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Black Crow

Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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28 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

I think it rather depends on how you define a Dark Lord.

That's the thing--there's clearly a subjective expectation of what would be "bad writing" here, yet readers don't necessarily agree with one another on what would be bad, nor do they even necesssarily agree with the author; for example, if GRRM views as the Others as an implacable personification of winter, beyond good and evil, would he view the Others as not being a fantasy cliche? I'm not saying that's his actual view, but he may believe he has avoided the cliche on a technicality.

As best as I can tell, when people say they don't want a "dark lord," what they really mean that they don't want is:
-Nothing that was born evil (as elaborated by The Fattest Leech)
-No singular leader out of antiquity...in essence, the Others are "allowed," collectively, to date back to the Long Night, but if there's an identifiable individual within their ranks - Brandon the Builder, the NK, the First King, a Bolton - they become a cliche
-No impersonal antagonists
 

35 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Do they have a leader? We've seen no evidence of one and even if there was, what of it? T

It is hard to know how meaningful that is, because we've only personally seen the Others twice in the entire series.

As both your post and Tucu's point out, we have seen the Others take deliberatethoughtful action; the wight horde isn't mindlessly, futilely throwing itself against the Wall, they didn't confront Mance's army directly, they selectively targeted the Fist, and when undead Othor infiltrated the Wall, he didn't just run around aimlessly, he targeted the Lord Commander.

Unless this is just an extraordinary string of coincidences, the Others are behaving strategically--so who's setting the strategy? Perhaps it's a group decision, or each individual Other understands by instinct how best to direct the wights to achieve some ultimate goal, but there is reason to suggest that someone/something could be giving the marching orders.
 

33 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Everything we've seen them do so far has been in the nature of harrying and hustling rather than outright massacre.

True, and of all of their actions, I find their restraint regarding Mance's army to be the most noteworthy.

Nonetheless, we don't know how badly things were going for the Free Folk before aGoT, and there is at least one massacre that appears to have happened off page: the "thousands" of Wildlings that followed Mother Mole to Hardhome. Some of them appear to have been taken by slavers, but not all. 

Melisandre's vision of the massacre:

Quote

Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff where fires burned inside a hundred caves. Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out. Afterward only the skulls remained.

 

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Posted (edited)

Cotter Pyke's description of the situation in Hardhome doesn't show a big massacre (at least not yet):

Quote

At Hardhome, with six ships. Wild seas. Blackbird lost with all hands, two Lyseni ships driven aground on Skane, Talon taking water. Very bad here. Wildlings eating their own dead. Dead things in the woods. Braavosi captains will only take women, children on their ships. Witch women call us slavers. Attempt to take Storm Crow defeated, six crew dead, many wildlings. Eight ravens left. Dead things in the water. Send help by land, seas wracked by storms. From Talon, by hand of Maester Harmune.

It shows starvation and infighting between men.

Edited by Tucu

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tucu said:

It shows starvation and infighting between men.

Yes, things were going poorly already, but still...dead things in the woods, dead things in the water.

Unless Melisandre is having a vision of a different place with hundreds of caves and wooden walls, the dead shambling things and white mists are eventually going to claim the rest of the Free Folk that followed Mother Mole.

That things were bad enough north of the Wall that Mance had to gather the Free Folk in the first place - and that others, like Osha, have chosen to flee - is still suggestive. Even the animals aren't being spared, as Bran glimpses in Bran III of ADWD.

IMO, the only reason we're not seeing big massacres north of the Wall is because we don't know about the lead up to Mance's gathering, and the area is sparsely populated even in more "peaceful" times; Whitetree, for example, is just a collection of four one-room houses.

Edited by Matthew.

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8 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

But one of the issues that GRRM has with Tolkien and the mimics that followed Tolkien was that all of their dark lords are just simply born evil. Evil baby orcs born from evil female orcs that are never seen. Based on what I tend to see as his methods in his past stories, we are reading the birth of the dark lord happen as a result of all of the trials s/he has been through so far. When we get TWOW, that is when the DL will be realized.

Melkor was good and became evil.  Sauron was good and switched sides many times.  Sauruman was good and switched sides once.  Individual Orcs may have been born evil,  but they are the same race as elves, those who changed sides became Orcs.  I don't see how you can say Tolkien had people born good or evil.

The real difference is in Tolkien's world, good and evil are abstract concepts and forces.  Characters can choose a side, or get swept up by one side or the other, or change sides.  But good and evil are clearly defined,  and more often than not, characters know which side they are on and made a choice to be on that side.

In GRRM's world, almost everyone is both good and evil at the same time, and most everyone sees themselves as good.  We have a few characters like Ramsay Bolton and Euron who seem to be always evil,  but others like Jamie and Tyrion changed how we see them more than they changed themselves.  And a few characters like Bran, Jon and Dany who are always good.   But most characters that aren't complex mixes of good and evil are either minor characters, dead or both.  

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

Melkor was good and became evil.  Sauron was good and switched sides many times.  Sauruman was good and switched sides once.  Individual Orcs may have been born evil,  but they are the same race as elves, those who changed sides became Orcs.  I don't see how you can say Tolkien had people born good or evil.

I didn’t say that. George said that in an interview. I’ll find the quote, might not be tonight ‘cuz it’s been a long day, but it seems it may help clear up what I was saying. 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Yes, things were going poorly already, but still...dead things in the woods, dead things in the water.

Unless Melisandre is having a vision of a different place with hundreds of caves and wooden walls, the dead shambling things and white mists are eventually going to claim the rest of the Free Folk that followed Mother Mole.

That things were bad enough north of the Wall that Mance had to gather the Free Folk in the first place - and that others, like Osha, have chosen to flee - is still suggestive. Even the animals aren't being spared, as Bran glimpses in Bran III of ADWD.

IMO, the only reason we're not seeing big massacres north of the Wall is because we don't know about the lead up to Mance's gathering, and the area is sparsely populated even in more "peaceful" times; Whitetree, for example, is just a collection of four one-room houses.

I see that situation differently.

Cold, hunger and infighting are doing most of the killing. The Others seem to be taking advantage of the situation to increase the level of terror and to gather resources. They did something similar at Craster's keep: let them kill each other and hit some of the survivors.

Melisandre's visions are not literal; people will die in Hardhome but that doesn't mean that there will be a big frontal attack there. There is no need for that when cold and hunger are enough.

Edited by Tucu

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Ultimately the point is that this is the Song of Ice and Fire and a resolution won't be achieved by Azor Ahai malleting the icy horror from the north - or melting them with dragonfire. The point about the Reeds' oath is that the land is one and victory by either side will be a disaster.

[remember “Benerro has sent forth word from Volantis. Her coming is the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy. From smoke and salt was she born to make the world anew. She is Azor Ahai returned… and her triumph over the darkness will bring a summer that will never end… death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn…” and Mel's dismissal of the Wildlings as a doomed people]

Therefore, whether Craster's boys have a leader, or they are taking orders from a tree doesn't really constitute a Dark Lord scenario because because it isn't a single threat which is being faced, but an imbalance between two forces. 

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On 4/21/2018 at 7:42 AM, Black Crow said:

any revelation that R+L=J was a red herring is likely to have GRRM entering some form of witness protection programme

The R+L=J camp has argued for years that it can't be a red herring... because it has never explicitly come up in canon.

Another way to put this would be: "GRRM can't be blamed for something he never said in the books, and that only ever existed in the fan imagination."

Well, that's logically correct IMO.  Whether the fanbase will eventually see it the same way?  We may well find out!  

After reading that Vox piece last year, in which the admins of various fan sites triumphantly proclaimed R+L=J to be a proven and concluded matter based on noncanonical grounds... I have to wonder how even those guys are going to feel, should GRRM make them all look like witless dupes down the road.

23 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Jon is also involved in the political stuff. Aside from Stannis wrapping Jon up in politics that makes him uncomfortable, and the Bolton issue, Jon writes Kings Landing and asks for help and is ignored. Also the issue with Slynt (a political lickspittle) and Marsh are also overarching problems for Jon.

Yes, very true.  In fact, you can see Jon's whole subplot at the Wall as a mirror of Dany's in Meereen.  He's not getting into swordfights with Popsicles... he's taking a tour of the freezer section of the Wall where the food is kept and doing an inventory of the amount of meat there.

It's really just another form of "Aragorn's tax policy," in that it's really all about the complexities of governing, as opposed to, you know... the struggle against Sauron.    

So in that sense, it's the thing GRRM almost always slants towards -- human interaction and politics -- as opposed to the kind of post-Tolkien-imitation epic fantasy as imagined and written by folks like Robert Jordan.

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6 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Therefore, whether Craster's boys have a leader, or they are taking orders from a tree doesn't really constitute a Dark Lord scenario because because it isn't a single threat which is being faced, but an imbalance between two forces.

Yes, I think that's accurately said.

But really, it's just an objective and irrefutable fact that the Popsicles have not even come close to defining the plot in ASOIAF, as Sauron did in LOTR or dark lords invariably do in 70s/80s fantasy.  

So to me they can never be considered the same kind of thing.

They have, to a degree, defined the plot north of the Wall... but that is really just a subset of the Northern plot, which is itself just a subset of the total plot.  Compared to human politics as a form of central conflict, the Popsicles have just barely been a blip on the radar in this series so far.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/22/2018 at 0:38 PM, JNR said:

the Popsicles have not even come close to defining the plot in ASOIAF, as Sauron did in LOTR  ...So to me they can never be considered the same kind of thing.

I do wonder, though, whether the Popsicles should have defined the plot of ASOIAF more than they have... and if perhaps they might have retained a more central role if Martin hadn't gotten so carried away with his word counts, with adding characters, with the scrapping of 5 year gaps, and with... well, Meereen.

Otherwise... it seems worth noting that the Popsicles have already made more on-page appearances in ASOIAF than Sauron ever did in LOTR.  And they've played a similar part so far in the story... feared but not seen, driving character action from off-page, threatening from a particular compass-point on the world map, etc. 

Edited by The Snowfyre Chorus

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8 minutes ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Otherwise... it seems worth noting that the Popsicles have already made more on-page appearances in ASOIAF than Sauron ever did in LOTR.  And they've played a similar part so far in the story... feared but not seen, driving character action from off-page, threatening from a particular compass-point on the world map, etc. 

I mean the Nine are very present in LOTR. From the very beginning. 

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Its worth remembering that in the 1993 synopsis the threat posed by the blue-eyed lot comes after Danaerys the Dragonlord has conquered Westeros, so in that respect they aint late, but it does prompt the question as to whether the two are connected, ie; its a reaction to Danaerys' conquest

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Regarding the dark lord....ASOIAF is written with a sympathetic slant towards the Starks and towards Dany. The readers identify, like, and want the Starks and Dany to "win". The main characters are Jon Snow, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon, and Dany, however Ygritte says "it" all depends upon where you are standing. If the books were written with wildling main characters, or Lannisters as the main characters, we would identify with their struggles and root for their sides. In my opinion GRRM will let the "other" side "win", but before he does we'll learn what "their" side is, and maybe we'll rethink how we feel about the Starks.

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31 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

Regarding the dark lord....ASOIAF is written with a sympathetic slant towards the Starks and towards Dany. The readers identify, like, and want the Starks and Dany to "win". The main characters are Jon Snow, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon, and Dany, however Ygritte says "it" all depends upon where you are standing. If the books were written with wildling main characters, or Lannisters as the main characters, we would identify with their struggles and root for their sides. In my opinion GRRM will let the "other" side "win", but before he does we'll learn what "their" side is, and maybe we'll rethink how we feel about the Starks.

I don't see and end battle with all the characters we know and love on one side vs popsicles pn the other.  I can certainly see GRRM having us rooting for the wrong side, but we should have POV on both sides.   I also expect the Starks to be split, as if they are all on one side, the opposite is rather limited. 

I don't see the Others as proper characters, if GRRM can debate whether or not they are capable of having a culture.   They (and the dragons) are like a force of nature or disaster, and the conflict will center on real characters. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SirArthur said:

the Nine are very present in LOTR.

Yes, servants and thralls of the famous Great Evil from Cardinal Direction X.  :cool4:

 

1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

the 1993 synopsis ... does prompt the question as to whether the two are connected

And one must assume they are connected, given the series title and the central roles they play. But it is a remarkable disappointment that, to date, Martin has not demonstrated this connection in a satisfactory way. 

Edited by The Snowfyre Chorus

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Just now, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Yes, servants and thralls of the Great Evil from Cardinal Direction X.  :cool4:

I really don't understand the smiley here. Sauron's wish to get the one ring once more dominates the LOTR. The ring wraiths are his physical will as he lacks a body and not some whip enslaved orcs and clearly Sauron in present in more than one location: Barad-Dur and Dol Guldur. 

I understand that this is a stupid discussion over the internet but please, stay close to the source. 

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

I don't see and end battle with all the characters we know and love on one side vs popsicles pn the other.  I can certainly see GRRM having us rooting for the wrong side, but we should have POV on both sides.   I also expect the Starks to be split, as if they are all on one side, the opposite is rather limited. 

I don't see the Others as proper characters, if GRRM can debate whether or not they are capable of having a culture.   They (and the dragons) are like a force of nature or disaster, and the conflict will center on real characters. 

You've been around long enough to remember that I believe the white walkers are creations of the wildlings and that the wildlings are genetically related to the Ironborn, so in my view the wildlings are proper characters, and GRRM can still "debate" whether the white walkers have a culture. It's like a trick question with a tricky answer. The term "Others" encompass not only the white walkers which wouldn't have their own culture, AND the wildlings who actually do (have culture).

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53 minutes ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

And one must assume they are connected, given the series title and the central roles they play. But it is a remarkable disappointment that, to date, Martin has not demonstrated this connection in a satisfactory way. 

Here's what GRRM wrote in the 1993 synopsis:

Roughly speaking, there are three major conflicts set in motion in the chapters enclosed. These will form the major plot threads of the trilogy, intertwining with each other in what should be a complex but exciting (I hope) narrative tapestry. Each of the conflicts presents a major threat to the peace of my imaginary realm, the Seven Kingdoms, and to the lives of the principal characters.

The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize. This will form the backbone of the first volume of the trilogy, A Game of Thrones.

 While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarians hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume, A Dance with Dragons.

The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call "life." The only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and and endless night is the Wall, and a handful of men in black called the Night's Watch. Their story will be the heart of my third volume, The Winds of Winter. The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.

There have obviously been changes, to put it mildly, but as I said the threat from up north was only intended to materialise after the Dothraki invasion. What was to have been book 2 has stretched for a variety of reasons into four or five books and the Dothraki invasion still hasn't. happened. In the meantime the advent of the Others has been parked, with no signs of it being brought forward in the meantime. Hence the question as to whether this is simply because its necessary to have Danaerys on hand to rally the Kingdoms and dragons to melt the blue-eyed lot. Possibly, but the business of the two perilous journeys into the hearts of Ice and Fire suggests that something more is required than armies, and prompts the thought that there may be something more to it and that if this is the Song of Ice and Fire then the invasion from the north may be a reaction to the invasion from across the sea.

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Its worth remembering that in the 1993 synopsis the threat posed by the blue-eyed lot comes after Danaerys the Dragonlord has conquered Westeros, so in that respect they aint late, but it does prompt the question as to whether the two are connected, ie; its a reaction to Danaerys' conquest

This may have been brought up many times before, but here's what George had to say about the leaked synopsis:

Quote

I said 'I don't do outlines. I don't know what's gonna happen, I figure it out as I go. And that's how I always did it.' And they said 'No, we had to have an outline'. So I wrote two pages, a two-page thing about what I thought would happen. It'll be a trilogy, it'll be three books, Game of Thrones, the Dance with Dragons, and Winds of Winter. Those were the three window titles. And, uh, it'll be three books and this'll happen, and this'll happen, and this'll happen. And I was making up shit...I started writing the books. And in the process, I pretty much disregarded the outline. The characters took me off in entirely different directions. So, for 20 years I had forgotten that that two-page thing even existed.

This looks like a very strong dismissal. Usually, when people ask potentially revealing questions, he's either coy or he refuses to answer. A more typical George response could have been "You saw how much I strayed from it in the finished books, expect it to be just as unreliable at predicting future novels", or "This was a very early outline, I might have changed my mind about a lot of things, including who makes it out alive in the end". The spoilers in the synopsis are generic and easy to dance around, especially seeing how different everything else is.

But instead of being coy, he outright says that he was making shit up, that he disregarded it, and that he ultimately forgot it existed. It doesn't sound like he's trying to stuff spoilers back into the closet, but more like he's frustrated fans might hold him to this inaccurate old sketch when he is in fact writing a very different story. Of course, he can't outright admit the things in the outline won't happen, or aren't important, because that would be a spoiler, but he is doing his best to stomp it into the ground.

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33 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

This may have been brought up many times before, but here's what George had to say about the leaked synopsis:

This looks like a very strong dismissal. Usually, when people ask potentially revealing questions, he's either coy or he refuses to answer. A more typical George response could have been "You saw how much I strayed from it in the finished books, expect it to be just as unreliable at predicting future novels", or "This was a very early outline, I might have changed my mind about a lot of things, including who makes it out alive in the end". The spoilers in the synopsis are generic and easy to dance around, especially seeing how different everything else is.

But instead of being coy, he outright says that he was making shit up, that he disregarded it, and that he ultimately forgot it existed. It doesn't sound like he's trying to stuff spoilers back into the closet, but more like he's frustrated fans might hold him to this inaccurate old sketch when he is in fact writing a very different story. Of course, he can't outright admit the things in the outline won't happen, or aren't important, because that would be a spoiler, but he is doing his best to stomp it into the ground.

We're not talking about the detail here. The point is that he was envisaging three successive threats, of which the third and last is that from up north and the reason why its been left hanging for so long is because the middle has been stretched so much, The fact he hasn't advanced that aspect of the story as the mummers did, strongly points first to his retaining the original outline and secondly suggests that there may be a trigger event connected with Danaerys. At the very least everybody needs to be in place.

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