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Sam in the NW library

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There has been something that I have been curious about for a number of years. The scenario takes place in A Feast for Crows - Samwell I.

I went back and read the chapter before posting so I could refresh my memory about what is taking place. If my reading comprehension is in line, Sam was underground beneath CB in a library reading material looking for a certain piece of information Aemon sent Sam to seek out.

Cross referencing the material is a bit difficult for me now because it has been a while since I have read the complete saga. I'm thinking Aemon had Sam looking for information about Lightbringer.

Anyway, what is on LC Snow's mind is the Others. Below is the text quote.
 

Quote

 

Tell me of our enemy."     "The Others." Sam licked his lips. "They are mentioned in the annals, though not as often as I would have thought. The annals I've found and looked at, that is.     There's more I haven't found, I know. Some of the older books are falling to pieces. The pages crumble when I try and turn them. And the really old books . . . either they have crumbled all away or they are buried somewhere that I haven't looked yet or . . . well, it could be that there are no such books, and never were.      The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros.       The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later.     There are archmaesters at the Citadel who question all of it.     Those old histories are full of kings who reigned for hundreds of years, and knights riding around a thousand years before there were knights. You know the tales, Brandon the Builder, Symeon Star-Eyes, Night's King . . . we say that you're the nine hundred and ninety-eighth Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but the oldest list I've found shows six hundred seventy-four commanders, which suggests that it was written during . . ."     "Long ago," Jon broke in. "What about the Others?"/


 


My question is specific. I have not purchased WOIAF or F & B.  I have browsed them via the local library. I'm thinking perhaps someone who has scoured those two books can spread a little light on the "which suggests that it was written during..."

I was wondering if anyone knows what Sam is eluding to before Sam got cut off in mid sentence by LC Snow.  Thanks

 

 

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Posted (edited)

No, nothing on TWOIAF or F&B.

This thread, however, does some good digging with some information from TWOIAF.

Edited by Ckram

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My guess is he was just going to elude to some historical period. Just to pick an average term out of thin air, if we assume around 10 years on average, he was likely going to reference it being ~3000 years old. Given that the Andal Invasion occurred 2000-4000 years ago, then it could have just been a comment like “written during the Andal Invasion itself.” Which, given that he earlier comments that the oldest records date from that time, fits pretty well.

Just a guess based on context and math I pulled out of thin air.

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18 hours ago, Ckram said:

No, nothing on TWOIAF or F&B.

This thread, however, does some good digging with some information from TWOIAF.

Har! Thanks for the link. It will take a while to read through the thread. I did find @Black Crow opening remarks verra interesting.

 

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On 12/31/2018 at 4:07 PM, Clegane'sPup said:

I was wondering if anyone knows what Sam is eluding to before Sam got cut off in mid sentence by LC Snow.  Thanks

We have enough information to have at least a general idea of where Sam was going, though it is possible he was going to reference something more specific.

Sam has just gotten done telling Jon that the First Men left only runes on rocks, that the oldest written histories they have were written after the Andals came to Westeros, and that all the stories about pre-Andal times were set down in writing by septons thousands of years later.

Which is to say that the oldest list of Lord Commanders that Sam has found was almost certainly written after the Andals came to Westeros, as we are talking about a written list, and not a list of runes on rocks.

Sam goes on to state that, though they say that Jon is the 998th Lord Commander, the oldest list of Lord Commanders shows only 674. Meaning, out of a claimed 998 Lord Commanders, there have only been approximately 324 Lord Commanders since the oldest extant list was written down.

The Long Night and the foundation of the Night's Watch are tied together, and we have been given two amounts of time for how long ago the Long Night was: 8000 years ago and 6000 years ago.

Thus, we can estimate that the oldest list Sam has found was written somewhere in the area of 2,600-1,900 years ago.

If Sam was going to refer to something more specific, the only thing I can think of around that time is the Rape of the Three Sisters, and the War Across the Water between the Starks (North) and Arryns (Vale). But I am not certain he was going to be that specific, or, if he was, that he was going to refer to these periods.

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The number of LC as it is perceived to “tie in” w/ a certain number of yrs doesn’t really work for me. There’s a good chance we’ve had LCs that occupied the position for decades, as well as LCs who were LCs for less than a yr, and everything in between. 

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All of this tells us more about history, too. Why weren't maesters writing things down?

If they did talk to ravens and had some connection to the CotF and/or the Green Men/Isle of Faces, they would not necessarily have to have written things down. This reinforces the idea that the Maesters order is both very old and was in a considerably different line of work than they are now.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Ser Leftwich said:

All of this tells us more about history, too. Why weren't maesters writing things down?

If they did talk to ravens and had some connection to the CotF and/or the Green Men/Isle of Faces, they would not necessarily have to have written things down. This reinforces the idea that the Maesters order is both very old and was in a considerably different line of work than they are now.

Yeah. Maybe the maesters have forgot their own true purpose, just as the NW has. And all the people too. Something along the lines of, several species (or a few? a couple even?) agreed to something and signed a document on it, but as time went by it was forgot. And people kept at what they’re good at, which is killing each other. And here we are again. :)

Sorry, too lazy at the mo to try and make sense. :rofl:

ETA: what the WB gives us on early Citadel/maesters is interesting:

TWoIaF, Oldtown

“The origins of the Citadel are almost as mysterious as those of the Hightower itself. Most credit its founding to the second son of Uthor of the High Tower, Prince Peremore the Twisted. A sickly boy, born with a withered arm and twisted back, Peremore was bedridden for much of his short life but had an insatiable curiosity about the world beyond his window, so he turned to wise men, teachers, priests, healers, and singers, along with a certain number of wizards, alchemists, and sorcerers. It is said the prince had no greater pleasure in life than listening to these scholars argue with one another. When Peremore died, his brother King Urrigon bequeathed a large tract of land beside the Honeywine to “Peremore’s pets,” that they might establish themselves and continue teaching, learning, and questing after truth. And so they did.”

Edited by kissdbyfire

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14 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

The number of LC as it is perceived to “tie in” w/ a certain number of yrs doesn’t really work for me. There’s a good chance we’ve had LCs that occupied the position for decades, as well as LCs who were LCs for less than a yr, and everything in between. 

That is factored into any average or estimate based on the claimed number of Lord Commanders and the claimed number of years that the Night's Watch has existed. And that's exactly what Sam is doing. He is saying that the number of Lord Commanders shown on the oldest extant list of Lord Commanders suggests when it was written down.

Whether Sam thinks the office of Lord Commander goes back 8,000, 6,000, or some other number of years, the oldest extant list of Lord Commanders wasn't written down until 674 had already supposedly served. So there's no contemporary written records for over two thirds of the claimed number of Lord Commanders and the periods they cover.

And if the list Sam has found is truly among the first that was ever written down, and not just the oldest that Sam has found to date, then the written history of Westeros goes back only about one third of the amount of time that the Night's Watch, the Wall, the Starks, etc. are claimed to have existed.

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16 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

The number of LC as it is perceived to “tie in” w/ a certain number of yrs doesn’t really work for me. There’s a good chance we’ve had LCs that occupied the position for decades, as well as LCs who were LCs for less than a yr, and everything in between. 

Thats just how averages work. Now, we don’t have a firm idea of how old the NW is, but we can assume its between 8,000 and 6,000 years old. Thats a very wide range, but with effectively 1,000 LCs over that time, it doesn’t really matter.  We’ve got a very good sample size in both the overall number of LCs and Sam’s discussion of dating ~300 LCs back.

So, our range for an average tenure as LC is 6-8 years. Sure, there were plenty that held the title for longer, but when you’re dealing with samples as big as 300-1000, it evens out. So, we’re looking at a timeframe of around 2,000-2,500 years ago. Still a valid time frame for the Andal Invasion, and given that they brought writing, it makes sense.

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On 12/31/2018 at 2:07 PM, Clegane'sPup said:

I'm thinking Aemon had Sam looking for information about Lightbringer.

I'm inclined to doubt that. "Lightbringer" and the whole "Azor Ahai" mythology is from Assha'i. It's not a Westerosi legend. The Westerosi have The Last Hero, and he doesn't (to my recollection) have any kind of magic, woman-quenched sword. Aemon, as a highly educated man who corresponded at length with young Prince Rhaegal regarding ... some kind of conspiracy theories, would have known of the foreign tale of Azor Ahai. However, he'd also know better than to look for it in Night's Watch archives which were clearly Westerosi. Aemon already clearly knew enough about this "Lighhtbringer" thing that he could tell, just by the description, that Stannis didn't have it.

(Heh. That brings up Melisandre's bungled prophetic interpretations where she keeps looking for AA - Stannis, that is - but sees only Jon Snow. And this means nothing to her!)

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@Bael's Bastard and @DominusNovus

I am no expert, but don’t you need more to draw this type of conclusion? If you have several of one thing and try to extrapolate how one of those will behave irt averages, fine. But here we have one single sample group, and whatever average you come up with could be way, way off, and therefore is totally unreliable. 

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36 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

@Bael's Bastard and @DominusNovus

I am no expert, but don’t you need more to draw this type of conclusion? If you have several of one thing and try to extrapolate how one of those will behave irt averages, fine. But here we have one single sample group, and whatever average you come up with could be way, way off, and therefore is totally unreliable. 

If we’re trying to figure out how long, say, Lord Commander Hoare led the Night’s Watch, based on this info, you’d be right. But all we’re really doing is saying that the same average applies over 324 commanders as it does over 998 commanders. Thats fairly safe, particularly when they’re drawing from the same dataset.

Put another way: It doesn’t matter what the individual average of those 324 are, but their sum. We know the sum of the total. The individal lengths only matter if the 324 sum up to something dramatically different than what you’d expect from the overall average. Say, for example, that LC. 674 held the title only a thousand years ago. That would mean that the average time as LC since then was only ~3 years, while the average time before then was ~10 years. Which means we’d have tk have some reason to think that the average changed. Since we have no reason to assume it has changed, we can be fairly confident that the average has stayed relatively constant.

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25 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

@Bael's Bastard and @DominusNovus

I am no expert, but don’t you need more to draw this type of conclusion? If you have several of one thing and try to extrapolate how one of those will behave irt averages, fine. But here we have one single sample group, and whatever average you come up with could be way, way off, and therefore is totally unreliable. 

Such as what?

We have nearly 1,000 total Lord Commanders: 998

We have two sets of thousands of years: 8000 and 6000

Nobody is claiming we can pinpoint an exact date, but we have enough data to estimate and come up with a range of possible dates.

And while we can't be certain whether Sam is estimating based on 8000, 6000, or some thus far unstated number of years, there is no getting around the simple fact that Sam is using the number of Lord Commanders shown on the oldest extant list to figure out when the list was written.

He goes so far as to begin to state that the number of Lord Commanders shown on the list suggest when the list was written. We don't know exactly what he was going to follow "during" up with, but we can get at least a general idea.

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I went straight for the calculator.   If we go with 8000 years, each LC commanded for a little over 8 years.  If we go with 6000 years, each LC led for about 6 years.   Short commands, if you ask me.   

The one thing I learned from Fire and Blood then The World of Ice and Fire before it is that history is written by the victors and no one has any real idea how long ago anything happened, with the exception of Aegon's Conquest.    The maesters claim the 1st Men only had runes--which are a written language no matter how you look at it.  (a mark like X could indicate fire without necessarily having to elaborate that on this spot 17 years ago a great fire burned this rock changing its color.   X=fire is concise.)   It's just not super complex.  We know the maesters originated from the patronage of the 1st Men, Peremore (thanks @kissdbyfire).   It's highly unlikely the 1st Men did not have a written language.  Perhaps that language was established right there with Peremore?  Any one who has been to college knows full well there is no way a group of invested educators will pass up any opportunity to further their own ideas ergo they may have created that written language.  How long ago was that?  Wasn't Peremore a Hightower prince?     The Hightowers haven't been kings in Westeros in forever.  The claim stems from a group of educators who were ultimately victors of the wars of Westeros.   The North manages to stay apart from the rest of the continent and becomes very easy to "pick on" in their exile of sorts.   The World Book is full of Stark smackdown.  Gyldayne and the sources he chooses to cite don't like the Starks or the North and call all that rich history nothing but self aggrandizing Stark propaganda?   Take some southern educated maester and stick him on the Wall for a lifetime and you are bound to get some great history of the region.   Not all the maesters Gyldayne cites are as intellectually restrictive as he is and there have been maesters who go off to explore the entire world and jot it down.   Could be the First Men really are from different cultures given the many opposing precepts between the North and the South.   Sorry ramble...

The point is that if we go back to Peremore's time, easily predating the Andal invasion, in a university setting there is bound to be creative human progress.  The books Sam was reading could have been copies of much older writing perhaps from one of the languages the Citadel is likely to have produced.  He could have been reading a ranger's tale some Maester amused himself documenting 4000 years ago...or longer even.  Oral histories change over great spans of time, but i think the really ancient essence of our most shared stories remains even now.  We are what we are still we know we all came from somewhere.  

As to the OP, @Clegane'sPup, this passage Sam was reporting could have eluded to a far more current time in history.  Sam and Jon have separate agendas.   Jon is not the intellectual in their relationship.   We should pay attention to Sam's wanting to report the time while Jon blows it off with a statement that may not even be close to what Sam was going to say.   Long ago or not so long ago, you can be sure it's important to the overall current drama.  

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38 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

It's highly unlikely the 1st Men did not have a written language. 

It seems they also had a written form of the Old Tongue:

TWOIAF - The Iron Islands

Did such men ever truly walk the earth? It is hard to know since most supposedly lived and died thousands of years before the ironmen learned to write; literacy remains rare in the Iron Islands to this day, and those who have the skill are oft mocked as weaklings or feared as sorcerers. So much of what we know of these demigods of the dawn comes to us from the peoples they plundered and preyed upon, written in the Old Tongue and the runes of the First Men.

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Ah that's beautiful.  

11 minutes ago, Ckram said:

It seems they also had a written form of the Old Tongue:

TWOIAF - The Iron Islands

Did such men ever truly walk the earth? It is hard to know since most supposedly lived and died thousands of years before the ironmen learned to write; literacy remains rare in the Iron Islands to this day, and those who have the skill are oft mocked as weaklings or feared as sorcerers. So much of what we know of these demigods of the dawn comes to us from the peoples they plundered and preyed upon, written in the Old Tongue and the runes of the First Men.

 

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Posted (edited)

This is gonna be challenging.

I typed

On 12/31/2018 at 4:07 PM, Clegane'sPup said:

 I'm thinking Aemon had Sam looking for information about Lightbringer.

Out of all the stuff I typed you picked the above line to chit chat about.

On 1/3/2019 at 11:06 AM, zandru said:

I'm inclined to doubt that. "Lightbringer" and the whole "Azor Ahai" mythology is from Assha'i. It's not a Westerosi legend.

I will be the first to admit that I don't pay close attention to the legends and prophesies. No, Stannis doesn't have Lightbringer. Stannis knows that.

BUT, Aemon sent Sam to look for a book. Sam found the book. Aemon left the book for Jon to read.

Aemon had sent Sam to find a copy of the Jade Compendium.  What that book is about is tales and legends from the east.

A Feast for Crows - Samwell I     He had to get down on his knees to gather up the books he'd dropped. I should not have brought so many, he told himself as he brushed the dirt off Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium, a thick volume of tales and legends from the east that Maester Aemon had commanded him to find. The book appeared undamaged./

Previously in SoS, Stannis wants Sam to show him the Black Gate and Aemon wants to know about Lightbringer.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell V    Maester Aemon smiled. "Your Grace," he said, "before we go, I wonder if you would do us the great honor of showing us this wondrous blade we have all heard so very much of."   "You want to see Lightbringer? A blind man?"   "Sam shall be my eyes."/

The characters go through the process and later Aemon & Sam have a chit chat.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell V    Maester Aemon was lost in thought as Sam helped him down the narrow turnpike stair. But as they were crossing the yard, he said, "I felt no heat. Did you, Sam?"    "Heat? From the sword?" He thought back. "The air around it was shimmering, the way it does above a hot brazier."  Yet you felt no heat did you?/

Which part do you doubt?  Do you doubt my statement or that the book had information about Lightbringer?     Aemon left a book for Jon in his chambers --- the book Aemon sent Sam to look for.

A Feast for Crows - Samwell I     "Lord Snow," Maester Aemon called, "I left a book for you in my chambers. The Jade Compendium. It was written by the Volantene adventurer Colloquo Votar, who traveled to the east and visited all the lands of the Jade Sea. There is a passage you may find of interest. I've told Clydas to mark it for you."    "I'll be sure to read it," Jon Snow replied./

 

Edited by Clegane'sPup

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