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Ran

[Pre-ADwD Spoilers] Jon 1

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It might just be me, but ever since the first she appeared, she hasn't struck me as a zealot at all. Someone of unwavering faith, yes, but a zealot? Personally I reserve that label for Selyse and a bunch of the queen's men.

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Thoros is presently a man of unwavering faith in R'hllor. But he comes off very differently from Melisandre, and I put this down to her zealotry.

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It might just be me, but ever since the first she appeared, she hasn't struck me as a zealot at all.

Same here. I don't understand. She seems to be completely rational (I don't call her honest). Also, she's one of the few people who knows what's at stake — she's essentially right, and a lot more right than most other people in the books.

Why many readers choose to side with Maester Cressen is beyond me: he is a cold-blooded murderer to tries to remove her from Stannis for the sole reason that he disagrees with her. What MC does is a really evil thing, and she doesn't even use self defence: she gives him a way out. Foolishly, he kills himself. Yet GRRM manages to convince us the Mel is the bad guy in this first scene, simply by inserting us into the head of the murderer.

Later we are in the head of Davos, who also tries to kill her (for the same reasons as MC: he disagrees with her priorities, is envious of her influence over Stannis — oh and Davos even Hears Voices. There's religious zealotry for you). Again, GRRM makes us side with the murderer. Again, she doesn't kill her opponent.

That doesn't mean that Mel embodies all positive sides of humanity. She is ruthless in her willingness to sacrifice innocents for the Greater Good. She is also a liar. (Because I'm sure she knows better, about Lightbringer, about the leeches, etc.) And she happily lets zealots like Selyse do the dirty work for her.

But Mel doesn't strike me as a zaelot at all. She's Gandalf: super-powerful, and the only character who knows what's actually going on. We should be on her side, but GRRM is sufficiently evil to have the reader actually dislike her. That's part of his big plan: What if I wrote a series where Gandalf actually uses Aragron (like Denethor accuses Gandalf of), and where the reader actually doesn't like him.

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She's believes that she's the one to get things set for prophecy to pass. She believes absolutely in her righteousness (this is not to say that she believes she is always right, but that she believes that in the end she is always ends up right). She believes that it's all the will of R'hllor in the war against the Great Other. None of these things are proven, and in the first two cases we can see that she's actively wrong.

She's a zealot. She's irrational over certain key assumptions that guide everything she's done. She may be rational in other areas, but rational action based on irrational beliefs is not necessarily a support for the idea that one is not a zealot.

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She's believes that she's the one to get things set for prophecy to pass.

Hm... I don't think Mel would be unhappy if some more people did the Right Thing. But nobody is trying to raise dragons, so she has to do it. That doesn't mean she thinks nobody else could do it.

I'm among the people who think that when Mel finally meets Dany, she'll quickly come around. It's obvious that Dany exactly fits everything Mel has been trying to accomplish. Mel will blush prettily, say "Oh!" and then fight at her side, blowing fireballs out of her nose.

Your assessment of Mel in this hypothetical situation may vary, of course.

She believes absolutely in her righteousness (this is not to say that she believes she is always right, but that she believes that in the end she is always ends up right).

That's much like Gandalf. If you think Gandalf is a religious zealot then we're on the same page.

She's irrational over certain key assumptions that guide everything she's done.

I disagree. I think she's merely wrong. And even that I'm not sure about. (Maybe she just lies.)

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Guest Other-in-law
I disagree. I think she's merely wrong. And even that I'm not sure about. (Maybe she just lies.)

We haven't seen any sign that the Stannis' faction possesses dragon eggs. It seems a bit irrational to be making preparations to sacrifice human beings to wake dragons when you don't even have any of their eggs yet.

Step 1: Human sacrifice

Step 2. ????

Step 3: Dragons!

However, I do see Maester Cressen in a more sinister light now.

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It seems a bit irrational to be making preparations to sacrifice human beings to wake dragons when you don't even have any of their eggs yet.

Step 1: Human sacrifice

Step 2. ????

Step 3: Dragons!

The prophecy might simply say "from stone". Granted, all the Targs known that this part refers to dragon eggs, but that kind of semantic details may have been omitted in the "Valyrian in 20 easy lessons" that Melisandre has bought in Asshai. So here's her plan:

Step 1: Human sacrifice (add a hint of evil laughter)

Step 2: Handful of gravel

Step 3: Dragons!

But... I'm quite sure she isn't sure exactly what to do. Mance and his "heir" are still alive, so are Stannis and Shireen... She's like somebody trying to make her internet bank work with Windows Vista. Most of the steps she's quite sure about, others don't quite work, each night she spends hours googling for that crucial bit about which DLL file to remove. She's sure she's on the right track, tough.

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Considering that she wanted to kill Robert's bastard son, an innocent child who was playmates with Shireen, I don't think that a modern audience is ever going to find Mel completely admirable. She's too fond of killing people for the sake of her cause. Even in Mance's case, I can understand and sympathize with what Robert would have done (pardoned him in exchange for information about the Others, taken hostages, made him an ally) and what Stannis plans to do (execute him for planning and leading the attack on the wall). But Mel doesn't seem to care about justice or understand mercy. I have no doubt that she would have wanted Mance killed even if he hadn't attacked the Seven Kingdoms, just for his king's blood. Obviously Jon saw this too, as he saw fit to send away both Dalla's baby and Maester Aemon because he thought they needed the protection. Someone from whom babies and old men need protecting is not exactly my idea of a good person.

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She's too fond of killing people for the sake of her cause.

Quick: who isn't? And fond? There's no evidence that she'd particularly enjoy killing individuals, even for the sake of thousands. If she lived in a setting were she could save the universe at no cost, she'd probably prefer that.

It's an immortal topic, of course, and most audiences will (for some reason of human psychology) side with the honourable war leader who sends thousands to their death (or to rape the women of his enemy, should they survive), instead of those who play the "economy of deaths" game.

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The linchpin that tumbles down 'ends justify the means' arguments is that you can't be sure whether the immoral means you employ will actually bring the anticipated end. So instead of the one innocent child murdered for the sake of saving the world you actually have one innocent child surely murdered for a certain possibility that the world will be saved as a result (and that it would have been destroyed otherwise. Another uncertain prediction). The only sure thing in the end of the day is that you murdered an innocent child.

Prophecies makes your life easier but as we saw time and time again Mellisandre's prophetic predictions often turn out false and misleading. She counseled that the death of Renly will give Stannis a victory in King's Landing and therefore enable Stannis to save the world as the king of Westeros. As we saw this never happened and the justification for Renly's murder turned out manifestly false.

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He,

If she lived in a setting were she could save the universe at no cost, she'd probably prefer that.

I'm not sure that that's true. The ideal universe for her is that of the Heart of Fire, and R'hllor demands his due. Sacrifice -- human sacrifice, as she practices it, which does not in fact seem to be the norm for R'hllorians -- glorifies R'hllor, and so it's a good, regardless of cost.

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Prophecies makes your life easier but as we saw time and time again Mellisandre's prophetic predictions often turn out false and misleading. She counseled that the death of Renly will give Stannis a victory in King's Landing and therefore enable Stannis to save the world as the king of Westeros. As we saw this never happened and the justification for Renly's murder turned out manifestly false.

I agree with you in general, but in this specific case all we know is that Melisandre saw in the flames an army led by Renly smashing Stannis'es army before the walls of KL. Something that did indeed come to pass (though okay, in reality it was someone else in Renly's armour). Having seen this vision, a pre-emptive strike against Renly does make some sense, though we can only guess to what extent Melisandre pushed Stannis into an action he might well have taken anyway.

Still, your points about the uncertainly factor and prophecies being misleading still hold. :)

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But that R'hllor demanding it, not her. And if R'hllor is the only one between humanity and annihilation, there isn't really much choice is there?

I do think Melissandre is a zealot, but I don't think zealotry is necessarily a bad thing, it really depends on what one's is zealous about and in some cases it might be admirable. I think zealotry in fighting the Others is actually a good thing, and really Westeros could use more anti-Other zealots, not less

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I think zealotry in fighting the Others is actually a good thing, and really Westeros could use more anti-Other zealots, not less

Yes, because killing kids is so admirable.

She's going to want to kill Mance's son. She's eventually going to convince Stannis to sacrifice Shireen, and won't that be a tragedy, and all because she's a misguided zealot.

Westeros doesn't need zealots. It just needs people who accept that the Others are a threat. The problem is that very few people actually realize this.

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Try this on for size, then:

What if Gandalf had known that the only way to destroy the One Ring was to burn it together with the newborn child of Sam and Rosie.

(Instead of the morally easy way that Tolkien invented: to cast it into the fire that made it.)

Going through with that plan would have made Gandalf a zealot, would it not? The only difference is that Melisandre exists in a universe where the requirements to destroy the One Ring require a morally difficult choice.

(She is also mistaken because she misreads the prophecy and she is impetuous because the acts on the basis of knowledge that she must know is shaky. But, actually, strike that last thought. So far, she hasn't acted, and she seems to be completely rational about evaluating the nature of her evidence. I'll drop the charge of impetuousness.)

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I'm among the people who think that when Mel finally meets Dany, she'll quickly come around.

Hhhhmmmm……I am not too sure if she and Dany will get on. Quaithe’s got there first anyhow. There may well be a standoff between Quaithe and Mel.

That woman has also conceived a horror in her own womb. Just what the hell happened there? That birth in the boat with Davos struck me as (blood?) magic of the darkest and foulest kind. What sort of a woman willingly creates and hosts a shadowbaby? I don’t care how well intentioned she is and how many times she did not actually bump people off, something’s not quite right with her.

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An excellent chapter- particularly the Stannis/Jon scene. But did anyone else find that it needed a good edit? I found some of the sentences to be pretty poorly constructed, and random sentences of Jon's thoughts shift into present tense rather awkwardly.

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No killing kids is not admirable, but if it is necessary, then it is necessary.

If the Others win then all the kids are going to die.

Who says it's necessary? Melisandre? Yeah, and she's a really unbiased and reliable source.

If the Others are option 1 and Mel and the worldorder she's trying to create is option 2 then I'd go for secret option number 3. Westeros and the rest of the world are truly screwed if only option 1 and 2 exist.

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Look at the mayans and aztecs, they beleived human sacrifice was their only hope, where did it get them? Now we speak of them in the past tense. Even though they were spiritually enlightened and had alot of knowledge of the universe, in the end they were inherently misguided by their beleifs. If Mel told you to sacrifice your child to rid yourself of the flu would you do it? No Id consult with someone who would have a more practical approach to medicine like a Bran or a Howland Reed. Who said shes saving the world? If anything her and her god have been a destabilizing force throughout the kingdom inciting brother to murder brother and destroying the places of worship of an ancient culture. If anything she's using Stannis as a puppet to fulfill HER agenda, not some prophecy. I hope coldhands puts an end to her blasphemous ways on behalf of the old gods. I think Jon is in serious trouble.

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