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redriver

Winter Fell?

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It seems to me there's something odd about the weather in Westeros in the latter half of ADWD.Yes,a harsh winter has been heralded since the series began in AGOT, mainly because of the unusually long summer.But in the natural course of events you might expect winter to descend from the north,from the Land of Always Winter.

But that doesn't appear to be the case in Dance.The winter weather seems to have started at Winterfell,the worst of it is at Winterfell and it's radiating outwards from there.

Of course,in the real world a winter storm can strike in southerly latitudes whilst more northerly ones enjoy relatively good weather.But this is a fantasy series in which we know the seasons are out of kilter for fantasy reasons.From SSM;

Someone asked why the seasons are so messed up. Martin said he couldn't give an answer necause that would be telling! He did say that there would eventually be an answer in one of the books, and the answer would be a fantasy (as opposed to a science fiction/science based) answer.

So I suppose the author can put the weather where he wants!But has he chosen to center the storm over Winterfell and if so has he done this for narrative reasons?

The first mention of serious snowfall comes in the Theon chapter "The Turncloak".

The first flakes came drifting down as the sun was setting in the west.By nightfall snow was coming down so heavily that the moon rose behind a white curtain,unseen.

This is shortly after Ramsay's marriage to "Arya",which I think is significant in itself.But more on that later.

It continues through the rest of the Winterfell chapters including the final one in which Theon makes this observation as he and the spearwives rescue "Arya".

The yard was a white wilderness,full of half-heard sounds that echoed strangely amidst the storm.The icy trenches rose around them,knee high,then waist high,then higher than their heads.They were in the heart of Winterfell with the castle all around them,but no sign of it could be seen.They might have easily been lost amidst the Land of Always Winter,a thousand leagues beyond the Wall.

We can reason that this storm rages over the course of about seven weeks from Asha's POV's, which trace the journey of Stannis and his host from Deepwood Motte towards Winterfell.The march of 300 miles was predicted to take 15 days by the troops.After three days of good progress the snows start falling and hinders the progress of the army;-

By the ninth day of the storm,every camp saw the captains and commanders entering the king's tent wet and weary...and report their losses for the day.

The fifteenth day of the march came and went,and they had crossed less than half the distance.

On the twenty-sixth day...the last of the vegetables was consumed...On the thirty-second day,the last of the grain and fodder.

Two days later they are forced to pull up at the Crofter's village where after 19 more days,Tycho Nestoris turns up with Theon and Jeyne.

Meanwhile,what's happening at the Wall?In short,we can say it's been variable weather wise throughout most of Dance until the storm arrives from the south in Jon's last chapter.

The snow was following heavily outside."Wind's from the south," Yarwick observed.It's blowing the snow right up against the Wall.See?

He was right.The switchback stair was buried almost to the first landing,Jon saw,and the wooden doors of the ice cells and storerooms had vanished behind a wall of white

From other POV's and locations.

Arya confirms that it's snowing in the Riverlands in The Blind Little Girl.

It's snowing in Jaime's last chapter of AFFC at Riverrun though in his only ADWD chapter,,slightly to the north,Blackwood Vale is"bare and muddy,dotted here and there with drifts of melting snow."I don't think there's a huge time differential between those two chapters.

In Sansa's last POV in AFFC the Eyrie is being vacated for the winter due to snow and frost but the vale floor is snow free and autumnal.The Eyrie is at altitude.

And in the epilogue it's snowing in Kings Landing and the white raven arrives there from the Citadel to herald the official arrival of winter.

The Starks are absent.

The snows arrive in Winterfell in the days after the wedding of Ramsay Bolton to a fake,though publicly acknowledged as genuine, Arya Stark.This ceremony conducted before the heart tree serves to seal Ramsay as the Lord of Winterfell in law.Roose blames the blizzard on Stannis-

"The gods of the north have unleashed their wroth on Lord Stannis.He is a stranger here and the old gods will not suffer him to live.

Though surely the Boltons are the real intruders here?This is the first time in known history that the Starks are not officially in charge of Winterfell,which brings to mind the family motto;

There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.

The phrase is oft repeated throughout the novels,though we are never told why.It seems common sense,in a way.Have a Stark around to keep up morale and deter intruders.But perhaps it has a more esoteric significance that's been forgotten over the ages.

The Starks are a truly ancient family who trace their lineage back to Bran the Builder who raised Winterfell and the Wall.If the motto is as old as the family,perhaps it goes back as far as the Pact between the COTF and the First Men.This Pact,as we know from Luwin divided the lands between the parties in exchange for an end to hostilities.

This is the headline agreement of the Pact,but perhaps there were other terms and conditions,such as a supervisory role for the Starks in enforcing the Pact?The Starks were Kings in the North from the Age of Heroes until Torrhen bent the knee to Aegon,but they were also widely known as the Kings of Winter.Again,we get no real explanation as to what the title means.Maybe it acknowledges that the Starks have been granted lands and honours,but also duties and responsibilities as well?

In this light,"There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" could seem like a condition,clause or even curse imposed upon them.And the penalty for breaking this taboo?There may be a hint in the Stark words....

Winter is coming.

Catelyn reflects on the house words early in AGOT,-

The words gave her a chill,as they always did.The Stark words.Every noble house had its words.Family mottoes,touchstones,prayers of sorts,they boasted of honour and glory,promised loyalty and truth,swore faith and courage.All but the Starks.Winter is coming said the Stark words.Not for the first time,she reflected on what a strange people these northerners were.

Strange indeed.On one level the words seem pragmatic,get your harvest in,prepare for the worst,maybe even carpe diem to an extent.But maybe it can be seen as a warning of sorts,-keep up your end of the bargain or Winter is coming.The words are spoken by a non Stark character in Bran's coma dream,-

North and north and north he looked,to the curtain of light at the end of the world,and then beyond that curtain.He looked deep into the heart of winter,and then he cried out,afraid,and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.

Now you know,the crow whispered,as it sat on his shoulder.Now you know why you must live.

"Why?"Bran said,not understanding,falling,falling.

Because Winter is coming.

I don't think the crow is warning of any old winter but Winter itself,the kind Old Nan spoke of.If the crow can be seen as connected to the Old Gods perhaps this can be seen as foretelling the arrival of Winter at Winterfell?

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From my understanding, winter is coming refers to the long night.

Good write up though. I recall thinking the same thing about the Old Gods punishing the Boltons compared to Stannis.

There's just a certain allure to the Winter is Coming that makes me think that it's clearly more than just winter stoms. I also believe there is definitely something up with there always being a need of a Stark in winterfell. I think there is some sort of magic that lies in Winterfell that only a Stark can use, and this magic has been laying dormant for thousands of years, waiting to be awakened by a Stark during the long night.

Just my two cents. . .

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These are all good thoughts, I've had them in an extent. What I most firmly believe is that the 'There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" has a supernatural origin.

I will expand on it later is I don't have the time now, but has anyone else noticed (I just did) that Bran's dream is the only place we literaly have salt and smoke - his burning tears. And then he is told he "must live"... Hm...

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It seems to me there's something odd about the weather in Westeros in the latter half of ADWD.Yes,a harsh winter has been heralded since the series began in AGOT, mainly because of the unusually long summer.But in the natural course of events you might expect winter to descend from the north,from the Land of Always Winter.

But that doesn't appear to be the case in Dance.The winter weather seems to have started at Winterfell,the worst of it is at Winterfell and it's radiating outwards from there.

Of course,in the real world a winter storm can strike in southerly latitudes whilst more northerly ones enjoy relatively good weather.But this is a fantasy series in which we know the seasons are out of kilter for fantasy reasons.From SSM;

Someone asked why the seasons are so messed up. Martin said he couldn't give an answer necause that would be telling! He did say that there would eventually be an answer in one of the books, and the answer would be a fantasy (as opposed to a science fiction/science based) answer.

So I suppose the author can put the weather where he wants!But has he chosen to center the storm over Winterfell and if so has he done this for narrative reasons?

The first mention of serious snowfall comes in the Theon chapter "The Turncloak".

This is shortly after Ramsay's marriage to "Arya",which I think is significant in itself.But more on that later.

It continues through the rest of the Winterfell chapters including the final one in which Theon makes this observation as he and the spearwives rescue "Arya".

We can reason that this storm rages over the course of about seven weeks from Asha's POV's, which trace the journey of Stannis and his host from Deepwood Motte towards Winterfell.The march of 300 miles was predicted to take 15 days by the troops.After three days of good progress the snows start falling and hinders the progress of the army;-

Two days later they are forced to pull up at the Crofter's village where after 19 more days,Tycho Nestoris turns up with Theon and Jeyne.

Meanwhile,what's happening at the Wall?In short,we can say it's been variable weather wise throughout most of Dance until the storm arrives from the south in Jon's last chapter.

From other POV's and locations.

Arya confirms that it's snowing in the Riverlands in The Blind Little Girl.

It's snowing in Jaime's last chapter of AFFC at Riverrun though in his only ADWD chapter,,slightly to the north,Blackwood Vale is"bare and muddy,dotted here and there with drifts of melting snow."I don't think there's a huge time differential between those two chapters.

In Sansa's last POV in AFFC the Eyrie is being vacated for the winter due to snow and frost but the vale floor is snow free and autumnal.The Eyrie is at altitude.

And in the epilogue it's snowing in Kings Landing and the white raven arrives there from the Citadel to herald the official arrival of winter.

The Starks are absent.

The snows arrive in Winterfell in the days after the wedding of Ramsay Bolton to a fake,though publicly acknowledged as genuine, Arya Stark.This ceremony conducted before the heart tree serves to seal Ramsay as the Lord of Winterfell in law.Roose blames the blizzard on Stannis-

Though surely the Boltons are the real intruders here?This is the first time in known history that the Starks are not officially in charge of Winterfell,which brings to mind the family motto;

There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.

The phrase is oft repeated throughout the novels,though we are never told why.It seems common sense,in a way.Have a Stark around to keep up morale and deter intruders.But perhaps it has a more esoteric significance that's been forgotten over the ages.

The Starks are a truly ancient family who trace their lineage back to Bran the Builder who raised Winterfell and the Wall.If the motto is as old as the family,perhaps it goes back as far as the Pact between the COTF and the First Men.This Pact,as we know from Luwin divided the lands between the parties in exchange for an end to hostilities.

This is the headline agreement of the Pact,but perhaps there were other terms and conditions.such as a supervisory role for the Starks in enforcing the Pact?The Starks were Kings in the North from the Age of Heroes until Torrhen bent the knee to Aegon,but they were also widely known as the Kings of Winter.Again,we get no real explanation as to what the title means.Maybe it acknowledges that the Starks have been granted lands and honours,but also duties and responsibilities as well?

In this light,"There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" could seem like a condition,clause or even curse imposed upon them.And the penalty for breaking this taboo?There may be a hint in the Stark words....

Winter is coming.

Catelyn reflects on the house words early in AGOT,-

Strange indeed.On one level the words seem pragmatic,get your harvest in,prepare for the worst,maybe even carpe diem to an extent.But maybe it can be seen as a warning of sorts,-keep up your end of the bargain or Winter is coming.The words are spoken by a non Stark character in Bran's coma dream,-

I don't think the crow is warning of any old winter but Winter itself,the kind Old Nan spoke of.If the crow can be seen as connected to the Old Gods perhaps this can be seen as foretelling the arrival of Winter at Winterfell?

:bowdown: :bowdown: REDRIVER: AWESOME WRITE UP, as always. I have always thought certain castle names had deeper meanings: Winter "fell" as a recipient of the onset of the snow seems plausible and significant. I also think that "Grey Water Watch" means more: maybe even that Howland Reed is a greenseer himself, only his domain to watch are the "grey waters".

In our AGOT reread, Martin uses the snowflakes in many of the POV's for a visual image - and to evoke the tactile senses - but the snowflakes take on more symbology. Bran's POV V when he first sets out on Dancer, his specially trained filly, while mounted on the saddle Tyrion Lannister designed, discloses the falling snow, and how the snow feels on his face. It is refreshing, like a summer's rain, and the snow parallels Bran's feeling "fresh" and new, finally he is able to ride his Dancer, even though he has no feeling in his legs. We see Bran "smile", something he has not done in a long while. The snow also appears at WF when Jon Snow says farewell to Robb and Bran and company for he is off to the Wall. Martin describes the snowflakes melting in Robb's hair, an image Jon carries with him. Here the snow is not as threatening as later in ADwD.

I also wish to add that Martin personifies Winterfell and the heart tree - they are like living beings. Now this may be crackpot, but if WF and the Wall seemingly have the powers to protect themselves against the enemy, then mayhap through the magic that is the force of the old gods it or they are escalating the snowfall as punishment, in part, for the violations of the laws of hospitality, now occurring at WF because there is a Stark in Winterfell, the little lordling in the smiling heart tree. He even witnesses a mummer's farce of a wedding, and much and more.

I also just wrote up a Snow Symbology for the Direwolf Reread. I did it as an association with the names of the three waycaycastles on the ascent to the Eyrie: Stone, Snow, and Sky. I am sure it might bolster your arguement. I will repost the Snow section here if you'd like.

So, I think your idea will be worthwhile to explore, and I am sure many posters will have insightful comments and further evidences to add to your premise.

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I've seen many people indicate that the snow storm centered over Winterfell and spread out from there, but I was always skeptical about it since most of the time we hear about storms coming from the north (plus I've never seen any evidence). But I find this quote to be very telling, and that there is some truth to it. That and the snow seems to have started at Winterfell. Very nice catch

I really like where you're going with this theory!

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Not much to add but great ideas and attention to detail on the origin of the snowstorm. There is definitely more to the addage "There must always be a Stark in WF", and this is one of the first plausible theories I've seen on what supernatural implications that may have. (Other theories include a Stark is necessary to keep Ice Dragon in the crypts bound... lol, and that the dead kings of winter will rise if a Stark doesn't rule WF.)

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I loved this, very very interesting. One of the best topics since I joined the forum.

Only one thing : you make it sound as if winter will come if there is no Stark in Winterfell, which can't be right, cos' winters come and go and we have no reason to think there's a link with the Starks. But if by winter you mean the long night like someone mentioned already, then I agree.

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Winter is coming I think is referring to the "true winter" not just a change of seasons.

I like this post as it some what reinforces my theory of how Winterfell got its name

My theory was that Winterfell was Built on the site that the last line of the "Kings of winter" fell (others) before the Starks were named the kings of Winter

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I like this theory as well. Do you see Winterfell as the source spot or as a release point (like a water tap) for whatever force is causing this? The examples redriver and evita cite are interesting for how both Theon and Bran evoke "heart of winter/Winterfell" and "curtain."

Theon:

The first flakes came drifting down as the sun was setting in the west. By nightfall snow was coming down so heavily that the moon rose behind a white curtain, unseen.

They were in the heart of Winterfell with the castle all around them, but no sign of it could be seen. They might have easily been lost amidst the Land of Always Winter,

Bran:

North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.

If the heart of winter is the heart of Winterfell, that seems to support what redriver is saying.

This theory made me look up "Old Man Winter," which led to Woden and his wolf warriors, known as the Heruli (which have been mentioned in the Heresy threads and elsewhere). Lots of shoutouts there, imo.

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From my understanding, winter is coming refers to the long night.

Good write up though. I recall thinking the same thing about the Old Gods punishing the Boltons compared to Stannis.

There's just a certain allure to the Winter is Coming that makes me think that it's clearly more than just winter stoms. I also believe there is definitely something up with there always being a need of a Stark in winterfell. I think there is some sort of magic that lies in Winterfell that only a Stark can use, and this magic has been laying dormant for thousands of years, waiting to be awakened by a Stark during the long night.

Just my two cents. . .

Yes,I'd agree this could turn into a Long Night,which I think is where their other area of responsibility comes in,-the Wall.So many times the Stark in Winterfell rides out to sort out trouble at the Wall,that this seems to me they have a supervisory role there too.Remember Aemon telling Jon that he had to take charge of the Wall for the Wildling attack because he was Ned Starks son?

As has been discussed in Heresy,the Watch seem to elect Starks as LC's in times of strife,even electing a 10 yr old at one point.I think if the Watch fails to stay true the Others come,which together with the Winterfell issues,could mean a Long Night.

I loved this, very very interesting. One of the best topics since I joined the forum.

Only one thing : you make it sound as if winter will come if there is no Stark in Winterfell, which can't be right, cos' winters come and go and we have no reason to think there's a link with the Starks. But if by winter you mean the long night like someone mentioned already, then I agree.

Yes I think a Long Night is the threat,especially if the Wall fails too.

I like this theory as well. Do you see Winterfell as the source spot or as a release point (like a water tap) for whatever force is causing this? The examples redriver and evita cite are interesting for how both Theon and Bran evoke "heart of winter/Winterfell" and "curtain."

Theon:

Bran:

If the heart of winter is the heart of Winterfell, that seems to support what redriver is saying.

This theory made me look up "Old Man Winter," which led to Woden and his wolf warriors, known as the Heruli (which have been mentioned in the Heresy threads and elsewhere). Lots of shoutouts there, imo.

This type of "mirroring" is a GRRM trade mark.Nicely spotted.I also wondered if Bran saw an icebound version of Winterfell at the heart of winter in his coma dream,which made him so afraid.That would complete the mirroring.

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Great thread - easy to leap to a whole heap of (potentially crackpot) conclusions from it (What if Winterfell is some kind of portal to the Lands of Always winter - with the Stark Kings of Old Tombs open - who knows what is flowing through them?)

2 side points

1 - At the very beginning of AGOT Tyrion is in the Library of Winterfell (now burnt If I recall) and he is a reading a book on the changing of the seasons.....

2 - Do we know whats happening with the lovely thermal springs at Winterfell at this time? IIRC the hot water flows through the walls of the Castle and might sensibly be melting the snow in parts or all of the castle. Perhaps if the Thermals are off it brings the snow or voce versa.

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Mass of Arctic cold air collides with warm, moist air over the central area of The North.

;)

I guess the snowfall is connected to Stark's absence though.

This would be the scientific explanation. The interesting point about this thread is that we will most likely be given a magical reason like one of those when this is really the answer.

But since westeros is a medieval-ish society things people don't understand will be called magic. "Witchcraft to the ignorant, .... Simple science to the learned"

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This would be the scientific explanation. The interesting point about this thread is that we will most likely be given a magical reason like one of those when this is really the answer.

But since westeros is a medieval-ish society things people don't understand will be called magic. "Witchcraft to the ignorant, .... Simple science to the learned"

I think GRRM has confirmed that the seasons are magical in nature - hence the thread.

This is a series that has Dragons, resurrection & a 700 ft tall wall of ice - pretty sure there won't be a scientific explanation for everything in it.

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This is a fantastic topic well written and thank you redriver :)

I hadn't realised that the weather in Winterfell was so much worse than the weather at the Wall for so long!

I agree with the connection of there being no Stark in Winterfell to the onslaught of this heavy storm. The way I see it, however, is that the storm is not there to destroy Winterfell, but to punish the pretenders. I think the connection of WF to the old gods is of course through the heart tree, so up until just before the wedding, it could be that the old gods were not 'aware' of the fact that there was no Stark in WF. But when Ramsay turns up at the sacred tree marrying a woman who is not a Stark but who is pretending to be a Stark, that made the gods super super angry, and they decided to intervene and freeze the liars and pretenders out.

Or it could be that Bran saw the ceremony through the tree and with Bloodraven's help unleashed the storm.

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Good post, but the absence of a Stark in Winterfell started with Bran and Rickon leaving, not with the Bolton Bastard's wedding.

Maybe the rule is "without a Stark, Winterfell isn't safe for human beings (nor Boltons or Freys)". As long as the castle stood empty, nobody disturbed the ghosts (or gods, or ice dragons, or whatever forces guard the place).

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Good post, but the absence of a Stark in Winterfell started with Bran and Rickon leaving, not with the Bolton Bastard's wedding.

Yes,it certainly started there but I suggest the marriage of Ramsay and "Arya" made it legal and binding in the sight of the old gods.From this moment on Ramsay can call himself the Lord of Winterfell.Until then the Starks were nominally and legally in charge of it.

Theon styled himself Prince of Winterfell but I don't think anyone recognized this,including his own family.Besides throughout his reign,the Stark boys were there.When Ramsay sacked the castle,bringing Theon with him,he left it unclaimed,leaving squatters to move in.

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This is a fantastic topic well written and thank you redriver :)

I hadn't realised that the weather in Winterfell was so much worse than the weather at the Wall for so long!

I agree with the connection of there being no Stark in Winterfell to the onslaught of this heavy storm. The way I see it, however, is that the storm is not there to destroy Winterfell, but to punish the pretenders. I think the connection of WF to the old gods is of course through the heart tree, so up until just before the wedding, it could be that the old gods were not 'aware' of the fact that there was no Stark in WF. But when Ramsay turns up at the sacred tree marrying a woman who is not a Stark but who is pretending to be a Stark, that made the gods super super angry, and they decided to intervene and freeze the liars and pretenders out.

Or it could be that Bran saw the ceremony through the tree and with Bloodraven's help unleashed the storm.

It will be interesting to see who prevails in the battle for Winterfell,who makes best use of the winter storm,the pretender Stannis or the "legitimate" Bolton.

That aside,if the theory is correct this Winter won't end until there's a Stark in Winterfell again.That could prove easier said than done.But I agree this weather is sent to help the Starks.The original title of the last book in the intended trilogy was A Time for Wolves.This hints at the Starks getting their act together at last.

Reminiscent of Ned's words to Arya;

When the snows fall and the white winds blow,the lone wolf dies,but the pack survives.

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I did not catch the part where there was a storm coming from the south at the wall, nice one. I would like to add to this that the slain Starks are put in shackles/bound in their tombs, I cannot recall where this is mentioned, though to me it seems to have something to do with the "there must always be a Stark at Winterfell".

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