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Age of Heroes and Long Night: Closer to 5,000 years ago than 10,000? [EW Interview with GRRM]

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For the sake of this thread, let's ignore that the question and answer in this interview given in the context of discussing the HBO prequel, and let's focus on what possible relevance GRRM's answer to the question could have to the timeline in the book series.

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This book takes place hundreds of years ago and Westeros seems pretty different than in Thrones. I wonder, since HBO’s prequel pilot takes place 10,000 years before Game of Thrones, will that world even be recognizable to fans as Westeros since there’s such a huge time jump?

“10,000 years” is mentioned in the novels. But you also have places where maesters say, “No, no, it wasn’t 10,000, it was 5,000.” Again, I’m trying to reflect real-life things that a lot of high fantasy doesn’t reflect. In the Bible, it has people living for hundreds of years and then people added up how long each lived and used that to figure out when events took place. Really? I don’t think so. Now we’re getting more realistic dating now from carbon dating and archeology. But Westeros doesn’t have that. They’re still in the stage of “my grandfather told me and his grandfather told him.” So I think it’s closer to 5,000 years. But you’re right. Westeros is a very different place. There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens — Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built. We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series. [Prequel showrunner Jane Goldman] is a tremendous talent. She flew into Santa Fe and we spent a week talking about her ideas. She’s going into territory that I haven’t explored very much in the books. I’ve hinted about them. But she’s a major writer, I love her work.

https://ew.com/author-interviews/2018/11/19/george-rr-martin-interview/

In this interview, GRRM's quote seems to indicate that the part of the Age of Heroes leading up to the Long Night might have occurred closer to 5,000 years ago than 10,000 years ago. It might even indicate that the Valyrians or proto-Valyrians were around at that time, though they had either not yet made their connection with dragons, or were in the earliest stages of making their connection with dragons.

It seems unlikely that, in an interview, GRRM would clarify the timeline he has intentionally obscured over the course of two decades of books , but can we really just dismiss these statements as having no substance?

Could GRRM's statement here indicate that the "6,000 years ago" dating for the Long Night could be the more accurate one, and that the Long Night might have occurred much closer to when the Valyrians were discovering and taming dragons?

Again, even though the question and answer were made about the HBO prequel, I am only interested here in discussing whether this might apply to the books, which GRRM explicitly brought up to start his answer to the question.

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16 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

For the sake of this thread, let's ignore that the question and answer in this interview given in the context of discussing the HBO prequel, and let's focus on what possible relevance GRRM's answer to the question could have to the timeline in the book series.

In this interview, GRRM's quote seems to indicate that the part of the Age of Heroes leading up to the Long Night might have occurred closer to 5,000 years ago than 10,000 years ago. It might even indicate that the Valyrians or proto-Valyrians were around at that time, though they had either not yet made their connection with dragons, or were in the earliest stages of making their connection with dragons.

It seems unlikely that, in an interview, GRRM would clarify the timeline he has intentionally obscured over the course of two decades of books , but can we really just dismiss these statements as having no substance?

Could GRRM's statement here indicate that the "6,000 years ago" dating for the Long Night could be the more accurate one, and that the Long Night might have occurred much closer to when the Valyrians were discovering and taming dragons?

Again, even though the question and answer were made about the HBO prequel, I am only interested here in discussing whether this might apply to the books, which GRRM explicitly brought up to start his answer to the question.

6000 years ago is pretty much confirmed by the Woiaf in my view.

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I think it's more or GRRM making Westerosi recorded history realistic and therefore messy than intentionally obscuring a timeline for, uh, conspiracy reasons. 

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24 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

6000 years ago is pretty much confirmed by the Woiaf in my view.

I know that is what Yandel claims, but what makes you say that? Synchronizations of different characters from different regions who interacted? A more recent and compacted history "feels" better, but it's still a bit hard for me to completely dismiss the northern traditions of everything which seem pretty intent on 8,000 years. But I suppose there could be a reason why they are so certain of an incorrect date.

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I don't think we'll ever get dates on that one. If Bran ever shows us visions of the Long Night and there are (proto-)Valyrians/dragonriders or anything reminiscent of that there, then chances are the Long Night did not long precede the foundation of Valyria - or Valyria already existed.

If no such people show up back then, then it could have been at any time, one would think.

But then, we don't really know when exactly Valyria was founded as such, only that Old Ghis and many other cultures were already around before the Long Night.

From the way George's plays with the accuracy (of details) of oral stories in FaB, chances are that the time part in Old Nan's stories is the part that is least likely to be true. Just as the details in Ygritte's story about Bael are wrong (Lord of Winterfell, Kingsroad, etc.).

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19 minutes ago, wia said:

I think it's more or GRRM making Westerosi recorded history realistic and therefore messy than intentionally obscuring a timeline for, uh, conspiracy reasons. 

There's no conspiracy, but IIRC, the in-world conflicting datings have only been introduced in ADWD and TWOIAF.

Up until TWOIAF, I think GRRM has been pretty consistent about putting the Others, Long Night, Night's Watch, Wall, and Starks back about 8,000 years.

I think it was only in TWOIAF that Yandel matter of factly places the Long Night 6,000 years ago, while noting that True History says 8,000.

Similarly, Lewin placed the coming of the First Men 12,000 years ago, but only in TWOIAF does Yandel give us a range of 8,000-12,000 years ago for the coming of the First Men.

Catelyn originally dates Alyssa Arryn 6,000 years ago. TWOIAF confirms that is what the legend says, but that True History says she lived 4,000 years ago, and Denestan says 2,000 years ago.

This is in line with what we are told in ADWD, where, without mentioning Alyssa, Hoster Blackwood tells us that True History puts the Andal invasion 4,000 years ago, and the rebellion of the Brackens against their Blackwood kings 1,000 years before that, or 500 years according to another dating, which he indicates occurred in the time of the Age of Heroes. Hoster then notes that some maester put the Andal invasion 2,000 years ago.

But if there is anything to what GRRM is quoted as saying in this interview, it indicates that the dates he has introduced to make things more hazy are actually much closer to the truth than the dates that were consistently given through the first books. 

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AFfC is actually the first to start playing with the dating, with the Reader remarking on it, and Sam. But yeah, this was something George introduced after ASoS in part because people like myself were asking too many questions about the timeline and he decided to muddy it up.

The fact that George even says "I think" about the 5,000 date makes me think he hasn't really decided and doesn't really care that much. It conveys "it was a long, long time ago" equally well. This would also mean that theories based on intricate attempts to establish prehistoric timelines are probably not going to get anywhere, if George himself hasn't really bothered with them.

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24 minutes ago, Ran said:

The fact that George even says "I think" about the 5,000 date makes me think he hasn't really decided and doesn't really care that much. It conveys "it was a long, long time ago" equally well. This would also mean that theories based on intricate attempts to establish prehistoric timelines are probably not going to get anywhere, if George himself hasn't really bothered with them.

Yeah, we might get a sequence of crucially important events from the distant past, but we won't get numbers. And we don't really need them. Any realism drops if one really imagines that 8,000 years could actually be part of *realistically depicted medieval fantasy setting*.

Which is why George likely was worn down by your questions back then.

I recall that George was very firm once that the Andal invasions had nothing to do with the Valyrians, supposedly taking place before Valyria was even founded. And with the 6,000 years that would have been the setting. But that changed, and I think you or other people actually asked him back in 2000s whether the early Andals couldn't have fled or pushed back by migrations caused by the first expansion of the Valyrians. As it turned out not only is this the case but the Andals did actually flee from actual Valyrian dragonlords.

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In fact, I asked him about that at our first meeting over breakfast discussing TWoIaF. :)

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Although the actual numbers would be interesting to me on some level, the answer to whether the coming of the First Men was 12000 years ago or 8000, whether the Long Night was 8000 years ago or 6000, whether the Andal invasion was 6000 years ago or 4000 or 2000, is less interesting than whether there were contemporary First Men, Andals/proto-Andals, Valyrians/proto-Valyrians, Rhoynar/proto-Rhoynar, etc. around the time of the Long Night, whether it be 5000, 6000, or 8000 years ago, even if they were not all necessarily in contact with each other.

Edited by Bael's Bastard

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19 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Although the actual numbers would be interesting to me on some level, the answer to whether the coming of the First Men was 12000 years ago or 8000, whether the Long Night was 8000 years ago or 6000, whether the Andal invasion was 6000 years ago or 4000 or 2000, is less interesting than whether there were contemporary First Men, Andals/proto-Andals, Valyrians/proto-Valyrians, Rhoynar/proto-Rhoynar, etc. around the time of the Long Night, whether it be 5000, 6000, or 8000 years ago, even if they were not all necessarily in contact with each other.

I think we'll get the answer to that question. At least on a superficial 'look level'. If there are silver-golden haired dudes with purple eyes and some dragons around during the Long Night, we'll get our confirmation - as much of a confirmation we can get. Bran's visions should be in full color, not just black-and-white ;-). If not, then Valyria and adjacent things are out of the game for the Long Night.

The historical numbers we have should just be tradition - some better attested, some less well-attested. The good ones on certain events in *known history* could perhaps be as well attested as the dating of the early Egyptian dynasties. Which is done by ascribing certain mentioned astronomical occurrences to reports of such occurrences that are found in ancient texts. Maesters could do something like that, too. Assuming ancient septons and runic texts mention some such events.

But any numbers drawn from oral First Men culture must be pretty far-out nonsense.

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The 6000 year ago date is very superficially corroborated by the oldest Lord Commander list found by Sam, which goes back about 330 Lord Commanders, showing something like 660 predating it. Which, if you presume it was written down more or less when Andal writing first reached the Wall, fits a position roughly a third of the age of the Wall ago. So a 2000 year ago Andal arrival at the Wall would then tie in with a 6000 year old Wall. Roughly.

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The 6000 year ago date is very superficially corroborated by the oldest Lord Commander list found by Sam, which goes back about 330 Lord Commanders, showing something like 660 predating it. Which, if you presume it was written down more or less when Andal writing first reached the Wall, fits a position roughly a third of the age of the Wall ago. So a 2000 year ago Andal arrival at the Wall would then tie in with a 6000 year old Wall. Roughly.

But that list only mentions that there had been “n” LCs up to a point. I mean, there’s no average tenure, and there must have been (some? several? lots?) LCs who had short tenures, and others who had really long ones. No? Or am I missing something?

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We have no reason to believe *tradition* is correct about the number of the Lord Commanders of the Night's Watch.

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6 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

For the sake of this thread, let's ignore that the question and answer in this interview given in the context of discussing the HBO prequel, and let's focus on what possible relevance GRRM's answer to the question could have to the timeline in the book series.

In this interview, GRRM's quote seems to indicate that the part of the Age of Heroes leading up to the Long Night might have occurred closer to 5,000 years ago than 10,000 years ago. It might even indicate that the Valyrians or proto-Valyrians were around at that time, though they had either not yet made their connection with dragons, or were in the earliest stages of making their connection with dragons.

It seems unlikely that, in an interview, GRRM would clarify the timeline he has intentionally obscured over the course of two decades of books , but can we really just dismiss these statements as having no substance?

Could GRRM's statement here indicate that the "6,000 years ago" dating for the Long Night could be the more accurate one, and that the Long Night might have occurred much closer to when the Valyrians were discovering and taming dragons?

Again, even though the question and answer were made about the HBO prequel, I am only interested here in discussing whether this might apply to the books, which GRRM explicitly brought up to start his answer to the question.

I want to discuss all of this stuff before the show possibly ruins any more of the novels for me. It's literally impossible to escape hearing about that show. :/ 

I for my part agree with what GRRM is saying as evident by any of my time threads. 

https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/152395-time-comparison-mostly-for-the-north-updated/

I have made my best attempts to show how event's line up and how the Long Night is likely closer to 5k years ago. Though the histories as i understand them, mean that the Age of Heroes ran long after the Long Night.

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3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The 6000 year ago date is very superficially corroborated by the oldest Lord Commander list found by Sam, which goes back about 330 Lord Commanders, showing something like 660 predating it. Which, if you presume it was written down more or less when Andal writing first reached the Wall, fits a position roughly a third of the age of the Wall ago. So a 2000 year ago Andal arrival at the Wall would then tie in with a 6000 year old Wall. Roughly.

Give or take i would agree with this.

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5 hours ago, Ran said:

AFfC is actually the first to start playing with the dating, with the Reader remarking on it, and Sam. But yeah, this was something George introduced after ASoS in part because people like myself were asking too many questions about the timeline and he decided to muddy it up.

The fact that George even says "I think" about the 5,000 date makes me think he hasn't really decided and doesn't really care that much. It conveys "it was a long, long time ago" equally well. This would also mean that theories based on intricate attempts to establish prehistoric timelines are probably not going to get anywhere, if George himself hasn't really bothered with them.

Considering Dragons, Others, and the such. I think some of us have a hard time excepting that none of these events are tied up in each other. 

For example. GRRM can pedal forward or back in time at any point in an interview (Which is not set in stone and imo, is not required to spill the beans on potential spoilers), but none of this changes the story of Luwen in AGOT. Who links the Andals to breaking the Pact with the Children, yet claims the Andals have nothing to do with the Long Night, all while tugging at his Maester's chain. 

Its entirely possible that it all has to do with the First Men and we just dont understand it, but it seems equally as likely that this is part of the twist. And if Martin is right, than the Maesters should not be called the Maesters unless the Targaryen's/Valyrians named them. As they are from the Age of Heroes, they should be names the Maysters, Maisters, or Macesters. Or something to the like. 

And if Maege Mormont didn't get that Ae from Alysanne or any other Targaryen, then it must predate the Targaryen's all together. Bael and Daeryssa ill ignore and pretend for now got their names after the Targaryen's invaded and the singers twisted the tales. Maesters and Maege though?

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You're taking the ae business way too far here. Lots of languages can and do have similar dipthongs/phonemes with no relation to one another.

Edited by Ran

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27 minutes ago, Ran said:

You're taking the ae business way too far here. Lots of languages can and do have similar dipthongs/phonemes with no relation to one another.

In the real world, sure. This is based off GRRM's statement about his own names in ASOIAF though. The interview given back in 1999 when Acok came out. Up to that point, Maege, Maesters, Bael, Daeryssa, and Baelish all are included in the book with nary a mention for all these other Essosi cultures established in later times with Twoiaf or later novels. At this point, it was really just Valyria, Andals, and First Men. Well and Dothraki who show the same Ae, but i have thoughts on that too. 
 

Maybe you are right, just stating my side though in why i saw it that way though. I've asked you about this before, but this is the first you've made comment 

 

Edit

If you want to figure out a family's descent, the names are a better clue than the eyes. Houses descended from the First Men tend to have simple short names, often descriptive. Stark. Reed. Flint. Tallhart (tall hart). Etc. The Valyrian names are fairly distinct are well: The "ae" usage usually suggests a Valyrian in the family tree. The Andal names are . . . well, neither Stark nor Targaryen, if that makes sense. Lannister. Arryn. Tyrell. Etc. Of course, you also need to remember that there have been hundreds and in some cases thousands of years of interbreeding, so hardly anyone is pure Andal or First Man.

https://archive.is/St3S6#selection-3713.1-3717.252

 

^ This was also long before any tv adaptations came out or were a concept. This is just GRRM speaking on the books 

Edited by AlaskanSandman

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I've been working on the theory that all of the traditional AGoT dates up to circa 2,000 before the present are off by a factor of around two. On this basis:

The First Men invade Westeros 6,000 years ago (so the First Men arrived in Westeros about as long as ago as reliable recorded history - just about - began in the real world).

The Long Night takes place 4,000 years ago (so the Wall is about as old as the Pyramids).

The Andal Invasion takes place 3,000 years ago (and maybe, as ADWD hints, 2,000 years ago).

Dates for the founding of Braavos, the flight of the Rhoynar etc are then given as in the books.

As Ran says, GRRM probably hasn't locked in that specifically, but I think it would eliminate a lot of the problems in the timeline if this was the case.

(I have a much longer essay on this in the book Beyond the Wall, so it's cool to see GRRM coming back and further developing the idea)

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