Jump to content
Black Crow

Heresy 220 and the nature of magic

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Another thought about magic in ASOIAF:

At this point in the series, most of the information that the reader has about Azor Ahi has been supplied by Salladhor Saan...

So, several books after Salladhor Saan's description of Azor Ahi, Saan is complaining about Stannis's lack of payment & saids something along the lines of this: "When will I get paid? When the seasons turn? When the Red Comet Returns?" (this is probably not even close to the real quote).

--

Hmmm... Given that Salladhor Saan is currently one of the foremost authorities on Azor Ahi in Westeros (so far as the reader is concerned), I take this seemingly off-hand comment to be foreshadowing that we will see a return of the Red Comet in future installments...

& the last time we saw the red comet, the level of magic seemed to elevate on Planetos...

*Assuming that GRRM has plans to move forward & finish the series...

 

Edited by Mullocose
grammar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, SirArthur said:

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

That stuff isn't in canon, but even if it were, the mythical Pact was not made between different groups of human beings.  We're not told that it says the First Men will never attack any allies of the CotF, such as other First Men.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I suspect First Men aren’t a single race or from a single place like the Andals, but rather received their moniker from their designation as being amongst the first migrants to Westeros, and could easily include the people that became referred to as “crannog”. 

I see these early immigrants as akin to the various real world examples of various peoples that immigrated to America during the 1800’s which was heavily German, Norwegian, Swedish, Irish, Scottish, and Finlander, but certainly not exclusive. 

There most definitely was a split between loyalties with regards to the First Men: those that allied themselves with the Children, and those that did not. The Ironborn, for example, are considered First Men, but proved to be against the Children. And I believe the wildlings are another splinter group of First Men who may not be against the Children, but they’re certainly separate from the northern clans.

Edited by Feather Crystal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I suspect First Men aren’t a single race or from a single place like the Andals, but rather received their moniker from their designation as being amongst the first migrants to Westeros, and could easily include the people that became referred to as “crannog”. 

The crannogmen don't seem to see it that way, though.

On 4/2/2019 at 11:06 AM, JNR said:

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.

If the crannogmen saw themselves as part of the First Men, Jojen's remark above would be something more like:

Quote

As First Men, we remember befriending the children of the forest

Which is the kind of thing people like the Starks do say:

Quote

The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

So I think there's quite a difference there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, JNR said:

The crannogmen don't seem to see it that way, though.

If the crannogmen saw themselves as part of the First Men, Jojen's remark above would be something more like:

Which is the kind of thing people like the Starks do say:

So I think there's quite a difference there.

I can see how it could be interpreted this way, but if the crannog people weren't early migrators, then are we to presume they've always been there? Or at the very least, been there thousands of years earlier than even the first man, which is how I interpret First Men - they were the first human men to migrate, which would make the crannog a different species than human. It's possible that they are akin to Native Americans, but even they were early migrators to North America, so definitely not the first humans to arrive.

Edited by Feather Crystal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

I suspect First Men aren’t a single race or from a single place like the Andals, but rather received their moniker from their designation as being amongst the first migrants to Westeros, and could easily include the people that became referred to as “crannog”. 

I would agree, I think that the phrase "First Men," is inexact, and that in reality the humans that crossed the Arm of Dorne came from a variety of places, and only became somewhat homogeneous in the years after the Pact, where men adopted the Old Gods--and even then, we have outliers, like the Ironborn.

In addition to the somewhat unclear comment from Jojen, there's also the Magnar of Thenn, who claims to be "the last of the First Men," architectural oddities like Moat Cailin, the (supposed) black stone foundation of the Hightower, that seem far more advanced than the ringforts of the First Men, and competing myths of the first leader to bring men across the Arm: Garth Greenhand and the First King. The former is heavily steeped in a mythology that most intuitively links with the Old Gods, while the latter is less fleshed out, save that his barrow is north of the Neck, which is potentially suggestive in terms of the rate at which he encroached upon Westeros.

The WB is not an ideal source, but nonetheless, there's a passage I've given some thought to:

Quote

It was here that the First Men came into Dorne via the Broken Arm, which was not yet broken. Why these people left their homelands is lost to all knowing, but when they came, they came in force. Thousands entered and began to settle the lands, and as the decades passed, they pushed farther and farther north. Such tales as we have of those migratory days are not to be trusted, for they suggest that, within a few short years, the First Men had moved beyond the Neck and into the North. Yet, in truth, it would have taken decades, even centuries, for this to occur.


I'm making a big speculative leap, but what I think happened is that there was a period of hundreds, perhaps thousands of years where human pioneers and settlers came to Westeros in dribs and drabs across the Arm, some coming into conflict with the native giants and CotF, others - eg, the Crannogmen - forming alliances, but humanity as a whole was not operating as a monolithic culture, and such battle as occurred with the CotF was intermittent.

Among these various groups settling Westeros, one group was the First Men (under the First King), and it was, IMO, this group that was the most united and the most aggressive--they brought bronze and fire, and for some reason or another they weren't just attempting a slow, piecemeal land grab, but were at all-out war with the CotF and the weirwood.

Furthermore, I view the Hammers as two distinct events, and that the context wasn't that they were aimed at stopping settlers who had been crossing for thousands of years (if men have already been in Westeros for hundreds/thousands of years, such an act would be futile); instead, I believe they were acts of extreme desperation that weren't aimed at humanity as a whole, but specifically at the First Men, attempting first to stop them at the Arm (and failing), and then attempting to stop them again at the Neck.

Edited by Matthew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Furthermore, I view the Hammers as two distinct events, and that the context wasn't that they were aimed at stopping settlers who had been crossing for thousands of years (if men have already been in Westeros for hundreds/thousands of years, such an act would be futile); instead, I believe they were acts of extreme desperation that weren't aimed at humanity as a whole, but specifically at the First Men, attempting first to stop them at the Arm (and failing), and then attempting to stop them again at the Neck.

I agree on the second Hammer, but I think the first one had a slightly different purpose. I think that the first Hammer was to cut off the FM retreat. If they can bring supplies and weapons across that bridge, then they can retreat back across it if the CotF start to win. Cutting that off ensure no reinforcements come and that no more new supplies come. At least, that might have been the goal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

There is no dispute that there were two magical natural disasters. The first broke the Arm of Dorne, and the second, the Neck, however the Hammer of Waters if specifically associated with the Neck along with the Children's Tower at Moat Cailin. Whatever happened to the Arm of Dorne is described as water rising and washing it away.

Arm of Dorne:

Quote

The old songs say that the greenseers used dark magics to make the seas rise and sweep away the land, shattering the Arm, but it was too late to close the door. 

Quote

The children fought back as best they could, but the First Men were larger and stronger. Riding their horses, clad and armed in bronze, the First Men overwhelmed the elder race wherever they met, for the weapons of the children were made of bone and wood and dragonglass. Finally, driven by desperation, the little people turned to sorcery and beseeched their greenseers to stem the tide of these invaders.

And so they did, gathering in their hundreds (some say on the Isle of Faces), and calling on their old gods with song and prayer and grisly sacrifice (a thousand captive men were fed to the weirwood, one version of the tale goes, whilst another claims the children used the blood of their own young). And the old gods stirred, and giants awoke in the earth, and all of Westeros shook and trembled. Great cracks appeared in the earth, and hills and mountains collapsed and were swallowed up. And then the seas came rushing in, and the Arm of Dorne was broken and shattered by the force of the water, until only a few bare rocky islands remained above the waves. The Summer Sea joined the narrow sea, and the bridge between Essos and Westeros vanished for all time.

Or so the legend says.

Most scholars do agree that Essos and Westeros were once joined; a thousand tales and runic records tell of the crossing of the First Men. Today the seas divide them, so plainly some version of the event the Dornish call the Breaking must have occurred. Did it happen in the space of a single day, however, as the songs would have it? Was it the work of the children of the forest and the sorcery of their greenseers? These things are less certain. Archmaester Cassander suggests elsewise in his Song of the Sea: How the Lands Were Severed, arguing that it was not the singing of greenseers that parted Westeros from Essos but rather what he calls the Song of the Sea—a slow rising of the waters that took place over centuries, not in a single day, and was caused by a series of long, hot summers and short, warm winters that melted the ice in the frozen lands beyond the Shivering Sea, causing the oceans to rise.

Many maesters find Cassander's arguments plausible and have come to accept his views. But whether the Breaking took place in a single night, or over the course of centuries, there can be no doubt that it occurred; the Stepstones and the Broken Arm of Dorne give mute but eloquent testimony to its effects. There is also much to suggest that the Sea of Dorne was once an inland freshwater sea, fed by mountain streams and much smaller than it is today, until the narrow sea burst its bounds and drowned the salt marshes that lay between.

 

Now contrast that with the Hammer of Waters:

Quote

Just beyond, through the mists, she glimpsed the walls and towers of Moat Cailin … or what remained of them. Immense blocks of black basalt, each as large as a crofter's cottage, lay scattered and tumbled like a child's wooden blocks, half-sunk in the soft boggy soil. Nothing else remained of a curtain wall that had once stood as high as Winterfell's. The wooden keep was gone entirely, rotted away a thousand years past, with not so much as a timber to mark where it had stood. All that was left of the great stronghold of the First Men were three towers … three where there had once been twenty, if the taletellers could be believed.

The Gatehouse Tower looked sound enough, and even boasted a few feet of standing wall to either side of it. The Drunkard's Tower, off in the bog where the south and west walls had once met, leaned like a man about to spew a bellyful of wine into the gutter. And the tall, slender Children's Tower, where legend said the children of the forest had once called upon their nameless gods to send the hammer of the waters, had lost half its crown. It looked as if some great beast had taken a bite out of the crenellations along the tower top, and spit the rubble across the bog. All three towers were green with moss. A tree was growing out between the stones on the north side of the Gatehouse Tower, its gnarled limbs festooned with ropy white blankets of ghostskin.

Quote

Theon was about to tell him what he ought to do with his wet nurse's fable when Maester Luwin spoke up. "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. It may be that they have secret knowledge."

Quote

He was being watched. He could feel the eyes. When he looked up, he caught a glimpse of pale faces peering from behind the battlements of the Gatehouse Tower and through the broken masonry that crowned the Children's Tower, where legend said the children of the forest had once called down the hammer of the waters to break the lands of Westeros in two.

 

Now granted, there is this line in the World Book:

Quote

Even if we accept that the old gods broke the Arm of Dorne with the Hammer of the Waters, as the legends claim, the greenseers sang their song too late.

The text samples that I have provided are from both ASOIAF and the World Book, but the World Book is the only book that connects the Hammer of the Waters with the Arm of Dorne, while ASOIAF does not. IMO the Arm of Dorne was broken apart by an earthquake caused by teutonic plate shifting, while the Neck suffered some type of impact - perhaps a large meteor.

Edited by Feather Crystal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Janneyc1 said:

I agree on the second Hammer, but I think the first one had a slightly different purpose. I think that the first Hammer was to cut off the FM retreat. If they can bring supplies and weapons across that bridge, then they can retreat back across it if the CotF start to win. Cutting that off ensure no reinforcements come and that no more new supplies come. At least, that might have been the goal. 

I think that would work just as well, because it ultimately falls under the same broader context--one in which men have arrived in large numbers, and are moving and slaughtering rapidly, and must be halted by any means necessary.

The Dawn Age, as presented by Luwin and the Citadel, suggests an incremental loss of land spread over a long period. Under this scenario, the CotF's motives for the Hammer are to slow the growth of civilization, and they are dealing with a decline that is on a time table of centuries and millennia.

The alternative version I propose (and that your observation would align with) is one in which the CotF's motives for the Hammer are to stop an advancing army, and that they were dealing with a decline that was happening on a time table of months and years--more dire and desperate.

Of course, all of that could just be worldbuilding minutiae, but two potentially relevant points would be:

- The possibility raised by certain myths that the First Men had advanced north of the Neck within a relatively short period of time, which may imply that the second Hammer/flooding of the Neck failed

- And, following on the above, the circumstances that ultimately lead to the Pact.

Under the Citadel scenario, the wise of both races are wearied after centuries of conflict; on a shorter time table, the context is that the FM and CotF are engaged in a war, and the CotF are losing badly, having (presumably) paid a terrible price for the Hammers, only to still fail to stop the FM's advance at the Neck. 

It may still be the case that it was attrition and war weariness that brought the FM to the negotiating table for the Pact after the flooding of the Neck, but two alternatives I would propose would be that they were either tempted into the Pact by the promise of acquiring the magic of the Old Gods, or that the CotF played some final trump card that ultimately turned the tide enough that the FM had no choice but to relent.

The latter would be the most noteworthy in plot terms, as the broken seasons, the Green Men, and the Others remain as lingering mysteries, and any desperate magical gambit on the CotF's part could relate to one (or all) of those unresolved mysteries.
 

3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The first broke the Arm of Dorne, and the second, the Neck, however the Hammer of Waters if specifically associated with the Neck along with the Children's Tower at Moat Cailin. Whatever happened to the Arm of Dorne is described as water rising and washing it away.

In both instances I'm just reading "Hammer of the Waters" as a fantastical way of describing tidal waves unleashed by seismic activity, that seismic activity, in turn, being caused by the song of earth--the same root magic. I don't dismiss the potential for meteor strikes and impact winters, but I'm more inclined to see earthquakes, tidal waves, and volcanic winters as more straightforwardly falling under the purview of CotF magic.

Edited by Matthew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

In both instances I'm just reading "Hammer of the Waters" as a fantastical way of describing tidal waves unleashed by seismic activity, that seismic activity, in turn, being caused by the song of earth--the same root magic. I don't dismiss the potential for meteor strikes and impact winters, but I'm more inclined to see earthquakes, tidal waves, and volcanic winters as more straightforwardly falling under the purview of CotF magic.

Whenever the hammer of waters is mentioned it is in conjunction with the Children's Tower at Moat Cailin, where it's said the Children "called down" their hammer of waters. A tidal wave could arguably fall upon the land like a hammer, but I think it more rightly implies an impact that came from above and fell from the sky. This idea seems to be supported by the existence of Dawn - a sword with magical powers which was forged from a meteorite referred to as "palestone" as in the Palestone Tower.

Edited by Feather Crystal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/3/2019 at 12:10 PM, Feather Crystal said:

I can see how it could be interpreted this way, but if the crannog people weren't early migrators, then are we to presume they've always been there? Or at the very least, been there thousands of years earlier than even the first man, which is how I interpret First Men - they were the first human men to migrate, which would make the crannog a different species than human.

Well, of course they're human.  I'm just saying Jojen makes it rather clear they don't see themselves as First Men.  They "remember" the First Men and  "their" friends, but they do not consider themselves as descendants the way the Starks do, the Thenns do, etc.

The myths say the First Men really were the first wave of humans to settle Westeros... but is that really true? 

The myths also say that the crannogmen were "growing close" to the CotF at the exact same time the CotF were launching the Hammer against the First Men.  This makes no sense unless you imagine the crannogmen simply weren't First Men.  They were an earlier group that actually got along with the CotF, and they probably were never nearly as numerous as the First Men either.

If you want my guess there were other small groups of people that beat the First Men as well.  I can think of two offhand.

Now, we know GRRM is heavily informed by our world's history, and history has played out that same way in our world too. 

We're learning that sort of situation is true, for instance, in North America.  For a long time scholars were sure North America was settled no earlier than about 13K years ago, by people coming across the frozen Bering Strait.  Quite similar to the story of the First Men.

But now scholars aren't nearly so sure, because multiple sites have been found, nowhere close to the Bering Strait, that date back thousands of years earlier than 13K years ago, like Cactus Hill on the east coast.  It appears human beings had already come to the Americas several different ways, such as up and down the coasts in small boats, long long before 13K years back... but there was never a major wave of migration until then. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've said before that I doubt the First Men were literally the first men in Westeros. 

What if the original inhabitants became The Others?  It makes sense for the name, i.e. we are the First Men,  they are The Children of The Forest, and then we have others...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

What if the original inhabitants became The Others? 

I don't know. The issue for me is more that the area north of the Wall is connected with the First men. Including the Thenn. Then we have the not so First men close to the Children including the Crannogmen and the Seadragon Pointers south of the Wall.

the real question is: are the Ironborn First men or not ? 

It would make sense that the First men settled everywhere except the north between Wall and Swamp. And the last Hero literally traveled into the center of the Children land somewhere around Winterfell where he met the Others. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our view of the First men may be a little simplistic in that historically "invaders" tend to be relatively small in number and set up for aristos rather than displacing the original base population entirely - and as far as the book is concerned we certainly see that in the Andals and arguably the Valyrians. Enough of their own people to secure their conquest and help run the place, but fundamentally the base population are the same.

If the First Men followed that pattern then  they could have been taking over a very diverse base population including crannogmen and all those different races and groups of strange folk now found beyond the Wall precisely because they refused to kneel to the First Men and whose relationships with the Singers were much more complex than the surviving stories centered around the First Men.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

if the First Men followed that pattern then  they could have been taking over a very diverse base population including crannogmen

Broadly agreed. I just don't think there was a very widespread human presence in Westeros before the First Men because there's little/no suggesting evidence that, such as ruins.

The primary exception in canon would certainly be this:

Quote

Lord Balon occupied the Seastone Chair, carved in the shape of a great kraken from an immense block of oily black stone. Legend said that the First Men had found it standing on the shore of Old Wyk when they came to the Iron Islands.

Now, I wasted plenty of time pondering how a chair came to be sitting there. 

I say "wasted" because I'm pretty sure the "it" in the boldfaced sentence is not the chair, but the block of black stone.

That is, human beings existed in Westeros before the First Men, and they left, here and there, colossal blocks of black stone.  Well, that is certainly an interesting idea and helps explain (for instance) Moat Cailin, the curtain wall of which was made from the same sort of blocks.

However, since there are no legends about the First Men meeting the creators of these blocks, I am not at all sure they were still there at that time.  I think they came... left some evidence they had been there, such as the above... but eventually left or died out.  And the First Men came later.

This, in turn, would imply a civilization capable of traveling to Westeros before the First Men did, and that built in huge blocks of black stone.

Edited by JNR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also note that the World book also got this wrong:

Quote

Among the ironborn, it is said that the first of the First Men to come to the Iron Isles found the famous Seastone Chair on Old Wyk, but that the isles were uninhabited. If true, the nature and origins of the chair's makers are a mystery.

A common idea.  But that's not quite what the canon says.  :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon Snow

Daenerys Targaryen

Berric Dondarrion

Melisandre

Lady Stoneheart (books only)

Night King (tv only)

Drogon

Viserion

Rhaegal

White Walkers

Children of the Forrest

Ghost

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, SirArthur said:

I don't know. The issue for me is more that the area north of the Wall is connected with the First men. Including the Thenn. Then we have the not so First men close to the Children including the Crannogmen and the Seadragon Pointers south of the Wall.

the real question is: are the Ironborn First men or not ? 

It would make sense that the First men settled everywhere except the north between Wall and Swamp. And the last Hero literally traveled into the center of the Children land somewhere around Winterfell where he met the Others. 

The Andals really never made it past the neck, so everyone North of the neck is First Men, especially North of the Wall.   North of the Wall is sparsely populated, so there are many more First Men descendants South of the Wall. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But are the Crannogmen First Men? Are the Hornfoots First Men? And what about the Cannibal Clans of the White River? Are the Mountain Clans First Men driven into the Mountains of the Moon by the Andals, or are they older? And then what of the other clans north of the Wall?

In short are the First Men a distinct race at all, or a lazy/convenient catch-all for all the human and near-human peoples who lived in Westeros before the Andals and their historians tooled up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

In short are the First Men a distinct race at all, or a lazy/convenient catch-all for all the human and near-human peoples who lived in Westeros before the Andals and their historians tooled up?

I think they were a distinct wave of migration.  They had a distinct culture, that did really bring horses and bronze to Westeros.  And they also did at some point fight the CotF in an extended way, and they did cut down/burn weirwoods (just as the Andals did later -- another distinct wave of migration with its own culture).

Otherwise, it's very hard to imagine such completely separate groups as the Starks and the Thenns, totally isolated from each other for thousands of years, remembering and honoring the First Men as they do. 

It's not like the Starks and Thenns have been communicating for thousands of years to keep their stories straight.  They independently have the same story.  That means, almost certainly, that their shared story is based on truth.

But that doesn't mean the First Men really were first; it only means, probably, that they are the first wave to be remembered clearly, and probably the first group of really significant numbers.

Very similarly in North America, we had for hundreds of years the myth that Europeans first came to North America following Columbus.  But we now know that in fact, Vikings came to North America a thousand years ago, in what is now Canada, and lived there for a few decades... then died out or left, contributing virtually nothing permanent to the continent, and they were completely forgotten and lost to history until about fifty years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×