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Black Crow

Heresy 221 and the Children of Winterfell

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Welcome to Heresy 221, the latest iteration of the long running discussion of the magic which drives the Song of Ice and Fire, and concentrating on the Ice, the Starks and the magic Otherlands beyond the Wall.

 

We’re not supposed to discuss the Mummer’s version on this forum and I don’t intend that we should per se, but after parting company with GRRM’s text, the story it tells has been replaced by a rag-bag compendium of fan-fiction and paradoxically, the mummer’s realisation, in all its awfulness, has performed a useful function in exposing the hollowness of some of these theories far more graphically than any internet forum.

Lets start with the Iron Throne of Westeros and its supposed hidden claimants. I say supposed because there’s never a hint of one or more secret heirs in GRRM’s original synopsis. As it turns out there are some possible heirs, not least young Gendry of the Iron Fist and the obvious Perkin in Young Griff/Aegon, but it’s certainly not a central theme of his synopsis, far less a central mystery to the story. Obviously, reservations abound as to how far we can trust something written as an outline, and perhaps a quite hasty outline at that, away back in 1993. The great man has surely changed things since then; modified some ideas, discarded some plot lines and shuffled characters and their roles around and of course introduced new ones. Incomplete as it is, the book we read differs quite markedly from those early thoughts, but surely as the story develops we can expect to see something better that that first draft, rather than the reversion to the cheap and all too obvious tropes of the Mummers’ version – especially when the true text comes from an author who prides himself on giving us the unexpected.

So how unexpected is Jon Snow? Really really? Yes, there are clues from the very beginning that all is not as it seems about that boy, but how significant is that to the outcome. The “central mystery” simply doesn’t exist in the Mummers’ version. There is no discussion of it – and precious little for that matter in their text. As I understand it, the “revelation” as portrayed by the Mummers has been very low key and far from a “Return of the King” moment. Other than providing him with an excuse to ride a dragon, revealing him as a lost Targaryen seems to have no real significance to the story being told and has every appearance of merely being slipped in as a shout-out to the faithful. There may yet be some fallout still to come in the final episodes, but already there’s a bit of bewilderment about the lack of Azor Ahai/Prince that was Promised/Last Hero stuff.

Let’s turn back to the 1993 synopsis. Westeros, we’re told, faces three dire threats; first a blood feud between the Starks and the Lannisters which goes very badly for House Stark and leaves a weakened realm vulnerable to the second threat in the form of Danaerys the Dragonlord and her Dothraki Donkey-wallopers. After an unseemly bout of invasion, death and destruction the lady is sitting on what is once again the Targaryen throne and facing the third great threat, this time in the form of the blue-eyed horror from the North. To defeat it and save Westeros she must unite old enemies behind her banners, the Starks and the Lannisters must work together and perilous journeys [by individuals] must be made into the Heart of Ice and the Heart of Fire in order to resolve this Song of Ice and Fire business.

As I said in an earlier post it’s a bit cheesy, but at the same time I’ll agree with JNR in that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in High Fantasy. It does however rather depend on whether it’s cheap processed cheese picked up from a bargain bin in a convenience store, or a magnificent crumbly mature Stilton. GRRM I rather feel at least aspires to the Stilton.

And that brings us back to Jon Snow, or rather what is he there for.

If we positively need a Targaryen back on the Iron Throne we already have plucky little Danaerys Targaryen of this parish. If fire-breathing dragons are needed to melt the icy hordes, then look no further. So why do we need Jon Snow to be the long-lost son of Rhaegar Targaryen? What can he do that she can’t? Even the Mummer’s version has trouble with this one. GRRM’s briefing of the Mummers may have been maddeningly incomplete, but even they cannot have missed out on the transformation of Jon Snow into the fondly hoped for Azor Ahai, the Prince that was Promised, the Last Hero or whatever else the chosen one might be styled. In short according to the Mummers that’s seemingly not his role after all.

He may well have Targaryen blood in him, but surely, and especially with Danaerys the Dragonlord, floating around, its looking increasingly more important that his mother is indeed Lyanna Stark. This point is indeed underlined by Maester Aemon. If, as many of the R+L=J crowd fondly imagine, he knows that Jon is the son of Rhaegar, why does he proclaim Jon to be a Son of Winterfell and declares that it therefore “must be you or no-one” who must command the Wall, while identifying Danaerys the Dragonlord as the Prince that was Promised/Azor Ahai? There is something special about Jon, but it’s the Stark Ice not the Targaryen Fire.

And then there’s his apparent resurrection. So far as I can tell the Mummers have called in Our Mel and portrayed it as a “with one bound Jack was free” moment. Its been a guilt-free experience and life appears to be going on as normal. In fairness there are still a couple of episodes to go and he may yet start crumbling at the edges but thus far it seems that’s it, all done and dusted. Yet GRRM [and folklore generally] has always emphasised that there are consequences from magic. There is always a price to be paid and all too often an unexpectedly high price. People do come back from the dead, and often distressingly frequently, but always they are damaged by the experience and increasingly so as time goes on.

So we come back to GRRM’s Jon, last seen bleeding out in the snow at Castle Black. Is he dead? Apparently so. Yet GRRM has teased otherwise from the infamous “you think he’s dead do you?” though a succession of other hints indicating that his character-arc has a ways to go. But if he does, GRRM has also predicted he will be a darker character. Reverting very quickly to the synopsis one thing which does come over so very clearly is that although there is a wider [and seemingly ever wider] cast of characters this story primarily revolves around the Starks. Its reasonable therefore to look for Jon’s destiny as a Son of Winterfell, and there as I’ve laid out in an earlier post, I think that is going to turn out to lie in the darker side of the Starks. If Jon, having been fatally stabbed, is to seek refuge in Ghost then according to the Varamyr prologue, he’ll be trapped there until Ghost in turn pops his clogs and they both go together to the big puppy farm in the sky. If Jon is to escape and continue as an active character then there has to be a get-out clause unknown to Varamyr, and this, I again suggest may lie in the Starks being exceptionally powerful skinchangers, who are able to ride the cold winds as Varamyr briefly did, but without being inexorably drawn into a former host. Whether this will lead to Jon forming a new body of ice and Snow [?], inhabiting his original like Coldhands or even another human one obviously remains to be seen but this possible explanation of the origin of the blue-eyed lot is one that answers a lot of questions and offers a solution to another massive plot hole in the Mummers’ version.

In short the Mummers threaten Westeros with invasion by a mysterious race of Ice warriors [who paradoxically don’t appear to be unusually cold] whose identity and purpose are obscure. We have a scene where one of Craster’s sons is transformed in a semi-canonical realisation of what we’re told in the text and there is another scene, non-canonical but consistent with one of GRRM’s gnomic remarks which points to a connection with the Three-Fingered Tree-Huggers. There is also a leader, whose existence is denied by GRRM, and an astonishing series of events featuring a breach in the Wall and culminating in a yet more unlikely bit of single-combat which results in the total evaporation of the blue-eyed horde and the end of that aspect of the story!

In contrast to this truly empty story which really only exposes how little the Mummers’ really know, a Stark connection to the blue-eyed lot will go a very long way to answering the questions about Winterfell, the Starks, the swords in the tombs and what lies in the lower levels of the crypts, why was the Wall raised in such a form and why is it so important that the Starks should be so closely associated with it.

I don’t pretend to be able to answer all of the questions and don’t pretend that some of the answers I’m offering are the only viable ones, but they are legitimate questions and far more central to GRRM’s story than the “central mystery” of Jon Snow’s parentage. In other words what’s really central to the story is the Song of Ice and Fire and the magic, rather than the Game of Thrones.

So sit back, enjoy the ride and remember the local house rules in my signature block

 

 

 

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Picked a good time to come back to the discussion. Anyways, my biggest point about Jon coming back from the dead is that I expect him to be much colder, much more like the Starks of old. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Lets start with the Iron Throne of Westeros and its supposed hidden claimants. I say supposed because there’s never a hint of one or more secret heirs in GRRM’s original synopsis. As it turns out there are some possible heirs, not least young Gendry of the Iron Fist and the obvious Perkin in Young Griff/Aegon, but it’s certainly not a central theme of his synopsis, far less a central mystery to the story. Obviously, reservations abound as to how far we can trust something written as an outline, and perhaps a quite hasty outline at that, away back in 1993. The great man has surely changed things since then; modified some ideas, discarded some plot lines and shuffled characters and their roles around and of course introduced new ones. Incomplete as it is, the book we read differs quite markedly from those early thoughts, but surely as the story develops we can expect to see something better that that first draft, rather than the reversion to the cheap and all too obvious tropes of the Mummers’ version – especially when the true text comes from an author who prides himself on giving us the unexpected.

If humans are to survive in Westeros I suppose they will still want to declare a king or queen. If neither Dany nor Jon survive, I could see Tyrion before Gendry. Gendry would have no idea how to lord over Storm's End much less an entire realm. IMO the Iron Throne will cease to exist and be replaced by a Queen in the North. I'm not a big fan of Sansa, but I just have this feeling that there's something in House Stark's history that is related to the Wall and to the imbalance of seasons. We've often discussed a possible overthrow somewhere in history...a brother overthrowing and killing a brother, but what if it was actually a sister? Recall that GRRM had once described a novella called the Wolves of Winter where there was an ailing Lord Stark with no male heir, but a couple of daughters. What if one of the daughters proclaimed herself Queen in the North, but was taken down by a bastard brother? This ancient bastard may have eliminated ice magic too and warded it into the Wall. Of course this is all speculation on my part, but I just have the sense that in the end it will be a Queen in the North that rules.

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

So how unexpected is Jon Snow? Really really? Yes, there are clues from the very beginning that all is not as it seems about that boy, but how significant is that to the outcome. The “central mystery” simply doesn’t exist in the Mummers’ version. There is no discussion of it – and precious little for that matter in their text. As I understand it, the “revelation” as portrayed by the Mummers has been very low key and far from a “Return of the King” moment. Other than providing him with an excuse to ride a dragon, revealing him as a lost Targaryen seems to have no real significance to the story being told and has every appearance of merely being slipped in as a shout-out to the faithful. There may yet be some fallout still to come in the final episodes, but already there’s a bit of bewilderment about the lack of Azor Ahai/Prince that was Promised/Last Hero stuff.

I really thought that the R+L=J fan base would be affected by watching their theory play out on the show and become disenchanted once they saw how boring and weird it would be. Like Varys said to Tyrion, "how many instances have the Starks married an aunt?" Elevating Jon over Dany could be viewed as sexist and I just don't think GRRM is telling a sexist story. He is (of course) demonstrating how it really was for women in medieval times - that their maidenheads were bought and sold like commodities and used to secure alliances. I think GRRM is stressing this fact, but then turn it on its head by revealing that it wasn't always this way - that women were once equals to men in Westeros, but that status was taken away, and it happened so long ago that nobody remembers it. 

The same is true in the real world. Archeologists and historians know that prior to 5000 years ago we didn't have the dominance system that perpetuates war. There are ancient cultures that existed with equality between men and women that have lasted over 30,000 years. Nobody knows exactly when or how this shift came about, but it seems to be tied to when men changed from hunters to farmers. 

The author is highlighting the game of thrones and the struggles to get and keep the Iron Throne, which actually could be seen as a metaphor for the struggle between real world countries and the positions of leadership. World peace is not possible as long as humans continue the pursuit to dominate each other.

GRRM has made a point to give us characters like Cersei and Arianne who are their father's eldest child. One was passed over as her father's heir, and the other was so worried about her line of succession that she nearly caused a war in order to secure it. I suspect that this capturing the magic moon maiden bit is tied to a suppression of women's rights. 

As for Azor Ahai - he's just the flip side of the coin to The Last Hero. GRRM has inserted two sides for every coin in this story. The reason why the Targaryens were so confused about the Prince that was Promised prophecy was because they were assuming it was a male, but as I've already said, GRRM is highlighting all the injustices done to women and then create this mythos that thousands of years ago it wasn't always this way. Women were once goddesses and suppressing their power has led to the imbalance. GRRM is going to make a woman the hero at the end of his story.

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Let’s turn back to the 1993 synopsis. Westeros, we’re told, faces three dire threats; first a blood feud between the Starks and the Lannisters which goes very badly for House Stark and leaves a weakened realm vulnerable to the second threat in the form of Danaerys the Dragonlord and her Dothraki Donkey-wallopers. After an unseemly bout of invasion, death and destruction the lady is sitting on what is once again the Targaryen throne and facing the third great threat, this time in the form of the blue-eyed horror from the North. To defeat it and save Westeros she must unite old enemies behind her banners, the Starks and the Lannisters must work together and perilous journeys [by individuals] must be made into the Heart of Ice and the Heart of Fire in order to resolve this Song of Ice and Fire business.

I agree for the most part. Dany will take the Iron Throne before she deals with the growing threat coming from the north. But I still think the wildlings are the Others and that they created the white walkers in order to get beyond the Wall. Now that Jon and Stannis have allowed them through they are only going to increase their power by spreading winter as far south as they can, creating more white walkers and raising an even larger army of the dead in order to conquer Westeros. Jon's part is to replay the Night's King who in ancient history was taken down by the Lord of Winterfell. That part of the wheel of time needs to be reversed. Jon will become undead, and this time the Night's King will overthrow the Lord of Winterfell. The twist will be that the opening of the Winterfell crypts won't add the Kings of Winter to the white walker's horde. The old Kings of Winter will help Jon attack the white walkers, wights, and wildings from behind. Dany will be on the other end. They will be working towards the same goal: eliminating the Others once and for all. BUT surely an undead Jon cannot be allowed to continue to exist? 

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

If we positively need a Targaryen back on the Iron Throne we already have plucky little Danaerys Targaryen of this parish. If fire-breathing dragons are needed to melt the icy hordes, then look no further. So why do we need Jon Snow to be the long-lost son of Rhaegar Targaryen? What can he do that she can’t? Even the Mummer’s version has trouble with this one. GRRM’s briefing of the Mummers may have been maddeningly incomplete, but even they cannot have missed out on the transformation of Jon Snow into the fondly hoped for Azor Ahai, the Prince that was Promised, the Last Hero or whatever else the chosen one might be styled. In short according to the Mummers that’s seemingly not his role after all.

He may well have Targaryen blood in him, but surely, and especially with Danaerys the Dragonlord, floating around, its looking increasingly more important that his mother is indeed Lyanna Stark. This point is indeed underlined by Maester Aemon. If, as many of the R+L=J crowd fondly imagine, he knows that Jon is the son of Rhaegar, why does he proclaim Jon to be a Son of Winterfell and declares that it therefore “must be you or no-one” who must command the Wall, while identifying Danaerys the Dragonlord as the Prince that was Promised/Azor Ahai? There is something special about Jon, but it’s the Stark Ice not the Targaryen Fire.

Just as it's repetitive to have two Targaryens, it's still repetitive for Jon to be half and half. That is just one reason why I think he isn't half Targaryen at all. He's a Stark and I don't think Ned was lying when he said Ned was his blood - as in, his son. Ned was Jon's father and Ashara was his mother. Poor Lyanna was raped, but she died without issue. She was a pawn of Tywin Lannister to force a Rebellion and remove the Targaryen's from power. Dany and Jon will be fighting on the same side against the Others, and if Sansa doesn't become Queen in the North, then maybe Dany and Jon will mate and create a magical daughter like Elenei to rule as Queen of Westeros.

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

And then there’s his apparent resurrection. So far as I can tell the Mummers have called in Our Mel and portrayed it as a “with one bound Jack was free” moment. Its been a guilt-free experience and life appears to be going on as normal. In fairness there are still a couple of episodes to go and he may yet start crumbling at the edges but thus far it seems that’s it, all done and dusted. Yet GRRM [and folklore generally] has always emphasised that there are consequences from magic. There is always a price to be paid and all too often an unexpectedly high price. People do come back from the dead, and often distressingly frequently, but always they are damaged by the experience and increasingly so as time goes on.

So we come back to GRRM’s Jon, last seen bleeding out in the snow at Castle Black. Is he dead? Apparently so. Yet GRRM has teased otherwise from the infamous “you think he’s dead do you?” though a succession of other hints indicating that his character-arc has a ways to go. But if he does, GRRM has also predicted he will be a darker character. Reverting very quickly to the synopsis one thing which does come over so very clearly is that although there is a wider [and seemingly ever wider] cast of characters this story primarily revolves around the Starks. Its reasonable therefore to look for Jon’s destiny as a Son of Winterfell, and there as I’ve laid out in an earlier post, I think that is going to turn out to lie in the darker side of the Starks. If Jon, having been fatally stabbed, is to seek refuge in Ghost then according to the Varamyr prologue, he’ll be trapped there until Ghost in turn pops his clogs and they both go together to the big puppy farm in the sky. If Jon is to escape and continue as an active character then there has to be a get-out clause unknown to Varamyr, and this, I again suggest may lie in the Starks being exceptionally powerful skinchangers, who are able to ride the cold winds as Varamyr briefly did, but without being inexorably drawn into a former host. Whether this will lead to Jon forming a new body of ice and Snow [?], inhabiting his original like Coldhands or even another human one obviously remains to be seen but this possible explanation of the origin of the blue-eyed lot is one that answers a lot of questions and offers a solution to another massive plot hole in the Mummers’ version.

If Jon's body dies and his spirit goes into Ghost, then the get-out clause would need to involve magic unknown to Varamyr, and perhaps Val is the one to do it? Although I wouldn't rule out Melisandre, because I do believe Jon will turn out to be against the white walkers and wights, so a resurrection by fire may be necessary.

2 hours ago, Black Crow said:

In short the Mummers threaten Westeros with invasion by a mysterious race of Ice warriors [who paradoxically don’t appear to be unusually cold] whose identity and purpose are obscure. We have a scene where one of Craster’s sons is transformed in a semi-canonical realisation of what we’re told in the text and there is another scene, non-canonical but consistent with one of GRRM’s gnomic remarks which points to a connection with the Three-Fingered Tree-Huggers. There is also a leader, whose existence is denied by GRRM, and an astonishing series of events featuring a breach in the Wall and culminating in a yet more unlikely bit of single-combat which results in the total evaporation of the blue-eyed horde and the end of that aspect of the story!

In contrast to this truly empty story which really only exposes how little the Mummers’ really know, a Stark connection to the blue-eyed lot will go a very long way to answering the questions about Winterfell, the Starks, the swords in the tombs and what lies in the lower levels of the crypts, why was the Wall raised in such a form and why is it so important that the Starks should be so closely associated with it.

I think Craster was sacrificing his sons, because he believed he was cursed and his sacrifices were his way to get right with the gods. These poor infants simply died of exposure, and I think we'll learn that the Children were eating them, because they were already dead and viewed as a source of food.

I think the Starks displaced the previous tenants, and I think we'll learn their origins were actually much farther south and thus their willingness to give land to southern houses like the Manderlys. 

I see the Starks as a type of black knight guarding the north, and the Dayne's as the white knights guarding the south. The pairing of Ned with Ashara was actually the combination of the two shields that guarded the realms from magic.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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I'm not sure if want to discuss this one more time.

GRRM had enough time to finish the story or at least write another book. It's been a while since I have  read AFfC and ADwD, but if I recall correctly there isn't much about the CotF except for Bran in the cave which is not resolved.

What stands out as a huge difference between book and show to me is that the tv show has the CotF create the Night King, who does not exist (yet) in the books, while the books have Bran seeing a human sacrificed by humans.

This could lead to the humans (Starks?) creating the White Walkers in the books, which would make for a different story than the CotF creating them.

It could be an interesting discussion. But given how the tv show most likely will end, and accepting it is GRRM's ending in however broad strokes, a man has lost his marbles. When you write 'A Song of Ice and Fire', you finish or you lose.

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I've said it before, but while those for J=R+L and those against will passionately argue their views, no one has suggested a consequence of Jon's parentage.   It only gives him a claim to the throne if he can prove it, and even then, he is just one of many with a claim.  The mummers version makes a mess of this as well - it seemed so urgent for Bran to reveal this before the show down with the Night's King but then Jon was mostly irrelevant and the reveal only seems to be used to create tension between him and Dany.

If this is the central mystery of the book, it has to be meaningful.   Or perhaps GRRM simply liked writing history about 2 families and wanted to write about a character descended from both.   Jon is only a hidden Targ as it is the only way to write a Targ character without a plot involving a claim to the throne. 

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11 minutes ago, alienarea said:

I'm not sure if want to discuss this one more time.

GRRM had enough time to finish the story or at least write another book. It's been a while since I have  read AFfC and ADwD, but if I recall correctly there isn't much about the CotF except for Bran in the cave which is not resolved.

What stands out as a huge difference between book and show to me is that the tv show has the CotF create the Night King, who does not exist (yet) in the books, while the books have Bran seeing a human sacrificed by humans.

This could lead to the humans (Starks?) creating the White Walkers in the books, which would make for a different story than the CotF creating them.

It could be an interesting discussion. But given how the tv show most likely will end, and accepting it is GRRM's ending in however broad strokes, a man has lost his marbles. When you write 'A Song of Ice and Fire', you finish or you lose.

Well as I said at the beginning this is about what GRRM is writing, rather than the mess the Mummers have made of it. Given what we've seen since they ran out of text - I suspect that GRRM has told them very little beyond who lives and who dies at the end. Moreover, so many of the issues which I've highlighted in the OP have already been ignored by the Mummers that the related outcomes cannot happen in their world and therefore GRRM's world is going to be very very different

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I think the "frozen hell reserved for Starks" is a take on Dante's Inferno.  The icy hell where the worst sinners are sent.  The ninth circle, where a three-headed beast devours the betrayers:

- traitors to their kindred

- traitors to their country

- traitors to their guests

I expect we'll find out that somewhere in the Stark history; such sins were committed to condemn them to the frozen hell.

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2 minutes ago, Brad Stark said:

I've said it before, but while those for J=R+L and those against will passionately argue their views, no one has suggested a consequence of Jon's parentage.   It only gives him a claim to the throne if he can prove it, and even then, he is just one of many with a claim.  The mummers version makes a mess of this as well - it seemed so urgent for Bran to reveal this before the show down with the Night's King but then Jon was mostly irrelevant and the reveal only seems to be used to create tension between him and Dany.

If this is the central mystery of the book, it has to be meaningful.   Or perhaps GRRM simply liked writing history about 2 families and wanted to write about a character descended from both.   Jon is only a hidden Targ as it is the only way to write a Targ character without a plot involving a claim to the throne. 

Quite. I can recall media coverage of the Mummers' version way back where it had to be explained to non-reading viewers that there was a mystery about Jon Snow and a very popular theory about his parentage. This was explained simply because coverage of this was at the time non-existent in the show and even now the supposed consequences: rightful heir/Azor Ahai etc seem equally non-existent and the "revelation" so anti-climactic that it's obviously no more than a shout-out to the fans. If, on the other hand, Jon's parentage other than the Winterfell connection, has any real significance; Azor Ahai etc. then the Mummers are cutting it a bit fine, which in turn very strongly suggests that its not a strong feature of GRRM's ending

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3 minutes ago, LynnS said:

I think the "frozen hell reserved for Starks" is a take on Dante's Inferno.  The icy hell where the worst sinners are sent.  The ninth circle, where a three-headed beast devours the betrayers:

- traitors to their kindred

- traitors to their country

- traitors to their guests

I expect we'll find out that somewhere in the Stark history; such sins were committed to condemn them to the frozen hell.

In return for becoming Lords of Winterfell and Kings in the North

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

In return for becoming Lords of Winterfell and Kings in the North

Perhaps.  I'm not sure it's a trade-off more than it is a sentence handed down the generations for 'the sins of the father'.   "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" - why?  What exactly is the frozen hell?  I don't think it's Winterfell, possibly the crypts where souls of dead Starks are incarcerated.

Edited by LynnS

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28 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

 

 

Well as I said at the beginning this is about what GRRM is writing, rather than the mess the Mummers have made of it. Given what we've seen since they ran out of text - I suspect that GRRM has told them very little beyond who lives and who dies at the end. Moreover, so many of the issues which I've highlighted in the OP have already been ignored by the Mummers that the related outcomes cannot happen in their world and therefore GRRM's world is going to be very very different

GRRM is a bit like Hannibal now, isn't he? Still remembered as great, but ultimately defeated. He should have sacked Rome after ASoS, so to speak.

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I really want GRRM to go the Varamyr route for Jon's resurrection. First because it will cause a great commotion in the R+L camp. Second because it should allow a deeper exploration of the hiveminds that seem to exist in books (Varamyr&Co, the Undying and the Weirwoods)

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

It does however rather depend on whether it’s cheap processed cheese picked up from a bargain bin in a convenience store, or a magnificent crumbly mature Stilton. GRRM I rather feel at least aspires to the Stilton.

Yes indeed.

You might see GRRM as thinking "OK, I have to make a cheese omelette, but how can I make the best possible omelette, using the best possible cheese?" and struggling to ensure that happens.  It's harder for him now; the pressure is far greater; but that's his basic goal.

As for D&D, see my .sig below.

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

I've said it before, but while those for J=R+L and those against will passionately argue their views, no one has suggested a consequence of Jon's parentage. 

Well, actually, countless people have suggested countless consequences for many years.

Here, for instance, is a post from January that proposes Jon is AA, the rightful king of the seven kingdoms, and Westeros' answer to Jesus.  Not to mention Dany's future husband and a dragonrider.

It's striking how invested people have become in R+L=J, partly because GRRM has been so slow to publish new books, so they've literally spent years of their lives writing about it.

When/if it blows up in the books, it may well set off a fandom meltdown like nothing we've ever seen before, and GRRM will be immortalized for having utterly fooled people, worldwide, for more than twenty years. 

I'm going to need several flavors of popcorn.

1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

I suspect that GRRM has told them very little beyond who lives and who dies at the end.

I'm not at all sure he even told them that

The  most I could say, re the premise that the show is doing "his ending," is that it is, very roughly, following the conclusion he described in 1993.

But that was awfully vague...

Quote

The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.

OK, yes, that more or less did happen, albeit in a crappy way.

But I don't see anything about a lengthy subsequent political mop-up because Cersei is still alive in King's Landing and has taken hostages, blah blah blah.

I really wouldn't be even faintly surprised to see Cersei die in TWOW, if it ever comes out.  Long before the end of ADOS.

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

I agree for the most part. Dany will take the Iron Throne before she deals with the growing threat coming from the north.

One of the ideas of this season (technically not resolved, but...) that I actually do believe is a broad stroke from GRRM is that Dany will never sit the Iron Throne, and in the midst of all of the bumbling of the recent episode were two premises that feel essentially true to me:

- When Dany finally leaves Essos, she'll have a messiah complex
- No matter what she does for them, the first instinct of the Westerosi with regard to Dany will be fear rather love; she will never fully escape the shadow of Mad Aerys, nor the implications of landing on the shores of Westeros with dragons and Dothraki at her back

In the books, we might expect many of these ideas to be explored through conflict with Young Griff.

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4 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

One of the ideas of this season (technically not resolved, but...) that I actually do believe is a broad stroke from GRRM is that Dany will never sit the Iron Throne, and in the midst of all of the bumbling of the recent episode were two premises that feel essentially true to me:

- When Dany finally leaves Essos, she'll have a messiah complex
- No matter what she does for them, the first instinct of the Westerosi with regard to Dany will be fear rather love; she will never fully escape the shadow of Mad Aerys, nor the implications of landing on the shores of Westeros with dragons and Dothraki at her back

In the books, we might expect many of these ideas to be explored through conflict with Young Griff.

I never thought she could hold it, but it might take dragons to get rid of Cersei. Ultimately though I think the Iron Throne will be dissolved and replaced by a ruler in the north. I think it was this way prior to the Children interfering, and I think it's their mission to return Westeros to how it was prior to the imbalance caused by allowing magic into the hands of humans.

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GRRM told us something magical happened which threw off the seasons.   I might be mixing SSMs, but didn't he also say something in Ashai?

This is most likely different from the creation of the White Walkers, and we've already tied the weather to the Starks.   

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I think Aegon will prove   important for the story after Tyrion's comment about him being everything. Is it possible Jon has nothing special about him? Apart from theorized resurrection. Melisandre thinks Stannis is Azor Ahai, in Essos we have Daenerys to continue this role, Aegon is PTWP, Bran is new Dreamer, Rickon is Lord of WF and Winged Wolf. What about Jon? I can see him as new King of Winter and King Beyond the Wall but that's all. I do believe he could be a Dayne but SOTM role is given to Gerold Dayne now... The fact he seems to be jobless is the reason I want him to stay dead. 

About the mummer's version it is possible in the books for Aegon to declare Edric "Baratheon" as Lord of Storm's End. 

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12 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

I think Craster was sacrificing his sons, because he believed he was cursed and his sacrifices were his way to get right with the gods. These poor infants simply died of exposure, and I think we'll learn that the Children were eating them, because they were already dead and viewed as a source of food.

It just occurred to me, that the sons could have been skinchanged by the Others and that is the reason why Craster sacrifices them. As we know, during skinchanging, the personalities merge with each other and a part of it always stays in the skinchanged being. Bran can use Hodor, because he is a "simpleton". In the case of Hodor, it is harder to identify the Hodor personality. but when a wolf is skinchanged, we can seperate the personalities. The same is true for babies, they don't have a personality.

Now in a very amazing twist, every male Wildling could have been skinchanged as a baby. That's why they are different. All Wildlings have in common that they do not knee. If they share that trait, the trait could have been skinchanged into them by some other being or beings, that do not knee.

The downside is of course, that the Others would have a lot of already dead baby personalities in them. I have my problems with this downside, but it would be very GRRM.

1 hour ago, Jova Snow said:

About the mummer's version it is possible in the books for Aegon to declare Edric "Baratheon" as Lord of Storm's End. 

The two known bastards are Mya Stone and Edric. Making Edric the heir of Stannis is a very simple political maneuver for Stannis. He doesn't even get into political trouble with the family of his wife over the issue. 

I am personally always amazed that Edric was never considered as Robert's heir by other Lords and that Cersei didn't invest more resources to get rid of the one, established and acknowledged bastard of Robert. Edric is, from a claimant perspective, a far bigger thread than anything else. She is far too obsessed with other bastards and not obsessed enough with Edric. Especially when Robert was so obsessed with Dany's claim. I am not even sure if Stannis or Edric is seen as Renly's heir by the Stormlanders. The defenders of Storm's End were very protective over Edric. 

I am not even sure if in a succession proper, with Joeffrey as a real son, without politics, Edric would be heir after Joeffrey. That is never addressed as it was already down the hill when Tommen was crowned. 

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