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Coldhands and Zombie Crows. Why don't more Watch Wights keep their humanity?


Mr_E_Knight
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4 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

I don't see GRRM on any religion's side here in this story at all.  I think he's pretty clearly against all of them. 

I read an interview that George Martin is agnostic, but I don't think he's for or against 3 of the 4 major Westerosi religions (old gods, Faith of the Seven, R'hillor).  Martin doesn't believe in gods in the real world but he probably doesn't believe in magic either.  In the fictional world he created where magic does exist, maybe he believes God or gods exist in his fictional world too... who knows?  He's not going to "prove" that any of those religions are or aren't true, regardless.

Despite knowing what he believes in real life, I wouldn't have known that from reading his books.  I think the point of views are generally fair and unbiased to whatever that POV characters believes, although in my opinion the most agnostic POV characters (the Lannister siblings) are the least sympathetic and most dislikable POV characters... in addition to the followers of the Drowned God (the 4th major religion which George Martin does seem biased against).  Aeron seems like maybe he would have been a nice guy if not blinded by his faith, but that is as much about faith in his culture and "the old way" as it is in his drowned god.

George Martin's favorite chapter he ever wrote is Brienne's chapter when Meribald gave his "broken man" speech, so I assume he has a high affinity for Meribald.  And Meribald is probably the most devout character in the series.

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11 hours ago, StarkTullies said:

George Martin's favorite chapter he ever wrote is Brienne's chapter when Meribald gave his "broken man" speech, so I assume he has a high affinity for Meribald.  And Meribald is probably the most devout character in the series.

Long time I've not read Meribald. But I remember the chapters are about the horrors and delusions of war. If GRRM favors this chapter IMO it is because it is against war, like himself. Not because Meribald is a religiously devout.

About gods. The 7 is nonexistent. At best, a moral model to follow. R’hllor, the Old Gods... Ambiguous. Are their priests & greenseer just crafty magicians? Or are the gods really doing the job?

For example the direwolves given to the Starks. Did BR or the CotF could have done the trick? I don't think so. They don't seem to control that much. Was there nothing driving Dany, Lyanna, Rhaegar, Jon lives? Resurrecting Cat and animating the wights? BR did it all by himself? Did some magician made the 1st Long Night, and the new one to come?

God needs definition. But it seems obvious that R’hllor, the Great Other, are entities much, much greater than any greenseer or red priest could be by himself.

Edited by BalerionTheCat
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3 hours ago, BalerionTheCat said:

I remember the chapters are about the horrors and delusions of war. If GRRM favors this chapter IMO it is because it is against war, like himself. Not because Meribald is a religiously devout.

I agree.  Meribald's speech about the horrors of war is why it is Martin's favorite self-written chapter, and not because of Meribald's faith.  My point is that despite Martin's own personal beliefs, he is not biased against various characters to paint all followers (or non-followers) of various religions as universally good or bad, and I don't think Martin is against all religions in his story as was suggested above.

Nor would I expect any decent writer to portray characters in such a one-dimensional way.  I used Meribald as one example.  Meribald is awesome (possibly my favorite "minor" character), largely due to his faith.  His faith helped lead him to his stance on war (or perhaps the other way around)... though of course there are countless people in his story and in real-life without any belief in God or gods who have the same views about war as Meribald.

Edited by StarkTullies
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On 9/13/2022 at 8:53 PM, Evolett said:

Addition: perhaps this is just circumstancial but wighted Othor and Jafer Flowers are found by Ghost while Sam and Jon are reciting the oath at the weirwood groove beyond the Wall. The direwolf appears with the torn-off hand right after the ceremony. 

Hi Evolett. :)

So when Brothers of the NW recite the vows to a Heart Tree it may enable some sort of magic pact/oath. Leading to something akin to Coldhands.

Therefore, your catch seems important. After Jon & Sam recite the vows in front of the Heart Trees Ghost appears with a......

Cold hand.

Regards who Coldhands is, I think he was an original member of the Night's Watch dating back thousands of years to the Long Night.

I think this sort if ritual/magic/pact/oath would have been used to create a special kind of Wight capable of fighting the Others. One that still had their senses in tact, like Coldhands & Beric. Death and rebirth. For the normal man death may mean their soul disintegrated over time ala Beric. But for one lucky enough to be a warg, their soul may have been protected by jumping into their familiar before being resurrected, protecting them from the eventual rot/disintegration of death enabling a ridiculously long life without the disintegration experienced by Beric. Ala Coldhands. (Also think the legends of the Age of Heroes who live for hundreds of years, I think they were privy to this knowledge/magic as well. But I digress)

@Mr_E_Knight I like this idea. If you're aware of LML then I'm sure you're aware of his awesome Green Zombies essay series. This is obviously right up that street and a nice layer I'd not considered. It always felt weird that ALL the original NW would have to be skinchangers/wargs to turn into Green Zombie Brothers. But this idea would help explain my query. The Skinchangers/Wargs would be elite fighters, able to keep watch for thousands of years. While the 'normal' men of NW turned Wights would slowly deteriorate like Beric.

Cool thread. :D

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On 9/17/2022 at 3:50 PM, Wizz-The-Smith said:

So when Brothers of the NW recite the vows to a Heart Tree it may enable some sort of magic pact/oath. Leading to something akin to Coldhands.

Therefore, your catch seems important. After Jon & Sam recite the vows in front of the Heart Trees Ghost appears with a......

Cold hand.

Yes, those are my thoughts too. It could be that reciting the oath before the Heart Tree binds the soul to the tree so that other attempts at soul- or shadow-binding are impossible. This would include soul-binding/enslaving by the Others and even Mel's soul binding glamour magic that she uses to tie Mance's soul to her.  If feel this is a more feasible option than the man-wolf-man theory because it means non-wargs like Sam can also receive protection. There are comparatively few wargs after all. 

And speaking of the man-wolf-man theory: Varamyr's prologue strongly suggests this is not possible, at least not when true death occurs. The soul leaving the body for a second life in a familiar animal is a final act. There is no going back to the dead body and no switching to a different familiar animal after inhabiting the first one after dying. Varamyr debates on which of his wolves to choose for his second life and ends up opting for One-Eye. However we also see that Varamyr's body does not rise with Thistle's. Devoid of a soul, the dead body of a warg cannot be animated so being a warg does offer protection from undeath, with the caveat of completely mingling with the second-lifed animal. 

As to Coldhand's identity, it's mainly guesswork. There are two things which could be hints: 
Bloodraven telling Bran that he has waited for him for a long time suggests Bran is a reincarnation of an earlier most likely ancient Brandon Stark.
Coldhands has probably been around for centuries as well and he says:

Quote

“A monster,” Bran said. The ranger looked at Bran as if the rest of them did not exist. “Your monster, Brandon Stark.”

We have Gilly's baby at the Wall temporarily named "Monster."

So perhaps GRRM is having fun with us here and Coldhands is a son of that ancient Brandon Stark or someone who was revived by that ancient ancestor. 

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It is implied that weights retain both awareness and memory, as seen in the case of the wight who attacked Jorah Mormon, as well as the spearwife Varamyr attempted to possess.

I assumed that this is caused by the Others who raised them suppressing their will and or enthralling them, which apart from their blue eyes is denoted by their lack of speach. This connects at least thematically with groups, such as Varys little birds or Euron's group which present as extensions of their masters' will. This could be a function of the reanimation process or some other magic the Others have. 

Thus Coldhands was either reanimated by another agent altogether or was raised by the Others and their influence was somehow negated. 

I think that if a skinchanger were to be raised, their consciousness would transfer to their animal living their corpse with nothing to animate it.

That said, another way to view this would be as the animating magic (fire, ice and whatever Coldhands is if not the latter) running the machinery of the corpse, which would include the brain. Their overall disposition would depend on he element used. This is congruent with the obsessive behavior of Beric and Lady Stoneheart. Coldhands as well does not seem to be acting of his own agency. 

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11 hours ago, Evolett said:

Yes, those are my thoughts too. It could be that reciting the oath before the Heart Tree binds the soul to the tree so that other attempts at soul- or shadow-binding are impossible. This would include soul-binding/enslaving by the Others and even Mel's soul binding glamour magic that she uses to tie Mance's soul to her.  If feel this is a more feasible option than the man-wolf-man theory because it means non-wargs like Sam can also receive protection. There are comparatively few wargs after all. 

And speaking of the man-wolf-man theory: Varamyr's prologue strongly suggests this is not possible, at least not when true death occurs. The soul leaving the body for a second life in a familiar animal is a final act. There is no going back to the dead body and no switching to a different familiar animal after inhabiting the first one after dying. Varamyr debates on which of his wolves to choose for his second life and ends up opting for One-Eye. However we also see that Varamyr's body does not rise with Thistle's. Devoid of a soul, the dead body of a warg cannot be animated so being a warg does offer protection from undeath, with the caveat of completely mingling with the second-lifed animal. 

As to Coldhand's identity, it's mainly guesswork. There are two things which could be hints: 
Bloodraven telling Bran that he has waited for him for a long time suggests Bran is a reincarnation of an earlier most likely ancient Brandon Stark.
Coldhands has probably been around for centuries as well and he says:

We have Gilly's baby at the Wall temporarily named "Monster."

So perhaps GRRM is having fun with us here and Coldhands is a son of that ancient Brandon Stark or someone who was revived by that ancient ancestor. 

Varamyr is a powerful Skinchanger but the gift is strong with Jon. I don't think that Jon will die and inhabit another's body but if anyone we've seen so far is capable of doing it, it is Jon. Even when he was still a human Varamyr failed to take over another person,though this was with his dying breath so who knows if he was healthy but he'll definitely not be able to after living in the wolf as we know just as the skinchangers control the animals, the animals mind bleeds into the skinchanger's as well. Bran, on the other hand, has taken over another person, though the said person wasn't of a strong mind. Bran is, despite being a greenseer, not as strong a warg as Jon is.

 

Quote

"He's not like the others," Jon said. "He never makes a sound. That's why I named him Ghost. That, and because he's white. The others are all dark, grey or black."

Ghost never makes a sound... 

Quote

It was not until they were mounted and on their way that Bran allowed himself to taste the sweet air of victory. By then, his pup was snuggled inside his leathers, warm against him, safe for the long ride home. Bran was wondering what to name him.

Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.

"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.

"Can't you hear it?"

Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.

"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

Then how did Jon hear Ghost? He's so strong he is able to hear a mute direwolf even before laying eyes on it for the first time. 

 

As for Jon inhabiting someone's body, I don't believe he'll die but I see him(his body that is) going in a coma for a while and I can also see him skinchanging into Borroq. Why Borroq? Because he'll not be doing so forcefully but at the "invitation" of Borroq.We know that a body can be shared by more than one conciousness(not counting the animals as it is obvious) we've seen this with Bran and Hodor but also Varamyr and Orell in Orell's eagle. Thistle resists Varamyr, just as Hodor resisted Bran but these people weren't skinchangers, the experience would be terrifying for them, but to an experienced skinchanger, it wouldn't be as such.

Edited by Corvo the Crow
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