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Does Asoiaf Have a True Protagonist? *SPOILERS*

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9 hours ago, Ran said:

No, folks mentioned the scene ended with Janos actually hanging. IIRC, wasn't the crack of his neck supposed to have been heard?

I don't think it's any of the above -- fanservice, getting sloppy, forgetting, irony, whatever. I suspect it's more straightforward: George was quite taken with the idea of Janos dying a commoner's death by hanging and Jon being cold enough to order it in relation to "Kill the boy and let the man be born", and initially figured that he could work it against all the other factors. 

Whether he was already debating to change it to execution or not at the time he read it, I do not know, but the response to his reading may have shifted the balance. Or simply in reading it out loud he realized he didn't like it as much as he thought. George has read other draft chapters before and ended up making significant changes to them by the time they published. We know he'll have a pen in hand and make notes to himself as he reads.

GRRM has been quite open that his writing is an evolving process, with many drafts, with many dead-ends. Sometimes he finds his way out on his own, sometimes his editors provide a useful idea, sometimes his colleagues and friends do, and sometimes his readers do. 

I wonder if he'd ever be willing to clear it up. 

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22 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

I wonder if he'd ever be willing to clear it up. 

Yes, please. 

I don't like to think how GRRM was oblivious and needed a fan to point out a version that ticked all the parallels and foreshadowing boxes better like I described. I'd rather credit the author with making these connections than a fan, but if its true my esteem of George as an author has gone down a little. He talks about meticulously layering in subtle foreshadowing but needs fans to help him do it? Basic.

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  • Executing Janos by hanging had some interesting implications too. It is the death reserved to commoners, so Jon would be rejecting his claim to nobility and the way he obtained it. It would also be a nice parallel seeing that even if Janos betrayed Ned to became a noble, Ned had a noble's death while Janos died as a commoner. At the end, I think that we all prefer the beheading version (first of all George, and that's why it's the final version), but that doesn't mean that other options had some merit too.
  • In order to judge George's original draft we should know the context in which it was written. Perhaps George wanted to highlight at this moment that Jon was distancing himself from his Stark heritage (shortly before that, Jon had refused Stannis' offer of legitimation and Winterfell), to embrace his role as Lord Commander.
  • Arya Stark has killed people by poison. I don't see anyone claiming this is out of character.

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On 2/11/2019 at 9:42 PM, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

Two bastards get caught being dishonest and doing something inappropriate.  Jon can't hide his crimes.  His agents got caught and sang loudly (and painfully, I might add).  Jon is now known as the lord commander who deceived the watch and the north.  Public knowledge is Mance Rayder got executed.  In reality, he got away with his crimes of oath breaking, treason, and attack on the people he is bound by oaths to protect.

Stannis is also to blame.  No question there.  If he knows the Others are coming and he seems to buy it, the responsible action to take is to stay at the wall and defend it.  I will have to read those chapters again but it seems to me Stannis was not in on the lie with regards to Rattleshirt and Mance Rayder.  

They got caught and Mance is right now wishing he got the execution that he deserved.  The wall is kinder than Ramsay.  He didn't get away with his despicable crimes against the watch.  Neither did Jon. 

On 2/12/2019 at 2:42 AM, Rose of Red Lake said:

Says one deceiver to another. I think they're both even in terms of scheming. Ramsay took the North by betrayal and then mummery. 

If you're going to pull off a heist, Mance is your man. And Jon should play Ramsay because he's playing everyone else. 

I'm not really sure what people are complaining about here. Do you want a story about Ser Gawain the perfect knight or a story about rogues? Jon, Mance, Ramsay...they're all playing the game.

The Wall can't be defended with the existing resources they have and the Northerners can't be rallied when the Boltons are in Winterfell. It's just not happening, so someone does have to take a risk and fight the Boltons. It's just a matter of doing it smartly. And that's not an issue of morality, that's just an issue of playing the game better. If Jon and/or Stannis were successful (i.e. smarter) no one would be complaining. 

The heist is illegal.  Jon started a feud with the Boltons.  Forgetting Arya and minding his own duties at the wall was the proper thing to do for the benefit of the watch.  Sending Mance to get Arya was an act of war.  Any noble house would take that as an attack.  Jon got the watch involved in something they had no business in.  Jon was responsible for that secret operation to get Arya to him.  He even ordered the women brought from Mole's Town to help Mance play the role of Abel the Bard.   

Don't forget what Jon was about to do before Bowen killed him.  He was about to lead the wildlings to assault the Boltons.  That will not help the defense against the Others.  War consumes a lot of resources.  Every man killed is a potential puppet for the Others to control.  It was a stupid plan to start with.  It was dumb from a tactical view.  Jon was no longer thinking rationally.  He couldn't get his mind off Arya and he was going to do something that would hurt the watch, the north, and the kingdom.  There won't be much left of the north and the wildlings after his war with Ramsay.  Both sides will be hurting badly.  It was best to leave the Boltons alone and keep his mind on his duties at the wall.  Basically, to never have sent Mance on the mission in the first place.  

Edited by The Lord of the Crossing

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10 hours ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

The heist is illegal.  Jon started a feud with the Boltons.  Forgetting Arya and minding his own duties at the wall was the proper thing to do for the benefit of the watch.  Sending Mance to get Arya was an act of war.  Any noble house would take that as an attack.  Jon got the watch involved in something they had no business in.  Jon was responsible for that secret operation to get Arya to him.  He even ordered the women brought from Mole's Town to help Mance play the role of Abel the Bard.   

So when the Starks and Jon "rebel" and take back Winterfell in future books, using any means necessary, you're going to be rooting against them because its...illegal?

What an unfun reading experience you're going to have.

 

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19 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

So when the Starks and Jon "rebel" and take back Winterfell in future books, using any means necessary, you're going to be rooting against them because its...illegal?

What an unfun reading experience you're going to have.

 

I think 'Lord of the Crossing' is at least following a a gimmick (maybe he is just a Frey fan) and is trying to work us all. 

Some of these others tho...

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On 2/13/2019 at 5:01 PM, Lost Melnibonean said:

I have to agree. In the Reddit forum linked up thread, there was a theory that the hanging in the pre publication reading was a feint by the author. 

A feint - I could believe that. And if grrm was testing the waters, then a negative test would have a clearer result. By default, fans are going to be happy with a new text, so it would be hard to tell anything specific from that. But fans feeling that Jon choosing a hangman is wrong - that shows grrm is succeeding in getting his themes across. After all, a Stark personally swings the sword. A Targ is fire and blood.

There may be more to come about the difference between the people who are averse to blood and those who are not. Neither's good, obviously. Lannister monsters are bloodthirsty. The Others hate blood.

Almost an aside, but Tywin is the top example of someone who gets others to do his dirty work. And he is cold: cool as snow, and like a glacier, and now perhaps down in some cold hell. This quote is very revealing:

Quote

[Tywin] "Because I did not tell him to spare her. I doubt I mentioned her at all. I had more pressing concerns.... Nord did I yet grasp what I had in Gregor Clegane, only that he was huge and terrible in battle. The rape... even you will not accuse me of giving that command, I would hope. Ser Amory was almost as bestial with Rhaenys. I asked him afterward why it had required half a hundred thrusts to kill a girl of ... two? Three? He said she'd kicked him and would not stop screaming. If Lorch had half the wits the gods gave a turnip, he would have calmed her with a few sweet words and used a soft silk pillow." His mouth twisted in distaste. "The blood was in him."

[Tyrion] But not in you, Father. There is no blood in Tywin Lannister. "Was it a soft silk pillow that slew Robb Stark?"

 

On 2/13/2019 at 5:38 PM, Rose of Red Lake said:

Yes, please. 

I don't like to think how GRRM was oblivious and needed a fan to point out a version that ticked all the parallels and foreshadowing boxes better like I described. I'd rather credit the author with making these connections than a fan, but if its true my esteem of George as an author has gone down a little. He talks about meticulously layering in subtle foreshadowing but needs fans to help him do it? Basic.

:agree:I think grrm likes to hide a lot of heavy planning behind a smokescreen of waffly charm. I don't mind at all - an author is entitled to a few secrets. I'm looking forward to the great reveal.

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On 2/11/2019 at 7:02 AM, flaydagawd said:

No he didn't because that's Bowen being a traitor and stabbing his Lord Commander. If you're gonna use in universe rules to call Jon a traitor then be consistent. Beside why should we as sane readers who actually live in a sensible...ish society throw mud at Jon who is a child by the way, for wanting to go and avenge his father and help his brother? He's doing what normal people would do in that situation. We as readers aren't bound by Westeros' code of honor and shouldn't be otherwise we'd still be saying Jaime Lannister did the wrong thing by killing some psychotic king (but he swore a vow!), thought this should be said. Why should we care about treason when we know the Lannisters to be absolutely horrid people who deserve to have the throne ripped away from them? Aye he went out and he was close to Mole Town when he intended to desert, and then he decided came back. Shows personal growth and strength in that moment to uphold his vows.

Let me ask you something, you know the Boltons, especially Ramsay aren't good people right? More than that, they are flayers, torturers and rapers. So why would you expect Jon to do nothing when he hears his sister who would be about 12 at this point (though age shouldn't really matter) is forcefully married to some psychopath? You love to make a point about protecting all well guess what? Ramsay was demanding a whole bunch of hostages in the Pink Letter, are you expecting Jon to give them all up? Is that the right thing to do? Tell me from a reader's perspective now rather than the rigid in universe perspective. Because the question here is who is the true protagonist (or the 'hero' of the story) and being a protagonist isn't about following the rules of the rigid in universe society, it's about doing the right thing.

Most people think Daenerys is the true protagonist and yeah she has done the right thing for the most part. But she hasn't had that many tough choices like Jon has had. It's easy to say Jon's feelings don't matter as a reader because it's a fiction and we don't put ourselves in their shoes. But even when you talk about the larger scheme of things (which is The Others), Jon is the only one who's preparing for that as well. And he can't prepare for it while a psychopath like Ramsay threatens guests (and the Watch itself if he doesn't hand over those guest) at the Wall or while traitors like Bowen Marsh are stabbing him. I mean if you're support Ramsay and Bowen Marsh in this situation that's fine. Maybe they're your favourite characters or something.

Jon has bigger responsibilities than to serve the interests of the Starks.  A sheep farmer might be excused if he chose to protect his sister at the expense of a whole lot of people but a leader should not think like that.  Jon allowed the more guilty man to walk because it served his personal interests shortly after killing a man for a very minor offense.  That's Jon putting the welfare of Arya ahead of the Night's Watch.  Which is unethical for a lord commander to do.  Jon is a deserter and should have already had his head taken off.  He is guilty of attacking an officer of the Night's Watch.  Compared to that, what Slynt did was very minor.  Jon's attack on Thorne is more serious than Slynt's refusal to comply.  Jon is incapable of handing out justice because he's too emotionally attached to the Starks.  This is inexcusable because he is not the only man on that wall who have loved ones behind and none of the other men did the illegal things that Jon did.

 

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