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[Pre-ADwD Spoilers] Prologue - Spoilers for ADwD

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First of all, thanks to all who posted synopses. You are feeding my ASOIAF jones.

Like that needs to be fed.

I must disagree with TFM here. There really was no dealing with Mance Rayder; he was too arrogant and Stannis would have asked too much (i.e. submission to Baratheon rule). I suspect that if Stannis had merely reinforced the Wall and made it impossible for the wildlings to take it, Mance would either have gone with his boat idea or simply blown the Horn of Joramun (for whatever that's worth). Instead, Stannis used the element of surprise while he had it and achieved a solid victory that put him in a much better position to deal. The wildlings are scattered and demoralized, and in my view far more willing to come to terms than they were when the King Beyond the Wall led them.

Well, a few of them were far more willing to deal. Stannis captured a thousand or so, and based on spoiler information it seems that most of them were willing to bend the knee. But the bulk of them, by virtue of being scattered and demoralized, are not so much likely to surrender to Stannis as be swallowed by the ever-increasing undead army of the night. Since both Stannis and Mance have an interest in not letting this happen, it would have been wiser for them to work out some alternate arrangement. Any deal would probably have been highly favorable to Mance (he's got the strongest bargaining position, ironically because his people could be killed at any moment), but it would have been better for Stannis than his 'victory' was. I don't think that Stannis and Mance could have actually made such a deal; rather, because they couldn't, both sides ended losing the battle of the Wall.

As to the increased numbers of wights...well, that's a problem, isn't it? However, I'd rather fight mindless zombies than human beings who can think and plan, particularly when I'm fighting from a near-impenetrable wall more than seven hundred feet high. The wildlings could use tricks and try alternate solutions, whereas the wights will merely hurl themselves heedlessly against the defenses of the Night's Watch. (The Others are a different matter entirely, but there seem to be far fewer of them, and they'd be a problem in any case.) Personally, I like my enemies stupid, and that's what the wights are.

But we know from ASoS that the Wall isn't _really_ impenetrable to tens of thousands of wildlings. Mance was being conservative, because he wants the Wall to keep standing and because he wants to save as many of his people as possible from attacks on his rear. The wildlings also suffer from a lack of discipline, which makes them susceptible to sudden attacks from more disciplined forces, and are far easier to kill. None of these things apply to an equivalently-sized force of wights.

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But we know from ASoS that the Wall isn't _really_ impenetrable to tens of thousands of wildlings. Mance was being conservative, because he wants the Wall to keep standing and because he wants to save as many of his people as possible from attacks on his rear. The wildlings also suffer from a lack of discipline, which makes them susceptible to sudden attacks from more disciplined forces, and are far easier to kill. None of these things apply to an equivalently-sized force of wights.

The Wall is not impenetrable to humans who can think and plan and build siege equipment, but to zombies? Ten thousand zombies can pound at the Wall for a hundred years and they won't break it down; their cold dead hands will shatter long before the Wall will. I suppose they could be directed by the Others to build battering rams and catapults (assuming the Others know how to make such things), but that won't be quick, and all the while the Night's Watch will be hitting them with the trebuchets, fire arrows, and what have you. Although it's true that the brothers didn't fare so well against wights on the Fist, on the Wall they have ten times the advantage and five times the numbers.

Admittedly, the wights won't become demoralized by losses, nor will they need to keep open supply lines, but at the same time they'll can't outwit even the stupidest of the black brothers. They're scary, but as with anything familiarity will breed a certain resistance to that fear. The Others are more formidable, it's true, but unless they can fly there's not much they can do from seven hundred feet below.

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Often in life you get these types of situations where it seems to make perfect sense for 2 sides to reach some kind of cooperative agreement instead of fighting against each other, yet due to the circumstances and the personalities of the leaders, it is not possible.

A perfect example is the Stannis/Renly show down. It made infinite more sense for them to unite against the Lannisters, but it was not possible because Renly being who he was and Stannis being who he is.

Same situation here, of course it would have been better if Stannis and Mance had some kind of treaty. But it could never have happened. So under the circumstances Stannis did the right thing, by breaking Mance he will at least inherit a portion of Mance's strength. If he hadn't done so all of Mance's strength will have eventually been absorbed by the Others, and not to mention all the damage Mance's forces will continue to do the the NW and Stannis in the meantime.

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This "second life" seems to reinforce the fact that what we saw with some of Orell's consciousness bleeding into his eagle upon his death was in fact the norm, and also makes me wonder again about Mormont's raven.

Seconded - I also thought about Mormont and his raven. It also seems the Starks are very gifted; not only are they wards, they even got their direwolved with it for free! And some of them didn't even need to be taught to accomplish quite some things through warging, like Robb with using his wolf as a scout (as did Jon).

Impressive chapter, I hope he keeps most of it as it is. Thanks for all the reports, guys! :thumbsup:

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The Night's Watch has ships at Eastwatch, and Stannis could possibly convince them to do something of that sort.

Or, actually, it might make more sense for Jon to come up with the idea.

I was under the impression they had 2-3 ships for catching smugglers and naught more. The other issue I see is that with their untiring undead, a piecemeal wildling army has to be exactly what the Others would be wishing for. There's no need for the Others to risk obsidian against small bands, which can't chew their way through the wights with fire to even come near the Others. Ideal fodder to target a weak wall.

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2-3 ships are still ships, plural. Unless the woods witch is speaking of a great fleet of ships, the Night's Watch ships could fit the bill of her alleged vision.

I'm dubious of whether the vision is _true_, but given the resurgence of magic...

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This "second life" seems to reinforce the fact that what we saw with some of Orell's consciousness bleeding into his eagle upon his death was in fact the norm, and also makes me wonder again about Mormont's raven.

:agree: This is one of the first things that came to mind when I read the notes from the chapter, but I was a little bit too skeptical to actually post that I think it may help create a place in the story for Bloodraven or what remains of him. I really hope it does though.

And there's also this:

Hagen would tell him that warging into certain animals would change you too much, such as birds, and to avoid them.

If Bloodraven did indeed warg with his ravens (A thousand eyes and one), then the above may help to explain why people found him so scary and why he acted the way he did.

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:agree: This is one of the first things that came to mind when I read the notes from the chapter, but I was a little bit too skeptical to actually post that I think it may help create a place in the story for Bloodraven or what remains of him. I really hope it does though.

And there's also this:

If Bloodraven did indeed warg with his ravens (A thousand eyes and one), then the above may help to explain why people found him so scary and why he acted the way he did.

VERY interesting point on Bloodraven, Benjen. :) We do know he ends up on the Wall and it's a pretty good guess that Dunk and Egg III is a story on the Wall. I think we could speculate that there are some events that happen that may concern Dunk and Egg enough so that when Maekar finally does come into power, Egg possibly pleads to have Bloodraven sent to the Wall rather than to the block.

If he can indeed warg with such numbers, seeing such stirrings up North might start the events that eventually lead to tragedy at Harrenhal.

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2-3 ships are still ships, plural. Unless the woods witch is speaking of a great fleet of ships, the Night's Watch ships could fit the bill of her alleged vision.

I'm dubious of whether the vision is _true_, but given the resurgence of magic...

I suspect as is usual in this series, the vision is true but the viewer has misinterpreted.

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If he can indeed warg with such numbers, seeing such stirrings up North might start the events that eventually lead to tragedy at Harrenhal.

Intersting connection you're trying to make Trebla. How do you see Bloodraven's warging power leading to the events at Harrenhal though?

So here's me writing as I think this through.

Bloodraven gets to the Wall and does his thing (warging and whatever he knows how to do). He eventually learns something really bad is going on up North beyond the Wall, but it's too far off or too powerful to send the rangers to deal with (or maybe no one believes him). So he does what he has to do to hang around (second life?) and eventually tries to recruit and inform those who will be able to handle the job that needs to be done when the time comes (why he couldn't do the job himself, I don't know). I think he tried a number of times to recruit someone, but failed until Bran came along.

Which sort of fits the "falling dream" that the 3EC sent Bran early in GoT before he woke from his coma. IIRC Euron saw the 3EC in his dreams too, and it appears he had a chance at opening his third eye and failed (or did he succeed?).

OTOH, I could be taking the wrong tack here. It could be that the 3EC's intentions are not good, as we have been lead to believe, and that he intends to use Bran's abilities to help break the power of the Wall and open the way for the army of the Others. (though I think it's more likely that Melisandre will unwittingly end up doing that). Think about it, why would BR go through so much trouble to save a realm that hated and eventually exiled him to the Wall?

Another point to consider; Bran is being guided through the haunted forest, where it appears that humans will not be able to survive, at least not for long. And yet somewhere up there the 3EC waits, and feels safe enough to bring Bran and Co. to him. I don't see how a safe place could exist north of the Wall at this point if the CotF aren't involved somehow, unless of course the 3EC is working for the other side.

Hmmm. Ponderous, man. Really ponderous.

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I find it quite a stretch to imagine the 3EC working for the Other side. The Others simply don't need the help - especially the help Bran could give. Their purposes would have been accomplished by men remaining in ignorance.

The 3EC and CotF combo seems very likely though. We are told at one point there still are CotF north of the Wall. They haven't come streaming south yet, as far as we know. They could well still have an enclave safe from men and Others.

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I find it quite a stretch to imagine the 3EC working for the Other side. The Others simply don't need the help - especially the help Bran could give. Their purposes would have been accomplished by men remaining in ignorance.

The 3EC and CotF combo seems very likely though. We are told at one point there still are CotF north of the Wall. They haven't come streaming south yet, as far as we know. They could well still have an enclave safe from men and Others.

You're right Bronn, it is a stretch. I don't like to think that the 3EC is working with the Others, but with GRRM you just never know how the twists and turns will shake out (until it's too late) . I just wanted to flip the situation over to see how it looked from a different angle.

I'd much rather have the 3EC and CotF combo, personally.

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Tracker:

Even if that's true, when the Wall comes down--and I think most people agree that given how the story goes, it probably will--that force is going to be a tremendous problem that could have been avoided.

BTW, if the horn doesn't work--and given that it's really similar to Euron's horn, I suspect that it doesn't--wouldn't it be better to let Tormund blow the horn? When they wake up the next day to see the Wall still there, Stannis will be in a stronger position.

Same situation here, of course it would have been better if Stannis and Mance had some kind of treaty. But it could never have happened. So under the circumstances Stannis did the right thing, by breaking Mance he will at least inherit a portion of Mance's strength. If he hadn't done so all of Mance's strength will have eventually been absorbed by the Others, and not to mention all the damage Mance's forces will continue to do the the NW and Stannis in the meantime.

It's not at all the same situation. Mance is quite willing to make a deal, but his position is constrained by a number of external factors. He has to make a deal relatively fast, and his reliance on personal charisma doesn't allow him to go too far in front of wildling opinion. If he makes an unpopular decision, he has no real institution to enforce compliance; dissenters can and will leave, and it's in nobody's interest for that to happen en masse. So it's not that Mance won't deal in good faith, he just doesn't have a lot of options. Stannis, on the other hand, has a fair number of options. Most importantly, he has a much greater ability to make unpopular decision--the instinct of obedience is much more ingrained among his people than the wildlings, and at this particular time and place he's the top military force south of the Wall.

Similarly, both sides have two paramount interests in common: to keep the wildling horde from falling to the Others, and to keep the Wall up and well-defended. (Mance at least admits as much.) The issue of how much freedom the wildlings will have to live as they did north of the Wall is emotionally resonant but ultimately secondary: obviously if the undead horde becomes too strong or the Wall falls, it won't matter much who is pledged to who. In this situation, there's no real reason why both sides couldn't have worked something out.

Bronn Stone:

How do we know what kind of help the Others do or do not need?

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Stannis has a lot of theoretical options, he doesn't given his personality type and the wildlings culture. Any deal that Mance is likely to be able accept are not the ones that Stannis is willing to accept, Stannis would require Mance to kneel, and Mance can not kneel because then the wildlings won't follow.

Bottom line is the wldlings will not kneel to Stannis unless then are shown that they have no other choice, and the only way to show that it to break them first. The wildlings cannot be talked into kneeling, they can only be forced into it.

Stannis' best move under the circumstances is to break them as quickly as possible to ensure the least amount of casualty, and then hope to collect the broken pieces.

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You're missing the point. Stannis as a person cannot make a deal with the wildlings without them agreeing to kneel, but his insistence goes against his own interests.

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How do we know what kind of help the Others do or do not need?

Let me rephrase. If the Others need the help of a nine-year old boy, they aren't much of a threat, magically or otherwise.

The only reason Bran is of value to the human side is that sorcery has been weaned out of them. They need mature and skilled sorcerors. They don't have any - so the 3EC will have to cobble one out of his half-trained but talented protege.

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Yes, and you can say the same about his situation with Renly. It was against his interest to try to take on Renly too. He doesn't care. Stannis will break before he bends.

But the blame is not entirely on him, like Renly, the wildlings have their particular world view and are not any more willing to shift either.

There was no way the two sides were ever going to come to an agreement.

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There was no way the two sides were ever going to come to an agreement.

Stannis would have been able to come to an agreement with either Renly or the Wildlings if the more serious threat had shown up at the proper time (Lannisters or Stark armies in the case of Renly or Others in the case of Stannis).

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Tracker:

Even if that's true, when the Wall comes down--and I think most people agree that given how the story goes, it probably will--that force is going to be a tremendous problem that could have been avoided.

BTW, if the horn doesn't work--and given that it's really similar to Euron's horn, I suspect that it doesn't--wouldn't it be better to let Tormund blow the horn? When they wake up the next day to see the Wall still there, Stannis will be in a stronger position.

It's not at all the same situation. Mance is quite willing to make a deal, but his position is constrained by a number of external factors. He has to make a deal relatively fast, and his reliance on personal charisma doesn't allow him to go too far in front of wildling opinion. If he makes an unpopular decision, he has no real institution to enforce compliance; dissenters can and will leave, and it's in nobody's interest for that to happen en masse. So it's not that Mance won't deal in good faith, he just doesn't have a lot of options. Stannis, on the other hand, has a fair number of options. Most importantly, he has a much greater ability to make unpopular decision--the instinct of obedience is much more ingrained among his people than the wildlings, and at this particular time and place he's the top military force south of the Wall.

Agreed. If the Wall falls, the NW is screwed.

However, I'm less sanguine about Mance's willingness to make a deal than you. He sure wasn't very compliant when he spoke with Jon Snow. He stated outright that the wildlings, should they be allowed through the Wall, would not agree to keep the king's peace or the king's laws; in essence, the wildlings would do whatever the hell they liked. Stannis simply could not accept those kind of terms, and neither could anyone else. Mance is only willing to deal (and we saw this in a spoiler I won't explicate here) when he has no other option, and when Jon visited him, he did have options. He could send his troops around the Wall on boats, or he could blow the Horn of Joramun, and threated to do either or both if the NW didn't let the wildling horde pass. I don't see how that kind of position leads to a bargain.

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It's not at all the same situation. Mance is quite willing to make a deal, but his position is constrained by a number of external factors. He has to make a deal relatively fast, and his reliance on personal charisma doesn't allow him to go too far in front of wildling opinion. If he makes an unpopular decision, he has no real institution to enforce compliance; dissenters can and will leave, and it's in nobody's interest for that to happen en masse. So it's not that Mance won't deal in good faith, he just doesn't have a lot of options. Stannis, on the other hand, has a fair number of options. Most importantly, he has a much greater ability to make unpopular decision--the instinct of obedience is much more ingrained among his people than the wildlings, and at this particular time and place he's the top military force south of the Wall.

Similarly, both sides have two paramount interests in common: to keep the wildling horde from falling to the Others, and to keep the Wall up and well-defended. (Mance at least admits as much.) The issue of how much freedom the wildlings will have to live as they did north of the Wall is emotionally resonant but ultimately secondary: obviously if the undead horde becomes too strong or the Wall falls, it won't matter much who is pledged to who. In this situation, there's no real reason why both sides couldn't have worked something out.

Even Jon Snow who is 1,000 time more amicable then Stannis couldn't get Mance to about a fair deal for both sides before his army got smashed. Now you expect Stannis who has even more resposibilities on his shoulders than Jon to talk Mance into something. There is no agreement to be had with Mance here it's give in to his demands and let the wildlings go free to ravage the already weakened north at their will killing, pillaging and raping as they pleased or bend them to your will.

Stannis got many of his prisoners to submit and the ones that didn't left to spread the word so there really should be tons who'll take this option rather than death. The dead from the battle would have been burned. Given the stupidity of the wildlings the present situation is the best Stannis and Jon could have hoped for.

SPOILER: adwd

Even now that Mance has been crushed and captured he's still unwill to submit.

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