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Heresy 239: Reflections


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Welcome to Heresy 239, the latest episode of the long-running thread taking a slantwise look at the Song of Ice and Fire.
Today [October 28 2021] we’re just one month shy of ten years  since the Heresy thread began on 28 November 2011, with The Wall, The Watch, and a Heresy. I’ll repost the original as Heresy 240 on the actual anniversary, but as we approach it, I’d like to thank all of you for contributing to what’s been a remarkable series, but otherwise ask that you hold off on the self-congratulations until we actually get there.
When The Wall, the Watch and a Heresy was posted we were only a few months on from the first season of the Mummers version, which at that time promised to be pretty faithful to the books and were of course just a few months from publication of A Dance with Dragons.


It was all new and exciting.


Ten years on I think its fair to say we’re more than frustrated by the wait for Winds of Winter and more than disappointed by the Mummers Farce, but where are we really and how far have we come in our understanding of the story so far and where its going.
I’m confident that we’ve moved a long way from the orthodoxy that Jon Snow is the lost Targaryen heir and that once he draws the sword from the stone and climbs on the back of a dragon all will be well with the world.


We’ve gone through a lot  of theories anent individuals and incidents, but where are we in global terms?

Here’s that old leaked synopsis again. It has obviously been changed [a lot] by what has actually been written and what has actually happened so far to the named characters, but what about the overall story as envisaged by GRRM?

Dear Ralph,
Here are the first thirteen chapters (170 pages) of the high fantasy novel I promised you, which I'm calling 'A Game of Thrones.' When completed, this will be the first volume in what I see as an epic trilogy with the overall title, 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'
As you know, I don't outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I'm telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle characters in the drama. Roughly speaking, there are three major conflicts set in motion in the chapters enclosed. These will form the major plot threads of the trilogy, [unclear] each other in what should be a complex but exciting (I hope [unclear] tapestry. Each of the [unclear] presents a major threat [unclear] of my imaginary realm, the Seven Kingdoms, and to the live [unclear] principal characters.
The first threat grows from the emnity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize. This will form the backbone of the first volume of the trilogy, A Game of Thrones.
While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarian hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume, A Dance with Dragons.
The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call "life." The only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and an endless night is the Wall, and a handful of men in black called the Night's Watch. Their story will be [sic] heart of my third volume, The Winds of Winter. The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.
The thirteen chapters on hand should give you a notion as to my narrative strategy. All three books will feature a complex mosaic of intercutting points-of-view among various of my large and diverse cast of players. The cast will not always remain the same. Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.
Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow. All of them are introduced at some length in the chapters you have to hand.
This is going to be (I hope) quite an epic. Epic in its scale, epic in its action, and epic in its length. I see all three volumes as big books, running about 700 to 800 manuscript pages, so things are just barely getting underway in the thirteen chapters I've sent you.
I have quite a clear notion of how the story is going to unfold in the first volume, A Game of Thrones. Things will get a lot worse for the poor Starks before they get better, I'm afraid. Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn Tully are both doomed, and will perish at the hands of their enemies. Ned will discover what happened to his friend Jon Arryn, [unclear] can act on his knowledge [unclear] will have an unfortunate accident, and the throne will [unclear] to [unclear] and brutal [unclear] Joffrey [unclear] still a minor. Joffrey will not be sympathetic and Ned [what appears to say] will be accused of treason, but before he is taken he will help his wife and his daughter Arya escape back to Winterfell.
Each of the contending families will learn it has a member of dubious loyalty in its midst. Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the crunch comes she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue. Tyrion Lannister, meanwhile, will befriend both Sansa and her sister Arya, while growing more and more disenchanted with his own family.
Young Bran will come out of his coma, after a strange prophetic dream, only to discover that he will never walk again. He will turn to magic, at first in the hope of restoring his legs, but later for its own sake. When his father Eddard Stark is executed, Bran will see the shape of doom descending on all of them, but nothing he can say will stop his brother Robb from calling the banners in rebellion. All the north will be inflamed by war. Robb will win several splendid victories, and maim Joffrey Baratheon on the battlefield, but in the end he will not be able to stand against Jaime and Tyrion Lannister and their allies. Robb Stark will die in battle, and Tyrion Lannister will besiege and burn Winterfell.
Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night's Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Wounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night's Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon's anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving ... until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night's Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.
Abandoned by the Night's Watch, Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wilding encampment. Bran's magic, Arya's sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.
Over across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen will discover that her new husband, the Dothraki Khal Drogo, has little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms, much to her brother's frustration. When Viserys presses his claims past the point of tact or wisdom, Khal Drogo will finally grow annoyed and kill him out of hand, eliminating the Targaryen pretender and leaving Daenerys as the last of her line. Danerys [sic] will bide her time, but she will not forget. When the moment is right, she will kill her husband to avenge her brother, and then flee with a trusted friend into the wilderness beyond Vaes Dothrak. There, hunted by [unclear] of her life, she stumbles on a [something about dragon eggs] a young dragon will give Daenerys [unclear] bend [unclear] to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
Tyrion Lannister will continue to travel, to plot, and to play the game of thrones, finally removing his nephew Joffrey in disgust at the boy king's brutality. Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and blaming his brother Tyrion for the murders. Exiled, Tyrion will change sides, making common cause with the surviving Starks to bring his brother down, and falling helplessly in love with Arya Stark while he's at it. His passion is, alas, unreciprocated, but no less intense for that, and it will lead to a deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow.
But that's the second book ...
 

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I was surprised by the Heresy origin date of Nov 28, 2011, because I thought this thread began before I joined Westeros.org on Oct 12, 2011.

Dance of Dragons was first published in July 12, 2011, but it was the HBO series that introduced me to the story. I really enjoyed the first season which started in April of 2011, but I didn't realize it was based off of novels until the season ended. I searched online for books, ordered them, and began reading. I devoured them all in a matter of months. After finishing ADWD I searched for information about the next book and somehow found Westeros.org and this forum. 

My earliest post on this long running thread (that I can locate) can be found in Heresy 4, page 7, on Jan 11, 2012. The topics discussed were the Children of the Forest, identities of Azor Ahai, and the Prince That Was Promised. My first post:

Quote

It's my understanding that when The First Men first came to Westeros, what was it...8000 years ago? Anyway, they were farmers and they cut the weirwood trees down and cleared the forests for fields to plant. This resulted in a bloody war with the Children of the Forest. Finally, they made a pact that resulted in thousands of years of peace, and that pact began the Age of Heroes. The Starks are decendents of the First Men. They began to trade with the Childrean and even gave up the gods that they immigrated with to Westeros and began worshipping the gods of the Children.

We were really at a very basic level back then weren't we.

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

As you know, I don't outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it.

I'm afraid this is why we haven't seen the next book. :(

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A question, is Jon supposed to be a Ned like figure during ADWD? An honorable lord, who also does less than honorable things to play political games, switches babies, and makes mistakes which leads to him being killed by enemies that smiled at his face but sharpened knives behind his back, we also know both had ire of Lannisters at some point. Would the girls around him point to Ashara, Lyanna, and Catelyn in some way? I also find it interesting how both books have a mysterious female figure that we don't know much about, in AGOT we don't know who Jon's mother is supposed to be, and in ADWD we have Septa Lemore the most mysterious member of Shy Maid, who Tyrion can't figure out, what other ties we can have between these two books, the first and second books of a supposed trilogy? 

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I joined November 11th, 2011. Initially I fought against R+L=J in that other thread, but soon moved over here.

One of my early crackpots was that the White Walkers are jellyfish who got trapped on land when the CotF raised the Hammer of the Waters. At least that's how I recall it. I still like the idea.

And I miss @redriver

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9 hours ago, alienarea said:

I joined November 11th, 2011. Initially I fought against R+L=J in that other thread, but soon moved over here.

One of my early crackpots was that the White Walkers are jellyfish who got trapped on land when the CotF raised the Hammer of the Waters. At least that's how I recall it. I still like the idea.

And I miss @redriver

@redriver yes!

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The topic of "reflections" for this thread seems like we're to reflect on Heresy's past and maybe revisit some of our old ideas, but avoid discussion of the Wall, because I believe BC is saving this topic for his 10 year anniversary thread.

Maybe we can revisit some other old "Professor Crow" theories? Here are a couple:

1) On why Sam seemed uneasy when he was trying to discuss with Jon the numbering of Lord Commanders. Black Crow said,

"one possible explanation for Sam’s uneasiness if he found that on that infamous “oldest” list of 674 Lord Commanders it wasn’t the 13th Lord Commander’s name which was erased but say the 500th!"

What would be the significance if the Nights King was the 500th (or insert any number, really) Lord Commander rather than being the 13th?

2) A second theory was that Gendel's children were the Children of the Forest. This one could lead to an interesting discussion.

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46 minutes ago, Melifeather said:

1) On why Sam seemed uneasy when he was trying to discuss with Jon the numbering of Lord Commanders. Black Crow said,

"one possible explanation for Sam’s uneasiness if he found that on that infamous “oldest” list of 674 Lord Commanders it wasn’t the 13th Lord Commander’s name which was erased but say the 500th!"

What would be the significance if the Nights King was the 500th (or insert any number, really) Lord Commander rather than being the 13th?

My very rough idea about this discrepancy is the the Night King wasn't the 13th Lord Commander since the beginning of the Watch; but the 13th LC since the Andals arrived at the Wall and started making records.  I think this conflict marks the change from the old order of the NW to the new order. 

Basically, I see it as a religious conflict with the victors writing the narrative.  I'm not clear when the Andals arrived at the Wall, but most likely in stages with the first knights joining the NW as part of an agreement to end the war  at Moat Caitlin and stop the second hammer of the waters.  Potentially there was only one or two forts at the Wall at that time.  I suspect that most of the remaining forts were built to house the armies of the 5 kings sent to the Wall by Queen Nymeria.

I also suspect that with the increase in the number of forts, that there was more than one Lord Commander. I think there were conflicts between LC's; the first being with the Night Fort and the Night's King. 

As forts were closed down, any records of LC's at other forts were transferred to Castle Black to add further confusion.  Someone tried to make a chronology out of all these records but they don't include anything that happened before the transition from the old to the new because there were no records before that point.   

Edited by LynnS
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28 minutes ago, LynnS said:

My very rough idea about this discrepancy is the the Night King wasn't the 13th Lord Commander since the beginning of the Watch; but the 13th LC since the Andals arrived at the Wall and started making records.  I think this conflict marks the change from the old order of the NW to the new order. 

That could be interesting since some sources claim the Andals did come 6000 years ago. The True History states the Andals came 4000 years ago, while maesters claim it was only 2000 years ago, yet the Nights King was supposedly 6000 years ago with the Long Night and the coming of the Others being 8000 years ago. If the Nights King was 2000 years after the Long Night, surely there were more than 13 Lord Commanders in 2000 years?

Edited by Melifeather
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1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

The topic of "reflections" for this thread seems like we're to reflect on Heresy's past and maybe revisit some of our old ideas, but avoid discussion of the Wall, because I believe BC is saving this topic for his 10 year anniversary thread.

In reflecting I'm referencing how our perceptions of what the story is about have evolved over the last 10 years.

R+L=J always has been contentious of course, but what I'm interested in here is its place in the story. Whether its true or not, does the story which GRRM is telling revolve around it... or is GRRM writing a very different story

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5 minutes ago, asongofheresy said:

Should we reduce the years we are given? Maybe by half for all of them? Like Long Night 4000 years ago, Night's King supposedly 3000 years ago, and Andal invasion 2000 years ago? 

Probably...

GRRM has warned before about obsessing about dates and mileages. In the context he was talking about certain living [or at least very recently dead] characters moving from A to B within a certain time frame, but he also spoken about how this is equally true of the distant past. I think that we  can safely assume that the sequence of events before the Conquest is reliable but that the datesare mince

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Quote

"When did all this happen?"

"Five hundred years before the Andals. A thousand, if the True History is to be believed. Only no one knows when the Andals crossed the narrow sea. The True History says four thousand years have passed since then, but some maesters claim that it was only two. Past a certain point, all the dates grow hazy and confused, and the clarity of history becomes the fog of legend."

Tyrion would like this one. They could talk from dusk to dawn, arguing about books. For a moment his bitterness toward his brother was forgotten, until he remembered what the Imp had done. "So you are fighting over a crown that one of you took from the other back when the Casterlys still held Casterly Rock, is that the root of it? The crown of a kingdom that has not existed for thousands of years?" He chuckled. "So many years, so many wars, so many kings … you'd think someone would have made a peace."

 

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1 minute ago, Black Crow said:

Probably...

GRRM has warned before about obsessing about dates and mileages. In the context he was talking about certain living [or at least very recently dead] characters moving from A to B within a certain time frame, but he also spoken about how this is equally true of the distant past. I think that we  can safely assume that the sequence of events before the Conquest is reliable but that the datesare mince

True, timeline is certainly iffy when it comes to pre conquest. 

About our percaption, it is obvious the story evolved from the letter GRRM wrote in 1997 but I think ADWD really makes a great sequel to AGOT as George intended in his letter, in AGOT we have Ned Stark, and in ADWD the supposed sequel his POV is replaced by Lord Jon Snow, who now is political to a degree, plays the game, has a king he supports, and even commits baby switcheroo shenaginan, if George really managed to have a five year gap between ASOS and ADWD, or managed to have a trilogy, I could see Jon Snow's death having a smiliar effect like Ned's. 

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3 minutes ago, Melifeather said:

What is the context of this? Who was Jaime talking to?

Hoster Blackwood; they were discussing the quarrel between Blackwood and Bracken, but a lot of the quotes from Hoster seem a projection of GRRM thoughts (or another case of GRRM breaking the 4th wall)

Edited by Tucu
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13 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

In reflecting I'm referencing how our perceptions of what the story is about have evolved over the last 10 years.

R+L=J always has been contentious of course, but what I'm interested in here is its place in the story. Whether its true or not, does the story which GRRM is telling revolve around it... or is GRRM writing a very different story

Well, I've never believed the R+L=J story so to me its place in the story is one of deflection or distraction. GRRM has stated that he wants to surprise and delight us, that he doesn't want to write something that the reader will easily guess his mysteries.

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