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Black Crow

Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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I'm not too sure about all of this. The land north of the wall is fertile enough for large trees and forests to grow. Mormont, Aemon and Marsh warn about the White Walkers and have knowledge about them.

Yet the prologue happened, where Gared did not know about them. Only very vague. And the rest of our little party wasn't prepared at all. 

What makes me think of the thread as real is the prologue and Mormont/Aemon.

I suspect that the Long Night hasn't started yet, as the sun is still visible. It is only winter. Not Long Night. And the Long Night will be the trigger event. 

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4 hours 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

This is true north of the Wall, but only there.

We are, counting the TWOW samples, more than 5/7ths of the way through the canon.  And the Popsicles have had such a tiny impact, have defined such a tiny percentage of the story, that all these statements are true:

• The huge majority of the characters in ASOIAF have no idea the Popsicles are even real

• The huge majority of the characters have no idea wights are, either

• Virtually nobody south of the Wall has any sense or concept that the Popsicles and/or wights, if real, might pose some sort of practical problem in their lives

Now imagine trying to rewrite LOTR so that the above is true for Sauron, the Ringwraiths, etc. in Middle Earth.  It just can't be done -- not without completely wrecking the story and replacing it with some wildly different thing.

Seems like by 5/7ths of the way through LOTR, the One Ring had actually already been destroyed.  :D

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2 hours ago, SirArthur said:

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. 

I was suggesting that, insofar as the role of the Others seems analogous to the role of Sauron, the part of the ringwraiths would be played by Martin’s wights (ie, servants or thralls of said evil power)

I suppose I could have just said that.

But I suspect that analogy doesn’t go much further, in the end.  Because where Tolkien’s story relies on a “top down” theology / metaphysics... Martin clearly comes at things from the opposite way.  Thus no Dark Lords, per se.

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5 hours ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

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. 

And it may be that the White Walkers have already accomplished their purpose, in driving the wildlings south of the Wall.  And at least this far, that seems to be their purpose.  The terror they instilled motivated people to leave their villages and move south in a massive migration.  Mance's "army" was never attacked by the White Walkers.  And according to Mance, they always remained behind the group, to the North.  Which is why Mance seemed to dismiss the attack on his army from the East as being White Walker related. 

The only time the WW's attacked in mass was to destroy the NIght's Watch forces at the Fist, and their purpose was to prevent Mance's army from  making their way to the Wall.  And in the meantime all the attacks that are occurring seem to be directed at people who stayed in their villages rather than those making their way south of the Wall.

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13 hours ago, Black Crow said:

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.

The exact order the threats come into play is a detail. So is the centrality of Westeros to the plot.

At some point I don't doubt George intended to tell the story roughly in this shape. @JNR didn't provide proof of George ever saying he planned for Dany to arrive in Westeros, but I found it for myself:

Quote

Yes, three more volumes remain. The series could almost be considered as two linked trilogies, although I tend to think of it more as one long story. The next book, A Dance With Dragons, will focus on the return of Daenerys Targaryen to Westeros, and the conflicts that creates. After that comes The Winds of Winter.

Compelling, except for the fact that this is from a December 2000 interview, soon after the release of ASoS, and this was the only solid confirmation I could find. Of course, ADwD came and Dany did nothing to get any closer to Westeros. Considering where she is now and the various plot points that were set up for her, it would be lucky if she manages to get there at the end of TWoW, let alone "create conflicts", yet George still claims he will be done in two books. How come?

I think we should be more willing to consider that George might have changed his plans for Dany's story and the endgame of the series somewhere during the writing process of Feast and Dance. In 2000, he describes ASoIaF as "two linked trilogies". The first one, obviously, was about the War of the Five Kings, and we can see from the outline, themes and speed of execution, that he mostly had that part mapped out - at the very least the notion that he would successively build up Ned and Robb, only to have them fall, and that Joff would die and Tyrion would turn against his family.

The second trilogy seems to have been a lot more vague in his mind, given the fact that it's taking longer to write and that it doesn't exactly line up with his early statements. Feast and Dance should be considered the equivalents of AGoT for this second grand arc. The best indicators for the future direction of the story are here, not in the first trilogy, not in the mummer's version (not like time, space and character identity matters much for them anyway) and not in the 1993 outline.

Many elements in Feast and Dance seem to butt heads with Dany arriving in Westeros, at least if we follow the two rules I mentioned a few pages ago, that the series will end in 2 books and all the things that are introduced will eventually play out. One can even theorize that Aegon was introduced precisely to act as a stand-in for Dany in the plot lines that absolutely required her invasion (Varys and Illyrio's plot, Cersei's incompetent rule, Dorne, and perhaps Euron), while Dany has to learn to rule in Meereen instead of Westeros.

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9 hours ago, SirArthur said:

I'm not too sure about all of this. The land north of the wall is fertile enough for large trees and forests to grow. Mormont, Aemon and Marsh warn about the White Walkers and have knowledge about them.

Yet the prologue happened, where Gared did not know about them. Only very vague. And the rest of our little party wasn't prepared at all. 

 

Marsh? 

As to Gared, he clearly did know something, as many of the rangers did, just as they knew what Craster was doing, which is why he was eager to light a fire in hostile territory. He clearly wasn't able or rather willing to articulate his fear to Ser Waymar but that's a long way from not knowing - especially as telling him would have spoiled the story

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I'm not sure that the WW have anything to do with driving the wildlings south.  But rather the killing cold raising wights seems to be the impetus.

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XII

"You'd best go on. We are about to close the gate."

"You do that," Borroq said. "You close it good and tight. They're coming, crow." He smiled as ugly a smile as Jon had ever seen and made his way to the gate. The boar stalked after him. The falling snow covered up their tracks behind them.

 

 

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2 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'm not sure that the WW have anything to do with driving the wildlings south.  But rather the killing cold raising wights seems to be the impetus.

 

They did. This is a conversation between Jon and Tormund:

 

Quote

"Tormund," Jon said, as they watched four old women pull a cartful of children toward the gate, "tell me of our foe. I would know all there is to know of the Others."

The wildling rubbed his mouth. "Not here," he mumbled, "not this side o' your Wall." The old man glanced uneasily toward the trees in their white mantles. "They're never far, you know. They won't come out by day, not when that old sun's shining, but don't think that means they went away. Shadows never go away. Might be you don't see them, but they're always clinging to your heels."

"Did they trouble you on your way south?"

"They never came in force, if that's your meaning, but they were with us all the same, nibbling at our edges. We lost more outriders than I care to think about, and it was worth your life to fall behind or wander off. Every nightfall we'd ring our camps with fire. They don't like fire much, and no mistake. When the snows came, though … snow and sleet and freezing rain, it's bloody hard to find dry wood or get your kindling lit, and the cold … some nights our fires just seemed to shrivel up and die. Nights like that, you always find some dead come the morning. 'Less they find you first. The night that Torwynd … my boy, he …' Tormund turned his face away.

"I know," said Jon Snow.

Tormund turned back. "You know nothing. You killed a dead man, aye, I heard. Mance killed a hundred. A man can fight the dead, but when their masters come, when the white mists rise up … how do you fight a mist, crow? Shadows with teeth … air so cold it hurts to breathe, like a knife inside your chest … you do not know, you cannot know … can your sword cut cold?"

From this conversation, I get that cold mist, WW and wights were involved

It is worth noting that Val managed to do safely the opossite journey on her own with just a half-blind horse for company.

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2 hours ago, Tucu said:

They did. This is a conversation between Jon and Tormund:

From this conversation, I get that cold mist, WW and wights were involved

It is worth noting that Val managed to do safely the opossite journey on her own with just a half-blind horse for company.

Yes, I quite forgot about that conversation.  Very strange that Val was in no danger (apparently) and returns wearing white bear skins and a weirwood broach.

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20 minutes ago, LynnS said:

Yes, I quite forgot about that conversation.  Very strange that Val was in no danger (apparently) and returns wearing white bear skins and a weirwood broach.

It becomes less strange if we take the view that the weirwoods are at the centre of the Others. Jon needs an army, so they send him one to put a Stark back in Winterfell :-)

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18 hours ago, JNR said:

This is true north of the Wall, but only there.

We are, counting the TWOW samples, more than 5/7ths of the way through the canon.  And the Popsicles have had such a tiny impact, have defined such a tiny percentage of the story, that all these statements are true:

Right. And actually, this was long one of my chief complaints... that the danger represented by the Others is not fully realized or appreciated within Martin's world. And forget the south... nobody is particularly worried in the North, in Winterfell, or even within the Night's Watch. (Jeor Mormont aside.)  So it's always felt somewhat difficult to justify the urgency felt by Jon Snow. Or by the reader. The only real cause for alarm seems to be... uh... dark dreams and forebodings, I guess. After all, they've got that big effing Wall.

Anyway. Having said that, I think there are similarities between Martin's initial presentation of the Others, and Tolkien's use of Sauron in LOTR. For the reader, Martin frames the Others as the Ancient Evil from Cardinal Direction X, whose Return to the World of Men is Presaged in part by the Arrival of Spooky Undead Thralls. 

As you point out, it doesn't play out the same way in the story - and I think there are two reasons for that. The first is that Martin's presentation of the Others is mostly a set-up; these supernatural villains do not ultimately fit the "Dark Lord of Cardinal Direction X" template. (This is similar to the way the "hidden heir" trope inspired RLJ, and Jon Snow will not ultimately fit those expectations.)

But the second reason it doesn't play out that way is simply that Martin lost momentum and gave up on his story. He could have put more into the Impending Arrival of the Others, and built up more suspense.  Instead, he got distracted in Dorne, Meereen, and... Crackclaw Point for some reason. So now, even the "Dark Lord" set up is likely to fall flat with readers.  We haven't even seen an Other in 182 chapters.

 

18 hours ago, JNR said:

Seems like by 5/7ths of the way through LOTR, the One Ring had actually already been destroyed.  :D

Absurdly, I now have this image of Tolkien and Martin running the "R.R. Fantasy Authors' Marathon." But well, actually... Tolkien is sitting in his parlour smoking a pipe, looking at a trophy on his mantel. And Martin is receiving CPR from paramedics at Mile 16, while observers marvel at how far he's run and celebrate his achievement.

Tolkien's narrative pacing was masterful. And he successfully incorporated a 17 year gap into his tale, right at the beginning: see chapter 2 of The Fellowship of the RingFrom that point, the entire story — Frodo's departure to the destruction of the One Ring at Mount Doom — takes place in just six months' narrative time. And Tolkien squeezes another 2.5 years into his final chapter, as he sprints to the finish. 

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18 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

And it may be that the White Walkers have already accomplished their purpose, in driving the wildlings south of the Wall.  And at least this far, that seems to be their purpose.

...and a most unsatisfying purpose that would be, in my opinion. But I agree that no better answer has yet appeared in the text.  

Early in AFFC/ADWD, Jon and Sam still can't figure it out:

Quote

"Did you find who the Others are, where they come from, what they want?"

"Not yet, my lord, but it may be that I've just been reading the wrong books..."

Sounds like Sam is having much the same problem we are. Or, possibly, he's making it harder than it needs to be. Maybe the Others aren't all that mysterious. Maybe they're just what they appear to be: supernatural demons of cold, inhuman personifications of hate, out to kill everyone in their path. What they want is... you, dead.

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18 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

And it may be that the White Walkers have already accomplished their purpose, in driving the wildlings south of the Wall.  And at least this far, that seems to be their purpose.  The terror they instilled motivated people to leave their villages and move south in a massive migration.  Mance's "army" was never attacked by the White Walkers.  And according to Mance, they always remained behind the group, to the North.  Which is why Mance seemed to dismiss the attack on his army from the East as being White Walker related. 

The only time the WW's attacked in mass was to destroy the NIght's Watch forces at the Fist, and their purpose was to prevent Mance's army from  making their way to the Wall.  And in the meantime all the attacks that are occurring seem to be directed at people who stayed in their villages rather than those making their way south of the Wall.

I agree that the white walkers and wights north of the Wall have served their purpose. The wildlings successfully gained access enmass to the south side of the Wall. And I suspect we’ll next see white walkers and wights popping up around Winterfell, because that is the next target. 

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6 hours ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

For the reader, Martin frames the Others as the Ancient Evil from Cardinal Direction X, whose Return to the World of Men is Presaged in part by the Arrival of Spooky Undead Thralls. 

Yes, and actually this may be one of the reasons he's written so little involving them.  

No matter how innovative they will turn out to be... eventually... for now, and probably all through TWOW, he must make it look like he's handling them in the way we know he hates so much.  Which I'd guess he doesn't really enjoy.

At least with Jon he has no such obligation.  

Not once in the series has any character suggested Jon is a hidden heir of Rhaegar, so GRRM doesn't have to maintain that illusion; he can just tell Jon's story as he sees fit and not feel like he's marinating his narrative in Sauce Cliche.  Much more fun.

6 hours ago, The Snowfyre Chorus said:

Absurdly, I now have this image of Tolkien and Martin running the "R.R. Fantasy Authors' Marathon." But well, actually... Tolkien is sitting in his parlour smoking a pipe, looking at a trophy on his mantel. And Martin is receiving CPR from paramedics at Mile 16, while observers marvel at how far he's run and celebrate his achievement.

Yeah.  Unfortunate.  

GRRM could always still surprise us.  It's the sort of thing I can't really judge without having read the last page of ASOIAF -- meaning I'll probably never be in a position to judge, and neither will anyone else.

I do think Tolkien's long anticlimax is not really a benefit to that series.  And if GRRM, in contrast, keeps the reader in suspense until much closer to the end (assuming there is a published end of some sort) I'll probably prefer that.  

But Tolkien unquestionably did a better job holding the reader's interest through the middle of his tale, IMO, and he did it through basic task management. GRRM didn't even give us a dance with dragons in a book he called A Dance With Dragons... and as for A Feast For Crows, it was aptly named.

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On 4/24/2018 at 5:20 PM, The Coconut God said:

 @JNR didn't provide proof of George ever saying he planned for Dany to arrive in Westeros, but I found it for myself

Again: it seems like you didn't read his series summary.

Quote

 

a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords

 

There we have a flat statement from GRRM saying he planned for Dany to arrive in Westeros.

I can only conclude you think GRRM didn't write that.

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6 hours ago, JNR said:

Again: it seems like you didn't read his series summary.

There we have a flat statement from GRRM saying he planned for Dany to arrive in Westeros.

I can only conclude you think GRRM didn't write that.

It seem like you aren't really following the conversation. Again, George's words, linked on the previous page:

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.

If you still want to believe he's following the outline, that is your choice, but you can't use it as an argument against other interpretations of the text when George himself categorically dismissed it.

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1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

It seem like you aren't really following the conversation. Again, George's words, linked on the previous page:

If you still want to believe he's following the outline, that is your choice, but you can't use it as an argument against other interpretations of the text when George himself categorically dismissed it.

We've thoroughly discussed the possibilties of the synopsis versus the text as actually written and likely to be written and some of the characters have indeed wandered off into strange and mysterious places, but the core story was and still is about Westeros. Never once has he said, suggested or even hinted that the whole thing will move bag and baggage to Essos. Indeed he has specifically denied that we will go to Valyria for a start.

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8 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

We've thoroughly discussed the possibilties of the synopsis versus the text as actually written and likely to be written and some of the characters have indeed wandered off into strange and mysterious places, but the core story was and still is about Westeros. Never once has he said, suggested or even hinted that the whole thing will move bag and baggage to Essos. Indeed he has specifically denied that we will go to Valyria for a start.

Why would he suggest it? It would be a major plot twist. Was he ever asked point blank if Jon might see any places in Essos? Or Sansa? Or if we'll meet Quentin's mom? Or if he was going to write anything about mass migration and refugees?

ADwD is supposed to be the set-up for the second major arc in the story, what AGoT was for the War of the Five Kings, and if you look at the text, if you really look at it, without dismissing whatever doesn't match with the outline, there's set up for Essos, set up for a hopeless defeat in the North should the Others invade, and set up for a way out of there.

There is little to no set up for Dany arriving in Westeros, and no set up for a stand against the Others. We can assume Dany would be opposing Aegon once she gets there, but if that is so, we don't even know how or why. By the end of AGoT the Stark-Lannister conflict was already ongoing, and we had breadcrumbs for all the factions that were going to play major roles in the war. In Feast and Dance we get similar breadcrumbs for Pentos, Norvos and Volantis, direct foreshadowing from Euron that Westeros is dying, and the largest ongoing conflict is Dany vs the Slave Trade. So what if we aren't going to Valyria? Valyria is not part of this set up anyway.

Sure, it may all just be a huge coincidence, I'm not going to claim I'm more than 50% sure myself, because I don't want to get my hopes up that the so-called filler will be vindicated, but based on the books themselves, Feast and Dance especially, the story can switch to these tracks without so much as a minor bump. Nothing anywhere in the text precludes this twist (whether or not George thought of it from the start or came up with it after he finished the first part of the series is irrelevant). I wouldn't even call it crackpot. At the very least it deserves more serious consideration than dismissing it outright because of an outline George himself said he ignored.

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