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Plain, Simple Tailor

We’re Missing the Point

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On 6/16/2019 at 2:57 PM, Plain, Simple Tailor said:

That’s what good theories are. Stuff that ties into everything, that clears it up, that enhances the theme. 

Stuff like N+A=J or B+L=J is just contrarian bullshit trying to capture the initial spark of the theories that actually make sense. 

I agree. While the author clearly wants us to speculate about the nature of someone's bloodline and the traits and loyalties that would come with it, resolving the parenthood question using plot points is not the goal. The goal is to understand the complex alchemy that makes up the person's inner self and his/her motivation, destiny, character traits, etc. 

In fact, GRRM gives us so many rebirths and so many ambiguous rumors, legends and origin oddities for major characters that the person's literal parentage may be only one of several parts of the person's origin story. You don't have to be a symbolism nutjob like me to see that Dany is reborn in Drogo's funeral pyre when her dragons hatch. We anticipate a major rebirth for Jon Snow after the stabbing by his brothers at Castle Black. Patchface seems to emerge from the sea after drowning. Lady Stoneheart. Tyrion after the Blackwater. Cersei describes feeling like a baby in the arms of Ser Robert Strong (a reborn Ser Gregor) after her walk of shame. Numerous other examples with major and minor characters as well as important "props" such as swords, wild fire grenades and old coins that are reforged or lost and rediscovered.

On 6/20/2019 at 10:37 AM, John Suburbs said:

He drives his plots in a realistic, sometimes meandering way, and the themes emerge on their own, like a garden.

It's possible that the words you are choosing to convey your idea are just not the words I would choose, but I find myself very confused by your points. 

I do not think there is useless plot in the novels. I do not think that "gardening" means that GRRM has no goal in mind for his characters or his plot. 

I don't want to get off-topic, but your repeated references to the Brienne plot should simply admit that you don't understand the point of her arc, not that it is "utterly useless." Brienne is on a quest. There are layers of obligation that motivate her - Catelyn wanted Brienne to accompany Jaime in an exchange for the return of Arya and Sansa; Jaime charged Brienne with finding Sansa. Brienne presents herself as Sansa's sister while she conducts her search. The captain's sister, the dwarf septon and the bartender at the Stinking Goose are also part of directing and fortifying Brienne for her journey. The people who accompany Brienne represent important magic and history of Westeros - Podrick is a Payne (rhymes with Dayne; is part of a wordplay group involving pane/pain - bread and being injured and windows), Dick Crabb (a "brown character," covered with dirt and with a mysterious past but - importantly - a good dragon man who dies and is buried in the right place) and Ser Hyle Hunt who is a shadowy presence but makes himself known to her after she has killed symbolic monsters associated with the Bloody Mummers and with Ser Dontos. The Whispers is a symbolic House of Black and White with the whispering heads of ancient kings who can share wisdom. As the (known) heir of Ser Duncan the Tall, Brienne carries a symbolic link and presence for that character, so we can draw more information from his story to help better understand Brienne's story. 

To bring this back to the original topic of this thread, I would concede that someone might argue it is missing the point or that it makes no sense for the author to introduce the Ser Clarence Crabb story with the woods witch wife and the talking heads lined up on shelves, the crumbling castle and the waves making the sounds of the ancient kings. If you look under the surface, though, these are all very meaningful clues that tell us (I suspect, tentatively) that Brienne's quest is to bury the Targaryen dynasty, clearing the way for the rebirth of new leadership in Westeros. She is a symbolic Arya AND Sansa, killing the scary old fool (Shagwell, as well as Timeon and Pyg) but sacrificing Dick Crabb in the process. 

Edited by Seams

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On 6/23/2019 at 9:09 AM, Seams said:

It's possible that the words you are choosing to convey your idea are just not the words I would choose, but I find myself very confused by your points. 

I do not think there is useless plot in the novels. I do not think that "gardening" means that GRRM has no goal in mind for his characters or his plot. 

I don't want to get off-topic, but your repeated references to the Brienne plot should simply admit that you don't understand the point of her arc, not that it is "utterly useless." Brienne is on a quest. There are layers of obligation that motivate her - Catelyn wanted Brienne to accompany Jaime in an exchange for the return of Arya and Sansa; Jaime charged Brienne with finding Sansa. Brienne presents herself as Sansa's sister while she conducts her search. The dwarf septon and the bartender at the Stinking Goose are also part of directing and fortifying Brienne for her journey. The people who accompany Brienne represent important magic and history of Westeros - Podrick is a Payne (rhymes with Dayne; is part of a wordplay group involving pane/pain - bread and being injured and windows), Dick Crabb (a "brown character," covered with dirt and with a mysterious past but - importantly - a good dragon man who dies and is buried in the right place) and Ser Hyle Hunt who is a shadowy presence but makes himself known to her after she has killed symbolic monsters associated with the Bloody Mummers and with Ser Dontos. The Whispers is a symbolic House of Black and White with the whispering heads of ancient kings who can share wisdom. As the (known) heir of Ser Duncan the Tall, Brienne carries a symbolic link and presence for that character, so we can draw more information from his story to help better understand Brienne's story. 

To bring this back to the original topic of this thread, I would concede that someone might argue it is missing the point or that it makes no sense for the author to introduce the Ser Clarence Crabb story with the woods witch wife and the talking heads lined up on shelves, the crumbling castle and the waves making the sounds of the ancient kings. If you look under the surface, though, these are all very meaningful clues that tell us (I suspect, tentatively) that Brienne's quest is to bury the Targaryen dynasty, clearing the way for the rebirth of new leadership in Westeros. She is a symbolic Arya AND Sansa, killing the scary old fool (Shagwell, as well as Timeon and Pyg) but sacrificing Dick Crabb in the process. 

I didn't mean that the plots were useless in a thematic sense. I meant that Brienne's themes could have been addressed without the long diversion to the Whispers, and that Quentyn's fated hero theme has already been done. So neither of these tangents were necessary to fulfill these themes and the plot would have been much tighter..

I could say the same thing about people who conclude that RLJ is necessary to fulfill the themes of the story. People should just admit that just because they don't understand the point of this tale doesn't mean they can summarily decide that any and all other explanations for what happened would somehow violate the story and its themes.

What Martin does, and what many readers still do not understand in his whole gardening metaphor, is that it allows his characters to grow and evolve in a more natural way than force-fitting them into contrived situations or make uncharacteristic decisions just so he can illuminate a theme, which is what many writers do. So in this sense, people look at Renly's sudden death and say "Martin did that because Renly's arc was done and it needed to happen in order for everyone else's arcs and themes to unfold." And in a way, that is true, but on a more fundamental level we can say that it happened because Melisandre had both the means and the motive to make it happen, so that is what she did with no consideration about themes or arcs or anything else; just the achievement of a specific goal. If for some reason Renly had survived, would you be arguing that he had to survive because it was necessary to fulfil his arc and his themes and those of others?

It's a subtle difference, but it's an important one, particularly when trying to puzzle out the past. Under one mindset, we make assumptions about the past based on what Martin wants and what themes we think he wants to explore, and in the other we use the characters as our guides to determine what they would have done based on their personalities and the situations they found themselves in. I think you will find that using the character-driven approach you'll get much more closer to the truth in this particular garden.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

People should just admit that just because they don't understand the point of this tale doesn't mean they can summarily decide that any and all other explanations for what happened would somehow violate the story and its themes.

 

1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Under one mindset, we make assumptions about the past based on what Martin wants and what themes we think he wants to explore, and in the other we use the characters as our guides to determine what they would have done based on their personalities and the situations they found themselves in.

I'm still unclear on your point, but perhaps we just have to agree to disagree in our approaches to literary analysis. I don't see a difference in mindsets in analyzing past events in the books and in analyzing characters. All analysis comes from the author's words. While there are valid discussions of differing interpretations, and readers might spot something new that changes their interpretation over time, good analysis will not stem from "summarily" deciding to explain something; it should always reference excerpts from the books. 

1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

If for some reason Renly had survived, would you be arguing that he had to survive because it was necessary to fulfil his arc and his themes and those of others?

In my opinion, Renly lives on after his death. My "argument" would be that he had to die because it was necessary to give him more power as a presence in the books.

Songs in ASOIAF are major hints about "truths". There is a long and strategically-positioned song at Joffrey's wedding feast that describes Lord Renly coming back to life to fight at the Battle of the Blackwater and to bid farewell to his beloved Tyrell spouse. There is another thread currently active in this forum (I haven't yet read it all) focused on the importance of Ser Garlan and Ser Loras Tyrell. Because Ser Garlan wore Renly's armor, you can bet your bottom dollar that he is one embodiment of Renly's ongoing presence in the story. Brienne received Renly's sword (but subsequently lost it). She is another person who keeps him "alive" in her memory. And, donchaknow, she sees Gendry and is shocked to recognize him as the spitting image of Renly (but she quickly realizes he must be a son of Robert). 

So, yeah. I think Renly "survived" in an important literary sense and it was necessary to fulfill his arc and his themes and those of others. If you want to spot symbols, there is a dynamic involving green, red and blue: Renly, the Tyrells and Garth Greenhands are green, Melisandre, Stannis and the Royces are red and Brienne is blue (there are other blues as well). (There are other colors with meaning, but I think the colors of the Trident are most central for Renly's importance.) A lot of fruit and bird symbolism also relates back to symbols in Renly's Rainbow Guard. Keep your eye on the Tyrells and Gendry to see more of Renly in the last two books. 

P.S. Other "dead" characters have also taken on new powers and symbolic forms. It's not just Renly. 

Edited by Seams

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On 6/16/2019 at 1:57 PM, Plain, Simple Tailor said:

I see a lot of theories about Jon’s parents. A lot. Ashara and Ned, Benjen and Lyanna, Ned and Lyanna...

I think we’re missing the point. 

There’s a reason why R+L=J exists. It’s not pointless. It is literally the entire motivation for Ned’s character. Ned’s character makes no sense without it. 

What would Ned just having a kid with Ashara do for the story? How does that tie into the themes? How is that motivation for the character? 

That’s what good theories are. Stuff that ties into everything, that clears it up, that enhances the theme. 

Stuff like N+A=J or B+L=J is just contrarian bullshit trying to capture the initial spark of the theories that actually make sense. 

It'd difficult to accept another idea when the one you already have makes sense to you, but I hope you'll stop to consider what I propose before replying.

I think in GRRMs quest to surprise and delight us he has written a magic trick. While one hand is gesturing the other is hiding the truth, but I believe that Ned was telling the truth when he said Jon's mother was Wylla, except Wylla is also Ashara in disguise much like Sansa is hiding as Alayne and pretending Petyr is her father. The reason why Ned got angry with Catelyn and forbade her to ask about Ashara again is because he was protecting her honor. Even though Ned kept the babe, Ashara's prospects for a good marriage were dismal. Pregnant Lady Lollys was forced to marry up-jumped cutthroat (Bronn) because he was her best prospect. Ashara didn't want that, so she went home, faked her own death, and assumed the Wylla identity. This is a repeated when Petyr pushed Lysa out the Moon Door to prevent Lysa from doing the same to Sansa. Afterwards Sansa becomes Alayne.

IMO I think Ned would have preferred to marry Ashara, but their Houses were on opposite sides of the Rebellion. He may have even planned to marry Ashara afterward, but due to political necessity he married Catelyn instead. A scenario repeated by his son Robb who died in the Red Wedding, because he didn't make the political choice. He should have married one of the Freys like he promised, but he threw away his political capital and married for love. Medieval Westeros doesn't tolerate love matches.

The reason why Ned has tormented memories of Lyanna pleading is because she wanted to protect Robert! How so? Because Rhaegar never kidnapped her! He couldn't have, because he was attending the birth of Aegon on Dragonstone at the same time Lyanna went missing. Tywin Lannister took advantage of Rhaegar's absence to send out a raiding party dressed as Rhaegar and his men to undermine support in the Riverlands. Tywin was rich enough to have a suit of armor made to look just like Rhaegar's and got somebody else to wear it. This ruse is repeated twice afterward in the story with Renly's armor and Ser Arys Oakheart's armor. I have two suspects for Rhaegar's armor, but their identity isn't as important as what took place. It's the ploy that Tywin repeated when Ned was Hand that is important. Tywin sent Gregor Clegane and his men out to raid without any banners or identifying clothing, but people suspected it was Gregor due to his unusually large size. Ned sent Beric Dondarrion out with some men to bring Gregor in. He agreed the description of the very large man was Gregor and that it was Tywin's trick. This is an important clue. Ned reached his conclusion, because he knew it was something Tywin had already done before.

Of course Lyanna would have known it wasn't Rhaegar and she told Ned as much on her death bed, but made him promise not to tell, because it would have put Robert's throne in jeopardy. Ned eventually does try to tell Robert that the conquest had no honor, but he refused to listen.

The events that led up to the Rebellion are all anchored by her abduction. Brandon rode to Kings Landing to accuse Rhaegar and got arrested. Rickard was called down to answer for his son, and he requested trial by battle to prove Brandon's claim and innocence. He lost of course and both he and his son were executed. Then Jon Arryn defied Aerys by refusing to turn over Ned and Robert, and then called his banners. All of these things happened, because everyone thought Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna! But he didn't. It was all lie - a scheme - a trick - by Tywin Lannister to take revenge upon Aerys for the years of insults, and for refusing to marry Rhaegar to Cersei.

If Ned had called Tywin out and everyone learned of the deceit, support for Robert's throne and reuniting the realm again would have been called into question. There would have been no Assault on Dragonstone, because there may have been Houses calling for Viserys to be crowned! Robert's claim to the throne would have been threatened and so Lyanna begged Ned to keep the lie a secret and bury it with her in Winterfell.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

It'd difficult to accept another idea when the one you already have makes sense to you, but I hope you'll stop to consider what I propose before replying.

I think in GRRMs quest to surprise and delight us he has written a magic trick. While one hand is gesturing the other is hiding the truth, but I believe that Ned was telling the truth when he said Jon's mother was Wylla, except Wylla is also Ashara in disguise much like Sansa is hiding as Alayne and pretending Petyr is her father. The reason why Ned got angry with Catelyn and forbade her to ask about Ashara again is because he was protecting her honor. Even though Ned kept the babe, Ashara's prospects for a good marriage were dismal. Pregnant Lady Lollys was forced to marry up-jumped cutthroat (Bronn) because he was her best prospect. Ashara didn't want that, so she went home, faked her own death, and assumed the Wylla identity. This is a repeated when Petyr pushed Lysa out the Moon Door to prevent Lysa from doing the same to Sansa. Afterwards Sansa becomes Alayne.

IMO I think Ned would have preferred to marry Ashara, but their Houses were on opposite sides of the Rebellion. He may have even planned to marry Ashara afterward, but due to political necessity he married Catelyn instead. A scenario repeated by his son Robb who died in the Red Wedding, because he didn't make the political choice. He should have married one of the Freys like he promised, but he threw away his political capital and married for love. Medieval Westeros doesn't tolerate love matches.

The reason why Ned has tormented memories of Lyanna pleading is because she wanted to protect Robert! How so? Because Rhaegar never kidnapped her! He couldn't have, because he was attending the birth of Aegon on Dragonstone at the same time Lyanna went missing. Tywin Lannister took advantage of Rhaegar's absence to send out a raiding party dressed as Rhaegar and his men to undermine support in the Riverlands. Tywin was rich enough to have a suit of armor made to look just like Rhaegar's and got somebody else to wear it. This ruse is repeated twice afterward in the story with Renly's armor and Ser Arys Oakheart's armor. I have two suspects for Rhaegar's armor, but their identity isn't as important as what took place. It's the ploy that Tywin repeated when Ned was Hand that is important. Tywin sent Gregor Clegane and his men out to raid without any banners or identifying clothing, but people suspected it was Gregor due to his unusually large size. Ned sent Beric Dondarrion out with some men to bring Gregor in. He agreed the description of the very large man was Gregor and that it was Tywin's trick. This is an important clue. Ned reached his conclusion, because he knew it was something Tywin had already done before.

Of course Lyanna would have known it wasn't Rhaegar and she told Ned as much on her death bed, but made him promise not to tell, because it would have put Robert's throne in jeopardy. Ned eventually does try to tell Robert that the conquest had no honor, but he refused to listen.

The events that led up to the Rebellion are all anchored by her abduction. Brandon rode to Kings Landing to accuse Rhaegar and got arrested. Rickard was called down to answer for his son, and he requested trial by battle to prove Brandon's claim and innocence. He lost of course and both he and his son were executed. Then Jon Arryn defied Aerys by refusing to turn over Ned and Robert, and then called his banners. All of these things happened, because everyone thought Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna! But he didn't. It was all lie - a scheme - a trick - by Tywin Lannister to take revenge upon Aerys for the years of insults, and for refusing to marry Rhaegar to Cersei.

If Ned had called Tywin out and everyone learned of the deceit, support for Robert's throne and reuniting the realm again would have been called into question. There would have been no Assault on Dragonstone, because there may have been Houses calling for Viserys to be crowned! Robert's claim to the throne would have been threatened and so Lyanna begged Ned to keep the lie a secret and bury it with her in Winterfell.

....or it’s just that Rhaegar and Lyanna had Jon, meaning Robert’s rebellion was built on a lie, and now Ned takes care of Jon after Lyanna’s death and lies to everyone about it because of Robert’s hatred of Targs and dedication to murdering all of them, so Ned is perpetually haunted by his lie. 

Guys and gals, this is the one that makes sense. We only think it’s “too obvious” because we’re the internet, and we figure things out quickly. 

Also, as much as I hate to use the sh*w as evidence...if they were going to change something, it wouldn’t be this. This is literally the thing George asked them to give them the sh*w, and they wouldn’t just change it. 

But I do love this theory, even though it’s tinfoil. 

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45 minutes ago, Plain, Simple Tailor said:

....or it’s just that Rhaegar and Lyanna had Jon, meaning Robert’s rebellion was built on a lie, and now Ned takes care of Jon after Lyanna’s death and lies to everyone about it because of Robert’s hatred of Targs and dedication to murdering all of them, so Ned is perpetually haunted by his lie. 

Guys and gals, this is the one that makes sense. We only think it’s “too obvious” because we’re the internet, and we figure things out quickly. 

Also, as much as I hate to use the sh*w as evidence...if they were going to change something, it wouldn’t be this. This is literally the thing George asked them to give them the sh*w, and they wouldn’t just change it. 

But I do love this theory, even though it’s tinfoil. 

I don't claim to know that I am right, but it makes sense to me and is supported by the text. I have additional theories to support other details like the tower of joy and symbolism surrounding Robert. As for the show...I think we can all agree that there were many things different. Just look at how they treated the white walkers. Do you really believe they were lead by the Nights King and that all you have to do is kill him and the threat goes away?

GRRM said the show and the books have the same "high notes", so what does that mean? If one of the high notes is that Jon learns who his true parents are, the show hit a high note, but it doesn't mean it will be the same one as in the books. If another high note is that the Wall is breached. One interpretation could be that a part of it breaks down like on the show, or it might mean the whole thing crashes down, or even that it doesn't come down at all and the white walkers find a different way past the Wall. I suspect GRRM gave an outline with "high notes", but didn't tell D&D how to fill out the details. I just can't see GRRM telling D&D the answers to his greatest mysteries nor allow the show to reveal them before he can publish them. Does that mean that the show won't get some of them right? It sure is possible, but I didn't see a whole lot that made much sense.

GRRM also said we'd fight about the endings on the internet and that there'd be many people that will prefer the show's endings better than his - a statement that I find inconceivable! No way in hell did the show do justice to the books! It started out OK. The first few seasons were great, but as it went on the changes started to seep in and little things led to big things.

I would not count on Rhaegar being Jon's father and not just because I think it's obvious, but because it's the conclusion that I think GRRM hopes you'll make so that he can surprise and delight you...or maybe that outcome would not delight you and we can continue to argue about it on the internet? :lol:

Edited by Feather Crystal

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1 hour ago, Plain, Simple Tailor said:

....or it’s just that Rhaegar and Lyanna had Jon, meaning Robert’s rebellion was built on a lie, and now Ned takes care of Jon after Lyanna’s death and lies to everyone about it because of Robert’s hatred of Targs and dedication to murdering all of them, so Ned is perpetually haunted by his lie. 

Or he lies to everyone about it because it suits his purpose in obscuring and hiding Jon's parentage.  I think it's an example of unreliable narration.

All I know is that Lyanna is likely to be Jon's mother.

What I haven't been told is where and when Ned found Lyanna, only that he did.

We have Ned's story about Wylla when Robert starts prying about Ned's bastard.

We have rumors about Ashara Dayne and Ned's romantic involvement.

We have Robert's story that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and raped her hundreds of times.

And we have the prophecy about Robert's bastards, seven of whom have been revealed and an 8th that Varys claims to know about but doesn't reveal the identity (to Tyrion).

This is all I know so far.

Edited by LynnS

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7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

I don't claim to know that I am right, but it makes sense to me and is supported by the text. I have additional theories to support other details like the tower of joy and symbolism surrounding Robert. As for the show...I think we can all agree that there were many things different. Just look at how they treated the white walkers. Do you really believe they were lead by the Nights King and that all you have to do is kill him and the threat goes away?

GRRM said the show and the books have the same "high notes", so what does that mean? If one of the high notes is that Jon learns who his true parents are, the show hit a high note, but it doesn't mean it will be the same one as in the books. If another high note is that the Wall is breached. One interpretation could be that a part of it breaks down like on the show, or it might mean the whole thing crashes down, or even that it doesn't come down at all and the white walkers find a different way past the Wall. I suspect GRRM gave an outline with "high notes", but didn't tell D&D how to fill out the details. I just can't see GRRM telling D&D the answers to his greatest mysteries nor allow the show to reveal them before he can publish them. Does that mean that the show won't get some of them right? It sure is possible, but I didn't see a whole lot that made much sense.

GRRM also said we'd fight about the endings on the internet and that there'd be many people that will prefer the show's endings better than his - a statement that I find inconceivable! No way in hell did the show do justice to the books! It started out OK. The first few seasons were great, but as it went on the changes started to seep in and little things led to big things.

I would not count on Rhaegar being Jon's father and not just because I think it's obvious, but because it's the conclusion that I think GRRM hopes you'll make so that he can surprise and delight you...or maybe that outcome would not delight you and we can continue to argue about it on the internet? :lol:

GRRM wouldn't leave out a detail like that. Plus, seems like Jon's parentage would be one of the high notes - it's a pretty central mystery. 

I hate the sh*w, but I'm just saying here. 

Also, as I said before, it only seems too obvious because the fandom guessed it in the 90's. Saying that's too obvious is like saying the Author of the Journals' identity in Gravity Falls was too obvious because fans were able to guess it. 

Maybe GRRM thought it was the most satisfying when he wrote it in 1996, that doesn't change because people guessed it. 

Sometimes the best answer isn't the one that's the most obscure and out of nowhere, it's the one that's the most satisfying. 

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24 minutes ago, Plain, Simple Tailor said:

GRRM wouldn't leave out a detail like that. Plus, seems like Jon's parentage would be one of the high notes - it's a pretty central mystery. 

I hate the sh*w, but I'm just saying here. 

Also, as I said before, it only seems too obvious because the fandom guessed it in the 90's. Saying that's too obvious is like saying the Author of the Journals' identity in Gravity Falls was too obvious because fans were able to guess it. 

Maybe GRRM thought it was the most satisfying when he wrote it in 1996, that doesn't change because people guessed it. 

Sometimes the best answer isn't the one that's the most obscure and out of nowhere, it's the one that's the most satisfying. 

Hopefully we’ll find out for sure in the near future. I was offering up an alternate “point” for the OP. Accept it or deny it as you wish. :cheers:

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13 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Hopefully we’ll find out for sure in the near future. I was offering up an alternate “point” for the OP. Accept it or deny it as you wish. :cheers:

Let’s hope so. Sorry if I was dismissive in any way. 

:cheers: 

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On 6/24/2019 at 11:48 AM, Seams said:

 

I'm still unclear on your point, but perhaps we just have to agree to disagree in our approaches to literary analysis. I don't see a difference in mindsets in analyzing past events in the books and in analyzing characters. All analysis comes from the author's words. While there are valid discussions of differing interpretations, and readers might spot something new that changes their interpretation over time, good analysis will not stem from "summarily" deciding to explain something; it should always reference excerpts from the books. 

In my opinion, Renly lives on after his death. My "argument" would be that he had to die because it was necessary to give him more power as a presence in the books.

Songs in ASOIAF are major hints about "truths". There is a long and strategically-positioned song at Joffrey's wedding feast that describes Lord Renly coming back to life to fight at the Battle of the Blackwater and to bid farewell to his beloved Tyrell spouse. There is another thread currently active in this forum (I haven't yet read it all) focused on the importance of Ser Garlan and Ser Loras Tyrell. Because Ser Garlan wore Renly's armor, you can bet your bottom dollar that he is one embodiment of Renly's ongoing presence in the story. Brienne received Renly's sword (but subsequently lost it). She is another person who keeps him "alive" in her memory. And, donchaknow, she sees Gendry and is shocked to recognize him as the spitting image of Renly (but she quickly realizes he must be a son of Robert). 

So, yeah. I think Renly "survived" in an important literary sense and it was necessary to fulfill his arc and his themes and those of others. If you want to spot symbols, there is a dynamic involving green, red and blue: Renly, the Tyrells and Garth Greenhands are green, Melisandre, Stannis and the Royces are red and Brienne is blue (there are other blues as well). (There are other colors with meaning, but I think the colors of the Trident are most central for Renly's importance.) A lot of fruit and bird symbolism also relates back to symbols in Renly's Rainbow Guard. Keep your eye on the Tyrells and Gendry to see more of Renly in the last two books. 

P.S. Other "dead" characters have also taken on new powers and symbolic forms. It's not just Renly. 

Sure, this is how it all happened. What I dispute is the notion that this is how it had to happen or else there would be no way for Martin to hit on the themes of honor, duty, conflict, etc. There would be all kinds of ways to do it if Renly had lived, Robb had lived and, say, Tyrion or Sansa or Littlefinger had died. This is the whole architect vs. gardener thing: the architect must make things happen because without them the hero doesn't get to be the hero, the villain not the villain and all the other tropes can't arise. Harry Potter cannot die, because that would ruin the story. Voldemort cannot die until the end, and then he must die, because that would ruin the story. The gardener, meanwhile, plants his seeds and allows them to grow in their own way, so that even if the "hero" dies, there will be another hero to take up that mantle, just like Jon Snow endured after previous heroes, namely Ned and Robb, died. If Jon dies, we get a new hero; Tyrion maybe, or Gendry, or Arya. Same with villains: Joffrey gone, enter Ramsay. If Ramsay goes, we have Euron.

This is what most people don't get when they say Renly had to die or RLJ must be true because the whole story falls apart without this. But that is simply not true, as we've seen over and over again. Key central characters die, or don't die, plotlines and all the themes they entail that were several books in the making are suddenly upended, but the story continues with all of the key themes intact.

So no, nothing "has to happen" in asioaf. This is exactly what Martin has said, over and over again; that his readers should not believe that any character, any storyline, any thing is safe, no matter how desperate or how comfortable a seemingly vital character's situation is. Life has a way of pulling the rug out from under you no matter if your arc is done or you have redeemed yourself or your theme has been fulfilled, but the story of the wide world around you will continue.  

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Eh. I'd disagree that B+L and N+A don't add any depth to Ned's character. It would be interesting if Ned was in part so honor obsessed since he's trying to make up for his past mistake of bedding Ashara. It'd also contribute to Ned being a foil to Stannis. I think that B+L would also fulfill a similar role in Ned's psyche as R+L. It still comes down to Ned sacrificing his personal image and a bit of his relationship with Cat in order to protect his nephew. It would also be interesting seeing Ned uncover a similar conspiracy in King's Landing. I can't comment on N+L's legitimacy since I haven't heard it before, but it seems it would be an amplified form of Ned becoming so honorbound in response to his past dishonorable actions.

With all that being said, I think that the chances are 70% R+L, 15% B+L, 5% N+A, 10% other. I don't really like the Ashara theory, but I can respect B+L because it flips everything that we think on our heads. That being said, Rhaegar and Lyanna does seem like the most likely theory. 

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I think the real issue is, we're never going to know the truth and everyone interpret the story as they want the text has a lot of submeaning and different possible interpretations so it's really impossible to know for sure what happened, even if Grrm puts on the text that one of the theories is right people would try and find reasons to not believe.

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