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Black Crow

Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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I'd love to see the book split.   I don't care what it costs or how long it is, I just care when it comes out.   So he could split it 4 ways, make 4 times the money,  and have less pressure.  I think most of his readers feel the same way.  

He should publish the material he intended for Dance with the sample chapters he's read and throw a few chapters in to make it more of a complete story on its own.  Then Winds covers the material it was supposed to and isn't too long to physically print. 

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5 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Ah, well I'd argue of course that they are Starks, very old Starks

We've discussed this before and it fits.   The lower level of the crypts have the secret,  Gared was released by the Others on a mission to the Starks,  Benjen wasn't killed and is being treated well, possibly even leading the Others.  And it is the perfect set up for one of our beloved Starks to become the next Night King. 

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9 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

We'll find something really interesting in the lower level of the crypts that has nothing to do with Jon's parents.  As I said, I think Mance is looking for something there.

I have a feeling that the lower levels that are barred (warded) with iron will have crypts of people that are not Starks, but rather the original inhabitants of Winterfell.

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22 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

We have more hinting that something is off with our understanding of the history of the Watch.

What is our understanding, though?  

My understanding is just: "This stuff happened thousands of years ago, at a time there was no system of formal documents except runes on rocks, so the facts are hard to establish."

There are all sorts of possibilities.  For instance, that there was an epic battle the Popsicles lost, and some of the survivors of it subsequently formed the Night's Watch as a formal order... so subsequent songs about those same men having once ridden out to fight the Popsicles were true, yet those men weren't yet the Watch at that time.

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18 hours ago, Matthew. said:

My personal interpretation of the Horn is that it won't summon a small, localized earthquake, but that it will either obviate the spells in the Wall, or "wake giants from the earth" on a scale to rival the seismic activity it would have taken to, say, flood the Neck.

Yeah, we just see this differently.  I don't think the Horn of Joramun is connected to the hammer of the waters historically, or that there will be any seismic activity that damages the Wall.

18 hours ago, Matthew. said:

 I think a combination of winter and a larger availability of corpses should speed things up

It doesn't seem to me there are enough to make it south of the Neck in one book.  

A few thousand free folk (assuming the wights spread east and west to the garrisons, enough to kill them all)... then they hit the completely depopulated double Gift, a huge area... then the area south of that, which is already heavily depleted thanks to the War of Five Kings... is not likely to suffice.   And even in book one, we are told the North is a vast empty land, nothing like the South.

I think the Popsicles and wights will blow a lot of time doing all that as the southron world of men (having learned what happened at the Wall) develops and executes a response, so hopefully we'll still get a fairly zippy plot.

If you mean decayed ancient corpses, decades or centuries old, could be raised, I can't really picture that.  If that were possible, obviously the entire region beyond the Wall would have been completely overrun by the millions of corpses that died centuries or millennia ago, and all that would have happened in the first book.  The Popsicles seem to me to be dependent on relatively recent corpses.

18 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Are the Others motivated by something other than slaughter? Do they have a goal?

It remains to be seen.  However, if they do, they didn't spend the first five books pursuing that goal in a very efficient way, which is why they have yet even to make it to the Wall.

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18 hours ago, Matthew. said:

the latter ~70% of TWOW will need to move at an impressive pace, or he'll need to have Dany's invasion of the south be a concurrent disaster with the incursion of the Others in the north--in essence, have his originally planned ADWD/TWOW arcs taking place at the same time for an early chunk of ADOS before everyone shifts northward.

I agree with all this except that I think in theory it could happen even before ADOS.

That is, an efficient writer who stuck to target wordcounts could, in TWOW, roll out (1) Dany's invasion in the south and (2) the Wall falling in the North.  All that would be done by the epilogue.

Then in ADOS, the first half of the book would revolve around a joint North/South response to the Popsicles/wights.  All the subplots and POVs would converge in the North.  ~500 pages allocated to that.  

The second half, another ~500 pages, always assuming the Popsicles lost, would be the aftermath stuff, that GRRM admires so much from Tolkien:

Quote

every time I re-read The Lord of the Rings — which I do, every few years — I appreciate the brilliance of the scouring of the Shire. That's part of what lifts the book from all its imitators. There was a real cost to Tolkien's world. There's a tremendous sadness at the end of Lord of the Rings, and it has a power. I think that's partly why people are still reading and re-reading these books.

But pulling all that off in two books?  That is architecture.  GRRM is a gardener.  Eight books does seem more probable especially if he wants to do anything similar to the above aftermath sequence, where he walks the reader through the devastation created by the second Long Night at the double scale of both the Westerosi civilization and as seen through the individual POVs.

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1 hour ago, JNR said:

I don't think the Horn of Joramun is connected to the hammer of the waters historically, or that there will be any seismic activity that damages the Wall.

I'm making a comparison of magic potential, I'm not saying the Horn caused the Hammer.  

The Hammer establishes a storytelling precedent--that, in theory, magic of catastrophic scale can exist. My interpretation of the Hammer is that the CotF used the "song of earth" to unleash widespread and intense earthquakes, resulting in a reshaping of the land, as well as tidal waves.

In that sense, I believe that magic could be utilized to physically wreck the Wall; furthermore, if the spells and lore of the CotF had fallen into the hands of men by the era of Joramun, I would speculate that that is the magic that was utilized in the fashioning of the Horn. When legends speak of Joramun "waking giants from the earth," I believe this is a flowery way of describing earthquakes.

That said, even if the nature of the Wall's failure is caused by the cancelling of its wards, I think even that scenario might result in widespread collapse, if magic is playing some role in the Wall being able to support its present mass.
 

1 hour ago, JNR said:

If you mean decayed ancient corpses, decades or centuries old, could be raised, I can't really picture that.  If that were possible, obviously the entire region beyond the Wall would have been completely overrun by the millions of corpses that died centuries or millennia ago, and all that would have happened in the first book.  The Popsicles seem to me to be dependent on relatively recent corpses.

I don't mean ancient corpses, I mean all of the recent dead, the soon-to-be-dead, and the very nature of the way population is concentrated south of the Wall.

I believe that the nature of the population distribution beyond-the-Wall is such that new wights have been acquired slowly--a dozen here, a dozen there; OTOH, concentrated population centers such as one finds south of the Wall might represent an opportunity to pick up hundreds or thousands of wights all at once.

In addition, I believe a combination of true winter, blizzards, and food scarcity will ramp up the death toll before the Others even begin attacking certain locations.

Finally, civil war is bubbling up in the North, which will also add to the corpse count.

All of this seems to me to be a recipe for an exponential growth of the wight horde that could not be achieved north of the Wall, especially during the summer. The more wights you can pick up at once, the more of an army you have to distribute to multiple locations--the more locations you can hit at once, the more wights you acquire, the more wights you acquire, the more locations you can strike, the more locations you can strike...and so on and so forth. 

Edit: Put another way, what makes the wight horde dangerous is that it grows in a way that a human invading army would not; a human army that, say, split its forces between Last Hearth and the Karhold might claim those territories, but it will also suffer a net loss in numbers, and strain its supplies; the wight horde, OTOH, unless it meets some very well-planned resistance, sees net growth from battle, has no supplies to maintain, and can siege fortified locations with unnatural cold and sorcery.

Edited by Matthew.

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6 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

I'd love to see the book split.   I don't care what it costs or how long it is, I just care when it comes out.   So he could split it 4 ways, make 4 times the money,  and have less pressure.  I think most of his readers feel the same way.  

He should publish the material he intended for Dance with the sample chapters he's read and throw a few chapters in to make it more of a complete story on its own.  Then Winds covers the material it was supposed to and isn't too long to physically print. 

It's kind of strange that GRRM seems to understand that he's a 'gardener' who cannot tell a story to his own satisfaction and hit every planned plot goal he has in mind within a certain page count, yet insists on trying to force himself to finish the whole thing within an arbitrary number of books.

This leads to him agonizing for years over 1500 - 2000 page manuscripts that he endlessly rewrites in an attempt to both tell a story he thinks is good and hit all of the plot points the novel was "supposed" to hit, until Anne Groell finally convinces him he's being unrealistic, and needs to shift some material forward.

It might be counter-intuitive, but I wonder whether or not things actually would have progressed faster if he'd just embraced from the outset that he can't keep his word count in check, and had instead published 400 - 600 page novels at regular intervals, instead of trying to force each book to fit a certain architecture, when he knows he's not an architect.

Edited by Matthew.

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Just spitballing here, but I wonder if there is a connection between the Reed's oath, their understanding of the oath and Joruman's Horn. I'm thinking you see about this insistence that the land is one, and where did Joruman come into the story in the first place. According to legend the horn wakes the giants from the earth, which sounds as if it might be connected with the land being one. Was Joruman just a King beyond the Wall or was he a shaman called in to deal with something supernatural that couldn't be fixed by men with swords alone? Mance believed or claimed to believe that the Horn would bring the Wall down, but why and is that its only purpose, ie; would bringing the Wall down be the intended result or a side effect of something far more fundamental like making the land one once more?

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Just spitballing here, but I wonder if there is a connection between the Reed's oath, their understanding of the oath and Joruman's Horn. I'm thinking you see about this insistence that the land is one, and where did Joruman come into the story in the first place. According to legend the horn wakes the giants from the earth, which sounds as if it might be connected with the land being one. Was Joruman just a King beyond the Wall or was he a shaman called in to deal with something supernatural that couldn't be fixed by men with swords alone? Mance believed or claimed to believe that the Horn would bring the Wall down, but why and is that its only purpose, ie; would bringing the Wall down be the intended result or a side effect of something far more fundamental like making the land one once more?

For the Horn of Joramun (that probably is not the Horn of Winter) I am betting on a horn to trigger earthquakes and volcanos. Last used to wipe out Hard Home. Winterfell with its hot springs might be a target for such a weapon.

As Virgil wrote about the giant Enceladus buried beneath Aetna.

Quote

A spreading bay is there, impregnable
to all invading storms; and Aetna's throat
with roar of frightful ruin thunders nigh.
Now to the realm of light it lifts a cloud
of pitch-black, whirling smoke, and fiery dust,
shooting out globes of flame, with monster tongues
that lick the stars; now huge crags of itself,
out of the bowels of the mountain torn,
its maw disgorges, while the molten rock
rolls screaming skyward; from the nether deep
the fathomless abyss makes ebb and flow.
Enceladus, his body lightning-scarred,
lies prisoned under all, so runs the tale:
o'er him gigantic Aetna breathes in fire
from crack and seam; and if he haply turn
to change his wearied side, Trinacria's isle
trembles and moans, and thick fumes mantle heaven.

That night in screen and covert of a grove
we bore the dire convulsion, unaware
whence the loud horror came. For not a star
its lamp allowed, nor burned in upper sky
the constellated fires, but all was gloom,
and frowning night confined the moon in cloud.

 

Edited by Tucu

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5 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Just spitballing here, but I wonder if there is a connection between the Reed's oath, their understanding of the oath and Joruman's Horn. I'm thinking you see about this insistence that the land is one, and where did Joruman come into the story in the first place. According to legend the horn wakes the giants from the earth, which sounds as if it might be connected with the land being one. Was Joruman just a King beyond the Wall or was he a shaman called in to deal with something supernatural that couldn't be fixed by men with swords alone? Mance believed or claimed to believe that the Horn would bring the Wall down, but why and is that its only purpose, ie; would bringing the Wall down be the intended result or a side effect of something far more fundamental like making the land one once more?

I'm also inclined to read Joramun as something more akin to a druid or a shaman, rather than a raider.

For me, one big question surrounding a wildling-controlled Horn that can ostensibly break the Wall is...well, why would Joramun exercise restraint in its usage? If hes a raider, why not just break the Wall and get to pillaging Westeros? Why even bother aligning with the Stark in Winterfell to deal with the NK? And, if he created the Horn specifically to destroy an evil Wall, what went wrong?

It's possible that he did damage the Wall, but the damage occurred in such deep antiquity that it was subsequently repaired; it's also possible that he was a Mance-like figure who was under duress from the Others and crafting a desperate ploy to negotiate for safe passage.

Nonetheless, I'll repeat an alternative interpretation I've proposed before: the Horn was crafted by the CotF and their human allies (eg, Joramun) as a trump card to pressure men south of the Wall into following the Pact, a Horn that would remove the safety of the Wall if men began misbehaving. The threat promised by the Horn is implicit in its other name: the Horn of Winter. This interpretation falls under the "Wall as demarcation line" umbrella of theories.

Under that scenario, I would propose that the Stark-in-Winterfell and Joramun did indeed align to deal with a rogue actor, but the alliance ended in betrayal, and the Horn fell into the ownership of Brandon the Breaker.

Edited by Matthew.

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Yeah, we're treading a bit on air here but I wonder whether the Horn of Winter, as sounded by Joruman, may have been used to lock something up and now with the pressure building it needs to be released before it all blows. I think it may well destroy the Wall, or rather rather perhaps release the magic trapped in the Wall, rather than simply huff and puff and blow the Wall down.

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On 5/8/2018 at 12:33 PM, Matthew. said:

That said, even if the nature of the Wall's failure is caused by the cancelling of its wards, I think even that scenario might result in widespread collapse, if magic is playing some role in the Wall being able to support its present mass.

Theoretically that does make sense.  However, from a plot standpoint this would result in the instant death of anyone at all close to the Wall, and I doubt GRRM is prepared to kill all the Watch and wildlings at a stroke.

On 5/8/2018 at 12:33 PM, Matthew. said:

I don't mean ancient corpses, I mean all of the recent dead, the soon-to-be-dead, and the very nature of the way population is concentrated south of the Wall.

I believe that the nature of the population distribution beyond-the-Wall is such that new wights have been acquired slowly

Take a look at a map.  There were free folk literally all over the place beyond the Wall... more than a hundred thousand of them, some even on the Frozen Shore... but immediately south of the Wall, we find:

• Brandon's Gift.  No people.

• The new Gift.  No people.

• Eventually, lands controlled by houses like Umbers.  Damned few people, especially after the recent war.

• The North generally, which is a vast empty land where Bran and company could walk for days and barely see a soul.

This is far less populated a region than beyond the Wall was, and also larger to explore.  As the Popsicles and wights spread out east and west, covering Westeros, they will gain little for their efforts, but the process will give the South time to find out what's happened to the Wall and respond.  So it'll be a quick plot, but not one that takes the Popsicles anywhere near the Neck in one book.

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2 hours ago, JNR said:

Take a look at a map.  There were free folk literally all over the place beyond the Wall... more than a hundred thousand of them, some even on the Frozen Shore... but immediately south of the Wall, we find:

• Brandon's Gift.  No people.

• The new Gift.  No people.

• Eventually, lands controlled by houses like Umbers.  Damned few people, especially after the recent war.

• The North generally, which is a vast empty land where Bran and company could walk for days and barely see a soul.

This is far less populated a region than beyond the Wall was, and also larger to explore.  As the Popsicles and wights spread out east and west, covering Westeros, they will gain little for their efforts, but the process will give the South time to find out what's happened to the Wall and respond.  

This is one route the author could go, though I disagree with the conclusion, and the assumptions it is built upon.

For the Free Folk, I reiterate--they are a widely distributed people, with Hardhome said to be the closest they came to developing a true city, so the wight horde's growth would necessarily have been sluggish; we're also told by Eddard that the North is not populous, but it does have concentrated population centers.

Where I think this truly gets murky is attempting to put some population number on Last Hearth and its surrounding lands; how many people total live in Umber lands at present? GRRM, both in-world and in SSMs, is purposely vague about city populations.

It's important to keep in mind that the wight horde does not discriminate by age, gender, physical ability, or even humanity: all humans left in Umber lands are fair game for 'conscription,' as well as any wolves, bears, foxes, etc.

I'll also restate that we do not know what knowledge or instincts guide the Others. For example, if some (or all) of the Others date back to the LN, they might accordingly have some understanding of where the most ancient kingdoms are located, as well as some knowledge of the Watch and the Wall; in addition to mundane knowledge, their magic might guide their chosen targets. Again, do they have their own variation of foresight? Alternately, can the Others and the horde scout through wightified animals, such as ravens?

Finally, regardless of how the Wall falls, I'm not sure about the ice army's first step being to sweep eastward and westward--why not southward? Why not outward in several directions? Is the assumption that if they operated that way, the Wall would have already been hit? IMO, that's an assumption that comes with a big asterisk--namely that it may be that the Others have not attacked the Wall because they cannot attack the Wall, and know that they cannot attack the Wall.

Indeed, it's not as though the southern reaches of the far North are outside of their sphere of influence;  it could be coincidence or inefficiency that has lead to the Shadow Tower, Castle Black, and Eastwatch going untouched, but that's not an interpretation I agree with.

The Wall going untouched, Craster's Keep going untouched despite being only days away from the site of the Prologue ambush, Mance's army being harried rather than outright assaulted, the Fist being targeted, Mormont being targeted by a wight trojan horse--IMO, all of this reflects deliberation and intent in what the Others do, and if they should seem particularly thorough in their sweeping of the North, I believe that is only because a combination of summer and the Wall have given them no choice except to be patient.

Edited by Matthew.

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3 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Finally, regardless of how the Wall falls, I'm not sure about the ice army's first step being to sweep eastward and westward--why not southward? Why not outward in several directions? Is the assumption that if they operated that way, the Wall would have already been hit? IMO, that's an assumption that comes with a big asterisk--namely that it may be that the Others have not attacked the Wall because they cannot attack the Wall, and know that they cannot attack the Wall.

Indeed, it's not as though the southern reaches of the far North are outside of their sphere of influence;  it could be coincidence or inefficiency that has lead to the Shadow Tower, Castle Black, and Eastwatch going untouched, but that's not an interpretation I agree with.

The Wall going untouched, Craster's Keep going untouched despite being only days away from the site of the Prologue ambush, Mance's army being harried rather than outright assaulted, the Fist being targeted, Mormont being targeted by a wight trojan horse--IMO, all of this reflects deliberation and intent in what the Others do, and if they should seem particularly thorough in their sweeping of the North, I believe that is only because a combination of summer and the Wall have given them no choice except to be patient.

I think that this is probably the fundamental question. Are the blue-eyed lot an [un]natural disaster set to spread over the land killing and destrying all in their path, or are their real objectives much more tightly targeted?  Their actual behaviour so far suggests the latter 

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The Others are a Chekhov's gun aimed at Westeros. A key element in this scenario is that the Seven Kingdoms ignored the Watch's last minute warnings and calls for help and chose instead to fight each other. This is a monumental mistake that easily eclipses those made by Ned and Robb,  and by George's storytelling principles it should elicit dire consequences.

If the South still has time to rally for a fight at the Trident, or even Winterfell (!), this collective failure becomes meaningless. Worst case scenario, the North and the Riverlands will once again take all the punishment, best case scenario the Others will only occupy a largely uninhabited area before being stopped. It sounds way too convenient to be true.

As for the LotR ending, did George like it for the structure, or the themes? Structurally, the Scouring of the Shire is an anticlimactic side-quest with distracting real world references (whether Tolkien intended to make them or not). Thematically, the episode is all about consequences: it showed us that the Shire didn't completely escape the influence of evil, even though it was as far as it could be from the front lines; it showed us that the conflict had left deep scars that could not be healed, not only on Frodo, but on Middle Earth as well, with the migration of the Elves; and it showed that the fight against evil isn't won in one big battle, but it's an ongoing struggle, with many little battles to come. We already know George likes these themes. But will he also try to replicated the questionable structure, or will he incorporate them in a better plotted ending?

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I have not noticed before how big the mazes in Lorath are:

Quote

Sprawling constructs of bewildering complexity, made from blocks of hewn stone, the mazemakers' constructions are scattered across the isles—and one, badly overgrown and sunk deep into the earth, has been found on Essos proper, on the peninsula south of Lorath. Lorassyon, the second largest of the Lorath isles, is home to a vast maze that fills more than threequarters of the surface area of the island and includes four levels beneath the ground, with some passages descending five hundred feet.

That would make an impressive bunker (even if the Mazemakers didn't survive). Is this a hint that massive natural/magical disasters were a reality even before the first Long Night?

Edited by Tucu

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Circling back to the original OP question about "winter is coming" and how we think the story will be resolved. I agree with some others that the Wall will come down some how, but I think it will blow away and it'll take years...perhaps even a generation I'm not sure how GRRM would even handle that without having to fast forward to a future where, as BC puts it "the Scooby Gang" are now in their 40's-50's. 

If there is to be a return to balance, then the magic contained in the Wall needs to be released and winter needs to take its course. I don't think its too far fetched to say it ends when spring returns. 

Allowing winter to run its course includes having it move all the way south past Kings Landing and down to Oldtown. Death and destruction will follow, and not many will survive. 

I suspect that when the Children "helped" the Last Hero, they resurrected him, because I think he died, and his resurrection was part of the interference that led to the unnatural, therefore if there is going to be another Last Hero - the Children will have to let him die this time and not "help" him. 

After every historical event has been reversed there needs to be a resolution where magic is taken away from humans and either destroyed or sealed away again. In this regard the Citadel will get their way and white walkers and dragons will cease to exist. That goes for wargs and skinchangers too. Their abilities need to disappear so that they don't have an advantage over non-skinchangers. Bran will also have to become the Last Greenseer. I wonder if he'll ever get to leave the cave?

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4 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Circling back to the original OP question about "winter is coming" and how we think the story will be resolved. I agree with some others that the Wall will come down some how, but I think it will blow away and it'll take years...perhaps even a generation I'm not sure how GRRM would even handle that without having to fast forward to a future where, as BC puts it "the Scooby Gang" are now in their 40's-50's. 

If there is to be a return to balance, then the magic contained in the Wall needs to be released and winter needs to take its course. I don't think its too far fetched to say it ends when spring returns. 

 

I doubt if we will see Spring. More likely the eventual resolution, say the destruction of the Wall, will see the prospect of a world shredded of magic and slowly beginning to move back to what we would call normality.

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