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Black Crow

Heresy 220 and the nature of magic

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Welcome to Heresy 220, the latest episode in the long-running thread which takes a quirky look at the Song of Ice and Fire - a book not to be confused with the popular mummers' entertainment confusingly entitled A Game of Thrones - and looks in particular to the Wall and to the Otherlands beyond.

Rather than speculate on who might sit upon the Iron Throne by the end of the story [as if it matters], this episode is to follow the current discussion in Heresy 219, speculating on magic and awareness of magic.

Is the distinction important?

The seasons, we know, are screwed. GRRM, I believe has told us that we will learn why, but in the meantime has firmly declared that the seasons do not have a cosmological cause, such as an irregular orbit. There is a broad assumption therefore that the seasons were screwed by some magical intervention, possibly even connected with the legendary Hammer of the Waters, but so far as the present debate goes; do the good folk of Westeros regard the long nights and long summers simply as a natural phenomenon or does anyone think of them as the result of something else.

Similarly, while there are various stories of the Others, of the walking dead and of old blue eyes, are they [if believed at all] regarded as magic or merely as a natural phenomenon?

And if they are magic, who is working it?

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Posted (edited)

Well, I'll keep beating my wheel of time drum - a situation that is best described as Dr Strange-like. I suspect that Bloodraven will teach Bran how to manipulate time by delaying seasons, and later how to reverse them.

First, for the uninitiated, a description of the Eye of Agamotto from the Marvel Universe wiki:

Quote

 

The Eye of Agamotto was a powerful relic created by Agamotto, the first Sorcerer Supreme, to contain the power of the Time Stone inside it. It has been passed down the long line of Sorcerers Supreme that followed him. The Eye has the ability to manipulate the flow of time and was used by Doctor Strange to fight Kaecilius and Dormammu and restore the Hong Kong Sanctum. It was placed back in Kamar-Taj until Strange could learn how to control it. The Eye was destroyed by Thanos during the Battle of Titan, although the Time Stone was removed and hidden by Strange prior to the battle.

 The mystical properties of the relic, as well as the spells and gestures necessary to use it, were studied by the writer Cagliostro, who wrote them down on his personal grimoire. The Eye remained in Kamar-Taj where it was discovered by Doctor Stephen Strange.

When he confronted Dormammu to parley, Dormammu killed him, but the Eye's power trapped them both in a time loop that would restart every time Strange died. Dormammu finally relented and accepted Strange's terms.

 

I see Bloodraven as the latest Sorcerer Supreme and that the weirwood trees - specifically the heart trees - as being inspired by the Eye of Agamotto, which can be used to manipulate the flow of time. Bran is our Dr Strange, and he's currently being taught how to "watch", but surely there is more to it than that?

Specific events seem to occur during specific seasons, and they repeat year after year after year. For example, tourneys might be tied to Spring, and even though it would be contrary to real life, I believe wars tend to be fought during Winter.

At the beginning of AGOT Tyrion notes that he has seen nine winters, but Bran has only known nine years of summer. Bloodraven told Bran that he "looked" for him, and I suspect the nine winters Tyrion saw were years Bloodraven was "looking" for Bran. As soon as Bran was born and Bloodraven was sure he was the right one, he delayed summer nine years in order for Bran to grow up, but Bloodraven's own life was quickly fading and he couldn't wait any longer, so I believe Bran's fateful push from that tower had more to do with Bloodraven than it did with Jaime and Cersei.

I believe the tourney at Harrenhal was ground zero for a reversal of the flow of time, because Spring only lasted two months at the end of 281 before a sudden reversal at the beginning of 282 when Winter returned. The lightning strike imagery is tied to this sudden reversal and it made a direct hit upon Lyanna causing her to experience some of the events that were meant to happen to Ashara, splitting the "mother direwolf" in two. Sadly, Howland's prayer "to win" is also connected.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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"Magic is a sword without a hilt."

We know the CotF called the "Hammer of the Waters", and it failed. They got desperate and it backfired. Not sure whether they created the White Walkers on purpose or by chance, but in my understanding that caused the seasons to get out of synch.

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1 hour ago, alienarea said:

"Magic is a sword without a hilt."

We know the CotF called the "Hammer of the Waters", and it failed. They got desperate and it backfired. Not sure whether they created the White Walkers on purpose or by chance, but in my understanding that caused the seasons to get out of synch.

I wouldn't disagree but its interesting that there do not appear to be any legends or old wives tales linking the Hammer and the Seasons.

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2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I wouldn't disagree but its interesting that there do not appear to be any legends or old wives tales linking the Hammer and the Seasons.

True. But when I was in school 35 years ago I only learned king after king in history, even historians were barely considering impacts caused by changes of the environment.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we as the readers should know about global warming, and can imagine that a volcano causing the doom of Valyria might have caused a winter in Westeros.

Of course, the fictive inhabitants of Westeros don't know this. For them it's king after king, and the "Hammer of the Waters" is an event in between. A longer winter a year or two later would not get connected to it, because the knowledge that one might have caused the other did not exist.

 

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6 hours ago, Black Crow said:

do the good folk of Westeros regard the long nights and long summers simply as a natural phenomenon or does anyone think of them as the result of something else

The first.  I don't think anyone in canon seriously questions that they've always been this way.

We have the huge advantage over them of knowing they live in a fictional world and of reading interviews with their creator.  :thumbsup:

6 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Similarly, while there are various stories of the Others, of the walking dead and of old blue eyes, are they [if believed at all] regarded as magic or merely as a natural phenomenon?

The only people who believe in them with confidence, IMO, are the free folk and the Watch. 

Those who have given it any thought, and who also believe Sam, know they must be magic, because no organic life form does this:

Quote

...the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. Finally only the dragonglass dagger remained, wreathed in steam as if it were alive and sweating.

Re the Hammer,

3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

its interesting that there do not appear to be any legends or old wives tales linking the Hammer and the Seasons

True.  But since no one believes the seasons are unnatural, no one looks for a root cause. 

This is the only sort of weather the people of GRRMworld have ever known, for countless generations. What we deem freakish, they consider routine.

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I think the greenseers manipulated the flow of time in order to help defeat the Others, so if it’s been this way for 8000 years, people probably have accepted that the wonky seasons are normal. However, the desire for a summer that never ends seems to imply that some people believe winter can be eradicated.

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Or maybe it's not the fault of the CotF, but of the Valyrians?

If we look at our situation, global warming leads to the polar caps melting, leading to rising sea levels, which will cause the gulf stream to disappear; as a result we will have a long night in Europe (simplified version).

Maybe the doom of Valyria caused the seasons to off-cycle, and in the books it might get balanced by doing something in Essos?

"To go West you must go East"

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7 hours ago, JNR said:

True.  But since no one believes the seasons are unnatural, no one looks for a root cause. 

This is the only sort of weather the people of GRRMworld have ever known, for countless generations. What we deem freakish, they consider routine.

I find it more fascinating that nobody links the the legends of the hammer about the tower of the children (where it was invoked according to one legend and where it hit according to the other) with the Crannogman. Although we know they came close to the children in those days. We know that the Andals came from somewhere, we know the same about the First Men and the Valyrians. We can explain the Mountain Clans but the Crannogman ? Nope. The mysterious Crannogman are just there next to the magic place and defended the magic place until a Stark married one of their daughters.

I call them survivors. And my crackpot idea is now that the Others are Crannogmen of old and were created when the Hammer hit. Like Ghosts. We are reading a ghost story. And they laughed at Royce in the beginning, because he has Stark blood which has Crannogmen chief blood. 

I find it fascinating that the roof of the childrens tower is open (nothing new with old buildings) much like other building hit by a lightning strike. What's about that ? Is the legendary Storm's End the only place in Westeros not hit by one so far ?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, SirArthur said:

I find it more fascinating that nobody links the the legends of the hammer about the tower of the children (where it was invoked according to one legend and where it hit according to the other) with the Crannogman. Although we know they came close to the children in those days. We know that the Andals came from somewhere, we know the same about the First Men and the Valyrians. We can explain the Mountain Clans but the Crannogman ? Nope. The mysterious Crannogman are just there next to the magic place and defended the magic place until a Stark married one of their daughters.

I call them survivors. And my crackpot idea is now that the Others are Crannogmen of old and were created when the Hammer hit. Like Ghosts. We are reading a ghost story. And they laughed at Royce in the beginning, because he has Stark blood which has Crannogmen chief blood. 

I find it fascinating that the roof of the childrens tower is open (nothing new with old buildings) much like other building hit by a lightning strike. What's about that ? Is the legendary Storm's End the only place in Westeros not hit by one so far ?

Lady Dyanna just posted this at the end of the previous Heresy, tying in references to splitting up, but the wording sounds like it could be for both the Children and the crannogmen, or at least Howland who was said to "breathe mud":

Quote

Arya rolled headfirst into the tunnel and dropped five feet. 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. Under the earth the air was cool and dark. Above was nothing but blood and roaring red and choking smoke and the screams of dying horses. She moved her belt around so Needle would not be in her way, and began to crawl. A dozen feet down the tunnel she heard the sound, like the roar of some monstrous beast, and a cloud of hot smoke and black dust came billowing up behind her, smelling of hell. Arya held her breath and kissed the mud on the floor of the tunnel and cried. For whom, she could not say.

It's quite possible that the crannogmen learned magic from the Children since they were close to them. They've certainly figured out a way to survive in an inhospitable place very close to Gods Eye and the Isle of Faces.

7 hours ago, alienarea said:

"To go West you must go East"

The full quote is a prophecy that Quaithe said to Dany, but it's mirrored by Mirri's response to Dany's question as to whether or not Khal Drogo would ever be as he once was. Mirri's words come across as "never":
 

Quote

 

"When will he be as he was?" Dany demanded.

"When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east," said Mirri Maz Duur. "When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.”

 

What Mirri suggested were impossible scenarios - or are they? The sun cannot rise in the west nor set in the east. Seas don’t just dry up and mountains can’t blow away. What Mirri said sounded like Drogo was never coming back, so Dany smothered his empty shell with a pillow. She also understood Mirri’s words to mean that her womb was barren.

The last Dany chapter in ADWD has her following a small stream trying to get back to Meereen after flying away on Drogon. She’s hungry, tired and dirty, and developed a case of diarrhea from either the stream or the green berries she found and ate. After a dream about her brother Viserys, Dany wakes with a gasp, and her thighs are thick with blood. Women only menstruate if a released egg passes through without being fertilized. Dany was confused at first, because she couldn’t remember the last time she had her moon blood. She thinks,

Quote

She was bleeding, but it was only woman’s blood. The moon is still a crescent, though. How can that be? She tried to remember the last time she had bled. The last full moon? The one before? The one before that? No, it cannot have been so long as that. “I am the blood of the dragon,” she told the grass, aloud.

Sounds like it’s been almost three months since she had a regular period - maybe longer. Did she have any menstrual cycles after Mirri said those words to her? What has changed? Lets return to Mirri’s words and pick them apart to see if any of them have occurred.

When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east -

Of course the planet didn’t physically change it’s rotation, but does this have to be literal in order for it to happen? Consider these words said to Dany by Quaithe:

Quote

 

Dany’s wrist still tingled where Quaithe had touched her. “Where would you have me go?” she asked.

“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

 

This is a second reference that explains how to navigate in the new reality - the reversal of the flow of time. Specific historic events replay over and over, but during the tourney at Harrenhal something occurred that stopped the forward rotation and sent the wheel into reverse. That is why the False Spring only lasted the last two months of 281 before winter returned with a vengeance at the start of the new year 282. The change in the flow of time happened like the crack of lightning, and it struck down during the tourney splitting Lyanna's future in half.

When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves.

Winter is coming and waterways are about to freeze over. People will be able to walk across lakes and maybe even the Narrow Sea as if on land. So what about mountains blowing away like leaves?

The Wall is a 700 foot tall wall of ice held together with magic and warded with spells, but it is aging and the wards are fraying like a threadbare rug…magic is seeping out into the world allowing for white walkers to be created, the dead to rise as wights, and for dragon eggs to hatch. The more magic that escapes, the weaker the Wall becomes. It’s already disintegrating and blowing away in the form of a blizzard at the Wall and through the underground tunnels and exiting out of Winterfell itself.

Mirri’s prophecy is coming true and Dany’s womb is getting ready. A lot of readers speculate that she was already pregnant and the blood in this last chapter means she’s having a miscarriage, but I disagree. I think her womb is no longer barren and her cycle has returned to normal.

 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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8 hours ago, SirArthur said:

I find it more fascinating that nobody links the the legends of the hammer about the tower of the children (where it was invoked according to one legend and where it hit according to the other) with the Crannogman.

They do link those... they just don't draw what appears to be the logical conclusion (IMO).

Here's the link:

Quote

The histories say the crannogmen grew close to the children of the forest in the days when the greenseers tried to bring the hammer of the waters down upon the Neck.

Since the CotF were acting against the First Men at this time (hence the hammer) and yet growing close to the crannogmen, it sure seems like the crannogmen were not First Men.  They came to Westeros earlier.

This is why Jojen says this:

Quote

We remember the First Men in the Neck, and the children of the forest who were their friends

"We" = crannogmen.  "They" = First Men.  Ergo, crannogmen ≠ First Men.

And this is why the crannogmen look quite different from First Men descendants, such as the Starks or Umbers.  The crannogmen literally do not descend primarily from the First Men.

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Its also interesting that the legends say that "the greenseers tried to bring the hammer of the waters down upon the neck"

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

Its also interesting that the legends say that "the greenseers tried to bring the hammer of the waters down upon the neck"

Yes. But does that actually mean that they couldn’t do it, or just that what they did wasn’t fully effective? I always took it as the later. That they managed to do it, but that it didn’t work as intended. Hence we have swampland and not just a body of water dividing the area like in the Stepstones. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, JNR said:

Since the CotF were acting against the First Men at this time (hence the hammer) and yet growing close to the crannogmen, it sure seems like the crannogmen were not First Men.  They came to Westeros earlier.

Ok, here is the thing. How accurate is the World of Ice and Fire when it says the Neck and the last Marsh King was conquered by a Stark ? Because if the Crannogman are with the Children, then the pact has been broken a long time ago. The same goes for Moat Cailin. The children invoke the ritual, it fails and then we have a pact. And later the men own Moat Cailin now all of a sudden ? I would have assumed they conquered it, but when ? Was the hammer before or after the pact ?

Edited by SirArthur

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49 minutes ago, SirArthur said:

Ok, here is the thing. How accurate is the World of Ice and Fire when it says the Neck and the last Marsh King was conquered by a Stark ? Because if the Crannogman are with the Children, then the pact has been broken a long time ago. The same goes for Moat Cailin. The children invoke the ritual, it fails and then we have a pact. And later the men own Moat Cailin now all of a sudden ? I would have assumed they conquered it, but when ? Was the hammer before or after the pact ?

So I think there were two Hammers. One was to stop the FM from crossing the land bridge connecting Essos and Westeros. The other was to separate the Lands in the North from the rest of Westeros. The first is Pre-pact, and I think that the second was either during or just after the pact ended. From a physics perspective, I think the first one was conjured from the CotF settlement in the Rainwood. I think the second was conjured from the Iron Islands. 

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6 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The full quote is a prophecy that Quaithe said to Dany, but it's mirrored by Mirri's response to Dany's question as to whether or not Khal Drogo would ever be as he once was. Mirri's words come across as "never":
 

What Mirri suggested were impossible scenarios - or are they? The sun cannot rise in the west nor set in the east. Seas don’t just dry up and mountains can’t blow away. What Mirri said sounded like Drogo was never coming back, so Dany smothered his empty shell with a pillow. She also understood Mirri’s words to mean that her womb was barren.

The last Dany chapter in ADWD has her following a small stream trying to get back to Meereen after flying away on Drogon. She’s hungry, tired and dirty, and developed a case of diarrhea from either the stream or the green berries she found and ate. After a dream about her brother Viserys, Dany wakes with a gasp, and her thighs are thick with blood. Women only menstruate if a released egg passes through without being fertilized. Dany was confused at first, because she couldn’t remember the last time she had her moon blood. She thinks,

Sounds like it’s been almost three months since she had a regular period - maybe longer. Did she have any menstrual cycles after Mirri said those words to her? What has changed? Lets return to Mirri’s words and pick them apart to see if any of them have occurred.

When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east -

Of course the planet didn’t physically change it’s rotation, but does this have to be literal in order for it to happen? Consider these words said to Dany by Quaithe:

This is a second reference that explains how to navigate in the new reality - the reversal of the flow of time. Specific historic events replay over and over, but during the tourney at Harrenhal something occurred that stopped the forward rotation and sent the wheel into reverse. That is why the False Spring only lasted the last two months of 281 before winter returned with a vengeance at the start of the new year 282. The change in the flow of time happened like the crack of lightning, and it struck down during the tourney splitting Lyanna's future in half.

When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves.

Winter is coming and waterways are about to freeze over. People will be able to walk across lakes and maybe even the Narrow Sea as if on land. So what about mountains blowing away like leaves?

The Wall is a 700 foot tall wall of ice held together with magic and warded with spells, but it is aging and the wards are fraying like a threadbare rug…magic is seeping out into the world allowing for white walkers to be created, the dead to rise as wights, and for dragon eggs to hatch. The more magic that escapes, the weaker the Wall becomes. It’s already disintegrating and blowing away in the form of a blizzard at the Wall and through the underground tunnels and exiting out of Winterfell itself.

Mirri’s prophecy is coming true and Dany’s womb is getting ready. A lot of readers speculate that she was already pregnant and the blood in this last chapter means she’s having a miscarriage, but I disagree. I think her womb is no longer barren and her cycle has returned to normal.

Here's the thing about prophesy: you can't trust it. We see this over and over in the series. glimpses here and there. Here's my take on this:

 

When the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East - I think this has happened, and Quaithe was the clue. "The Sun's Son" refers to Quentyn, who began life in the West, traveled East, and perished. I think that Mirri saw the future, and told Dany what she saw. IDK, I never understood why Mirri spoke like that when she could have said something simpler. 

Lastly, we share the same view as how magic works, but I am wondering if someone might have been controlling Mirri? She doesn't strike me as someone that could see the future and the ritual she performed doesn't look like it would work. 

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5 hours ago, SirArthur said:

Ok, here is the thing. How accurate is the World of Ice and Fire when it says the Neck and the last Marsh King was conquered by a Stark ? Because if the Crannogman are with the Children, then the pact has been broken a long time ago.

Well, the Pact wasn't (at least in the myth) made between the First Men and the crannogmen, so whatever happened between the First Men and the crannogmen doesn't seem to involve the Pact.

It's true the Marsh King was conquered by a Stark, though:

Quote

His son was Rickard Stark, not my father's father but another Rickard, he took the Neck away from the Marsh King and married his daughter.

But this would be quite recent compared to the Long Night or the Pact.

5 hours ago, SirArthur said:

The same goes for Moat Cailin. The children invoke the ritual, it fails and then we have a pact. And later the men own Moat Cailin now all of a sudden ? I would have assumed they conquered it, but when ? Was the hammer before or after the pact ?

It depends on when the Pact was made, and when Moat Cailin was built.  We don't know either date for sure, or even that there was a Pact.  While Moat Cailin is clearly real, the Pact is only a tale.

4 hours ago, Janneyc1 said:

So I think there were two Hammers. One was to stop the FM from crossing the land bridge connecting Essos and Westeros. The other was to separate the Lands in the North from the rest of Westeros.

I think so too.  However, I think the Pact, if there was one, followed the (failed) second Hammer, which failed in that it did not split Westeros in two at the Neck. 

I think it was at this point that the CotF realized there was no keeping the First Men out of their lives. Some sort of compromise was necessary instead.  The story tells us what it was.

This is the sort of thing Bran can research at will, of course.  Or GRRM could, you know, finish the series and then, with nothing to hide, write a true account of the history of Westeros, which I think we would all love to read.

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12 hours ago, Janneyc1 said:

I think the second was conjured from the Iron Islands. 

I assume the idea is based around the Seastone Chair. 

7 hours ago, JNR said:

Well, the Pact wasn't (at least in the myth) made between the First Men and the crannogmen, so whatever happened between the First Men and the crannogmen doesn't seem to involve the Pact.

Yeah. But we also have the Starks conquering Sea Dragon Point from the Warg King and all the connections to the Iron Islands. After the Long Night and the pact they definitly seem to go after all the allies of the children. 

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Posted (edited)

At the current point in our story, any of the main characters who have been granted magical abilities are lacking in character development so far as these abilities are concerned. Arya & Bran are progressing, but still have a long way to go; & the cultivation of Jon Snow's magical talents has not yet really begun - though he may experience a catalyst, where is forced to learn his magical skills at a highly accelerated pace.

However, there are several supporting characters with magical abilities that are already fully developed.

I find Jojen Reed to be the most intriguing, and possibly the most under-appreciated of these characters. Right now, Jojen is one of the more powerful characters in the storyIn my opinion - being prescient is pretty handy...

Jojen Reed has the gift of Green Dreams - he can see the future. Personally, I am of the opinion that his visions are far more precise & require far less 'guess work' than any of Mel's visions.

--

When asked if Howland Reed would ever be a POV character, GRRM replied by saying: "Nope, Howland Reed knows too much to be a POV character" (paraphrased). Most readers assume that GRRM was referencing Howland's first hand account of the events @ the Tower for Joy & Harrenhal. However, I am of the opinion that Howland 'knows too much' of the FUTURE events of our story; as Jojen has obviously shared all of his green dreams with his father.

I also subscribe to the theory that the High Sparrow = Howland Reed (hopefully that theory has not been disproven. I believe that Howland's knowledge of future events is what has motivated him to become the High Sparrow, and put himself into a position of power so that he will be able to support Azor Ahi upon his return.

I think that we will learn that Azor Ahi & Howland Reed were once very close to one another...

--

Back to Jojen Reed... I believe that Jojen's words deserve close scrutiny... Especially the small, offhand comments that he makes that seem to go nowhere - I think that such comments will eventually turn out to be moments of MAJOR FORESHADOWING...

Too bad that Jon Snow is going to eat Jojen Reed alive in the first half of "A Dream of Spring" - assuming that "A Dream of Spring" is ever published..

Edited by Mullocose
grammar

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3 hours ago, SirArthur said:

I assume the idea is based around the Seastone Chair. 

Actually not. the other popular theory is Moat Cailin, but I find it odd that they would call down a tsunami from the place where they happen to be. 

Basically, I think that they needed to have a body of water between them and their target. The Islands and the sisters make for good places then. Add in the Drowning mythology that the Ironborn have and you get some tinfoil as to where the second Hammer was called from. 

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