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Platypus Rex

Poll: Did Summer See a Dragon?

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17 hours ago, zandru said:

I'm a fairly modest reader. Under these circumstances, and having read so much of George RR's work and this series, I'm more inclined to assume it's a failure of myself to understand.  Clearly, you're not at all like me.

No.  I try to be modest.  But I cannot compete with your extreme modesty.  You are obviously better than I am.

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16 hours ago, Amris said:

"There are different ways of interpreting text, Platypus.
What you are doing is interpreting the text according to its strict wording."

Well, not so strict.  I do not think it was strictly a "snake"; and I don't think any actual river was present.

But you do not get what I am saying.  I acknowledge that there are many, many, many, many, many, many ways of "interpreting" the text.  And all of them could possibly be correct.   This could indeed be a very obscure metaphor, and GRRM may indeed imagine himself to be very clever for making it.  All I am saying that, on current evidence, that there is only one interpretation way that depends on following the author's words, rather than on making wild efforts to read his mind.

"Realize that there are other means of interpreting text."

Sure.   But how many times must I acknowledge that?  Twenty?  Thirty?

"Means that are as valid and as accepted as the interpretation by strict wording and are often used complementary to it."

All I am saying is, that if a metaphor is too obscure, then it may be unsuccessful in communicating to the reader what the author intended.  And I do tend to assume that the purpose of language is communication.

 "An interpretation by context indicates no real live dragon was seen by Summer. "

Well, that's what I referred to as the "That can't possibly be right" argument.  Like I said, I find this argument very weak, but I'm not going to repeat what I have said earlier.  Even if you had a STRONG argument here; even if you were RIGHT that logic forces us to reject the only interpretation that does not involve mindreading, the fact would remain that we have no other interpretations that do not require mindreading.  That was what I was saying.

And rejecting that it was a dragon (even if right) is not the same thing as presenting an alternative interpretation. 

"What would be the meaning (for the story) of Summer seeing a real live dragon at the Winterfell fire?

None that we know of." 

Not without speculating, no.  

"In fact a real live dragon at the Burning of Winterfell scene would be counterproductive to the on-going story in the North at that point which is about the Stark-Bolton rivalry and Ramsay being a general asshole and burning down his rival's seat Winterfell in that context."

Now you're just being a literary critic.  Even if I agreed with your opinion (which I don't), I am under no obligation to assume that GRRM will necessarily write things that you or I think are productive to the story.  It assumes too much. 

"What would be the meaning (for the story) if Summer did not in fact see a live dragon at the Winterfell fire?"

I don't know.  I was more-or-less agreeing with White Ravens on that point.  He doesn't know either, and he's in the "not an actual dragon" camp.

"It would be foreshadowing and setup for a dragon-related later event."

Sure.  It could mean anything under the sun.  It could be a vision of the present or the past as well.  And "dragon-related event" is a pretty broad category.  

"We know the story has a hidden Targ (Jon) who was raised at Winterfell, who likely will have more Winterfell scenes to come in the future and whose secret as a Targ will definitely at some point be exposed. Exposing a formerly hidden Targ (Jon) at Winterfell would be like a metaphorical dragon rising.

Furthermore we also have reasons to suspect something dragon-related (or at least Targ-related) may be hidden in the crypts and my later be found (items belonging to Rhaegar for instance)."

You are listing theories you happen to believe in, and interpreting an obscure reference to a dragon, as somehow confirming those theories.  Some of the facts you cite, such as Jon being at Winterfell when he is exposed as a Targ, are facts not yet in evidence, to say the least.  As far as I can tell, the reader is not even supposed to know that Jon is a Targ yet, at this point (assuming he is one).

Summer's "vision" (if that's what it is) makes no reference to Jon, or to the crypts, or to Rhaegar.  Nor is any reference made to Winterfell.  The 'dragon' is seen in the sky.  Winterfell plays no part in the vision.  It is merely something that happens to be close by.

"If we don't like any of these possibilities we at the very least can expect a real live dragon (Dany's) at some point over Winterfell in the future."

Sure.  It could be that.  That's what I'm saying.  It could be ANYTHING.

Maybe the vision is not connected to Winterfell (which is merely nearby) but to Ramsey (who is also nearby), or to Theon (ditto).

Maybe it is foreshadowing that Ramsey, or Theon, or Summer, or Shaggydog, or Bran, or Rickon, or Osha, will get eaten by a dragon. And not necessarily at Winterfell.  Maybe they'll go to Skagos, and get eaten there.  If GRRM later says that this was his intent, I will have no choice but to believe him.

"We have to look if the wording is so unambigous that is leaves no room for context and meaning or if there are clues that the author did indeed setup 'wiggle room' in his wording for the reader to look deeper than the strict wording.  No surprise.  We all know GRRM did just that: Summer's vision was clouded. The wiggle room is not only there. It is clearly spelled out."

Sure man.  GRRM went out of his way to give you an "out".  Don't pay any attention to the clue I just gave you!  It's just a dumb direwolf making a mistake!

But that does not "spell out" an alternate interpretation.  That still requires mindreading.  Unless you buy the explanation that GRRM merely trolled us with a random direwolf misperception for no particular reason (metaphorical or otherwise).  Which is possible.   That's another "valid" interpretation.  Just not a particularly satisfying one.

Edited by Platypus Rex

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Is there an updated count?

I am voting no, although it would be nice and cool (:leer:) to have in the series.

And to provide some text to show why, it seems to be a literary device that the author favors when necessary, like when paralleling the experience of connected characters. Plenty of sibling connections in these scenes.

Just adding, Arya is the wolf in this case... in her own way. She is the Wolf Girl, afterall.

For comparison:

  • A Clash of Kings - Arya IV

    And then a wheel was looming over her. The wagon jumped and moved a half foot when Biter threw himself against his chains again. Jaqen saw her, but it was too hard to breathe, let alone talk. She threw the axe into the wagon. Rorge caught it and lifted it over his head, rivers of sooty sweat pouring down his noseless face. Arya was running, coughing. She heard the steel crash through the old wood, and again, again. An instant later came a crack as loud as thunder, and the bottom of the wagon came ripping loose in an explosion of splinters.

    Arya rolled headfirst into the tunnel and dropped five feet. She got dirt in her mouth but she didn't care, the taste was fine, the taste was mud and water and worms and life. Under the earth the air was cool and dark. Above was nothing but blood and roaring red and choking smoke and the screams of dying horses. She moved her belt around so Needle would not be in her way, and began to crawl. A dozen feet down the tunnel she heard the sound, like the roar of some monstrous beast, and a cloud of hot smoke and black dust came billowing up behind her, smelling of hell. Arya held her breath and kissed the mud on the floor of the tunnel and cried. For whom, she could not say.

  • A Clash of Kings - Bran VII

    He padded over dry needles and brown leaves, to the edge of the wood where the pines grew thin. Beyond the open fields he could see the great piles of man-rock stark against the swirling flames. The wind blew hot and rich with the smell of blood and burnt meat, so strong he began to slaver.

    Yet as one smell drew them onward, others warned them back. He sniffed at the drifting smoke. Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin. The smoke and ash clouded his eyes, and in the sky he saw a great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame. He bared his teeth, but then the snake was gone. Behind the cliffs tall fires were eating up the stars.

    All through the night the fires crackled, and once there was a great roar and a crash that made the earth jump under his feet. Dogs barked and whined and horses screamed in terror. Howls shuddered through the night; the howls of the man-pack, wails of fear and wild shouts, laughter and screams. No beast was as noisy as man. He pricked up his ears and listened, and his brother growled at every sound. They prowled under the trees as a piney wind blew ashes and embers through the sky. In time the flames began to dwindle, and then they were gone. The sun rose grey and smoky that morning.

Edited by The Fattest Leech

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Aaagh, the question I try to avoid to answer or decide on, whenever some book mentions the claim of a clutch of eggs beneath WF.

It just remains a very bizarre passage.

4 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

He padded over dry needles and brown leaves, to the edge of the wood where the pines grew thin. Beyond the open fields he could see the great piles of man-rock stark against the swirling flames. The wind blew hot and rich with the smell of blood and burnt meat, so strong he began to slaver.

So, here we have Summer stalking towards the edge of the Wolfswood, and he can see Winterfell (the great piles of man-rock) on fire in the distance. This is very important. Considering the viewpoint of Summer (the edge of the forest), Summer is looking at Winterfell from far away. He is not inside Winterfell, not in the thick of the fight, looking up. He has one of the best vantage points.

We are told it's hot and how the wind smells of blood and burnt meat (yummy, a dragon's favourite). Even Summer starts to slaver because of the smell of "charred meat".

4 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Yet as one smell drew them onward, others warned them back. He sniffed at the drifting smoke. Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin. The smoke and ash clouded his eyes, and in the sky he saw a great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame. He bared his teeth, but then the snake was gone. Behind the cliffs tall fires were eating up the stars. 

The charred meat smell attracts Summer, but other smells make him keep back. Summer sniffs at the smoke. So, Summer definitely knows what smoke is, because he can "name" it as such. He sniffs many men, many horses and lots of fire. Fire smells the most dangerous, even more than men do. This is true for a wolf, but not for a dragon. Dragons don't care whether something's on fire. Smoke and ash then cloud Summer's eyes. So, he definitely cannot see anything sharply. It would appear like there's some thick, shadowy, film overlay disturbing acuity, ability to discern texture and color. And then in the sky he sees what is described as a wolf would describe a dragon breathing flame.

There's also a difference between seeing a river of flame burst upward, than actually seeing almost in profile something up in the sky roaring fire. So, I definitely disagree that whatever Summer saw was something that burst out of the inside of Winterfell: whether it was smoke and flame or a dragon. He already sees it high up in the air, and he sees the river of flame coming from that whatever in the sky. From his vantage point, seeing that just doesn't match with flames flying upwards, even if his vision is clouded by smoke and ash.

And then he bares his teeth at it. That's the most startling phrase imo, whenever I read it and try to tell myself I'm just reading metaphorical language. We are told beforehand Summer sniffed the air. If the smoke and ash blurs his vision, and Summer knows what smoke looks like, then smell is a likely reason why Summer thinks of it as a snake (reptilian smell). However, George makes sure not to actually positively affirm whether Summer smelled somethign reptilian, except for Summer baring his teeth. Summer's not some dumb animal. If he bares his teeth, I doubt he does it towards an imagined beast of smoke.

That's when the whatever is gone.

I ignore the paragraph after it, because if that was indeed a dragon, then it's already gone by then. The later paragraph therefore only describes the roar of fire, and buildings crumbling and going down, and compares to Arya's experience of roaring fire behind her in the keep when she flees the massacre of Amory.

So, purely but itself this paragraph does seem to strongly suggest that Summer saw a dragon, not escaping Winterfell, but drawn to the blood and charred meat smell as Drogon was drawn to the dragon pit.

But we do run into issues, if that was the case:

1) Why doesn't Bran seem to think he saw a dragon through Summer's eyes?

2) While plenty of people died that day, we also have many survivors who never seemed to have seen it?

3) If that was a dragon, it wasn't some hatchling, but a big, adult dragon, and how come we do not have later sightings of it?

Possible answer for 1: Even if Summer was sure that there a living, breathing thing up in the air, because of smell, it would still have appeared more as a shadow. Bran may have dismissed it as something Summer saw incorrectly as soon as it was gone.

Possible answer for 2: The people inside Winterfell were focused on the fire on the ground and either avoid being stabbed, or busy killing. If Summer's sight was clouded by smoke and ash that far away, the sight of those inside Winterfell would have been blurred by smoke and fire even more, as would the sounds they heard be marred by roaring fire and shouting men. This battle is perhaps the sole situation where George could sneek in a short dragon experience without anyone talking about it afterward. Perhaps some saw it for a moment, and never lived to tell of it, and those that lived dismissed what they might have seen for a fraction as impossible.

Possible answer for 3: One of the first things we learn about the North is this:

 
Quote

 

"I trust you enjoyed the journey, Your Grace?"
Robert snorted. "Bogs and forests and fields, and scarcely a decent inn north of the Neck. I've never seen such a vast emptiness. Where are all your people?"
"Likely they were too shy to come out," Ned jested. (aGoT, Eddard I)

 

 
The North is huge, vast emptiness, wild lands, and sparsely populated. The only city the North has is White Harbor. So, a dragon could fly along this vastness to its lair, only to be seen by a handful people who woudl be disbelieved the moment they tell their tale at an inn.
 
Furthermore, we barely have had any POV in the North since then. There's a few chapters of Bran journeying to the Wall via the mountains. Every other Northern POV is that of people with the NW, who are North of the Wall for half a book in aSoS. There are no POV in the vastness of the North in aFfC, except one chapter of Samwell at the Wall. Only when we get to aDwD do we have POVs from Reek and Davos. Reek was locked up all the while in the Dreadfort. Davos gets as far as White Harbor from the Fingers and is sent to Skagos. And any chance for commoners to tell tall tales of dragons with Ramsay hunting them is nihil. Not to mention winter has set in later and we get snowstorms.
 
So, I think the actual likelihood of people having seen the dragon and for us the readers to learn of those who saw it is very small to begin with. Remember that even in verified locations such as the environ of Mereen, Drogon managed to escape from sight for a long while.
 
Comes the 4th issue: but nothing seems to come off it. George has abandoned it.
 
Well has he? George has this story of a clutch of dragon eggs being deposited beneath Winterfell both in the World Book and F&B. He's certainly taesing the reader with the possibility of a dragon appearing in the North.
 
While I do consider it a red herring tale, I consider it a red herring in a different way than most. Most think the dragon sighting itself is a red herring. I consider it a misleading by George to make people beleive the dragon Summer saw lived beneath Winterfell. If Summer saw a dragon it was a wild one drawn to the sacking of Winterfell, not born or escaping from it.
 
And such a wild dragon might actually explain how the tale of a clutch of eggs beneath Winterfell came into being. If some sheep herder in the North found charred leftovers of sheep of his flock, perhaps even saw something in the sky in a blink of an eye, he would have to explain to himself where the dragon may have come from. With the Targ dragons having died out, the farmer or sheepherder would think it was born someplace else after the Dance, where it was known to be hot. And since there are blown up tales like Old Nan's on how many dragons came along with Alysanne and Jaehaerys visiting Winterfell, the story of some of those dragons laying eggs at Winterfell came into being to explain the very rare but occasional sighting of a dragon or missing sheep. So, imo the tale of the dragon eggs beneath Winterfell can act simultaneously as evidence that some Northerners have seen evidence of the presence of a dragon in the North, as well as a red herring since there never was such a clutch beneath Winterfell. 
 
My post here raises a 5th issue: if indeed a wild dragon living somewhere in the North was drawn to Winterfell, and it had plenty of yummy charred meat to gorge on, what made it fly off again so fast?
 
Well, there might be a hint in Alysanne's visit to the Wall described in F&B. We learn that her dragon hissed at the Wall and refused to fly across the Wall. Dragons understandably don't like ice, but ice magic less so. Perhaps similar ice magic is worked into Winterfell, and when the dragon came nearer it got spooked and flew off again. Even if Alysanne's dragon was near Winterfell, Alaric Stark told her that she could not take the dragon inside the WF walls. George has thus smartly avoided to answer whether a dragon could actually enter or fly over Winterfell walls, and of course disproves the story that her dragon would have laid a clutch of eggs inside WF (on top of it being a male dragon).
 
Another possibility is that direwolves are somewhat magical creatures linked to ice magic, and that it was indeed Summer who scared off the dragon. The direwolves have been extinct for centuries south of the Wall, longer than dragons were extinct in Westeros, so we never get a dragon's response to a direwolf warged by a Stark in F&B during Alysanne's visit.
 
So, after long consideration, I have to say I lean towards YES, Summer saw a dragon, imo a wild dragon having a lair somewhere in the North at least for a while to fuel the tales of a Targ dragon leaving a clutch of eggs beneath WInterfell. But when we lack any further teasers on such a dragon in tWoW, my answer can alter in a no.
 
ETA: I agree with the proposal of others, that despite the age, Cannibal in Skagos makes the most sense, or better yet uninhabited Skane. Nobody goes to that island, and nobody of Skagos goes to WF to celebrate harvest feasts or join Stark armies to war, making it easier for George to keep a multitude from dragon sightings out of the books for so long. Cannibal was always more of an island dragon, and he can live on a varied diet of charred whale, tuna, and goat-like unicorns, intermixed with Skagosi and the rare crew blown passing by. Those islands are mountainous and have plenty of caverns. Eastwatch would never get a sighting of him, since no wild dragon would go near the Wall. He vanished from Dragonstone after the Dance. Settling at a new island makes sense. He is already portrayed in the story of the Dance of being attracted to burned people, fitting with being drawn to the battle and fire at WF, as well as explaining the lack of sightings after he flew off. The sole castle in its direct path between WF and Skagos is the Dreadfort, but Ramsay had taken his army away from there to attack the other army at WF, leaving only a skeleton crew at the Dreadfort. A majority of Karstarks and House Umber are south in the Riverlands. Meanwhile the harvest was already taken in at the start of aCoK, so there's less people in the already low populated North roaming the lands.
Edited by sweetsunray

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@sweetsunray you've made some good points, and I like the idea that it was Summer that scared the dragon away IF that is what happened. I think no matter how it works, it’s all for some type of foreshadowing. The Fire & Blood book made it clear through Alaric and Alysanne that the two don’t mix, among other instances. 

But there are still so many openings here that I will have to address later. 

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9 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

@sweetsunray you've made some good points, and I like the idea that it was Summer that scared the dragon away IF that is what happened. I think no matter how it works, it’s all for some type of foreshadowing. The Fire & Blood book made it clear through Alaric and Alysanne that the two don’t mix, among other instances. 

But there are still so many openings here that I will have to address later. 

My yes, isn't one where I'd stick my hand in dragon fire for ;)

It would be cool if (warged) direwolves can intimidate dragons though, I agree. :P

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3 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Is there an updated count?

I believe it is 34 against to 6 for at this point.

(Not counting yours truly.  I would make it 7 for).

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15 hours ago, Platypus Rex said:

I believe it is 34 against to 6 for at this point.

So he's doing better than the misconception that global warming is a hoax.

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