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The Fattest Leech

Night's Watch vows and the truth of history.

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On 8/3/2018 at 12:53 AM, Luddsthirdmorph said:

There are however 6

Sword

watcher

Fire

Light

Shield

Horn

 

Thus perhaps we may have 2 for each of these.

 

Seems to me there are a number of key Watchmen

Jon (Sword), Sam (horn), Mance?, Maybe there will be 6 key roles. i could see Tyrion and Jorah joining the NW

 

Yes!   Yes!  Yes!  This exchange identifies all the heroes and what their job is.  Including that oddly placed Samwell Tarly, who dreams of utilizing Heartsbane to carve a roast.   Sigh.  Got any picks for any of these jobs?  

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25 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Not the original purpose, but what it became in the years between the Others leaving and not coming back.   Certainly keeping the Wildlings in is precisely what the Wall does now.  

By "what the Wall does now" do you mean in the present era or in the present point in the story?

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On 8/4/2018 at 4:30 PM, The Lord of the Crossing said:

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.  

I don't get that the defense of the Wall is merely defense of south of the Wall.   We see through Molestown, Craster and some of the mountain clansmen that the Nightswatch serves north of the Wall as well.   

One of my all time favorite topics was about the Wildlings and why in the world they are north of the Wall.   I always guessed these people were sacrifices of some sort.  What I learned in that topic is that we don't have a reason for thousands of 1st Men north of the Wall.    They could have been given a choice or not.  It does not matter now, but back in the day it had to be a consideration.  What I can say is that the Thenns are said to be closest to the real 1st Men and happen to live right next door to the Lands of Always Winter.   Now, we are led to believe in all this special blood flowing through the veins of the 1st Men.   Certainly they never married anyone from the Vale!   As to bending the knee what is there to say they didn't try at some point? 

Andals, changes in Northern political power--they did digress from self rule to regional lords after all.   The vows probably changed after the Nights King debacle.   He was the dirty rat who married a chick and brought ruin to the fine Nights Watch.  Without a vow of chastity or faith or servitude any organization could go rogue.  He was a good reason to change things up.   

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22 hours ago, kleevedge said:

I always found it intriguing how the NW vows say "We are the watcher on the walls" instead of on the wall. Makes me think there's another wall, possibly the five forts, and the grey waste actually connects to the land of always winter.

That is the most unexpected avatar for your screenname!  Plural is curious, but not a deal breaker.    There is no way possible even with magic and giants that the Wall went up on the same schedule as the Wilshire Towers, which only took a year or so.   I think these guys are onto something with the idea of individual panels that were connected over time.    There probably were several walls in the beginning.  

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8 minutes ago, Trefayne said:

By "what the Wall does now" do you mean in the present era or in the present point in the story?

I meant that keeping Wildlings behind the Wall is what the Wall became before Jon Snow.   Really?   Quiz time?  

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16 hours ago, Obscured by Klowds said:

@FattestLeech We seem to have very little indicator for how long ago the NW instituted their vow.  I was hoping that the seventy-nine sentinels would shed some light, but there is no info that I can find about which Lord Ryswell and son this tale is about. So all we get here, is that the vow must have existed before the start of the current calendar- before Aegon the conqueror.  Among other things, we know there was a consequence, so we can deduce there was a vow.  The date for these events is about as clear as mud, just like the rest of Old Nan's stories.  It is so annoying that Benjen didn't really answer Bran when he questioned him about it in a SOS.  :dunno: 

The vows do not typically cover the afterlife, but this particular case is a notable exception.  In death you could be burned, buried, or sealed into the icy wall.  Maybe the same commander that sealed the tunnel, thought that sealing these guys in alive was a good idea.  Is it possible that being frozen into the wall was a tradition?  I ask because it seems so ritualized, with the spears, horns and the guys facing north.  Seems like a logistical nightmare to get the all the guys to pose for you while they froze to death. 

Similarly to Stannis and Visenya, Lord Ryswell clearly didn't have any interest in changing the vows and apparently spoke the words himself once he was safely on death's doorstep. 

Side note: It seems so foolish for seventy-nine crows try to fly south all at once.  Mayhaps Lord Ryswell's son was somewhat of a leader, since the outlaws tried to take shelter in his family's castle?  I can't help but wonder what might have prompted 79 men to flee.  During the current story 79 men is a significant number... 

Jeor gave a simple explanation to the recruits about what their vows mean today:

If the vows were embellished, maybe it was done to enshrine the things their organization had learned the hard way.  They wanted to forget the Night King's name and the child sacrifice bit, but at the same time ensure that future recruits don't take wives or have children.  It seems to me that if I were to radically change or adopt new rules, that it would be helpful to do so at the same time as a change in locations.  If it is worth anything, my experience in the world tells me that people do better with new rules when you change their environment too.  Which brings me back to what Benjen said about abandoning the Nightfort because that is a change of location.  Lastly, any kind of update to the rules would likely cause a big revolt... and spur like... I don't know... seventy-nine men leave their posts.

Welcome, @Obscured by Klowds.  Yes it is my habit to welcome people to other people's topics!   I love all this detective work you're doing with the 79 Sentinels.   It is a creepy story and a creepy thing to do.   I struggle with wondering if Old Man Ryswell's final act wasn't every bit as creepy.   

Help me out with why 79 is a significant number?   I don't think I ever got higher than 19 so this is new to me.   

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22 hours ago, kleevedge said:

I always found it intriguing how the NW vows say "We are the watcher on the walls" instead of on the wall. Makes me think there's another wall, possibly the five forts, and the grey waste actually connects to the land of always winter.

There is an SSM in which the George says this is not so (please don't ask for a link, I've lost it, and my internet is running so slow, he'll finish Winds before I can find it again ... ;) )

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10 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

I don't get that the defense of the Wall is merely defense of south of the Wall.   We see through Molestown, Craster and some of the mountain clansmen that the Nightswatch serves north of the Wall as well. 

They trade, talk, interact, and fight with the wildlings. They can even befriend them. But they do not protect them. And never has the Watch claimed the lands beyond the Wall as their own. Their rangers range through those lands, but there is no indication that they do so with any intention of doing them any harm whatsoever - unless they pose a danger to Watch, the Wall, or the lands in the south the Wall and Watch do protect.

This idea that one can twist the purpose of an institution around so that they no longer protect just the wall they actually protect but also people living beyond that wall in 'enemy territory' is pretty strange to me. If that was the purpose then why have a wall at all? It just hinders you to get to the people you want also to protect.

 

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

They trade, talk, interact, and fight with the wildlings. They can even befriend them. But they do not protect them. And never has the Watch claimed the lands beyond the Wall as their own. Their rangers range through those lands, but there is no indication that they do so with any intention of doing them any harm whatsoever - unless they pose a danger to Watch, the Wall, or the lands in the south the Wall and Watch do protect.

This idea that one can twist the purpose of an institution around so that they no longer protect just the wall they actually protect but also people living beyond that wall in 'enemy territory' is pretty strange to me. If that was the purpose then why have a wall at all? It just hinders you to get to the people you want also to protect.

 

Like Pop Quiz was trying to wrangle me with...the Nights Watch does interact with the Wildlings.   They rent girlfriends in Molestown, creating jobs and contributing to a thriving community.   OK, I know what you mean here--it isn't written the NW protects just south of the Wall.   It is sworn to protect the realms of men.  It is only now coming fully into that realization of its duty.   My motivating text behind the statement is the explanations of the Watch's patronage of Craster.   They keep him going.  Yes he serves a purpose for them, but he would not have his keep without their support.   Regardless of motivation, north of the Wall is as much NW territory as anyone else who lives so close to the edge. 

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16 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

I meant that keeping Wildlings behind the Wall is what the Wall became before Jon Snow.   Really?   Quiz time?  

lol.

I only ask because if that is the case you missed the gist of my post. Not surprising taken out of context.

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13 minutes ago, Rufus Snow said:

There is an SSM in which the George says this is not so (please don't ask for a link, I've lost it, and my internet is running so slow, he'll finish Winds before I can find it again ... ;) )

Is it this one?

5) Does Westeros connect to the eastern continent through the north?

No.

I hope that helps. Keep reading.

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56 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Welcome welcome welcome @Curled Finger, master of lightning quick threads! 

You and @kissdbyfire and @Ygrain ( and a few others that I didn’t mean to forget at the mo’) have added some great input. 

I will scarf down my pizza and join back in shortly... which has been difficult to do in recent weeks. 

OK I'm caught up.   Sorry, I seem to have added a page of replies.   Dammit Leech.   What an excellent conversation.   Thanks so much for giving a forum weary user a great afternoon reading intelligent thoughts and interesting interpretations.   

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7 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Is it this one?

5) Does Westeros connect to the eastern continent through the north?

No.

I hope that helps. Keep reading.

You are so danged handy!

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14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

They trade, talk, interact, and fight with the wildlings. They can even befriend them. But they do not protect them.

I don't know about a blanket statement such as that, LV. Here we see LC Mormont decide to give Craster (of all ungodly people) a ride south of the wall to help protect he and his wives, and the Raven approves! Always listen to your raven.

A Clash of Kings - Jon III

Craster gave a shrug. "Happens I have better things to do than tend to the comings and goings of crows." He drank a pull of beer and set the cup aside. "Had no good southron wine up here for a bear's night. I could use me some wine, and a new axe. Mine's lost its bite, can't have that, I got me women to protect." He gazed around at his scurrying wives.

"You are few here, and isolated," Mormont said. "If you like, I'll detail some men to escort you south to the Wall."

The raven seemed to like the notion. "Wall," it screamed, spreading black wings like a high collar behind Mormont's head.

 

14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

And never has the Watch claimed the lands beyond the Wall as their own. Their rangers range through those lands, but there is no indication that they do so with any intention of doing them any harm whatsoever - unless they pose a danger to Watch, the Wall, or the lands in the south the Wall and Watch do protect.

The Night's Watch does not conquer and claim lands. They are neutral and they survive on the lands that are appointed to them. Supposedly that is why the Watch doesn't have walls surrounding the castles on the south side.

Honestly, the no walls on the south side really seem like a more convenient (or whatever) way to add all cloaks as necessary when the Wall and the southron realms require it. By night all cloaks are black.

14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

This idea that one can twist the purpose of an institution around so that they no longer protect just the wall they actually protect but also people living beyond that wall in 'enemy territory' is pretty strange to me. If that was the purpose then why have a wall at all?

What is the purpose of protecting a Wall or land if everyone dies? What or who is there left to protect? What makes one person more worthy of life than another just because they were born on a certain side of the wall? This is part of what Jon is learning and experiencing on his own, not just rehashing rumors... deadly rumors.

Even Davos (Stannis if you prefer) had come to this realization.

A Storm of Swords - Jon XI

"I am no lord, sire. You came because we sent for you, I hope. Though I could not say why you took so long about it."

Surprisingly, Stannis smiled at that. "You're bold enough to be a Stark. Yes, I should have come sooner. If not for my Hand, I might not have come at all. Lord Seaworth is a man of humble birth, but he reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horse, Davos said. I was trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when I should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne." Stannis pointed north. "There is where I'll find the foe that I was born to fight."

The wall is a barrier, but in no way at all that I have seen in the books does it state that people cannot move as needed... or any of the other added vows that arrived much later. It is not "twisting" the vows, it is understanding them and putting them to use as intended.

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI

"They were. As the lord commander knows."

"Are you certain that I have not forgotten some? The ones about the king and his laws, and how we must defend every foot of his land and cling to each ruined castle? How does that part go?" Jon waited for an answer. None came. "I am the shield that guards the realms of men. Those are the words. So tell me, my lord—what are these wildlings, if not men?"

Bowen Marsh opened his mouth. No words came out. A flush crept up his neck.

14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

It just hinders you to get to the people you want also to protect.

 

Not unless you use the predetermined gate locations at each castle. There were plenty when the NW was properly garrisoned and all castles open. But that way has been lost.

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21 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

OK I'm caught up.   Sorry, I seem to have added a page of replies. 

That is a good thing. Since the last great exodus of book clubbers, discussion has often been... well... upside down 'round these parts recently.

21 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

 Dammit Leech.   What an excellent conversation.   Thanks so much for giving a forum weary user a great afternoon reading intelligent thoughts and interesting interpretations.   

No problem.

While driving around town today I had the history book on full blast. I still don't find where these NW vows are discussed in origin. Just that the Kingsguard vows are based on the NW vows... but what are the kingsguard vows? I don't think we have them all. Maybe those should be figured out as well?

Thanks for joining in here :)

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3 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I don't know about a blanket statement such as that, LV. Here we see LC Mormont decide to give Craster (of all ungodly people) a ride south of the wall to help protect he and his wives, and the Raven approves! Always listen to your raven.

Craster is one of the guys they befriended. And they did not offer to protect Craster's Keep, they offered to take him in. That's a difference. I was talking about the blatant impracticality of the Watch protecting the wildlings on their own lands. They never did that, nor is there any indication that they ever promised that.

3 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

What is the purpose of protecting a Wall or land if everyone dies? What or who is there left to protect? What makes one person more worthy of life than another just because they were born on a certain side of the wall? This is part of what Jon is learning and experiencing on his own, not just rehashing rumors... deadly rumors.

Obviously the wildlings didn't care that they were sharing their lands with Others and wights for thousands of years. Back then, they were living up there and the Watch was protecting the realms of men from the Others who might come down. They were not going up in the Valley of the Thenns to protect the people there.

3 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

The wall is a barrier, but in no way at all that I have seen in the books does it state that people cannot move as needed... or any of the other added vows that arrived much later. It is not "twisting" the vows, it is understanding them and putting them to use as intended.

We don't know how the vows were originally intended, but if they were intended to protect the people living north of the Wall from the Others there then the wildlings made that job very hard for the Watch. I mean, even now that the Others have come back Mance the Moron never so much as reached out to his old fellows to tell them that he had found out what the Watch had been about all those years.

If the wildlings aren't there and the Watch doesn't know what's going on the Watch cannot protect them - even if they wanted to.

3 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Not unless you use the predetermined gate locations at each castle. There were plenty when the NW was properly garrisoned and all castles open. But that way has been lost.

It is not just the Wall - it is also the distance from the Wall to wherever those wildlings live. 

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17 hours ago, Obscured by Klowds said:

@FattestLeech We seem to have very little indicator for how long ago the NW instituted their vow.  I was hoping that the seventy-nine sentinels would shed some light, but there is no info that I can find about which Lord Ryswell and son this tale is about. So all we get here, is that the vow must have existed before the start of the current calendar- before Aegon the conqueror.  Among other things, we know there was a consequence, so we can deduce there was a vow.  The date for these events is about as clear as mud, just like the rest of Old Nan's stories.  It is so annoying that Benjen didn't really answer Bran when he questioned him about it in a SOS.  :dunno: 

The vows do not typically cover the afterlife, but this particular case is a notable exception.  In death you could be burned, buried, or sealed into the icy wall.  Maybe the same commander that sealed the tunnel, thought that sealing these guys in alive was a good idea.  Is it possible that being frozen into the wall was a tradition?  I ask because it seems so ritualized, with the spears, horns and the guys facing north.  Seems like a logistical nightmare to get the all the guys to pose for you while they froze to death. 

Similarly to Stannis and Visenya, Lord Ryswell clearly didn't have any interest in changing the vows and apparently spoke the words himself once he was safely on death's doorstep. 

Side note: It seems so foolish for seventy-nine crows try to fly south all at once.  Mayhaps Lord Ryswell's son was somewhat of a leader, since the outlaws tried to take shelter in his family's castle?  I can't help but wonder what might have prompted 79 men to flee.  During the current story 79 men is a significant number... 

Jeor gave a simple explanation to the recruits about what their vows mean today:

If the vows were embellished, maybe it was done to enshrine the things their organization had learned the hard way.  They wanted to forget the Night King's name and the child sacrifice bit, but at the same time ensure that future recruits don't take wives or have children.  It seems to me that if I were to radically change or adopt new rules, that it would be helpful to do so at the same time as a change in locations.  If it is worth anything, my experience in the world tells me that people do better with new rules when you change their environment too.  Which brings me back to what Benjen said about abandoning the Nightfort because that is a change of location.  Lastly, any kind of update to the rules would likely cause a big revolt... and spur like... I don't know... seventy-nine men leave their posts.

My apologies @Obscured by Klowds as I seemed to have missed this post of yours. Thanks for stopping by.

I am bookmarking this post for the short time and will circle back this after a few more things to take care of here.

In the meantime, if @Lost Melnibonean is around, if I remember correctly, he had some great ideas about the 79 sentinels at one point, or two.

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3 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Craster is one of the guys they befriended. And they did not offer to protect Craster's Keep, they offered to take him in. That's a difference. I was talking about the blatant impracticality of the Watch protecting the wildlings on their own lands. They never did that, nor is there any indication that they ever promised that.

The free folk are part of the realms of men. Craster and the NW have a very tense, begrudging friendship on both sides. It is not as copacetic as you make it seem. The NW has to pay for whatever "help" they get.


If they want to stay north and fight then that is up to them, it seems, but of they want to migrate south and save themselves and their families, there is nothing that is stated anywhere they can't do that... other than prejudice/racist current opinions based on half truths and generations of opinions.

Craster was given that choice, stay and fight your battle or come south in to protection. Crater chose.

 

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4 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

The free folk are part of the realms of men. Craster and the NW have a very tense, begrudging friendship on both sides. It is not as copacetic as you make it seem. The NW has to pay for whatever "help" they get.


If they want to stay north and fight then that is up to them, it seems, but of they want to migrate south and save themselves and their families, there is nothing that is stated anywhere they can't do that... other than prejudice/racist current opinions based on half truths and generations of opinions.

Craster was given that choice, stay and fight your battle or come south in to protection. Crater chose.

 

One can talk about all this 'taking in' business. That's not the issue. The issue is that the wildlings never supported the Watch, never sent men to serve in on the Wall, never did their share in supporting the men who swore to defend the realms of men. 

How can you be part of something you keep yourself apart from? How can you presume (which the wildlings actually do not) that people protect you you are actually fighting against?

If the wildlings had done their share and had sent men to the Wall for thousands of years - and not attacked the Wall again and again, invading the lands who actually do support the defenders of the realms of men - then there would be no issue. But there is. And it is not because the NW have forgotten their vow. It is because the wildlings don't respect or care for the NW or their Wall.

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