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Confusing writing on the wildlings/free folk


Rose of Red Lake
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9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

In a sense George is taking this whole a little bit far with the entire wildlings conflict. I mean, Mance Rayder is a former man of the Night's Watch and quite familiar with the order and also the Northmen. On the one hand he realizes that he and his people cannot stand against the Others ... but then he doesn't reach out to Maester Aemon, Mallister, or Mormont - men he knew very well back in the day - to warn them about the common enemy and ask them to form an alliance. He also doesn't try to negotiate with the Watch before he marshals an army to force his way through the Wall - which is very weird move if he actually intends to 'hide beyond the Wall' as he says he wants. If Mance's campaign had been a success then the Wall itself could have been damaged - at least chances are pretty great that the gates in the three tunnes may have been destroyed. And then Mance also was at Winterfell where he could have approached King Robert himself and his designated Hand. Mance had a lot of opportunities and the means to try to prevent a war between his people and the Seven Kingdoms. But he never even tried, apparently.

Even if we give the entire scenario the benefit of the doubt and say that Mance only raised his gigantic host to put pressure on the Watch in a show of force - and because he planned to take his people down south in any scenario anyway - then it is still not making sense that Mance attacked both Castle Black and the Shadow Tower before making any attempt whatsoever to reach a peaceful solution.

This entire plot seems to be an unrealistic and artificial conflict. It is not very likely that Mance would act the way he did if he was a real person. This plot may have worked much better if it had been a mirror image of the southern political conflict where schemes and plots and accidents fuel the animosities and eventually everything explodes. It may have worked far better if there had been attempts by Mance and the Watch and even some Northmen to treat with the wildlings but the hate on both sides - and the bad will and the schemes of some - had prevented them from reaching an understanding.

On the surface level the plot about 'finding out what the wildlings are up to' works ... but if you think about it for some time then this entire scenario breaks down.

I assume Mance understood that as an oathbreaker/outlaw he has lost his ability to make of any kind of deal with either the watch or northmen. After all nobody would trust a man who has broken his oath and most men south of the wall would want to kill any outlaw they meet. So I assume that any deal made by freefolk with either the watch or the North would have to been made by someone else and would have been fatal to Mance and possible even to his family.

Totally another thing is that Mance had very limited control over freefolk. Or they followed him only as long as they had common enemies and doing anything else would have been certain suicide. But as soon the horde had been "safe" many of wildings would not have followed any deal made by Mance and he had limited means to enforce his will. So in practice any deal made by Mance would have been as useful as Ned's paper shield.

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4 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

I assume Mance understood that as an oathbreaker/outlaw he has lost his ability to make of any kind of deal with either the watch or northmen. After all nobody would trust a man who has broken his oath and most men south of the wall would want to kill any outlaw they meet. So I assume that any deal made by freefolk with either the watch or the North would have to been made by someone else and would have been fatal to Mance and possible even to his family.

That is a pretty good point, although if this were what the author intended, it should have been made explicit that this was the case. I mean, Jon ended up 'treating' with Mance after the battle, so this was something that happened.

And if Mance feared the Watch would try to assassinate or arrest him they could do the actual negotiations via envoys and stuff, not with him having to be present there. Also, while Mance himself definitely is an oathbreaker folks at the Wall actually know why he broke his vows. They know isn't a bad man as such but a guy who just couldn't really fit in.

4 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

Totally another thing is that Mance had very limited control over freefolk. Or they followed him only as long as they had common enemies and doing anything else would have been certain suicide. But as soon the horde had been "safe" many of wildings would not have followed any deal made by Mance and he had limited means to enforce his will. So in practice any deal made by Mance would have been as useful as Ned's paper shield.

But Jon faces the same problem right now. He makes the deal, so the Old Bear and others could have considered doing that, too, if Mance had approached them. And while Mance was no dictator he certainly had a lot of sway over his people.

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5 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Jon ended up 'treating' with Mance after the battle, so this was something that happened.

After battle Jon went to meet Mance just to kill him for "greater good" even knowing that he would not outlive Mance and later Melisandre made an offer that Mance could not refuse. Besides nowadays "Mance Ryder" is officially dead.

So it seems to me that Jon considers Mance first more like rapid animal than human being. After all assassinating man who thinks that one has come to negotiate about peace is not very honorable unless one thinks that his target is without honor (like an oathbreaker/outlaw) and so does not have right even to exist.

Same way I assume that Melisandre had made sure that Mance cannot betray her and so during "2nd deal" Jon sees Mance more like useful tool than man with his own will.

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3 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

After battle Jon went to meet Mance just to kill him for "greater good" even knowing that he would not outlive Mance and later Melisandre made an offer that Mance could not refuse. Besides nowadays "Mance Ryder" is officially dead.

My point was that Jon went to Mance and Mance received him as an envoy, meaning he was willing to negotiate in principle. If he did that, it is quite odd that he never even tried to negotiate with Mormont before. I mean, the escalation we see - Mormont heading out and trying to surprise Mance at the Fist - is something that could have been avoided if he had understand at that point that Mance and his people were not would-be conquerors as such but equally afraid of the Others and their wights.

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3 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

So it seems to me that Jon considers Mance first more like rapid animal than human being. After all assassinating man who thinks that one has come to negotiate about peace is not very honorable unless one thinks that his target is without honor (like an oathbreaker/outlaw) and so does not have right even to exist.

I would think that if any living man of the watch thought of Mance as human, it would be Jon. he reflected on how black a task he was undertaking when going to assassinate Mance and was very amicable with Tormund on the walk over. he understands it is wrong in its own way but that it is still the most honorable road he could still walk.

I see it more as a classic sacrilege trap, where one must do something dishonorable or impious to avoid greater dishonor or impiety. there is greater honor in dying to protect the realm even dishonorably done, than dying a turn cloak and oath-breaker, though men would spit on his grave all the same.

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On 9/7/2021 at 3:20 PM, Lord Varys said:

In a sense George is taking this whole a little bit far with the entire wildlings conflict. I mean, Mance Rayder is a former man of the Night's Watch and quite familiar with the order and also the Northmen. On the one hand he realizes that he and his people cannot stand against the Others ... but then he doesn't reach out to Maester Aemon, Mallister, or Mormont - men he knew very well back in the day - to warn them about the common enemy and ask them to form an alliance. He also doesn't try to negotiate with the Watch before he marshals an army to force his way through the Wall - which is very weird move if he actually intends to 'hide beyond the Wall' as he says he wants. If Mance's campaign had been a success then the Wall itself could have been damaged - at least chances are pretty great that the gates in the three tunnes may have been destroyed. And then Mance also was at Winterfell where he could have approached King Robert himself and his designated Hand. Mance had a lot of opportunities and the means to try to prevent a war between his people and the Seven Kingdoms. But he never even tried, apparently.

Even if we give the entire scenario the benefit of the doubt and say that Mance only raised his gigantic host to put pressure on the Watch in a show of force - and because he planned to take his people down south in any scenario anyway - then it is still not making sense that Mance attacked both Castle Black and the Shadow Tower before making any attempt whatsoever to reach a peaceful solution.

This entire plot seems to be an unrealistic and artificial conflict. It is not very likely that Mance would act the way he did if he was a real person. This plot may have worked much better if it had been a mirror image of the southern political conflict where schemes and plots and accidents fuel the animosities and eventually everything explodes. It may have worked far better if there had been attempts by Mance and the Watch and even some Northmen to treat with the wildlings but the hate on both sides - and the bad will and the schemes of some - had prevented them from reaching an understanding.

On the surface level the plot about 'finding out what the wildlings are up to' works ... but if you think about it for some time then this entire scenario breaks down.

It's hard to say how much of any of this is true to an extent.  For all we know Mance is working in cohoots with whatever force is behind the White Walkers.  After all, they seem to be doing a good job of convincing people to join the gathering that he worked so hard to put together.

But to answer your primary issue, without any further revelations, I assume that Mance didn't think that he would be believed if he approached the Night's Watch and gave them a tale of his people needing shelter from the Others.  Or even if believed, perhaps he thought that the Night's Watch would sooner allow his people to be killed rather than risk letting them past the Wall.  So he chose to force his way in or failing that subtrefuge through his "Horn of Joramun".  

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On 9/4/2021 at 4:57 AM, Rose of Red Lake said:

I get the immigration metaphor here -

So far, so good. But then Jon starts to worry about climbers:

So Jon jumps to wildlings killing people, "shoving a spear through your belly," when Marsh is saying that the climbers are actually less dangerous than they are. Why does he do that? 

He also reflects on the story of Redbeard, which just reiterates again that "wildlings=dangerous" and that the NW has to stop them. Yeah, gotta stop them refugees!!

So the message seems to be "not all immigrants are bad, but people like Jon are just here to stop the bad ones." ?? Mkay...that's not actually helping our immigration debates in the U.S. right now.

To add to that, why isn't Jon horrified by Marsh's proposition that people will be left to die if they seal up the gate? Instead he's worried that they won't be able to send out rangers. So he's a selective humanitarian? 

If GRRM is trying to make a comparison to the plight of immigrants, I think he could have done it in a better way. 

Jon is quite the emotional fellow.  In contrast, Bowen is a very pragmatic man.  Are those the two faces of the immigration debate?  If we only look at the welfare and well-being of the ones on the side of plenty, then it is easy to see which side is correct.  Marsh and the pragmatic folk.  Throw in feelings and a lot of distortion enters the discussion.  You see, it is not proven that bringing in the Wildlings is the safest, most practical thing to do for the people of the kingdom of Westeros.  And compassion?  Depends whose well-being you value the most.  If your sympathies are with the people of the kingdom, leave the Wildlings out.  Western Europe, in my opinion, will do better with less inflow from the outside.  I guess the issue is, whose welfare are you most interested in serving.  I'll stop here because this is not the place to get into deeply involved political issues.

Jon's mind is clouded because he fell in love with the Wildlings.  There is a line where he compares himself to Mance Rayder.  He mixes better with the free folk.  But that kind of independence must have it's downsides in order to be fair.  Mance was having the time of his life until a threat came along which he could not face and survive.  So he turns tail and returns to the people he betrayed.  Scum bag for sure despite his prowess with sword and arms. 

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2 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

But to answer your primary issue, without any further revelations, I assume that Mance didn't think that he would be believed if he approached the Night's Watch and gave them a tale of his people needing shelter from the Others.  Or even if believed, perhaps he thought that the Night's Watch would sooner allow his people to be killed rather than risk letting them past the Wall.  So he chose to force his way in or failing that subtrefuge through his "Horn of Joramun".  

In 99 of 100 real world cases where a political leader thought the other side might not see things his way they still tried negotiations first.

The idea that you just raise an army and have your people prepare for a war which might not even be necessary is something no rational person would do. Even the guys in the south try to make peace or stop an escalation of violence.

Raising the army while also negotiating makes sense. But just raising the army and not trying to get what you want without an all-out war just doesn't make sense.

And it is not that Mance had a good reason to believe the Watch were completely blind to the danger posed by the Others. He and his people were pressured by them to the point that they wanted to leave their homes permanently. Does Mance assume the Watch had no encounters with the Others or the wights at all? And if so, on what would he base such an assumption?

Does it make sense to assume that an institution founded to fight the Others would completely dismiss reports that they actually exist and are a real threat? When a lot of their own people are disappearing and a couple of zombies just tried to murder the Lord Commander? I don't think so.

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The idea that you just raise an army and have your people prepare for a war which might not even be necessary is something no rational person would do.

He's a wildling king. Rational doesn't fit in.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even the guys in the south try to make peace or stop an escalation of violence.

7k folk do have peace talks but despite that they're seen in Essos as barbarians. These barbarians then look north at the savages and think highly of their barbaric sunset kingdoms.

As they should. Sure, a king and lords are barbaric when compared to the dignified oligarchs of the east but far less savage then this anarchic proletariat dictatorship democracy that calls themselves free folk.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Raising the army while also negotiating makes sense. But just raising the army and not trying to get what you want without an all-out war just doesn't make sense.

 Mance is called king but by free folk, not kneelers, he rules at their discretion. The run away crow did a tremendous job of unifying all tribes who are usually, for like ever, at all out war by giving them a common and weak enemy. If Mance wants to treat with KL it won't be as king if the wildlings

Edited by Hugorfonics
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On 9/8/2021 at 5:14 PM, Lord Varys said:

Does it make sense to assume that an institution founded to fight the Others would completely dismiss reports that they actually exist and are a real threat? When a lot of their own people are disappearing and a couple of zombies just tried to murder the Lord Commander? I don't think so.

Until the battle at the fist of the first men I doubt that there were any true believers serving in the modern Night's Watch. The fact that they treat with Craster and call him a friend of the watch indicates to me that they've completely lost their way. I think Mance's history with the watch gives him the opportunity to have a pretty good perspective on whether or not they would buy his tale.

Mance's rise among the free folk would be an interesting story.  How long after going over did he start his quest to unite the wildlings (ALL of the wildlings for some reason) and take them south?  When did he make the decision to try to become King, could it have been before his defection, or even the reason for his defection? 

On 9/7/2021 at 2:20 PM, Lord Varys said:

Even if we give the entire scenario the benefit of the doubt and say that Mance only raised his gigantic host to put pressure on the Watch in a show of force - and because he planned to take his people down south in any scenario anyway - then it is still not making sense that Mance attacked both Castle Black and the Shadow Tower before making any attempt whatsoever to reach a peaceful solution.

This entire plot seems to be an unrealistic and artificial conflict. It is not very likely that Mance would act the way he did if he was a real person. This plot may have worked much better if it had been a mirror image of the southern political conflict where schemes and plots and accidents fuel the animosities and eventually everything explodes. It may have worked far better if there had been attempts by Mance and the Watch and even some Northmen to treat with the wildlings but the hate on both sides - and the bad will and the schemes of some - had prevented them from reaching an understanding.

On the surface level the plot about 'finding out what the wildlings are up to' works ... but if you think about it for some time then this entire scenario breaks down.

If his actions are reflective of his motives and his words are suspect, is there a potential motive that would justify the attacks that he hasn't shared with someone we get a POV from? Let's assume for a minute that the writing is 100% consistent and on target, what is Mance really doing? What are his actions accomplishing?

Is it possible that he's deliberately leaving corpses for the Others?

Does his trip to Winterfell really have anything to do with Jon and Arya or is it still part of the same hidden agenda (if it exists)?

How did he and Mel get so close so fast anyway?

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On 9/8/2021 at 5:06 PM, James Fenimore Cooper XXII said:

Jon is quite the emotional fellow.  In contrast, Bowen is a very pragmatic man.  Are those the two faces of the immigration debate?  If we only look at the welfare and well-being of the ones on the side of plenty, then it is easy to see which side is correct.  Marsh and the pragmatic folk.  Throw in feelings and a lot of distortion enters the discussion.

Very good point.

@Rose of Red Lake I understand the point you are trying to make but I think you find the writing on the Free Folk as a comparison to the US immigration debate confusing because it's not entirely a comparison. You're trying to put a spherical peg with square ends into a circular hole

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