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The problem of The Others


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11 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

This was where the old gods ruled, the nameless gods of the trees and the wolves and the snows.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell I

The nazgul were human kings who were ticked by Sauron into accepting the nine rings of power made for mortal men and the trick was the binding of their spirit to his service, even after death.

The Old Gods were/are worshiped by The Children of The Forest and, in time,  by The First Men too.  They are worshiped through the weirwoods and greenseers in some sense become The Old Gods through the symbiotic relationship between the enthroned singer and the weirwood's roots with the greenseer eventually becoming part of the weirnet.  The Starks make their prayers to The Old Gods before weirwoods.

There's nothing about cold gods raising the dead or humans entering into pacts to become liches or elemental spirits riding the cold winds.  If anything The Others and The Old Gods seem in opposition.

 

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3 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

If anything The Others and The Old Gods seem in opposition.

I disagree.

I think we will find that the Weirwoods are inextricably tied to the return of the Others.

Have you ever asked yourself why the Night's Watch swear to be the "watchers on the walls", plural?

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. "The heart tree," Ned called it. The weirwood's bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle's granite walls rise around them. It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea.

A Game of Thrones - Catelyn I

I would suggest it is because the First Men built walls around the Weirwoods, creating what are now called godswoods.

More directly to the point, the vision Bran is given when he falls:

Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.
Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.
"Why?" Bran said, not understanding, falling, falling.
Because winter is coming.
Bran looked at the crow on his shoulder, and the crow looked back. It had three eyes, and the third eye was full of a terrible knowledge. Bran looked down. There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears. He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points. He was desperately afraid.
"Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?" he heard his own voice saying, small and far away.

A Game of Thrones - Bran III

Is a vision of Bloodraven's cave and the Weirwood grove above it.

Something about the way the raven screamed sent a shiver running up Bran's spine. I am almost a man grown, he had to remind himself. I have to be brave now.
But the air was sharp and cold and full of fear. Even Summer was afraid. The fur on his neck was bristling. Shadows stretched against the hillside, black and hungry. All the trees were bowed and twisted by the weight of ice they carried. Some hardly looked like trees at all. Buried from root to crown in frozen snow, they huddled on the hill like giants, monstrous and misshapen creatures hunched against the icy wind. "They are here."

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

The Weirwoods, covered in ice, are the jagged blue white spires of ice. And below:

"Bones," said Bran. "It's bones." The floor of the passage was littered with the bones of birds and beasts. But there were other bones as well, big ones that must have come from giants and small ones that could have been from children. On either side of them, in niches carved from the stone, skulls looked down on them. Bran saw a bear skull and a wolf skull, half a dozen human skulls and near as many giants. All the rest were small, queerly formed. Children of the forest. The roots had grown in and around and through them, every one. A few had ravens perched atop them, watching them pass with bright black eyes.

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

The bones of a thousand other dreamers, impaled on the roots of the ice covered Weirwoods above.

Edited by Mourning Star
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I agree. The "Children" are not the friendly elves they appear to be. That said I still think that the White Walkers were once men, but they are able to operate as they do because they first became wargs and that in turn eventually came from the Singers and the trees

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15 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

The bones of a thousand other dreamers, impaled on the roots of the ice covered Weirwoods above.

Don't you find it odd that Bran doesn't connect the vision he had in the dream that terrified him so much with his present circumstances in the cave?  It was after his dream that he named his direwolf Summer.  Instead of being afraid of the impaled dreamers and trying to warn his friends he goes along to learn from one of them.  And Jojen and Meera were sent by Howland to guide Bran, Jojen considering it his purpose, a purpose worth dying for, to bring Bran to the cave to learn.

If they are connected in some way as you imply it's not that they share the same aims.

16 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Have you ever asked yourself why the Night's Watch swear to be the "watchers on the walls", plural?

No.  I'm not sure the plural means anything.  The Wall likely took form over a long span of time with sections being built separately and joined up.  And Eastwatch and The Shadow Tower likely have additional defences.  I don't see any hint in the use of the plural of anything hidden.

3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I agree. The "Children" are not the friendly elves they appear to be. That said I still think that the White Walkers were once men, but they are able to operate as they do because they first became wargs and that in turn eventually came from the Singers and the trees

It was your Nazgul analogy that intrigued me.  The Children live on in the ravens and the weirwoods and wargs both skin change and live on in their chosen familiar.  In both cases there is a transfer of memory/consciousness between one living organism and another with one identity becoming weakened and eventually subsumed by the other.

The Others appear to be spirits or ethereal beings held together in physical form by magic.  It seems quite different and is wholly unexplained in story, as are there origins.  There are morsels to work with and analyse and theorise on but nothing to really establish anything so I'm interested in how you think humans and Starks became Others, short of magic rings and a powerful sorcerer's design.

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3 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

I'm interested in how you think humans and Starks became Others, short of magic rings and a powerful sorcerer's design.

My current train of thought is that the first long night is an exaggeration of the conflict between the Starks and the Barrow king. The Barrow king was associated with graves and curses.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Barrow_King

A thousand years war sounds quite similar to a long night, doesn't it?

There is a hint that the Corpse Queen of the Others might have been a daughter of the Barrow king. 

The wildling would then be the followers of the Barrow king who didn't bend the knee to the Starks.

Theory: the war between the Barrow king and the Starks goes on for a while (12 Lord Commanders = 12 heroes?) neither side winning, watchers on the walls. The CotF help a Stark (Night's King) to make a deal with the Barrow king and marry his daughter. Things go well for a while, then the Stark's younger brother overthrows him with the help of Joramun. The north is split between the Starks (Kings of Winter) and the wildlings North of the wall. The Night's King becomes imprisoned in the Black Gate.

In my opinion this is how a true story from the past becomes a legend and a myth over time.

No sorcery. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

It was your Nazgul analogy that intrigued me.  The Children live on in the ravens and the weirwoods and wargs both skin change and live on in their chosen familiar.  In both cases there is a transfer of memory/consciousness between one living organism and another with one identity becoming weakened and eventually subsumed by the other.

The Others appear to be spirits or ethereal beings held together in physical form by magic.  It seems quite different and is wholly unexplained in story, as are there origins.  There are morsels to work with and analyse and theorise on but nothing to really establish anything so I'm interested in how you think humans and Starks became Others, short of magic rings and a powerful sorcerer's design.

Its a very good question, but actually a pretty straightforward answer.

The term "Others", is I think, purposefully vague and inexact. The "Others" are those who are outside the ordinary normal manner of beings, they are "other" and I think ultimately could include Faceless Men, who are clearly skinchangers. So, if we keep it simple and stick to the White Walkers, there's an immediate problem in that we don't have an obvious physical origin.

They aint Thenns [for example] or Children of the Forest or even Orcs.

Instead they appear to be ethereal beings who can ride the cold winds and from time to time can form bodies of snow and ice crystals using some kind of magic to do so. Those bodies are human in form - and at least some have Stark features [prologue AGoT]. Moreover when we see what happens to Varamyr [prologue ADWD] we find his soul riding the cold winds after his body is killed - until he is "captured" by One Eye

What I'm suggesting then is that the Walkers are skinchangers/wargs, who escaped capture 

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4 hours ago, alienarea said:

My current train of thought is that the first long night is an exaggeration of the conflict between the Starks and the Barrow king. The Barrow king was associated with graves and curses.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Barrow_King

A thousand years war sounds quite similar to a long night, doesn't it?

There is a hint that the Corpse Queen of the Others might have been a daughter of the Barrow king. 

The wildling would then be the followers of the Barrow king who didn't bend the knee to the Starks.

Theory: the war between the Barrow king and the Starks goes on for a while (12 Lord Commanders = 12 heroes?) neither side winning, watchers on the walls. The CotF help a Stark (Night's King) to make a deal with the Barrow king and marry his daughter. Things go well for a while, then the Stark's younger brother overthrows him with the help of Joramun. The north is split between the Starks (Kings of Winter) and the wildlings North of the wall. The Night's King becomes imprisoned in the Black Gate.

In my opinion this is how a true story from the past becomes a legend and a myth over time.

No sorcery.

I don't quite follow.  The Others and wights are very much real and present in the story in the here and now so if not sorcery we need another explanation.  Human politicking and warfare give rise to all kinds of legends but even if the story of The Last Hero and The Long Night is distorted and corrupted it's more than just human squabbles.

3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Its a very good question, but actually a pretty straightforward answer.

The term "Others", is I think, purposefully vague and inexact. The "Others" are those who are outside the ordinary normal manner of beings, they are "other" and I think ultimately could include Faceless Men, who are clearly skinchangers. So, if we keep it simple and stick to the White Walkers, there's an immediate problem in that we don't have an obvious physical origin.

They aint Thenns [for example] or Children of the Forest or even Orcs.

Instead they appear to be ethereal beings who can ride the cold winds and from time to time can form bodies of snow and ice crystals using some kind of magic to do so. Those bodies are human in form - and at least some have Stark features [prologue AGoT]. Moreover when we see what happens to Varamyr [prologue ADWD] we find his soul riding the cold winds after his body is killed - until he is "captured" by One Eye

What I'm suggesting then is that the Walkers are skinchangers/wargs, who escaped capture 

Interesting.  Instead of fading into oblivion or dying a final death they become evil or at least resentful spirits who hate what they can no longer have?  I don't see why wargs / skinchangers would be associated with cold though and why obsidian (dragonglass/frozen fire) would break "the cold spell" that holds them together.  Or how a warg would learn to take on a non-human form bound together by some form of magic - that's quite a jump from being a living creature capable of forcing itself into another living creature's mind and taking up residence.

It's an intriguing idea, though.  They have to have some explanation :cheers:

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4 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

Interesting.  Instead of fading into oblivion or dying a final death they become evil or at least resentful spirits who hate what they can no longer have?  I don't see why wargs / skinchangers would be associated with cold though and why obsidian (dragonglass/frozen fire) would break "the cold spell" that holds them together.  Or how a warg would learn to take on a non-human form bound together by some form of magic - that's quite a jump from being a living creature capable of forcing itself into another living creature's mind and taking up residence.

It's an intriguing idea, though.  They have to have some explanation :cheers:

As I say, according to the Varamyr prologue, the consciousness [or soul to keep it simple] can move from its own body to a host or familiar, but always returns to its own body sooner or later. However when the original body dies the soul can move at once to that familiar [Ghost in the case of one Jon Snow], but can't then move on to another.

However, what I'm suggesting, is that certain wargs can remain free and rather than fade away trapped in the familiar, they can move on temporarily forming a new body from Ice and snow.

I've said here and elsewhere that perhaps Starks can do it, but thinking on, it may be the direwolves. Varamyr of course had no experience of direwolves, but it may be that instead of being trapped and fading away inside a direwolf a warg can move on

As to evil and/or resentful, I think it rather depends on how evil is defined. Remember that GRRM is reluctant to characterise evil. If a white walker wanders around cackling happily as he deliberately pulls legs off spiders, it might be fair to conclude that he is evil. If on the other hand he simply doesn't care who he kills, the action is certainly bad, but is it evil ?

Edited by Black Crow
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Just following on from that thought about direwolves. There appears early on to be a possible distinction between skinchangers and wargs. This is never explained other than possible suggestions that wag refers to a skinchanger linked to a direwolf

If so, it may be an awareness or suspicion that skinchangers linked to direwolves [and only they] may be able to move on after death

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11 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

However, what I'm suggesting, is that certain wargs can remain free and rather than fade away trapped in the familiar, they can move on temporarily forming a new body from Ice and snow.

Got it.  Wouldn't that imply the immortality of the soul?  I don't mean to sound too philosophical but The Singers eventually lose themselves in the ravens or the trees and fade away with only some vestigial memories remaining like echoes in the ravens or becoming part of the weirnet collective.  If The Others can ride the cold winds and form icy avatars on demand / in the right circumstances they don't "pass on" or dissipate.  It would imply something is holding them here (not to overdo the comparison but like the Nazgul or the dead of Dunharrow).

17 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

As to evil and/or resentful, I think it rather depends on how evil is defined. Remember that GRRM is reluctant to characterise evil. If a white walker wanders around cackling happily as he deliberately pulls legs off spiders, it might be fair to conclude that he is evil. If on the other hand he simply doesn't care who he kills, the action is certainly bad, but is it evil ?

Granted.  But the undead (zombie flicks and poplar cultural references abound) are unnatural.  If they're Beric then they have a comprehensible motive and morality.  If they slaughter with impunity and raise the dead as wights to kill more of whoever they can reach - men, giants and presumably COTF - and display intelligence, cunning and purpose (the prologue to AGOT is an ambush, Hardhome appears to be a trap, they have language, organisation and use tools/weapons) then they're more than just indifferent or casually cruel.  Monsters and evil are human constructs but reanimating corpses is a perversion in human terms so I think it's a fair way to regard them even if it appears simplistic.

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7 minutes ago, the trees have eyes said:

Got it.  Wouldn't that imply the immortality of the soul?  I don't mean to sound too philosophical but The Singers eventually lose themselves in the ravens or the trees and fade away with only some vestigial memories remaining like echoes in the ravens or becoming part of the weirnet collective

Hello Tree, I'd to invite you to look at this thread where Evolett and I discuss the Varamyr prologue and tease out a few interesting details, like once a warg dies and make a final warg for a 2nd that is the last warg and there he stays.   

As for fading away in a 2nd life, BR tells Bran about who else is riding in the first raven he flew.

Quote

"A woman, of those who sing the song of earth," his teacher said. "Long dead, yet a part of her remains, just as a part of you would remain in Summer if your boy's flesh were to die upon the morrow. A shadow on the soul. She will not harm you." 
"Do all the birds have singers in them?"

"All," Lord Brynden said.

Seens, the CoF can last a long time in the ravens.  Old God magic?

 

Varamyr tries unsuccessfully to warg Thistle before he dies:

Quote

Now, he thought, do it now, or die. ... She fights him until.... When he tried to scream, she spat their tongue out.

Then both were gone and he was rising, melting, his spirit borne on some cold wind. He was in the snow and in the clouds, he was a sparrow, a squirrel, an oak. A horned owl flew silently between his trees, hunting a hare; Varamyr was inside the owl, inside the hare, inside the trees. Deep below the frozen ground, earthworms burrowed blindly in the dark, and he was them as well. I am the wood, and everything that's in it, he thought, exulting.  A hundred ravens took to the air, cawing as they felt him pass. A great elk trumpeted, unsettling the children clinging to his back. A sleeping direwolf raised his head to snarl at empty air. Before their hearts could beat again he had passed on, searching for his own, for One Eye, Sly, and Stalker, for his pack. His wolves would save him, he told himself.

That was his last thought as a man.

True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake. Then he found himself rushing over moonlit snows with his packmates close behind him. Half the world was dark. One Eye, he knew. He bayed, and Sly and Stalker gave echo.

What's in the blue is what I think what Black Crow is basing his thoughts on.  Warging, is a mystery and certainly the readers don't know that much about it.  I'm neutral on his theory myself, however, the Varamyr was not quite dead when riding the wind and when true death came, without thought he landed in the wolf, One Eye, who is not a direwolf.

What Black Crow seems to be asking, is, if the dying warg is bonded to direwolf, could there be a different outcome than Varamyrs?   Good question.

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4 minutes ago, LongRider said:

 

Hello Tree, I'd to invite you to look at this thread where Evolett and I discuss the Varamyr prologue and tease out a few interesting details, like once a warg dies and make a final warg for a 2nd that is the last warg and there he stays.   

As for fading away in a 2nd life, BR tells Bran about who else is riding in the first raven he flew.

Seens, the CoF can last a long time in the ravens.  Old God magic?

 

Varamyr tries unsuccessfully to warg Thistle before he dies:

What's in the blue is what I think what Black Crow is basing his thoughts on.  Warging, is a mystery and certainly the readers don't know that much about it.  I'm neutral on his theory myself, however, the Varamyr was not quite dead when riding the wind and when true death came, without thought he landed in the wolf, One Eye, who is not a direwolf.

What Black Crow seems to be asking, is, if the dying warg is bonded to direwolf, could there be a different outcome than Varamyrs?   Good question. 

Black Crow, am close to what you're thinking?

 

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7 hours ago, LongRider said:

What's in the blue is what I think what Black Crow is basing his thoughts on.  Warging, is a mystery and certainly the readers don't know that much about it.  I'm neutral on his theory myself, however, the Varamyr was not quite dead when riding the wind and when true death came, without thought he landed in the wolf, One Eye, who is not a direwolf.

What Black Crow seems to be asking, is, if the dying warg is bonded to direwolf, could there be a different outcome than Varamyrs?   Good question.

Exactly so. At this stage neither I nor anybody else knows exactly what GRRM is thinking, but there's clearly something going on, and has been going on in the past involving Starks and unless there's some unique bit of genetic coding, the direwolf connection seems a likely point and a reason for binding Starks in their tombs

This also provides the necessary get out of jail free card for Jon.

To all appearances he is killed. His last thought is Ghost and so he finds refuge in his direwolf. According to the Varamyr prologue however he's then trapped... unless direwolves are different

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On 7/31/2022 at 2:27 AM, LongRider said:

 

Hello Tree, I'd to invite you to look at this thread where Evolett and I discuss the Varamyr prologue and tease out a few interesting details, like once a warg dies and make a final warg for a 2nd that is the last warg and there he stays.   

As for fading away in a 2nd life, BR tells Bran about who else is riding in the first raven he flew.

Seens, the CoF can last a long time in the ravens.  Old God magic?

 

Varamyr tries unsuccessfully to warg Thistle before he dies:

What's in the blue is what I think what Black Crow is basing his thoughts on.  Warging, is a mystery and certainly the readers don't know that much about it.  I'm neutral on his theory myself, however, the Varamyr was not quite dead when riding the wind and when true death came, without thought he landed in the wolf, One Eye, who is not a direwolf.

What Black Crow seems to be asking, is, if the dying warg is bonded to direwolf, could there be a different outcome than Varamyrs?   Good question.

Thanks :thumbsup: I'd skimmed that thread but not deeply.  I'm of the opinion that Jon Snow is still alive and Borroq is too much of an unknown at this point to project too much on to - he gives us a different perspective and personality among The Wildlings like Leathers or Wun Wun.

I always read BR's comment about the Singers being present in the ravens as only a fragment of the personality or consciousness remaining, much as the warg eventually loses itself in the host animal. The second life is not life eternal as the raven/wolf/other has a finite lifespan and there is no cheating mortality. 

I also read the weirnet the same way with the Singers being absorbed into the weirwoods, the differences being

  1. the vastly longer lifespan of the tree (indeed we are told that unless a weirwood is killed it effectively grows forever; even if we discount that, which we shouldn't in a story with magic, sequoias and bristlecone pines are known to live for 3,500 - 5,000 years so it's easy to see how the weirwood would be a good choice for a "second life" of a kind and also how the Singers enthroned in the weirwoods came to be regarded as The Old Gods - as long as new greenseers can join the collective and replace those fading away, memory is kept alive forever) and
  2. the ability of the weirwood to absorb or "host" multiple Singers (the point about Bran cohabiting the raven with "the shadow of the soul" of a Singer long dead raises an intriguing parallel with the weirwoods with multiple external consciousnesses taking up residence in the same host: this might invalidate the point but we have nothing to show that more than one external consciousness can permanently reside in an animal, Orrell "withering away" inside the eagle once Varamyr took over and Varamyr is only occasionally and temporarily resident, not permanently so.)

How a Singer "long dead" comes to be resident in a raven, even as a "shadow of the soul" is something of a mystery. 

  1. If passed on from raven to raven then that implies both the immortality of the soul and some pretty major invasive species /genetic engineering (via magic) with particular ravens and their offspring becoming either hosts for parasitic souls for ever more or becoming "super ravens", almost a different species, with different intelligence and behaviours.  (What happens if the raven or it's mate lays more than one egg?). 
  2. The alternative would be the soul of The Singer would become unmoored after it's host organism's death but rather than dying a final death after it's equivalent of a second life it would instead take up a new residence in a new raven/organism.  This would also imply immortality of the soul and would seem to refute the idea that consciousness dissipates over time / the natural life span of the host organism.  (It would be interesting to understand why The Singers chose ravens, other than for convenience and utility, and why Haggon taught Varamyr that some animals, including birds, were best avoided).

Neither of these is very satisfactory to me.

23 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Exactly so. At this stage neither I nor anybody else knows exactly what GRRM is thinking, but there's clearly something going on, and has been going on in the past involving Starks and unless there's some unique bit of genetic coding, the direwolf connection seems a likely point and a reason for binding Starks in their tombs

It's a fascinating and as yet unknowable topic.  I always took the stories of the Starks' past and the Kings of Winter locked in their tombs much as I did the stories of Garth Greenhand or Lann the Clever but any myth or fairy tale or ghost story can turn out to have more than a grain of truth and some major impact in story.

Could The Others be unmoored wargs/greenseers/Singers?  I can see how temporarily inhabiting a dead creature and reanimating it would be a possibility in extremis, hence the discovery of how to raise and control wights, although the how is obviously unexplained, but I still don't see how a warg goes from taking over and inhabiting a living (or dead) creature to creating it's own form held together by cold magic, or where the apparent hatred of humanity or living creatures in general comes from (unless the latter comes from "warging" the dead and effectively becoming warped, unwittingly cursing themselves or making themselves Nazgul). 

The cold magic element, though, which is not part of the warg / greenseer repertoire suggests we have an external force behind The Others.  Which brings us to the thematic element of the series, Ice and Fire in opposition (probably two halves of the whole intended to be in balance rather than opposition but out of kilter), with the white walkers cold made "flesh" (temporarily by magic) and the dragons fire made flesh.  I understand the desire to see the Starks as the Ice to the Targaryen fire but both these "meta" elements seem bigger than and beyond humanity.  The Targaryen dragons and the Stark wargs seem likely to work together to defeat The Others and though it's possible that meddling by Humans or Singers caused the problem or at least the hostility of The Others I'm not sold on the Starks have more blame than anyone else.

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On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

Don't you find it odd that Bran doesn't connect the vision he had in the dream that terrified him so much with his present circumstances in the cave?

I think he does connect it at some level, and hears his father's words in his mind just like in the dream.

Obviously, I do think he is under misconceptions about Bloodraven and his hollow hill beneath the frozen Weirwoods. But, I think there have been lots of indications that Bran knows something isn't right. For instance:

A three-eyed crow should have three eyes. He has only one, and that one red. Bran could feel the eye staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in the torchlight.

He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.

One might note that Bran only refers to the three eyed crow in the cave when the light has been explicitly put out, when he is "in the dark".

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

 It was after his dream that he named his direwolf Summer. 

Absolutely, and I don't think Bran's story will end in Bloodraven's cave.

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

Instead of being afraid of the impaled dreamers and trying to warn his friends he goes along to learn from one of them. 

I do think he is pretty clearly afraid. He's trying to be brave.

Also, Bran does repeatedly question their journey. Bloodraven isn't even the first person he asks if they are the three eyed crow. 

 "I'm a brother of the Watch." He had one cord under his chins, forcing his head up, and others digging deep into his cheeks. "I'm a crow, please. Let me out of this."
Bran was suddenly uncertain. "Are you the three-eyed crow?" He can't be the three-eyed crow.
"I don't think so." The fat man rolled his eyes, but there were only two of them. "I'm only Sam. Samwell Tarly. Let me out, it's hurting me." He began to struggle again.

It's worth noting the similarities between this scene and Bran asking Bloodraven if he is the three eyed crow.

This repetition indicates to me that Bloodraven isn't any more the three eyed crow than Sam is. But make of it what you will.

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

And Jojen and Meera were sent by Howland to guide Bran, Jojen considering it his purpose, a purpose worth dying for, to bring Bran to the cave to learn.

Howland sent Meera and Jojen to Bran in Winterfell, there is no indication he intended any field trip beyond the Wall.

In fact, it's worth noting that why Jojen thinks the Crow is beyond the Wall is not at all clear.

After Winterfell is sacked he says the crow is north. I would point out that if Old Nan was taken to the Dreadfort with the other prisoners, she was north of Winterfell.

I think that by the end of Dance, Jojen is realizing he made a terrible mistake.

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

If they are connected in some way as you imply it's not that they share the same aims.

I'm of the opinion that there is no reason to expect the Singers or Weirwoods to all share the same aims any more than one would expect all Men to have the same aims.

The wisest of both races prevailed, and the chief heroes and rulers of both sides met upon the isle in the Gods Eye to form the Pact. 

I think we will find that the Singers and Weirwoods who kept to the pact, and seek peace, on the Isle of Faces.

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

No.  I'm not sure the plural means anything.  The Wall likely took form over a long span of time with sections being built separately and joined up.  And Eastwatch and The Shadow Tower likely have additional defences.  I don't see any hint in the use of the plural of anything hidden.

Fair enough, it is only one bread crumb, make of it what you will.

On 7/30/2022 at 7:50 AM, the trees have eyes said:

It was your Nazgul analogy that intrigued me.  The Children live on in the ravens and the weirwoods and wargs both skin change and live on in their chosen familiar.  In both cases there is a transfer of memory/consciousness between one living organism and another with one identity becoming weakened and eventually subsumed by the other.

I think it is extremely important that we learned from Varamyr that the ability to Warg or Skinshift, and presumably that of greenseers as well, is tied to the body not the soul.

Once a skinshifter's body dies, and they inhabit an animal, or person without powers themselves, they can no longer skinshift. For Jon, it may be relevant that Ghost has the greenseer coloring itself, possibly indicating powers.

But for Bran's story, this detail provides us with a motive for Bloodraven bringing Bran to his cave and awakening his powers. I suspect that Bloodraven intends on skinshifting into Bran and taking his body, freeing him to walk the world of men again, while not giving up having powers.

And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late.

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6 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

Thanks :thumbsup: I'd skimmed that thread but not deeply.  I'm of the opinion that Jon Snow is still alive and Borroq is too much of an unknown at this point to project too much on to - he gives us a different perspective and personality among The Wildlings like Leathers or Wun Wun.

I too think Jon is alive and that's why I made a study of Varamyr in the Prolouge.  The idea that Jon would warg into Ghost and 'park' till his body is resurrected just didn't sit well with me.  Discussing warging with others has been rewarding as their comments and insights have brought forward the finer details of the chapter.  Studying about warging is difficult because bits and pieces are spread over so many POV's and chapters.

 

6 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

I also read the weirnet the same way with the Singers being absorbed into the weirwoods, the differences being

Your thoughts here are interesting. The CoF greenseers plugged into the trees, are they captives I wonder.

 

6 hours ago, the trees have eyes said:

How a Singer "long dead" comes to be resident in a raven, even as a "shadow of the soul" is something of a mystery. 

Yes, it is, Old God magic? Bowls of Weirwood paste?

Enjoyed reading your post.  :) 

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25 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

I think he does connect it at some level, and hears his father's words in his mind just like in the dream.

Obviously, I do think he is under misconceptions about Bloodraven and his hollow hill beneath the frozen Weirwoods. But, I think there have been lots of indications that Bran knows something isn't right. For instance:

A three-eyed crow should have three eyes. He has only one, and that one red. Bran could feel the eye staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in the torchlight.

He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.

One might note that Bran only refers to the three eyed crow in the cave when the light has been explicitly put out, when he is "in the dark".

Great catch!  

30 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

I think that by the end of Dance, Jojen is realizing he made a terrible mistake.

The insight of this mistake might contribute to his increasing depression in the cave.

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Bran VII     "The wolf ate," Jojen said. "Not you. Take care, Bran. Remember who you are."

A Storm of Swords - Bran I   "Remember that, Bran. Remember yourself, or the wolf will consume you. When you join, it is not enough to run and hunt and howl in Summer's skin."

His warning then may be applicable now.

35 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

I think it is extremely important that we learned from Varamyr that the ability to Warg or Skinshift, and presumably that of greenseers as well, is tied to the body not the soul.

Once a skinshifter's body dies, and they inhabit an animal, or person without powers themselves, they can no longer skinshift. For Jon, it may be relevant that Ghost has the greenseer coloring itself, possibly indicating powers.

But for Bran's story, this detail provides us with a motive for Bloodraven bringing Bran to his cave and awakening his powers. I suspect that Bloodraven intends on skinshifting into Bran and taking his body, freeing him to walk the world of men again, while not giving up having powers.

And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late.

Bloodraven can be seen as having a hidden agenda, one connected to warging.  I like it.

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6 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I think he does connect it at some level, and hears his father's words in his mind just like in the dream.

There's a difference between stark gibbering terror and feeling uneasy though.  Most things Bran has had to deal with are pretty unpleasant or disturbing for an eight year old but his (lack of) reaction is not enough to tie into his dream for me.

6 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.

One might note that Bran only refers to the three eyed crow in the cave when the light has been explicitly put out, when he is "in the dark".

I would too :D.  Bloodraven is quite a grisly sight.  The difference between metaphor, the three eyed crow and reality, an enthroned/entombed near-corpse, is pretty graphic but Bran's training is about opening his third eye, I think?

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

The sight of him still frightened Bran—the weirwood roots snaking in and out of his withered flesh, the mushrooms sprouting from his cheeks, the white wooden worm that grew from the socket where one eye had been. He liked it better when the torches were put out. In the dark he could pretend that it was the three-eyed crow who whispered to him and not some grisly talking corpse.
One day I will be like him. The thought filled Bran with dread. Bad enough that he was broken, with his useless legs. Was he doomed to lose the rest too, to spend all of his years with a weirwood growing in him and through him? Lord Brynden drew his life from the tree, Leaf told them. He did not eat, he did not drink. He slept, he dreamed, he watched. I was going to be a knight, Bran remembered. I used to run and climb and fight. It seemed a thousand years ago.
What was he now? Only Bran the broken boy, Brandon of House Stark, prince of a lost kingdom, lord of a burned castle, heir to ruins. He had thought the three-eyed crow would be a sorcerer, a wise old wizard who could fix his legs, but that was some stupid child's dream, he realized now. I am too old for such fancies, he told himself. A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. That was as good as being a knight. Almost as good, anyway.
 
7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I do think he is pretty clearly afraid. He's trying to be brave.

Also, Bran does repeatedly question their journey. Bloodraven isn't even the first person he asks if they are the three eyed crow. 

Absolutely and there have been and are good reasons to be scared throughout the series for Bran.  He's eight and what is happening is creepy and spooky if not downright horrific if his training is to be plugged into the weirnet.

Yes he asks that almost as often as eight year olds ask "are we nearly there yet?".  It's a long way from Winterfell and Bran has never been more than a day's ride from home before.

7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Howland sent Meera and Jojen to Bran in Winterfell, there is no indication he intended any field trip beyond the Wall.

Yes, but why, I wonder.  Why not come himself? Because Jojen has green dreams and Howland knows what he saw seems the most likely reason.  And that implies Howland expects Jojen to help Bran somehow.  And didn't Howland visit The Isle of Faces around the time of The Tourney at Harrenhall so if there are COTF there we can expect Howland / Jojen to know and to know if there are "bad uns" in the North they should avoid dealing with.

7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

After Winterfell is sacked he says the crow is north. I would point out that if Old Nan was taken to the Dreadfort with the other prisoners, she was north of Winterfell.

I fear for Old Nan and Beth Cassell.  Ramsay took the young women from Winterfell for his "sport".  He's hardly a philanthropist so there is no reason for him or his men to take an old woman or young child all the way to the Dreadfort or to make any effort to keep them alive.  Killed outright is more likely :crying:

7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I think that by the end of Dance, Jojen is realizing he made a terrible mistake.

Interesting.  He's told us a number of times that he knows "the day I die".  I always read that as him having a green dream about his own death and as Meera says to Bran in the cave "he will not even try and fight his fate".  He's fulfilled his mission to bring Bran here but now he sees his death approaching.  What might cause his death other than homesickness, malnutrition and the hardship of their journey - he is clearly struggling as they near the cave - is an interesting question though.

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

The moon was a black hole in the sky. Outside the cave the world went on. Outside the cave the sun rose and set, the moon turned, the cold winds howled. Under the hill, Jojen Reed grew ever more sullen and solitary, to his sister's distress. She would often sit with Bran beside their little fire, talking of everything and nothing, petting Summer where he slept between them, whilst her brother wandered the caverns by himself. Jojen had even taken to climbing up to the cave's mouth when the day was bright. He would stand there for hours, looking out over the forest, wrapped in furs yet shivering all the same.
"He wants to go home," Meera told Bran. "He will not even try and fight his fate. He says the greendreams do not lie."
 
7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I'm of the opinion that there is no reason to expect the Singers or Weirwoods to all share the same aims any more than one would expect all Men to have the same aims.

The wisest of both races prevailed, and the chief heroes and rulers of both sides met upon the isle in the Gods Eye to form the Pact. 

I think we will find that the Singers and Weirwoods who kept to the pact, and seek peace, on the Isle of Faces.

Very possibly but are there enough of them left to have competing factions?  It's odd that Howland didn't establish any contact with them when he visited or that they never sent the equivalent of Leaf to learn the human tongue "for the Bran boy".  Unless of course both things happened and Jojen / Bran are being directed north for a reason.

7 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

But for Bran's story, this detail provides us with a motive for Bloodraven bringing Bran to his cave and awakening his powers. I suspect that Bloodraven intends on skinshifting into Bran and taking his body, freeing him to walk the world of men again, while not giving up having powers.

And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late.

Well this would explain Bloodraven as a warg but not The Others.  And what little I know of him is that he was given to duty and that's what led to him plugging into the weirnet and searching out Bran.  If it's just one creepy dude's quest for power and a second life I don't know why the COTF would indulge him or Leaf learn the common tongue to assist him in hijacking Bran.  The COTF sought BR out and enthroned him as they recognised his power (and I think sense of duty) and Howland/Jojen have brought Bran to them for the same reason.  The aim is unclear but the hour is indeed late with The White Walkers threatening to break through The Wall.

At least that's my take on it, so much is completely unknown.

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In considering exactly how Bloodraven fits into this and where various people in and around the cave are going, its ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

The story of the journey up the river is Bran's journey to the cave and in fact latterly, including the ambush just outside, it is plagiarised from Conrad - and I use the term advisedly. Compare GRRM's description of Bloodraven with Conrad's descripton of Kurz. Coldhands is the Harlequin/Russian and what both have to say about Bloodraven/Kurz is important - as are the betrayals and how it ends.

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