Jump to content
The Fattest Leech

Night's Watch vows and the truth of history.

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Tucu said:

That quote says that Castle Black had been a place of "silence and shadows". It is not the only time that the NW has been described as shadows because they dress all in black:

Given that the NW erased part of its history after deposing the Night's King (supposedly for sacrificing to the Others) I would not be surprised if another group of shadows were the original NW (those white shadows) protecting another set of tunnels (the CoTF cave systems).

 

This is a very important bit to remember, and a majorly recurring theme in so much of all of GRRM's work --> history has been altered, lost to time, and the current story is not what we think "the truth" is.

I have seen it mentioned a few brief times that the Others may have been part of the NW in the dawn of it's existence. I am not so sure about that because I just don't know enough of those hypotheses to make a decision. One such idea that I can think of is that the Others are coming down from the north because they have their own prophecy that is currently coming true, and it may be good or bad for them, and they are just trying to survive. Or, something like that. If you have a link to an essay I'd like to read it.

Putting the Others theory aside for a moment, the AGOT prologue really does seem to show us that the Others are looking for a specific, Stark looking, Lord Commander... and arrogant Waymar Royce just ain't it. Waymar calls to the "gods", slashes at trees, and draws his blade first to fight. Not a good first time meeting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@The Fattest Leech I'm still reading, but how did I not notice that the entirety of the NW vow wasn't said at The Black Gate?  Or did I, and it's been so long since I've read that part and talked lots about it, that I have forgotten?  I'm not sure.  Very interesting, and I look forward to reading the rest here. 

ETA:  Your quotes with The Old Bear talking about the true purpose of the NW reminds me of what a terrific character he really was. 

Edited by Lady Fevre Dream

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

I never noticed that about Sam. Im shocked lol, good find. Maybe i knew before. So much Ive forgotten, I feel like the NW.

So what came first the chicken or the egg. I always thought it was the chicken, or is it the egg? The Black Gate seems to mean that the NW is older then the wall. I am the watcher on the walls. Plural. (The great wall of China wasnt completed untill the Ming dynasty, a good thousand years after the first instalments) that seems to suggest that the NW manned multiple walls.  Maybe when LC was created it ended a strict feudal structure and became more democratic, hence an oath for no crowns and such. But this is all talk with no evidence.

Oh yeah. This has been scratching at many reader heads for a long time. The walls, plural. Many ideas on where this other wall could have been. Some readers have suggested it is just people standing on their castle tops to keep watch. Other readers have posited that there was a wall over in Essos at the five forts, and the last long night brought it down... which lead to the harsh climate over there, etc, etc.

One of the statements GRRM makes about the wall, and part of it goes with the idea in the post above- history is skewed:

Q: If time is permiting would you mind giving a brief description on how the wall was constructed?

GRRM: Much of those details are lost in the mists of time and legend. No one can even say for certain if Brandon the Builder ever lived. He is as remote from the time of the novels as Noah and Gilgamesh are from our own time.

But one thing I will say, for what it's worth -- more than ice went into the raising of the Wall. Remember, these are =fantasy= novels.

Quote

Im also confused on one line in the original, the horn that wakes the sleepers. Giants? Theyre like the NW servents? Or dragons. Probably not. But Others. Now theyre the ones that are sleeping. Now i feel like im speaking heresy

There is some crazy heresy out there. I wouldn't count this as heresy. There seems to be a set of (sometimes imperfect) parallels for each element and/or main character in the story. There could be a "real" horn that wakes the sleepers, or controls a flying dragon, or controls a human dragon, or the sleepers in an earthquake. My speculation is that in addition to a "real" horn that will be used, Tormund is also the horn of Winter, and Winter being Jon Snow.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

@The Fattest Leech I'm still reading, but how did I not notice that the entirety of the NW vow wasn't said at The Black Gate?

I know. To me it seems like one of those quick things that is easy to glean across. I know I did. Kind of like how it wasn't Mirri's bandage that irritates Drogo, but it was another bandage that Daenerys has put on by someone else. I had forgotten that until a few months ago.

1 minute ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

  Or did I, and it's been so long since I've read that part and talked lots about it, that I have forgotten?  I'm not sure.  Very interesting, and I look forward to reading the rest here. 

Thanks for reading :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, The Hidden Dragon said:

My apologies, as this is slightly off-topic but this quote caught my attention..."the trees have eyes again". That implies that there was a time when the trees didn't have eyes.  Has this ever been discussed?  Do we know of a time when the trees didn't have eyes?  What causes the trees to have eyes again?  What caused the trees to stop having eyes in the past?

The horn that wakes the sleepers? Just an idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

Hmm juicy stuff. Just a quickie for now...

I think it's very likely that the vows changed over the course of thousands of years. 

I also agree that there's a chunk there that "smells Andal", to paraphrase Good King Aerys. But I think the very first part is part of the original vow, and that the Andal bit was inserted after that rather than at the very beginning.

I think the original vow was closer to this:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men.  

 

I think I would add the:  I shall live and die at my post sentence after the opening one, just for flow, LOL

Just an idea, I'm still reading.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

The horn that wakes the sleepers? Just an idea.

 

Just now, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I think I would add the:  I shall live and die at my post sentence after the opening one, just for flow, LOL

Just an idea, I'm still reading.  

I'm just LOLing at us using the same phrase at just about the same time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

2 comments from me on the original post.

1. It is amusing that the Black Gate “as old as the Wall itself” speaks the common tongue instead of the Old tongue of the First Men. But whatever.

Hey there, FNR.

About the language, I know what you mean. Is there ever a reason given by GRRM that this happens? I don't know that I know any origins of the common tongue, but we do see most of the wildlings speak it. Even the Thenns know a little. My thoughts on it is that the common tongue evolved out of the blend of various "first men" languages. If so, then that predates the wall and black gate. Maybe the Thenns just bypassed all of that and went straight north? I'm open to ideas.

2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

2. I can’t help but notice that in the same sentence that Hodor’s name is mentioned, the Black Gate is referred to as a “door” rather than a gate, followed by a teardrop (implying sadness) connecting all of the above. Which to me suggests the likely location for a scene where someone may be asked to “hold a door”, with a sad outcome to follow.

I see what you're getting at.

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

The well grew darker and colder with every turn. When Bran finally lifted his head around to look back up the shaft, the top of the well was no bigger than a half-moon. "Hodor," Hodor whispered, "Hodorhodorhodorhodorhodorhodor," the well whispered back. The water sounds were close, but when Bran peered down he saw only blackness.
A turn or two later Sam stopped suddenly. He was a quarter of the way around the well from Bran and Hodor and six feet farther down, yet Bran could barely see him. He could see the door, though. The Black Gate, Sam had called it, but it wasn't black at all.
It was white weirwood, and there was a face on it.
 
Hmmm, then what about this door? It always struck me as very off that this cave opening would be described as a door, which sounds very architecturally specific, unless it is a doorway of another type?

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

"Is this the only way in?" asked Meera.
"The back door is three leagues north, down a sinkhole."
That was all he had to say. Not even Hodor could climb down into a sinkhole with Bran heavy on his back, and Jojen could no more walk three leagues than run a thousand.
 
 
2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

 

As for the Watch. Sure, the vows dealing with giving up wives, children, families and kingdoms are most certainly corruptions of the original intent, which was merely to swear to fight the Others.

Yes. This is what I wanted to focus on in this thread.

To me, and I am sure to others, this "new" vow system is a corruption not unlike the religious zealot's we have in the real world. What human on earth (real or imaginary) is that righteous, and that robotic, that they would establish an order with rules such as this? No wonder the number of volunteers has dropped so drastically (among other reasons).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

I have seen it proposed that the words Sam says are an older form of the vow, but I'm not sure I buy it. I don't see why Sam would be privy to an older version of the vows, or would know that this was the version that needed to be said at that particular moment. And while Jon seems to recite an abbreviated version when saying he knows the vows he swore, he actually swore the full version, as occurs in one or two other scenes throughout the series. I'm not sure why GRRM writes an abbreviated version in some places. Perhaps it has significance, but perhaps it is just understood by speaker and listener to imply the unspoken parts.

 

13 hours ago, OtherFromAnotherMother said:

I believe Sam was told what he had to say by Coldhands. Obviously there is no text for this, but since Coldhands wanted Bran to get through, it would make sense for Coldhands to explain to Sam how to get through, which would include what words he would have to say to get through the gate.

This was my thought as I was reading the OP and the difference with Sam's recital.  We were privy to Sam's second run through The Black Gate, so it would seem to make sense that he knew the words it wanted to hear from Coldhands. 

Edited by Lady Fevre Dream

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I think I would add the:  I shall live and die at my post sentence after the opening one, just for flow, LOL

Just an idea, I'm still reading.  

Ok, I am going slightly rogue in my own thread here, but this sounds like Bloodraven to me. He has been "promoted" to the highest ranking Night's Watch position. Brynden Rivers never abandoned his post, nay, it is because of his talents (just like Jon) that he is now the Night's Watch high admiral (I know there is a word for this, but I cannot think of it) and he is still on duty watching.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

This is a very important bit to remember, and a majorly recurring theme in so much of all of GRRM's work --> history has been altered, lost to time, and the current story is not what we think "the truth" is.

I have seen it mentioned a few brief times that the Others may have been part of the NW in the dawn of it's existence. I am not so sure about that because I just don't know enough of those hypotheses to make a decision. One such idea that I can think of is that the Others are coming down from the north because they have their own prophecy that is currently coming true, and it may be good or bad for them, and they are just trying to survive. Or, something like that. If you have a link to an essay I'd like to read it.

Putting the Others theory aside for a moment, the AGOT prologue really does seem to show us that the Others are looking for a specific, Stark looking, Lord Commander... and arrogant Waymar Royce just ain't it. Waymar calls to the "gods", slashes at trees, and draws his blade first to fight. Not a good first time meeting. 

I always give great thought to what is going on in that particular scene with The Others in rereads and look for meaning in the actions and reactions of both them and Royce.  One thing I am pretty certain of is that Royce's sword is given a good look to make sure it's not dragonsteel and/or Valyrian Steel.  I always notice that Royce draws first as well and wonder what it means.  I'm not sure that the Others were looking for a Stark, though.  I'd need it more spelled out to go with that.  I always wind up with more questions not answers, though, on rereading this prologue.........I'm good at having many ideas, not at picking one, HA

Edited by Lady Fevre Dream

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

This is a very important bit to remember, and a majorly recurring theme in so much of all of GRRM's work --> history has been altered, lost to time, and the current story is not what we think "the truth" is.

I have seen it mentioned a few brief times that the Others may have been part of the NW in the dawn of it's existence. I am not so sure about that because I just don't know enough of those hypotheses to make a decision. One such idea that I can think of is that the Others are coming down from the north because they have their own prophecy that is currently coming true, and it may be good or bad for them, and they are just trying to survive. Or, something like that. If you have a link to an essay I'd like to read it.

Putting the Others theory aside for a moment, the AGOT prologue really does seem to show us that the Others are looking for a specific, Stark looking, Lord Commander... and arrogant Waymar Royce just ain't it. Waymar calls to the "gods", slashes at trees, and draws his blade first to fight. Not a good first time meeting. 

Yes, Waymar shot first! You don't attack trees in the Haunted Forest :-)

I don't have an essay on this, just some discussions in the Heresy threads. I was trying to look at the different types of shadows and how they might be linked to the Others. We have white shadows (the WW, the KGs, Ghost) and black shadows (Mel's shadow babies, the NW); we also have the 6 shadows in Ned's ToJ dream, the shadows in Mirri's tent and a lot of references to casting shadows. And this hint from Daario:

Quote

“You are fighting shadows when you should be fighting the men who cast them,”

 

Edited by Tucu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

That's my take on it as well. And there's a passage in Dance that I think supports this, especially your second paragraph. 

ADwD, Jon XII

The castle Jon returned to was far different from the one he'd left that morning. For as long as he had known it, Castle Black had been a place of silence and shadows, where a meagre company of men in black moved like ghosts amongst the ruins of a fortress that had once housed ten times their numbers. All that had changed. Lights now shone through windows where Jon Snow had never seen lights shine before. Strange voices echoed down the yards, and free folk were coming and going along icy paths that had only known the black boots of crows for years. Outside the old Flint Barracks, he came across a dozen men pelting one another with snow. Playing, Jon thought in astonishment, grown men playing like children, throwing snowballs the way Bran and Arya once did, and Robb and me before them.

Sorry to quote this same post twice, but this to me sounds so like the old ways returning, which brought to mind a few other quotes I found interesting.

One, that when Jon sends Sam to the Citadel with Gilly and baby Battleborn in tow, that Jon proposes Sam claim baby Battleborn as his own bastard. This seems to call back to the idea that maybe the NW men did openly have children, that maybe it is not the vow-sin it is made out to be, because if so, Sam would be at risk and he isn't. Also, that bastards really aren't tainted as they are just humans.

The second is how the first thing Jon does when he is chosen as LC is to reinstate Raven's Teeth archery training, and even though Sam hates it, it is required that Sam practice and Sam does.

*There is a quote that I am looking for and will add that has Jon describing how archery is more important to the Watch, and the sword was a later addition that came with the southron knights (or something), which to me adds to the idea that these new "puritanical" vows are Andal influence.

Update: Found it and added it below.

A Dance with Dragons - Jon II

"Dareon will join you at Eastwatch. My hope is that his songs will win some men for us in the south. The Blackbird will deliver you to Braavos. From there, you'll arrange your own passage to Oldtown. If you still mean to claim Gilly's babe as your bastard, send her and the child on to Horn Hill. Elsewise, Aemon will find a servant's place for her at the Citadel."
 
"My b-b-bastard. Yes, I … my mother and my sisters will help Gilly with the child. Dareon could see her to Oldtown just as well as me. I'm … I've been working at my archery every afternoon with Ulmer, as you commanded … well, except when I'm in the vaults, but you told me to find out about the Others. The longbow makes my shoulders ache and raises blisters on my fingers." He showed Jon his hand. "I still do it, though. I can hit the target more often than not now, but I'm still the worst archer who ever bent a bow. I like Ulmer's stories, though. Someone needs to write them down and put them in a book."
 
"You do it. They have parchment and ink at the Citadel, as well as longbows. I will expect you to continue with your practice. Sam, the Night's Watch has hundreds of men who can loose an arrow, but only a handful who can read or write. I need you to become my new maester."
 

A Feast for Crows - Samwell I

"Where's your longbow, Sam?" asked Grenn. Ser Alliser used to call him Aurochs, and every day he seemed to grow into the name a little more. He had come to the Wall big but slow, thick of neck, thick of waist, red of face, and clumsy. Though his neck still reddened when Pyp twisted him around into some folly, hours of work with sword and shield had flattened his belly, hardened his arms, broadened his chest. He was strong, and shaggy as an aurochs too. "Ulmer was expecting you at the butts."
 
"Ulmer," Sam said, abashed. Almost the first thing Jon Snow had done as Lord Commander was institute daily archery drill for the entire garrison, even stewards and cooks. The Watch had been placing too much emphasis on the sword and too little on the bow, he had said, a relic of the days when one brother in every ten had been a knight, instead of one in every hundred. Sam saw the sense in the decree, but he hated longbow practice almost as much as he hated climbing steps. When he wore his gloves he could never hit anything, but when he took them off he got blisters on his fingers. Those bows were dangerous. Satin had torn off half his thumbnail on a bowstring. "I forgot."
 
"You broke the heart of the wildling princess, Slayer," said Pyp. Of late, Val had taken to watching them from the window of her chamber in the King's Tower. "She was looking for you."
Edited by The Fattest Leech
MY QUOTER IS GOING WONKY!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Brynden Bloodraven Rivers is the First Sea Lord of the NW! :D

 

That's IT!!! That's the term :agree::thumbsup::cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Ok, I am going slightly rogue in my own thread here, but this sounds like Bloodraven to me. He has been "promoted" to the highest ranking Night's Watch position. Brynden Rivers never abandoned his post, nay, it is because of his talents (just like Jon) that he is now the Night's Watch high admiral (I know there is a word for this, but I cannot think of it) and he is still on duty watching.

I was going to say Commodore, but now I'm thinking Vice Admiral?

I would think 'live and die at my post' came before Bloodraven.  I think that probably came with the idea of no wives, children, lands, etc.?  I'm not sure if I go with Bloodraven not having abandoned his post, or of it being a simple yes or no prospect anyway.  

I need to read the Dunk and Egg series (I have the first one here, haven't read it yet, though, LOL), maybe that would help me with my thoughts on Bloodraven (minus what I know from reading here and researching a bit on my own).  Bloodraven is a BIG question mark for me, in many ways.  Something about that cave they are all in reminds me of GRRM's horror writing, and I feel like screaming sometimes;  GET OUT!!  Now, is that The Children, the situation, the wights and the wolves that were Varamyr's at the door, and not Bloodraven, but..........honestly, that place and the writing for it has GRRM's horror vibe to it.  (See. your Going Rogue took me Going Totally Off The Rails?)  LOL  Well, at least it's not #BizarroIceAndFire posting, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So how would the Night's Watch alert everyone of the coming of the long night/the Others? The Night's Watch has their whole system of blowing a warhorn once for returning rangers, twice for wildlings and thrice for the Others. I would think that the Horn of Winter would have stayed with the Night's Watch, but is instead beyond the Wall, and Joramun allegedly blew it, which brought Brandon the Breaker up to help get rid of the Night's King. Maybe the sleepers in the NW's vows are the Starks. If the Wall was raised with blood magic, maybe there's some kind of blood magic in that horn too.

I have been sort of thinking for a while that the wildlings are actual descendants from the original Night's Watchmen. And that they had their purpose too and that their purpose has also been lost to time.  

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to separate people by a wall when everyone is First Men and everyone worships the same gods, unless they are choosing to remain beyond the Wall.

Sorry if I colored outside the lines a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I was going to say Commodore, but now I'm thinking Vice Admiral?

The term as kindly pointed out to me above is First Sea Lord ;)

3 minutes ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I would think 'live and die at my post' came before Bloodraven.  I think that probably came with the idea of no wives, children, lands, etc.?  I'm not sure if I go with Bloodraven not having abandoned his post, or of it being a simple yes or no prospect anyway.  

I need to read the Dunk and Egg series (I have the first one here, haven't read it yet, though, LOL), maybe that would help me with my thoughts on Bloodraven (minus what I know from reading here and researching a bit on my own).  Bloodraven is a BIG question mark for me, in many ways.  Something about that cave they are all in reminds me of GRRM's horror writing, and I feel like screaming sometimes;  GET OUT!!  Now, is that The Children, the situation, the wights and the wolves that were Varamyr's at the door, and not Bloodraven, but..........honestly, that place and the writing for it has GRRM's horror vibe to it.  (See. your Going Rogue took me Going Totally Off The Rails?)  LOL  Well, at least it's not #BizarroIceAndFire posting, right?

I am bookmarking this one for a while because I have to meet someone for a work meeting.

I'll be back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Widow's Watch said:

I have been sort of thinking for a while that the wildlings are actual descendants from the original Night's Watchmen. And that they had their purpose too and that their purpose has also been lost to time.  

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to separate people by a wall when everyone is First Men and everyone worships the same gods, unless they are choosing to remain beyond the Wall.

I agree that the free folk are descendants of those FM who fought in the BftD... and that's in part why I think the quote I posted up thread is important. When Jon returns and sees CB has come back to life, so to speak. Another thing in that quote that seems important is the fact that the NW now has a vast majority of FM blood, like it was back in the day Long Night. 

But I never bought that the free folk were somehow separated from the 7K, or banished beyond the Wall, or anything like that. After all, we know it took hundreds of years to build the Wall, and thousands for it to reach its current height. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

The walls, plural. Many ideas on where this other wall could have been.

Since there are 19 castles at the Wall, my first thought was that calling it "walls" on the vow was due the fact the Wall was build in several (19) parts that only were attached to each other later on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×