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Heresy 245 The Alpha and the Omega and what lies between


Black Crow
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We’ve been discussing the Song of Ice and Fire for some time [years and years] now of course and with no sign yet of another book have rather run out of material and so that some have turned to a variety of other [generally TV related] things.

With Christmas coming up I’d like to raise some ASOIAF questions about where people might think that this is going, and possibly the whys and wherefores of this.

The first thing to bear in mind of course is the question of time.

GRRM has been writing this story for a long time, a very long time. According to Wikipedia – and who am I to doubt it – he began writing ASOIAF in 1991, publishing the first book in what was intended to be a trilogy in 1996.

We’re now just over thirty years on from that beginning and so much has changed over the years. The world itself has changed. As I’ve pointed out before, GRRM began writing this story in the shadow of the collapse of the Iron Curtain or to we Europeans die Mauer – the Wall – on the night of 9 November 1989. The basic concept of the Wall and its ultimate fall was there from the very beginning – and so too was the question of which side the good guys are really on – die Mauer was built as a defence against the West[eros], not the other way around.

Leaving aside those awkward questions of good and bad, from the very beginning we were introduced to and have followed the Stark family, whose story is unfortunate but who are undoubtedly tied to the Wall and its ultimate fate.

Now many years ago GRRM firmly stated that he wouldn’t change the ending because somebody had figured it out. The Faithful of course loudly took this as confirmation that they were right in proclaiming Jon Snow/Stark to be the secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen!

Or did he mean something else ?

Consider the Dragons. We know from GRRM that they were a late addition to the story. Obviously they do figure, at least tentatively, by the time the first book was published, but presumably he was persuaded or inspired to include them at some point during the five years it took him to write it and that initially at least he began by writing a story about Westeros and die Mauer which did not include the Dragons or the Targaryens and may have contemplated an ending which did not require their intervention – ok an alternative is that he got himself stuck with the contemplated ending until it occurred to him that dragons were the answer, but somehow I doubt it.

The point is that the story, by which I specifically mean the Song of Ice and Fire, as written so far is about the Starks rather than the Targaryens. And now he, as an author has written and become involved in, a story about the Targaryens.

So…

How are the two related - really ?

Can we expect GRRM to continue to the end his 30+ year task of writing the Song of Ice and Fire and Starks, as would seem to be implied by his warnings about a bittersweet end, or has it changed into a Song of Ice [Starks] and Fire [Targaryens], using the House of the Dragon to add in a necessary part of the story that he didn’t contemplate at the outset and which hasn’t so far covered in the primary [for want of a better word] book ?

 

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3 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I had no idea that he envisioned the Lannister castle as being entirely inside the Rock; I was one of the people that thought it was a castle sitting atop the Rock.

Me too and its watchtowerr is the highest structure in Westeros.  Did they mine out the gold and then live in the caverns they created?  It certainly sounds like easiest to defend against dragons.

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On 12/22/2022 at 2:19 PM, Black Crow said:

We’ve been discussing the Song of Ice and Fire for some time [years and years] now of course and with no sign yet of another book have rather run out of material and so that some have turned to a variety of other [generally TV related] things.

you know... ever since I've found this forum , I've admired Heresy people's persistence . that made me think , if (some of) these guys have first read these books before I was even born and still are talking and theorizing about it... well , that means something! I gotta say , to think even Heresy has run out of subjects , especially considering how flexible you guys are with thinking miles and miles outside the box,  is upsetting .

 

p.s . and George's Casterly Rock post ? I guess someone else has run out of online material too! 

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9 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I had no idea that he envisioned the Lannister castle as being entirely inside the Rock; I was one of the people that thought it was a castle sitting atop the Rock. 

Must. Not. Make. Jokes. About. Dwayne Johnson.

Edited by Takiedevushkikakzvezdy
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On 12/22/2022 at 5:49 AM, Black Crow said:

How are the two related - really ?

The Alpha and the Omega is a curious choice for the OP.  This is a Christian reference to the trinity.  Why did you pick it?  What does that mean to you?  The beginning and the ending or Now it begins - Now it ends.  Why does GRRM give the Alpha and Omega to House Stark and House Dayne, as shown in Ned's dream, at the tower of joy?  Except for the blood streaked sky; the Targs don't seem to be part of the alpha/omega reference.

Why is Jon compelled to go into the crypts in his dreams?  Why does he deny his Stark heritage? Who is compelling him against his will?  Does this have something to do with truths that have been forgotten, to quote Jojen?

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Nothing metaphysical

We have a beginning, which I've argued is founded on the fall of die Mauer in this world and the Wall made of "ice and magic" - per his latest notablog entry.

We have a middle, we've discussed

And then we're looking towards a bittersweet ending based on that middle and those discussions

Straightforward, by itself, but...

Enter the House of the Dragon and the central question of the OP. Is it a part of the middle and if so has the ending changed after all ?

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On 12/24/2022 at 12:17 PM, Black Crow said:

Nice piece on Casterley Rock in GRRM's notablog - and an ominous hint that Winds of Winter may still have a way to go.

On the other hand, as people have pointed out elsewhere, he wouldn't be thinking as much about Casterly Rock right now if it wasn't relevant to his writing. So maybe he phrased it the way he did because he didn't want to give things away.  

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8 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Enter the House of the Dragon and the central question of the OP. Is it a part of the middle and if so has the ending changed after all ?

Well that's the turkey in the oven...

No, I don't think it has changed his ending.  Whatever the cause of the seasons being out of joint; he knows what that is and how it will come to an end.  Dany has been a part of the story from the very beginning and she and Jon will likely represent the axis of ice and fire.  Bran will be pulling the strings.  GRRM's side trips to Fire and Blood or the World of Ice and Fire are non-issues for me.  It is clear that the story and world building have grown in the telling; but this is meant to enrich the story rather than sabotage his writing process.  

He's kept a lot off the page concerning the Starks and the Wall.   I'm expecting a riveting tale in Winds of Winter.

As for real world stuff... it's nice to be able to celebrate the holidays with family and friends again.  December has been very busy.  We had a blast this week with my nephew Kyle.  He's doing well for someone with brain cancer.  He's very courageous and keeping what is positive in front view is a great life lesson for me..

So yes to fun and entertainment of all sorts.  That is to say I haven't given up on Heresy.  The world of audio-books has taken me by surprise, if the narrator gives you a command performance!  Digging around in various ASOIAF or LOTR podcasts keeps me thinking about heresies of various kinds.  The only thing that changes about the story is my perception of it.

Scheduled for 3:00 pm EST today:

 

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On 12/22/2022 at 4:49 AM, Black Crow said:

Can we expect GRRM to continue to the end his 30+ year task of writing the Song of Ice and Fire and Starks, as would seem to be implied by his warnings about a bittersweet end, or has it changed into a Song of Ice [Starks] and Fire [Targaryens], using the House of the Dragon to add in a necessary part of the story that he didn’t contemplate at the outset and which hasn’t so far covered in the primary [for want of a better word] book ?

The dragons were an afterthought, but not the Targaryens. They do season the story with allot of flavor, but their existence isn't driving the story. I had a brief discussion the other day about the differences between idea, concept, and premise. The "idea" of ASOIAF is a fantasy world where magic exists. The "concept" is to suggest that there are secrets hidden and that there are forces working to either keep them concealed or to reveal them. The "premise" is to have an archetypical hero (or heroine) that will save Westeros or at least as many humans as they can. The dragons therefore are neither the idea, concept, or premise of ASOIAF unless you believe the dragons will become the heroes? They exist because of magic, but so do a few other things like the connection between skinchangers and their animals, white walkers, glass candles, and shadow babies. There is a secret ritual that seems to be necessary to bond dragons to a human, but again this secret is not the key concept.

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On 12/24/2022 at 9:17 AM, Matthew. said:

I had no idea that he envisioned the Lannister castle as being entirely inside the Rock; I was one of the people that thought it was a castle sitting atop the Rock. I wonder if there's some easy path to get daily sunlight, or if we're supposed to envision the denizens of the Rock as all pale and afflicted with rickets.

You may not be a fan of my parallel inversion theory, but I believe there are key parallels between the Water Gardens in Dorne and the subterranean castles of the Westerlands. In AFFC chap 2, The Captain of Guards, Areo Hotah takes note of the rotting and dropping blood oranges highlighted against the sound of the splashing waters of the Water Gardens. Symbolically the visuals and audibles evoke events from Tywin's past when he annihilated two families, the Tarbecks and the Reynes. Doran Martel is an inverted parallel of Tywin. His gout an external and physical manifestation of Tywin's internal seething hatred.

Not only is Casterly Rock inside a mountain, so was Castamere. Named after a nearby pool of water, Castamere began as a gold and silver mine like Casterley Rock. Nine-tenths of the castle was subterranean. Tywin had the entrances buried beneath stone, and then dammed the pool’s stream and diverted it into a mine entrance, flooding the underground chambers. 

The Reynes had taken refuge at Castamere. With ample food in storage, Ser Reynard Reyne abandoned the surface fortifications once his soldiers were in Castamere’s tunnels. Tywin ordered the entrances sealed with tons of stone, earth, and soil so that there was no way in or out. Over the course of three days, Tywin had his men dam a nearby stream and divert it to the mine entrance. Water easily found its way through the tiny gaps in the rubble. None of the three hundred men, women, and children within emerged from the tunnels.

I guess I had made the assumption that Casterly Rock was a larger version of Castamere. As for rickets...maybe the lack of sunlight was partially to blame for Tyrion's deformities? I realize he's a dwarf, but if you google rickets and dwarfism there are connections.

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I got an iPad and ear buds for Xmas.  My sister and brother-in-law think I should join the 21st century.  Geez! audiobooks sound great now!  I won't let them replace my flip-phone though.  Because that's, well, Star Trek and that's 24th century.

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1 hour ago, LynnS said:

I got an iPad and ear buds for Xmas.  My sister and brother-in-law think I should join the 21st century.  Geez! audiobooks sound great now!  I won't let them replace my flip-phone though.  Because that's, well, Star Trek and that's 24th century.

a fan of flip-phone, ha? :P

https://www.tomsguide.com/features/what-to-expect-from-foldable-phones-in-2023-galaxy-z-fold-5-pixel-fold-and-more

Edited by EggBlue
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

"New" material at last ;)

 

Quote

On the other side the wind was colder still, the wolf sensed. That was where his brother had gone, the grey brother who smelled of summer. With the cliff between them, he could not sense his brother, but sometimes when he padded down the long cold burrow under the ice and poked his nose through the hard black bars, he could feel him. The snow was falling where his brother was, covering all the woods in white. And there were hunters near, living men and dead men, and the ones who wore the shapes of men but smelled only of cold.

From an earlier draft of the Jon chapter dating to 2003-2004 AFfC manuscripts. Full thread at the bottom.

1. I always disliked the idea of the Wall blocking skinchanging but the above quote contains very solid evidence. Ghost could sense Summer beyond the Wall only when he poked his nose through the bars. In these drafts, Ghost wanted to range beyond the Wall so bad that I think Jon's refusal to seal the gates contrary to Marsh's suggestion was rooted in this feeling. 

2. The "ones who wore the shapes of men but smelled only of cold" are the Others.

 

 

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