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Lady Barbrey

Theories on Magic in Westeros

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Magic is a natural resource like petroleum.  Sure some families have talents they pass on.  The talent is recessive and that is why it has generally died out.  The Targaryen bond with their dragons is one such inherited talent.  Planned marriages to enhance the chances of producing children with this ability is practiced to keep the talent alive.  I see no reason why the talent for skin changing is any different.  That is why the ability may be strong in Craster's children.  It may be unexpressed in Craster but the talent could be strong in his kids.  The Others find this skill useful because they can control their wights with it.  

Magic in general has elemental properties.  Fire, ice, water, earth, etc.  The ability to tap this resource is by no means exclusive to ice and fire.  There are different ways to tap this power.  It is not proven that life must be sacrificed to produce magic.  Thoros woke up Beric without needing to burn anyone.  I think this is one of the tragic lies and it led to the unnecessary killings of many.  

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50 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

George himself has said that his magic is magic. There is no general system to it. It is supposed to be magical, which means it is unpredictable and strange.

 

Magic is magic=/= magic is completley unpredicatable or without limit or fundamental rules. GRRM has pretty plainly stated at least one of those rules by comparing sorcery to a sword with no hilt- magic costs, it is not something for nothing.

I admit that my extrapolations are tinfoil and spit, but I don't think they contradict GRRMS so-spakeages.

53 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

We also have Melisandre being imbued with fire magic,

Melisandre is a slave of R'hlorr, she belongs to him body and soul.

54 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 Moqorro healing/changing Victarion with fire magic which didn't involve sacrifice

Are you sure about that? I'm pretty confident there is a cost associated with such "healings". It might not involve slitting the throats of a sacrificial lamb but I think Victarion is less/other than he was.

55 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Melisandre saving herself from the Strangler, etc.
 

Melisandre's ruby pendant is focal point of magical energy. It may have provided her with stored soul energy to neutralize the poison or her altered metabolism may have defeated it anyways. She claims not to need food so I wonder if ingested poison would work the same?

58 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There is blood magic there, too, but that's not all. The very talk about 'fire and blood' means that fire is rather important in the whole Valyrian magic, too.

Which is why I mentioned previously that magic involves channeling soul energy through an elemental matrix. For the Valyrians this was fire, for the CotF the network of the weirwood trees, etc.

59 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 The Children certainly also can use blood magic and do sacrifices for certain spells, but not for all.

Or at least not all of the sacrifices are on the same scale? I imagine there is some kind of proportianality involved. And remember, I'm talking about doing magical "work", not using inborn gifts. So to raise the Fist of the Waters would require sacrifice, warging and green dreams do not- or rather the sacrifice took place in the past when the users ancestors bought into the system through blood sacrifice (entrails in the weirwoods and all that).

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Trying to impose a system on the magic which isn't there does not also simplify a complex concept but also twists things around in a direction the author didn't want it to go.

Everybody needs a hobby.

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No one said the blood sacrifice had to be simultaneous with the expenditure of the resultant life force. 

Note that Thoros’s sudden power to raise the dead surprises even him, and just happens to be in the general vicinity of High Heart, which was one of the most sacred places of the Children. Apparently thousands of them were slaughtered at that spot, so Thoros - who admits he has no idea where his sudden power came from - could be tapping into some of that stored life force, for all we know. Just like Mellisandre notes that her powers are strenthened by the stored life force in the Wall. 

And we see them hide in a hollow hill among weirwood roots, no doubt a place that easily taps into the stored up life force in the weirnet.

Regarding the Valyrians, I contend that the “Fire” portion of their magic would not work without the “Blood” part. It is the Blood that provides the power for the Fire to manifest itself. The key is the former point I raised, which is that the blood sacrifice and the exercise of the power need not happen at the same time.

Blood magic was used to merge the first wyverns with firewyrms to create the first dragons, and then later blood magic was used to merge individual Valyrian bloodlines with individual dragon lineages. 

And the deaths of thousands of slaves fed them with ample life force to maintain their spells for millenia.

Similarly Moqorro or Mellisandre’s common spells could tap into life force sacrificed and stored years earlier, or thousands of miles away in Ashai, for all we know. Only for particularly great spells do you need a new blood sacrifice to augment whatever your base power level happens to be at a particular point in time.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Magic is magic=/= magic is completley unpredicatable or without limit or fundamental rules. GRRM has pretty plainly stated at least one of those rules by comparing sorcery to a sword with no hilt- magic costs, it is not something for nothing.

That was Dalla's opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the author.

But I actually have issue with the cost thing. Rather with the idea that 'life force' or 'lives' are always the cost. Thoros paid nothing for bringing Beric back.

2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Melisandre is a slave of R'hlorr, she belongs to him body and soul.

We don't even know if R'hllor actually exists - but we do know if he and any other 'gods' actually exist, then they'll never show up in the story as George has long ago confirmed this. In that sense, your statement there cannot be verified.

2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Are you sure about that? I'm pretty confident there is a cost associated with such "healings". It might not involve slitting the throats of a sacrificial lamb but I think Victarion is less/other than he was.

He has burned and smoking arm which works. I say this more or less a cosmetic problem. It is a certain side effect but there is no indication this spell involved 'life force' or anything like that. But it obviously involved fire.

2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Melisandre's ruby pendant is focal point of magical energy. It may have provided her with stored soul energy to neutralize the poison or her altered metabolism may have defeated it anyways. She claims not to need food so I wonder if ingested poison would work the same?

We don't know that, actually. To me it seems that it is rather the focal point of the glamor she wears - like Mance's ruby and the moonstone of Maynard Plumm/Bloodraven. 'Fire cleanses', according to Melisandre, and she is full of fire. She doesn't need rubies to do that.

2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Which is why I mentioned previously that magic involves channeling soul energy through an elemental matrix. For the Valyrians this was fire, for the CotF the network of the weirwood trees, etc.

That seems to be at odds with the fact that we learn in TWoIaF that the fires of the Fourteen Flames 'fueled' the magic of the Valyrian pyromancers. It is not blood or 'soul energy', it is fire.

2 hours ago, hiemal said:

Or at least not all of the sacrifices are on the same scale? I imagine there is some kind of proportianality involved. And remember, I'm talking about doing magical "work", not using inborn gifts. So to raise the Fist of the Waters would require sacrifice, warging and green dreams do not- or rather the sacrifice took place in the past when the users ancestors bought into the system through blood sacrifice (entrails in the weirwoods and all that).

There are hints that greenseers need blood sacrifices, too.

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18 hours ago, hiemal said:

The Darknet

In Braavos we encounter what I am calling the Darknet, although perhaps Moon-net might be better. I believe that either the Faceless Men alone or in conjunction with the Moonsingers I think they are basically an order or phase of (the new or dark moon obviously as indicated by the dark moon pool in the House of Black and White) they have created their own cycle of souls and thereby source of soul energy for working magic using the moon pools as foci. I think it it is likely that the faces they harvest are treated in the dark pool and the bulk of the soul energy of the slain person enters the Darknet while a small portion remain attached to the face itself in the same way that Bran encounters a fragment of CotF in one of the Ravens he inhabits. The Many-Faced (phased) God probably grants some kind of divination ability to his followers- how else would Jaqen have known where and when to find Arya?- but I don't know if that would be through the pool, through the moon itself, or through the faces.

Incidentally, how does the Kindly Man wear a "face" that is essentially not a face, but mostly just bare bone?

 

The Deepnet

When the Children warred with the Deep Ones and sank portions of the Western Shore (and possibly elsewhere) I believe they also ended up sinking at least one grove of weirwood trees in such a state that they remained alive, although Drowned. The Deep Ones corrupted this grove into Shade-of-the-Evening with Oily Black Stone and created the Deepnet, the true face of the Drowned God. This is probably where the driftwood that the Iron Kings traditionally make their crowns from and that the Drowned Men make their truncheons from. I think this grove is attended by merlings, who are the Children of the Forest that survived their submersion and adapted either through their own power or the influence of the Deep Ones who enslaved them.

I'm not sure how the merlings of the East coast relate to the ones on the West- is the grove that I believe is controlling Patchface also the Deep One's or is the Merling King a different deity altogether?

 

 

The Shadenet

As with the Deepnet, I think the Undying of Qarth created a cycle using corrupted weirwoods, also known as Shade-of-the-Evening using the giant blue heart as a focus. I tinfoil, btw, that this is the heart of a dragon that was poisoned with Shade-of-the-Evening. Probably the souls of the warlocks power this network, whose primary function appears to sustaining the Undying themselves. Rather than "overwrite" themselves onto this network of souls as I believe R'hlorr did to become a "god" they are channeling some portion of this energy through the heart and into their physical bodies.

 

The Icenet

This is the one we know the least about, but will that stop me from bold and reckless speculation? Of course not.

I tinfoil that the Amethyst Empress, Valerys, died in childbirth bringing forth Azor Ahai, Garyen who later rode the dragon Rubilaxes, the fruit of magically-manipulated pregnancy by her twin brother Rhaellor. The AE did not stay dead, however- in the magical backlash of the Lightbringer Incident she rose again as Night's Queen, the Mother of Undeath.

I think she created an Icenet which uses planet's cycle of glaciation and ice ages in the same way that the Firenet uses tectonix energy. There is probably some sort of ice towers or spires in the Land of Always Winter that act as the focus of the souls that flow through it into the bodies of the wights, which the Others control through a variation of skinchanging.

What I like about your 'tinfoils' is that even though you extrapolate into details and systems that I wouldn't want to follow, if I rip all the extraneous detail away, you have interesting ideas at base that could easily be close to the truth if only in a metaphorical way.  This idea of a series of 'nets',  for instance, is intriguing.

I've been thinking about the post-Ragnarok idea I was speculating about in my Leaf=Lif thread, because if we think of this world as after the fact, recycling stories and myths and history from the prior Norse myth cycle and not quite fitting because it is a different cycle with different constellations - it would still have the same players to a certain degree.

Lif as tree-woman, reborn from the world tree to start the world anew as a Child of the Forest.  But where are the gods if we're recycling?  We see reflections in various characters, but nothing conclusive.  So are the gods of the past Ragnarok cycle literally the 'old Gods' that the Children worship?  Odin and Thor and Frey etc., their bodies gone but their presences or spirits or memories contained within the World Tree that survived Ragnarok and are now spread throughout the weir network? These gods, Germanic and Norse extraction, did require blood sacrifice. What about Surtr, a fire giant, basis for Rhlorr I suspect, or the unnamed 'other' main antagonist, head of the frost giants?  And Ocean itself, that wins in the end by covering the earth completely? Are they outside the weir network or replaying with differences an age-old battle cycle within it?  And are these battles being reflected on a human level?

The fact they seem to be arising in places absent the weir network, in Essos or the Far North or the Ocean, seems to indicate they are outside it. When Dany rebirths dragons, those shadows in her tent are reminiscent of the Fenris wolf and Surtr the fire giant. Antagonists.

While I can't get the details exact, even in metaphor, I think this is at least loosely one of the organizing principles of the series. The giants - frost and fire - are forces of chaos, integral to the land so can't be completely destroyed (the land itself is made from the corpse of a frost giant, Ymir) but it's necessary to control or restrain them - that's the old Norse idea anyway - or they take over.  You'd get Long Nights or Dooms, etc.  Ridding the land of the weir network as seems to have happened in most places, also rid the land of the forces of order, and in that vacuum these other "networks" of magic - frost and fire, that also require blood sacrifice - gain force.

I don't know if I'm explaining myself very well here as I'm typing while thinking. What I'm trying to get at is not exact particulars but more a 'flow' of narrative backstory and organization in a series whose title is a reflection of Norse myth and specifically Ragnarok.

So I like or could subscribe to some of your theory regarding separate networks, but when you get too detailed by even naming mythical characters - Valerys?- I disengage.  The World of Ice and Fire is a retrofit where backstory and myth is concerned.  So yes it gives us clues as to where people came from, connections to world myth, stories and cycles that are replaying, east and west and back again.  We can take some of it as literal history, but much of it is thematic cycle. Disentangling what's what is almost impossible, but not futile if you relate it to the actual happenings in-text of the main series.

The Blood Betrayal is a thing, for instance.  And we see it played out when Dany births dragons and herself as a new dragonbonding entity, and her husband and son, (not to mention a horse and Mirri) are all sacrificed to do it.  She is regenerating the Valyrians and dragons and repowering fire magic at the same time.  The story of the Night's King, which we learn about in the main series, is also a variation likely of the same theme, to regenerate the Others and repower ice magic after their defeat generations ago. Melisandre as fire sorceress birthing shadows is another piece of the puzzle.  So is Craster and the incest, the Valyrians and incest.  Bloodlines. If you put these pieces together you start getting a clearer picture of how George conceives of these rebirths, and the origins of these entities to begin with.

But I am careful.  When I realized Garth the Green Hand is likely more a description of George himself and his writing process, amalgamated as a legend, or that beyond the Wall-equivalent Five Forts are creatures that sound suspiciously like dragon riders and crannogmen and zombies from the barrowlands, emphasizing othering and cycles with a difference, or that God-Emperors in Yi Ti seem to have real-life Westerosi counterparts in the various characters and families currently engaged in a struggle for control of Westeros, again emphasizing history being replayed east or west- I stopped taking the story of the Bloodstone Emperor and Amethyst Empress too literally as mythical history, and started regarding it more as another variant on the same theme of familial betrayal and birth or rebirth of antagonistic magical force with Lovecraftian overtones.

And I think this is why it is sometimes difficult for me to subscribe to myth and magic theories that seem almost wholly based on World and tangent out from there instead of coming back to the puzzles of the in-series text.  It is a retrofit, devised often separate from and often in hindsight to the in -series story. So when it's treating with myth or magic, where is its counterpart in the series and what is it telling us about the in-series counterpart, not the World Book story?

Okay, this is a long ramble, but I wanted you to get a sense of my position when I retain or am intrigued by certain areas of your theory, but dismiss other areas.  You can see why I told you recently I am uninterested in aliens! I have an entirely different world-wide of Westeros that does not include them, or at least I'd need more in-text evidence for them.  But metaphorically - frost and fire as unrestrained and chaotic magical entities are both part of but alien to the natural order represesented by the weir network.  So maybe we're not so far apart after all!

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On 10/19/2018 at 2:52 PM, Curled Finger said:

Oh @Lady Barbrey, very nice.   

@Ellard Stark, may i add aeromancers to your list? 

@hiemal--I was just about to bring in in some of the very cool stuff we have researched and discussed.   My initial thought went straight to you, Ser.  

My own thoughts are more observations mixed with my own religious/metaphysical persuasions.   I believe it was hiemal who opened the discussion about power struggles between the elements.   (Please correct me where I've gone off the rails--it's been a while and I've conducted lots of research on my own since our first discussions, @hiemal)  The magical element, fire, lost some great struggle for dominion.   I liken wildfyre to a nuke in my own mind.    My, my, doesn't Asshai just ooze an ancient disaster vibe?   So then might the far north.   

Mostly this is a fairly balanced world containing all the elements essential to human existence.   Just as our own world undergoes changes in elemental force--the ice ages and deserts come most immediately to mind--Planetos seems to have undergone similar changes.    Being a fantasy I have to accept that magic is a very real force here--but that doesn't have to mean it isn't logical magic.   The Brackens are accused of poisoning the Blackwood Raven Tree, yet the ravens flock back every night.   Poison?   I doubt it.  Perhaps the weirwood net in the south is damaged and simply works differently and Raven Tree is just an example of the damage.   This weirwood damage is no doubt due to the deforestation of weirwoods, yet the magic remains bringing at the very least dreams.  This is the smallest and most inconsequential example I could dream up on the fly.   I'm sure there are far better, bigger and stronger examples of the evolution of magic in ASOIAF.   

Is magic still strong on the Rhoyne without the natives to practice this?  That causes me to question if the little earth magic COTF guys were really the force behind the breaking of the arm of Dorne and/or the flooding of the Neck.   Seems to me earth magic guys would find maybe earthquakes or landslides easier to summon than floods?   Are the Others out and about in response to the rise in the popularity of those nutty R'hllorists raising folks from death and setting good steel alight with their blood?   If so, what did the Others think of real honest to goodness Valyrians taking up residence on their continent?   Or is Valyrian magic just wrong and unworthy of note?   Is the fire power R'hllorists wield really that scary?   I think so, but dragons are awfully darned impressive.   Or is it all way off and both types of fire worship are wrong--the only difference being the sheer power of fire harness by the Valyrians?   

I wish I was explaining more comprehensibly.  In a nut shell, I think the tale about our humans is a sort of mirror into what's happening with the forces of magic and that magic is elemental.   Really enjoying the comments--lots to consider and lots to discuss.   Great topic, @Lady Barbrey.

Hi CF!  Some great questions I unfortunately can't answer.  But I agree about the balance, that humans are mirroring something on a cosmic scale, that magic is elemental.  I'm not sure I think fire magic or ice magic are wrong in and of themselves, but unrestrained they cause disasters and can destroy the world.  The Wall, to my mind, is almost metaphor made actual in that regard - not there to destroy something evil but to restrain or constrain a force natural and intrinsic to Westeros that nevertheless has the potential to destroy it.

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10 hours ago, hiemal said:

Essos? Planetos? I think he is something that might be considered a god. Rather than flowing "naturally" through a soul cycle as the Old Gods' system is described I think R'hlorr altered that system so that his "personality" permanently and consciously inhabits the entire system. Rather than tap into the weirnet, imagine if Bran could somehow "second life" it?

Despite my confident tone, I realize that it is a longshot given the available data. I do have a reputation to uphold. I suppose this would be my "best-or-at-least-most-interesting" theory. I think it has explanatory power and fits what facts we know and I think that the theme of the usurpation of power and the natural order is one we see in history, politics, and of course in magic.

Yup. Or R'hlorr could be a corruption of some magic word or phrase of importance from the Long Night and a completely insensate force of nature or against nature.

That's an interesting way of putting it but I suppose so? I think the soul energy in a "network" is a like water flowing through an endless cycle of pipes beneath the ground that irrigates the ground above. The water is soaked back up and rejoins the cycle unless it is diverted to do some other work. R'hlorr in this case would be some kind of grand "work" that would be carried out by the action of the water pressure in the entire network of pipes and the only way for a third party to "tap into" this waterworks would be some kind of osmosis requiring the expenditure of water on their own end in order to open a pipe. Not a perfect analogy, I suppose but...

Not real ones.

I love the image in the last paragraph, and although I prefer to think of Rhlorr as rep of unrestrained elemental fire magic rather than a god, this idea of interrupting the flow and appropriating power to its element rings true.

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We're not supposed to be able to figure it out else it would no longer be magic.  It's not based in the science that we know.  

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9 hours ago, hiemal said:

The Seven

I've saved this one for last because I know you won't like it but...

The Great Empire of the Dawn represent an alien race, an invader species. Hear me out- I'm thinking of the Sithi in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, Thorn (who travelled to Osten Ard from their homeworld of Garden by means of largely unexplained magical space(?)craft) which GRRM cites as a major influence onASoIaF as well the Tuatha de Dannon from the Irish Book of Invaders I mentioned in leaf-Lif. I think the second moon may have been a mothership the pearl palanquin of YiTish myth a misremembered lander.

I think these invaders brought their own system of souls with them and each Gemstone Emperor in turn ascended to some kind of immortality- becoming those who are now remembered as the Seven. The Bloostone Emperor broke this cycle obviously, possibly destroying the mothership during the Lightbringer Incident. The Stranger, incidentally, could some kind of combination of the BSE and his sister. It appears that the Seven do grant powers every once in a while- appearing bodily at least occasionally and possibly granting healing powers to a select few.

Incidentally, this appears to be the only linear, non-cyclical soul-cycle. The Seven Heavens and Seven Hells seem to be eternal, like judgement. Alien!

Stop saying alien!  Lol. 

I read Memory Sorrow and Thorn when it first came out and didn't even remember that about them coming from another planet.  I thought it was just a Tolkien rip-off and some alternate land thing.  All of these tales MST, ASOIAF and LotR are using much of the same Norse mythology with a good dose of Celtic at base so they're going to be similar in many respects.  Just can't buy into a pearl mothership!

I know I keep returning to Norse myth but my mind's been on it a lot recently.  If you stop Norse myth with the introduction of Christianity and pretend that's when Ragnarok happened, the gods in place in the Norse world would be very similar to the ones on Planetos.  The 'old Gods' - the Aesir and Vanir - in the weir network, fire and frost giants, Rhlorr and Great Other, outside the weir but part of the land and forces to be reckoned with, the Seven with their Septas etc., representing the new religion of Christianity and only in the North (Iceland) are the weir, old god traditions still fully practiced, as did happen.

Comparison to this real world myth seems to fit the in-series text better than the Amethyst Empress myth, so I think we're looking for something else from that myth. For me that might be as another cycle of the Blood Betrayal, and for careful readers, a heritage for the sword Dawn and Dany herself.  It's one of the bases I use for my theory that Valyrians were First Men originally, sharing a pre-ancestor with the Daynes and other First Men, but migrated back to Essos after the Long Night.  

I am interested in soul cycles because memories and 'soul' still attached to bones and flesh are outside my reading experience.  Do you know of any myths or fantasies that use this trope?

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11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Magic is magic. There is no system to it. This is not a role-playing game.

And not every magic is blood magic or requires a sacrifice. This is a world where you can revive people with a simply (fiery) kiss, after all.

Perhaps an exception to the rule, but I think I remember George saying something to the effect that it's the fire magic equivalent to ice magic wighting.  Which only made me look at the particular properties of 'fire consumes, ice preserves' as possible operating factors when raising the dead. There is system here.

Also, I read a huge amount of fantasy and have played very few role-playing games. Fantasy fiction of the adult variety often, I would say usually in recent years, includes magic systems or at least guiding principles.  Moreover, most fantasy writers, including George, have played RPG's and might dislike the implication there is something less valuable in having a system to not having one.  It has become something fairly intrinsic to world building for some writers.  George might not have the easy equivalencies and 'hard' magic system of a Sanderson, but he's also not randomly sprinkling magic around like fairy dust.  Keeping it mysterious but at root with its own logic seems to me the best of both 'hard' and 'soft' magic in fiction, and that's the middle ground I think ASOIAF is operating in.

I've avoided the word system myself because I'm not completely convinced of one, but I'm certainly convinced of logic to magic in this world which suggests it contains some guiding principles.

Edited by Lady Barbrey

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9 hours ago, Mordred said:

Magic is a natural resource like petroleum.  Sure some families have talents they pass on.  The talent is recessive and that is why it has generally died out.  The Targaryen bond with their dragons is one such inherited talent.  Planned marriages to enhance the chances of producing children with this ability is practiced to keep the talent alive.  I see no reason why the talent for skin changing is any different.  That is why the ability may be strong in Craster's children.  It may be unexpressed in Craster but the talent could be strong in his kids.  The Others find this skill useful because they can control their wights with it.  

Magic in general has elemental properties.  Fire, ice, water, earth, etc.  The ability to tap this resource is by no means exclusive to ice and fire.  There are different ways to tap this power.  It is not proven that life must be sacrificed to produce magic.  Thoros woke up Beric without needing to burn anyone.  I think this is one of the tragic lies and it led to the unnecessary killings of many.  

I agree with much and find the idea that sacrifice might be a lie an intriguing one.

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8 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

No one said the blood sacrifice had to be simultaneous with the expenditure of the resultant life force. 

Note that Thoros’s sudden power to raise the dead surprises even him, and just happens to be in the general vicinity of High Heart, which was one of the most sacred places of the Children. Apparently thousands of them were slaughtered at that spot, so Thoros - who admits he has no idea where his sudden power came from - could be tapping into some of that stored life force, for all we know. Just like Mellisandre notes that her powers are strenthened by the stored life force in the Wall. 

And we see them hide in a hollow hill among weirwood roots, no doubt a place that easily taps into the stored up life force in the weirnet.

Regarding the Valyrians, I contend that the “Fire” portion of their magic would not work without the “Blood” part. It is the Blood that provides the power for the Fire to manifest itself. The key is the former point I raised, which is that the blood sacrifice and the exercise of the power need not happen at the same time.

Blood magic was used to merge the first wyverns with firewyrms to create the first dragons, and then later blood magic was used to merge individual Valyrian bloodlines with individual dragon lineages. 

And the deaths of thousands of slaves fed them with ample life force to maintain their spells for millenia.

Similarly Moqorro or Mellisandre’s common spells could tap into life force sacrificed and stored years earlier, or thousands of miles away in Ashai, for all we know. Only for particularly great spells do you need a new blood sacrifice to augment whatever your base power level happens to be at a particular point in time.

This could easily be a possible explanation for a number of things.  I think it applies as well to an environmental subtext.  In a world with limited resources, what I do in one part of the World could easily be affecting another part of the World.  Magic is a limited resource. What I take in magic must be given back in life-force, because while I might not see the repurcussions of not making that life-force sacrifice, someone somewhere else will. The Children might very well have 'stores for winter', one might say, whereas Garin, who called the waters at the Rhoyne, did not and made no sacrifice, resulting in the continuous leeching of life, in particular water, from flesh, ie, greyscale, to pay the debt.

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6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That was Dalla's opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the author.

To me it seems to be echoed enough thematically that I am willing to provisionally accept it; at least for the purposes of this project (the grand Unified Theory of Magic).

Another seems to be "There is power in king's blood".

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

But I actually have issue with the cost thing. Rather with the idea that 'life force' or 'lives' are always the cost. Thoros paid nothing for bringing Beric back.

In this case I argue that it was R'hlorr and not Thoros who raised Beric. The Red Priest was merely the conduit by which the Lord of Flame and Shadow interacted with the linear-time world from within the Firenet, but of course that it is unlikely to convince anyone not already bought into the system to at least some degree. I also point out that Thoros has sacrificed himself to R'hlorr- all of his priests are temple slaves, hierodules (one of my favorite 5-stag words so I never miss a chance to trot it out...).

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We don't even know if R'hllor actually exists - but we do know if he and any other 'gods' actually exist, then they'll never show up in the story as George has long ago confirmed this. In that sense, your statement there cannot be verified.

I'm arguing here, because it is more interesting to me and is also the minority opinion, that he does exist and he doesn't need to show up directly in the story to be confirmed to my satisfaction. For example, in this specific tinfoil that I've been arguing in this thread R'hlorr's ascension is directly linked to the Long Night and the nature of prophecy and the quasi-repetition of history/anachronisms/mis-aligned seasons/etc. Obviously I don't know how the series is going to end and this isn't really thread to speculate but if there is at least an attempt to "put things right" I think we might get more info on "what went wrong". GRRM also loves him some GRRMarillion, as next month's installment hopefully shows. I am hopeful that from one of the sources we might get something to tie it all together, but until then I have my tinfoil.

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

He has burned and smoking arm which works. I say this more or less a cosmetic problem. It is a certain side effect but there is no indication this spell involved 'life force' or anything like that. But it obviously involved fire.

Hopefully we will find out more soon.

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We don't know that, actually. To me it seems that it is rather the focal point of the glamor she wears - like Mance's ruby and the moonstone of Maynard Plumm/Bloodraven. 'Fire cleanses', according to Melisandre, and she is full of fire. She doesn't need rubies to do that.

She claims she is full of fire, but when "Mance" burned she writhed in agony. I'm not sure what Melisandre is, or even if she is strictly speaking or alive or some kind of revenant or intermediate between the two. Regardless, I've lent my copy of ASoS out (I can be quite evangelical about ASoIaF) but I seem to recall that her pendant flashed or shone during the Strangler affair? Either way, we don't really know what it does.

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That seems to be at odds with the fact that we learn in TWoIaF that the fires of the Fourteen Flames 'fueled' the magic of the Valyrian pyromancers. It is not blood or 'soul energy', it is fire.

I don't see it that way- the Valyrians also brought in plenty of blood in the form of slaves and while we don't know that any were directly sacrificed I find it suggestive that the book mentions that Qohor was known to have done so in their efforts to recreate Valyrian Steel,

I think I should also point out that the Fourteen Flames were not literally flames but almost certainly volcanoes- the Fires of the Earth. We don't know what their grand sorceries were meant to do or how they involved the Flames.

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

There are hints that greenseers need blood sacrifices, too.

Indeed, it all costs. The question is when. It could be that the gifts of skinchanging and greendreams are inherited from ancestors who "bought into" the Old Gods' system by blood sacrifice and that becoming a greenseer requires an additional sacrifice. Are you alluding to Jojen Paste here? I'm not sure on board with that one, but the idea of sacrifice is sound enough.

Edited by hiemal

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2 hours ago, hiemal said:

The Many-Faced (phased) God probably grants some kind of divination ability to his followers- how else would Jaqen have known where and when to find Arya?

I think the weirwoods are the source of all magic in ASOIAF and you get them to work their magic by feeding them blood, and was surprised that no-one mentioned weirwoods until page 2.  

With regards to Braavos, I think it is a metaphor for the weirwood network.  The weirwoods all literally the many faced god, the HoBW is a direct parallel to Bloodraven's cave with skulls in niches, there is almost certainly a weirwood under the HoBW ( "All the color is gone, Bran realized suddenly. The world was black soil and white wood"), and many things about Braavos have weirwood connotations (The Isle of Gods, Moonsingers = CoTF, House of the Red Hand, the Titan is a green stone giant with  that eats children, it is illegal to cut down trees, it is a secret city like the CoTF secret trees towns and Greywater Watch, ruled by the Sealord --there is a play on words between sea and see, "under the sea" is a metaphor for greenseeing.

Quote
A thousand leaves fluttered, and for a moment the forest seemed a deep green sea, storm-tossed and heaving, eternal and unknowable.
Ghost was not like to be alone down there, he thought. Anything could be moving under that sea, creeping toward the ringfort through the dark of the wood, concealed beneath those trees. Anything. How would they ever know? He stood there for a long time, until the sun vanished behind the saw-toothed mountains and darkness began to creep through the forest.

I the world book there is this tidbit about the Unmasking that sounds like they are celebrating and reenacting the Long Night:

Quote

The anniversary of the Uncloaking is celebrated every year in Braavos with ten days of feasting and masked revelry—a festival like none other in all the known world, culminating at midnight on the tenth day, when the Titan roars and tens of thousands of revelers and celebrants remove their masks as one.

 

Jaqen = Jachin From Hebrew "He/it will establish"

H'gar = Hagar From Hebrew “stranger”

"he will establish the stranger"?

According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.

Featured heavily in freemasonry:  "Jachin--the white pillar of light…Boaz--the shadowy pillar of darkness. …These two pillars respectively connote also the active and the passive…the sun and the moon…good and bad, light and darkness." 

The white pillar and the black pillar parallel the white weirwoods, and the black (shade of the evening) weirwoods. 

The Jaqen persona is Lorathi, and in Lorath they worship Boash (Boaz). Also, Biter is whiteish, and Rorge is blackish, and Arya thinks maybe Jaqen is a wizard and they are his demon thralls.

Jaqen is also a wandering Odin figure collecting knowledge, I think he is always connected to the weirwood network.  "Jaqen H'ghar stood so still in the darkness that he seemed one of the trees."

 

 

The weirwood has spread across the whole planet, in Westros it is white, in Essos it is black, and in the Summer Isles it is goldenheart, but the networks are no longer connected to each other.  "The white ravens and the black ones quarrel like Dornishmen and Marchers, so they keep them apart." The Breaking of the Arm of Dorne wasn't to stop the humans migrating, it was to sever the weirwood connection between the Westeros and Essos.  I think that is why Jaqen wants the glass candle to unite the networks again.  This goes along with the myth of the magical sword that was broken in two and reforged, Gram from Norse mythology (also has three attemped forgings like Lightbringer) and Narsil from LoTR.

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16 minutes ago, hiemal said:

To me, it seems to be echoed enough thematically that I am willing to provisionally accept it, at least for the purposes of this project (the grand Unified Theory of Magic).

Another seems to be "There is power in king's blood".

In this case I argue that it was R'hlorr and not Thoros who raised Beric. The Red Priest was merely the conduit by which the Lord of Flame and Shadow interacted with the linear-time world from within the Firenet, but of course that it is unlikely to convince anyone not already bought into the system to at least degree. I also point out that Thoros has sacrificed himself to R'hlorr- all of his priests are temple slaves, hierodules (one of my favorite 5-stag words so I never miss a chance to trot it out...).

I'm arguing here, because it is more interesting to me and is also the minority opinion, that he does exist and he doesn't need to show up directly in the story to be confirmed to my satisfaction. For example, in this specific tinfoil that I've been arguing in this thread R'hlorr's ascension is directly linked to the Long Night and the nature of prophecy and the quasi-repetition of history/anachronisms/mis-aligned seasons/etc. Obviously I don't know the series is going to end and this isn't really thread to speculate but if there is at least an attempt to "put things right" I think we might get more info on "what went wrong". GRRM also loves him som GRRMarillion, as next month's installment hopefully shows. I am hopeful that from one of the sources we might get something to tie it all together, but until then I have my tinfoil.

Hopefully we will find out more soon.

She claims she is full of fire, but when "Mance" burned she writhed in agony. I'm not sure what Melisandre is, or even if she is strictly speaking or alive or some kind of revenant or intermediate between the two. Regardless, I've lent my copy of ASoS out (I can be quite evangelical about ASoIaF) but I seem to recall that her pendant flashed or shone during the Strangler affair? Either way, we don't really know what it does.

I don't see it that way- the Valyrians also brought in plenty of blood in the form of slaves and while we don't know that any were directly sacrificed I find it suggestive that the book mentions that Qohor was known to have done so in their efforts to recreate Valyrian Steel,

I think I should also point out that the Fourteen Flames were not literally flames but almost certainly volcanoes- the Fires of the Earth.

Indeed, it all costs. The question is when. It could be that the gifts of skinchanging and greendreams are inherited from ancestors who "bought into" the Old Gods' system by blood sacrifice and that becoming a greenseer requires an additional sacrifice. Are you alluding to Jojen Paste here? I'm not sure on board with that one, but the idea of sacrifice is sound enough.

I liked almost everything you said here, hiemal.  I particularly like that you say we should get more info on 'what went wrong' when our characters attempt to 'put things right'.  I read Game of Thrones when it was first published and my jacket blurb did not emphasize politics, but a young man struggling to solve a mystery surrounding magically long winters.  So I'll feel a little robbed if that central mystery has no pay off.

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3 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

What I like about your 'tinfoils' is that even though you extrapolate into details and systems that I wouldn't want to follow, if I rip all the extraneous detail away, you have interesting ideas at base that could easily be close to the truth if only in a metaphorical way.  This idea of a series of 'nets',  for instance, is intriguing.

I've been thinking about the post-Ragnarok idea I was speculating about in my Leaf=Lif thread, because if we think of this world as after the fact, recycling stories and myths and history from the prior Norse myth cycle and not quite fitting because it is a different cycle with different constellations - it would still have the same players to a certain degree.

Lif as tree-woman, reborn from the world tree to start the world anew as a Child of the Forest.  But where are the gods if we're recycling?  We see reflections in various characters, but nothing conclusive.  So are the gods of the past Ragnarok cycle literally the 'old Gods' that the Children worship?  Odin and Thor and Frey etc., their bodies gone but their presences or spirits or memories contained within the World Tree that survived Ragnarok and are now spread throughout the weir network? These gods, Germanic and Norse extraction, did require blood sacrifice. What about Surtr, a fire giant, basis for Rhlorr I suspect, or the unnamed 'other' main antagonist, head of the frost giants?  And Ocean itself, that wins in the end by covering the earth completely? Are they outside the weir network or replaying with differences an age-old battle cycle within it?  And are these battles being reflected on a human level?

The fact they seem to be arising in places absent the weir network, in Essos or the Far North or the Ocean, seems to indicate they are outside it. When Dany rebirths dragons, those shadows in her tent are reminiscent of the Fenris wolf and Surtr the fire giant. Antagonists.

Excellent! Suddenly I am thinking Skoll and Hati and LML's second moon theories... successive ragnaroks... heady stuff you're serving tonight, Lady B.

3 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

So I like or could subscribe to some of your theory regarding separate networks, but when you get too detailed by even naming mythical characters - Valerys?- I disengage.  The World of Ice and Fire is a retrofit where backstory and myth is concerned.  So yes it gives us clues as to where people came from, connections to world myth, stories and cycles that are replaying, east and west and back again.  We can take some of it as literal history, but much of it is thematic cycle. Disentangling what's what is almost impossible, but not futile if you relate it to the actual happenings in-text of the main series.

 

Getting that specific is tongue-in-cheek psuedo-cockiness. I would be bowled over if I was proved right on that- I was just bored and playing around with names.

3 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

The Blood Betrayal is a thing, for instance.  And we see it played out when Dany births dragons and herself as a new dragonbonding entity, and her husband and son, (not to mention a horse and Mirri) are all sacrificed to do it.  She is regenerating the Valyrians and dragons and repowering fire magic at the same time.  The story of the Night's King, which we learn about in the main series, is also a variation likely of the same theme, to regenerate the Others and repower ice magic after their defeat generations ago. Melisandre as fire sorceress birthing shadows is another piece of the puzzle.  So is Craster and the incest, the Valyrians and incest.  Bloodlines. If you put these pieces together you start getting a clearer picture of how George conceives of these rebirths, and the origins of these entities to begin with.

But I am careful.  When I realized Garth the Green Hand is likely more a description of George himself and his writing process, amalgamated as a legend, or that beyond the Wall-equivalent Five Forts are creatures that sound suspiciously like dragon riders and crannogmen and zombies from the barrowlands, emphasizing othering and cycles with a difference, or that God-Emperors in Yi Ti seem to have real-life Westerosi counterparts in the various characters and families currently engaged in a struggle for control of Westeros, again emphasizing history being replayed east or west- I stopped taking the story of the Bloodstone Emperor and Amethyst Empress too literally as mythical history, and started regarding it more as another variant on the same theme of familial betrayal and birth or rebirth of antagonistic magical force with Lovecraftian overtones.

 

I'm on the fence- I like to consider everything with the jaundiced eye of a skeptic wielding his Valyrian Steel Occam's Razor and take it all literally and run calculations on my tinfoil difference engine based on every variant. Let's just say I find the more literal interpretations of history more.. satisfying?

3 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

And I think this is why it is sometimes difficult for me to subscribe to myth and magic theories that seem almost wholly based on World and tangent out from there instead of coming back to the puzzles of the in-series text.  It is a retrofit, devised often separate from and often in hindsight to the in -series story. So when it's treating with myth or magic, where is its counterpart in the series and what is it telling us about the in-series counterpart, not the World Book story?

I think it may be possible that GRRM is basing the some of the details of history and the nature of this world on some kind of shared project- probably an RPG of some kind. That's just a feeling I've gotten from this work in general and it matches the patchwork feeling of history, myth, gritty realism and high fantasy that is ASoIaF. GRRM at his best weaves together differing threads into a new work, which why I always enjoy his Wild Cards mosaics. That doesn't mean we will ever get any real answers, but I'm hoping that he is too pleased with his cleverness to allow it go unappreciated.

3 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

Okay, this is a long ramble, but I wanted you to get a sense of my position when I retain or am intrigued by certain areas of your theory, but dismiss other areas.  You can see why I told you recently I am uninterested in aliens! I have an entirely different world-wide of Westeros that does not include them, or at least I'd need more in-text evidence for them.  But metaphorically - frost and fire as unrestrained and chaotic magical entities are both part of but alien to the natural order represesented by the weir network.  So maybe we're not so far apart after all!

/cheers

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8 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I think the weirwoods are the source of all magic in ASOIAF and you get them to work their magic by feeding them blood, and was surprised that no-one mentioned weirwoods until page 2.  

With regards to Braavos, I think it is a metaphor for the weirwood network.  The weirwoods all literally the many faced god, the HoBW is a direct parallel to Bloodraven's cave with skulls in niches, there is almost certainly a weirwood under the HoBW ( "All the color is gone, Bran realized suddenly. The world was black soil and white wood"), and many things about Braavos have weirwood connotations (The Isle of Gods, Moonsingers = CoTF, House of the Red Hand, the Titan is a green stone giant with  that eats children, it is illegal to cut down trees, it is a secret city like the CoTF secret trees towns and Greywater Watch, ruled by the Sealord --there is a play on words between sea and see, "under the sea" is a metaphor for greenseeing.

I the world book there is this tidbit about the Unmasking that sounds like they are celebrating and reenacting the Long Night:

 

Jaqen = Jachin From Hebrew "He/it will establish"

H'gar = Hagar From Hebrew “stranger”

"he will establish the stranger"?

According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.

Featured heavily in freemasonry:  "Jachin--the white pillar of light…Boaz--the shadowy pillar of darkness. …These two pillars respectively connote also the active and the passive…the sun and the moon…good and bad, light and darkness." 

The white pillar and the black pillar parallel the white weirwoods, and the black (shade of the evening) weirwoods. 

The Jaqen persona is Lorathi, and in Lorath they worship Boash (Boaz). Also, Biter is whiteish, and Rorge is blackish, and Arya thinks maybe Jaqen is a wizard and they are his demon thralls.

Jaqen is also a wandering Odin figure collecting knowledge, I think he is always connected to the weirwood network.  "Jaqen H'ghar stood so still in the darkness that he seemed one of the trees."

 

 

The weirwood has spread across the whole planet, in Westros it is white, in Essos it is black, and in the Summer Isles it is goldenheart, but the networks are no longer connected to each other.  "The white ravens and the black ones quarrel like Dornishmen and Marchers, so they keep them apart." The Breaking of the Arm of Dorne wasn't to stop the humans migrating, it was to sever the weirwood connection between the Westeros and Essos.  I think that is why Jaqen wants the glass candle to unite the networks again.  This goes along with the myth of the magical sword that was broken in two and reforged, Gram from Norse mythology (also has three attemped forgings like Lightbringer) and Narsil from LoTR.

Ooo, I love this, particularly the Braavos bit, and about the Arm of Dorne being broken to sever the weirwood connection.  And we have a severed sword, Ice, in this tale too. As I am also convinced there was a proto-ancestor for the Daynes/Starks and Valyrians among the First Men, and the Valyrian fire branch subsequently migrated, Jon himself could be the re-forging of a sword (bloodline) symbolically.

Really well thought out with interesting possibilities.

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1 hour ago, Lady Barbrey said:

Stop saying alien!  Lol.

Last time. Probably.

1 hour ago, Lady Barbrey said:

 

I read Memory Sorrow and Thorn when it first came out and didn't even remember that about them coming from another planet.  I thought it was just a Tolkien rip-off and some alternate land thing.  All of these tales MST, ASOIAF and LotR are using much of the same Norse mythology with a good dose of Celtic at base so they're going to be similar in many respects.  Just can't buy into a pearl mothership!

 

He doesn't make a big deal of it, but the Navigators are the key to the whole thing apparently.

The pearl mothership does seem a long shot, but I like to tinfoil big. I've also tinfoiled the Dawn Emperors literally warging the heavenly bodies the Seven are associated with leaving AE and BSE trapped together in the Red Comet as the Stranger, the Wanderer from Far Places. I get around, theory-wise.

1 hour ago, Lady Barbrey said:

I know I keep returning to Norse myth but my mind's been on it a lot recently.  If you stop Norse myth with the introduction of Christianity and pretend that's when Ragnarok happened, the gods in place in the Norse world would be very similar to the ones on Planetos.  The 'old Gods' - the Aesir and Vanir - in the weir network, fire and frost giants, Rhlorr and Great Other, outside the weir but part of the land and forces to be reckoned with, the Seven with their Septas etc., representing the new religion of Christianity and only in the North (Iceland) are the weir, old god traditions still fully practiced, as did happen.

Comparison to this real world myth seems to fit the in-series text better than the Amethyst Empress myth, so I think we're looking for something else from that myth. For me that might be as another cycle of the Blood Betrayal, and for careful readers, a heritage for the sword Dawn and Dany herself.  It's one of the bases I use for my theory that Valyrians were First Men originally, sharing a pre-ancestor with the Daynes and other First Men, but migrated back to Essos after the Long Night. 

Interesting- perhaps they acquired their silver hair and purple eyes by interbreeding with folks from the Shadow or do you think it could be a result of a magical bond with dragons?

1 hour ago, Lady Barbrey said:

I am interested in soul cycles because memories and 'soul' still attached to bones and flesh are outside my reading experience.  Do you know of any myths or fantasies that use this trope?

I started with Ygdrassil, CotF, and ravens and just kind of ran with it.

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30 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I think the weirwoods are the source of all magic in ASOIAF and you get them to work their magic by feeding them blood, and was surprised that no-one mentioned weirwoods until page 2.  

 

I think you may be right, but I do hold out the alternate theory that it originally comes from the Oily Black Stone and the weirwoods are merely the among first "generation" of magically-influenced lifeforms and the theory that weirwoods and OBS represent two antagonistic elements both responsible for part of the problem.

34 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

With regards to Braavos, I think it is a metaphor for the weirwood network.  The weirwoods all literally the many faced god, the HoBW is a direct parallel to Bloodraven's cave with skulls in niches, there is almost certainly a weirwood under the HoBW ( "All the color is gone, Bran realized suddenly. The world was black soil and white wood"), and many things about Braavos have weirwood connotations (The Isle of Gods, Moonsingers = CoTF, House of the Red Hand, the Titan is a green stone giant with  that eats children, it is illegal to cut down trees, it is a secret city like the CoTF secret trees towns and Greywater Watch, ruled by the Sealord --there is a play on words between sea and see, "under the sea" is a metaphor for greenseeing.

 

I don't entirely disagree, although I think Braavos is more corruption of the weirwood network than a representation of it.

36 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

Jaqen = Jachin From Hebrew "He/it will establish"

H'gar = Hagar From Hebrew “stranger”

"he will establish the stranger"?

According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.

Featured heavily in freemasonry:  "Jachin--the white pillar of light…Boaz--the shadowy pillar of darkness. …These two pillars respectively connote also the active and the passive…the sun and the moon…good and bad, light and darkness." 

The white pillar and the black pillar parallel the white weirwoods, and the black (shade of the evening) weirwoods. 

The Jaqen persona is Lorathi, and in Lorath they worship Boash (Boaz). Also, Biter is whiteish, and Rorge is blackish, and Arya thinks maybe Jaqen is a wizard and they are his demon thralls.

Jaqen is also a wandering Odin figure collecting knowledge, I think he is always connected to the weirwood network.  "Jaqen H'ghar stood so still in the darkness that he seemed one of the trees."

I like that.

I certainly think he is connected with something- The only reason I can imagine him being in the Black Cells is precisely so he can encounter Arya and that kind of foreknowledge requires an in.

41 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

The weirwood has spread across the whole planet, in Westros it is white, in Essos it is black, and in the Summer Isles it is goldenheart,

That is interesting. Do you have a theory as to why? I've already speculated that I think the black trees are corrupted by OBS and TBH I'd never heard the idea that goldenheart is a weirwood equivalent but it makes sense given its effectiveness in bows and if the Talking Trees are goldenheart (but I'm not sure on that- TWoIaF describes them as tower trees?). The idea has potential.

45 minutes ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I think the weirwoods are the source of all magic in ASOIAF and you get them to work their magic by feeding them blood, and was surprised  but the networks are no longer connected to each other.  "The white ravens and the black ones quarrel like Dornishmen and Marchers, so they keep them apart." The Breaking of the Arm of Dorne wasn't to stop the humans migrating, it was to sever the weirwood connection between the Westeros and Essos.  I think that is why Jaqen wants the glass candle to unite the networks again.  This goes along with the myth of the magical sword that was broken in two and reforged, Gram from Norse mythology (also has three attemped forgings like Lightbringer) and Narsil from LoTR.

How would that work?

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