Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Angalin

A Thread for Small Questions VII

Recommended Posts

The last thread ended with some answers to the last question in it (was Ned ever betrothed to anyone), so up and at 'em with fresh questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did say that my previous was the last, but...

Then, I have to ask, why is it every other part of that oath is strongly adhered to at all costs

Is it?

You give the example of desertion, which certainly is strongly adhered to - but the previous thread featured a discussion about whether men of the NW really 'win no glory', for example.

I think that, once more, you're treating the oath like it's a legal contract. It's not. The fact that desertion is punished by death, while breaking the oath of celibacy is not, doesn't show that the latter isn't a rule at all. I also strongly doubt that death was ever the penalty for breaking the vow of celibacy at any point in the NW history. That would be rather draconian. I think the more reasonable explanation is that the NW has a corpus of traditions and rules that back up the oath: that like any other organisation, it has different penalties for breaching different rules: and (crucially) that in these straitened times the officers of the Watch have to prioritise which rules they can actually police in practise.

None the less, I'll repeat - every character who ever refers to the subject clearly understands that the NW is a celibate order, whether or not that rule is currently being enforced. Those who do visit Mole's Town are in all probability absolutely clear that they are breaking that part of the oath: they just don't care. I'm sure these same people would happily desert if not for the death penalty (which, remember, is policed and enforced by every Lord in Westeros).

With that, I think if anyone wants to pursue this topic further they should start a thread on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this issue can also be approached from a practical standpoint.

Desertion is a much more serious crime, since it threatens the survival of the Night's Watch. Once you have deserted, you never come back.

Going to Mole Town to dig for treasures does not threaten directly the Night's Watch, in reality it even helps to keep up morale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sort of a follow up to the above. How seriously are oaths taken in the setting?

Since most of the story is fairly realistic/shades-of-gray-morality I assumed that oaths were generally viewed in Westeros much as they were in real life (i.e. honorable, but ultimately unreliable). But sometimes it seems like characters actually do treat oaths as a legitimate guarantee. Obviously some characters care about honor more than others, but what's the normal Andal's (or Andal noble's) view of an oath?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second, third, and fourth the request for the NW celibacy convo to be moved to another thread. This is not the first go-round and it's clearly NOT a "small question".

Xenophon, I don't think your question has a simple answer either. There are many examples in the series of people taking oaths very seriously, and there are examples of people breaking them. It's like asking to define the Andals' view of murder, or love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I have no idea how this thread works because I've never been in it before. Is there some protocol about asking 'small questions?' Because I have a question and I don't know where else to put it. Somebody has probably brought it up already but I've missed it, so here I go.

Today I bought the HBO tie-in A Game of Thrones, the one with Sean Bean on the cover. The blurb on the back started out saying "Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance."

How did I not know there was a 'preternatural event'? What's up with that? I thought we had no info on the seasons. Is this a spoiler or am I just clueless, and maybe I need to read the books a few more times?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Xenophon, I don't think your question has a simple answer either. There are many examples in the series of people taking oaths very seriously, and there are examples of people breaking them. It's like asking to define the Andals' view of murder, or love.

Ok, so could you say that oaths have roughly the same force in this world as in the real world? As in there isn't a magical force that punishes oath-breakers, or that everybody universally thinks all oaths are sacred, such that breaking one is almost inconceivable to ordinary people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Okay, I have no idea how this thread works because I've never been in it before. Is there some protocol about asking 'small questions?' Because I have a question and I don't know where else to put it. Somebody has probably brought it up already but I've missed it, so here I go.

Today I bought the HBO tie-in A Game of Thrones, the one with Sean Bean on the cover. The blurb on the back started out saying "Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance."

How did I not know there was a 'preternatural event'? What's up with that? I thought we had no info on the seasons. Is this a spoiler or am I just clueless, and maybe I need to read the books a few more times?

Well, there were large-scale 'preternatural events' in Westeros' past - IIRC the shattering of the land bridge that produced the Stepstones is one, the Doom of Valyria is probably another. There's no indication in the books that these or any other such event led to the disruption of the seasons, though it would make a certain kind of sense. None the less, I think this is just inaccurate blurb-writing. It happens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I have no idea how this thread works because I've never been in it before. Is there some protocol about asking 'small questions?' Because I have a question and I don't know where else to put it. Somebody has probably brought it up already but I've missed it, so here I go.

Today I bought the HBO tie-in A Game of Thrones, the one with Sean Bean on the cover. The blurb on the back started out saying "Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance."

How did I not know there was a 'preternatural event'? What's up with that? I thought we had no info on the seasons. Is this a spoiler or am I just clueless, and maybe I need to read the books a few more times?

My first reaction is "Preternatural? Why not supernatural?" Seems like an odd word to use, but perhaps they felt "supernatural" is too cliche.

Second, as this is not a book, they have to explain things a bit more, or it will seem odd. It may be a piece of GRRM's lore that they are revealing, but it may also simply be a rationalisation trumped up by the scriptwriters. It's a nice idea though, assuming the seasons will return to "normal" after the big battle for the dawn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Second, as this is not a book, they have to explain things a bit more, or it will seem odd. It may be a piece of GRRM's lore that they are revealing, but it may also simply be a rationalisation trumped up by the scriptwriters. It's a nice idea though, assuming the seasons will return to "normal" after the big battle for the dawn.

It IS the book that I'm talking about. One of the new editions, with Sean Bean on the cover, now on display at Barnes & Noble.

I found it strange that they even bothered to say the thing about WHY the seasons are abnormal, but I guess they must have felt it was necessary to gently ease new readers into the world by quickly dealing with one of the most significant aspects that requires suspension of disbelief.

I'd never really wondered why the seasons were unusual. I liked that it was never explained and I hoped that it never would be. So I feel a little cheapened - thank you HBO tie-in book which maybe I should never have purchased!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, so could you say that oaths have roughly the same force in this world as in the real world? As in there isn't a magical force that punishes oath-breakers, or that everybody universally thinks all oaths are sacred, such that breaking one is almost inconceivable to ordinary people.

Yeah, I'd say that's about right, although I'm not sure we've really seen enough of the lives of "ordinary people" in the books to know as much about their beliefs as we know about the aristocracy. But I think Martin makes it pretty clear that there's a lot of variation in ethics and folkways among people in Westeros, and the books definitely don't give any sign that oathbreakers get magically punished. I mean, I'm sure you could find some people who would argue that that's the real reason various characters have had bad things happen to them... but considering how many bad things have also happened to people who didn't (as far as we know) break any oaths, I think the karmic connection is pretty iffy. Pretty much just like life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.

Here's another: what are Wardens (of the North, East, West, etc.)? Is this equivalent to being overlord of a Region, or is it a higher title? How many Wardens are there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.

Here's another: what are Wardens (of the North, East, West, etc.)? Is this equivalent to being overlord of a Region, or is it a higher title? How many Wardens are there?

The Wardens are supposed to be the supreme generals of their territories. The Warden is more of a military rank rather than a lordly title, although in most cases it goes with the lordly domain (that's why it was a big deal for Ned when Robert stripped Jon Arryn's son from the title and gave it to Jaime). There are four Wardens, corresponding to the four sides of the compass. My speculation is that the Wardens have higher military authority and jurisdiction than the other lords i.e. the Warden of the South (who is also the head of House Tyrell) could command the armies of both the Reach and Dorne if he needs to, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are four Wardens (North, East, South and West) and the office appears to be military in nature, mostly honorary in peacetime, and though the King can apparently name anyone he likes to the office when there's a vacancy (including Kingsguard), it's often treated as hereditary. We don't know much about it apart from that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While what Rinso wrote is certainly true, I'd say that the Warden titles are in reality more honorary than anything else.

The Dornish certainly would never take orders from Mace Tyrell, neither the Ironmen from Tywin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd never really wondered why the seasons were unusual. I liked that it was never explained and I hoped that it never would be. So I feel a little cheapened - thank you HBO tie-in book which maybe I should never have purchased!

That summary presumably wasn't written by GRRM himself, and who the hell knows how closely the Bantam/Spectra employee read the books before they wrote it. So I wouldn't put a lot of stock into what it says.

Of course, Yags is right that GRRM has always maintained that there would be a fantasy explanation for why the seasons behave the way that they do. But that doesn't mean that whomever wrote this knows anything about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While what Rinso wrote is certainly true, I'd say that the Warden titles are in reality more honorary than anything else.

Of course. The title seems like it's envisioned for big and serious conflicts that threaten the whole of Westeros, otherwise it would be redundant considering the normal feudal levy system. In peace it's just another boisterous title.

The Dornish certainly would never take orders from Mace Tyrell, neither the Ironmen from Tywin.

Who knows. In any case, the existence of the title preceeds both Mace and Tywin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose this question goes here....

Just quickly wanted to know something about wights.

Does it ever state (or strongly imply) that they can only be created by creatures the Others themselves killed? I probably should know the answer to this but a lot of Jon and Sam's chapters have gone all blurry to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×