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9 hours ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

Whether GRRM favors more Dany or Jon, in both cases their claim comes from their Targaryen blood. It would also be ironic for GRRM to criticize "generic" fantasy books about chosen ones and main characters secretly being rightful monarchs, only to make Jon who at this moment still everyone think about as Eddard's bastard to son of prince Rhaegar(possibly also from bigamist marriage), Prince that was Promised, Azor Ahai and rightful King of Westeros.

I don't really see GRRM being hypocritical about that, because while he deconstructs tropes, he doesn't destroy them entirely. In fact he reconstructs them. fAegon is the generic fantasy hero who was raised as a Targaryen heir but who waits for the right time to claim it. Dany believes she is the Targaryen heir and acts accordingly. Aegon V never expected to be king and was closer to the smallfolk than any other Targaryen but he still became wrapped up in the misplaced ideology of his house that magical nuclear weapons are the best way to rule (as his death illustrates). However, Jon is a foil for all of them, a deconstruction of the prince/princess who must claim his birthright because it's his/her "right." He learns through hard experience that he is entitled to nothing and is as far removed from the Targaryen legacy as possible. Pride and entitlement, a product of Targaryen exceptionalism, has been a problem throughout the history (even Jaime buys into this idea). Jon also has vastly more experiences without knowledge of his heritage than Arthur and Aragorn. Neither had leadership positions or affected events in a significant way before they learned of their parentage. 

Furthermore, he's also NOT the one who will solve everything--there are other characters who can fulfil those hero roles. I don't even think he'll be the promised hero who wins the war; in fact, I think he and Dany will make things worse and that's the prophecy twist. I think he will bring Dany up North to fight the Others and that won't work out as planned. I think she will burn Winterfell and King's Landing to conquer them, which is actually the "dawn" (a false one). This will partially be Jon's fault, because he's using Dany for her armies - and without knowing his parentage, he's literally playing with fire. Furthermore I think he becomes king in a dirty way, by betraying Dany and possibly by a rigged election of a Great Council. So that's the reconstruction - he gets back into the original trope but he arrives there in an unexpected, subversive way.

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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Just now, Rose of Red Lake said:

I don't really see GRRM being hypocritical about that, because while he deconstructs tropes, he doesn't destroy them entirely. In fact he reconstructs them. fAegon is the generic fantasy hero who was raised as a Targaryen heir but who waits for the right time to claim it. Dany believes she is the Targaryen heir and acts accordingly. Aegon V never expected to be king and was closer to the smallfolk than any other Targaryen but he still became wrapped up in the misplaced ideology of his house that magical nuclear weapons are the best way to rule (as his death illustrates). However, Jon is his foil for all of them, a deconstruction of the prince/princess who must claim his birthright because it's his/her "right." He learns through hard experience that he is entitled to nothing and is as far removed from the Targaryen legacy as possible. Pride and entitlement, a product of Targaryen exceptionalism, has been a problem throughout the history (even Jaime buys into this idea). Jon also has has vastly more experiences without knowledge of his heritage than Arthur and Aragorn. Neither had leadership positions or affected events in a significant way before they learned of their parentage. 

Furthermore, he's also NOT the one who will solve everything--there are other characters who can fulfil those hero roles. I don't even think he'll be the promised hero who wins the war; in fact, I think he and Dany will make things worse and that's the prophecy twist. I think he will bring Dany up North to fight the Others and that won't work out as planned. I think she will burn Winterfell and King's Landing to conquer them, which is actually the "dawn" (a false one). This will partially be Jon's fault, because he's using Dany for her armies - and without knowing his parentage, he's literally playing with fire. Furthermore I think he becomes king in a dirty way, by betraying Dany and possibly by a rigged election of a Great Council. So that's the reconstruction - he gets back into the original trope but he arrives there in an unexpected, subversive way.

I doubt it will play out this way.  Jon's place in the story has ended.  He is the lord commander who betrayed the watch and caused it to weaken enough for the WW to cross.  His future from now on involves hiking his legs and marking random trees.  Yup, he will live as a wolf.  As Ghost specifically.  The other Starks will die and follow suit.  Jon will become the alpha wolf of the pack.  He will never rule Westeros.  That will be Dany's future role.  

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5 minutes ago, James Fenimore Cooper XXII said:

I doubt it will play out this way.  Jon's place in the story has ended.  He is the lord commander who betrayed the watch and caused it to weaken enough for the WW to cross.  His future from now on involves hiking his legs and marking random trees.  Yup, he will live as a wolf.  As Ghost specifically.  The other Starks will die and follow suit.  Jon will become the alpha wolf of the pack.  He will never rule Westeros.  That will be Dany's future role.  

Wow. I'm new here and expected these forums to have smarter takes on the story. 

Dany ruling Westeros - that's exactly what she wants to do. How lucky for her that everything falls perfectly into place for her when no other character gets what they want. Dany would be "everything" to "everyone": the rightful heir (for real), gets three dragons she can control, frees slaves, takes over the Dothraki and actually manages to keep them for raiding and raping (because that's so easy during war), frees Unsullied who happen to "freely choose" to continue to be Unsullied for her benefit, she's both ambitious and benevolent, the best chance the world has at becoming a better place, she's good and kind but not weak, she's also beautiful and all men fall at their feet in adoration, she has enormous power but is never corrupted by it (somehow defying Lord Acton principle), and the whole story's purpose is that everyone should follow her, because she is the only person who can save the world from "evil." She proves herself as the biggest, bestest hero that has ever lived and manages to conquer Westeros without killing any characters we like. I usually don't use the term "Mary Sue" but it really applies here. Dany would be possibly the most Mary Sue character in the history of fiction if GRRM wrote that. And ASOIAF simply isn't the kind of work where those kinds of characters should/could exist.

I gave my take on trope deconstruction/reconstruction for Jon. Now try to do that for Dany.

 

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On 1/4/2019 at 7:32 AM, Lord Varys said:

It is basically just a more specialized version of the exceptionalism practiced by 'common' nobility/royalty. Nobles and royals in Westeros don't need the blood of the dragon to think they are better born with more noble blood than the smallfolk - that's the entire basis of their political system.

The Doctrine of Exceptionalism just uses this to justify Targaryen incest.

It's making the exceptionalism even worse though. That's the difference. We should want the story to move away from this mentality, not double down on it.

 

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21 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

It's making the exceptionalism even worse though. That's the difference. We should want the story to move away from this mentality, not double down on it.

This is medieval fantasy world which greatly revolves around the specialness of noble and royal blood(lines). If you want liberté, egalité, fraternité you are reading the wrong book series ;-).

As for this completely silly and off-topic discussion on 'George favoring characters':

Said characters are the main characters of the series. Do people complain that Harry Potter is the hero and chosen one in the Harry Potter series? Do people complain that Lotho Sackville-Baggins is treated unfairly by JRRT whereas that stupid Frodo gets all the spotlight?

I don't think so (or rather: I don't hope so).

People who believe that the feudal/royal/monarchistic framework of the story is going to be broken in the end seem very much mistaken in my opinion. Nothing in the story indicates that special royal blood - especially dragonlord/Targaryen blood - is suddenly going to turn out to not have very real special powers (although not exactly all that great magical powers). This 'special blood' thing is part of many 'special noble families' - the Starks are not far behind there with their 'wolf's blood', and the great beauty of the Lannisters (as well as their fair hair) makes them essentially the 'little brothers' of the Targaryens - all they are lacking are living lions and dragons ;-).

The story very much sends the message that nobility and royalty doesn't make you a good person/ruler/warrior, etc. - but it does not send the message that feeling great or superior or demanding/enforcing a right to rule on the basis of your royal or noble descent is a bad thing. No POV character questions the right of royalty and nobility to rule.

In fact, ASoIaF may possibly be the fantasy series with the greatest ensemble of noble/royal POV characters and the smallest POV ensemble of 'normal people' (i.e. commoners). This is something I actually found very distasteful when I first read the series (and I still really don't care much about who the hell rules in the end - that's irrelevant). And how strong we as readers are drawn in this aristocratic framework can be seen in the discussions in the board.

And the societies of the wildlings (arbitrary rule of brute strength), Dothraki (the same), or the Free Cities (rich slavers) don't really offer pretty good alternatives - the best ruling concepts introduced is basically enlightened princely rule (the Martell policies since Princess Daenerys) and, curiously enough, shared rule of elected officials as practiced by the Volantenes (discussed in ADwD).

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19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

This is medieval fantasy world which greatly revolves around the specialness of noble and royal blood(lines). If you want liberté, egalité, fraternité you are reading the wrong book series ;-).

You misunderstand. I expect the nobility to stay in place and blood as a sign of class status to continue. However I don't expect the story to end with a crypto-Nazi manifesto about the strength of the purest of pure bloods winning out in the end or the idea that the Ptolemic dynasty could continue ad infinitum into the future. All dynasties must come to an end and ASOIAF is their death rattle. A good king's responsibility is to the land and the more the Targs inbreed with each other the more likely they are to bring instability to Westeros. I'm in favor of any monarch who can bring stability BEYOND his/her death (Jaehaerys) and the Targaryens, who rule by the house words, "Cooking People Alive in their Own Armor and Boiling Their Blood," have proven they cannot do that.

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1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

You misunderstand. I expect the nobility to stay in place and blood as a sign of class status to continue. However I don't expect the story to end with a crypto-Nazi manifesto about the strength of the purest of pure bloods winning out in the end or the idea that the Ptolemic dynasty could continue ad infinitum into the future. All dynasties must come to an end and ASOIAF is their death rattle.

I see no indication that either the Targaryens or the Starks are going to die out. Not even the Lannisters for that matter.

1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

A good king's responsibility is to the land and the more the Targs inbreed with each other the more likely they are to bring instability to Westeros. I'm in favor of any monarch who can bring stability BEYOND his/her death (Jaehaerys) and the Targaryens, who rule by the house words, "Cooking People Alive in their Own Armor and Boiling Their Blood," have proven they cannot do that.

That is a generalization that makes no sense as such. Hereditary rule and dynasties means you get good apples and bad battles. That was/is the case with real word hereditary rulers and George deliberately chose to reflect that. Just because one king was cruel, mad, or stupid doesn't mean his descendants will lose the throne. And the amount of inbreeding has nothing to do with that. TWoIaF gives us cruel and capricious lords and kings from all the major houses. There is no guarantee that the grandchildren or even the children of our heroes will turn out to be decent people or competent rulers - no matter the example, capabilities, and teachings of their parents or grandparents.

And since the book series is not going to cover the distant future we should not expect anything about that. If the Targaryens were restored to the throne - say, in Dany and/or Jon - then the marriages of their children won't be on the table. We are likely not even getting more than a single child for any of our young heroes.

But even if for some strange reason some king were to outlaw the Targaryen incest marriages - which would be rather difficult now that Targaryen specialness as become an official tenet of the Faith - then this would not tell us anything about the future. Just as Daeron II, Maekar, and Aegon V not marrying their sisters didn't tell us anything about Jaehaerys/Shaera or Aerys/Rhaella.

This series has basically no revolutionary potential of any kind, because people really are not questioning their identity as royals/nobles nor the privileges and duties that come with such an exalted birth.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 This series has basically no revolutionary potential of any kind, because people really are not questioning their identity as royals/nobles nor the privileges and duties that come with such an exalted birth.

Resisting Targaryen hegemony is revolutionary under this criteria, because they have established themselves as "beyond judgment" as a god-tier class of humans. At this point the characters don't even have to overthrow the feudal system to be radical, they just have to shift the bloodline down the pyramid instead of upward, and all it would take is a simple marriage and a new name: Jon marries someone who is not a Targaryen to dilute Valyrian blood even further and starts a new House. And you think that's impossible within the context of this story?

And I seriously doubt that GRRM wrote in 9,000 different historical parallels but forgot to give the Targaryens ANY physical consequences to incest. I think he states it very clearly in his comments about horsebreeding: the offspring lead to extremes. 

And extremism is always, ALWAYS negative in this story. Extreme ice. Extreme fire. Extreme religious fanaticism. And extreme Targaryen incest. 

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41 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Resisting Targaryen hegemony is revolutionary under this criteria, because they have established themselves as "beyond judgment" as a god-tier class of humans. At this point the characters don't even have to overthrow the feudal system to be radical, they just have to shift the bloodline down the pyramid instead of upward, and all it would take is a simple marriage and a new name: Jon marries someone who is not a Targaryen to dilute Valyrian blood even further and starts a new House. And you think that's impossible within the context of this story?

Not, just not very likely. Jon Snow is a born Targaryen and it would be very disrespectful towards his true father (and his mother, too) if he were making up a new man. Unlike Benedict Rivers he is no true bastard. He is a royal prince.

But then - if Dany were to marry a non-Targaryen the dynasty could die with her. Her children wouldn't be Targaryens, they would bear the name of her consort.

41 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

And I seriously doubt that GRRM wrote in 9,000 different historical parallels but forgot to give the Targaryens ANY physical consequences to incest. I think he states it very clearly in his comments about horsebreeding: the offspring lead to extremes. 

The Targaryens don't seem to be more extreme than members of other houses. Is Aerys II more extreme than Walder Frey or Roose Bolton? Is Castamere less extreme than the burning of Harrenhal? Is 'Queen Lorea' of Casterly Rock less extreme than, say, Baelor the Blessed?

41 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

And extremism is always, ALWAYS negative in this story. Extreme ice. Extreme fire. Extreme religious fanaticism. And extreme Targaryen incest. 

What is 'extreme Targaryen incest' supposed to be? And where is this actually shown to be a bad thing? How often do the marriage customs of the Targaryens even come up in the story? Mostly when Jaime/Cersei discuss their incest. There are no Targaryen siblings in the series that could marry each other since Viserys died in AGoT. If Tyrion were Dany's half-brother and they were to marry we would get one case of half-sibling incest. That wouldn't be all that extreme.

Avuncular marriages between uncle-niece or aunt-nephew do happen outside the Targaryen sphere (e.g. two Stark marriages in the family tree). They are not even seen as incest by the Faith.

Also not sure whether religious extremism is consistently portrayed as bad. Thoros' lot in the Riverlands have become pretty zealous, yet they are not painted in a bad light. Even the sparrows and the High Septon don't come across as bad guys. They seem to be truer to the Faith of the Andals than the corrupt clerics we hear about in the first three novels of the series. And they do help the common people, do lead by example, etc.

Even such ridiculous concepts as Melisandre praying that the sun may rise each morning may turn out to be very wise and rational when the Long Night draws nigh.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Not, just not very likely. Jon Snow is a born Targaryen and it would be very disrespectful towards his true father (and his mother, too) if he were making up a new man. Unlike Benedict Rivers he is no true bastard. He is a royal prince.

But then - if Dany were to marry a non-Targaryen the dynasty could die with her. Her children wouldn't be Targaryens, they would bear the name of her consort.

Rhaegar married outside the Targaryen line! How is Jon disrespecting his "parents" by marrying outside of it himself? They would probably encourage it. Jon is a foil to Targaryens; meaning, I doubt he's going to become one. There are already 3 characters that were raised Targaryens - god knows that's enough. It also makes his story even more tropey if he becomes not only a Targaryen prince in name but also in word and deed as well.

I think Jon is going to be closer to Robert Baratheon in that he'll take the throne, and his blood lineage will help him secure it, but like Robert he won't become A Literal Targaryen just because he has Targaryen blood. It's also interesting, because Robert B. always wanted to be a Stark - so that's why I think Jon is linked to him.

Finding out his parentage means Jon is forced with a choice to become a "new man" anyway. He can choose whoever he wants to be in that moment, and I do think Benedict fits as foreshadowing for a new house because he's the product of two warring families, who have a heart tree [Stark] and a red stallion [Drogo/Dany] as their sigils. There is additional foreshadowing in the Alys/wildling marriage because Jon himself created a new house (House Thenn) and combined it with the sigil of House Karstark. There is also foreshadowing with Jacaerys/Sara, Rhaegar/Lyanna, Jenny/Duncan and Aegon/Betha, for Jon entering into a marriage that doesn't maintain the status quo for House Targaryen (revisiting Valyrian blood). 

As I've said the only framework GRRM needs to use for Jon is that he becomes king - everything in his path to that should be subverted. 

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Avuncular marriages between uncle-niece or aunt-nephew do happen outside the Targaryen sphere (e.g. two Stark marriages in the family tree). They are not even seen as incest by the Faith.

Did the Starks practice it, as a rule though? Furthermore those avuncular marriages had no offspring. It's like GRRM is trying to send a message - a line will end with this practice. Also I have to laugh because one of those two avuncular marriages is Jon(nel) and Sansa. You think he'd write in a Dany-sounding name if he wanted to foreshadow Jon/Daenerys.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

What is 'extreme Targaryen incest' supposed to be? And where is this actually shown to be a bad thing? How often do the marriage customs of the Targaryens even come up in the story?

The story defines it very clearly. Extreme incest is marrying to keep the bloodline as pure as possible in each successive generation. It's not even about noble-noble or an occasional cousin marriage; it's about no dilution of blood to have a stronger link to dragons. It's quite Aryan if you think about it because it's not simply a "cultural practice" - its intended to maintain power and phenotypic traits. No other house rigged the religious order to elevate them as gods. No other house has the metaphor of a coin flip at birth. No other house has the mark of consistent madness at their doorstep (which could be more likely as they become more inbred). No other house practices incest to gain access to magic. No other house wanted to rule the entire culture but also be seen as above it. Incest-dragon-hegemony was a crutch because they couldn't think of any other way to rule. Not only did they lack foresight, they lacked imagination. I dislike how you're making this all relative, when even the Targaryens didn't want it to be relative. The wanted it to be exceptional. And I just think they're NOT. With the destruction they delivered to Westeros tenfold because they had nuclear weapons, often the hands of madmen or at least ambitious conquerors - I'm just so over them. I'm not buying into their cultish ideology and I doubt the author is too. 

 

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Also not sure whether religious extremism is consistently portrayed as bad. Thoros' lot in the Riverlands have become pretty zealous, yet they are not painted in a bad light. Even the sparrows and the High Septon don't come across as bad guys. They seem to be truer to the Faith of the Andals than the corrupt clerics we hear about in the first three novels of the series. And they do help the common people, do lead by example, etc.

Even such ridiculous concepts as Melisandre praying that the sun may rise each morning may turn out to be very wise and rational when the Long Night draws nigh.

Thoros is going to hang an innocent kid! When Brienne asks him to show mercy, he says too bad - we're doing whatever this angry fire zombie says we should do! That's pretty bad light.

The Faith Militant are definitely portrayed as extreme, to the point where you don't know who is worse, Maegor, Cersei, or these guys.

And for the most part R'hollorism is negative in the sense that they are expecting a FIRE SAVIOR. Do you really think Azor Ahai will play out like that? That the red priests are 100% right about fire being a good thing?

Most fans buy into the ice vs. fire dichotomy as bad vs. good because of genre expectations. But if you read closely it becomes clear that GRRM criticizes this motif by having a fanatic like Melisandre and Benerro adhere to this kind of binary thinking. She believes in good vs. evil, light vs. dark, and these are the Tolkien imitator fantasy tropes. The author is using them in the story, to critique them. Meanwhile, he subtly introduces the religion and magic of the Living Land as a counterpoint to pure Ice and pure Fire, mainly through Bran and the way his magic is rooted in the trees (and the animals). Earth magic also has its dark side - but the wargs have a moral code that they've established for how to use it. Hiding underneath the earth is also portrayed positively because the land is connected to prosperity of the land. Pure fire is not. Blended elements are also more positive than any pure element by itself. Ned's sword is a mixture of ice and fire and Dragonglass is a mixture of earth and fire. Fire in small doses is portrayed more positively, with the contrast between a candle/torch/camp/hearth fire being life and wildfire/dragonfire being linked to extreme fire mania and death. 

Just another example - Jon reads religious fanaticism on Selyse, and thinks she would walk into the fire willingly, embrace it like a lover. This is a direct connection to Dany who steps into the fire and thinks she's at a wedding. Melisandre, Selyse, Cersei, and Dany are all manic about the power of fire: they fetishize it and are completely uncritical about what it means.

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Rhaegar married outside the Targaryen line!

Rhaegar married his (distant) cousin, a descendant of Princess Daenerys, the sister of Aegon the Unworthy.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

How is Jon disrespecting his "parents" by marrying outside of it himself?

I meant that it would disrespectful to both Rhaegar and Lyanna if Jon did not take the name of his father. It is his name, the name he was born with. The man taking his identity and family from him was Eddard Stark. He branded him a bastard - which he (most likely) never was.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

They would probably encourage it. Jon is a foil to Targaryens; meaning, I doubt he's going to become one. There are already 3 characters that were raised Targaryens - god knows that's enough. It also makes his story even more tropey if he becomes not only a Targaryen prince in name but also in word and deed as well.

I think Jon is going to be closer to Robert Baratheon in that he'll take the throne, and his blood lineage will help him secure it, but like Robert he won't become A Literal Targaryen just because he has Targaryen blood. It's also interesting, because Robert B. always wanted to be a Stark - so that's why I think Jon is linked to him.

The way this world is set up Jon would remain a nobody - or remain nothing but a local lord - if he didn't embrace his Targaryen parentage identity and parentage. Who could or would want to make him king if he was not playing the Targaryen card? The North is pretty much broken. It cannot hope to take the Iron Throne now, and that's going to be even less likely due to the current civil war and the subsequent conflict with the Others.

Nobody south of the Neck seems to know Jon Snow's name at this point.

More importantly, if Jon's true parentage and identity were not to play a significant role why is Jon not some woman's daughter? And actual bastard of little significance becoming king? That would be the much better story.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Finding out his parentage means Jon is forced with a choice to become a "new man" anyway. He can choose whoever he wants to be in that moment, and I do think Benedict fits as foreshadowing for a new house because he's the product of two warring families, who have a heart tree [Stark] and a red stallion [Drogo/Dany] as their sigils. There is additional foreshadowing in the Alys/wildling marriage because Jon himself created a new house (House Thenn) and combined it with the sigil of House Karstark. There is also foreshadowing with Jacaerys/Sara, Rhaegar/Lyanna, Jenny/Duncan and Aegon/Betha, for Jon entering into a marriage that doesn't maintain the status quo for House Targaryen (revisiting Valyrian blood).

Many Targaryens married outside their usual gene pool, but that didn't change their customs or traditions or their identity. Not all Targaryens have to be fair-haired and purple-eyed, either.

The truth about Jon's parentage and identity is not going to set him free. It will put another burden on his shoulders. If he were the last scion of House Targaryen in the end all the values of the society he lives in would demand that he take the throne and continue the dynasty - just as Dany's feeling she is the last Targaryen left is what causes her to continues Viserys' mission. She doesn't know Westeros, but she feels she has to go there because she owes it to her dead family members and ancestors. 

Jon would feel a similar pressure - especially if he learned that Rhaegar and Lyanna had high hopes and plans for him.

As for Benedict Rivers: He had royal blood on both sides which is what made him king. He was never legitimized (and likely knew that the Brackens and Blackwoods would have gone to war again had he favored either of them by taken the name of his mother or his father) and thus chose a new name. If Jon were a bastard, too, he could also take that road, I guess. But that's not very likely.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Did the Starks practice it, as a rule though? Furthermore those avuncular marriages had no offspring. It's like GRRM is trying to send a message - a line will end with this practice. Also I have to laugh because one of those two avuncular marriages is Jon(nel) and Sansa. You think he'd write in a Dany-sounding name if he wanted to foreshadow Jon/Daenerys.

There are two avuncular marriages and two cousin marriages in the Stark family tree - cousin marriages through the male line a recognizable as such, there might be many more through the female line.

Serena Stark had four children by her half-uncle Edric - two sons, Cregard and Torrhen, and two daughters, Aregelle and Arrana. The latter two had issue of their own with a Cerwyn and an Umber. 

Not to mention Rickard Stark marrying his own cousin Lyarra Stark.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

The story defines it very clearly. Extreme incest is marrying to keep the bloodline as pure as possible in each successive generation. It's not even about noble-noble or an occasional cousin marriage; it's about no dilution of blood to have a stronger link to dragons. It's quite Aryan if you think about it because it's not simply a "cultural practice" - its intended to maintain power and phenotypic traits. No other house rigged the religious order to elevate them as gods. No other house has the metaphor of a coin flip at birth. No other house has the mark of consistent madness at their doorstep (which could be more likely as they become more inbred). No other house practices incest to gain access to magic. No other house wanted to rule the entire culture but also be seen as above it. Incest-dragon-hegemony was a crutch because they couldn't think of any other way to rule. Not only did they lack foresight, they lacked imagination. I dislike how you're making this all relative, when even the Targaryens didn't want it to be relative. The wanted it to be exceptional. And I just think they're NOT. With the destruction they delivered to Westeros tenfold because they had nuclear weapons, often the hands of madmen or at least ambitious conquerors - I'm just so over them. I'm not buying into their cultish ideology and I doubt the author is too. 

If you check the Targaryen history then there are very few - only two, at this point - actual madmen, and just as many cruel or capricious or weak rulers among them than they are among the other houses.

You play up something that is not there.

George could have made half of the Targaryens drooling lackwits or he could have made the entire bloodline suffer from (a couple of) hereditary disease(s), but he did neither. There are some freaks there, to be sure, but it is all pretty minor.

And just to be clear:

There is nothing inherently wrong with inbred populations. Inbreeding is a crucial part of selective breeding and speciation. Originally, fertility drops if there is continuous incest if this is done selectively - as is done by selective breeding of horses, dogs, cats, etc. - then you only mate the viable specimen with the desirable traits you breed for.

And the Targaryens seem to be more or less be doing that with their own arranged incestuous marriages. That's why the Valyrian dragonlords have the looks that they have. They bred themselves into that over many generations.

Your personal dislike of the Targaryens is not really relevant to the topic at hand. George has gone on record that he doesn't want to promote incest - but he also does not condemn his incestuous couples for their love if they are in love. Jaehaerys and Alysanne are a perfect loving couple - their romance is as great as any in the books. Jaime's feelings for Cersei are touching, too, as are Cersei's feelings for Jaime when she genuinely expresses them (which doesn't happen all that often but she has her moments).

At this point there is also essentially no good reason to doubt that Jon and Dany will get their great romance - and if they marry (which is very likely) this will be an effective continuation of the Targaryen marriage policies. Whether they will also marry their children to each other we will very likely never find out.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Thoros is going to hang an innocent kid! When Brienne asks him to show mercy, he says too bad - we're doing whatever this angry fire zombie says we should do! That's pretty bad light.

 

That is Catelyn. Thoros brought R'hllor to the Riverlands, and he has many pious followers there, young Gendry among them.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

The Faith Militant are definitely portrayed as extreme, to the point where you don't know who is worse, Maegor, Cersei, or these guys.

Can you give us any example where the sparrows are as worse as Maegor or Cersei? They have yet to murder anyone, if I'm mistaken. Giving Cersei a taste of her own medicine was certainly cruel, but not even remotely as cruel as many things Cersei commanded or orchestrated.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

And for the most part R'hollorism is negative in the sense that they are expecting a FIRE SAVIOR. Do you really think Azor Ahai will play out like that? That the red priests are 100% right about fire being a good thing?

Fire is the element that is deliberately very much associated with passion and life in this world. Ygritte is kissed by fire, fire is life, fire is love and passion. Ice is cold, hard, and dead. Revenge is cold as ice, the as cold as the Others - who may have waited for their revenge 8,000 years. Even the preservation the cold/ice seems to be bring is not necessarily good as such (although it was good that 'the cold preserved' Maester Aemon as long as it did) since that can also preserve or enshrine hatreds and griefs that should have died along time ago. If the Others are really trying to kill humanity and turn the entire world into an eternal winter hell because of something the ancient First Men may have done to the Children of the Forest then them being able to preserve such a hatred and enact such a belated revenge is not exactly a good thing. It is like if we were haunted/punished by the things our ancestors did in the stone age.

Fire can kill, too, even Targaryens and dragons (Aerea's fate reinforced what we always knew - that the Targaryens are not, in any real sense 'fire', just as the Starks are not 'ice'). Even the dragons aren't the hottest fires in the series - after all, they burned to death during the Doom of Valyria, too.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Most fans buy into the ice vs. fire dichotomy as bad vs. good because of genre expectations. But if you read closely it becomes clear that GRRM criticizes this motif by having a fanatic like Melisandre and Benerro adhere to this kind of binary thinking. She believes in good vs. evil, light vs. dark, and these are the Tolkien imitator fantasy tropes. The author is using them in the story, to critique them. Meanwhile, he subtly introduces the religion and magic of the Living Land as a counterpoint to pure Ice and pure Fire, mainly through Bran and the way his magic is rooted in the trees (and the animals). Earth magic also has its dark side - but the wargs have a moral code that they've established for how to use it. Hiding underneath the earth is also portrayed positively because the land is connected to prosperity of the land. Pure fire is not. Blended elements are also more positive than any pure element by itself. Ned's sword is a mixture of ice and fire and Dragonglass is a mixture of earth and fire. Fire in small doses is portrayed more positively, with the contrast between a candle/torch/camp/hearth fire being life and wildfire/dragonfire being linked to extreme fire mania and death. 

The Children of the Forest are likely the ones responsible for the Others. They were/are likely masters of all kinds of magic - ice magic, fire magic, nature magic, greenseeing, necromancy, skinchanging, blood magic, whatever.

The Others are likely not demons nor 'completely evil'. They likely have a reasonably good motivation for what they are doing - or perhaps only whoever controls them, sitting in the Heart of Winter - but that is not going to mean they should not be stopped/killed.

The series doesn't introduce us to evil fire demons trying to burn all life on earth. Dragons are just animals. They make no evil plans. The Others do.

17 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Just another example - Jon reads religious fanaticism on Selyse, and thinks she would walk into the fire willingly, embrace it like a lover. This is a direct connection to Dany who steps into the fire and thinks she's at a wedding. Melisandre, Selyse, Cersei, and Dany are all manic about the power of fire: they fetishize it and are completely uncritical about what it means.

Well, it worked with Dany, no? The dragons did not come to play no role in the books.

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Seems like the whole "against being incest" thing strives from tradition, not scripture, hence it was freer to make the Exceptionalism thing a doctrine.

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On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

Rhaegar married his (distant) cousin, a descendant of Princess Daenerys, the sister of Aegon the Unworthy.

And the line did not continue through them. It continued through a Stark. How does Rhaegar marrying Elia foreshadow Jon marrying Dany?

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

I meant that it would disrespectful to both Rhaegar and Lyanna if Jon did not take the name of his father. It is his name, the name he was born with. The man taking his identity and family from him was Eddard Stark. He branded him a bastard - which he (most likely) never was.

This "disrespect" idea is dumb. It just sounds like you, personally, think it's disrespectful. Well...GOOD. Maybe Jon Snow does something that offends readers. Although I dont think that many readers particularly care if he kills off House T with the change of a name. 

Also - he wouldn't be the first Targaryen to defy his parents.

Also - Ned is his adopted father. Duncan did not make his new sigil in honor of the father he never knew. 

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

The way this world is set up Jon would remain a nobody - or remain nothing but a local lord - if he didn't embrace his Targaryen parentage identity and parentage. Who could or would want to make him king if he was not playing the Targaryen card? The North is pretty much broken. It cannot hope to take the Iron Throne now, and that's going to be even less likely due to the current civil war and the subsequent conflict with the Others. Nobody south of the Neck seems to know Jon Snow's name at this point.

More importantly, if Jon's true parentage and identity were not to play a significant role why is Jon not some woman's daughter? And actual bastard of little significance becoming king? That would be the much better story.

I think the Targaryen name and sigil will be an ill-omened one by the end of the story, because I think Dany will turn Winterfell and King's Landing into new Harrenhals, among other castles.

So Jon creating a new House would be not only his preference, but to his benefit. Of course he's not going to become king at THIS stage - you have to see how his arc plays out. And people do know of Jon Snow. They talk about him even in Braavos. Arya hears him being called the Black Bastard at the Wall in the taverns. Cersei deems him important enough to try and send an assassin to kill him. He's already got a reputation pre-resurrection. It's anticipated to grow on his own merits, which is the basis of the feudal critique. Jon is a man who makes a name for himself without relying on the name of his father whom he never knew. And the fact that Sansa has more connections to the southern houses lays the groundwork for her bolstering his kingship.

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

More importantly, if Jon's true parentage and identity were not to play a significant role why is Jon not some woman's daughter? And actual bastard of little significance becoming king? That would be the much better story.

Now you're arguing against the laws of feudalism which you said the story isn't going to bend for. You're contradicting yourself.

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

The truth about Jon's parentage and identity is not going to set him free. It will put another burden on his shoulders. If he were the last scion of House Targaryen in the end all the values of the society he lives in would demand that he take the throne and continue the dynasty - just as Dany's feeling she is the last Targaryen left is what causes her to continues Viserys' mission. She doesn't know Westeros, but she feels she has to go there because she owes it to her dead family members and ancestors. Jon would feel a similar pressure - especially if he learned that Rhaegar and Lyanna had high hopes and plans for him.

Jon's obligations to House T? He has none. He only wants Stark validation and he wants to live up to the values of House Stark. We also don't even know what "hopes" Rhaegar/Lyanna had for Jon - you're just making stuff up. 

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

There are two avuncular marriages and two cousin marriages in the Stark family tree - cousin marriages through the male line a recognizable as such, there might be many more through the female line.

Serena Stark had four children by her half-uncle Edric - two sons, Cregard and Torrhen, and two daughters, Aregelle and Arrana. The latter two had issue of their own with a Cerwyn and an Umber. 

Not to mention Rickard Stark marrying his own cousin Lyarra Stark.

Targaryens are an extreme version of incest, where all the other houses tend toward moderation. Extremism is always negative. 

Jonnel and Sansa for pete's sake. I get it; no one wants to say their names because its uncomfortable to fans who hate the idea of Jon and Sansa getting together.

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

Your personal dislike of the Targaryens is not really relevant to the topic at hand. George has gone on record that he doesn't want to promote incest - but he also does not condemn his incestuous couples for their love if they are in love. Jaehaerys and Alysanne are a perfect loving couple - their romance is as great as any in the books. Jaime's feelings for Cersei are touching, too, as are Cersei's feelings for Jaime when she genuinely expresses them (which doesn't happen all that often but she has her moments).

First, my personal dislike of the Targaryens comes from the fact that they burn people alive and Daenerys will likely kill thousands to bring an unnecessary war to Westeros in the name of a delusional dream. It's not like this "dislike" has no basis. I doubt GRRM is neutral when it comes to burning people alive.

Second, its not incest that bothers me (although I do think Targaryens have a propensity to mental illness more than any other house because of incest). It's the blood purity for the purposes of physical traits and power. They could be intermarrying based on skin color instead of immediate family relation it doesn't really matter: the outcome is the same. It's an idea too closely related to Nazi supremacy and GRRM would know that. 

As for the incest component, dynasties based on being as pureblood as possible with brother/sister being the preferred way to carry that out (not dynasties based on occasional cousin marriage) have a ticking time clock of around 300-400 years. I get the sense that Fire and Blood is a book about the past; ASOIAF is a series about the future, and a Targaryen restoration returns to the past in a really stale way. And I do think that on the whole (with exceptions) House Targaryen is supposed to represent the tragic/villain house in Fantasy, like the Dark Numenoreans and the Noldor Elves for example. 

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

At this point there is also essentially no good reason to doubt that Jon and Dany will get their great romance - and if they marry (which is very likely) this will be an effective continuation of the Targaryen marriage policies. Whether they will also marry their children to each other we will very likely never find out.

Targaryen marriage policies are about one group of humans being better than everyone else, and that's not what the story is about. You think the story will end with such a message? 

I dont think a Jon/Dany romance is a given at all. I think 99% of the foreshadowing for their meeting is negative or conflict-based. 

There is far more foreshadowing in the books for Jon marrying Sansa and him being the last member of an extinct house.

Three characters that suggest this: Dontos Hollard, John Mudd, and Jon Lothston. They all live in the narrative but their houses are extinct. John Mudd relates to Quentyn, frogs, mud, and House Mudd (Jenny of Oldstones was probably a member of this house). John says he has a fondness for red-haired women. He's a knight but Arianne she thinks that he behaves like no knight that she has ever met. How knights should act are themes that relate back to Sansa. Jon behaves like a knight but isn't one.

Jon Lothston is from a house that ended in ill repute because of blood magic. Lady Danelle went mad and they lost their seat at Harrenhal. The Whents took over after that, and Cat's mom was a Whent. It's a bit too perfect that there is Whent (Tully/Stark) ascendance after the Lothstons (Targaryens) lost their seat because of madness.

Brienne bears the Lothston shield but Illifer says his descendents helped kill the last one. "None since has dared to show that bat, black as the deeds of them that bore it." This is said as she's on the way to Duskendale - where the Hollards lived, a house that was ALSO wiped out when another head of a house went mad. Dontos, the heir to an extinct house like Jon would be, ties the story back to Florian/Jonquil, and the fact that this legend comes up around Jaehaerys/Alysanne (with Jonquil as her sword shield) gives more support to the theory that Sansa, not Daenerys, will be queen at the end.

I think house Targaryen will both be a house of ill-repute just like the Lothstons. Brienne has the shield repainted with Duncan's sigil  - again suggesting Jon takes a new sigil in honor of his adopted father. Jon chooses "dragonflies" instead of "dragons" and marries outside the Targaryen line with a girl with connections to the Riverlands. 

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

Can you give us any example where the sparrows are as worse as Maegor or Cersei? They have yet to murder anyone, if I'm mistaken. Giving Cersei a taste of her own medicine was certainly cruel, but not even remotely as cruel as many things Cersei commanded or orchestrated.

Maegor and Cerei and the Faith Militant all wanted to assassinate people and continued, launched, or participated in endless, unnecessary wars. The smallfolk under these religious orders killed thousands in battle and thousands died themselves, and not for a particularly useful reason either. If they wanted to fight Maegor/Cersei they should fight these rulers because they're cruel--not because they're fucking family members or practicing adultery. If they were supposed to be the author's preference he would have made Meribald more like them; instead he's a voice of moderation in world of religious zealotry. Even if they think they're doing good for the smallfolk, it's militancy backed by religious dogma. GRRM thinks that the majority of religious wars are pointless and is appalled by all the millions of people who died because some guy in the sky told them to do it.

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

Fire is the element that is deliberately very much associated with passion and life in this world. Ygritte is kissed by fire, fire is life, fire is love and passion. Ice is cold, hard, and dead. Revenge is cold as ice, the as cold as the Others - who may have waited for their revenge 8,000 years.

“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." Arya kisses the mud to escape the fire raging above her. Quentyn is mud, and fire consumes. I don't see any suggestion that fire in large amounts is good. The quantity and admixture matter. The earth also saves Bran from the destruction of Winterfell by fire. Mud/earth/trees represents life and fertility. Wildfire/dragons represent destruction when put in the hands of a House seeking power for power's sake.

"Kissed by fire" is the fantasy version. Think about it: red heads aren't actually burned. Then there are people whose hair is on fire - Dany's hair as she rides off on Drogon. You dont want people to literally be on fire. The romantic visions of fire that Cersei, Dany, and Selyse see are meant to mislead the reader so that they associate fire with these romantic qualities. You have to look past that and read critically. 

In the original outline Daenerys is named as threat #2 after the Others. So what are we supposed to make of that? It's almost like once the Others are defeated, Dany moves into the #1 slot. Daenerys is a much richer antagonist than the Others and meets the criteria for complicating the battle of good vs. evil. Even if the Others have more nuanced motives, that pales in comparison to whatever GRRM is writing for the human houses. This is why I think Jon vs. Dany is the final battle of the series and what this is all leading to. If theories match with whatever a religious nutcase like Benerro says then maybe its time for re-examination.

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

The Children of the Forest are likely the ones responsible for the Others. They were/are likely masters of all kinds of magic - ice magic, fire magic, nature magic, greenseeing, necromancy, skinchanging, blood magic, whatever. The Others are likely not demons nor 'completely evil'. They likely have a reasonably good motivation for what they are doing - or perhaps only whoever controls them, sitting in the Heart of Winter - but that is not going to mean they should not be stopped/killed. The series doesn't introduce us to evil fire demons trying to burn all life on earth. Dragons are just animals. They make no evil plans. The Others do.

The CotF used magic to defend their land, of which they were original settlers. Jon would be using dragons to defeat the Others which is just a repeat of their strategy. So I don't think the dragons are going to be helpful, because it's just more magic to fight magic. 

Targaryen meddling hasn't helped matters at all. When you have fire wights and ice wights something is amiss on both sides of this magical divide. Personally I think Bloodraven triggered the Others coming back and Daenerys unknowingly helped them along. Summer ends right after Daenerys hatches dragons. It's like the dragons sucked up all the heat which allows the Others to come in full force. Wildfire is also strengthened after that, and fire wights start popping up. If the dragons die then the Others might retreat or vanish. If ice and fire are defeated and if nothing is ever done again to unbalance the ice and fire magic, they'll have normal seasons and normal problems. The world can either end in fire or ice - neither of which we want. 

On 1/7/2019 at 1:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

That is Catelyn. Thoros brought R'hllor to the Riverlands, and he has many pious followers there, young Gendry among them.

And he's serving a zombie fire wight. Thoros thought he was doing justice but then it became more about vengeance and how all men are monsters. The Brotherhood has gone dark. And Gendry isn't a zealot. He's looking for community, not a fire god to worship. R'hllorism isnt exactly the "good" religion. They think fire is the answer to everything, and its just not.

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:
  On 1/7/2019 at 2:28 PM, Lord Varys said:

There are two avuncular marriages and two cousin marriages in the Stark family tree - cousin marriages through the male line a

recognizable as such, there might be many more through the female line.

(Quoter going wonky- sorry)

Lord Varys, firstly, hello again :)

Now, we know Cregan Stark was NOT the ideal or normal northman when it came to how to handled the Targaryens and/or the change across the land. There were several, several issues he handled opposite of how the other northmen preferred. GRRM and "Cr" names across all of his stories that signify some weirdo incest/upjumpedness. That is also reflected with Cregan Karstark, Craster, Creg, and whatever others I can't think of at the moment.

We know of the Serena and Sansa issues... which are issue related to another family trying to intermarry as much as possible into the ruling Starks to try and upjump themselves. The funny thing being that is failed.

Also, Jonnel and Sansa did not produce children. Edric and Serena had children, but those children never practiced incest again. We have the family tree online and in various books that shows as much. You can see that it never happens again, those "incest" bloodlines ended by spreading out into other bloodlines. For a reader to say anything else is literally making up fanfiction.

Rickard married a half cousin once-removed. A whole lotta other blood in that union, and there are no signs that it was done for any sort of "blood purity" or exceptionalism idea.

 

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6 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

(Quoter going wonky- sorry)

Lord Varys, firstly, hello again :)

Now, we know Cregan Stark was NOT the ideal or normal northman when it came to how to handled the Targaryens and/or the change across the land. There were several, several issues he handled opposite of how the other northmen preferred. GRRM and "Cr" names across all of his stories that signify some weirdo incest/upjumpedness. That is also reflected with Cregan Karstark, Craster, Creg, and whatever others I can't think of at the moment.

We know of the Serena and Sansa issues... which are issue related to another family trying to intermarry as much as possible into the ruling Starks to try and upjump themselves. The funny thing being that is failed.

Also, Jonnel and Sansa did not produce children. Edric and Serena had children, but those children never practiced incest again. We have the family tree online and in various books that shows as much. You can see that it never happens again, those "incest" bloodlines ended by spreading out into other bloodlines. For a reader to say anything else is literally making up fanfiction.

Rickard married a half cousin once-removed. A whole lotta other blood in that union, and there are no signs that it was done for any sort of "blood purity" or exceptionalism idea.

 

*spots low hanging fruit*

*plucks greedily*

so what you’re saying is that Cregan was no true ScotsmanNorthman

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1 minute ago, HelenaExMachina said:

*spots low hanging fruit*

*plucks greedily*

so what you’re saying is that Cregan was no true ScotsmanNorthman

Haha. Dude had his tartans all washed up wonky :D

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I'm curious if the current religious climate in the south will call the idea of Targyen exceptionalism into question once again. The high Sparrow(if he's educated enough), could easily point to the case of Daenarys I being inflicted with the shivers as proof that the Targyen can get sick and case of Rhaenys' words regarding Nettle which shows a Targyen admitting it's possible for any any human to ride a dragon if they use the right sorcery. I mean the doctrine rests the idea of Targyens being immune to sickness and being able to ride dragons.  I mean the high sparrow seems a genuine zealot, I can see him not buying this idea of any one being allowed to violate any of god's laws.

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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9 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I'm curious if the current religious climate in the south will call the idea of Targyen exceptionalism into question once again. The high Sparrow(if he's educated enough), could easily point to the case of Daenarys I being inflicted with the shivers as proof that the Targyen can get sick and case of Rhaenys' words regarding Nettle which shows a Targyen admitting it's possible for any any human to ride a dragon if they use the right sorcery. I mean the doctrine rests the idea of Targyens being immune to sickness and being able to ride dragons.  I mean the high sparrow seems a genuine zealot, I can see him not buying this idea of any one being allowed to violate any of god's laws.

Since the Doctrine is an official tenet of the Faith the High Septon should actually espouse the Doctrine himself. Meaning incest is now only seen as a sin by the Faith if non-Targaryens do it.

There might be some people who still have the older view, but 250 years are a pretty long time.

This whole thing also does not rest on 'empirical evidence'. It is a matter of faith that the Targaryens are created differently. The Seven themselves (i.e. their Voice on Earth) sees them as men set apart from lesser men. That's the lore of the Faith now, and that's not going to change because dragons or children die.

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I'm curious Ran, did George purposefully leave out polygamy of the Doctrine of Exceptionalism to further expand upon it in the main series, such as Winds of Winter or Dream of Spring. The world book mentions that Aegon IV was perhaps musing over whether or not to give his blessing into allowing Daemon to marry Daenerys. And it also mentions Aegon's murmurs wedding to Megette, aren't these both hints of bigamy/polygamy in series that will address in tales of Dunk and Egg. Odd that none of the main characters mention the Doctrine of Exceptionalism in the main asoiaf series or that why polygamy was outlawed?

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