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King Adrian Storm

What is the heart of Winter?

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I'm guessing this will be addressed in the next book, especially since it's called the winds of winter. I've always been curious what it is. Are there any major theories of what it could be? Is it a place, is it a weapon? When Bran saw it in his dream there was no description of what it looked like, he just cried when he saw it. I can't wait to figure out more on the culture of the Others. Do you think they have their own civilization in the far north or maybe a castle. Will the heart of winter be the key to defeating the Others. IIRC Daenerys saw a blue heart at the HOTU, I'm not sure if it is the same thing or not. GRRM has said they're not just mindless monsters, their being/lifestyle is unknown to men. What do you think we will discover about them? What is the heart of Winter exactly?

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Posted (edited)

The heart of winter is a symbolic reference for a willingness to sacrifice particular innocent human life in the cause of advancing or preserving other human life. It is cold calculation taken to its absolute end. Stannis will sacrifice Shireen, that will mean he has the heart of winter, he will go on to become an ice dragon or the Night's King.

Edited by chrisdaw

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My take on the Heart of Winter is that it is the 'command center' of the Others, where whoever/whatever directs them, resides and (sort of) lives. I think that being/entity is going to turn out to be a greenseer of the Children of the Forest, living in some sort of ice palace beneath a frozen weirwood (grove), being preserved by a cold and eternal hate going back to the day when the first Others were created - in a last desperate attempt to destroy the First Men.

I think Bran's dream is concrete enough for us to conclude that there is some conscious entity at/in the Heart of Winter, since he actually takes a look at it and is terrified by what he sees there.

And the Others enact such a carefully devised longterm plan that it is pretty much impossible to assume they are not directed by another force who has access to more knowledge than what's behind the next snowdrift. They must know what's going on elsewhere, and if they were individuals making their plans by consensus they wouldn't act in such a uniform manner.

At least that's my take on that.

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13 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

My take on the Heart of Winter is that it is the 'command center' of the Others, where whoever/whatever directs them, resides and (sort of) lives. I think that being/entity is going to turn out to be a greenseer of the Children of the Forest, living in some sort of ice palace beneath a frozen weirwood (grove), being preserved by a cold and eternal hate going back to the day when the first Others were created - in a last desperate attempt to destroy the First Men.

I think Bran's dream is concrete enough for us to conclude that there is some conscious entity at/in the Heart of Winter, since he actually takes a look at it and is terrified by what he sees there.

And the Others enact such a carefully devised longterm plan that it is pretty much impossible to assume they are not directed by another force who has access to more knowledge than what's behind the next snowdrift. They must know what's going on elsewhere, and if they were individuals making their plans by consensus they wouldn't act in such a uniform manner.

At least that's my take on that.

Agree with everything. 

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What Bran saw in those visions were events from the future (the Mountain becoming Robert Strong, Jon getting cold/dying?, dragons at Asshai, etc.). So when he looked north into the cave of the Children/the heart of winter, there he saw himself, binded to the Weirwood network with tree roots growing from within his body, same as what was done to Bloodraven. He was horrified by what he saw about his own future.

The heart of winter is that cave, in the books it was also called the cave of night - ""Snow," the moon insisted. The white wolf ran from it, racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden, his breath frosting in the air." - ADWD, Jon I. In this context Bloodraven is the sun/white Lion of Night, and Shiera Seastar is his "wife" the moon and Maiden-made-of-Light, the cave of the Children is the cave/heart/sourse of the Long Night. Bloodraven is lion/sun because his sign of Zodiac is Leo, and the Sun is a guardian planet of Leo, while Shiera is a Cancer and her guardian planet is the Moon.

I know that constellations around Planetos are not the same as around Earth, I know that there is no Zodiac signs on Planetos, though there is also no House York nor House Lancaster in Westeros, nevertheless GRRM is using adaptation of Wars of the Roses as part of ASOIAF's plot. And he's also using signs of Zodiac as part of his plot. For example, Jon is Libra/guardian planet Venus / the star of the morning (the Sword of the Morning, wielder of Dawn/Lightbringer) / Lucifer / lighbringer in Latin; Dany is Gemini / guardian planet is Mercury / messenger of Gods in Roman mythology; Rhaego is Aquarius; all three are Air-signs, thus all three are going to become dragonriders.

Thus the Lion of Night, and a sun that is hiding in a cave, is the same thing. The cave of night, that Jon saw in his wolf-dream, is the cave where the sun/Bloodraven is hiding, and in his coma-dream Bran saw this same cave as the heart of winter in which he will be binded to the Weirwood in the future. When he woke up, he forgot what he saw, that's why he let Jojen (who is serving to the Children) to lure him beyond The Wall and to Bloodraven (who is not the Three-Eyed Crow. Because the 3EC tried to free Bran, while Bloodraven wants to bind him. And Bran saw in his dream that the crow was a woman, thus the 3EC is Shiera Seastar).

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Posted (edited)

I think literally it is a glacier or an ice shelf, north of the Frost Fangs.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the red comet is in a slowly tightening orbital around the planet, and if there is any prophetic component of the story of AA, NN and Lightbringer the red comet may make landfall at or near the glacier which forms the Heart of Winter.  

I think George may be taking a page from the speculation that has more recently led to the Younger Dryas theory https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/did-a-comet-hit-earth-12900-years-ago/

ETA: Ignatius Donnelly's Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel was probably George's main inspiration.  Donnelly (also responsible for a lot of the fiction surrounding the lost city of Atlantis) theorized that a near miss by a comet over an glacier shelf in Greenland was responsible for flooding, fires, and a hail of stones, that caused a near extinction level event.  He also theorized that all of the end of the world mythologies, (like Ragnarok) was written in response to this event.  

Quote

The original hypotheses about a comet impact that had a widespread effect on human populations can be attributed to Edmond Halley, who in 1694 suggested that a worldwide flood had been the result of a near-miss by a comet. The issue was taken up in more detail by William Whiston, a protegé of and popularizer of the theories of Isaac Newton, who argued in his book A New Theory of the Earth (1696) that a comet impact was the probable cause of the Biblical Flood of Noah. Whiston also attributed the origins of the atmosphere and other significant changes in the Earth to the effects of comets.[9]

This hypothesis was subsequently popularized by Minnesota congressman and pseudoarchaeology writer Ignatius L. Donnelly in his book Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (1883), which followed his better-known book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882). In Ragnarok, Donnelly argued that an enormous comet struck the Earth approximately 12,000 years ago, destroying an advanced civilization on the "lost continent" of Atlantis. Donnelly, following Halley and Whiston, attributed the Biblical Flood to this event, which he hypothesized had also resulted in catastrophic fires and significant climate change. Shortly after the publication of Ragnarok, one commenter noted, "Whiston ascertained that the deluge of Noah came from a comet's tail; but Donnelly has outdone Whiston, for he has shown that our planet has suffered not only from a cometary flood, but from cometary fire, and a cometary rain of stones."[10]

 

Edited by Frey family reunion

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20 hours ago, King Adrian Storm said:

I'm guessing this will be addressed in the next book, especially since it's called the winds of winter. I've always been curious what it is. Are there any major theories of what it could be? Is it a place, is it a weapon? When Bran saw it in his dream there was no description of what it looked like, he just cried when he saw it. I can't wait to figure out more on the culture of the Others. Do you think they have their own civilization in the far north or maybe a castle. Will the heart of winter be the key to defeating the Others. IIRC Daenerys saw a blue heart at the HOTU, I'm not sure if it is the same thing or not. GRRM has said they're not just mindless monsters, their being/lifestyle is unknown to men. What do you think we will discover about them? What is the heart of Winter exactly?

A weapon yes. Winter with a capital "W" is a doomsday weapon created by the Children of the Forest to force humanity to submit to them.

I don't believe the Others are a part of that weapon: I believe the Others are the humans who looked for a solution that did not require submission. They used magic of some sort to adapt themselves to the Winter because that was preferable to surrender, so when the bulk of humanity accepted the terms of the Children and the Winter receded they were forced to retreat with it to the far North. This would leave them understandably bitter towards the rest of humanity: they would think of them as cowards at best and collaborators at worst. It would also make them a more nuanced, tragic sort of villain.

What follows from this, is also the idea that the Others are not responsible for the return of the Winter. Most likely the Children designed the curse with a "deadman switch" which would automatically reactivate it if conditions of the treaty failed to be met. After 8000 years those conditions have faded into superstition (things like "There must always be a Stark at Winterfell" but there are likely many more). So as the Winter returns due to these conditions being broken, the Others are simply following it South.

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On 6/16/2020 at 5:50 PM, King Adrian Storm said:

I'm guessing this will be addressed in the next book, especially since it's called the winds of winter. I've always been curious what it is. Are there any major theories of what it could be? Is it a place, is it a weapon? When Bran saw it in his dream there was no description of what it looked like, he just cried when he saw it. I can't wait to figure out more on the culture of the Others. Do you think they have their own civilization in the far north or maybe a castle. Will the heart of winter be the key to defeating the Others. IIRC Daenerys saw a blue heart at the HOTU, I'm not sure if it is the same thing or not. GRRM has said they're not just mindless monsters, their being/lifestyle is unknown to men. What do you think we will discover about them? What is the heart of Winter exactly?

I don't think we can conclude that the HoW is directing the Others just yet. Bran sees all kinds of things all over the world, but what he doesn't see, or at least isn't alarmed by, are the Others and wights that are currently prowling around north of the Wall. He only grows frightened when he sees the HoW. That leaves two possibilities IMO: either the horror is the Other-boss and is directing their migration south, or the Others are fleeing south trying to get away from the horror.

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Posted (edited)

There are two instances when Martin uses the words "north and north and north".  One is in Bran's coma dream where he looks into the heart of winter.  The other instance is when Sansa is thinking of Winterfell.

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Sansa VI

From the high battlements of the gatehouse, the whole world spread out below them. Sansa could see the Great Sept of Baelor on Visenya's hill, where her father had died. At the other end of the Street of the Sisters stood the fire-blackened ruins of the Dragonpit. To the west, the swollen red sun was half-hidden behind the Gate of the Gods. The salt sea was at her back, and to the south was the fish market and the docks and the swirling torrent of the Blackwater Rush. And to the north …

She turned that way, and saw only the city, streets and alleys and hills and bottoms and more streets and more alleys and the stone of distant walls. Yet she knew that beyond them was open country, farms and fields and forests, and beyond that, north and north and north again, stood Winterfell.

The question for me is how are these two things; the heart of winter at the top of the world and Winterfell connected.  Mel is looking for the soul of ice; so I'm guessing that the heart of winter and the soul of ice are potentially two different things that are separate but connected.  Bran's experience is psychic, so when he looks deep into the heart of winter, he is looking into someone's mind, heart and soul, to a truth of some kind.   Bran sums it up as the terrible knowledge contained in the third eye. 

Edited by LynnS

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On 6/17/2020 at 12:27 AM, Lord Varys said:

My take on the Heart of Winter is that it is the 'command center' of the Others, where whoever/whatever directs them, resides and (sort of) lives. I think that being/entity is going to turn out to be a greenseer of the Children of the Forest, living in some sort of ice palace beneath a frozen weirwood (grove), being preserved by a cold and eternal hate going back to the day when the first Others were created - in a last desperate attempt to destroy the First Men.

I think Bran's dream is concrete enough for us to conclude that there is some conscious entity at/in the Heart of Winter, since he actually takes a look at it and is terrified by what he sees there.

And the Others enact such a carefully devised longterm plan that it is pretty much impossible to assume they are not directed by another force who has access to more knowledge than what's behind the next snowdrift. They must know what's going on elsewhere, and if they were individuals making their plans by consensus they wouldn't act in such a uniform manner.

At least that's my take on that.

It sounds very plausible to me and I love a central greenseer BBEG. However, isn’t the Pacy between the Children and the FM generally accepted to be around 10.000 while the earliest reports of the LN report it at 8000 years ago? That’s a pretty big gap to explain with ‘old oral sources are unreliable’ as we see someone like Old Nan still having pretty decent knowledge about the LN

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I really think GRRM started the series with the intent of it being scifi. That's (obviously) not the direction things are going anymore, but in my head the Heart of Winter was a crashed ship or something in his vision for the series.

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36 minutes ago, Davjos said:

It sounds very plausible to me and I love a central greenseer BBEG. However, isn’t the Pacy between the Children and the FM generally accepted to be around 10.000 while the earliest reports of the LN report it at 8000 years ago? That’s a pretty big gap to explain with ‘old oral sources are unreliable’ as we see someone like Old Nan still having pretty decent knowledge about the LN

Oh, I know that. The assumption I'm making is that the First Men were lying to their children and grandchildren in their story about the Pact. Sure, the Pact would have been a thing ... but the First Men wouldn't have kept it for long. Instead, shortlived as they are, their great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren would have decided to continue as before as their numbers grew and they advanced more and more into territory the Pact had granted to the Children in perpetuity.

The Pact would have been worth as much as the pacts the European settlers/Americans made with the Indians ... absolutely nothing.

I'm not sure how things went when this hypothetical frozen greenseer there created the Others - did he or she enact a plan all the Children had agreed to? Or was this person a loose cannon, more determined to do whatever in took than the rest of them? We don't know yet, but chances are the Children might have all agreed to kill the First Men back then - after all, it is noteworthy that Bran doesn't see any anger in the Children when he meets them. That indicates the fires of their wrath and hate burned hot thousands of years ago but now there is nothing left but grief and ashes and certain death. They no longer fight back, no longer even want to.

But the hate and wrath and hunger for vengeance of that frozen greenseer being would be as strong and real and powerful as they were back 8,000 years (or how long ago it was). As Maester Aemon says: 'Fire consumes, but the cold preserves.' Not to mention that 'the North remembers' - the true North, the far North beyond where the mortals live remembers everyting. And forgives nothing.

Alternatively one can also see this hypothetical person as a rogue Child/greenseer who wasn't in agreement with the Pact or the stance the Children took thereafter and decided to act all alone.

But there are certain clues in TWoIaF confirming that the Pact wasn't worth anything - think about how the Starks butcher the Warg King and his allies, the Children of the Forest, and how Durran Godsgrief himself took the Rainwood from the Children, with his son Durran the Devout returning it, and his son Durran Bronze-Axe taking it back for good.

All that took place after the Pact and the Long Night but if the Pact had been upheld by the First Men until the arrival of the Andals then the Children wouldn't have declined during the years in-between and the First Men would have definitely not taken land from the Children which had been granted to them in perpetuity by the Pact.

Instead, it strikes me that the big lie, the monstrous lie in the history of mankind in Westeros is the idea that they made peace with the Children of the Forest. They did not, not truly - and they broke that Pact and deserve everything they got during the Long Night.

And chances are that the people back then actually knew that. If the so-called Last Hero actually did something heroic it might have been to look for the Children of the Forest to beg their forgiveness so they take back this monstrous curse they inflicted on mankind ... and perhaps those he met agreed to do it, using their magics or influence with the person directing the Others to call them back.

I don't think there is a big chance that the Long Night ended with a big battle considering the people had been living through years of winter and total darkness and had no chance to prepare for any of that. And they would have never built that big Wall - nor had they thought they would want to build it - if they hadn't known/really strongly believed that the Others would one day come back.

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The Book made it seem like a physical place where some nights king like entity resides. The Others are physical beings that have to come from somewhere. where have they been for the several thousand years between the war of the dawn and now? 

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Could be that the Others take after the Wym people from GRRMS "In the house of the Wyrm". The Others are more human not only as far as their genealogy is concerned but also in the way they structure their society. It could be that they are simply trying to sustain their existence and are being led by some vengeful leader. A new leader will be needed to keep the peace between the Others and mankind while also finding a way to save the Others from extinction possibly through humans willingly joining the Others in mass. The person to do this would probably be Jon.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

The Book made it seem like a physical place where some nights king like entity resides. The Others are physical beings that have to come from somewhere. where have they been for the several thousand years between the war of the dawn and now? 

I think an argument can be made that the Others literally come out of thin air.  After all, when struck by the obisidan dagger, one of them just seems to dissolve:

Quote

And then he was stumbling forward, falling more than running, really, closing his eyes and shoving the dagger blindly out before him with both hands. He heard a crack, like the sound ice makes when it breaks beneath a man’s foot, and then a screech so shrill and sharp that he went staggering backward with his hands over his muffled ears, and fell hard on his arse.
When he opened his eyes the Other’s armor was running down its legs in rivulets as pale blue blood hissed and steamed around the black dragonglass dagger in its throat. It reached down with two bone-white hands to pull out the knife, but where its fingers touched the obsidian they smoked.
Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. Finally only the dragonglass dagger remained, wreathed in steam as if it were alive and sweating. Grenn bent to scoop it up and flung it down again at once. “Mother, that’s cold.”

Excerpt From: George R.R. Martin. “The A Song of Ice and Fire Series.” Apple Books. 

So what are the Others made of exactly?  My guess is their "flesh" is frozen solid nitrogen.  When struck by the obsidian dagger, the frozen nitrogen at point of contact turned straight back to gaseous form and elsewhere the solid nitrogen melts to liquid and then to gaseous form.

The "pale blue blood" is probably liquid oxygen.  Pale blue is the color of frozen oxygen in liquid form.

And the "screech" that Sam heard might be due to a drop of temperature as the the frozen nitrogen came in contact with the obsidian dagger.

If you recall, a similar "scream" was heard when Waymer's sword came in contact with the sword of the Others.  

If you put a piece of metal to a piece of frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) you will hear a "scream".  It deals with a vacuum pressure created when the metal (a good conductor of heat) changes the solid gas straight into gaseous form.  

Edited by Frey family reunion

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