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Qhorin Halfhand was Ser Arthur Dayne - Revisited.

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The theory that Qhorin Halfhand was Arthur Dayne has been around since A Clash of Kings. There has been dozens of versions over the years and while many good points were made along the way, the central argument always fell short of explaining how the theory fits into narrative as it doesn't move the plot in ways people expect.

However, story is made up of plot, character and theme, all of which should come together at the climax of the story. The plot is what happens in the story but the theme is the message of the story, the very reason the story is being told in the first place. Plot, character, and theme are all constructed by the author. There are a lot of themes in the series, both major and minor. The characters in the story reflect these themes, with the more notable characters usually reflecting the more notable themes. The conflicts of the story help refine the themes into a thematic principle, which is the unifying idea that forms the central message of the story. So rather than serving the plot as such, Qhorin Halfhand as Arthur Dayne is designed to serve the thematic principle of the series.

The theory states that Ser Arthur Dayne survived the Tower of Joy and took the black under the name Qhorin. There's two parts to the argument, separated by about sixteen years in-world. Part one – the White Cloak, examines Ser Arthur Dayne and his death at the Tower of Joy. Part two – the Black Cloak, profiles Qhorin Halfhand. These two cloaks symbolize what is arguably the main thematic conflict of the series, the lie against the truth, the Game of Thrones against the Song of Ice and Fire.

Part One – The White Cloak.

Ser Arthur Dayne remains a mystery. He was deemed worthy to hold the title Sword of the Morning and with it the greatsword, Dawn, but we are not told why. He was a famous knight of the kingsguard, but we don’t know who he squired for, who knighted him, or when he was knighted. We don’t know which king bestowed the white cloak upon his shoulders. No physical characteristics of his are ever described; not his height, build, hair or the colour of his eyes. We are not told when he was born. We’re only told when he died.

It’s a well known story. Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna and kept her in a tower, guarded by three kingsguard. After the siege of Storm’s End was lifted, Ned and his six companions rode forth to find her. The seven northmen and three kingsguard gave battle at the Tower of Joy. Only Ned and Howland Reed survived. The rest died and were buried in the Red Mountains of Dorne, where they lay to this day. Ned returned Dawn to Starfall and then laid his sister’s bones to rest in the crypts of Winterfell.

Morte d’Arthur.

... Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat.

The tales Catelyn heard in Winterfell were similar to the one Cersei had in King’s Landing.

“Or was it the grieving sister, the Lady Ashara? She threw herself into the sea, I'm told. Why was that? For the brother you slew, or the child you stole?”

Such tales are most likely based on the account Ned gave Robert when he returned to King’s Landing. It might have raised some eyebrows, the Sword of the Morning bested by a young northman, but as Ned and Howland were the only ones to return alive their story lay beyond dispute.

Of course, we know Ned was not fully truthful with Robert about the events at the Tower of Joy. We also know that the tale Catelyn heard in Winterfell is contradicts Ned’s own account to Bran. Ned did not slay Arthur Dayne in single combat as Howland Reed was involved. So the tale Catelyn heard is wrong; the question is how wrong?

The finest knight.

"The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed." Father had gotten sad then, and he would say no more. Bran wished he had asked him what he meant.

I’m sure we all share Bran’s wish, because we know there is more to this tale than we are being told. This is classic GRRM; he drops some information, cuts it off before too much is revealed, and then teases a little.

Ser Arthur Dayne was the finest knight Lord Eddard ever saw. I imagine Ned’s statement refers to more than Arthur’s skill with sword and lance, given the value Ned places on honor. By all accounts Ser Arthur was regarded as an honorable man. Ser Barristan and old Ser Gerold were men of honorable repute, yet still Ned elevated Ser Arthur above such men. When Ned calls Ser Arthur the finest knight, we are reminded of the true knight theme and what that thematic principle might entail when it is revealed. Will it be a man who gave his life to protect king or heir, a man who serves the lie of the game of thrones, is that what GRRM will declare to be a true knight? I don't think so. I think GRRM's true knight will serve the truth, and in terms of the main conflict, the truth is the Song of Ice and Fire.

Ned or Howland?

Ned never mentioned killing Arthur, he never recalled it, he never even thought about it. He only says that Arthur would have killed him but for Howland Reed, and even that statement is vague.

The fact is we don’t know how Arthur died. We don’t know how Howland saved Ned. We lack a reliable account of the death blow. To say there is room for reasonable doubt is an understatement. Was it Ned? Was it Howland Reed? Was a death blow even struck? If so, then why don’t we know about it?

GRRM could have dropped the details in one of Ned’s chapters, but he chose not to, opting to purposefully withhold that information instead. If Ser Arthur died in combat, as people have been led to believe, then what was it about the manner of his death that merited concealment? Should we expect the reveal of how he died to alter our perception of the narrative in some way, as a good reveal should? I fail to see how it could. To me it’s more plausible that the details were withheld because they reveal something else, but enough about what we don’t know, let’s concentrate on what we do know.

The Tower of Joy.

There are six main points we need to discuss that relate to Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy. The argument that says Arthur died at the tower is predicated on these points, despite the fact that every one of them is wide open to debate. They are:

·         Arthur would have killed Ned but for Howland Reed.

·         Ned recalled that only he and Howland lived to ride away.

·         They who found Ned clutching Lyanna had to be Howland and the wet nurse Wylla.

·         Ned built eight cairns on the ridge for the dead, five northmen and three kingsguard.

·         Ned returned Dawn to Starfall but Ser Arthur would never give up the sword alive.

·         If Ser Arthur Dayne was still alive he would have been recognised and revealed in-world by now.

...but for Howland Reed.

“They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed."

So how did Howland Reed save Ned? Some imagine a sneaky crannogman backstab, possibly a poisoned dart delivered by blowpipe, or maybe Howland used magic, all of which seem plausible to some degree, but there are other options, not all of which are lethal. If Howland snared Arthur in his net, as Meera once snared Summer, then it would place Arthur at Ned's mercy. Ned would be free to execute the Sword of the Morning, but Ned never enjoyed killing and it seems he respected Ser Arthur. He could of course offer him a choice of the block or the black. The details of what really happened have been withheld. We assume from what we have been spoon-fed that Ned or Howland killed Arthur, but it is a false dilemma because there is another option. Ned could have spared Author.

However, for Arthur, it could not be as simple as taking the black. He was Rhaegar's closest friend, implicated in Lyanna's abduction and rape. King Robert would be wroth, and even if Arthur Dayne presented himself at Castle Black, it would not take long for news to reach King's Landing. To avoid such risks he would have to take the black under a different identity. And of course there were secrets at the Tower of Joy that Ned wanted desperately to preserve. If Arthur was to live then he would first need to give his honorable word that he would never tell those secrets to anyone, even Jon, who would be raised not far from the Wall in Winterfell.

They had been seven.

They had been seven against three, yet only two had lived to ride away; Eddard Stark himself and the little crannogman, Howland Reed.

This line is very misleading. They had been seven against three. From Ned’s point of view they were the northmen, who had been seven. They were against three, yet only two of they, who had been seven, had lived to ride away. Two of the seven northmen survived, not two of the total ten combatants. Just as this pivotal scene began with a seven-to-three split, the master numbers of the series, this theory proposes that it ended with a similar split, seven dead to three survivors.

They had found him...

They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his.

Howland Reed was not alone when he found Ned with Lyanna. Some readers assume the mystery person must have been a wet nurse named Wylla. Edric Dayne was Jon’s milk brother, Wylla fed them both a few years apart, she served at Starfall, she was probably the wet nurse Catelyn recalled with Jon at Winterfell when she arrived from Riverrun, but there is no evidence Wylla was ever at the Tower of Joy.

In Westeros, it is not uncommon for babes to be fed goat’s milk in the absence of their mother or a wet nurse. The biggest hint of what may have happened Lyanna’s child comes in a conversation between Jon, quite fittingly, and Stannis.

"I can find another wet nurse. If there's none amongst the wildlings, I will send to the mountain clans. Until such time, goat's milk should suffice for the boy, if it please Your Grace."

"Poor fare for a prince …”

Goat’s milk was poor fare for Rhaegar’s son too but I suspect it sufficed until Ned reached Starfall and Wylla. If Wylla was not at the Tower of Joy then maybe they were people we know were present at the tower, like Howland Reed and Arthur Dayne.

Eight cairns upon the ridge.

Ned had pulled the tower down afterward, and used its bloody stones to build eight cairns upon the ridge.

Ned built eight cairns upon the ridge, which suggests eight people died and were buried there, but of course eight cairns does not equate to eight corpses. If Arthur’s death was faked, then eight cairns would be an essential part of the cover-up, although in truth only seven of them would hold a corpse. This is the reason Ned has never returned the bones of the fallen to their houses, as his sense of honor must surely have demanded.

“I gave them over to the silent sisters, to be sent north to Winterfell. Jory would want to lie beside his grandfather."

It would have to be his grandfather, for Jory's father was buried far to the south. Martyn Cassel had perished with the rest.

Ned sent Jory’s remains back north to be buried with his kin, so why not Martyn and the rest? It was not practical at the time but he could have sent someone to retrieve the remains later and return them to their appropriate houses. They were trusted friends whose houses remained loyal. It’s not like Ned to disrespect his bannermen in such an insensitive manner and give them reason to bear a grudge against their new lord, like the one held by Lady Barbery Dustin, but what choice did he have if one cairn was empty.

Dawn at Starfall.

And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea.

GRRM has confirmed that the sword is indeed at Starfall. Some readers claim Arthur Dayne would never give up Dawn as long as he still drew breath, but if he was to take the black under a new identity then he had no choice but give up the sword. I think he would accept on the condition that Dawn was returned to his family seat until such time as the next Sword of the Morning arose, and Ned duly obliged.

Taking the black.

With Lyanna’s son in Ned’s care, taking the black was not the worst choice for Arthur Dayne, considering the circumstances. It was the Wall or Essos. Being a sworn brother was the only life Ser Arthur knew. He would wear a black cloak instead of white and give his life to protecting the realm instead of the king on the Iron Throne. Of the three garrisons at the Wall, the Shadow Tower was the best choice as it was the most remote.

Most famous of all was Arthur Dayne.

The name Ser Arthur Dayne was well known throughout the Seven Kingdoms. He was as famous then as Jaime Lannister or Barristan the Bold is now. Thousands cheered those men in tourneys or saw them escort kings, they were celebrated in stories and song but there were no images circulating, even in print. Their names and deeds were far more famous than their faces, and we have seen this time and time again.

Ned knew of Mance Rayder and may even have met him once as a black brother in Winterfell, but he did not recognize the singer at Robert’s feast. Jaime travelled from Riverrun to King’s Landing and the only ones to recognize him were his father’s sellswords. When dismissed, Barristan the Bold escaped King’s Landing and took passage on a ship without a single sighting reported to the crown. Remove the white armour people were accustomed to and he became just another man to most. Even Jorah, who rode in tourneys and fought opposite Barristan at the Trident, needed prompting to realize Aristan Whitebeard’s true identity.

We know of a handful of men at the Wall who would potentially recognize Ser Arthur. Benjen, who took the black around the same time, would recognize Arthur from Harrenhal. Ned knew as much so he may have had no choice but to bring his brother in on that particular secret before Benjen left for Castle Black.

There were some former allies of Arthur’s at Castle Black, like Jaremy Rykker and Alliser Thorne who had taken the black after finishing on the losing side in the rebellion, and there were some former foes, like Ulmer the archer who rode with the Kingswood Brotherhood. How well Arthur knew any of these men is unclear. Even if somebody did know him it’s hard to see why they would reveal his secret given that the man was widely respected, especially by those who knew him. Furthermore, if someone ever made the accusation and Qhorin simply dismissed it as a case of mistaken identity, then it’s hard to see how his accuser would prove it to people who believed Ser Arthur Dayne was dead.

Besides, when men join the Night’s Watch they agree to set their past aside, they become brothers, like Benjen and Ser Jaremy who come from houses that were on opposite sides of the rebellion. Ser Arthur Dayne was a good brother to have at your side, and if keeping him there meant keeping his secret then so be it.

Edited by three-eyed monkey
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Part two – the Black Cloak.

Dawn and Qhorin Halfhand arrived together.

Jon first met Qhorin Halfhand on the Fist of the First Men.

Jon knew Qhorin Halfhand the instant he saw him, though they had never met. The big ranger was half a legend in the Watch; a man of slow words and swift action, tall and straight as a spear, long-limbed and solemn. Unlike his men, he was clean-shaven. His hair fell from beneath his helm in a heavy braid touched with hoarfrost, and the blacks he wore were so faded they might have been greys. Only thumb and forefinger remained on the hand that held the reins; the other fingers had been sheared off catching a wildling's axe that would otherwise have split his skull. It was told that he had thrust his maimed fist into the face of the axeman so the blood spurted into his eyes, and slew him while he was blind. Since that day, the wildlings beyond the Wall had known no foe more implacable.

Qhorin is clean shaven, straight as a spear, and solemn; classic knightly attributes. He’s tall with long limbs, a physique that is well-suited to wielding a greatsword. Like Dayne, he is held in high esteem as a fighter. Interestingly, the blacks he wore were so faded they might have been greys, so his grey cloak is somewhere between a black cloak and a white one.

Qhorin's shrewd grey eyes seemed to see right through him.

Qhorin’s eyes are grey, and while purple eyes are associated with House Dayne, Ashara in particular, it should be noted that Edric Dayne's eyes are described as a blue so dark it was almost purple and Gerold Dayne’s eyes appear almost black, though Arianne had seen them up close and knew they were purple. We have no description of Arthur’s eyes.

The Halfhand.

Qhorin drew his longsword. The tale of how he had taught himself to fight with his left hand after losing half of his right was part of his legend; it was said that he handled a blade better now than he ever had before.

The most interesting aspect of this tale is its obvious parallel to Jaime’s story. As a boy Jaime wanted to be Arthur Dayne but someplace along the line had become the Smiling Knight instead, but perhaps he is following more closely in his hero’s footsteps than he knows.

"I learned from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, who could have slain all five of you with his left hand while he was taking with a piss with the right.”

We get the impression that handling a sword well with his left hand was not beyond Ser Arthur, who like Qhorin was predominantly right-handed it seems.

It would not be unusual for GRRM to attach a double meaning to the moniker, Halfhand. Arthur was Rhaegar’s closest confidant and supporter. If the crown prince ever had taken the throne then surely Arthur would have been his potential Hand of the King, he would not have been the first kingsguard to hold the title, but of course Rhaegar never did become king.

Qhorin.

We are given no background on Qhorin Halfhand, other than he is a seasoned commander and half a legend in the Watch. When he joined the Watch, why he took the black, and whence he came remain a mystery.

The name suggests he is Ironborn, given that the only other Qhorin we know of is Qhorin Volmark of the Iron Isles from the time of Aegon the Conqueror, a descendant of Qhorwyn Hoare, which is another Ironborn variation of the name. It’s noteworthy that Qhorin Volmark declared himself the rightful heir of “the black line”. Highborn Ser Arthur knew his history I’m sure, so maybe the name Qhorin is a nod towards the rightful heir to another house with black banners or even to the rightful heir to the Night’s Watch?

Another variant of the name is Qoren, the name of the Prince of Dorne who rejected the overtures of both sides in the Dance of the Dragons, just as Arthur was rejecting the game of thrones when he took the black.

Other than the name, Qhorin Halfhand being Ironborn doesn’t really add up. It is not wholly unusual for Ironborn to serve in the Night’s Watch, Cotter Pyke is the baseborn son of a tavern wench who commands Eastwatch by the Sea, but the Ironborn are sailors so it makes perfect sense to station such men at Eastwatch, which is a port. Yet Qhorin Halfhand was stationed at the Shadow Tower under Ser Denys Mallister, a former tourney champion and a northman with an inherent dislike of the Ironborn.

“Samwell, it is not my habit to speak unkindly of my brothers, but let us be frank . . . the ironborn are a race of pirates and thieves, and Cotter Pyke was raping and murdering when he was still half a boy.”

Qhorin seemingly thrived at the Shadow Tower under Ser Denys, rising to a position of rank because like Ser Arthur he has a commanding presence and is respected by his brothers.

“Only fools like Thoren Smallwood despise the wildlings. They are as brave as we are, Jon. As strong, as quick, as clever. But they have no discipline...”

He values discipline, like a good knight should, and he doesn’t despise the wildlings but shows them respect, a somewhat chivalrous attitude towards the enemy that is not always common in the Watch.

Obedience.

“...Mance was the same. He never learned how to obey.”

Qhorin bemoans Mance’s lack of discipline and how his old friend never learned to obey, an attribute that is vital to knighthood. We recall what Ser Jon Darry said to Jaime in the Red Keep: “When you donned that cloak, you promised to obey.”

Bending the knees.

"He liked women, Mance did, and he was not a man whose knees bent easily, that's true.”

Qhorin’s turn of phrase regarding Mance is strikingly similar to the words Ser Arthur spoke to Ned at the Tower of Joy.

"Our knees do not bend easily," said Ser Arthur Dayne.

The shy maid on her wedding night.

“The Halfhand was carved of old oak, but I am made of flesh, and I have a great fondness for the charms of women . . .”

Mance recalls that Qhorin did not share his fondness for the charms of women, which suggests the Halfhand was disciplined when it came to his vows. It’s another potential point of similarity with Ser Arthur.

Qhorin came and stood over him as the first flame rose up flickering from the shavings of bark and dead dry pine needles. "As shy as a maid on her wedding night," the big ranger said in a soft voice, "and near as fair. Sometimes a man forgets how pretty a fire can be."

He was not a man you'd expect to speak of maids and wedding nights. So far as Jon knew, Qhorin had spent his whole life in the Watch. Did he ever love a maid or have a wedding? He could not ask.

As far as Jon knew Qhorin had spent his whole life in the Watch, which it must be said sounds suspiciously similar to Mance’s back story, but for the first time Jon questions the Halfhand’s past. Again, GRRM drops some information, cuts it off, and then teases a little. Did Qhorin ever love or marry? I don’t think so, given what Mance said about Qhorin’s seemingly chaste nature. So perhaps he was recalling a wedding of a dear friend sometime in the past, a memory stirred by the young man he stood over. This could be the first recollection we have of the alleged marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna from someone who was there.

I choose Jon Snow.

Qhorin knew who Jon was from the outset and seems to have a particular interest in him.

"You are Jon Snow. You have your father's look."

"Did you know him, my lord?"

"I am no lordling. Only a brother of the Night's Watch...

In Westeros a lordling usually refers to a minor lord, like Beric Dondarrion, or the sibling or child of a lord, like Waymar Royce or Bran. Arthur Dayne was a lordling.

My lord is often just used as a simple courtesy in Westeros but Qhorin is quick to deny it. He does so again in a later chapter. This seems like the reply of someone who was a nobleman but is now only a brother of the Night’s Watch, not that of a random bastard who spent his whole life in the Watch. It reminds me of Griff’s reply to the same courtesy from Tyrion. The lordlings doth protest too much, methinks.

... I knew Lord Eddard, yes. And his father before him."

Jon had to hurry his steps to keep up with Qhorin's long strides. "Lord Rickard died before I was born."

"He was a friend to the Watch."

We know Arthur Dayne knew Ned from the Tower of Joy, but as Jon immediately reminds us, Lord Rickard died before Jon was born and therefore before Ser Arthur took the black. If Ser Arthur ever met Rickard Stark then it must have been when the Lord of Winterfell visited King Aerys II in 264 AC with a proposal to reclaim lands north of the Wall. Qhorin did mention that Lord Rickard was a friend to the Watch.

Qhorin Halfhand turned his head. His eyes met Jon's, and held them for a long moment. "Very well. I choose Jon Snow."

When asked by Mormont to choose men for his ranging into the Frostfangs, Qhorin selects Jon, a young untested steward, to ride with seasoned men like Ebben and Stonesnake.

Qhorin lifted his maimed, two-fingered hand. "The old gods are still strong beyond the Wall. The gods of the First Men . . . and the Starks."

He wants the old gods on his side, the gods of the Starks and the First Men. House Dayne also stretches back to the dawn of days and the time of the First Men.

The coin toss.

Qhorin left Jon to kill Ygritte after she yielded. This was a test of Jon’s character.

"I did not command it. I told you to do what needed to be done, and left you to decide what that would be." Qhorin stood and slid his longsword back into its scabbard. "When I want a mountain scaled, I call on Stonesnake. Should I need to put an arrow through the eye of some foe across a windy battlefield, I summon Squire Dalbridge. Ebben can make any man give up his secrets. To lead men you must know them, Jon Snow. I know more of you now than I did this morning."

"And if I had slain her?" asked Jon.

"She would be dead, and I would know you better than I had before. But enough talk...”

To lead men you must know them, true, but I believe there is further reason for Qhorin to test Jon. As King Jaehaerys once said; Every time a Targaryen is born the gods toss a coin in the air and the world holds it breath to see how it lands.

Red tears and rubies.

Then a string of red tears appeared across the big man's throat, bright as a ruby necklace, and the blood gushed out of him, and Qhorin Halfhand fell.

The rubies recall Rhaegar’s death at the Trident, and the blood gushed out of Qhorin, the seal of his devotion to Jon.

"All knights must bleed, Jaime," Ser Arthur Dayne had said, when he saw. "Blood is the seal of our devotion."

Ultimately, Qhorin Halfhand gave his own life to protect Jon and that is something we would expect of Ser Arthur. In fact it would even be a satisfying end to Arthur's arc.

Jon’s old friends.

...he was old friends with the Ice Dragon, the Shadowcat, the Moonmaid, and the Sword of the Morning.

Jon knows the northern stars well, but who do these old friends represent? The Ice Dragon is clearly Maester Aemon. The Shadowcat is Jon’s favorite sibling, Arya, who chased cats for Syrio and later went by the name Cat of the Canals. The Moonmaid is Ygritte, whom Jon “stole” when the Thief was in the Moonmaid, which is the propitious time to steal a wife according to free folk culture. That leaves the Sword of the Morning, Ser Arthur Dayne, known to Jon as Qhorin Halfhand.

Conclusion.

As he is presented, Arthur Dayne has a flat character arc. He is the same Arthur Dayne all the time, honorable and chivalrous and deadly. We don't know much about him but we know GRRM wants us to take note. The sword, Dawn, and the title, the Sword of the Morning, give him an almost mythical status, with the constellation of the same name prompting us to think in stellar terms. He is a recurring image, one we are reminded of from a variety of characters in every book. Despite all this, Arthur does very little to influence the plot. We could actually remove him from the story and not alter the plot significantly.

So what's his purpose?

The answer is Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, is a motif. As a character he has no arc, his impact on the plot is minimal, yet he does serve the story. He serves the theme. As a kingsguard sworn to protect the king he is a symbol of the game of thrones. In literature, a motif is recurring idea or symbol that is used to develop and explain the theme, which is the central message of the story.

The message being developed is this, the game of thrones is divisive and detrimental to society, it is the lie that must be slain so that the truth can prevail in the central conflict. The song of ice and fire is the truth, which says that mankind must unite to survive. In short, it's time to leave the lie behind and face the truth. This theme will be reflected in the main plot, as plot and theme are inextricably linked, but it will also be reinforced by literary devices such as symbols and motifs.

The Night's Watch are symbols of the song of ice and fire. Their black cloaks are symbols of the truth. Arthur's journey from white cloak to black is a journey from the lie to the truth, and thus the main function of his character is to support the main theme.

The houses of the Seven Kingdoms have cloaks of every colour, they play the game of thrones and the realm bleeds, but ultimately they will have to unite and take the same journey Ser Arthur took, because as we have been told more than once:  “By night all cloaks are black.”

Edited by three-eyed monkey
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26 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Howland could have appealed for a truce. It’s as likely as any of the above. Ser Arthur was as reasonable as he was deadly; the Smiling Knight is testament to that. He would have killed Ned, just as Ned admits, but Howland Reed appealed for a truce and Ser Arthur, being the fine knight he was, accepted and was merciful to the young lord of Winterfell.

 There were grounds for a truce, like Lyanna’s child to begin with. Rhaegar believed the child was the Prince that was Promised and presumably Arthur, his close confidant, knew that. Howland spent a winter on the Isle of Faces before playing a significant role in Lyanna coming to Rhaegar’s attention as the Knight of the Laughing Tree. We await further revelations about the events at Harrenhal too, but I suspect Howland knew the prophetic significance of their child. I will expand on the reasons for a potential truce in a later post, but for now my point is that Howland could have saved Ned in a way that did not result in Arthur’s death.

 Sparing Ned was smart from Arthur’s point of view, given that he had Rhaegar’s son to consider. The Targaryen cause was well beyond rallying by then. Dragonstone would not stand against Robert for long, nor would Starfall if Arthur went home. Dorne would hardly rise for a child who was not Elia’s while Robert would not look favourably on a child of Rhaegar’s. Ned on the other hand was Lyanna’s brother and was there out of concern for his sister. He was an honourable man, a quiet man, a lord who could raise the boy well as one of his own at Winterfell, and simply more valuable alive.

Dayne showed to be honorabl against the Smiling Knight, not reasonable, there is little reason to let a extemely dangerous bandits who was already hald dead grab another sword.

There is also little reason to you know, kill 8 people and only realize that the fight is pointless half they way, if Dayne believed his tasks what to fight to the dead, he would've fought to death.

About the latter, this all makes the same sense before 10 guys stupidly enough march to a very useless death than after 10 guys are dead.

 

35 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

With Lyanna’s son in Ned’s care, taking the black was not the worst choice for Arthur Dayne, considering the circumstances. It was the Wall or Essos. Being a sworn brother was the only life Ser Arthur knew. He would wear a black cloak instead of white and give his life to protecting the realm instead of the king on the Iron Throne. Of the three garrisons at the Wall, the Shadow Tower was the best choice as it was the most remote.

 If the doom the Prince that was Promised was prophesied to fight ever did descend on the realm, as Rhaegar believed, then it would come from the north as it had before. This is the very reason the Wall was built. As a black brother, Arthur Dayne would be well positioned to fight the enemy his prince was most concerned with. Meanwhile, Rhaegar’s son would be nearby at Winterfell, being raised in one of the few remaining houses in Westeros that still had respect for the Night’s Watch. There may even have been agreement at the tower that Ned’s new bastard would join the Watch once he came of age.

Why fake his death at all?? Why not present himself to KL, curse everyone and then demand to take the Black, noone would've denied him that, there is no reason at all to fake his death.

 

 

36 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Qhorin’s eyes are grey, and while purple eyes are associated with House Dayne, Ashara in particular, it should be noted that Edric Dayne's eyes are described as a blue so dark it was almost purple and Gerold Dayne’s eyes appear almost black, though Arianne had seen them up close and knew they were purple. We have no description of Arthur’s eyes.

 

 

The Starks have grey eyes...

 

 

39 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Qhorin drew his longsword. The tale of how he had taught himself to fight with his left hand after losing half of his right was part of his legend; it was said that he handled a blade better now than he ever had before.

 

 The most interesting aspect of this tale is its obvious parallel to Jaime’s story. As a boy Jaime wanted to be Arthur Dayne but someplace along the line had become the Smiling Knight instead, but perhaps he is following more closely in his hero’s footsteps than he knows.

 

"I learned from Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, who could have slain all five of you with his left hand while he was taking with a piss with the right.”

 

We get the impression that handling a sword well with his left hand was not beyond Ser Arthur, who like Qhorin was predominantly right-handed it seems.

 

It would not be unusual for GRRM to attach a double meaning to the moniker, Halfhand. Arthur was Rhaegar’s closest confidant and supporter. If the crown prince ever had taken the throne then surely Arthur would have been his potential Hand of the King, he would not have been the first kingsguard to hold the title, but of course Rhaegar never did become king.

I don't know where it's the parallel, Jaime is not going to learn how to fight as well with his left hand, there is simply no time for him to do so. 

We get the impression that the current KG is so below him that he could've killed them while pissing.

 

 

 

46 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

We are given no background on Qhorin Halfhand, other than he is a seasoned commander and half a legend in the Watch. When he joined the Watch, why he took the black, and whence he came remain a mystery.

 

The name suggests he is Ironborn, given that the only other Qhorin we know of is Qhorin Volmark of the Iron Isles from the time of Aegon the Conqueror, a descendant of Qhorwyn Hoare, which is another Ironborn variation of the name. It’s noteworthy that Qhorin Volmark declared himself the rightful heir of “the black line”. Highborn Ser Arthur knew his history I’m sure, so maybe the name Qhorin is a nod towards the rightful heir to another house with black banners or even to the rightful heir to the Night’s Watch?

How is that possible, i not only dout Arthur knew it, but the Targs banners are red, they are the red dragons, not the black ones.

 

 

 

49 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Other than the name, Qhorin Halfhand being Ironborn doesn’t really add up. It is not wholly unusual for Ironborn to serve in the Night’s Watch, Cotter Pyke is the baseborn son of a tavern wench who commands Eastwatch by the Sea, but the Ironborn are sailors so it makes perfect sense to station such men at Eastwatch, which is a port. Yet Qhorin Halfhand was stationed at the Shadow Tower under Ser Denys Mallister, a former tourney champion and a northman with an inherent dislike of the Ironborn.

 

“Samwell, it is not my habit to speak unkindly of my brothers, but let us be frank . . . the ironborn are a race of pirates and thieves, and Cotter Pyke was raping and murdering when he was still half a boy.”

 

Qhorin seemingly thrived at the Shadow Tower under Ser Denys, rising to a position of rank because like Ser Arthur he has a commanding presence and is respected by his brothers.

 

“Only fools like Thoren Smallwood despise the wildlings. They are as brave as we are, Jon. As strong, as quick, as clever. But they have no discipline...”

 

He values discipline, like a good knight should, and he doesn’t despise the wildlings but shows them respect, a somewhat chivalrous attitude towards the enemy that is not always common in the Watch.

He values discipline as any martial man should and he doesn't despise the wildlings, he acknowledge their danger. Don't think it's a chivalrious attitude but a smart one from someone who has already lost a hand by them.

 

 

 

 

52 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

“...Mance was the same. He never learned how to obey.”

 

Qhorin bemoans Mance’s lack of discipline and how his old friend never learned to obey, an attribute that is vital to knighthood. We recall what Ser Jon Darry said to Jaime in the Red Keep: “When you donned that cloak, you promised to obey.”

An attribute vital to the Watch too.

 

 

55 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Qhorin knew who Jon was from the outset and seems to have a particular interest in him.

 

"You are Jon Snow. You have your father's look."

 

"Did you know him, my lord?"

 

"I am no lordling. Only a brother of the Night's Watch...

 

In Westeros a lordling usually refers to a minor lord, like Beric Dondarrion, or the sibling or child of a lord, like Waymar Royce or Bran. Arthur Dayne was a lordling.

 

My lord is often just used as a simple courtesy in Westeros but Qhorin is quick to deny it. He does so again in a later chapter. This seems like the reply of someone who was a nobleman but is now only a brother of the Night’s Watch, not that of a random bastard who spent his whole life in the Watch. It reminds me of Griff’s reply to the same courtesy from Tyrion. The lordlings doth protest too much, methinks.

 

... I knew Lord Eddard, yes. And his father before him."

 

Jon had to hurry his steps to keep up with Qhorin's long strides. "Lord Rickard died before I was born."

 

"He was a friend to the Watch."

 

We know Arthur Dayne knew Ned from the Tower of Joy, but as Jon immediately reminds us, Lord Rickard died before Jon was born and therefore before Ser Arthur took the black. If Ser Arthur ever met Rickard Stark then it must have been when the Lord of Winterfell visited King Aerys II in 264 AC with a proposal to reclaim lands north of the Wall. Qhorin did mention that Lord Rickard was a friend to the Watch.

 

Qhorin Halfhand turned his head. His eyes met Jon's, and held them for a long moment. "Very well. I choose Jon Snow."

 

When asked by Mormont to choose men for his ranging into the Frostfangs, Qhorin selects Jon, a young untested steward, to ride with seasoned men like Ebben and Stonesnake.

 

Qhorin lifted his maimed, two-fingered hand. "The old gods are still strong beyond the Wall. The gods of the First Men . . . and the Starks."

 

It’s a first hint that Qhorin is concerned about something more perilous than wildlings. He wants the old gods on his side, the gods of the Starks and the First Men. House Dayne also stretches back to the dawn of days and the time of the First Men.

 

The coin toss.

 

Qhorin left Jon to kill Ygritte after she yielded. This was a test of Jon’s character.

 

"I did not command it. I told you to do what needed to be done, and left you to decide what that would be." Qhorin stood and slid his longsword back into its scabbard. "When I want a mountain scaled, I call on Stonesnake. Should I need to put an arrow through the eye of some foe across a windy battlefield, I summon Squire Dalbridge. Ebben can make any man give up his secrets. To lead men you must know them, Jon Snow. I know more of you now than I did this morning."

 

"And if I had slain her?" asked Jon.

 

"She would be dead, and I would know you better than I had before. But enough talk...”

 

To lead men you must know them, true, but I believe there is further reason for Qhorin to test Jon. As King Jaehaerys once said; Every time a Targaryen is born the gods toss a coin in the air and the world holds it breath to see how it lands.

 

1. The same more or less Mormont had.

2. The Daynes follows the Seven, the Hightowers and the Yronwoods are as descendants from first men as the Daynes or Lannisters.

The rest is circumstancial enough that i don't really know what to say.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

The reveal will come when, as promised, we learn more about the Tower of Joy, most likely through Howland Reed. It would alter the narrative surrounding the Tower of Joy, shifting the emphasis from the game of thrones to the song of ice and fire.

 

These two main strands of the story are intertwined at the tower. The political power plays and divisive manoeuvres of the claimants to the Iron Throne have been to the fore in the series, while matters of prophecy have remained in the background, discarded from the outset by sceptics like Maester Luwin and Tyrion. Many readers point to Jon’s significance as a potential heir to the Iron Throne, which may be all well and true, but in the context of the series his significance as the Prince that was Promised seems far more important. In Ned’s fever dream there is a brief exchange with Arthur Dayne that, I believe, shows how their perspectives differ.

 

"And now it begins," said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

 

"No," Ned said with sadness in his voice. "Now it ends." 

 

Ned was talking about the war for the Iron Throne, which was about to end, but Arthur was talking about the song of ice and fire, which began with the birth of the Prince that was Promised, whose song it is.

Doubt it, it seems that both were talking about the coming battle.  There is no narrative purpose for Qhorin to be Arthur, everything Arthur knew Howland will, Qhorin didn't say nothing that could only be said by Arthur and more importantly, he's dead. Why would Martin give him 16 more random years to later kill him anyway. It makes the same sense as Robert being Belwas imo. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, frenin said:

Dayne showed to be honorabl against the Smiling Knight, not reasonable, there is little reason to let a extemely dangerous bandits who was already hald dead grab another sword.

I should have said more than reasonable. The point is he stopped to facilitate the Smiling Knight, why not Howland Reed.

41 minutes ago, frenin said:

There is also little reason to you know, kill 8 people and only realize that the fight is pointless half they way, if Dayne believed his tasks what to fight to the dead, he would've fought to death.

Except he probably would have won the fight.

43 minutes ago, frenin said:

About the latter, this all makes the same sense before 10 guys stupidly enough march to a very useless death than after 10 guys are dead.

Seven dead, three survived.

45 minutes ago, frenin said:

Why fake his death at all?? Why not present himself to KL, curse everyone and then demand to take the Black, noone would've denied him that, there is no reason at all to fake his death.

Why present himself to Robert, who he probably disliked, when he could just go straight to the Wall?

47 minutes ago, frenin said:

The Starks have grey eyes...

Correct. Are you suggesting he's a Stark?

48 minutes ago, frenin said:

I don't know where it's the parallel, Jaime is not going to learn how to fight as well with his left hand, there is simply no time for him to do so. 

We get the impression that the current KG is so below him that he could've killed them while pissing.

The parallel with Jaime is clear even if the result is not the same.

50 minutes ago, frenin said:

How is that possible, i not only dout Arthur knew it, but the Targs banners are red, they are the red dragons, not the black ones.

He knew about it because higborn like Jaime, Tyrion, and Bran have been educated in history. Yes the dragon is red but the banner is black.

53 minutes ago, frenin said:

He values discipline as any martial man should and he doesn't despise the wildlings, he acknowledge their danger. Don't think it's a chivalrious attitude but a smart one from someone who has already lost a hand by them.

It's an attitude we might expect from Arthur Dayne.

54 minutes ago, frenin said:

An attribute vital to the Watch too.

Correct. That's part of the reason it was such a good fit for Arthur.

1 hour ago, frenin said:

1. The same more or less Mormont had.

Yes. The point is Qhorin showed a lot of interest in Jon. I know there were others.

1 hour ago, frenin said:

2. The Daynes follows the Seven, the Hightowers and the Yronwoods are as descendants from first men as the Daynes or Lannisters.

Yes, the point is the Old Gods were once the Dayne gods. Their house predates the Seven.

1 hour ago, frenin said:

The rest is circumstancial enough that i don't really know what to say.

I would call it a narrative argument.

1 hour ago, frenin said:

Doubt it, it seems that both were talking about the coming battle.  There is no narrative purpose for Qhorin to be Arthur, everything Arthur knew Howland will, Qhorin didn't say nothing that could only be said by Arthur and more importantly, he's dead. Why would Martin give him 16 more random years to later kill him anyway. It makes the same sense as Robert being Belwas imo. 

If Arthur is dead why are we waiting so long to find out how he died or who killed him?

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57 minutes ago, frenin said:

There is no narrative purpose for Qhorin to be Arthur, everything Arthur knew Howland will, Qhorin didn't say nothing that could only be said by Arthur and more importantly, he's dead. Why would Martin give him 16 more random years to later kill him anyway. It makes the same sense as Robert being Belwas imo. 

This. If Arthur faked his death, he would need to play a role, and, above all, he would need a meaningful reveal. No reveal, no infodump from Qhorin, nothing.

Besides, leaving Jon in the hands of Ned, who would never support his claim to the throne against Robert and allow another civil war, is hardly in accordance with the KG vows. Letting him live the life of Ned's bastard is hardly a starting point for the career of a PTWP, either. I don't think Arthur would ever let that happen.

Personally, I don't understand where this hype for faked deaths and concealed identities comes from. While we do see a couple of people presumed dead, I think there is only that much of this device that a narrative can use without cheapening to a farcical level. The use of the net for immobilizing opponent has been fully established with Meera, and Barristan's PoV shows that a similar tool, a whip, is highly effective even against an armored knight. No convoluted explanation needed to allow Howland save Ned's life. Did Howland establish the killing blow, as well, though? He might have, though I wouldn't be surprised if the whole outcome was even more tragic - like, the immobilized Arthur refuses to yield and basically forces Ned to execute him. That would be quite a reason for Ned's sadness.

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14 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

This. If Arthur faked his death, he would need to play a role, and, above all, he would need a meaningful reveal. No reveal, no infodump from Qhorin, nothing.

If it was revealed that Arthur was Qhorin it would be meaningful because it would alter the narrative surrounding the ToJ scene, which is pivotal to the series. No infodump from Qhorin as it is early in the series, but perhaps some clues and implications.

17 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

Besides, leaving Jon in the hands of Ned, who would never support his claim to the throne against Robert and allow another civil war, is hardly in accordance with the KG vows.

Serving Aerys in those last few years made honouring those vows very difficult according to Barristan. The three at the tower were intelligent men, they would have viewed it no different. But this is the whole point of Arthur Daynes story, it's not about the game of thrones it's about the song of ice and fire.

21 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

Letting him live the life of Ned's bastard is hardly a starting point for the career of a PTWP, either. I don't think Arthur would ever let that happen.

Why not? The Others come from the north, that's why the Wall was built up there. The Stark words are Winter is Coming. That's what Rhaegar was essentially preparing for, a winter that would threaten the existence of mankind. It's the point of the prophecy. I can't think of a better place for the Prince that was Promised to be raised, given that he was Rhaegar's son and Robert was on the throne.

27 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

Personally, I don't understand where this hype for faked deaths and concealed identities comes from. While we do see a couple of people presumed dead, I think there is only that much of this device that a narrative can use without cheapening to a farcical level.

Concealed identities are a fact of life in Westeros, because they are largely effective. There have been a lot of characters who concealed their identity. Identity is one of the bigger topics or the series and there are some great themes around it. I don't think it cheapens the narrative at all, in fact I think it's richer for it. For example, Arthur has a more complete arc which reflects the upping of stakes from game of thrones to a song of ice and fire, which is coming.

38 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

The use of the net for immobilizing opponent has been fully established with Meera, and Barristan's PoV shows that a similar tool, a whip, is highly effective even against an armored knight. No convoluted explanation needed to allow Howland save Ned's life. Did Howland establish the killing blow, as well, though? He might have, though I wouldn't be surprised if the whole outcome was even more tragic - like, the immobilized Arthur refuses to yield and basically forces Ned to execute him. That would be quite a reason for Ned's sadness.

Would that be the type of meaningful reveal you are talking about? If that's what happened then I fail to see why it was withheld in the first place. There must be more to it, in my opinion.

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27 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I should have said more than reasonable. The point is he stopped to facilitate the Smiling Knight, why not Howland Reed.

Because he at any rate intended not to kill the Smiling Knight, he stopped for him to pick up another sword but the smiling knight was going to die that day, 2vs1 also limits the amount of chivalty you can show to your foes.

 

30 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Except he probably would have won the fight.

How can we come to that conclussion??

 

31 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Seven dead, three survived.

2 as far as we know, but you're right, i mixed the numbers. My bad.

 

 

31 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Correct. Are you suggesting he's a Stark?

Likelier he's a Stark bastard a la Gendry than Arthur Dayne, but he's probably nobody, not every remarkable character has to be of noble birth or have noble ancestry.

 

 

34 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Why present himself to Robert, who he probably disliked, when he could just go straight to the Wall?

Why fake his death at all. Presenting him to Robert, to give up his cloak and then go to the Wall is one of many outcomes, but there is no reason fr why he should fake his death.

 

 

36 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

The parallel with Jaime is clear even if the result is not the same.

Except that's not a parallel?? Jaime lost a hand, Qhorin several fingers, Qhorin taught himself how to become deadly again, Jaime would be lucky if he bests Ser Borros someday.

 

 

 

38 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

He knew about it because higborn like Jaime, Tyrion, and Bran have been educated in history. Yes the dragon is red but the banner is black.

They have been educated in history, but not in depth. Jaime didn't even remember Maegor's wars.  Tyrion is a library rat ans i very much doubt Bran knows who's Qhorin Volmark. But the important part is the color of the dragon and the beast in the banner, if not is difficult to destinguish from others.

 

 

41 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It's an attitude we might expect from Arthur Dayne.

And every other seasoned warrior with half a brain.

 

 

42 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Correct. That's part of the reason it was such a good fit for Arthur.

It might, but the fact that Arthur could fit in the watch, it's not evidence, not even a circumstancial one, of him faking his death and joining the watch. It just tells us that most of seasoned commanders value the same things.

 

 

 

44 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Yes. The point is Qhorin showed a lot of interest in Jon. I know there were others.

But if others do the same, it kind of deny the rareness of the action.

 

 

46 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I would call it a narrative argument.

Disagree...

 

48 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Yes, the point is the Old Gods were once the Dayne gods. Their house predates the Seven.

As practically every House from Westeros.

 

 

49 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

If Arthur is dead why are we waiting so long to find out how he died or who killed him?

Because it's not relevant. The only relevancy i can see in that is what are their excuses and what those imply for Lyanna and Jon, but Arthur's specific dead is as irrelevant as the other KG and Ned's pals.

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9 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

If it was revealed that Arthur was Qhorin it would be meaningful because it would alter the narrative surrounding the ToJ scene, which is pivotal to the series. No infodump from Qhorin as it is early in the series, but perhaps some clues and implications.

As @frenin pointed out, Howland is fully capable to reveal what happened at ToJ, hence Arthur is completely redundant in this respect. What he would be useful for, revealing the awakening of the Others and the impending ice zombie apocalypse, is never utilised. So either Rhaegar's closest confidant never knew about the threat, which makes the argument about choosing the Watch as the convenient location void, or the guy is just Qhorin who really has no clue.

9 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Serving Aerys in those last few years made honouring those vows very difficult according to Barristan. The three at the tower were intelligent men, they would have viewed it no different. But this is the whole point of Arthur Daynes story, it's not about the game of thrones it's about the song of ice and fire.

Whenever Arthur enters the scene, be it ToJ or Jaime's dream, there is sadness about him, which definitely makes sense for a man in his predicament. Yet, in the confrontation with Ned, his determination is unwavered and he acts in his Kingsguard capacity. As you have pointed out yourself, he was an intelligent man. What could Howland have suggested that Arthur hadn't thought about himself? Joining the Watch to prepare the ground for the PTWP is hardly rocket science.

9 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Why not? The Others come from the north, that's why the Wall was built up there. The Stark words are Winter is Coming. That's what Rhaegar was essentially preparing for, a winter that would threaten the existence of mankind. It's the point of the prophecy. I can't think of a better place for the Prince that was Promised to be raised, given that he was Rhaegar's son and Robert was on the throne.

First, we don't know for sure what Rhaegar thought was coming. Second, as I have pointed out above: if you know what it coming and you have fourteen years to do something about it, then what the hell Qhorin/Arthur was doing the whole time?! Not only did he fail to get in touch with Maester Aemon to prompt him into looking into the old writings and use his authority to spread the knowledge (and here I don't mean necessarily preaching openly about the impending doom but at least dropping bits of important knowledge, like fire and dragonglass, and circulating legends about the Watch's original purpose), he didn't even impart any knowledge to Jon in their final conversation. And that makes zero sense to me

 

 

10 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Concealed identities are a fact of life in Westeros, because they are largely effective. There have been a lot of characters who concealed their identity. Identity is one of the bigger topics or the series and there are some great themes around it. I don't think it cheapens the narrative at all, in fact I think it's richer for it. For example, Arthur has a more complete arc which reflects the upping of stakes from game of thrones to a song of ice and fire, which is coming.

They are effective because of a setting without documents and means to verify someone's identity. Yet, an absolute majority of characters we encounter are who they are. One's true identity and coming to terms with it is indeed a theme but that is not the same as fake identification, that is not a theme. If you place someone as important as Arthur into hiding, you need him come out and do bloody something, just like Obi-wan was hiding under the Ben moniker. When he was revealed, things started to happen, Luke got some fact about his father, from a certain point of view, and started to learn the ways of the Force. Obi-wan was crucial for setting Luke on the path of the Jedi. Qhorin asks specifically for Jon to join him on the mission but never, ever, makes an attempt to talk about Jon's parentage, the prophecy, Others.... in other words, anything relevant to Jon's lineage and his supposed role as the PTWP. Not even when it's just the two of them. Ever. 

 

10 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Would that be the type of meaningful reveal you are talking about? If that's what happened then I fail to see why it was withheld in the first place. There must be more to it, in my opinion.

Absolutely not. It would be just one more piece to the whole puzzle. A meaningful reveal would have to connect somehow to Jon's parentage and/or his role as the PTWP and the prophecy. Because the way Arthur was taken down is not important, no-one ever wonders how come that Ned Stark offed the great Arthur Dayne, and the focus of Jon's backstory is not Arthur Dayne, either.

Ned never talks about any details - Brandon's death, the HH tournament, the ToJ fight - so not elaborating on the way Howland saved his life may not mean a thing, but if it involved backstabbing or the use of the net, which would be perceived as dishonorable, he definitely wouldn't want to add to the crannogmen's poor reputation in the Seven Kingdoms. He would also most likely feel ashamed that his life had to be saved in such a  way, but he could hardly complain about it when so much depended on him.

 

tl;dr: Qhorin doesn't share any special moment with Jon beyond what you could expect from an experienced leader of the Watch, doesn't in any way indicate being privy to any special knowledge about Jon's paternity and his role in the prophecy, doesn't prepare the Watch for what is coming and focuses on fighting the Wildlings instead. I find his behaviour incompatible with Arthur Dayne in hiding and therefore I give the theory zero credit.

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14 hours ago, frenin said:

Because he at any rate intended not to kill the Smiling Knight, he stopped for him to pick up another sword but the smiling knight was going to die that day, 2vs1 also limits the amount of chivalty you can show to your foes.

This comes back to the line, he would have killed Ned but for Howland Reed. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that Howland killed Arthur but there are other ways Howland could have intervened. I'm proposing the intervention was verbal. If Arthur was content to allow the Smiling Knight to fetch another sword then I don't see why he would not be content to listen to Howland with Ned at his mercy.

14 hours ago, frenin said:

How can we come to that conclussion??

Jaime gushing over Dayne with Dawn in hand. Ned's own recollection that Ser Arthur would have killed him. How can we conclude that Dayne died when we have no account of his death?

14 hours ago, frenin said:

2 as far as we know, but you're right, i mixed the numbers. My bad.

Two northmen, according to Ned.

14 hours ago, frenin said:

Likelier he's a Stark bastard a la Gendry than Arthur Dayne, but he's probably nobody, not every remarkable character has to be of noble birth or have noble ancestry.

It's nothing to do with his noble birth or ancestry, I'm just suspicious about his vague backstory, and curious about his recollection of a shy maid on her wedding night and his musing about forgetting how beautiful a fire (Targaryen metaphor) could be. Maybe he is just a nobody whose background we will never now know, given the style of this series I doubt it, but I understand why some readers might think that.

14 hours ago, frenin said:

They have been educated in history, but not in depth. Jaime didn't even remember Maegor's wars.  Tyrion is a library rat ans i very much doubt Bran knows who's Qhorin Volmark.

It's simply a suggestion as to why he chose the name Qhorin. I understand you don't buy it, but I don't buy Qhorin being Ironborn as I explained in the OP.

14 hours ago, frenin said:

But the important part is the color of the dragon and the beast in the banner, if not is difficult to destinguish from others.

I said the Targaryen banners are black and they are. Black banners with a red device. I think we both agree on that and it's not a point that is important to the theory.

15 hours ago, frenin said:

And every other seasoned warrior with half a brain.

No, not every other seasoned warrior with half a brain is chivalrous. And not everyone is respectful towards the wildlings, far from it.

15 hours ago, frenin said:

It might, but the fact that Arthur could fit in the watch, it's not evidence, not even a circumstancial one, of him faking his death and joining the watch. It just tells us that most of seasoned commanders value the same things.

I'm not suggesting there is some unique quality of Arthur that we can see in Qhorin, just that they share aspects of character. I would be less convinced if they did not.

15 hours ago, frenin said:

But if others do the same, it kind of deny the rareness of the action.

Not everyone shares an interest in Jon. Some characters do. Qhorin and Arthur belong to that group. Again, I would be less convinced if he did not.

16 hours ago, frenin said:

Except that's not a parallel?? Jaime lost a hand, Qhorin several fingers, Qhorin taught himself how to become deadly again, Jaime would be lucky if he bests Ser Borros someday.

I'm not suggesting Jaime has learned to fight with his left, just that both lost the use of their sword hand. It's very simple.

16 hours ago, frenin said:

Why fake his death at all. Presenting him to Robert, to give up his cloak and then go to the Wall is one of many outcomes, but there is no reason fr why he should fake his death.

Why put himself at the mercy of Robert? He was complicit in the supposed abduction of Lyanna, who did not survive the experience. Robert had supposedly started a war to get her back and killed Arthur's dear friend in the process. Smarter to just take the black without the unnecessary risk of Robert's reaction. When men take the black they leave their past behind, and I feel that was what Arthur wanted.

16 hours ago, frenin said:

Because it's not relevant. The only relevancy i can see in that is what are their excuses and what those imply for Lyanna and Jon, but Arthur's specific dead is as irrelevant as the other KG and Ned's pals.

I'm thinking of Ned's conversation with Bran about Arthur, for example, and how the details were cut short on purpose in a way that is very common in literature, followed by Bran signposting that there is more to the story before moving on.

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I think the theory is plausible. Not proven, but plausible. Actually, I would even like it to be true. But then I suppose some of the Daynes would have to know the truth as well, because it could explain the Daynes' apparent respect for and good opinion of Ned Stark (which seems to go beyond just respecting a noble enemy).

The "rubies" around Qhorin's neck have always intrigued me. They seem to link him either to the Lannisters or to Rhaegar, but I don't see how Qhorin could have anything to do with the Lannisters (the parallel with Jaime is interesting though, regardless of Qhorin's backstory), and I don't subscribe to theories where Qhorin is Rhaegar, but the above theory would be satisfying in this respect (IMO). It is also true that Jon has clear associations with the Sword of the Morning (even if it's the star constellation).

As for Arthur, there must be some more to his story than what we already know. In Ned's memory, he has a place different from the place the other KG's in the TOJ have, and it can't be due to just Arthur's reputation, IMO.

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1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

This comes back to the line, he would have killed Ned but for Howland Reed. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that Howland killed Arthur but there are other ways Howland could have intervened. I'm proposing the intervention was verbal. If Arthur was content to allow the Smiling Knight to fetch another sword then I don't see why he would not be content to listen to Howland with Ned at his mercy.

Again, because Arthur never changed his mind about not killing the Smiling Knight, we're told that Arthur took his vows seriously, hell they themselves start to brag about it. Letting Ned walk away goes against his vows. Why fight in the first time??

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Jaime gushing over Dayne with Dawn in hand. Ned's own recollection that Ser Arthur would have killed him. How can we conclude that Dayne died when we have no account of his death?

That doesn't mean he could've killed two more mn after fighting a couple more before, we don't know whether he was injured or not and Ned makes clear that Howland was the differential factor, which makes it the more unlikey Howland could've killedthem both.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Two northmen, according to Ned.

And Arthur lies beneath the ground according to everyone.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It's nothing to do with his noble birth or ancestry, I'm just suspicious about his vague backstory, and curious about his recollection of a shy maid on her wedding night and his musing about forgetting how beautiful a fire (Targaryen metaphor) could be. Maybe he is just a nobody whose background we will never now know, given the style of this series I doubt it, but I understand why some readers might think that.

I don't find nothing odd with it, Jon does not know his past and prejudice, it's all so circumstancial i don't know what to say.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It's simply a suggestion as to why he chose the name Qhorin. I understand you don't buy it, but I don't buy Qhorin being Ironborn as I explained in the OP.

He might just have an IB name, or Qhorin might be more normal than we know.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I said the Targaryen banners are black and they are. Black banners with a red device. I think we both agree on that and it's not a point that is important to the theory.

As important as others, it's black you say, there are a lot of black banners around then and one can only think on the black dragons, it's odd.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

No, not every other seasoned warrior with half a brain is chivalrous. And not everyone is respectful towards the wildlings, far from it.

Qhorin is not chivalrious, respecting your enemie does not make you chivalrious, not everyone is respectful towards the IB, those who are seasoned and have half a brain, know about the danger they represent.

 

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I'm not suggesting there is some unique quality of Arthur that we can see in Qhorin, just that they share aspects of character. I would be less convinced if they did not.

It would be incredible odd if they did not, since they are warriors and commanders.

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I'm not suggesting Jaime has learned to fight with his left, just that both lost the use of their sword hand. It's very simple.

As a lot of people did,

 

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Why put himself at the mercy of Robert? He was complicit in the supposed abduction of Lyanna, who did not survive the experience. Robert had supposedly started a war to get her back and killed Arthur's dear friend in the process. Smarter to just take the black without the unnecessary risk of Robert's reaction. When men take the black they leave their past behind, and I feel that was what Arthur wanted.

Because we know Robert forgives the brave ones, Arthur was one of those and you keep dodging the question, if all Arthur wanted was to join the Watch, there is absolutely no reason to fake his death.

 

 

1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I'm thinking of Ned's conversation with Bran about Arthur, for example, and how the details were cut short on purpose in a way that is very common in literature, followed by Bran signposting that there is more to the story before moving on.

Ofc there is more to the story, it's the ToJ but his death and how he died is as relevant as the others.

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6 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Howland is fully capable to reveal what happened at ToJ, hence Arthur is completely redundant in this respect.

We agree on this. I even say as much in the OP. The reveal about the ToJ will come from Howland, most likely.

6 hours ago, Ygrain said:

What he would be useful for, revealing the awakening of the Others and the impending ice zombie apocalypse, is never utilised. So either Rhaegar's closest confidant never knew about the threat, which makes the argument about choosing the Watch as the convenient location void, or the guy is just Qhorin who really has no clue.

I don't think Arthur was fully convinced about the return of the Others. And for years he watched and little happened to convince him Rhaegar was right. Rhaegar had been wrong before, thinking he was the Prince that was Promised and then Aegon. But Qhorin did come to the realization that the cold winds were rising and the old powers awakening, as Joer and Benjen suspected.

6 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Whenever Arthur enters the scene, be it ToJ or Jaime's dream, there is sadness about him, which definitely makes sense for a man in his predicament. Yet, in the confrontation with Ned, his determination is unwavered and he acts in his Kingsguard capacity.

There are lots of reasons for Arthur to be sad at the ToJ and in Jaime's dream. He ultimately failed as a kingsguard, although we might argue that he redeemed himself in that regard when he gave his life for Jon. And while Arthur certainly begins the confrontation in his capacity as a kingsguard, while Lord Commander Hightower was alive, we don't know if he ended the confrontation the same way. That information has been so far withheld.

6 hours ago, Ygrain said:

What could Howland have suggested that Arthur hadn't thought about himself?

That depends on what Arthur thought about Lyanna's child. Did he lean towards the heir to the throne or the Prince that was Promised. As I said in my last point, I think Arthur began the confrontation with the northmen in kingsguard mode. He was thinking heir to the throne at that stage. He would have killed Ned in his capacity as a kingsguard, but for Howland Reed. I think that intervention was verbal, probably words we have read somewhere in the series, like winter is coming or the trees have eyes again. Something that moved the emphasis from the game of thrones to the song of ice and fire, as symbolized by Arthur's change of cloak.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Joining the Watch to prepare the ground for the PTWP is hardly rocket science.

I agree.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

First, we don't know for sure what Rhaegar thought was coming.

I think we do. The Long Night and the Others had come before, when kings shivered and died in their castles before a hero saved the world by killing sacrificing the person he loved most. Rhaegar sang of twilight, tears, and the death of kings. The scroll Rhaegar read when he suddenly decided that he needed to be a warrior was most likely the Azor Ahai prophecy. He relates the Prince that was Promised song with the song of ice and fire.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Second, as I have pointed out above: if you know what it coming and you have fourteen years to do something about it, then what the hell Qhorin/Arthur was doing the whole time?!

The fact that the Long Night never materialized in that time would not support the prophetic thesis. What could Arthur do but wait and watch.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Not only did he fail to get in touch with Maester Aemon to prompt him into looking into the old writings and use his authority to spread the knowledge (and here I don't mean necessarily preaching openly about the impending doom but at least dropping bits of important knowledge, like fire and dragonglass, and circulating legends about the Watch's original purpose),

I think it would take more than Aemon and old scrolls to convince people. I think even Arthur was not fully convinced, I'm sure he had faith in his friend but not necessarily blind faith.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

he didn't even impart any knowledge to Jon in their final conversation. And that makes zero sense to me

As you're fond of Star Wars analogies, we could ask the same of Obi Wan and Luke. It was early in the series and sometimes such things must be avoided to preserve a mystery.

7 hours ago, Ygrain said:

They are effective because of a setting without documents and means to verify someone's identity. Yet, an absolute majority of characters we encounter are who they are. One's true identity and coming to terms with it is indeed a theme but that is not the same as fake identification, that is not a theme.

There are a number of themes under the topic of identity. One's true identity and coming to terms with who you are is part of it. And I would say that Arthur came to terms with who he is, and what a true knight is, when he chose to defend the realm instead of a king, even if he did so under another identity. Some themes overlap, clearly.

9 hours ago, Ygrain said:

If you place someone as important as Arthur into hiding, you need him come out and do bloody something, just like Obi-wan was hiding under the Ben moniker. When he was revealed, things started to happen, Luke got some fact about his father, from a certain point of view, and started to learn the ways of the Force. Obi-wan was crucial for setting Luke on the path of the Jedi.

I'm not suggesting Qhorin is in the main mentor role for our hero, like Obi Wan and Luke. For Jon, I think that role has been shared by several characters, which I prefer. I would be more inclined to liken Arthur to Anakin, someone who we are told in ambiguous language is dead, but is not. The parallel would be in terms of story-telling device rather than character, obviously.

9 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Qhorin asks specifically for Jon to join him on the mission but never, ever, makes an attempt to talk about Jon's parentage, the prophecy, Others.... in other words, anything relevant to Jon's lineage and his supposed role as the PTWP. Not even when it's just the two of them. Ever. 

It's a good point but I don't know how GRRM would have gotten around that with out spoiling a main mystery in the series, other than the way he chose to do it. As I said, probably the same reason Obi Wan didn't come straight out with everything when he met Luke. On the flip side we have to ask why Qhorin unquestioningly sacrificed his life for Jon if he didn't think Jon was important?

9 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Absolutely not. It would be just one more piece to the whole puzzle. A meaningful reveal would have to connect somehow to Jon's parentage and/or his role as the PTWP and the prophecy. Because the way Arthur was taken down is not important, no-one ever wonders how come that Ned Stark offed the great Arthur Dayne, and the focus of Jon's backstory is not Arthur Dayne, either.

How Dayne died is insignificant really. At best it will effect how we view Ned or Howland's character. It's not going to impact the question of Jon being the PtwP. For me it comes back to this, if Dayne died then we would know who killed him. GRRM would have put the body up front, to use crime writing parlance, because there is nothing to gain from not doing so.

9 hours ago, Ygrain said:

Ned never talks about any details - Brandon's death, the HH tournament, the ToJ fight - so not elaborating on the way Howland saved his life may not mean a thing, but if it involved backstabbing or the use of the net, which would be perceived as dishonorable, he definitely wouldn't want to add to the crannogmen's poor reputation in the Seven Kingdoms. He would also most likely feel ashamed that his life had to be saved in such a  way, but he could hardly complain about it when so much depended on him.

From a story-telling point of view Ned doesn't have to talk about many of those subjects because we get the accounts from other characters. The ToJ is different because there are not many other sources available and it is a scene that is pivotal to the series and one that we know will be revisited near the end.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, frenin said:

Again, because Arthur never changed his mind about not killing the Smiling Knight, we're told that Arthur took his vows seriously, hell they themselves start to brag about it. Letting Ned walk away goes against his vows. Why fight in the first time??

When I say it's a pivotal scene in the series, I mean it will change our perspective on the narrative, shifting from game of thrones to the song of ice and fire. Arthur will reflect that, going to protecting the heir to protecting the Prince that was Promised thanks to Howland's as yet undisclosed intervention, and thus going from Ned's enemy to his ally.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

That doesn't mean he could've killed two more mn after fighting a couple more before, we don't know whether he was injured or not and Ned makes clear that Howland was the differential factor, which makes it the more unlikey Howland could've killedthem both.

So my speculation bad, your speculation good? The question is why are we speculating? Because the information about this pivotal scene has been withheld for a reason.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

And Arthur lies beneath the ground according to everyone.

That's why Ned built eight cairns, so it fit with the story.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

I don't find nothing odd with it, Jon does not know his past and prejudice, it's all so circumstancial i don't know what to say.

It is written to not seem odd so that the reveal will surprise.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

He might just have an IB name, or Qhorin might be more normal than we know.

He has an Ironborn name. The question is why? I don't buy that he's Ironborn.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

As important as others, it's black you say, there are a lot of black banners around then and one can only think on the black dragons, it's odd.

Or the Night's Watch, I did say. But it is not an important point. It was speculation based on speculation about the name Qhorin, if that was not already clear.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

Qhorin is not chivalrious, respecting your enemie does not make you chivalrious, not everyone is respectful towards the IB, those who are seasoned and have half a brain, know about the danger they represent. 

In fact being gracious and honorable towards your enemy is an aspect of chivalry. But let's just say I find Qhorin's attitude more in keeping with what I would expect from Arthur Dayne than that of someone like Thoren Smallwood.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

It would be incredible odd if they did not, since they are warriors and commanders.

They are similar, yes. What would be odd and would help your theory is if they were dissimilar. It's not a big point but I'd rather have it in my favour than not.

3 hours ago, frenin said:

As a lot of people did,

Yes, a lot of people lost their mothers in childbirth too but I still appreciate the parallel between Jon and Dany and Tyrion in the context of the actual story we're being told.

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Because we know Robert forgives the brave ones, Arthur was one of those and you keep dodging the question, if all Arthur wanted was to join the Watch, there is absolutely no reason to fake his death.

Robert forgives the brave ones is not very assuring when you're implicated in the rape and death of his betrothed. I'm not dodging the question at all. He didn't want to take the risk with Robert, as it was a needless risk, and that obviously meant going to the Wall under a new identity as it would not take long for word to reach King's Landing if Arthur Dayne rocked up to Castle Black. Not only was there a reason, it was his only option if he wanted to avoid rolling the dice with Robert. You just keep avoiding the answer.

4 hours ago, frenin said:

Ofc there is more to the story, it's the ToJ but his death and how he died is as relevant as the others.

Ned and Bran's conversation specifically signposted Arthur Dayne, and Bran wanted to know more in a line that's very purpose is to guide the reader to want it too. The technique is used dozens of times throughout the series.

It's the same reason Ned's account was vague and ambiguous. But for Howland Reed can mean a lot of things but before the series ends we will know exactly what it means. And it will not be what a lot of readers have been led to expect.

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6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

When I say it's a pivotal scene in the series, I mean it will change our perspective on the narrative, shifting from game of thrones to the song of ice and fire. Arthur will reflect that, going to protecting the heir to protecting the Prince that was Promised thanks to Howland's as yet undisclosed intervention, and thus going from Ned's enemy to his ally.

But there is no need Arthur's survive for that to happen.

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

So my speculation bad, your speculation good? The question is why are we speculating? Because the information about this pivotal scene has been withheld for a reason.

My speculation is that even the best warriors are not superhumans. 7 beat 3 and of the 7 we can't any reputed for their skill at arms. We don't know how the others died either. But we know they died.

 

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

That's why Ned built eight cairns, so it fit with the story.

And why Arthur and not Whent?? We're not told, as per your argument, that any of the KG died, so as far as we know, they may end surviving.

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It is written to not seem odd so that the reveal will surprise.

Or because it's not odd at all.

 

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

He has an Ironborn name. The question is why? I don't buy that he's Ironborn.

Theon has an Stark name then?? Or the Starks adopted a IB name?? 

 

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

In fact being gracious and honorable towards your enemy is an aspect of chivalry. But let's just say I find Qhorin's attitude more in keeping with what I would expect from Arthur Dayne than that of someone like Thoren Smallwood.

But Qhorin is neither chivalric nor gracious, he just acknowledges the danger the wildlings present.

 

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Robert forgives the brave ones is not very assuring when you're implicated in the rape and death of his betrothed. I'm not dodging the question at all. He didn't want to take the risk with Robert, as it was a needless risk, and that obviously meant going to the Wall under a new identity as it would not take long for word to reach King's Landing if Arthur Dayne rocked up to Castle Black. Not only was there a reason, it was his only option if he wanted to avoid rolling the dice with Robert. You just keep avoiding the answer.

Still there is no reason to fake his death, Arthur only has to go to Starfall, take a ship north and go to the Wall, there is no reason to conceal his identity, no reason at all to being dead. Once Arthur was in the Wall, he was out of Robert's or anyone's reach.

 

 

6 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Ned and Bran's conversation specifically signposted Arthur Dayne, and Bran wanted to know more in a line that's very purpose is to guide the reader to want it too. The technique is used dozens of times throughout the series.

It's the same reason Ned's account was vague and ambiguous. But for Howland Reed can mean a lot of things but before the series ends we will know exactly what it means. And it will not be what a lot of readers have been led to expect.

Arthur Dayne is the greatest warrior of the era, i find it more than logic that Arthur Dayne is signposted, that and the single combat blah blah blah. I can bet that Arthur is as dead as the rest of the deads.

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7 hours ago, frenin said:

But there is no need Arthur's survive for that to happen.

The scene could swing on Howland, true. But then why all the mystery around Arthur's death? I think a well respected and much lauded white cloak becoming a black cloak would perfectly underline that swing given what the cloaks symbolize. The ToJ will be revisited. The idea that by night all cloaks are black is repeated several times in the series. Winter will come. The emphasis will shift from the game of thrones to the song of ice and fire. All these story elements will fit together, and I'm merely suggesting how that will happen.

7 hours ago, frenin said:

My speculation is that even the best warriors are not superhumans. 7 beat 3 and of the 7 we can't any reputed for their skill at arms. We don't know how the others died either. But we know they died.

The deaths of the others aren't signposted like Arthur's is by Ned and Bran. GRRM is practically telling you to watch this space. I agree that the best warriors can be beaten. The result of the fight might have went any way due to any number of circumstances, but the one who decides all that is the author who strives to make the best storytelling choice.

8 hours ago, frenin said:

And why Arthur and not Whent?? We're not told, as per your argument, that any of the KG died, so as far as we know, they may end surviving.

It's hard enough to argue that one survived, several more would be a nightmare.

Why Arthur? Because that is where the text points us. What I mean by the term signposting is that the text is pointing us towards a mystery. It's a technique designed to help the reader stay with what's happening. Sometimes they tell you to look in a certain direction, like when Catelyn signposts the death of Jon Arynn as a murder mystery after the letter from her sister or when Tormund signposts that the pink letter might contain lies. Sometimes they tell you to watch this space, like Bran wishing Ned had told him more about how Arthur Dayne had almost killed him but for Howland Reed or when Jon shrinks from asking Qhorin more about the shy maid on her wedding night.

8 hours ago, frenin said:

Theon has an Stark name then?? Or the Starks adopted a IB name??

That's a good question, I never looked into it. In that case we have a Theon Greyjoy and a Theon Stark, but in the case I'm proposing we only have Ironborn and a variant of the name in Dorne. I'm curious about both to be honest.

8 hours ago, frenin said:

But Qhorin is neither chivalric nor gracious, he just acknowledges the danger the wildlings present.

He says they are no different than them, but they lack discipline, while a lot of people degrade the wildlings as sub-human monsters. The OP said a somewhat chivalrous attitude and I stand by that.

8 hours ago, frenin said:

Still there is no reason to fake his death, Arthur only has to go to Starfall, take a ship north and go to the Wall, there is no reason to conceal his identity, no reason at all to being dead. Once Arthur was in the Wall, he was out of Robert's or anyone's reach.

Robert would have come for him.

8 hours ago, frenin said:

Arthur Dayne is the greatest warrior of the era, i find it more than logic that Arthur Dayne is signposted, that and the single combat blah blah blah. I can bet that Arthur is as dead as the rest of the deads.

He is dead now so you would win that bet.

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17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I don't think Arthur was fully convinced about the return of the Others. And for years he watched and little happened to convince him Rhaegar was right. Rhaegar had been wrong before, thinking he was the Prince that was Promised and then Aegon. But Qhorin did come to the realization that the cold winds were rising and the old powers awakening, as Joer and Benjen suspected.

If Arthur wasn't convinced, then it was unnecessary for him to go to the Wall, though.

Plus, if Jon was considered PTWP, it made sense he could be no use while still a child, so the long wait had to be endured. The realisation then should have reawakened that conviction and prompted "Qhorin" into action, but it did not.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

That depends on what Arthur thought about Lyanna's child. Did he lean towards the heir to the throne or the Prince that was Promised. As I said in my last point, I think Arthur began the confrontation with the northmen in kingsguard mode. He was thinking heir to the throne at that stage. He would have killed Ned in his capacity as a kingsguard, but for Howland Reed. I think that intervention was verbal, probably words we have read somewhere in the series, like winter is coming or the trees have eyes again. Something that moved the emphasis from the game of thrones to the song of ice and fire, as symbolized by Arthur's change of cloak.

But that would require Arthur to be convinced and join the Watch with a purpose - on which he didn't act, so I find this reasoning rather contradictory.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I think we do. The Long Night and the Others had come before, when kings shivered and died in their castles before a hero saved the world by killing sacrificing the person he loved most. Rhaegar sang of twilight, tears, and the death of kings. The scroll Rhaegar read when he suddenly decided that he needed to be a warrior was most likely the Azor Ahai prophecy. He relates the Prince that was Promised song with the song of ice and fire.

We assume so and I think the assumption is reasonable, I'm only pointing out that we don't know the details.

 

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I think it would take more than Aemon and old scrolls to convince people. I think even Arthur was not fully convinced, I'm sure he had faith in his friend but not necessarily blind faith.

I could hardly expect him to spread the word as a gospel, but more like, pry into things, revive the legends, get in touch with people likely to listen.... something, instead of nothing.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

As you're fond of Star Wars analogies, we could ask the same of Obi Wan and Luke. It was early in the series and sometimes such things must be avoided to preserve a mystery.

There is a difference between not spilling the beans and not doing a thing. What Qhorin did would be an equivalent to Obi-wan not telling Luke a thing about Anakin or the Force.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

There are a number of themes under the topic of identity. One's true identity and coming to terms with who you are is part of it. And I would say that Arthur came to terms with who he is, and what a true knight is, when he chose to defend the realm instead of a king, even if he did so under another identity. Some themes overlap, clearly.

What did he choose to defend the realm from if he wasn't convinced that a reaaaaly big threat was coming? You can't have it both ways.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I'm not suggesting Qhorin is in the main mentor role for our hero, like Obi Wan and Luke. For Jon, I think that role has been shared by several characters, which I prefer. I would be more inclined to liken Arthur to Anakin, someone who we are told in ambiguous language is dead, but is not. The parallel would be in terms of story-telling device rather than character, obviously.

Oh, I don't insist that Qhorin should have mentored Jon, but that he should have played some role related to his Arthur Dayne persona. Which he didn't.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

It's a good point but I don't know how GRRM would have gotten around that with out spoiling a main mystery in the series, other than the way he chose to do it. As I said, probably the same reason Obi Wan didn't come straight out with everything when he met Luke.

The same way he went about it in Ned's PoVs where he hid Jon's parentage in plain sight?

Plus, what you are saying is: GRRM faked the death of a character and had him interact with a protagonist without actually utilising the character for anything of importance that couldn't have been done by anyone else. That makes Arthur as Qhorin utterly and absolutely useless.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

On the flip side we have to ask why Qhorin unquestioningly sacrificed his life for Jon if he didn't think Jon was important?

But he didn't sacrifice his life for Jon, he sacrificed himself for a brother of the Watch who, unlike himself, stood a chance to finish the mission. They couldn't escape and Qhorin's submission would never have been believed, given what a staunch enemy of the Wildling he was. It was about learning Mance's plans and warning the Watch, not about Jon.

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

 if Dayne died then we would know who killed him. GRRM would have put the body up front, to use crime writing parlance, because there is nothing to gain from not doing so.

Not sure what you mean here?

17 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

From a story-telling point of view Ned doesn't have to talk about many of those subjects because we get the accounts from other characters. The ToJ is different because there are not many other sources available and it is a scene that is pivotal to the series and one that we know will be revisited near the end.

This is not about storytelling but about characterisation - Ned keeps to himself things which are hurtful to him (or to others), that's why we need to learn from other characters because our current PoVs were never told, and characters like Meera are surprised at that.

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19 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

That depends on what Arthur thought about Lyanna's child. Did he lean towards the heir to the throne or the Prince that was Promised. As I said in my last point, I think Arthur began the confrontation with the northmen in kingsguard mode. He was thinking heir to the throne at that stage. He would have killed Ned in his capacity as a kingsguard, but for Howland Reed. I think that intervention was verbal, probably words we have read somewhere in the series, like winter is coming or the trees have eyes again. Something that moved the emphasis from the game of thrones to the song of ice and fire, as symbolized by Arthur's change of cloak.

Then that makes Ned's beheading for Gared an unforgivable mistake, no? If Howland tries to reason with Arthur by using words like the ones you mention, then why isn't he warning Ned as well? Why isn't he telling Ned of the dangers beyond the Wall? Or wouldn't Ned have been there when Howland was having this chat with Arthur while he presumably was trying to save his life?

Arthur doesn't need a change of name or identity to take the black. Plenty knights of the Kingsguard were sent to the NW. Robert gave Barristan a pardon and named him his Lord Commander. I'm sure he could have been convinced to allow Arthur to take the black. And better that than have him executed as a traitor, which could have turned him into a lightning rod or a martyr for the Targaryen cause and perhaps driven an even bigger wedge between Ned and Robert, especially after Robert pardoned Jaime for the killing of Aerys.

Qhorin was on the Wall long enough that he knew Rickard Stark.

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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1 hour ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

Qhorin was on the Wall long enough that he knew Rickard Stark.

Meaning, not Arthur :-)

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