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Heresy 240: Ten Heretical Years


Black Crow
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The first post in what has become HERESY was posted exactly ten years ago:

 

The Wall The Watch and a Heresy November 28 2011

 

To pile heresy upon heresy I’d like to expand on my theory that the Others and the Children are one and the same, by looking at the Wall and the Nights Watch.

The Wall is a 700 foot high barrier of solid ice, supposedly constructed by Bran the Builder with the aid of the Children. Like Hadrian’s Wall which provided GRRM with his inspiration we can reasonably suppose that Bran himself had very little to do with it since building a structure on this scale required the magic of the Children rather than the labour of men, but lets not argue about that because there seems to be no doubt about the involvement of the Children.

Its when we start to look at the purpose of the Wall that things start to get a little sticky because it was all so very long ago – a whole 8,000 years ago. To put this in context, the current action in Westeros is taking place 300 years after Aegon’s Conquest, which for reference purposes we can equate to William of Normandy’s Conquest of England in 1066. Scroll back 1,000 years and we have the Roman invasion of Celtic Britain in AD 43. The Iron Age (or if you prefer the arrival of the Andals) is reckoned to have started around 650 years before that, and the Bronze age as long ago as 2,000 years before the arrival of the Romans. So far as recorded histories go, the Biblical Old Testament goes back less than 4,000 years and includes stories of kings ruling for hundreds of years, all of which gives considerable point to the words of Samwell Tarly:

The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros. The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later. There are archmaesters at the Citadel who question all of it.

Not surprising really and when we have GRRM expressing his fondness for using the “unreliable narrator” and giving point to it by not just writing this passage into AFfC but repeating it word for word in ADwD we too need to question the orthodoxy of everything we’ve been told thus far about the Children, the Others and the Wall, especially as all sorts of (metaphorical) cracks are appearing.

Supposedly, after the Others were defeated the Wall was built to prevent their return, yet there’s an immediate contradiction here in that we have an enemy who comes out of the cold and yet the barrier is built of ice rather than fire. There’s also a second contradiction in that if the Children helped raise up this barrier they left themselves on the wrong side of it which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

This is why I’ve suggested in the past that the Wall was not built to defend Westeros against the Others, but that the Children are the Others and that it was built as their bastion against the threat from the south. There is magic in the Wall certainly, but does it work both ways and if it’s critical to the security of the Wall where does the Nights Watch come into it?

The Wall we’re told, is safe so long as the Nights Watch remains true, but what exactly does this mean? We know that the Watch have fought amongst themselves in the past so a little matter of sticking a knife into the current Lord Commander isn’t necessarily a trigger for destruction by itself. There’s got to be something more to it.

Consider the oath:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Nights Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

It can be read straightforwardly as meaning that they are to watch over the realm through the dark of the night, when all those terrors that so exercise Mel the Red Witch supposedly abound, but what if its changed. The fact they wear black and emphasise the darkness, embraced by Bloodraven and the Children, can be read as contradicting rather than complementing the bit about fire and light.

At first sight this might sound a touch unlikely but then there’s the matter of the Night’s King, supposedly a good guy who fell in love with one of the Others and magically enslaved his own men. Suppose that’s mince – suppose that what really happened was that the Nights Watch were originally allied to the Children/Others, but for some reason changed sides and justified themselves by claiming that those still loyal to the children were ensorcelled?

Could discovery of this explain why Bloodraven, himself a Lord Commander of the Watch, went over to the Children – after learning the truth, just as Jon may be about to do?

 

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5 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

One is strongly tempted to think so. After all, why is he the Night's King?

Then it also makes sense that the last hero is the king of the long night because he ended the threat of the Others.

I wonder whether it should be spelled Night's Watch, too, i.e. the watch during the long night.

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1 hour ago, alienarea said:

Then it also makes sense that the last hero is the king of the long night because he ended the threat of the Others.

I wonder whether it should be spelled Night's Watch, too, i.e. the watch during the long night.

Yep, you can see where all this is going... again. This is why Heresy has always regarded R+L=J is a red herring - it may be true but its a distraction from what's really going on and the centrality of the Starks

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11 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Could discovery of this explain why Bloodraven, himself a Lord Commander of the Watch, went over to the Children – after learning the truth, just as Jon may be about to do?

How would he discover the truth?   Unless Coldhands was sent to him on his last ranging.

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Bran I

Meera's gloved hand tightened around the shaft of her frog spear. "Who sent you? Who is this three-eyed crow?"

"A friend. Dreamer, wizard, call him what you will. The last greenseer." The longhall's wooden door banged open. Outside, the night wind howled, bleak and black. The trees were full of ravens, screaming. Coldhands did not move.

"A monster," Bran said.

 

If he encountered Coldhands, himself a man of the Watch (killed long ago); that could be the turning point for Bloodraven.  Who else could tell him the truth about the original NW and the Night King.

I don't think the NK was the 13th LC at the raising of the Wall.  But the 13th LC of the Night Fort after the arrival of Andals at the Wall.  A more recent development. The conflict between the NK and the LC'S of the newer forts built to accommodate them based on Andal ignorance and fear of the COTF and their greenseers.  It may even be that the woman he fell in love with was a wildling since he chases and captures her in wildling tradition.

In the minds of the Andals; they are purging demons and monsters and replacing the original purpose and history of the NW with a version of events that is acceptable to them.  They make a monster out of him.

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7 hours ago, LynnS said:

Do the crypts of Winterfell really hold 8,000 years of Stark remains?  They can't possibly all be entombed in stone coffins with statues and direwolves.  I'm expecting an extensive cave system filled with bones.  

Catacombs-of-Rome-Catacombs-of-Priscilla-1.jpg (1080×1208) (colosseumrometickets.com)

Well of course that's a mystery in itself. All that we've seen so far is the top layer. There are lower layers, but are they used for burials? In simple terms if the top layer fills up, you either extend it or start using the sub-basement, in which case the more recent burials go down there

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8 hours ago, LynnS said:

Do the crypts of Winterfell really hold 8,000 years of Stark remains?  They can't possibly all be entombed in stone coffins with statues and direwolves.  I'm expecting an extensive cave system filled with bones.  

Catacombs-of-Rome-Catacombs-of-Priscilla-1.jpg (1080×1208) (colosseumrometickets.com)

My head canon is that the collapsed entrance to the lower level marks a fundamental change in burial practices. In the not so distant past the Starks started imprisoning the souls/bones of their magnars in stone sealing them with iron wards; no more morning mist carried by the wind. They closed the entrance to the lower levels to contain the old way. The lower levels will be closer to BR's or Arianne's caves.

Edited by Tucu
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1 hour ago, Tucu said:

My head canon is that the collapsed entrance to the lower level marks a fundamental change in burial practices. In the not so distant past the Starks started imprisoning the souls/bones of their magnars in stone sealing them with iron wards; no more morning mist carried by the wind. They closed the entrance to the lower levels to contain the old way. The lower levels will be closer to BR's or Arianne's caves.

Would make sense to me if the cave system from Bloodraven's cave is connected to the lowest level of the Winterfell crypts.

We do not know how the Night's King died. Did he? 

Or did he go into the Winterfell tree? 

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2 hours ago, Tucu said:

My head canon is that the collapsed entrance to the lower level marks a fundamental change in burial practices. In the not so distant past the Starks started imprisoning the souls/bones of their magnars in stone sealing them with iron wards; no more morning mist carried by the wind. They closed the entrance to the lower levels to contain the old way. The lower levels will be closer to BR's or Arianne's caves.

The entrance to the lower levels hasn't collapsed. All we're actually told is that Jon and the other kids were warned not to go down there because it was dangerous - as in fragile/rickety, and Jon is aware of cold air from down below

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27 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

The entrance to the lower levels hasn't collapsed. All we're actually told is that Jon and the other kids were warned not to go down there because it was dangerous - as in fragile/rickety, and Jon is aware of cold air from down below

I misremembered. It is the lowest (available) level that is partially collapsed:

Quote

"There are lower levels. Older. The lowest level is partly collapsed, I hear. I have never been down there." He pushed the door open and led them out into a long vaulted tunnel, where mighty granite pillars marched two by two into blackness.

But still a lot smaller volume is accessible compared to BR's cave:

Quote

The caves were timeless, vast, silent. They were home to more than three score living singers and the bones of thousands dead, and extended far below the hollow hill. "Men should not go wandering in this place," Leaf warned them. "The river you hear is swift and black, and flows down and down to a sunless sea. And there are passages that go even deeper, bottomless pits and sudden shafts, forgotten ways that lead to the very center of the earth. Even my people have not explored them all, and we have lived here for a thousand thousand of your man-years."

and probably even Arianne's cave with the stone "columns" and faces

 

Edited by Tucu
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Yes, I think we've pretty well agreed over the years that we're dealing with a cave system below Winterfell rather than a series of constructed basements and sub-basements - with the caveat that in my experience crypts are usually airspaces in the foundations of large structures. In other words the crypts that we see in the books are a part of the Winterfell castle foundations, which are in turn built on top of a an ancient cave system - separate but connected.

As described the crypts [as distinct from the caves] seem to take the form of a long [spiral?] corridor, lines by individual burial chambers - clearly not 8,000 years worth, but as to those Starks below are they actually buried, or just gone below? 

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1 hour ago, alienarea said:

Would make sense to me if the cave system from Bloodraven's cave is connected to the lowest level of the Winterfell crypts.

We do not know how the Night's King died. Did he? 

Or did he go into the Winterfell tree? 

Not sure about the NK, but the COTF greenseers are not 100% dead:

Quote

One was full of singers, enthroned like Brynden in nests of weirwood roots that wove under and through and around their bodies. Most of them looked dead to him, but as he crossed in front of them their eyes would open and follow the light of his torch, and one of them opened and closed a wrinkled mouth as if he were trying to speak

 

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21 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

Yes, I think we've pretty well agreed over the years that we're dealing with a cave system below Winterfell rather than a series of constructed basements and sub-basements - with the caveat that in my experience crypts are usually airspaces in the foundations of large structures

If Bran the Builder built the Wall or had something to do with laying down the magic in the foundation of the Wall;  when did he build Winterfell.  What exactly did he build?  The First Keep?  The Glass Gardens?  Because I think these constructions come much later and the original holdfast was more akin to Mormont's long house on Bear Island.  Perhaps Bran the Builder had more to to with laying down Winterfell's foundation and the magic it contains; the crypts in other words.  Every other structure is built on top of it with the frozen hell reserved for Starks below ground..  

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Do you imagine a spiral staircase of this type?

f819e829ee35a3d2677929ff482ed2db.jpg (1500×2250) (pinimg.com)

Or this type?

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

The Reeds decided that they would sleep in the kitchens, a stone octagon with a broken dome. It looked to offer better shelter than most of the other buildings, even though a crooked weirwood had burst up through the slate floor beside the huge central well, stretching slantwise toward the hole in the roof, its bone-white branches reaching for the sun. It was a queer kind of tree, skinnier than any other weirwood that Bran had ever seen and faceless as well, but it made him feel as if the old gods were with him here, at least.

That was the only thing he liked about the kitchens, though. The roof was mostly there, so they'd be dry if it rained again, but he didn't think they would ever get warm here. You could feel the cold seeping up through the slate floor. Bran did not like the shadows either, or the huge brick ovens that surrounded them like open mouths, or the rusted meat hooks, or the scars and stains he saw in the butcher's block along one wall. That was where the Rat Cook chopped the prince to pieces, he knew, and he baked the pie in one of these ovens.

 

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

The well was the thing he liked the least, though. It was a good twelve feet across, all stone, with steps built into its side, circling down and down into darkness. The walls were damp and covered with niter, but none of them could see the water at the bottom, not even Meera with her sharp hunter's eyes. "Maybe it doesn't have a bottom," Bran said uncertainly.

 

 

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Ten years, wow, I was only part of a short time of this journey but I am glad to discover this series, forum, and the threads as well. 

About the Wall, I wonder if a tie to SnK manga will make sense here, that series has a Wall to protect people as well, Wall of asoiaf protects people from Others and White Walkers, while Wall of SnK protects people from Titans, some Nightfort legends speak about Sentinels (iirc 76 of them) inside the Walls, and spoilers for SnK v

Spoiler

The walls include titans inside them, the King who built the Walls said if his country is threatened he will unleash them upon humanity 

Now after the ending of SnK, my question is, what happens when the Wall of asoiaf collapses/melts with magic etc. Is it a good thing to eliminate this barriers or something dangerous will be unleashed upon humanity? 

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41 minutes ago, asongofheresy said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

The walls include titans inside them, the King who built the Walls said if his country is threatened he will unleash them upon humanity 

Now after the ending of SnK, my question is, what happens when the Wall of asoiaf collapses/melts with magic etc. Is it a good thing to eliminate this barriers or something dangerous will be unleashed upon humanity? 

Ah well, its long been my [heretical] contention that the Wall must fall in order to resolve this happy tale of honest country folk

 

Ygritte, after all, was pretty insistent that it's evil

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