Jump to content
The Fattest Leech

Night's Watch vows and the truth of history.

Recommended Posts

21 minutes ago, Ckram said:

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.

I agree. Maybe not necessarily 19 parts, but several that were joined together over the years. Which raises another interesting point... if that was the case, then the wards/magic would be really doing a lot to keep the WW or Winter to the North. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kissdbyfire said:

I agree. Maybe not necessarily 19 parts, but several that were joined together over the years. Which raises another interesting point... if that was the case, then the wards/magic would be really doing a lot to keep the WW or Winter to the North. 

It could also be that the 'watchers on the walls' part refers to there, originally, being just a couple of ringforts guarding the lands in the North where Westeros is most narrow, so this being a the ideal spot to stop/slow the Others should they ever come again.

Nor is there any reason to believe the Black Gate or the building of the Wall of ice where began immediately after the War for the Dawn.

19 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

But on closer reading you'll notice that the oldest part of the wall, the Black Gate under Nightfort, does not require most of the vows to be recited. Aside from the symbolism surrounding Bran at this point, the gate requires the oldest, simple set of vows, or more specifically, and identity. Who are you?

The Gate asks who Sam is, it does not ask (nor care) what he has sworn. Sam recites the part referring to what he is, not what he has promised not to do. By itself this talk about swords and watchers and fires and shields and horns simply isn't a vow. If I exclaim right now that I'm the fire that burns against the cold, I've neither sworn nor promised anything.

And in that sense we have little reason to assume that 'later generations' added the material which actually define the NW as an institution.

The idea that the First Men hung out at the Wall with their families, friends, and bastards as happy promiscuous band isn't very likely if you ask me. There is not the slightest shred of evidence for such an idea.

The First Men had lords and kings long before the Andals came, and most royal lines of Westeros are First Men royalty, not Andal royalty. The Lannisters, Gardeners, and Durrandons may have taken the new gods and some of their customs, but they had invented feudalism and monarchy long before the first Andal showed up in Westeros. And with feudalism, marriage, lordships, and lands comes the differentiation between offspring which can inherit and bastards who can't. That's not an Andal invention.

19 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

 

The Watch has fallen- literally in the current story because of the mutiny, but also through the course of time. It was not established to be a penal colony as it is now. It used to be vibrant and a place of honor. We do still see some sons join the Watch voluntarily, but not nearly as often as used to be. Why? Well, the glory was detracted by the forming of the Kingsguard. The vows of the Watch are what Visenya used to establish the Kingsguard, which a slashing at the king prompted her to do... and well, the symbolism around that is overwhelmingly obvious as well. Visenya was the first to detract fromt he esteem of the wall, just as Queen Alysanne did later with the closing of Nightfort.

That is one of the most ill-founded theories I've ever read. The Kingsguard are the glorified bodyguards of the king, a 'knightly order' limited to number never more than seven at any given time. Basing its vows on the NW actually makes the NW more prominent since every ripoff inevitably brings more attention to the original (especially if it as obvious as it is with the NW).

The Watch declined because the people of the Seven Kingdoms - the kings, lords, and commoners alike - collectively told the Watch to go fuck themselves. They found out there were better things to spend their days than manning a Wall that clearly had no purpose.

Even if all the Kingsguard in history would have taken the black if they had not become Kingsguard then the Watch would have still had all the men it needed considering that seven men in every generation are losses nobody is going to miss. But there is no indication that every Kingsguard would have taken the black if the Kingsguard hadn't been an option, no?

Alysanne Targaryen financed the building of a new castle at the Wall - something no lord or king seems to have done in the history of Westeros. She did not steal honor or glory from the NW.

It might be that the Faith Militant draw away men from the NW but even that's not clear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ckram said:

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.

Could be (even though it didn’t start with quite 19). I think this was a basic premise to the theories of forum past. The wall took a long, long time to create so this could be plausible. Connect the dots ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

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.

Yeas :). I agree with this for sure. Maybe they are looking for a particular wielder of a particular blade that is made of something more astronomical instead??? I dunno. But the sword may be one half of the whole of who the Others are searching for. It seems that after the first Other observe the humans for a bit, then Waymar holds his sword out for all to see, then the other five Others emerge.

Ser Waymar met him bravely. "Dance with me then." He lifted his sword high over his head, defiant. His hands trembled from the weight of it, or perhaps from the cold. Yet in that moment, Will thought, he was a boy no longer, but a man of the Night's Watch.
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them … four … five … Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.
The pale sword came shivering through the air.
22 hours ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

 

  I always notice that Royce draws first as well and wonder what it means. 

He is hot headed and arrogant. Typical "lord" personality. Also, his blade is described with all of those jewels and moonlight, which could also be telling.

"Wind. Trees rustling. A wolf. Which sound is it that unmans you so, Gared?" When Gared did not answer, Royce slid gracefully from his saddle. He tied the destrier securely to a low-hanging limb, well away from the other horses, and drew his longsword from its sheath. Jewels glittered in its hilt, and the moonlight ran down the shining steel. It was a splendid weapon, castle-forged, and new-made from the look of it. Will doubted it had ever been swung in anger.
"The trees press close here," Will warned. "That sword will tangle you up, m'lord. Better a knife."
 
22 hours ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

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

It seems to me that the Others are looking for someone with old blood, and the Stark or Stark look falls in to that, and Waymar has both. Jon is recognized as a Stark at first glance by a few people, so maybe :dunno:. The Royce's are an ancient house and their words "We Remember" could also be the hint that the Others are close to finding their man, just not there yet.

Ser Waymar Royce was the youngest son of an ancient house with too many heirs. He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife. Mounted on his huge black destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons. He wore black leather boots, black woolen pants, black moleskin gloves, and a fine supple coat of gleaming black ringmail over layers of black wool and boiled leather. Ser Waymar had been a Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch for less than half a year, but no one could say he had not prepared for his vocation. At least insofar as his wardrobe was concerned.
His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin. "Bet he killed them all himself, he did," Gared told the barracks over wine, "twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior." They had all shared the laugh.
 
And there are a few, quick lines that GRRM gave to Waymar that Jon later repeats, just in his own (less arrogant) way. The first quote seems to show Waymar as mocking, while when Jon says similar words they are said in a much more endearing way. Sorta like the difference between Tywin establishing Casterly Rock as something to covet and bicker over, while Eddard establishes Winterfell as a safe haven and home (Jon can't even be swayed to take it from Sansa).
 
Waymar: His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin. "Bet he killed them all himself, he did," Gared told the barracks over wine, "twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior." They had all shared the laugh.
 
[and then Waymar strikes first and mocks the gods. And we remember the wise words of Jaqen; "Gods are not mocked, girl." ^_^]
 
"Gods!" he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royce gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.
 
Jon: Arya's eyes went wide. Dark eyes, like his. "A sword," she said in a small, hushed breath.
The scabbard was soft grey leather, supple as sin. Jon drew out the blade slowly, so she could see the deep blue sheen of the steel. "This is no toy," he told her. "Be careful you don't cut yourself. The edges are sharp enough to shave with."
"Girls don't shave," Arya said.
 
[and then Jon gives a little girl agency in the patriarchal world by providing her with a sword/"sword" and the life lesson so that she can protect herself. Eddard later enhances this agency when he finds Syrio for Arya.]
"You'll have to work at it every day." He put the sword in her hands, showed her how to hold it, and stepped back. "How does it feel? Do you like the balance?"
"I think so," Arya said.
"First lesson," Jon said. "Stick them with the pointy end."
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I have to come back later when I have more time to expand on this part of history. In the meantime, YES, there is wording and evidence written in to the books that what Queen Alysanne did to the Watch, the North, and ultimately the entirety of Westeros, was part of the NW decline and alterations.

The World of Ice and Fire - The North: The Lords of Winterfell

We have earlier discussed House Stark's role in the Dance of the Dragons. Let it be added that Lord Cregan Stark reaped many rewards for his loyal support of King Aegon III...even if it was not a royal princess marrying into his family, as had been agreed in the Pact of Ice and Fire made when the doomed prince Jacaerys Velaryon had flown to Winterfell upon his dragon.
Though in these days it is said that Lord Ellard Stark was glad to aid the Night's Watch with the Gift, and took little convincing, the truth is otherwise. Letters from Lord Stark's brother to the Citadel, asking the maesters to provide precedents against the forced donation of property, made it plain that the Starks were not eager to do as King Jaehaerys bid. It may be that the Starks feared that, under the control of the Castle Black, the New Gift would inevitably decline—for the Night's Watch would always look northward and never give much thought to their new tenants to the south. And as it happens, that soon came to pass, and the New Gift is now said to be largely unpopulated thanks to the decline of the Watch and the rising toll taken by raiders from beyond the Wall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/31/2018 at 6:31 PM, Lady Fevre Dream said:

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

That is all one can reasonably see in that scene. The Other checks whether the sword is potentially dangerous before he makes a move, and when he is sure it isn't dangerous, they have some fun with Waymar.

At this point there is no indication that the Others care about the blood of men (or their motives, goals, customs, or underwear). 

Waymar drawing his sword first is pretty obvious: The man is very afraid of the Other. Why shouldn't he draw his sword?

Share this post


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

Ok, I have to come back later when I have more time to expand on this part of history. In the meantime, YES, there is wording and evidence written in to the books that what Queen Alysanne did to the Watch, the North, and ultimately the entirety of Westeros, was part of the NW decline and alterations.

That only refers to the New Gift, not to the Nightfort or the building of a new castle. Abandoning the Nightfort became a necessity because the Watch no longer had the men to man it - and it is not Queen Alysanne's fault that the fools at the Wall had forgotten that there was a secret magical gate beneath the Nightfort.

In fact, I'm really interested to find out how the Watch could forget a thing like that. I mean, surely the Black Gate was the main/only way through the Wall in the early days. How can you forget that you have such a gate beneath your castle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nevermind. 

Talk amongst yourselves. 

Edited by The Fattest Leech

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That is all one can reasonably see in that scene. The Other checks whether the sword is potentially dangerous before he makes a move, and when he is sure it isn't dangerous, they have some fun with Waymar.

At this point there is no indication that the Others care about the blood of men (or their motives, goals, customs, or underwear). 

Waymar drawing his sword first is pretty obvious: The man is very afraid of the Other. Why shouldn't he draw his sword?

I understand why Waymar drew his sword, especially from his own perspective.  I do wonder, though, if a Night's Watchmen drawing first on an Other meant something specific to the Others themselves or any old time agreement that Waymar and the Watch are no longer privy to.

Share this post


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

Nevermind. 

Talk amongst yourselves. 

Hey, hey, hey there, Ms.Leech.  I've had a weird few days so haven't really been able to keep up and catch up, but......what did I miss?  Besides the chance to speak with you?  I still have to do have some catching up to do on this thread and all, but I hope you do not leave me to talk to myself, I do that enough, LOL

Share this post


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

Hey, hey, hey there, Ms.Leech.  I've had a weird few days so haven't really been able to keep up and catch up, but......what did I miss?  Besides the chance to speak with you?  I still have to do have some catching up to do on this thread and all, but I hope you do not leave me to talk to myself, I do that enough, LOL

Hey there. Nah, you’re not alone. I just found I was repeating myself unnecessarily in that post and did not have enough prepared to fully lay out what the book text says. 

And, uh, I have no clue what you mean about talking to oneself :blink: Right, Leech?

Right. 

Share this post


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

I understand why Waymar drew his sword, especially from his own perspective.  I do wonder, though, if a Night's Watchmen drawing first on an Other meant something specific to the Others themselves or any old time agreement that Waymar and the Watch are no longer privy to.

Yeah. This is part of what I am wanting to discuss here. We know Waymar is arrogant and why, in his perspective, he drew first. It’s the encounter as a whole that is the set up for the big picture of the series. 

When someone draws first, or lays his sword across his lap, or swords go missing, etc, that signifies something more than just words on a page. 

Anyway, your mention of the agreement is probably very accurate here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

In fact, I'm really interested to find out how the Watch could forget a thing like that. I mean, surely the Black Gate was the main/only way through the Wall in the early days. How can you forget that you have such a gate beneath your castle?

There are people that forget that they stashed $100,000 in a desk drawer in their own lifetime.

The Watch deteriorated, in men, fortifications and spirit. I would think that the earlier members of the NW were more or less learned men, while over time the choice of recruits fell to the illiterate and more base elements we see in the story. As the quality and quantity of men dropped, so did the ability to maintain fortifications, but more importantly to the long term health of the Watch, they let their libraries decay into disuse and ruin. They don't know what they have lost until Sam comes along and realizes the worth of the missing information.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

There are people that forget that they stashed $100,000 in a desk drawer in their own lifetime.

The Watch deteriorated, in men, fortifications and spirit. I would think that the earlier members of the NW were more or less learned men, while over time the choice of recruits fell to the illiterate and more base elements we see in the story. As the quality and quantity of men dropped, so did the ability to maintain fortifications, but more importantly to the long term health of the Watch, they let their libraries decay into disuse and ruin. They don't know what they have lost until Sam comes along and realizes the worth of the missing information.

Not only this, but the wall as a whole, especially whatbwe see in the current story, took years, decades, or centuries to become the overwhelming monstrosity it is now. The idea that it was built in a day with no one around (friends, family, village folk, etc) is far fetched. The borders were open for a very long time in general. Jon even explains how the Watch has to keep adding rocks to the top because it all gets pressed down. That is a lot of rubble to bury something, especially a something that has not been seen in ages. 

There is mountain ton of symbolism to the fact that these newer recruits were bought by shiny jewels, not unlike Janos being bought by Tywin. Jon tries to have Greyguard rebuilt with its own rubble and surrounding trees, presumably the same way Nightfort could be rebuilt. It is still standing enough for Bran to discern what area is what while he is there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I understand why Waymar drew his sword, especially from his own perspective.  I do wonder, though, if a Night's Watchmen drawing first on an Other meant something specific to the Others themselves or any old time agreement that Waymar and the Watch are no longer privy to.

That takes it into weird conspiracy theory territory for me. At this point, we simply don't know much/anything about the Others, and we have no indication whatsoever that there was made a deal between the Others and the Watch. Especially not one making anyone caring about swords.

I'm open to the possibility that the Last Hero may have not exactly 'defeated' the Others but rather worked out some compromise, etc. But if this was the case then pretty much nobody knows it at this point and there is no indication that the Watch are not supposed to war against the Others or are not allowed to draw their swords on them.

5 hours ago, Trefayne said:

There are people that forget that they stashed $100,000 in a desk drawer in their own lifetime.

Usually only if they go senile.

5 hours ago, Trefayne said:

The Watch deteriorated, in men, fortifications and spirit. I would think that the earlier members of the NW were more or less learned men, while over time the choice of recruits fell to the illiterate and more base elements we see in the story. As the quality and quantity of men dropped, so did the ability to maintain fortifications, but more importantly to the long term health of the Watch, they let their libraries decay into disuse and ruin. They don't know what they have lost until Sam comes along and realizes the worth of the missing information.

Sure, I can also see how it happened, it is more that I'd actually really know how they forgot that particular thing. I mean, it is a gate. And people would have used it. There are still streets out there the Romans built. Streets don't go away easily, and neither do town or city gates (because it is a pain in the ass to build them). Gates are not things you have to read about in books.

I can see why it was decided that all the forts along the Wall should have their gates, too, gates that were then cut through the ice rather than being magical gates beneath it (because the Watch no longer had the mojo tomake stuff like that). But why also make that at the Nightfort. To forget a gate like that pretty much all the people serving at the Nightfort must have died at one point. Else the knowledge would have survived.

One can, perhaps, imagine it was decided that using that gate was impractical and cutting 'a proper gate' through the Wall caused them to eventually forget that another gate existed because they no longer used it. That could make sense.

Thinking about the Black Gate, I find the idea we originally had 'many walls' which eventually grew into one not very convincing. I think there is a good chance that the Black Gate (which is essentially a magical weirwood living underground) is actually the focal point of the magic in the Wall. It might be what imbues the Wall with its magic. If that's true, then there must have been some sort of magical fence/ward/whatever from the start. Not the massive wall of ice, but a line of magic preventing the Others and their minions from crossing it. And the Black Gate would have been the only way to cross it.

That would imply that the people back then split up between the Others and the First Men, with the Wall being the border between their spheres of influence. The men who became the wildlings would have remained on the side of the Others at their own peril - possibly because they didn't want to submit to the rulers of the Hundred Kingdoms. This doesn't mean the plan wasn't to allow them in should the Others come back - but over the years the wildlings became not only fierce enemies of the kingdoms in the North (and then the united Stark kingdom) but also of the Night's Watch as such.

And the men of Hundred/Seven Kingdoms feed, support, and pledge their lives to the Night's Watch - not the wildlings. The wildlings never pledged themselves to the support of the order who defends humanity against the Others (at least not as far as we know).

Share this post


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

Not only this, but the wall as a whole, especially whatbwe see in the current story, took years, decades, or centuries to become the overwhelming monstrosity it is now. The idea that it was built in a day with no one around (friends, family, village folk, etc) is far fetched. The borders were open for a very long time in general. Jon even explains how the Watch has to keep adding rocks to the top because it all gets pressed down. That is a lot of rubble to bury something, especially a something that has not been seen in ages. 

:agree:

And we do have the man himself saying it took hundreds of years to build the Wall, and thousands for it to reach its current height. 

Yes, the Wall was much smaller when first raised. It took hundreds of years to complete and thousands to reach it's present height.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could see how the original "Wall" barrier was organic (and magical) in nature and then was slowly replaced with the inorganic magical barrier that grew into the Wall.

Share this post


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

:agree:

And we do have the man himself saying it took hundreds of years to build the Wall, and thousands for it to reach its current height. 

Yes, the Wall was much smaller when first raised. It took hundreds of years to complete and thousands to reach it's present height.

Nobody ever questioned that this is the case. But as we all know - nobody needs a wall of that height to keep out men wearing bone armor. The Wall grew to the height it did because the men building it thought that it couldn't possibly be too high when the true enemy showed up.

5 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

I could see how the original "Wall" barrier was organic (and magical) in nature and then was slowly replaced with the inorganic magical barrier that grew into the Wall.

I'm pretty sure the ice part only works because of the magic, too. The long summers should have melted it away if there was no magic in the ice stabilizing it. Also take the whole thing about the Wall defending itself - if that's true, magic would be responsible for that, too. And that magic affects the ice.

In fact, in light of the Black Gate's magic one should think that the greatest mistake the NW ever made was to cut tunnels through the Wall and still keeping them open. We don't know whether the Others can walk through the ice or not - but I'd not be surprised if they could. There is no indication that the Wall works the same way as the ward of the Children at the cave (if it did, then there would be no reason for a wall at all!) and if that's true then the only way the Wall could prevent the Others/wights from crossing the tunnels would be to collapse on them - and that wouldn't do the trick for long.

One also imagines that those ice spiders should be ideally suited to climb the Wall - also explaining why the NW thought the Wall should be very high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

In fact, in light of the Black Gate's magic one should think that the greatest mistake the NW ever made was to cut tunnels through the Wall and still keeping them open. We don't know whether the Others can walk through the ice or not - but I'd not be surprised if they could. There is no indication that the Wall works the same way as the ward of the Children at the cave (if it did, then there would be no reason for a wall at all!) and if that's true then the only way the Wall could prevent the Others/wights from crossing the tunnels would be to collapse on them - and that wouldn't do the trick for long.

It could be that the original purpose of the Wall was to keep people in, not keep the Others out. Normal people wouldn't be bothered by the magical guards and wards meant to keep the super-natural out and it would be crazy to let people migrate north to add to their undead army. Jon understands this uncomfortable reality at this late date and I think the original Wall builders did back then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

It could be that the original purpose of the Wall was to keep people in, not keep the Others out. Normal people wouldn't be bothered by the magical guards and wards meant to keep the super-natural out and it would be crazy to let people migrate north to add to their undead army. Jon understands this uncomfortable reality at this late date and I think the original Wall builders did back then.

Sounds like a weird idea to me. There would be no point as to why men would man a Wall to keep basically themselves and their families out of a land they are apparently guarding.

If something like that would have happened then surely the Others, the wights, or even the Children might have manned the Wall, ensuring the First Men stay where they are supposed to stay.

And from what we can fathom there were always men north of the Wall.

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

×