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Falcon2909

Why was Harrenhal built?

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6 hours ago, Stormking902 said:

I know that Harrenhal is close to the gods eyes the person I quoted said it was built ON the gods eye and I said it was NOT which is true, if you look at the map of where Harrenhal is compared to the Gods eye it appears to be around 25 miles away give or take a few miles. Just because the Tourney lord whent held was close to the Lake doesnt mean Harrenhal IS, 20 Miles is what a days ride so what? It saves Whent money by having a fresh source of water to give his guests rather then use his own. 

Aside from the mountain of text evidence already presented for Harenhal`s proximity to the God`s Eye, recall that when Caraxes crawled out of the lake after being maimed and disemboweled by Vhagar, he died beneath the walls of Harrenhal. So, it was close enough that the dying dragon could crawl up to it, even while missing a forelimb and trailing his own guts. Also, it is mentioned that Black Harren launched attacks on longships to the southern shore of the God`s Eye. 

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18 minutes ago, Dukhasinov said:

Aside from the mountain of text evidence already presented for Harenhal`s proximity to the God`s Eye, recall that when Caraxes crawled out of the lake after being maimed and disemboweled by Vhagar, he died beneath the walls of Harrenhal. So, it was close enough that the dying dragon could crawl up to it, even while missing a forelimb and trailing his own guts. Also, it is mentioned that Black Harren launched attacks on longships to the southern shore of the God`s Eye. 

Fair enough 

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18 hours ago, Falcon2909 said:

Why was Harrenhal built so big and massive with huge halls and so many hearths with thick curtain walls and tall towers?
What was the reason?

Could it be because Harren Hoare had a vision (or was told by the CotF from the isle of faces) of the incoming 2nd long night? So to protect himself and his family he had such a strong castle built?

Also, why didn't Aegon make an alliance with Harren? Could Aegon have had a vision of Harren bringing in the 2nd long night so Aegon decided to roast him instead to stop him?

The Hoare lineage has trait that interferes with "magic" around them. Harrenhal was designed to amplify that trait so that it covers the world, suppressing magic everywhere.

The Lothstons and Whents descend from house Hoare. Notice the close timing of Lucas Lothston getting Harrenhal and the death of the last dragon. Then notice the timing of Lady Whent losing Harrenhal during the War of the Five Kings and the birth of Daenery's dragons.

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17 hours ago, Unacosamedarisa said:

Is there a source for that? I don't think there's anything absolute to point to Harrenhal, or Harrentown, being on the banks of the Gods Eye themselves, but they're repeatedly described as being very, very near to them... certainly not 25 miles away, I don't think. Harrenhal is described as having been "raised beside the waters of Gods Eye", or "Harrenhal beside the Gods Eye". Yoren's plan is to ditch the carts his group are using, find boats and, "Gods be good, we'll find a wind and sail across the Gods Eye to Harrentown", implying to me that Harrentown, at least, is on the banks of the Gods Eye. 

Also, perhaps not the most accurate of sources, we have this from Meera and the Tale of the Knight of the Laughing Tree...

And then we have this...

So, the tourney is happening under the walls of Harrenhal. Combine that with this from TWoIaF...

So, the tourney is described as taking place "on the shore of the Gods Eye" and "beneath the walls of Harrenhal". To me, that implies that they're the same thing.

As for why Harrenhal was built, and why it was so big... ACoK Catelyn I says...

Harren wanted a large, imposing castle (the largest in Westeros) to cement his authority on the Riverlands. As for its location... Proximity to the Gods Eye, and what that affords the Ironmen is one thing. It's a reasonably central location in the Riverlands, perhaps closer to the Stormlands than being right in the middle of the Riverlands, but that makes sense because the Storm Kings contested those lands. The lands surrounding it are also of high value...

Also, it allows GRRM to tell a story of Harren's hubris and folly, and how the arrival of the Targaryens and their dragons upended the order of things in Westeros... Harrenhal, a castle that would otherwise be impregnable, unconquerable and all that, is completed the day Aegon lands on the mainland, and is destroyed in a night by dragonfire. 

I'm curious but how far does the end of the hypotenuse extend if you were to draw a line from the top of the wall out to the furthest point on the ground that you'd consider to be still "underneath the walls"?

We definitely need dimensions which we don't have, but say you were 50m out from the wall, would you still be "underneath" or does the hypotenuse extend to only something like 5m from the wall?

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18 hours ago, StarkofWinterfell said:

I'm curious but how far does the end of the hypotenuse extend if you were to draw a line from the top of the wall out to the furthest point on the ground that you'd consider to be still "underneath the walls"?

We definitely need dimensions which we don't have, but say you were 50m out from the wall, would you still be "underneath" or does the hypotenuse extend to only something like 5m from the wall?

You haven't provided enough information for anyone to answer your question.   The longest side of a right-angled triangle is called the hypotenuse but it can only be calculated when the lengths of the two other sides are known.  In this case the hypotenuse can only be calculated when one knows the height of the wall and the distance from the base of the wall.  Hypotenuse for a wall of any height could be calculated from its base from any distance whether it is 5m, 50m or 5km.

Edit:  In response to the OP:  Harrenhal was built as a vanity project.  The enormity of Harrenhal was a reflection of Harren Hoare's ego. 

Edited by White Ravens

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On 11/28/2018 at 8:43 AM, Unacosamedarisa said:

Is there a source for that? I don't think there's anything absolute to point to Harrenhal, or Harrentown, being on the banks of the Gods Eye themselves, but they're repeatedly described as being very, very near to them... certainly not 25 miles away, I don't think. Harrenhal is described as having been "raised beside the waters of Gods Eye", or "Harrenhal beside the Gods Eye". Yoren's plan is to ditch the carts his group are using, find boats and, "Gods be good, we'll find a wind and sail across the Gods Eye to Harrentown", implying to me that Harrentown, at least, is on the banks of the Gods Eye. 

Also,

Quote

Every day they marched, and every night she said her names, until finally the trees thinned and gave way to a patchwork landscape of rolling hills, meandering streams, and sunlit fields, where the husks of burnt holdfasts thrust up black as rotten teeth. It was another long day's march before they glimpsed the towers of Harrenhal in the distance, hard beside the blue waters of the lake. (ACOK Arya VI)

 

Quote

Yet they walked all that day and most of the next before at last they reached the fringes of Lord Tywin's army, encamped west of the castle amidst the scorched remains of a town. Harrenhal was deceptive from afar, because it was so huge. Its colossal curtain walls rose beside the lake, sheer and sudden as mountain cliffs, while atop their battlements the rows of wood-and-iron scorpions looked as small as the bugs for which they were named. (ACOK Arya VI)

 

Quote

And by the time the sun came up, they were halfway back to Harrenhal.

Jaime pushed his horse much harder than he had the day before, and Steelshanks and the northmen were forced to match his pace. Even so, it was midday before they reached the castle on the lake. (ASOS Jaime VI)

 

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I think there is a natural cave that leads to the Isle of Faces and Harrenhal was built around that cave opening, and Harren either wanted to destroy the weirwoods or take control of them.  Just like Euron is going to do in the next book.  And like the Grey King did when he warred against the Storm God for 1000 years.

"Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like? Could gods be hurt, the same as people?"

The Harrenhal weirwood is furious, and Arya suggests that it is a god, but that it can be killed. 

 

Harrenhal has a lot of cave and bat imagery:

"Lady Whent, last of her line, who dwelt with her ghosts in the cavernous vaults of Harrenhal" . . . "huge, subterranean vaults"  And Harrenhal above ground is described as cavernous. 

The Whent sigil has nine huge bats and Lothston sigil has a "great black bat"  "My old ma used to say that giant bats flew out from Harrenhal on moonless nights, to carry bad children to Mad Danelle for her cookpots." 

And recall the giant bat skeletons in Bloodraven's cave.  Do giant bats and greenseer caves go together?

 

The Isle of Faces is warded against people getting there by boat:

"Whether the green men still survive on their isle is not clear although there is the occasional account of some foolhardy young riverlord taking a boat to the isle and catching sight of them before winds rise up or a flock of ravens drives him away."

but I think you can get there by going under ground, (like Mel's shadow baby bypassing the Storm's End ward, and passing under the Wall through the Black Gate). 

 

To break the Arm of Dorne a congregation of hundreds of the CoTF allegedly transported a thousand men to the Isle, but do the CoTF build boats?  Maybe they marched them through the tunnels under the lake.

"And so they did, gathering in their hundreds (some say on the Isle of Faces), and calling on their old gods with song and prayer and grisly sacrifice (a thousand captive men were fed to the weirwood, one version of the tale goes, whilst another claims the children used the blood of their own young). And the old gods stirred, and giants awoke in the earth, and all of Westeros shook and trembled."

 

Then there is the repeated symbolism of mazes leading to the Underworld (Lorath, Norvos), or mazes around a castle (Highgarden, Sunspear three fold gate), mazes under the Wall (Gorne's Way, Nightfort, wormways, Mole's Town), and the secret zig-zag causeway that leads to Queenscrown. and maybe the maze in the House of the Undying (towers and Castles sometimes represent weirwoods).  I think there is an underground maze that leads to the Isle of Faces.  This is very similar to the myth of the Minotaur, in ASOIAF the minotaur is the weirwood, the Minotaur's real name was Asterion meaning "starry one" and they both require human sacrifice. 

At the tower of joy Ned and company have to fight a black bat (Oswell Whent) and a white bull (Gerald Hightower) and a guy who represents a meteor (Arthur Dayne, sword of the Morning), to rescue a maiden trapped in a tower--and afterwards they destroy the tower.  Is this a very brief summary of the endgame of ASOIAF?

 

"the Patternmaker's Maze. Only those who learn to walk it properly will ever find their way to wisdom, the priests of the Pattern say."

"the second largest of the Lorath isles, is home to a vast maze that fills more than three quarters of the surface area of the island and includes four levels beneath the ground, with some passages descending five hundred feet."

"One cavern system, some hundred leagues northwest of Norvos, is so vast and deep that legend claims it is the entrance to the underworld"

Highgarden's famed briar maze, a vast and complicated labyrinth of thorns and hedges maintained for centuries for the pleasure and delight of the castle's occupants and guests...and for defensive purposes, for intruders unfamiliar with the maze cannot easily find their way through its traps and dead ends to the castle gates."

"The Winding Walls were raised some seven hundred years ago, wrapping Sunspear and winding throughout the shadow city in a snaking, defensive curtain that would force even the boldest enemy to lose their way. Only the Threefold Gate provides a straight path to the castle, cutting through the Winding Walls, and these gates are heavily defended at need."

 

"There are queer ruins in the depths of the island's jungle: massive buildings, long fallen, and so overgrown that rubble remains above the surface...but underground, we are told, endless labyrinths of tunnels lead to vast chambers, and carved steps descend hundreds of feet into the earth. No man can say who might have built these cities, or when. They remain perhaps the only remnant of some vanished people. . . 

the Empress of Leng was known to have congress with the Old Ones, gods who lived deep below the ruined subterranean cities, and from time to time the Old Ones told her to put all the strangers on the island to death. This is known to have happened at least four times in the island's history if Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium can be believed."

 

 

"From the founding to the present, Great Norvos has been a theocracy, ruled by its bearded priests, who are themselves ruled by their god, who speaks his commands to them from the depths of their fortress-temple, which only true believers may enter and live. Though the city has a council of magisters, its members are selected by the god, speaking through his priests. To enforce obedience and keep the peace, the bearded priests keep a holy guard of slave soldiers, fierce fighters who bear the brand of a double-bladed axe upon their breasts and ritually marry the longaxes they fight with. "

"Etched in Stone by Archmaester Harmune contains a catalog of such carvings found throughout the Vale. Stars and axes are found from the Fingers into the Mountains of the Moon, and even as far into the Vale of Arryn as the base of the Giant's Lance. Harmune supposes that, with time, the Andals became more devoted to the symbol of the seven-pointed star and so the axe fell by the wayside as an emblem of the Faith.
It should be said, however, that not all agree that these carvings represent axes. In his refutation, Maester Evlyn argues that what Harmune calls axes are in fact hammers, the sign of the Smith. He explains the irregularity of the depictions of these hammers as the result of the Andals' being warriors, not artisans."
 
 
What if the brand that the Bearded Priests wear is not an axe or a hammer, but a giant bat?  The harpy.  The axe/hammer/bat is carved in rocks in the Vale, and the Eyrie had the Winged Knight that may have been a "dragon" viewed from afar (or was it really a wyvern?), and Sweetrobin is a sickly greendreamer who is obsessed with the Winged Knight, sickly young boys get better when they bond with their warg animals.  Robin needs to bond with his giant bat.  The Arryn sigil is a winged creature that is causing an eclipse?
 
 
In the Summer Isles, the butterflies protect the Naathi.  And in Aztec mythology bats are black butterflies:
 
Quote

Itzpapalotl's name can either mean "obsidian butterfly" or "clawed butterfly"; the latter meaning seems most likely. It's quite possible that clawed butterfly refers to the bat and in some instances Itzpapalotl is depicted with bat wings. However, she can also appear with clear butterfly or eagle attributes. Her wings are obsidian or tecpatl (flint) knife tipped. (In the Manuscript of 1558, Itzpapalotl is described as having "blossomed into the white flint, and they took the white and wrapped it in a bundle.") She could appear in the form of a beautiful, seductive woman or terrible goddess with a skeletal head and butterfly wings supplied with stone blades.  "In folklore, bats are sometimes called "black butterflies"".

 

Itzpapalotl . . .is associated with women who had died in childbirth. 

she was also one of the tzitzimime, star demons that threatened to devour people during solar eclipses.

One of the prominent aspects of the ritual surrounding Itzpapalotl relates to the creation story of the Aztec tribe, the Chichimec. . .   An illustration from this document shows Chichimec warriors emerging out of a seven-chambered cave behind Itzpapalotl. The deity is shown brandishing a severed leg, thought to be a symbol of battle.

 

In Greek mythology the Harpies would snatch people and carry them to the underworld to be tortured by the Erinyes.  I think the harpies are the giant bats from Bloodraven's cave, and they serve the weirwood and greenseers.  They are a mutated form of the butterflies of Naath. 
 
 
 
Then from Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu:
 
"There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before D’Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away."
 
A white many-limbed creature with glowing eyes, that lives on a secret island in the swamp, that sends dreams, wards its island, and is worshiped by bat-winged devils that live in caves and worship it at midnight.  Also it needs blood sacrifice. 
 
(Bloodraven loved Shierra Seastar and the kingdoms bled.  "shierak qiya" means "Bleeding Star" so does Shierra mean "bleeding"?  Seastar means starfish.  Bleeding polypous starfish is an apt description of the weirwood)
 
 
There is also a parallel between the Nightfort and Harrenhal, both are haunted, grim, ruined castles that were much to big to maintain, and both had previous occupants that engaged in pretty horrific blood sacrifices.  The 13th Lord Commander, the Rat Cook, etc, and Mad Danelle and Harren.   The Nightfort has a maze of tunnels under it, and one of them leads to a magic door to the Otherworld, and I think Harrenhal has one such tunnel as well, that is why it is "cursed"--to keep people from finding the secret passage.
 
In Celtic mythology the Otherworld could be reached by a tunnel in a fairy hill, but sometimes it was a mystical floating island called the Green Island (or Avalon).  People with Second Sight could catch glimpses of the Otherworld.  And the Silver Branch allowed mortals to visit the Otherworld before their death.
I think in ASOIAF, being in the weirwood network is the same as visiting the Otherworld, and George combined the Otherworld being a floating island and it being in a cave--its both.  And the seat of power for the weirwood is in a cave on the Isle of Faces, and that is why Harrenhal is important.
 
That's enough rambling for now.
 
 

 

 

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17 hours ago, By Odin's Beard said:

I think there is a natural cave that leads to the Isle of Faces and Harrenhal was built around that cave opening, and Harren either wanted to destroy the weirwoods or take control of them...

'''snip'''

...The Isle of Faces is warded against people getting there by boat:

"Whether the green men still survive on their isle is not clear although there is the occasional account of some foolhardy young riverlord taking a boat to the isle and catching sight of them before winds rise up or a flock of ravens drives him away."

but I think you can get there by going under ground, (like Mel's shadow baby bypassing the Storm's End ward, and passing under the Wall through the Black Gate). 

 

To break the Arm of Dorne a congregation of hundreds of the CoTF allegedly transported a thousand men to the Isle, but do the CoTF build boats?  Maybe they marched them through the tunnels under the lake...

...snip...

 
...That's enough rambling for now.
 
 

 

Wouldn't a tunnel that runs under a lake just fill with water?

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3 hours ago, White Ravens said:

Wouldn't a tunnel that runs under a lake just fill with water?

You would think so, but Winterfell has the same deal, extensive underground levels and Winterfell has natural springs and pools at ground level and geothermal features why aren't the crypts filled with hot water?  And Braavos is built on a lagoon but the House of Black and White has many sublevels and the original vaults for the Iron Bank were abandoned iron mines--on a lagoon? 

"With every step the air seemed to grow a little colder. When her count reached thirty she knew that they were under even the canals."

And Lorath is on a island with many sublevels in the maze, but that is probably below sea-level. 

Edited by By Odin's Beard

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I think it was built more as a symbolic reprensentation of power, as a result of ego and hubris, more so than it was as a defensive asset. Realistically, with taking dragons out of the picture, does it really serve as such a formidable castle? I mean how many men do you need to garrison it?   I think some well placed siege towers and ladders should exploit the vastness of it. It’s being referenced to as “hard to maintain” yet it’s lands hold some of the richest and most fertile fields in Westeros. Why isn’t it a booming city-like regional capital? Obviously it’s not a port city but I’d still think that’d be a badass castle to have. It might serve a bigger purpose down the road...

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7 hours ago, Ser Dips A lot said:

I think it was built more as a symbolic reprensentation of power, as a result of ego and hubris, more so than it was as a defensive asset. Realistically, with taking dragons out of the picture, does it really serve as such a formidable castle? I mean how many men do you need to garrison it?   I think some well placed siege towers and ladders should exploit the vastness of it. It’s being referenced to as “hard to maintain” yet it’s lands hold some of the richest and most fertile fields in Westeros. Why isn’t it a booming city-like regional capital? Obviously it’s not a port city but I’d still think that’d be a badass castle to have. It might serve a bigger purpose down the road...

It was built with the prospect of being a kingdom's capital and it might have turned out like that had it been the seat of the Paramount of the Riverlands. Instead it was ruined and went to minor houses at least at first. 

Other than that Harren probably had a midlife crisis early on. Whatever exists in God's Eye probably is not very happy with people living in such close proximity. 

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This seems pretty simple to me:

Harren had a massive ego; he built the largest castle in Westeros to satisfy this massive ego. On a more practical level- the Riverlands are notoriously difficult to rule and defend. Apart from loosely-aligned and constantly bickering lords, the borders are porous especially in the southwest (Westerlands), south (Reach), southeast (Stormlands) and east (Crownlands). Only a strong house with a strong castle can effectively rule the Riverlands and deal with incoming threats. 

Harren obviously anticipated his line ruling the Iron Islands and Riverlands for a long time to come; there was no way he could foresee having to deal with Aegon and his dragons except with only a few months preparation time once again had landed in the (future) Crownlands. Harren was focused on fighting with the Westerlands, the Reach, the Stormlands. Much like the First Men in the Vale busy squabbling with each other and note recognizing that the Andals they invited over to fight as sellswords were the real threat. They only banded together too late. 

As far as Aegon making an alliance with Harren- why? Aegon had no interest in alliances. His whole mantra was "one kingdom, one king". You don't make alliances with those you rule as if they were peers and not subjects.

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Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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Re: the proximity to the Isle of Faces, if we go by the maps, the Isle is nearly 50 miles away from the northern shore, regardless of how close to the lake Harrenhall itself is. Thats not particularly close.

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Harren was offered surrender, like the others, to retain only the Iron Islands. But he refused. So he burned. Nothing personal.

The PtwP was known from the Targaryens. So maybe Aegon's conquest was related to it. Or he didn't care a shit.
Anyway, the conquest was not because of Harren. Except maybe for the intent to bring peace between the 7K. Which was not much of an improvement finally.

Edited by BalerionTheCat

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On 11/28/2018 at 5:44 AM, Dukhasinov said:

The same reason that the Empire built the Death Star; to be a huge, scary symbol of power that would intimidate their subjects, as well as being an impregnible fortress that could be used to project power over the unruly Riverlands.

But the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force, I guess in much the same way that a huge castle is insignificant next to Balerion,Meraxes and Vhagar :P.

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Harren didn't build a fortress for a threat that won't come until 300 years.  His ego made him do it.

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52 minutes ago, Son of Man said:

Harren didn't build a fortress for a threat that won't come until 300 years.  His ego made him do it.

That said, if we look at the Norman examples in England, castles do make great offensive assets, especially for an invasive aristocracy unloved by their subjects.

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