

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2 hours ago, Tucu said:

Who are the POVs best positioned for a journey like that? is this for the expected journey to the Heart of Winter?

I had assumed that what GRRM meant when he said we'd find out what lays "really north" that it wouldn't be a physical journey made by Jon (or whomever), but a metaphysical journey made by Bran:

Bran III, ADWD

Quote

"Once you have mastered your gifts, you may look where you will and see what the trees have seen, be it yesterday or last year or a thousand ages past.

...

Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves."

 

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15 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I had assumed that what GRRM meant when he said we'd find out what lays "really north" that it wouldn't be a physical journey made by Jon (or whomever), but a metaphysical journey made by Bran:

Its certainly possible and I've argued in the past that we may already have seen the "desperate" journey north in the Scooby Gang making their way to the cave of skulls. He's certainly going to learn things, but I rather feel that seeing isn't the same as doing and that a physical action is still going to be necessary rather than watching it on CNN

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As to a culminating fight in the North and specifically at Winterfell; that would not only accord with the 1993 synopsis [yes I know...] and be fitting in terms of pitting the Watch against their ancient foes, but it would allow a resolution of the Stark Ritual and avoid all the [many] problems of moving the action further south - especially if the blue-eyed lot aint quite so numerous as advertised

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11 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Its certainly possible and I've argued in the past that we may already have seen the "desperate" journey north in the Scooby Gang making their way to the cave of skulls. He's certainly going to learn things, but I rather feel that seeing isn't the same as doing and that a physical action is still going to be necessary rather than watching it on CNN

To repeat a sentiment I expressed about Bran recently, I don't think he's just being trained to watch, but to take another metaphysical flight over the ice spires with their impaled dreamers, and into the Heart of Winter.

That said, I can see the case for someone needing to directly interact with the Heart of Winter...whatever that is, and whatever interacting with it might mean. This is an area where I'm torn between the HoW, Winterfell, the Isle of Faces, the Nightfort, and King's Landing all being potentially prime locations for climactic events to go down.

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But what is in the real North we haven't seen yet?  A landscape like Antarctica wouldn't be much to see.  And with the Others only questionably having a culture. I don't expect cities or civilizations. 

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4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

As to a culminating fight in the North and specifically at Winterfell; that would not only accord with the 1993 synopsis [yes I know...] and be fitting in terms of pitting the Watch against their ancient foes, but it would allow a resolution of the Stark Ritual and avoid all the [many] problems of moving the action further south - especially if the blue-eyed lot aint quite so numerous as advertised

Do we have anything from GRRM saying the Watch would fight their ancient foes?  I don't think the synopsis was worded that way,  and it tells us a lot about the history of the Watch if he did.

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