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Ser Joe the Unknighted

On the passage of Time

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It's probably been five years since I posted on Westeros.org. I originally posted this over on Reddit and wanted to add it here as well as I'm trying to be optimistic and am prepping for a potential Winds of Winter release by getting back into ASOIAF fandom. I was thinking about George and how he might solve one of the biggest problems I forsee about the Winds of Winter, namely the ages of the children characters going into Winds after he abandoned the five year gap. Here are my musings on the subject below.

*The post includes some speculation on what I think the characters will likely be doing in Winds as it was necesary to predict how George could stretch their plots.

Spoilers all including some stuff from Winds Preview Chapters

Ever since George (wisely imo) abandoned the "five year gap" between Storm of Swords and Feast/Dance, many have worried about how young that leaves some of the characters, especially the Stark children.

Here are my best guess for some character ages at the end of Dance with some help from various timelines and posts throughout the decade since Dance was released:
Jon Snow: 16 when he is stabbed

Sansa: 13 when she moves down form the mountain but pretending to be 14

Arya: 11 when she kills the insurance broker

Bran: 9/10 when he eats the "Weirwood" paste

Rickon: 5 somewhere on Skagos

Dany: 15-16 on the great grass sea

Aegon: Allegedly 17-18, actually probably 15-16.

Edric Dayne: 12 missing in the Riverlands

You can see why George wanted to do a five year gap. Things would go much smoother if Bran was 15 and Sansa would work better at 18 and Jon would be stabbed at 20. Rickon would be a person when he showed back up at 10. Edric Dayne could show back up as a knight and Sword of the Morning. But George needed to show the fallout of the aftermath of the war of the five kings in the North, in Dorne, in the Riverlands, and in the Iron Islands. Even Kingslanding likely wouldn't have lasted five years without blowing up. Tommen would have been older than Joffrey in aGoT after the five year gap. The five year gap would have really helped, but it never could have worked with where aSoS left off.

What George could try to do instead, to try to get the characters to a more appropriate age is to stretch out the plot of the Winds of Winter over three or so years. This is what he originally seemed to have intended with the story with aGoT taking place over like three quarters of a year. Which story lines would this work really well in? Which would have to make up a reason for delay? I'll try to break that down here. I'm not saying the time skip would happen all at once in one chunk, just that over the book, several years will pass.

TLDR: I think George could (not will or should) stretch out the plot of the Winds of Winter over three years to age up the child characters to solve some problems.

Bran: This is the easiest one to stretch. Bran is basically in a dream state in a dark cave and can be forced out of his cave at any point for any reason. Brandon only needs to emerge from the Land of Always Winter before the Others invasion gets to Winterfell or the Trident or wherever the final battle will be.

Dany, Tyrion, Barristan, and the Meereen crew, : I actually think this can be stretched easily as well. She has to subjugate the Dothraki, win the battles at Meereen, conquer Volantis, conquer Pentos, sail to Dragonstone first with her army, and then if George still needs time she can spend however much time he needs preparing on Dragonstone for her invasion with her army split between Pentos and Dragonstone or landing on Crackclaw point or whatever. Barristan can run back to Aegon at any point, Tyrion could use some time on Dragonstone to help Dany plan and scheme against Westeros, Cersei, and Varys.

Aegon, the Golden Company, Jon Connington, and Arianne: This can go at whatever rate George needs it to. I think Aegon and the Golden Company will take Kings Landing just before Dany sails for Westeros, but just as Dany can wait on Dragonstone for as long as George needs, Aegon can wait either at Storms End or in Kings Landing for a year or so waiting for Dany to make her move. This would even allow for a parlay period that will of course fail. Jon Con's gray-scale can move as fast or as slow as George needs it to and Arianne just needs to marry Aegon at some point. He conquers the Stormlands, marries Arianne, moves against Kings Landing slowly gathering allies and converts, gets the faith to condemn Cersei and she flees to Casterly Rock, and then he moves into Kings Landing in triumph as Aegon VI and assumes the Iron Throne (with the North, Vale, West, Iron Islands, and Riverlands in rebellion).

Arya, Bravos, Justin Massey, and the Iron Bank: Arya can be in training forever in Bravos. The thing that will likely push her is when Cersei's trade mission to the Iron Bank arrives (when she betrays her orders), when Justin Massey arrives with news of Jon Snow, possibly fake Arya Stark Jeyne Poole, and means of travel back to the North. Who knows how George wants all that to fall, but the Mercy chapter works better if Arya is older, even if it means the trade mission to the Iron Bank will be delayed.

Winter: Winters can last years, this is the new Long Night, it can last as long as George wants it to. Where the Others are in their invasion is up to George, no matter when Euron blows the horn of Jorumun from the High Tower and knocks down the wall. Which brings us to...

Samwell Tarly, Euron Crow's Eye, the Horn of Jorumun, Pate, Old Town, the Citadel, the Reach, and the High Tower. This one is a bit more pressing. The naval battle at the mouth of the Honeywine between the Ironborn and the Redwyne Fleet is immanent. After the Iron Born destroy the Redwyne Fleet though, who knows how long they may have to besiege the High Tower? Maybe Euron takes the city early, rules from the city while they besiege the High Tower, and it takes a year plus to get in. I think eventually Euron will blow the horn of Jorumun from the top of the High Tower and bring down the wall, but George can slow play it a little. I don't know how or when Sam will return to the North or how he loses his horn or how High Garden will play into this story.

Kings Landing, Cersei, Margaery, and the faith: Obviously Cersei is going to win her trial by combat with the faith, but I think she eventually flees the city ahead of the oncoming Aegon supporters after the faith turns on her. Who knows what happens to Margaery and Loras in the books, maybe Marge tries to marry Aegon, but I think Arianne beats her to it.

At Winterfell and the Crofters Village, Stannis, Theon, Ramsay, and the Battle of ice: Stannis beats the Freys at the battle of ice by tricking them onto rotten ice. Stannis temporarily allies with the Manderly knights to defeat Bolton. Stannis fakes his death and his armies defeat using tarred heads, his own sword as bait, some turned Karstark men, a clever letter from Karstark's maester and his ravens to Winterfell, and salvaged Frey surcoats from the lake. Stannis Trojan armies his way into Winterfell and drives out the Boltons. Jon Snow, freshly alive, shows up with a Wildling army to help and the Northern lords support him over Stannis and Stannis fleas back to the wall defeated and unloved and desperate. Whatever state exists at the end of all the fighting can then exist until the Wall falls and Dany and Sansa and Arya arrive in the north.

At the Wall, Jon Snow and Melisandre: Poor Jon is dead. Melisandre has a rebellion to deal with. The Wildlings won't be happy. This is a pot about to boil, but eventually an upset, angry Stannis will return with a daughter to burn. Eventually Jon will be resurrected and end his watch. Eventually the wall will fall.

In the Vale, Sansa and Littlefinger: Sansa is revealed, crowned Queen of the North, Rivers, and Vale by the Vale Lords with Little Fingers help, and wed to Ser Harry. Little Finger directs the Vale army into the Riverlands to gather sympathetic River Lords before turning North or they set sail directly from Gulltown. Sansa is being groomed by Littlefinger (gross) but is slowly learning how to turn the tables on him. They may pick up the hound on the way as her Sworn Shield. This can all progress slowly over months and years. It takes time to march armies or build ships. Sansa arrives in the North to find the situation has changes. Multiple brothers (Jon, Bran, Rickon) may have resurfaced by this point and one of them has likely been crowned King in the North.

The Riverlands, Brienne, Jaime, revenge on the Freys, and the Brotherhood without Banners evil edition: This is the one with the most stuff happening right NOW. But once it happens, the plot could go in a ton of different directions, so this could or could not be a problem.

 

Which story lines do you think would have the most trouble slowing down over three years or so?

 

If Winds progressed them three years they would be:

Jon Snow: 19 King of da' North

Sansa: 16 proclaimed Queen of the Vale, Rivers, and North by the Vale Lords

Arya: 14 a mysterious stranger arriving in Westeros from a Bravosi trade ship

Bran: 12-13 a boy fleeing from the Winter with Others on his tail with Meera and Cold Hands

Rickon: 8 somewhere, probably no longer on Skagos

Dany: 18-19, Queen and conqueror on Dragonstone preparing to invade Westeros or perhaps already gearing up for a showdown with Aegon

Aegon: Allegedly 20-21 actually probably 18 as King of the Iron Throne, likely married to Arianne, gearing up to fight his "aunt"

Edric Dayne: 15, young knight and new Sword of the Morning with Dawn.

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When George decided to get rid of the 5 year gap, he famously said: "If a twelve-year old has to conquer the world, then so be it." This clearly indicates that George's plan to address the youthfulness of many protagonist will be not to address it.

Also, if George felt that there was a need of a "transition book" that skips a few years in order to make the younger characters grow up, that book would have been A Feast of Crows. If he didn't do it then, he won't do it in the penultimate book of the series.

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The trouble with 'slowing down' is you have to show it in the books somehow. Time going faster then slower. No months, no seasons to mark. All we've had so far to mark time are the white ravens, and Bran noticing the moon changing as he trains with BR. Can't do that again. If Dany (or whoever) . appears with three children, we'd know three years have passed, but that seems unlikely.

Seems like too much bother - besides, I think GRRM wants children: the young against the old sort of thing.

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4 hours ago, Springwatch said:

The trouble with 'slowing down' is you have to show it in the books somehow. Time going faster then slower. No months, no seasons to mark. All we've had so far to mark time are the white ravens, and Bran noticing the moon changing as he trains with BR. Can't do that again. If Dany (or whoever) . appears with three children, we'd know three years have passed, but that seems unlikely.

Seems like too much bother - besides, I think GRRM wants children: the young against the old sort of thing.

Do you actually have to show it? Or can George just wave his hands and say "weeks passed while they waited for the ship to return" or "Months went by inside the castle and winter raged outside with the snow piling up to the top of the outer wall". He doesn't have to literally track every story week by week. He just needs to pass time in each story. If he solves all the stuff that is imminently about to happen, the story can then enter a winter lull while everyone gets in position to ramp things back up for the end of the book.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

When George decided to get rid of the 5 year gap, he famously said: "If a twelve-year old has to conquer the world, then so be it." This clearly indicates that George's plan to address the youthfulness of many protagonist will be not to address it.

Also, if George felt that there was a need of a "transition book" that skips a few years in order to make the younger characters grow up, that book would have been A Feast of Crows. If he didn't do it then, he won't do it in the penultimate book of the series.

If he has to he has to, but he may still look for a way that he doesn't have to. I actually think Winds is perfect as he can have all the characters settle in for a long winter, that then is disrupted by the collapse of the wall. Even if he can't find a way to pass three years like I suggest here, I still anticipate Winds of Winter taking place over like a year.

Edited by Ser Joe the Unknighted

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Posted (edited)

There's also the liklihood that Winds will have a huge, battle-filled, momentous opening, what with the Battle of Ice, the Battle of Fire, the showdown at Storms End, the naval engagment near Oldtown, the prologue with Jeyne Westerling and the wolf pack in the Riverlands, Dany's initial confrontation with the Dothraki, and the upcoming Tourney of the Vale. That's all likely to take place in the opening act of the book, except perhaps the tourney. There may well be a chance here for Goerge to stretch events out after the initial bang.

Edited by Nathan Stark

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Posted (edited)

Stretching TWoW in two years seems like... a stretch. If it ends with some sort of peace/calm before the storm, you could fit close to a year between Dany and co. getting ready to sail and landing in Westeros. You don't bring a huge army over the sea easily.

Oh, the Golden Company did. I guess not.

But still, all we would really need is some sort of victory/ending to many plot lines, to set up the calm before the storm, and then you can throw a year of nothing between the two books.

At this point, I don't think it really matters.

Edited by Egged

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GRRM doesn't give a fig when it comes to age and context. Bran a man almost grown at 8!? Maybe it's something to do with their seasons he has planned. Time is relative, no more truer than in Planetos. 

There was a post few months back about one planetos year having circa 420+ days plus more months or so, age maturity understanable for the stark kids, but oldies like aemon will then be 130 earth years old.

my advice, ignore these inconsistencies and enjoy the series hope for an ending (not hope for the ending we'd like, ending occuring itself a huge doubht)

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11 hours ago, Ser Joe the Unknighted said:

Do you actually have to show it? Or can George just wave his hands and say "weeks passed while they waited for the ship to return" or "Months went by inside the castle and winter raged outside with the snow piling up to the top of the outer wall". He doesn't have to literally track every story week by week. He just needs to pass time in each story. If he solves all the stuff that is imminently about to happen, the story can then enter a winter lull while everyone gets in position to ramp things back up for the end of the book.

The format so far does not show the passing of time very easily at all - most chapters show a short slice of life, and the POV and locations are all mixed up. Readers work out time passing by calculating peoples ages and travel times and stuff like that. The casual reader won't pick that up, which is a problem if you need 3 years to pass.

'Months passing' will work a few times before getting over heavy-handed (I found Bran's moon a bit of a drag). To me, 'months went by'  means 2 or more; I don't get the impression of big numbers - and you need 36 months to get 3 years.

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In my opinion, the reason why GRRM wanted to insert 5 years long time skip into the plot was for Rhaego to grow up enough to ride a dragon. Apparently the Epilogue of ADOS was supposed to occur 10 years after the last chapter, and at that point in time Rhaego was supposed to be 16. Though now in ADOS's Epilogue he will be 12 years old, which also means that the series will end in 311 or in early 312 AC.

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31 minutes ago, Megorova said:

Apparently the Epilogue of ADOS was supposed to occur 10 years after the last chapter,

Where did you hear this?  Link?

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On 4/20/2021 at 5:56 AM, Nathan Stark said:

There's also the liklihood that Winds will have a huge, battle-filled, momentous opening, what with the Battle of Ice, the Battle of Fire, the showdown at Storms End, the naval engagment near Oldtown, the prologue with Jeyne Westerling and the wolf pack in the Riverlands, Dany's initial confrontation with the Dothraki, and the upcoming Tourney of the Vale. That's all likely to take place in the opening act of the book, except perhaps the tourney. There may well be a chance here for Goerge to stretch events out after the initial bang.

I always tought the same. For most characters, a jump of 6 months would be necesarry or acceptable, with really only a few having issues with this after the 'Big-Bang' we talk about here. But then that could also give time to characters for plotting or participating in wars (after all, medieval wars didn't solve themselves in months the way  Wot5K did).

Then again, for the Long Night to has a weight would have to be years long. After all, we don't know how far George currently got eith the story, but probably war farther than we can guess (altough still not far away enough to publish TWOW).

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40 minutes ago, LynnS said:

Where did you hear this?  Link?

What GRRM said then ->

On 4/19/2021 at 11:10 PM, The hairy bear said:

When George decided to get rid of the 5 year gap, he famously said: "If a twelve-year old has to conquer the world, then so be it."

Who else do you think he meant by that twelve-year old who will conquer the world? Arya? :wideeyed:  Crippled Bran? :rolleyes: Or maybe Rhaego, who is the Stallion that Mounts the World, khal of khals, the Prince that was promised, the second dragonrider, and the son of the Breaker of Chains?

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17 minutes ago, Megorova said:

Who else do you think he meant by that twelve-year old who will conquer the world? Arya? :wideeyed:  Crippled Bran? :rolleyes: Or maybe Rhaego, who is the Stallion that Mounts the World, khal of khals, the Prince that was promised, the second dragonrider, and the son of the Breaker of Chains?

I think you misuderstood this. He meant that without the 5 year gap, a 12 year old will conquer the world if he/she has to. 

Not that it means anything. He pretty much would never spoiler anything on such a big scale.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Daeron the Daring said:

I think you misuderstood this. He meant that without the 5 year gap, a 12 year old will conquer the world if he/she has to. 

Not that it means anything. He pretty much would never spoiler anything on such a big scale.

Though it didn't spoiled anything, because everyone are so sure that Rhaego is dead, and thus no one (except me) thought that GRRM meant Rhaego.

(With +5 years Rhaego would have been a bit over 16 by the end of ADOS, and now he will be 12.)

1 hour ago, LynnS said:

He's not dead and never was. There was his POV in AGOT. He was born alive and not blind. MMD lied about him, and so is Jorah and Dany's handmaids. And then he was kidnapped (the treason for blood) by khal Pono, the same guy whose khalasar found Dany in the end of ADWD. Rhaego is going to become Rhaegal's rider, because they had already bonded in AGOT, Dany IV.

fAegon isn't going to become one of the three dragonriders, because he is a Blackfyre, the mummer's dragon, a parallel to the Biblical Antichrist. And Tyrion isn't going to become a dragonrider, because he is not King Aerys' bastard. Him and Jon Snow have one thing in common - both of them were unjustly mistreated by their families. Tyrion was treated by Tywin as though he is not his son, even though he is. And Jon was treated by Catelyn, Robb and Sansa as though he is Ned's bastard, even though he isn't.

Tyrion knows a lot about dragons. He have read all sorts of books about them. In the past dragonlords were using saddles and harnesses to ride dragons. That's where Tyrion got that idea to make a special saddle that allowed him to ride horses without falling off. That harness not only buckles the saddle to the mount, it also buckles the rider to the saddle. Did you really thought that GRRM had inserted that saddle into AGOT's plot just for Bran to ride his pony once?

When Dany will bring Rhaego from Vaes Dothrak to Meereen, Tyrion will become her advisor, specifically in everything dragon-related, and he will provide Dany with schemes to make a special saddle for her and Rhaego to be able to safely fly with their dragons. That's how he will get her favour, and that's how 2-years old Rhaego will become a dragonrider. While in the original version, where there was supposed to be 5 years long time skip, Rhaego was supposed to become a dragonrider at the age 7, same as one of his ancestors, Queen Rhaenyra (even their names are intentionally similar).

It's highly likely that Tyrion will fly on a dragon, though not as a rider, only as a passenger. That's why GRRM had previously inserted clues into the plot - Ronnel Arryn was flying together with Visenya Targaryen on her dragon, Vhagar, and Alys Rivers was flying with Prince Aemond also on Vhagar. So Tyrion will fly once or a few times either with Dany on Drogon, or with Rhaego on Rhaegal. Most likely he will fly with Rhaego, and Penny will also fly with them. Because Dany's dragons hatched from the eggs that Penny and her family were given as gifts from the Sealord of Braavos. Dany now has those dragons thanks to Penny, so she will give Penny an opportunity to ride on a dragon. Her family rode on dogs and pigs, and afterwards she will be able to brag for the rest of her life that once she also rode on a dragon.

Edited by Megorova

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4 minutes ago, Megorova said:

He's not dead and never was

Sorry, you are too far out in the weeds for me.

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49 minutes ago, Megorova said:

Though it didn't spoiled anything, because everyone are so sure that Rhaego is dead, and thus no one (except me) thought that GRRM meant Rhaego.

(With +5 years Rhaego would have been a bit over 16 by the end of ADOS, and now he will be 12.)

Oh, now I get what you meant.

Tho I don't believe it, and it's pointless to argue over it.

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I think a lot of the difficulties with "making time pass" are caused by the worldbuilding, namely the irregular seasons, not necessarily by the POV-structure. With normal seasons, it would be relatively easy to indicate the passage of a month or two at a time by having a character note something about the state of the vegetation or the activities of the peasants : things that are easily observable everywhere in the setting and that characters should occasionally notice. Catelyn admires the cherry blossoms (early spring), Arya observes some people cutting hay in the next chapter (late spring). Tommen complains about having to eat blackberries for dessert every night (late summer). With an eternal summer, and later autumn, there is no way of doing this, relying on more "artificial" ways of indicating time skips. It's a serious difficulty in the setting. Let's hope that Winds of Winter will find a way to stretch over at least a year !

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Posted (edited)
On 4/21/2021 at 9:46 AM, Megorova said:

In my opinion, the reason why GRRM wanted to insert 5 years long time skip into the plot was for Rhaego to grow up enough to ride a dragon. Apparently the Epilogue of ADOS was supposed to occur 10 years after the last chapter, and at that point in time Rhaego was supposed to be 16. Though now in ADOS's Epilogue he will be 12 years old, which also means that the series will end in 311 or in early 312 AC.

Rhaego dies in the first book. What are you talking about? I'm honestly completely flabbergasted by this take. He had the five year gap planned as late as writing the first several chapters of what was then A Dance with Dragons. As far as I can tell Rhaego was never meant to survive the first book. He's admitted that the Arya preview chapter he read was originally written before he removed the five year gap. 

Edited by Ser Joe the Unknighted

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