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Guest Other-in-Law

Asshai/Wall relationship (aDwD spoiler)

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Guest Other-in-law

In the Jon spoiler chapter that GRRM recently posted, Melisandre describes the Wall as "one of the hinges of the world", while praising the lore and the spells that raised it.

What are the other hinges? Surely there is something very strange going on with the Shadow, hard by Asshai. That place is also associated with magic users, of a very unique school. And Old Valyria was another place famed for it's spellsingers who wrought such wondrous things; it's Doom remains largely shrouded in mystery to us, but it clearly changed the world.

Here is a map that I made this morning, based on an idea that I've been mulling on for a while. (ETA: here's the slightly newer map). Essentially, it posits a northwest-southeast magical axis (or something), with the Heart of Winter and the Shadowlands at opposite poles, and Valyria in the middle. The Warlocks of Qarth and the Faceless Men of Braavos also get a shout, though I really had to distort Qarth's (presumed) location to fit it in. Also, some sites of magical significance cannot possibly fall along the axis, like the Isle of Faces. So it's probably all wrong, but hey. I tried to do a primitive, vaguely medieval looking map, which helped to avoid getting bogged down in details (the overwhelming majority of which we don't know, outside of Westeros).

Thoughts on what the hinges are, or what the term means? Is it simply places of such significance that the course of world events turn on what happens there?

(ETA: Edited title to remove spoiler)

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So you posit that Westeros-world is flat and only made of those continents?

I understand that "hinges of the world" to means that the world rests on the Wall's existence. Melisandre is nothing if not grandiloquent, so I would hazard that she merely means that if the wall falls then the otherworldly creatures win.

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Guest Other-in-law
So you posit that Westeros-world is flat and only made of those continents?

Oh, not at all. Nor square-shaped. ;) It's a very rough idea, and probably wrong, but I can't shake the Wall/Shadow polarity idea.

I understand that "hinges of the world" to means that the world rests on the Wall's existence. Melisandre is nothing if not grandiloquent, so I would hazard that she merely means that if the wall falls then the otherworldly creatures win.

She uses the plural form, so she presumably thinks there are other places just as crucial; what are they and why?

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Very nice map O-i-L. Whether or not your theory or the map stand the test of time, I appreciate the effort and creativity involved. Now that Valyria is a ruin does that mean the the "axis " is broken? I guess so, since magic left the world after Valyria and it's dragons were gone...

And now the dragons are back, and magic is too.

Anyway, other potential hinges that you didn't mention...

The Gods' Eye and the Mother of Mountains and/or the womb of the world, both of which appear on your map if I'm looking at it correctly.

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Oh, not at all. Nor square-shaped. ;) It's a very rough idea, and probably wrong, but I can't shake the Wall/Shadow polarity idea.

She uses the plural form, so she presumably thinks there are other places just as crucial; what are they and why?

Her viewpoint is entirely focused on the fight between the god of light and dark, so I would guess that she'd attribute other sites of great importance in that respect. I don't think other spots she'd describe as truly important to the world have been described to us; some main Red Temple in Asshai or the Shadow, maybe some sacred site over there, and wherever the Heart of Winter is shacked up in the north.

I don't think you should put too much on the phrase, though. I just read it as a place of great importance in history; Valyria, Dragonstone, Qarth, etc. So to her, the main battlefront between light and dark would be pretty important.

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Surely there is something very strange going on with the Shadow, hard by Asshai.

Very nice. I never thought about the symmetry: Asshai parallels the Wall, and the Shadow parallels Winter. Both are antithetical to Fire and manifest the Great Other in Melisandre's mythology.

Are the Shadowbinders the parallel of the Night's Watch? I thought they were friends of the Shadow, but this idea makes it sound more as if they bind it to hold it in place.

They idea really seems irresistible. I'm less convinced about Quarth and Valyria, but since you're just blowing off speculative steem it's a nice detail.

And thanks for the effort of drawing a good-looking map.

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Guest Other-in-law

Benjen,

Thanks. That is indeed intended as the Mother of Mountains and Womb of the World, though I didn't label them or put a dot nearby. I'm not even sure if that's really a magic center, though the Crones do seem to have prophetic abilities. I was going to put in Moat Caelin and Storm's End as well, put it would have made Westeros a little too busy.

Very nice. I never thought about the symmetry: Asshai parallels the Wall, and the Shadow parallels Winter. Both are antithetical to Fire and manifest the Great Other in Melisandre's mythology.

Are the Shadowbinders the parallel of the Night's Watch? I thought they were friends of the Shadow, but this idea makes it sound more as if they bind it to hold it in place.

Thanks. I've definitely thought of the Asshai'i as holding back the darkness in the south, and maybe the Shadowlanders as analogous to the Wildlings beyond the Wall.

They idea really seems irresistible. I'm less convinced about Quarth and Valyria, but since you're just blowing off speculative steem it's a nice detail.

I've always felt that the big problem with this dichotomy was that it should Ice vs Fire, not Ice vs Shadow, but I like your take on it with them both being enemies of Fire rather each other, In fact, by my scheme Valyria then becomes Fire incarnate, symbolically assailed by either side. So I still like Valyria as the broken heart of the world. Braavos and Qarth are expendable to all of this. As I admitted earlier, I kind of had to fake Qarth to make it fit. But they are kind of close to the axis.

Some other thoughts I had on this;

Winter is Coming -Stark words

The Shadows come to stay my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord -Patchface

To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward, you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow. -Quaithe

What is there in Asshai that I will not find in Qarth? -Daenerys

Truth. -Quaithe

No idea how Quaithe's prescription will play out, but the north-south, east-west business sure fits with the Wall-Shadow axis...er, somehow. And there's Azor Ahai who performed some ancient feat, saving the world from the forces of darkness, though if he was Asshai'i he would have had to travel so very far to drive the Others back into their icy fastness. Maybe he really fought the Shadows, instead? And then there was that Asshai'i ship which wrecked north of the Shadow Tower (!), to provide Mance Rayder with that fateful patch of red silk for his cloak.

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Excellent thinking! Two thoughts:

1. Who says that Asshai has to be in the South? Perhaps its in the North, too, and is as well connected to the Arctic? Just on the other side of the globe, placing the Wall and the Shadow at the locations of Canada and Siberia? This would mean that "the Others" (Westeros) and "the Shadow" (Asshai) are the very same thing - something inhuman threatening the whole world, coming from the Heart of Winter in the North.

However, forget what I just said if there is something in the book that says that Asshai&the Shadow are in the South of Martinworld.

2. Perhaps Quaith tries to misdirect Dany so that she ends up at the Shadow instead of at the Wall, and her dragons are supposed to help the Shadowbinders fight the advancing Shadow?

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Well, it is a very interesting theory. And this might explain the days getting shorter as the shadow creeping, the same as the weather getting colder. And maybe in the end the long night is when both the cold from the north and the shadow from the south somehow meet in the middle?

It would also mean possibly AA reborn is not necessarily TPWP? That you need 2 of them working together against the cold and the darkness?

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Very nice. I never thought about the symmetry: Asshai parallels the Wall, and the Shadow parallels Winter. Both are antithetical to Fire and manifest the Great Other in Melisandre's mythology.

Are the Shadowbinders the parallel of the Night's Watch? I thought they were friends of the Shadow, but this idea makes it sound more as if they bind it to hold it in place.

I think you are mistakening Red Priests and Shadowbinders. Although there might be similarities between the two orders, there are major differences as well. Mel seems to be a mix of both, at least if we can believe her words of being a Red Priest (because she is definetely a Shadowbinder from what we saw). Thoros on the other hand has shown no shadow affinity, which means not all Red Priests are related to the shadow.

The opposite of Winter is ... well Summer :). And he is already moving towards its heart. We all know Bran will have an important role, but I think some are forgetting the Children's magic. It was that magic that raised the Wall (not necessarily the Children themselves, but their magic was used) and that magic has stood for thousands of years against the winds of winter. Therefore this is the opposite of winter. And from what many have been speculating Mel (who we agree is related to Asshai and the Shadow) will not do any good to the Wall. So in the end the Shadow is not entirely against the Great Other.

Also do not blindly assume what Mel tells us about religion is true. She speaks only of two gods - R'hllor and the Great Other, however other religions claim differently. What if we assume the Faceless men's beliefs - they claim there is only 1 god with many faces. It seems to serve well, nobody has yet managed to escape them and their god so he must be true. What if R'hllor and the Great Other are the two sides of the same coin and Mel is sent to breach the wall from the south?

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In the Jon spoiler chapter that GRRM recently posted, Melisandre describes the Wall as "one of the hinges of the world", while praising the lore and the spells that raised it.

What are the other hinges? Surely there is something very strange going on with the Shadow, hard by Asshai. That place is also associated with magic users, of a very unique school. And Old Valyria was another place famed for it's spellsingers who wrought such wondrous things; it's Doom remains largely shrouded in mystery to us, but it clearly changed the world.

Here is a map that I made this morning, based on an idea that I've been mulling on for a while. Essentially, it posits a northwest-southeast magical axis (or something), with the Heart of Winter and the Shadowlands at opposite poles, and Valyria in the middle. The Warlocks of Qarth and the Faceless Men of Braavos also get a shout, though I really had to distort Qarth's (presumed) location to fit it in. Also, some sites of magical significance cannot possibly fall along the axis, like the Isle of Faces. So it's probably all wrong, but hey. I tried to do a primitive, vaguely medieval looking map, which helped to avoid getting bogged down in details (the overwhelming majority of which we don't know, outside of Westeros).

Thoughts on what the hinges are, or what the term means? Is it simply places of such significance that the course of world events turn on what happens there?

*sees map, reads theory* ... WOW! That is awesome! I never thought of what the "hinges" meant except as a cool phrase. This idea is fantastic.

If I can put my two cents in, I would narrow it down to three hinges, sort of like on your typical door. The Wall, Valyria and Asshai. The Wall holds the forces of the far North at bay, Asshai holds the forces of the Shadow at bay, and Valyria balances them out with loads of magic. The Doom upset the balance and the death of the last dragon really ended things. Hmm, maybe there are actually some dragons in Asshai or in the Shadow Lands, holding back the Shadow, and that is why we have not heard of the Shadow invading the world. The absence of dragons in Westeros, near the Wall, has led to the resurgence of the Others. I don't know really, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. Fantastic idea OiL.

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I've always felt that the big problem with this dichotomy was that it should Ice vs Fire, not Ice vs Shadow, but I like your take on it with them both being enemies of Fire rather each other, In fact, by my scheme Valyria then becomes Fire incarnate, symbolically assailed by either side.

Hmm, I like your idea, but take into account that Mel describes shadows as the children of light, just another manifestation of light. So it could still be Ice vs Fire (i.e. light).

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Excellent thinking! Two thoughts:

1. Who says that Asshai has to be in the South? Perhaps its in the North, too, and is as well connected to the Arctic? Just on the other side of the globe, placing the Wall and the Shadow at the locations of Canada and Siberia? This would mean that "the Others" (Westeros) and "the Shadow" (Asshai) are the very same thing - something inhuman threatening the whole world, coming from the Heart of Winter in the North.

However, forget what I just said if there is something in the book that says that Asshai&the Shadow are in the South of Martinworld.

:agree:

I've always pictured it that way.

I can't decide whether the Shadow is good or bad. I mean, it should be good if it's a product of light, and oppposite to the Winter. However,....

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Guest Other-in-law

JT,

Thanks. I'm inclining toward the three hinge model as well. I tried to make sense of the colours of the different magical schools, and the Warlock blue always seemed vaguely related to the others' blue and white, while the Wall was presumably raised by green magic of the Children of the Forest, and red (blood and fire) shared by both Valyria and Asshai.

By switching the Wall to black (NW) and making the Valyria be black and red (Targaryen colours), Valyria becomes a common denominator for both the Wall and Asshai, the two shields that hold the cold and darkness at bay. I'm not sure if that really makes sense, but there was always some seeming inconsistency to this sort of analysis, like the others being both white (ice) and black (long night), and Rh'llor being god of fire and shadow, or at least Mel being both a red priestess and a shadowbinder.

Hmm, I like your idea, but take into account that Mel describes shadows as the children of light, just another manifestation of light. So it could still be Ice vs Fire (i.e. light).

I'm not sure (about any of this, of course) but that claim that shadows are the servants of light that Mel made always seemed like one of her fishier rationalisations. At least, a number of boarders have suspected her to be fraudulent partly on that basis; shadows are darkness incarnate, surely?

On those lines, several people have predicted Stannis as becoming a future Night's King after he decided to take up residence at the Nightfort. I agree with that, but I don't see him literally being seduced by a female Other. I think it's already started happening with Melisandre. The beautiful shadowspawn has ensorcelled him and they've already made terrible inhuman children together. I think he'll be Nightking from the Shadow side, rather than from the Ice side.

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Other-in-Law

Great theory!

I like it very much!

I'm not sure (about any of this, of course) but that claim that shadows are the servants of light that Mel made always seemed like one of her fishier rationalisations. At least, a number of boarders have suspected her to be fraudulent partly on that basis; shadows are darkness incarnate, surely?

But, on the other hand, they only exist due to the light. It looks like the Others need the cold (and darkness I think) to live, shadows (and perhaps demons) need the light to live. I have always thought Mel's only goal is to do the exactly opposite of the Others, setting the world in flames, if she indeed is from the Shadows behind asshai, that does make sense.

btw, didn't the Wights atack at night (darkness), like the shadows attacked by light?

The Others control Wights, like Mel controlled shadows.

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The theory is nice, but I have a bit of a problem with the fact that the Wall is man-built. This doesn't fit with the concept of mystical world vital point. I mean, how did the world operate without hinges before it was built? From the legends, it doesn't seem to have been much different than now. Also, in the same vein, Valyria is not an eternal realm, its foundation doesn't seem to coincide with the Wall's erection, nor its ruin with any supernatural event elsewhere.

Though, seasons out of sync because of a disturbance in the magical (rotation?) axis of westeros-planet is appealing, but if I remember what has already been said about that by GRRM, there won't be a SF explanation for it.

By the way, another meaning that "hinges" of Mel could have is pivotal point, with fire on one side of the metaphorical door and ice on the other, without necessity of any simple physical alignment of those pivotal points. After all if the source of light (the dragons) can move, why should the rest be that static?

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Other in Law - great map! I love it, very nice.

But, on the other hand, they only exist due to the light. It looks like the Others need the cold (and darkness I think) to live, shadows (and perhaps demons) need the light to live. I have always thought Mel's only goal is to do the exactly opposite of the Others, setting the world in flames, if she indeed is from the Shadows behind asshai, that does make sense.

btw, didn't the Wights atack at night (darkness), like the shadows attacked by light?

The Others control Wights, like Mel controlled shadows.

Mel's two shadows both appeared at night. One just before dawn killed Renly, and the other snuck into Storm's End at the small hours of the night.

I never bought Mel's explanations about shadows being servants of the LoL. Rhollorians ignite fires at night to protect them from the night (which is full of shadows). If Rhollor is lord of light AND shadow whats left for this great other? They don't talk about coldness or winter in their prayers, only of dark. I think it makes sense that they fear the shadows (as opposed to cold) because it appears that their religion originates from Asshai which is on the edge of the shadow lands.

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Mel's two shadows both appeared at night. One just before dawn killed Renly, and the other snuck into Storm's End at the small hours of the night.

I didn't mean sunlight, but light, like light from Davos torch for example, fire.

The Wights die of fire, the shadows live of fire. In fact, they are used very similar.

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I didn't mean sunlight, but light, like light from Davos torch for example, fire.

The Wights die of fire, the shadows live of fire. In fact, they are used very similar.

Does fire create shadows? Well in our world it's created by (a light) + (an obstructing object) but the supernatural shadows in aSoIaF world seem to have a life of their own. They're not just absences of light, they're physical beings that can carry swords and move regular objects. So in my mind such a shadow could exist in total darkness and do things. Light would just make them visible. Was there light in the Storm's End room where that Castelan was? Do you believe that if he didn't have any cadles or fires lit in his room, Stannis' shadow would have stood impotently next to him and gnashed his teeth?

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Does fire create shadows? Well in our world it's created by (a light) + (an obstructing object) but the supernatural shadows in aSoIaF world seem to have a life of their own. They're not just absences of light, they're physical beings that can carry swords and move regular objects.

Maybe they are absences of light. Maybe they need particles of light to move around. I don't know. Maybe they feed on light. Why else is it described as a shadow, and not just an entirely black human shaped thing.

So in my mind such a shadow could exist in total darkness and do things. Light would just make them visible. Was there light in the Storm's End room where that Castelan was? Do you believe that if he didn't have any cadles or fires lit in his room, Stannis' shadow would have stood impotently next to him and gnashed his teeth?

It would have failed, that's an option as well, we don't know. Or maybe it would have been frozen (see Wights), untill there was fire again. Why not?

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