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Immediate consequences of Jon's betrayal of the NW


Rondo
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1 hour ago, Craving Peaches said:

Yeah I have no idea what's going on with this either to be honest. Maybe it's because the Night's Watch was much stronger in the past so the Lords thought it was more trouble that it was worth to try and use them as Stannis and the Lannisters did? Maybe because there was no unified realm? At the time of the Conquest the Watch numbered 10,000 men. The North, the only kingdom that's really near, can raise I think 45,000 men max. It's hard to tell with the harsh winters whether the North saw any significant population growth but even being generous with their estimate the NW at that time commanded roughly a quarter of the men they did. Maybe they thought it was just a little too much to bother with? Though I still think a power-hungry King of Winter would have tried something. But we don't even hear of anything similar happening before. As far as I'm aware no one seems to have tried to assassinate the Lord Commander either or meddled in the politics of the Night's Watch before which is strange...

8000 years is a very long time. (In our world, the pyramid of Giza was built about 4500 years ago.) I think pretty much anything that can physically happen in the current world must have happened before, in the course of those millennia.

I looked at the wiki and counted the pre-conquest Starks listed there - 25 names altogether, and it's a royal family! That's practically nothing. The Watch may have most of its Lord Commanders listed in its chronicles, but how much is known about the historical events associated with each of them? It is pretty safe to assume that most of the history of those 8000 years has been lost to the people of Westeros or, at least, we readers have been acquainted with only the tiniest portion of it. So, a lot must have happened in history that we don't know about (and I think it's fine). 

What I don't understand is how people (in-world and others) can totally reject the idea that it may be impossible to absolutely live by rules that were established thousands of years ago. The world changes and at least some adaptation to the new circumstances may be necessary at times. And it's not that such adaptation has not happened before. For example, if the original purpose of the Wall and the Watch was indeed to keep out the Others, then the fact that nowadays the wildlings count as the number one enemy of the Watch implies that there was a shift in the purpose of the Watch - probably at a time when the Others had not been seen for a long time, but the wildlings were already causing problems. Now the Others are returning, which means the situation has changed again (perhaps time is a wheel in Westeros), so it makes sense to adapt again and find common cause with the wildlings because an eternal winter is not in the interest of any humans. 

As for neutrality, a given political entity can be neutral only as long as all parties (players) agree on and respect its neutral status. Perhaps there was a time - a specific political situation - when NW neutrality was both possible and desirable. Right now, it is not so. 

A lot depends on what different parties mean by neutrality. There is a conflict, you don't do anything. Fine, as long as the conflict is far away from you. But what if you find one of the warring kings in front of your door, wounded by a boar? Should you leave him there to die or should you pick him up and dress his wounds? Whichever you choose, you will have influenced the war. 

 

Edited by Julia H.
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8 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

In the long ago times I think the LC was probably dictator of the realms, and probably under no obligation to be neutral. I believe some people got irritated from this situation and left the NW to what it is now, as @Lord Varys correctly summarizes 

This sounds plausible. I think that when the Others were still around no-one would have dared to try and go against the Watch because it was defending them from a much greater threat but now with the Others supposedly gone for thousands of years people don't see the Watch as important enough to not attack any more.

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34 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Who cares about that? At the Watch they don't know any of that ... and even if they did, common sense means Stannis is doomed, which means they might be doomed as well if they are viewed as his allies.

Teaming up with him may mean small success in the short run and death in the long run.

Tywin not supporting the Watch isn't a real betrayal considering how the general state of the Realm was at that point. He had more pressing concerns. And strangely enough ... Cersei planning to murder Jon Snow is actually justified considering how Jon plots against the Lannister allies in the North.

That is a non-issue since we can reasonably assume that Ramsay might be satisfied by Jon doing his best to deliver the people in his list to him. He might not fault him for not producing folks he doesn't have at that point. Although if the Pink Letter were true Jeyne and Theon might actually be on their way to the Wall right now, so Jon could have had them by the time Ramsay and his army showed up at the Wall.

That is kind of a moot point. The Realm isn't obliged to stay out of the affairs of the Watch. They serve at the pleasure of the kings and lords of the Seven Kingdoms, not the other way around.

Do you really think Ramsay of all people will be satisfied by a half measure? This is a guy who skins people alive for his own amusement. Like I said before, peace is only possible with reasonable people and not with psychopaths.

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38 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Who cares about that? At the Watch they don't know any of that ... and even if they did, common sense means Stannis is doomed, which means they might be doomed as well if they are viewed as his allies.

Teaming up with him may mean small success in the short run and death in the long run.

Tywin not supporting the Watch isn't a real betrayal considering how the general state of the Realm was at that point. He had more pressing concerns. And strangely enough ... Cersei planning to murder Jon Snow is actually justified considering how Jon plots against the Lannister allies in the North.

We readers care, and so should the Night's Watch are about that blablant violation of their neutrality and interference inside their affairs. 

And as I and others have already pointed out the Night's Watch can't oppose Stannis nor act as if Stannis didn't save them and defeated the Wildlings, they don't have the men nor any means to try anything against Stannis nor stop him and his men from staying at Castle Back or any castle in the Gift. 

And without any proof or hint of Jon plotting anything against her family or the Boltons (for who Cersei doesn't care at all) Cersei has no legal justification for her plotting to assassinate Jon. 

And common sense wasn't in favor of the Lannisters by the point of ADWD either, even from afar anyone could guess that them staying in power for long wasn't sure anymore and that troubles were really starting for them. 

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27 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

This sounds plausible. I think that when the Others were still around no-one would have dared to try and go against the Watch because it was defending them from a much greater threat but now with the Others supposedly gone for thousands of years people don't see the Watch as important enough to not attack any more.

That's my general line of thinking. But just because there used to be Others doesn't really mean people know about them. Like, Others exist now, for a few decades at minimum. Rangers like Benjin know this but don't tell the powerful lords like Ned (who's surly heard that Others are a thing from the countless of decapitated) because telling somebody zombies are a thing gets you committed.

Like Jorah, a student of history can stare at dragon bones and be like "nah". So why does some Dornishman (not his wife) serve the NW if he's probably never seen an Other before, let alone a wight or a cold breeze? 

If I were to guess why dictator LC was so powerful I'd say it's because they were probably Starks and fan skinchange and stuff, magic can be handy after all

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56 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

In the long ago times I think the LC was probably dictator of the realms, and probably under no obligation to be neutral. I believe some people got irritated from this situation and left the NW to what it is now, as @Lord Varys correctly summarizes

I don't think that was ever the case, but the Watch was once a very respected and powerful institution and while many men from all across the Hundred Kingdoms took the black freely and gladly the Watch may very well have been more powerful than many a petty king of that era.

54 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

I'm going to have to disagree here. Ramsay is a maniac, he is one of the least easy to satisfy people in the series.

Yes, yes, but don't pretend Jon or the Watch gang know what we know. They have contact with the outside world only by letter. They clearly don't have a very detailed picture of Ramsay aside from what was revealed via the letters he sent them. Which shows some cruelty, to be sure.

I mean, Ramsay is a completely non-entity in the North as late as ACoK. Nobody knows him which is why he can pretend to be Reek, etc.

54 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

Even if Jon had all the people and delivered them straight to him I think he still might have wanted Jon dead. I always got the impression that he hated Jon or was very jealous of him because he was also a bastard and made Ramsay feel insecure about his own status. Now obviously Roose would probably do his best to keep him in line. But I don't think Ramsay would be satisfied until Jon was dead if he felt slighted. Which I believe he would if Jon could not fulfill his demands to the letter, and even then...

Not sure where you get that - Ramsay never so much speaks about Jon Snow in the book and he just taunts him in the Pink Letter.

54 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

What I was trying to say is that it may have been hard for Jon to keep away from the affairs of the realm even without the Stannis situation, because Cersei due to her dislike of Starks and bastards might have decided to kill Jon anyway, even without his sheltering of Stannis. Though this may be an unlikely scenario.

My point mainly is that I understand Marsh and the others trying to ingratiate themselves with the most powerful faction (as they saw it) because only that would eventually profit the Watch. The Watch can only lose if they throw in with a doomed pretender. That they also have to help Stannis to a point after he saved their necks is also clear.

Jon's bigger problem in my opinion is Mance's mission to Winterfell. Him advising Stannis on northern geography, etc. shouldn't be that much of an issue, especially since it should be pretty much impossible to prove that he even advised him on such matters.

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5 minutes ago, Julia H. said:

What I don't understand is how people (in-world and others) can totally reject the idea that it may be impossible to absolutely live by rules that were established thousands of years ago.

This is something I find odd as well. Though the progress of the whole word in general (especially idealogocally) feels quite stunted to me. Maybe it has something to do with the weird seasons and more people dying?

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Still on the principle of neutrality. There are no guidelines that we know of (and why would there be any in Westeros?) that explain what NW neutrality means and how far it extends in different scenarios. Imagine there are two lords fighting against each other over a plot of land or due to some offense one committed against the other. The Night's Watch will stay neutral, it is not their conflict, they'll just continue guarding the Wall. Now, what if a lord of the realm turns into a total villain, destroys the King's peace, starts looting and killing all over the realm, challenges the authority of the King and brings general death and destruction to the realm? It is still not the Night Watch's duty to put things right, they'll just continue guarding the Wall.

Yet, there might be a difference when the lords in these two examples show up in Castle Black. I think in the first case, there is no reason why either of the warring lords could not be a respected guest of the Night's Watch in the name of the neutrality and earlier good relations. The lord in the second example though might be considered an outlaw. At least I wonder if the neutrality extends to such cases as well. Perhaps so, perhaps not. In the absence of clear guidelines, it would be left to the Lord Commander's decision whether he regards this lord as a guest or as a potentially dangerous enemy (which would need to be decided before the visiting lord reaches Castle Black). And, of course, whatever he would decide, someone else could challenge this decision in the name of one law or the other.

And then, what should the guidelines be when the conflict somehow endangers the normal functioning of the still neutral Night's Watch? (Let's say the warring parties fight a battle on NW territory and, as a result, the NW hunting grounds burn down.) How far can that be tolerated? (I know that Castle Black is not defensible from the South, what I'm exploring here is what the principles and theoretical limits of neutrality could be.) There is also the ultimate problem where the Watch is attacked by one of the lords (for example, after the other lord has been a guest of the NW in the name of the neutrality).

Yet another possible scenario is a situation of total chaos and anarchy. Even in this case, the NW should still guard the Northern border of the realm, but can they remain truly unaffected by such a situation? And does the spirit of their profession allow them to just watch the Wall whatever happens instead of trying to organize the country behind them - if for no other reason then to facilitate the protection of the realm?   

What seems to be the most reasonable principle, regarding NW neutrality, is that the protection of the realm is their first priority, and they must do whatever needs to be done to protect the realm, ignoring conflicts that do not affect their defence potential, while any conflict that affects their ability to protect the realm is their concern and needs to be dealt with accordingly. The pertinent decisions are primarily the responsibility of the LC. 

As things stand though, guidelines do not exist, and the exact meaning or scope of the neutrality is undefined. Therefore everyone can have their own interpretation, and these interpretations will differ. The decision-making, however, still belongs to the LC. 

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35 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yes, yes, but don't pretend Jon or the Watch gang know what we know. They have contact with the outside world only by letter. They clearly don't have a very detailed picture of Ramsay aside from what was revealed via the letters he sent them. Which shows some cruelty, to be sure.

I'm not saying they are aware of Ramsay's disposition, though I think they'd have a fairly good idea given the tone of the letter, as you said. What I'm saying is that Ramsay would not be satisfied unless they fulfill all the terms of the letter. If they don't give him everything he wants he will be displeased and will most likely try to  attack them. I don't think it is in his character to be satisfied with what would only be half-measures as his full demands/commands would not be obeyed.

37 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Not sure where you get that - Ramsay never so much speaks about Jon Snow in the book and he just taunts him in the Pink Letter.

It wasn't mean to be some definite idea, I just had a slight impression that Ramsay may resent Jon because he could feel jealous of him being another bastard in a high position. He refers to Jon as a bastard in the letter and himself as 'Trueborn Lord of Winterfell'. Ramsay to me seems very insecure of his bastard status.

Stannis puts the watch in a lose-lose position. They can't refuse him as he has the numbers to force them to obey, but as soon as they do this they anger the Iron Throne. Stannis is doomed, yes, but they can't really expect any help from the Lannisters either. They are miles away, have their own issues to deal with and certainly can't send troops in time to help the Watch with Stannis. All they could have done was fight against Stannis and most likely loose, which apart from being ungrateful as he did technically save them from the Wildlings, would also provide a big boost to the Others.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I don't think that was ever the case, but the Watch was once a very respected and powerful institution and while many men from all across the Hundred Kingdoms took the black freely and gladly the Watch may very well have been more powerful than many a petty king of that era.

Yes, yes, but don't pretend Jon or the Watch gang know what we know. They have contact with the outside world only by letter. They clearly don't have a very detailed picture of Ramsay aside from what was revealed via the letters he sent them. Which shows some cruelty, to be sure.

I mean, Ramsay is a completely non-entity in the North as late as ACoK. Nobody knows him which is why he can pretend to be Reek, etc.

Not sure where you get that - Ramsay never so much speaks about Jon Snow in the book and he just taunts him in the Pink Letter.

My point mainly is that I understand Marsh and the others trying to ingratiate themselves with the most powerful faction (as they saw it) because only that would eventually profit the Watch. The Watch can only lose if they throw in with a doomed pretender. That they also have to help Stannis to a point after he saved their necks is also clear.

Jon's bigger problem in my opinion is Mance's mission to Winterfell. Him advising Stannis on northern geography, etc. shouldn't be that much of an issue, especially since it should be pretty much impossible to prove that he even advised him on such matters.

Why should we think Stannis doomed?  He stands a pretty good chance of overthrowing the Boltons IMHO.

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3 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Why should we think Stannis doomed?  He stands a pretty good chance of overthrowing the Boltons IMHO.

Even that would just be a short term success. He won't win the Iron Throne.

If the Watch supporting Stannis prevents the lords in the south from sending help to the Watch to help the Wall working with Stannis actually means helping the Others and betraying the true mission of the Watch.

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4 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Even that would just be a short term success. He won't win the Iron Throne.

If the Watch supporting Stannis prevents the lords in the south from sending help to the Watch to help the Wall working with Stannis actually means helping the Others and betraying the true mission of the Watch.

But, he stands a decent chance of uniting the North.  The Boltons are detested up there.  

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10 minutes ago, SeanF said:

But, he stands a decent chance of uniting the North.  The Boltons are detested up there.  

That is not going to help the Watch in the long run. Not against the Others and not to survive as an institution. Whoever prevails in the end might deal with the Watch the same way they are going to deal with Stannis.

Signing with Stannis is basically being as smart as Vargo Hoat. He also greatly miscalculated how things would turn out.

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Let's also not forget that Ramsay is sort of developing a reputation for murdering and torturing people, even when they give him what he wants. Let's see, he agreed to help Theon at the end of the second book, in return for Kyra. Theon honors his request and Ramsay captures him anyway and tortures him for a number of years. We also have the Iron Born at Moat Cailin. Ramsay has Theon send them a message, that if they surrender, he'd show them mercy and let them return home. They do as Ramsay asks, and he murders them anyway. There could be others that I'm missing, but you get the point.

So yea, this is the type of person Bowen Marsh thinks can be reasoned with. A man who has a reputation for murdering and torturing people, even when they do exactly as he wishes.

Edited by sifth
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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even that would just be a short term success. He won't win the Iron Throne.

If the Watch supporting Stannis prevents the lords in the south from sending help to the Watch to help the Wall working with Stannis actually means helping the Others and betraying the true mission of the Watch.

The Lannisters intended to withhold help even if Stannis didn't show up at Castle Black unless Slynt became Lord Commander. Slynt, who proved he could be bought by the highest bidder and proved incompetent while at the Wall. The Watch was screwed either way.

Edited by Angel Eyes
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11 hours ago, Denam_Pavel said:

The hostage situation is laughable.

I don't see why.  Holding, e.g., Mance or Tormund's son would be a powerful deterrent as these men are powerful and respected.  Or, as you mentioned him earlier and do so again later, who would want to do something that would lead The Weeper to have a vendetta against them? The Wildlings have leadership structures and human emotions, they just don't have a landed feudal system where the leaders own the land and require their subordinates to pay homage as vassals. Mance, of course, is the glue that could hold them together, not Jon.

As ever, though, I don't see any alternative being offered, just some fairly dismissive criticism.  What should Jon have done?

11 hours ago, Denam_Pavel said:

Harma, Rattleshirt and the Weeper are just the named characters. You expect GRRM to put a name to every single person? 

No, but I believe he mentioned the most well-known and dangerous leaders of raiding bands.  I think there was another one mentioned who died in the battle at The Shadow Tower but I don't remember who.

There are other leaders and other raiding bands for sure but not nearly as many as you seemed to make out.

11 hours ago, Denam_Pavel said:

You pretend I am making them out to be a army of orcs but you have to be holding the wildlings up to a higher moral standard then any other people in ASOIAF

You did raise the prospect of hundreds of thousands of wildlings pillaging The North. They are neither orcs nor Dothraki screamers.  I'm glad you agree B)

No, unlike Marsh or the argument to keep them north of The Wall I regard them the same as the folk of the 7K.  Well, a little bit wilder, but not fundamentally different.  That common humanity is really the heart argument for letting them through despite the logistical and public order problems.

11 hours ago, Denam_Pavel said:

the Wildlings will never stop outnumbering the NW, nor ever become a part of them.

You and I are reading different stories.  The paradigm is not The NW and The Wildlings.  That was the status quo ante because humanity forgot about The Others.  The paradigm is Humanity and The Others.

The NW (all 300 or 500 of them) is just a drop in the bucket of humanity.  The Wildlings may be a cupful.

11 hours ago, Denam_Pavel said:

Sure, but that's not what Jon did. Letting Mance go, free south of the Gift to rescue his own family member is not making use of Mance's position. It's a clandestine operation to serve Jon's personal ends at the cost of the realm of men he decided he does not like. It's nuts that Jon lets Ramsay describe the situation to his men through a letter he reads and nothing else.

This is fair but bear in mind that Stannis had "Mance" executed.  Had Stannis agreed to pardon him then both he and Jon could have made use of him, particularly with his son held hostage.  As it is he is under Mel's glamour at Castle Black so cannot be used openly but is more a wildcard. 

The Pink Letter is very confusing but with the reveal that Mance is alive (unless Ramsay killed him) Jon or Stannis, should either be in any position to do so, may be able to make better use of him.

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Jon's bond with his Stark family destroyed the Night's Watch.  Snow Flake just could not leave well enough alone.  He had to involve the watch in the conflict between his now homeless and destitute Stark family and the new wardens of the north.  What had stood united for thousands and thousands of years will be broken because of Jon.  

The wildling barbarians will do as Jon wanted and raid Roose Bolton.  It will not end well for the north.  The wall will be at its weakest at the worst moment.  All of that screw up is because of Jon.

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Bowen Marsh will do his best to pull the watch back together but the destruction caused by Jon's affections for his little sister Arya is too much.  The watch will collapse because its leader could not stay true to the vows.  Jon abused his leadership to rescue a girl who he thought was his crazy little Arya.  The best case is the widlings leaves the wall and the remaining men are all loyal to Bowen Marsh and their duty to stop the Others.  

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