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The Fattest Leech

Night's Watch vows and the truth of history.

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5 hours ago, Obscured by Klowds said:

Again, from the first book, "The men who formed the Night's Watch knew that only their courage shielded the realm from the darkness to the north. They knew they must have no divided loyalties to weaken their resolve. So they vowed they would have no wives nor children."  I interpret that as referring to the orginal founders of the watch, and Aemon seems to be a reliable source.  Do you suspect Aemon's source (probably dusty scrolls) was fake news?

I’ll get back to the other parts later, but for this part about Aemon, he only knows what has been taught to him by someone else and in turn it is his job to teach other people what a maester knows. That is where a lot of true history gets lost. Aside from that, Aemon is a dreamer of sorts and seems to be more focused on other histories. Sam is the one (and will increasingly be) to listen to. He is the first person in Eons to go back in history as far as he did, well, he and Bran... but that’s another thread :D

 

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2 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

We are not told what exactly the KG vow says

Exactly. 

2 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

 

. Off the top of my head, this is the closer we get - and that's not close at all!

True that. 

 

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26 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Where is the list of KG vows in the books? That is what I am looking for.

We don't have such a list, but we do have people paraphrasing them - protect the king, obey the king, keep his secrets, die for him if need be, etc.

And since we know the vows are based on those of the NW one could imagine (but doesn't have to) that their vows of chastity, etc. might be drawn directly from those - meaning a KG might also swear to take no wife and to father no children. But perhaps the phrasing is different. We don't know.

However, it is quite clear that Jaime is creating a dichotomy where the society of Westeros sees none. If you are a knight you have the luxury to follow your knight's vows (the most if you are a hedge knight when you are just a knight - with no lord or king or landed knight you are serving - which is why those idealized by the smallfolk) but if you are somebody's retainer, vassal, a Kingsguard, a Warrior's Son, etc. you have sworn not only knightly vows but also very specific vows framing your duties in this additional capacity. And those professions and the way they are framed decide what you have to do and how you are judged, not the general vows any knight swears.

I mean, Lucamore Strong supposedly was a very great knight and guy - yet he'll forever be remembered as failure and an oathbreaker because he had a bunch of secret wives and many bastards. This doesn't change the fact he was a great knight and warrior but it shows he was incapable and/or unwilling to keep his vows. And that's a very serious issue in a medieval society.

3 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I’ll get back to the other parts later, but for this part about Aemon, he only knows what has been taught to him by someone else and in turn it is his job to teach other people what a maester knows. That is where a lot of true history gets lost. Aside from that, Aemon is a dreamer of sorts and seems to be more focused on other histories. Sam is the one (and will increasingly be) to listen to. He is the first person in Eons to go back in history as far as he did, well, he and Bran... but that’s another thread :D

Again - is there any internal evidence setting up there to come a great revelation about the truth of the NW vows? Is there any good reason to assume they changed overtime? There will be revelations about the past, sure, but there is no indication George tells us one version of a story and then replaces that with 'the truth'. We don't get the 'false story' about Rhaegar and Lyanna, say, or the origin of the Others and the Last Hero and the War for the Dawn - we just get incomplete stories which are then elaborated on and completed.

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3 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There will be revelations about the past, sure, but there is no indication George tells us one version of a story and then replaces that with 'the truth'.

Oooohhh reeeaalllly????? :huh:

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7 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

 

Oooohhh reeeaalllly????? :huh:

Can you give me an example? In most cases the truth is always there, hidden behind lies - the murder of Jon Arryn, the parentage of Cersei's children, etc.

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Just now, Lord Varys said:

Can you give me an example? In most cases the truth is always there, hidden behind lies - the murder of Jon Arryn, the parentage of Cersei's children, etc.

I can’t. I’m sworn to secrecy. 

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

Can you give me an example? In most cases the truth is always there, hidden behind lies - the murder of Jon Arryn, the parentage of Cersei's children, etc.

You’ll have to give me some time. Im put dealing with giant dogs before I’ve even had coffee. :devil:

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36 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

 

You’re right. I should clarify that I was looking for any other vows. I will update that soon. 

Where is the list of KG vows in the books? That is what I am looking for.

 

We aren't directly told the vows of the KG besides what little Jaime tells Cat. Defend the King, obey the King, keep his secrets and do his bidding. Throw in some of the NW vows that would make sense to have in the KG vows and the best we can do is guess at the actual KG vows at this point.

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1 minute ago, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

We aren't directly told the vows of the KG besides what little Jaime tells Cat. Defend the King, obey the King, keep his secrets and do his bidding. Throw in some of the NW vows that would make sense to have in the KG vows and the best we can do is guess at the actual KG vows at this point.

I have a feeling that the idea of just “thrown in” some extra vows is the issue here. 

Also, the vows that Visenya based the KG vows on are the “new” vows with the extra thrown in. So even she isn’t getting it right, unless we magically get those KG vows in print and reasoning to show otherwise. 

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1 hour ago, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

We aren't directly told the vows of the KG besides what little Jaime tells Cat. Defend the King, obey the King, keep his secrets and do his bidding. Throw in some of the NW vows that would make sense to have in the KG vows and the best we can do is guess at the actual KG vows at this point.

There is also the vow of chastity :-) And they apparently cannot inherit, see Tyrion demanding Casterly Rock.

Edited by Ygrain

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Again - is there any internal evidence setting up there to come a great revelation about the truth of the NW vows?

Yes, the NW exists as the shield that guards the realms of men. It is as basic as that.

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Is there any good reason to assume they changed overtime? There will be revelations about the past, sure, but there is no indication George tells us one version of a story and then replaces that with 'the truth'. We don't get the 'false story' about Rhaegar and Lyanna, say, or the origin of the Others and the Last Hero and the War for the Dawn - we just get incomplete stories which are then elaborated on and completed.

Yes. Again, mainly in these quotes below, but also in the other "lies" about history we are constantly fed throughout the story. Rumors kill in all sorts of ways.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell II

"Jon Snow's dragonglass, then. If dragonglass daggers are what we need, why do we have only two of them? Every man on the Wall should be armed with one the day he says his words."
"We never knew . . ."
"We never knew! But we must have known once. The Night's Watch has forgotten its true purpose, Tarly. You don't build a wall seven hundred feet high to keep savages in skins from stealing women. The Wall was made to guard the realms of men . . . and not against other men, which is all the wildlings are when you come right down to it. Too many years, Tarly, too many hundreds and thousands of years. We lost sight of the true enemy. And now he's here, but we don't know how to fight him. Is dragonglass made by dragons, as the smallfolk like to say?"
"The m-maesters think not," Sam stammered. "The maesters say it comes from the fires of the earth. They call it obsidian." 

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI

Marsh flushed a deeper shade of red. "The lord commander must pardon my bluntness, but I have no softer way to say this. What you propose is nothing less than treason. For eight thousand years the men of the Night's Watch have stood upon the Wall and fought these wildlings. Now you mean to let them pass, to shelter them in our castles, to feed them and clothe them and teach them how to fight. Lord Snow, must I remind you? You swore an oath."
"I know what I swore." Jon said the words. "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. Were those the same words you said when you took your vows?"

"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.
 
3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

There will be revelations about the past, sure, but there is no indication George tells us one version of a story and then replaces that with 'the truth'.

To the bold... I am still in awe you said this, especially after our conversation the other day :huh:

Yes, we should be prepared to have the "known history" be revealed via Bran. George has said Bran is the most magical and the story did start with Bran, literally. Why do you think Bran is being made into a greenseer? He needs to learn the truth from history and pass it on to the current to protect the future.

Yes, and we already see truths expose themselves to our adventurous younglings as they go exploring. The "truth" in AGOT was that the CotF and Giants did not exist. But we see otherwise as the story goes on.

The "truth" according to maesters is that creatures such as the Others probably never existed... which is so bogus and dangerous to the realm for a maester to be teaching to each House they are in service to for multiple generations.

The World of Ice and Fire - The Wall and Beyond: The Night’s Watch

Unique in the Seven Kingdoms is the Night's Watch, the sworn brotherhood that has defended the Wall over centuries and millennia, born in the aftermath of the Long Night, the generation-long winter that brought the Others down on the realms of men and nearly put an end to them.

The history of the Night's Watch is a long one. Tales still tell of the black knights of the Wall and their noble calling. But the Age of Heroes is long done, and the Others have not shown themselves in thousands of years, if indeed they ever existed.

...

Sadly, the most important truth about the Night's Watch today is its decline. It may once have served a great purpose. But if the Others ever existed, they have not been seen in thousands of years and are of no threat to men. It is the wildlings beyond the Wall who are the danger the Night's Watch now face. Yet only when there are kings-beyond-the-Wall have the wildlings ever truly presented a threat to the realms of men.

 

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We don't get the 'false story' about Rhaegar and Lyanna, say,

We don't have much of a consistent story about Rhaegar and Lyanna at all. The story is in the author clues and hints that the reader picks up on as they read. We are supposed to question these hints, just as we are supposed to question other contradictory bits of information like the history, and most obviously in this case, these vows.

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

or the origin of the Others

see the World book quotes noted above and some below. There are plenty more in the main series, but since maesters write the books and teach the people of the land their own knowledge, this applies to all.

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

and the Last Hero and the War for the Dawn - we just get incomplete stories which are then elaborated on and completed.

There is nothing completed about these stories. They are missing vast chunks of information. How many times do we hear in the main story and the ancillary novels that scrolls were missing, scrolls were burnt, the library burnt, the mouse ate my homework.

Jon is interested in this history, because it is active again, and he sets the right man to the task. Sam is going crazy trying to find the "complete" information on the Others. He has spent days and still cannot find everything.

A Dance with Dragons - Jon II

"Goat's milk might serve, until you do. It's better for a babe than cow's milk." Talking about breasts plainly made Sam uncomfortable, and suddenly he began to speak of history, and boy commanders who had lived and died hundreds of years ago. Jon cut him off with, "Tell me something useful. Tell me of our enemy."

"The Others." Sam licked his lips. "They are mentioned in the annals, though not as often as I would have thought. The annals I've found and looked at, that is. There's more I haven't found, I know. Some of the older books are falling to pieces. The pages crumble when I try and turn them. And the really old books … either they have crumbled all away or they are buried somewhere that I haven't looked yet or … well, it could be that there are no such books and never were. The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros. The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later. There are archmaesters at the Citadel who question all of it. Those old histories are full of kings who reigned for hundreds of years, and knights riding around a thousand years before there were knights. You know the tales, Brandon the Builder, Symeon Star-Eyes, Night's King … we say that you're the nine-hundred-and-ninety-eighth Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but the oldest list I've found shows six hundred seventy-four commanders, which suggests that it was written during—"

"Long ago," Jon broke in. "What about the Others?"

"I found mention of dragonglass. The children of the forest used to give the Night's Watch a hundred obsidian daggers every year, during the Age of Heroes. The Others come when it is cold, most of the tales agree. Or else it gets cold when they come. Sometimes they appear during snowstorms and melt away when the skies clear. They hide from the light of the sun and emerge by night … or else night falls when they emerge. Some stories speak of them riding the corpses of dead animals. Bears, direwolves, mammoths, horses, it makes no matter, so long as the beast is dead. The one that killed Small Paul was riding a dead horse, so that part's plainly true. Some accounts speak of giant ice spiders too. I don't know what those are. Men who fall in battle against the Others must be burned, or else the dead will rise again as their thralls."

 

A Dance with Dragons - Jon VIII

Septon Cellador paled. "Seven save us." Wine dribbled down his chin in a red line. "Lord Commander, wights are monstrous, unnatural creatures. Abominations before the eyes of the gods. You … you cannot mean to try to talk with them?"

"Can they talk?" asked Jon Snow. "I think not, but I cannot claim to know. Monsters they may be, but they were men before they died. How much remains? The one I slew was intent on killing Lord Commander Mormont. Plainly it remembered who he was and where to find him." Maester Aemon would have grasped his purpose, Jon did not doubt; Sam Tarly would have been terrified, but he would have understood as well. "My lord father used to tell me that a man must know his enemies. We understand little of the wights and less about the Others. We need to learn."

That answer did not please them. Septon Cellador fingered the crystal that hung about his neck and said, "I think this most unwise, Lord Snow. I shall pray to the Crone to lift her shining lamp and lead you down the path of wisdom."

 

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5 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Yes, the NW exists as the shield that guards the realms of men. It is as basic as that.

And why that? And not the fire that burns against the cold? I like that one better.

There is actually no indication that Jon discovered some 'lost truth' with his interpretation of the vows. It could have been a new interpretation, one that was never thought of in the history of the Watch.

If the wildlings had been included in the protection of the NW they should have stayed in/migrated to the Hundred Kingdoms. I'm not talking about Jon letting wildlings into the Gifts - he can do that - I'm talking about the fact that it makes no sense that the Watch ever thought they were obliged to protect men living in the lands of the Others hundreds of miles north of the Wall. That simply makes no sense.

When they show up - fine, one can, perhaps, protect them to. Work with them, even. But they were never part of the original deal.

5 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

To the bold... I am still in awe you said this, especially after our conversation the other day :huh:

Yes, we should be prepared to have the "known history" be revealed via Bran. George has said Bran is the most magical and the story did start with Bran, literally. Why do you think Bran is being made into a greenseer? He needs to learn the truth from history and pass it on to the current to protect the future.

Yes, and we already see truths expose themselves to our adventurous younglings as they go exploring. The "truth" in AGOT was that the CotF and Giants did not exist. But we see otherwise as the story goes on.

The "truth" according to maesters is that creatures such as the Others probably never existed... which is so bogus and dangerous to the realm for a maester to be teaching to each House they are in service to for multiple generations.

 

No, the truth of those books - the truth we, the readers, know since the very Prologue - is that the Others do exist and that they can create zombies. We, the readers, are never fooled by the author about the true purpose of the Watch.

And I was talking about George lying to us, the readers. Not about the limited knowledge and mistaken beliefs of the characters. George never gives us story A as fact and then changes it to story B with a few lines. There are no silly twists like that in those books.

He never told us Cersei or Tyrion murdered Jon Arryn. He never told us the Wall was build to keep the wildlings out of the Realm, etc. And he never even gave us the full story of the Others, etc. We don't even know what the people in this world know about them from the stories of the Long Night and the War for the Dawn.

5 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

 

We don't have much of a consistent story about Rhaegar and Lyanna at all. The story is in the author clues and hints that the reader picks up on as they read. We are supposed to question these hints, just as we are supposed to question other contradictory bits of information like the history, and most obviously in this case, these vows.

Are we? Or are we just support to piece various clues together to eventually generate a full picture George is then also going to rehash again for the casual reader?

5 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

see the World book quotes noted above and some below. There are plenty more in the main series, but since maesters write the books and teach the people of the land their own knowledge, this applies to all.

TWoIaF is not ASoIaF. It is written from a maester's POV. It doesn't give us the full picture of what happened, just as one POV in the book couldn't give us the full story.

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8 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

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.   

Hey, Curled Finger, thanks for the warm welcome!  I don't know, maybe 79 isn't significant.  I count 80 men.  But you wouldn't want to look too deeply into that.  It might lead you down a rabbit hole into Crow teritory. 

All I meant by significant is that if you subtract 79 men from the current sworn brothers of the NW, it would be devastating because their numbers are so low.  Also, 79 is a pretty good size group compared to the dozen or so mutineers we've seen more recently.  What kind of situation would be enough to get that many men (including northerners who honor the tradition of the NW) to break their vows together?  I'm sure folks disected that somewhere in that list of threads from Lost Melnibonin.

 

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On 8/5/2018 at 7:50 PM, 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.   

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.   

Keeping the women out helps the men bond with each other.  Prevents jealousy too.  

 

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On 7/30/2018 at 8:13 PM, The Fattest Leech said:

The point of difference when Jon says the "older" vows to Marsh, and asks the same of him, is what Jon is doing in this scene is going all the way back to the original purpose of the watch, and that included the free folk/wildlings as well working together. They do all come from the same peoples.

I've been out of the loop for a while due to a few disasters and have just begun to read this thread. In case it hasn't been brought up yet, I think it's worth noting that when Jon spontaneously / intuitively cuts to the older part of the oath, the scene takes place on top of the wall.

In my various ramblings and musings about Jon, I became convinced of a distinct sort of symbiosis between Jon and the wall - the wall kills Jarl , Jon's potential rival for Val and leadership of the free folk ("as a dog shakes off fleas")... Jon sees himself reflected "inside the wall"... and so on.

It seems to me that Jon, among all others bearing Stark blood, is who is needed to command at the wall (or walls)  at this time of crisis. He and the wall are equal parts of the magic... e.g., Benjen is equally Stark but not a skinchanger, Bran is a skinchanger but has developed (was destined?) for another purpose and something the same can be said of Jon's other "siblings".

We see Jon's reasoning in the text as he wrestles with understanding the oath, but whatever his mental processes, I think there's also something innate that draws him to the proper (or most magically sound) conclusion.

Got to dash...

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On 8/6/2018 at 5:05 PM, Obscured by Klowds said:

Hey, Curled Finger, thanks for the warm welcome!  I don't know, maybe 79 isn't significant.  I count 80 men.  But you wouldn't want to look too deeply into that.  It might lead you down a rabbit hole into Crow teritory. 

All I meant by significant is that if you subtract 79 men from the current sworn brothers of the NW, it would be devastating because their numbers are so low.  Also, 79 is a pretty good size group compared to the dozen or so mutineers we've seen more recently.  What kind of situation would be enough to get that many men (including northerners who honor the tradition of the NW) to break their vows together?  I'm sure folks disected that somewhere in that list of threads from Lost Melnibonin.

 

Ah, I get it.   Thanks for explaining.   There was a conversation a couple of years ago wherein the significance of numbers was discussed.   I'm not great with this but I picked up on your use of the phrase "dozen or so" at once.   Stephen King has a thing with prime numbers--by the sheer volume of numbers GRRM employs I would not be surprised to find this 79 appears more than in your instance.    I'm gonna go look.   Will report back if I find anything of consequence.    

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Hey Curled Finger!  I think Lost Melnibonean or the search that he put me on, had noted that seventy-nine is out of place.  Shouldn't it be nine and seventy?  This line of questioning seems valid and made me rethink 79.  I suspect 80 is a better number to track because we ought to count Lord Ryswell.  Tormund or Torregg, or both were going to deliver 80 wildling men in Jon's assassination chapter of ADwD, right?  There is a compelling tale from the days of Crazy Horse of an ambush of 80 men in Crow (Native American) territory.  Happy hunting!

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Tormund Giantsbane—Tall-Talker, Horn-Blower, and Breaker of Ice, Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, Mead-King of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts said he'd bring 80 men, but in the end he had only 50 w/ him. 

“Tormund Giantsbane timed his arrival perfectly, thundering up with his warriors when all the shoveling was done. Only fifty seemed to have turned up, not the eighty Toregg promised Leathers, but Tormund was not called Tall-Talker for naught. The wildling arrived red-faced, shouting for a horn of ale and something hot to eat. He had ice in his beard and more crusting his mustache.
Someone had already told the Thunderfist about Gerrick Kingsblood and his new style. “King o’ the Wildlings?” Tormund roared. “Har! King o’ My Hairy Butt Crack, more like.”

:P

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Just going to add a few things to the main OP, but am also posting here.

One, the wall was built by First Men- proper name, as in a collection of the migrated peoples, not necessarily males only. No where in the series can I find that women and families are excluded from anything, that the men segregated themselves, that there were no villages near the site, etc... The waves of First Men migrated as groups as settled together where they could. And if the earliest foundations are made of stone, then it could be that the climate wasn't quite so harsh in the beginning.

  • The World of Ice and Fire - The Wall and Beyond: The Night’s Watch

It was not always so. Whether the legends are true or not, it is plain that the First Men and the children of the forest (and even the giants, if we take the word of the singers) feared something enough that it drove them to begin raising the Wall. And this great construction, as simple as it is, is justly accounted among the wonders of the world. It may be that its earliest foundations were of stone—the maesters differ in this—but now all that can be seen for a distance of a hundred leagues is ice. Nearby lakes provided the material, which the First Men cut into huge blocks and hauled upon sledges to the Wall, and worked into place one by one. Now, thousands of years later, the Wall stands more than seven hundred feet tall at its highest point (though its height varies considerably over the hundred leagues of its length, as it follows the contours of the land).

And again, it is in a Bran chapter that we have the "true" words of the NW being spoken. Why a Bran chapter and not a Samwell or other brother chapter? Because Bran needs to know these words just as we readers need to know these words. Also, it is in a Bran chapter that we are told about the men of the Night's Watch having to stay "true". Additionally, when you re-read in the World book about what the Andal faith forced upon the Targs just to "admit" them to Westeros as rulers, you will see that the Targs have to accept the Faith/7 ways in order to become accepted. Except, the Targs refused to give up the incest and polygamy, their "true" ways.

  • A Dance with Dragons - Bran I

"If he does not breathe …"

Bran found himself remembering the tales Old Nan had told him when he was a babe. Beyond the Wall the monsters live, the giants and the ghouls, the stalking shadows and the dead that walk, she would say, tucking him in beneath his scratchy woolen blanket, but they cannot pass so long as the Wall stands strong and the men of the Night's Watch are true. So go to sleep, my little Brandon, my baby boy, and dream sweet dreams. There are no monsters here. The ranger wore the black of the Night's Watch, but what if he was not a man at all? What if he was some monster, taking them to the other monsters to be devoured?

"The ranger saved Sam and the girl from the wights," Bran said, hesitantly, "and he's taking me to the three-eyed crow."

In-story we are told in a number of ways that trees hate/dislike/whatever fire. Whatever form a tree takes such as carvings, books, libraries, a human as an old gods instrument/vessel, trees themselves, it is known that trees are the keepers of history, and fire destroys history. If the weirwood black gate at Nightfort is the source of magic/power/whatever for the wall, then the exposure to fire will cause a LOT of damage. Enter Melisandre (with Selyse plodding at her heels). The men did not stay strong and those men (Marsh and mutineers) brought the wall down with "fire" (soooo much more on this that could be another thread :devil:).

Additionally, and going back to the first idea in this post as well as something that was asked earlier in this thread, there seems to have been several villages of people all within the distance of the wall. Only, some have been lost to time.

  • A Clash of Kings - Jon I

He gazed about him. "The library at Winterfell has more than a hundred. Did you find the maps?"

"Oh, yes." Sam's hand swept over the table, fingers plump as sausages indicating the clutter of books and scrolls before him. "A dozen, at the least." He unfolded a square of parchment. "The paint has faded, but you can see where the mapmaker marked the sites of wildling villages, and there's another book . . . where is it now? I was reading it a moment ago." He shoved some scrolls aside to reveal a dusty volume bound in rotted leather. "This," he said reverently, "is the account of a journey from the Shadow Tower all the way to Lorn Point on the Frozen Shore, written by a ranger named Redwyn. It's not dated, but he mentions a Dorren Stark as King in the North, so it must be from before the Conquest. Jon, they fought giants! Redwyn even traded with the children of the forest, it's all here." Ever so delicately, he turned pages with a finger. "He drew maps as well, see . . ."

"Maybe you could write an account of our ranging, Sam."

(snipped)

"These are old," Mormont complained, and his raven echoed him with a sharp cry of "Old, old."

"The villages may come and go, but the hills and rivers will be in the same places," Jon pointed out.

"True enough. Have you chosen your ravens yet, Tarly?"

 

  • A Clash of Kings - Jon II

The smell was very faint. "Old dung," said Jon. The house felt as though it had been empty for some time. Kneeling, he searched through the straw with his hands to see if anything had been concealed beneath, then made a round of the walls. It did not take very long. "There's nothing here."

Nothing was what he had expected; Whitetree was the fourth village they had passed, and it had been the same in all of them. The people were gone, vanished with their scant possessions and whatever animals they may have had. None of the villages showed any signs of having been attacked. They were simply . . . empty. "What do you think happened to them all?" Jon asked.

"Something worse than we can imagine," suggested Dolorous Edd. "Well, I might be able to imagine it, but I'd sooner not. Bad enough to know you're going to come to some awful end without thinking about it aforetime."

  • A Clash of Kings - Jon III

Up ahead a hunting horn sounded a quavering note, half drowned beneath the constant patter of the rain. "Buckwell's horn," the Old Bear announced. "The gods are good; Craster's still there." His raven gave a single flap of his big wings, croaked "Corn," and ruffled his feathers up again.

Jon had often heard the black brothers tell tales of Craster and his keep. Now he would see it with his own eyes. After seven empty villages, they had all come to dread finding Craster's as dead and desolate as the rest, but it seemed they would be spared that. Perhaps the Old Bear will finally get some answers, he thought. Anyway, we'll be out of the rain.

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