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The Fattest Leech

Night's Watch vows and the truth of history.

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11 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

Of course I'm making assumptions, we have very few reliable facts on this topic. I just thought that it could be a viable reason for a physical barrier replacing a magical one, say a long line of weirwoods that informed the original barrier line of the Wall, i.e. your fence, that wouldn't trouble a human.

I'd say a potentially better explanation is that the Others/wights/ice spiders can indeed climb over the Wall or cross it where the Watch in their stupidity cut tunnels through the ice.

Height in combination with a thoroughly manned Wall might indeed be the only option to stop full-fledged attack of the Others on the Wall - or rather: it might be what the men of the Watch raising the Wall to such heights thought would stop them. It also fits with the ancient wisdom that 'the Wall defends itself'. Something that would come in very handy when ice spiders and wights are trying to climb it.

And we do know that there is magic in the Wall that prevents wights from crossing the Black Gate as Coldhands pointed out to Sam.

11 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

Well, Wall or not, the Free Folk manage to swell into tens of thousands in that harsh land slowly, but surely, over time. That seemed to be enough incentive to get the Others moving again. We don't know of any other reason since the Wildlings were acting out of type by working together when they never had before. They were really scared of something. Something that they feared more than the Wall or the Watch or even the Seven Kingdoms.

The wildlings had other kings before, kings interested in conquest.

We don't know since when the Others are back, but if we assumed that most/all of their wights were destroyed during the War for the Dawn, and they themselves were forced to retreat to the Heart of Winter where, most likely, no human beings live, then it is clear that it might have taken them quite some time to fill up the ranks of their wights again.

However, the larger problem might have been to make new Others - if they are indeed 'Craster's sons' then the Others need human sacrifices to fill up their own ranks, and while the wildlings were not yet willing to give any sons up (or while the Others couldn't really approach them because they were living too far apart) they may have been stuck with only handful or so survivors.

11 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

The Halfhand and then Jon saw that. Mormont trusted them and saw for himself, but sadly, had to be killed for plot reasons. Can you imagine if the Craster's massacre hadn't happened that Mormont wouldn't have marched down to KL himself and demanded some help? I know I would have as LC.

Sure. And it is also for strange plot reasons that neither Jon nor Stannis think about any of that. My first idea after coming to the conclusion that the Others exist would be to convince other important people of that fact. It wouldn't be 'let's wage a war against the Boltons and weaken the united strength of mankind in the North even further by another pointless civil war'.

In part, this can be accepted because apparently nobody thinks the Others have the means or even the interest to really cross the Wall, but that's the characters being pretty dumb/unimaginative on purpose. And it still is no excuse for nobody at the Wall making a real move to inform anybody in the North (Manderlys and Boltons, say) or further down south about the true enemy.

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13 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

Of course I'm making assumptions, we have very few reliable facts on this topic. I just thought that it could be a viable reason for a physical barrier replacing a magical one, say a long line of weirwoods that informed the original barrier line of the Wall, i.e. your fence, that wouldn't trouble a human.

 

I must have missed something, but I don't recall what the 'viable reason for a physical barrier' was... :(

The bold, I love that idea! :thumbsup:

And now I wonder... if a physical wall of ice was built to replace the heart tree magical fence, I think they would build this Wall alongside the line of heart trees instead of chopping them down. And we hear more than once about the crows 'trimming' the forest near the Wall, including to use the wood. And then... at some point they trim the heart trees as well, chalking it all up to superstition. 

And even if there wasn't exactly a magical heart tree fence but more of them - many even? - along the extension of the Wall. And by chopping down the heart trees not only the magic of the Wall slowly begun to wane but it contributed to the NW not being true anymore. :eek:

(not sure if I made myself clear, I'm very hungry right now :P )

13 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

Well, Wall or not, the Free Folk manage to swell into tens of thousands in that harsh land slowly, but surely, over time. That seemed to be enough incentive to get the Others moving again. We don't know of any other reason since the Wildlings were acting out of type by working together when they never had before. They were really scared of something. Something that they feared more than the Wall or the Watch or even the Seven Kingdoms.

Well, there have been other KBtW... Joramun, Gendel and Gorne, Raymun Redbeard. But yeah, few and far between. 

13 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

The Halfhand and then Jon saw that. Mormont trusted them and saw for himself, but sadly, had to be killed for plot reasons. Can you imagine if the Craster's massacre hadn't happened that Mormont wouldn't have marched down to KL himself and demanded some help? I know I would have as LC.

:agree:

 

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23 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

I must have missed something, but I don't recall what the 'viable reason for a physical barrier' was... :(

Back here:

Quote

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.

and here:

Quote

The Others would want a steady supply of wights to bolster their forces. By depriving them of that with the Wall, the Others had to go into hibernation until there were enough people beyond the wall to begin their attacks again. It might be why they are moving so slowly and biding their time. They need something overwhelming to tackle the Wall's magical and physical barriers. Otherwise, why not just get a ton of boats and row past the damn thing?

The gist is that the physical barrier grew out of the need to keep people from going north, not monsters coming south.

And as far as the Free Folk; I meant in recent memory and I never got the idea the other collaborations were on this scale. Mance got literally everyone on board. That's notable

Edited by Trefayne

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44 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

The bold, I love that idea! :thumbsup:

And now I wonder... if a physical wall of ice was built to replace the heart tree magical fence, I think they would build this Wall alongside the line of heart trees instead of chopping them down. And we hear more than once about the crows 'trimming' the forest near the Wall, including to use the wood. And then... at some point they trim the heart trees as well, chalking it all up to superstition. 

And even if there wasn't exactly a magical heart tree fence but more of them - many even? - along the extension of the Wall. And by chopping down the heart trees not only the magic of the Wall slowly begun to wane but it contributed to the NW not being true anymore. :eek:

Sorry, I was trying to do multi-quotes and the forum software ate my homework! :bang:  I started over and then got distracted.

This would explain a few things, like why there is a tree growing in the middle of the Black Gate. It would also make sense that newer recruits were ignorant of the meaning of the trees and also weirded (pun intended!) out by those morose faces and blood red sap, not to mention freezing their buns off, so cutting them back for firewood, and a "sensible defensive perimeter", seemed like a great idea at the time.

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5 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

Sorry, I was trying to do multi-quotes and the forum software ate my homework! :bang:  I started over and then got distracted.

"Maybe the dingo ate your baby homework!" :laugh:

(I hate when that happens)

5 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

This would explain a few things, like why there is a tree growing in the middle of the Black Gate. It would also make sense that newer recruits were ignorant of the meaning of the trees and also weirded (pun intended!) out by those morose faces and blood red sap, not to mention freezing their buns off, so cutting them back for firewood, and a "sensible defensive perimeter", seemed like a great idea at the time.

Yup. And this "smells Andal" as well. 

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7 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

And now I wonder... if a physical wall of ice was built to replace the heart tree magical fence, I think they would build this Wall alongside the line of heart trees instead of chopping them down. And we hear more than once about the crows 'trimming' the forest near the Wall, including to use the wood. And then... at some point they trim the heart trees as well, chalking it all up to superstition. 

Sounds pretty likely...

Reminds me of an old horror where soldiers come into a monastery the walls of which are inlaid with silver crosses on the inside. Guess what happens when the soldiers start collecting the silver :D

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8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

 

That actually doesn't make a lot of sense. Think about it. The Watch was founded in the days of the Hundred Kingdoms. Back in those days every black brother would have been dealing with blood feuds with his neighbor. If the officers and commanders had allowed that to influence their decisions, there would not only have been war with the Hundred Kingdoms but also in the Watch itself.

The neutrality thing makes little and less sense in the modern day and age where there only Seven Kingdom (six of which are hundreds of leagues away) and then a united Realm. But back in the day when even the North had not yet been conquered and subdued by the Starks, the desire to involve the Watch in the petty struggles of the petty kings would have been much larger - especially if we assume how powerful the Watch would have been as a military order with recruits from all the Hundred Kingdoms in comparison to a single petty kingdom - or even a coalition of petty kings.

The Watch likely was the strongest military power in Westeros for thousands of years.

That is not much of an argument against it. It is a bit like saying that it is a bad idea to build a city near Mt Vesuvius, yet what do you know, there goes Pompei (and Naples is nearby for that matter). The Watch was founded before the established authorities of the seven kingdoms. An independent military force guarding a frontier would always present a danger to those it guarded. These are the basic conditions to make any assumptions. The question here is whether service to the Watch begun as quasi-banishment and if the people responsible for its founding foresaw those troubles from the get go. 

Another assumption is that the Watch was founded with the purpose of guarding against the Others. That purpose in itself implies neutrality. It does not however guarantee that there were safeguards of that neutrality to begin with, in respect with the relationship of the Watch with the other kingdoms. One argument against the terns of service being as they are in the current timeline is that they would be much harder to impose for a multitude of kingdoms than for a single authority. On the contrary it would have been much easier for those early kingdoms to lure people to guard the frontier with grants of land. This would also answer the necessity of proving support for the Watch. Second it would be a bad idea of arming undesirables and setting them in your backyards. If they had their own lands it defend though, it would be a different matter.

One almost inescapable conclusion however is this: the Others did not go quietly with the Long Night. One does not spend this kind of manpower and resources building and guarding a three hundred mile long walk for a potential threat. The Others must have continued to be a threat long after the Long Night ended. The early kingdoms of the North finding themselves constantly fighting the Others decided to establish a dedicated force along the narrowest point of land. They did that by granting land to those who would contain the threat and charging them with fortifying that region. The willings would then be the descendants of those who already lived beyond that boundary. As the generations pass the boundary is established and the threat of the Others gradually wanes. In the meantime individuals who for one reason or another are forced to flee their homes find refuge in that border force. That border force is by now well established and their leaders are growing greater ambitions than guarding the end of the world, and those exiles or their descendants long to return to their homes and find within the Watch support to do so. And so the Watch becomes a threat to those it was meant to guard, is beaten back and various restrictions are being put in place. All the while the people beyond the Wall have become a threat on their own and the Others still linger, which why the Watch is nor disbanded, but gradually evolves into the form it would take in later years.

I think that is plausible scenario of how something like the Watch could come to be.

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5 hours ago, The Sleeper said:

That is not much of an argument against it. It is a bit like saying that it is a bad idea to build a city near Mt Vesuvius, yet what do you know, there goes Pompei (and Naples is nearby for that matter). The Watch was founded before the established authorities of the seven kingdoms. An independent military force guarding a frontier would always present a danger to those it guarded. These are the basic conditions to make any assumptions. The question here is whether service to the Watch begun as quasi-banishment and if the people responsible for its founding foresaw those troubles from the get go. 

Considering that Dorne and the Reach are not exactly in the neighborhood it would have been effective banishment from the start, yes. Even if they had the right to visit their family once in a while, it would have been pretty difficult to actually do this if they were thousands of miles away.

But the reason why neutrality would have always been a thing simply is the fact especially in the old days every recruit would have brought his issues to the Wall. A Stark commander would have favored the Starks in the Watch and outside the Watch, a Bolton commander the Boltons, etc.

There must have been mechanism to deal with that from the start, or else the Watch wouldn't have survived its first century.

5 hours ago, The Sleeper said:

Another assumption is that the Watch was founded with the purpose of guarding against the Others. That purpose in itself implies neutrality. It does not however guarantee that there were safeguards of that neutrality to begin with, in respect with the relationship of the Watch with the other kingdoms. One argument against the terns of service being as they are in the current timeline is that they would be much harder to impose for a multitude of kingdoms than for a single authority. On the contrary it would have been much easier for those early kingdoms to lure people to guard the frontier with grants of land. This would also answer the necessity of proving support for the Watch. Second it would be a bad idea of arming undesirables and setting them in your backyards. If they had their own lands it defend though, it would be a different matter.

The impression we get is that taking the black was the greatest thing a man could do in the early days. Which means that it would have been a thing many and more great men would have done, not criminals and thugs.

It might be that originally kin of the first black brothers settled in the Gift, but once the Gift was full (which it might have been from the start or very soon thereafter) there would have been no point in inviting peasants and the like to settle in the Gifts.

Safeguarding the neutrality of the Watch is something the Hundred Kingdoms could have never ensured. They would have been too weak for that. Which is why it must have been the honor of the calling and the sanctity of the oaths that ensured that men lived and died at their posts.

5 hours ago, The Sleeper said:

One almost inescapable conclusion however is this: the Others did not go quietly with the Long Night. One does not spend this kind of manpower and resources building and guarding a three hundred mile long walk for a potential threat. The Others must have continued to be a threat long after the Long Night ended. The early kingdoms of the North finding themselves constantly fighting the Others decided to establish a dedicated force along the narrowest point of land. They did that by granting land to those who would contain the threat and charging them with fortifying that region. The willings would then be the descendants of those who already lived beyond that boundary. As the generations pass the boundary is established and the threat of the Others gradually wanes. In the meantime individuals who for one reason or another are forced to flee their homes find refuge in that border force. That border force is by now well established and their leaders are growing greater ambitions than guarding the end of the world, and those exiles or their descendants long to return to their homes and find within the Watch support to do so. And so the Watch becomes a threat to those it was meant to guard, is beaten back and various restrictions are being put in place. All the while the people beyond the Wall have become a threat on their own and the Others still linger, which why the Watch is nor disbanded, but gradually evolves into the form it would take in later years.

Yet there are no hints that this is the scenario GRRM thinks about or presents to us. There is no indication that the Others continued to be a threat after the Long Night, nor is there an indication the Watch was founded only by northern kingdoms (if that were the case the Andal kingdoms later on would have never sent their criminals to the Wall, nor would anyone down south ever volunteered for the Watch - the fact that they still do that even today is a strong sign that the NW is an institution founded by all the Hundred Kingdoms, even the Ironborn).

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17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

 

 

The issue is that I see no reason to assume there was some pact between the NW and the Others, nor is there any reason to believe the meeting of Waymar and the Others was the first between the Watch and the Others in recent years. The Others could have been on the move as early as Bloodraven becoming the Last Greenseer. And they most definitely weren't on good terms with the wildlings in recent years.

There is no reason to believe that the conflict between the Others and the NW (and humanity as such) only began in the Prologue of AGoT.

I'm not sure you addressed my actual post, not to mention, I'm not sure you are even being consistent in this post. 

 

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5 hours ago, Lady Fevre Dream said:

I'm not sure you addressed my actual post, not to mention, I'm not sure you are even being consistent in this post. 

Sure, I am:

1. We don't know whether the meeting between Waymar and the Others had any special meaning as such.

2. We do know that Mance united the wildlings precisely because they had no chance to win a war against the Others - meaning they had been out there and active for years and years before AGoT because Mance Rayder is already their king before the Prologue of AGoT.

3. Considering that the rangers actually do range beyond the Wall there is no reason to assume Waymar's troop is the first to meet, interact, threaten, or fight the Others or their wights. Waymar's troop isn't the first group of rangers to disappear beyond the Wall.

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31 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Sure, I am:

1. We don't know whether the meeting between Waymar and the Others had any special meaning as such.

So, are you saying that you think GRRM opened his magnum opus with a series of random actions? Waymar looking like a Stark, the blades, the trees, shadows, “gods”, is all random? 

31 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

2. We do know that Mance united the wildlings precisely because they had no chance to win a war against the Others - meaning they had been out there and active for years and years before AGoT because Mance Rayder is already their king before the Prologue of AGoT.

I’m out at the moment and don’t have the books to quote from, but there is enough to suggest that Mance was lying to the free folk to get them to join. Mance wanted the horn to “break” the wall. The methods he used was just part of it. I think he did fall in love with Dalla in the interim because the free folk are just humans, as is he, and it a normal human thing to happen... again, not in the original NW vows. 

31 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

3. Considering that the rangers actually do range beyond the Wall there is no reason to assume Waymar's troop is the first to meet, interact, threaten, or fight the Others or their wights. Waymar's troop isn't the first group of rangers to disappear beyond the Wall.

We don’t know anything about these other disappearances, including if they encountered Others. The only other person seemingly making that claim is Craster. 

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35 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

So, are you saying that you think GRRM opened his magnum opus with a series of random actions? Waymar looking like a Stark, the blades, the trees, shadows, “gods”, is all random? 

The scene is not random without imagining a lot - it introduces the Watch, the Others, and the wights.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar ... and the story grew in the telling. There is no indication the Others care about the Starks or look for them. The wights didn't show any interest in Jon Snow despite the fact that he was there and they saw him when they found them in the weirwood grove.

35 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I’m out at the moment and don’t have the books to quote from, but there is enough to suggest that Mance was lying to the free folk to get them to join. Mance wanted the horn to “break” the wall. The methods he used was just part of it. I think he did fall in love with Dalla in the interim because the free folk are just humans, as is he, and it a normal human thing to happen... again, not in the original NW vows.

The story indicates that Mance and the others originally tried to resist against the Others, tried to fight them, until they realized they could not possibly win. That is what Mance tells Jon.

The idea that the original vow didn't include chastity and celibacy lacks evidence at this point (and will likely never be proven because George doesn't indicate he is going to reveal the truth about all the ancient stuff) but even if this was 'the truth' then this doesn't mean whoever added the newer stuff didn't make the vows better.

After all, Maester Aemon is very much right about love being the death of honor and the bane of duty. Men who have conflicting loyalties tend to choose love over duty in most of the cases. And he wouldn't have been the first guy to come to that conclusion.

35 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

We don’t know anything about these other disappearances, including if they encountered Others. The only other person seemingly making that claim is Craster. 

Perhaps Waymar and company were the first rangers to meet the Others - but if that's the case there is no indication that this is so. There is no indication that the Others treat Waymar special. And there were other disappearances. The fact that the wildlings have issues with the Others for a pretty long time makes it very likely that other rangers met the same fate as Waymar. It is no confirmation, mind you, but not unlikely.

Depending how many they are, and how difficult it must be to get access to human corpses that were not burned, it is not unlikely that their grand plan was in the works for decades, perhaps even centuries. With the claim from D&E that winters grew harder and crueler since the death of the last dragon the grand plan might be in the works since the year 153 AC. And I'm pretty sure there is a story to the story as to why Bloodraven deserted the Watch and ended up with the Children. The Others might very have been involved in that whole thing.

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Very well.  Let us examine the vows. 

  • From the wording, it means the NW is responsible for guarding the territory on the south side of the wall.  
  • The wildlings chose to be separate from the realm.  That is their own choice.  Their ways threaten the feudal system.  Therefore, they too are a threat that the realm should be defended from.  A wildling who bends his knees and obeys the laws of the realm ceases to be a wildling and thus become part of the realm.  
  • The prohibition against marriage, pursuit of glory, etc. all make sense.  An order like the NW would not exist for very long without those rules firmly in place.   I seriously doubt the Andals edited the vows.  Maintaining the practice of neutrality is crucial.  That had to be in place from the very beginning of the order.  

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1 minute ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

From the wording, it means the NW is responsible for guarding the territory on the south side of the wall.  

What exactly points to that? Realms of men means humanity, nothing more nothing less. 

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9 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

What exactly points to that? Realms of men means humanity, nothing more nothing less. 

A realm is a physical territory.  The NW defends that territory against threats from the north, be they the Others or the Wildllings.  Like I said, a wildling who comes to the realm, bends his knees and obeys the laws cease to become a wildling.  She or He then becomes a part of the realm and would enjoy the protection of the NW.  But a wildling who refuses to bend the knees and continues to disrespect the laws of the monarch in King's Landing remains a wildling and should be sent back to the other side.    

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18 minutes ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

A realm is a physical territory.  The NW defends that territory against threats from the north, be they the Others or the Wildllings.  Like I said, a wildling who comes to the realm, bends his knees and obeys the laws cease to become a wildling.  She or He then becomes a part of the realm and would enjoy the protection of the NW.  But a wildling who refuses to bend the knees and continues to disrespect the laws of the monarch in King's Landing remains a wildling and should be sent back to the other side.    

Wrong again.

one definition:

realmnoun [ C ] 
UK  /relm/ US /relm/
 

realm noun [ C ] (AREA)

C2 an area of interest or activity

Her interests are in the realm ofpractical politics.

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4 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Wrong again.

one definition:

realmnoun [ C ] 
UK  /relm/ US /relm/
 

realm noun [ C ] (AREA)

C2 an area of interest or activity

Her interests are in the realm ofpractical politics.

Realm - a community or a territory over which a sovereign rules; a kingdom.

Your definition is a very poor fit as the word is used in the vows.  The use of the word within the vows clearly indicate its meaning to be "territory."

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4 minutes ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

Realm - a community or a territory over which a sovereign rules; a kingdom.

As I said, I quoted one definition. 

4 minutes ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

Your definition is a very poor fit as the word is used in the vows.  The use of the word within the vows clearly indicate its meaning to be "territory."

It's not my definition, it's the dictionary's. And given the author and the phrasing, the fact that you don't see it is... practically out of the realms of possibility. ;)

 

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10 minutes ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

Realm - a community or a territory over which a sovereign rules; a kingdom.

So, like the King Beyond the Wall? ;)

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