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Yeade

Le Grande Northern Conspiracy, Parte the Fourth

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Joe Pine, I actually favor Jon appearing at the end of the prologue to TWOW, lol, similar to the revelation of UnCat in the ASOS epilogue, followed by a blackout on POVs at the Wall in a mini-cliffhanger until the Winterfell cast catches up on the timeline about a third of the way into the novel. Jon's last ADWD chapter is days to weeks ahead of everybody else's in the North, and more time could easily be added by having characters reminiscence about events such as Jon's revival and/or resurrection after the fact. GRRM is not categorically opposed to this, IMO, more efficient storytelling technique, as he uses it liberally in the first three books, especially to cover long journeys, and in what would become AFFC/ADWD before he ditched the five-year gap.

Hi Yeade. I wouldn't have an issue with any of that, although the nearest POV to Jon would be Melisandre, unless it's a character at the wall that's going to be made dead.

On a related note, I don't see Jon in Winterfell until at least ADOS. Looking at the logistics of the anticipated invasion by the Others: 1) The Wall must remain standing as the first line of defense through most, if not all, of TWOW or the North's outstanding political subplots (the heir to Winterfell, the Iron Islands) cannot realistically be resolved. 2) Any retreat from the Wall would naturally follow the kingsroad south to first Winterfell, then the Neck, which as a highly defensible location (a natural bottleneck) and bulwark of green magic is likely to be the last line that can significantly stall the Others.

I fully agree, those subplots must be resolved (or near resolved) before The Others get through the wall. Your point on the kings road is well made too, although how passable would it be in bad winter conditions? I'm not sure Mr Martin can add in chapter after chapter about a fighting retreat from the wall and I have a feeling the Others will move quicker than men over snow anyway

The Wall does not prevent the Others from controlling wights already south of it (see undead Othor and Jafer Flowers in AGOT), but I suspect it does guard against their ability to raise the dead. This means the Others must be cautious in attacking the Wall because, until their necromancy can extend into Westeros proper, their reserves are limited.

Again I agree, the wall and another thingies throw in is about the warded castles probably being the best barriers against the Others. I think south of The Wall that defenders might hole up at Winterfell and be a threat to the rear of any Advance by the Other but as to where to head if the north is evacuated and I can only think that the best place is the huge castle with magic in the walls and that's Harrenhal.

From the perspective of the realm's defenders, if I were, well, Jon, I would try to hold the Wall as long as possible, pushing all available military resources north, while at the same time evacuating the majority of noncombatants south because, should the Wall (inevitably) fall, the worst case scenario is for there to be tens of thousands of panicked potential wights in need of protection from an army stretched thin in the attempt to retreat in good order before a supernaturally relentless enemy. If the line breaks with frightened people scattering everywhere in small groups, the Others can inflict such casualties, just as they do on Mormont's ranging in the ambush at the Fist of the First Men and the defeated remnants of Mance Rayder's shattered army, that I'm not sure the North could play much of a role in the obligatory final battle afterwards.

For defending the wall, there's an adequate combination of nights watch, queen's men and Wildings. I think it's a balancing act as too many defenders could be a problem. (burning the dead etc) and I also reckon on Stannis wanting to keep his momentum southward by going after the Freys. I'd reckon on the GNC happily waving bye bye without maybe giving him too much in way of support. An ideal excuse would be if Roose or Ramsey escaped to the Dreadfort.

Stannis might be pissed off at that, but he'll be promised further support when he reaches the neck and Howland Reed can play his part by connecting Stannis up with the GRC. It also sets up a Stannis/Stoneheart scene.

While it's often speculated that Jon must find something of importance, particularly related to R+L=J, in the Winterfell crypts, it seems to me that he currently has zero motivation to go looking. This is why I feel it's quite possible that Jon may learn of R+L=J from Bloodraven and/or Bran via magical means in TWOW. Even if he dismisses the idea as impossible, which I figure he would in favor of more pressing problems like the Others, Stannis, and the GNC, he might be curious enough, doubtful enough that he'd seek confirmation in the crypts. As the probable leader of the retreat from the Others, Jon would conveniently hit Winterfell first, receive said proof of R+L=J, then be able to get all his questions answered by Howland Reed in the Neck before facing Dany farther south (in Harrenhal, for the irony?) armed with full knowledge of his lineage.

I agree, but think Jon's return to Winterfell will be significant and the point that the mcGubbin in the crypt is revealed. He'll be the leader of the north in title only until his recovery is complete and perhaps the discovery of it seals or authenticates Jon.

So, a big powwow of all the northern characters at the Wall--Jon could perhaps take a short detour south with the wildlings to Long Lake or thereabouts to pick up Theon, Jeyne!Arya, and their escorts, killing Ramsay in a bastard vs. bastard throwdown, lol, while Stannis finishes with Roose Bolton and treats with the northmen--as the Others begin to test the realm's defenses in earnest.

Interesting, I'd have a slightly different theory on how that works out, but there's a few ways it could happen ;)

I've got the fall of the Wall tentatively penciled in as the climax of TWOW, very nearly at the end of the novel, which would thankfully spare everybody the tedium of reading about the retreat south in real-time since ADOS can open with Jon at Winterfell. That's what I'd like to see happen because I think it makes the most effective use of, well, geography to streamline the narrative. YMMV.

Again agree, I think that's the best way for things to move on.

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Boy ! trying to catch up. I'm in awe of the sheer work that went into the timeline, but I think it's often problematic to fine tune it down to days elapsed, when so much must be happening off the page.. but just the general chronology is very useful on it's own.

Please read the following as having a calm, rational tone... :D I have to disagree with Yeade again as to the magical/ supernatural elements. I don't think you can set apart the the political agendas when we know magic exists in the world and we know that BR/CoTF have been making moves potentially affecting politics from the very beginning of the story. Most obviously .. in the Northern storyline, I think the two must now be seen as inextricably linked, though centuries have passed when they were disconnected... Even south of the neck , we see the possibility of proximity to weirwood stumps influencing dreams affecting key characters .. and weirwood saplings springing up where they'd previously been eradicated ... At the neck itself , we have Howland Reed being so vital to the funneling of information and personnel in the political maneuvering, who is himself tied to the supernatural side of things as well as the political( we just don't yet know to what extent ). The political situation is ,I think , being influenced or manipulated to one degree or another, by unseen forces. Where that's least achievable , it's at a minimum being watched and reacted to .. compensated for... wherever possible.

Leaving aside my feeling that Benjen is an active link between the two ( and how valuable it would be for BR/CoTF to have an agent who could have begun to prepare at least the leaders for what's coming ) , we can't just disregard the very odd weather pattern that seems to be working in the GNC's favour. We can't just disregard the feeling of import around "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell ", when even Tyrion feels the power in the godswood and can't disasociate Winterfell from Starks in his mind. He thinks in practical terms, but there's no denying he felt something in WF, that seems to be beyond just political history.

That magical / supernatural motives and maneuverings exist doesn't diminish the political desires of the northmen , or make their strivings any less worthy. By the same token , just because many of the northmen are unaware of any unseen motives and forces , doesn't mean that those are a side issue , incidental to the political agenda. The Starks are the link to the magical agenda and simultaneously the focus of the GNC..the lines are bound to blur.

I don't say anyone has to embrace the possibility whole heartedly .. but the possibility should be entertained along with the strictly political scene , because depending on the degree to which it's in operation, it changes the possibilities that exist for the GNC ,and potentially affects their plans.

Lady Gwyn.. I've been wondering about Larence Snow as well , and I don't think the ironborn would have given him much thought (at first) since Hornwood had been taken over by the Boltons and he'd be of no value as a hostage... and being older than the Glover children , I don't know if he'd be sent to Harlaw for "safety". He may still be at Deepwood keeping a low profile ..By repute , he does have "wits and courage" though.. might Lady Sybelle have tried to have him included as even a small protection of her own for her children?

Later , of course ,he would potentially have been of some value to Asha or Dagmer ( or any having recieved a piece of prince ) in trade for Theon from the Boltons ...For the GNC , if as I suspect , they are also planning to take back Hornwood( or have already done so while Hornwood was incommunicado - due to the maester being with Roose ), it would be serendipitous if he'd been left at Deepwood.

As to the Glover children , we may see a wrinkle or two.. Who knows what Euron's up to , but I don't think he cares much about getting Asha back , or has , up to this point ( in fact , the marriage in absentia may have been calculated to keep her away ) ..I don't know what his past relationship to Dagmer was.. but seeing how he effectively abandoned Victarion's men at MC , I'm unsure as to what Dagmer's position is.. We know Harlaw sympathies are with Asha, and there could be a loose cannon in the form of Asha and Theon's mother , whose mental and emotional distress has been mentioned frequently. ( Makes me wish some of those convention goers had opted for the Damphair chapter )

ETA: In the meantime, I see both Yeade and Joe Pine have posted, so I'll have to catch up again.

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First, Joe Pine, I must admit I've never given much thought to the possibility that Stannis may wish to continue his campaign south rather than returning to the Wall after defeating the Boltons. For a few reasons: 1) Between the riverlands faction of the GNC (Howland Reed, Lady Stoneheart et al.) and Sansa's presence in the Vale perhaps instigating the Lords Declarant to openly ally with the Starks as they urged Lysa to during the War of the Five Kings, I'm not sure that Stannis's help will be needed to bring down House Frey or sweep the riverlands clean of Lannisters. 2) With winter deepening, it'd be hard to square Stannis's supposed dedication to fighting the Others with marching farther south. The Boltons must be deposed, sure, because Winterfell is the realm's second line of defense after the Wall, with the northern houses effectively acting as a military reserve for the Night's Watch. But what could excuse a dutiful king from the frontlines of the war for the dawn when Moat Cailin can be made virtually impassable? 3) I just want to read more of Stannis and Jon snarking at each other, lol. Which means the former has to stay north of the Neck, probably at the Wall, because the latter most likely won't be going even to Winterfell for the duration of TWOW. 4) I do subscribe to the theory that Stannis may end up starring in a live action adaptation of the legend of the Night's King with Melisandre. That he's taken the Nightfort as his seat, an atmospheric location that hasn't been fully utilized yet, seems ominous to me.

Regarding the defense of the Wall, my impression is that the current mishmash of NW, wildlings, and Stannis's men is nowhere near adequate to the task of guarding the Wall's entire span of a hundred leagues, never mind reinforcing the flanks at Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower. The Wall originally boasted a complement of some ten thousand swords, IIRC; Jon's manned the Wall in ADWD with about a tenth of that number, in terms of actual fighting men and spearwives. Which, sadly, is still much improved from when he was elected Lord Commander and there were only five to six hundred crows on watch. This rounds out to between fifty and a couple hundred men at each of the Wall's nineteen castles, assuming all are eventually garrisoned, patrolling approximately fifteen miles. The problem with this scenario is that the Others are free to concentrate against any point. The Wall's defenders cannot hold out indefinitely under a determined assault when they're so shorthanded, IMO, not even with the advantage of the high ground, which could very well be negated by hundreds of feet of snow or, well, magic.

Finally, on the kingsroad as a line of retreat south, I figure it'd be better than dispersing your army over the countryside, no matter how much of a slog the march would be. The Others are indeed quick on their feet--they glide silently through the woods in the AGOT prologue; Sam describes the one he kills being as "light as snow on the wind"--but their foot soldiers, the wights, are slow and clumsy things (note: corpses, though magically reanimated), dangerous mainly because of their inhuman strength and resilience. There would be protection in numbers for human forces, I think. They could conduct themselves basically as if they're in a moving siege--rings of fire by night, scouting and foraging parties by day, when the wights are apparently inactive, and archers armed with obsidian arrows always on standby. Be aggressive in engaging the enemy when necessary, don't dally anywhere that isn't warded against the wights, and you can probably retreat in good order.

bemused, I don't mean to say that the magical and supernatural aspects of ASOIAF should be wholly separated from the political and military ones. After all, I'm arguing that the start of the war for the dawn will fundamentally change the game of thrones, disrupting the schemes of players like Littlefinger and Varys while forcing others, such as Jon and Stannis, to take actions they otherwise wouldn't consider. Not only that, but I'm on record as supporting Jon as a claimant to the Iron Throne, which I don't think he'd actually be able to win without magical proof of his Targaryen lineage to Dany, who's rather susceptible to that kind of thing, and/or being hailed as the prophesized savior of mankind, AAR/PTWP/whatever, favored by the gods.

I expect magic to become more overt as the series continues, yes, and certain disciplines (namely, farsight and foresight) have potential military applications in intelligence and communications that could prove vital in fighting the Others. And let's not forget the dragons! Which I don't agree will be quite as useless as some of their detractors argue, lol.

However, I also believe that one should be cautious in ascribing every other event to supernatural causes, especially in substituting prophecy or magical coercion for more mundane character motivations. Magic or, rather, its practitioners are not omniscient or omnipotent. No, not even Bloodraven, future!Bran, or the elusive Howland Reed. They may possess power but must apply this power either in manipulating perceptions, often framed in existing superstitions, or by launching directed strikes against, for lack of a better word, secular targets. Melisandre and her shadowbaby assassins are an example of the latter. There is no Eru or even a Force in ASOIAF, so magic users don't have exclusive access to some superior source of knowledge that makes their instincts more trustworthy than everybody else's. Bloodraven and Howland Reed's current mystique of inscrutable wisdom is a product, IMO, of the fact that we readers are simply all but ignorant about their presumed areas of expertise (e.g. the Others), leaving us no way to judge, say, their competence as we would and do the political skills of other characters. I imagine this skewed assessment will be corrected as GRRM reveals more about the Others and related topics. Varys's and Littlefinger's genius as puppetmasters, cleverly manipulating fools and even the not-so-foolish into dancing to their tunes, have undergone just such a critical re-evaluation since key pieces of their endgame plans were unveiled in AFFC/ADWD.

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Boy ! trying to catch up. I'm in awe of the sheer work that went into the timeline, but I think it's often problematic to fine tune it down to days elapsed, when so much must be happening off the page.. but just the general chronology is very useful on it's own.

Please read the following as having a calm, rational tone... :D I have to disagree with Yeade again as to the magical/ supernatural elements. I don't think you can set apart the the political agendas when we know magic exists in the world and we know that BR/CoTF have been making moves potentially affecting politics from the very beginning of the story. Most obviously .. in the Northern storyline, I think the two must now be seen as inextricably linked, though centuries have passed when they were disconnected... Even south of the neck , we see the possibility of proximity to weirwood stumps influencing dreams affecting key characters .. and weirwood saplings springing up where they'd previously been eradicated ... At the neck itself , we have Howland Reed being so vital to the funneling of information and personnel in the political maneuvering, who is himself tied to the supernatural side of things as well as the political( we just don't yet know to what extent ). The political situation is ,I think , being influenced or manipulated to one degree or another, by unseen forces. Where that's least achievable , it's at a minimum being watched and reacted to .. compensated for... wherever possible.

Leaving aside my feeling that Benjen is an active link between the two ( and how valuable it would be for BR/CoTF to have an agent who could have begun to prepare at least the leaders for what's coming ) , we can't just disregard the very odd weather pattern that seems to be working in the GNC's favour. We can't just disregard the feeling of import around "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell ", when even Tyrion feels the power in the godswood and can't disasociate Winterfell from Starks in his mind. He thinks in practical terms, but there's no denying he felt something in WF, that seems to be beyond just political history.

That magical / supernatural motives and maneuverings exist doesn't diminish the political desires of the northmen , or make their strivings any less worthy. By the same token , just because many of the northmen are unaware of any unseen motives and forces , doesn't mean that those are a side issue , incidental to the political agenda. The Starks are the link to the magical agenda and simultaneously the focus of the GNC..the lines are bound to blur.

I don't say anyone has to embrace the possibility whole heartedly .. but the possibility should be entertained along with the strictly political scene , because depending on the degree to which it's in operation, it changes the possibilities that exist for the GNC ,and potentially affects their plans.

Lady Gwyn.. I've been wondering about Larence Snow as well , and I don't think the ironborn would have given him much thought (at first) since Hornwood had been taken over by the Boltons and he'd be of no value as a hostage... and being older than the Glover children , I don't know if he'd be sent to Harlaw for "safety". He may still be at Deepwood keeping a low profile ..By repute , he does have "wits and courage" though.. might Lady Sybelle have tried to have him included as even a small protection of her own for her children?

Later , of course ,he would potentially have been of some value to Asha or Dagmer ( or any having recieved a piece of prince ) in trade for Theon from the Boltons ...For the GNC , if as I suspect , they are also planning to take back Hornwood( or have already done so while Hornwood was incommunicado - due to the maester being with Roose ), it would be serendipitous if he'd been left at Deepwood.

As to the Glover children , we may see a wrinkle or two.. Who knows what Euron's up to , but I don't think he cares much about getting Asha back , or has , up to this point ( in fact , the marriage in absentia may have been calculated to keep her away ) ..I don't know what his past relationship to Dagmer was.. but seeing how he effectively abandoned Victarion's men at MC , I'm unsure as to what Dagmer's position is.. We know Harlaw sympathies are with Asha, and there could be a loose cannon in the form of Asha and Theon's mother , whose mental and emotional distress has been mentioned frequently. ( Makes me wish some of those convention goers had opted for the Damphair chapter )

ETA: In the meantime, I see both Yeade and Joe Pine have posted, so I'll have to catch up again.

Everyone seems to think the Boltons control the Hornwood lands but Manderly seized the Hornwood castle to prevent just that, way back in Clash of Kings I think

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First, Joe Pine, I must admit I've never given much thought to the possibility that Stannis may wish to continue his campaign south rather than returning to the Wall after defeating the Boltons. For a few reasons: 1) Between the riverlands faction of the GNC (Howland Reed, Lady Stoneheart et al.) and Sansa's presence in the Vale perhaps instigating the Lords Declarant to openly ally with the Starks as they urged Lysa to during the War of the Five Kings, I'm not sure that Stannis's help will be needed to bring down House Frey or sweep the riverlands clean of Lannisters.

Hi Yeade, with all those groups, the GNC Riverlands faction, Lords Declarant etc Stannis will want to make an impression and also send a message to King's Landing.

Something like:- 'A gross breach of the codes of courtesy by the Freys', the true king will go punish them for the realm, for the laws.'

Stannis can claim to have saved the wall, punished the Freys. Something the true king would do.

He'll get northern support, the more men he takes to the crossing, the more power he's seen to have.

Whilst Jon recovers from near death and the GNC scheme over Rickon etc, it's the best way to move things onward IMHO.

2) With winter deepening, it'd be hard to square Stannis's supposed dedication to fighting the Others with marching farther south. The Boltons must be deposed, sure, because Winterfell is the realm's second line of defense after the Wall, with the northern houses effectively acting as a military reserve for the Night's Watch. But what could excuse a dutiful king from the frontlines of the war for the dawn when Moat Cailin can be made virtually impassable?

By heading south, Stannis gets to Moat Caitlin. Having a garrison of sorts there is practical and covers his back, it may also see the crannogmen finally emerge. It may also allow those that melted away from the Red Wedding and other defeats to go back with Stannis.

3) I just want to read more of Stannis and Jon snarking at each other, lol. Which means the former has to stay north of the Neck, probably at the Wall, because the latter most likely won't be going even to Winterfell for the duration of TWOW. 4) I do subscribe to the theory that Stannis may end up starring in a live action adaptation of the legend of the Night's King with Melisandre. That he's taken the Nightfort as his seat, an atmospheric location that hasn't been fully utilized yet, seems ominous to me.

In the time it may take Jon to recover, Stannis could go South deal with the Freys and return back to Winterfell, I suspect Jon will be taken from the wall to Winterfell and the GNC rather than a focus of characters at the wall.

Regarding the defense of the Wall, my impression is that the current mishmash of NW, wildlings, and Stannis's men is nowhere near adequate to the task of guarding the Wall's entire span of a hundred leagues, never mind reinforcing the flanks at Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower. The Wall originally boasted a complement of some ten thousand swords, IIRC; Jon's manned the Wall in ADWD with about a tenth of that number, in terms of actual fighting men and spearwives. Which, sadly, is still much improved from when he was elected Lord Commander and there were only five to six hundred crows on watch. This rounds out to between fifty and a couple hundred men at each of the Wall's nineteen castles, assuming all are eventually garrisoned, patrolling approximately fifteen miles. The problem with this scenario is that the Others are free to concentrate against any point. The Wall's defenders cannot hold out indefinitely under a determined assault when they're so shorthanded, IMO, not even with the advantage of the high ground, which could very well be negated by hundreds of feet of snow or, well, magic.

I think I said adequate in my post, I meant that there was roughly the same or more manpower on the Wall than when Jeor Mormont lead his great ranging. The threat from Wildings has lessened, the wall is the barrier the Others cannot cross. Until the 'event' that breaches the wall happens it is adequately manned.

If it were to be fully manned with the right resources at each castle fort on the wall, I'd simply see that as a slaughtering ground for the Others. More bodies to be made wights etc. in this case, less is more.

Finally, on the kingsroad as a line of retreat south, I figure it'd be better than dispersing your army over the countryside, no matter how much of a slog the march would be. The Others are indeed quick on their feet--they glide silently through the woods in the AGOT prologue; Sam describes the one he kills being as "light as snow on the wind"--but their foot soldiers, the wights, are slow and clumsy things (note: corpses, though magically reanimated), dangerous mainly because of their inhuman strength and resilience. There would be protection in numbers for human forces, I think. They could conduct themselves basically as if they're in a moving siege--rings of fire by night, scouting and foraging parties by day, when the wights are apparently inactive, and archers armed with obsidian arrows always on standby. Be aggressive in engaging the enemy when necessary, don't dally anywhere that isn't warded against the wights, and you can probably retreat in good order.

The Kingsroad will play its part, Stannis will head south on it, garrison Moat Cailin, go after the Freys. Jon will be taken south to Winterfell on it.

My theory on events after the Wolfswood/Wintefell events are resolved is a that there will be a siege at the Dreadfort (either Roose or Ramsey will escape) Davos will unveil Rickon, Jon will be near death and Melisandre, Val and Dalla will cure him (possibly by magic), Stannis will head south with a host to deal with the Freys. Jon will be taken to Winterfell. If Benjen is hooded man that could give a bit of play in the story.

Stannis meets up with the Crannogmen and Blackfish before having a clash with Lady Stoneheart and getting the GNC Riverlands on board.

There will be a siege at the crossing and Stannis will be resolving it before the Wall is breached.

Stannis's rush back north will be like the English King Harald Goodwinson in reverse. The Freys will be his Stamford Bridge and the others breaching the wall like William the bastard landing at Hastings.

It's a theory. But I think reasonable.

bemused, I don't mean to say that the magical and supernatural aspects of ASOIAF should be wholly separated from the political and military ones. After all, I'm arguing that the start of the war for the dawn will fundamentally change the game of thrones, disrupting the schemes of players like Littlefinger and Varys while forcing others, such as Jon and Stannis, to take actions they otherwise wouldn't consider. Not only that, but I'm on record as supporting Jon as a claimant to the Iron Throne, which I don't think he'd actually be able to win without magical proof of his Targaryen lineage to Dany, who's rather susceptible to that kind of thing, and/or being hailed as the prophesized savior of mankind, AAR/PTWP/whatever, favored by the gods.

I expect magic to become more overt as the series continues, yes, and certain disciplines (namely, farsight and foresight) have potential military applications in intelligence and communications that could prove vital in fighting the Others. And let's not forget the dragons! Which I don't agree will be quite as useless as some of their detractors argue, lol.

However, I also believe that one should be cautious in ascribing every other event to supernatural causes, especially in substituting prophecy or magical coercion for more mundane character motivations. Magic or, rather, its practitioners are not omniscient or omnipotent. No, not even Bloodraven, future!Bran, or the elusive Howland Reed. They may possess power but must apply this power either in manipulating perceptions, often framed in existing superstitions, or by launching directed strikes against, for lack of a better word, secular targets. Melisandre and her shadowbaby assassins are an example of the latter. There is no Eru or even a Force in ASOIAF, so magic users don't have exclusive access to some superior source of knowledge that makes their instincts more trustworthy than everybody else's. Bloodraven and Howland Reed's current mystique of inscrutable wisdom is a product, IMO, of the fact that we readers are simply all but ignorant about their presumed areas of expertise (e.g. the Others), leaving us no way to judge, say, their competence as we would and do the political skills of other characters. I imagine this skewed assessment will be corrected as GRRM reveals more about the Others and related topics. Varys's and Littlefinger's genius as puppetmasters, cleverly manipulating fools and even the not-so-foolish into dancing to their tunes, have undergone just such a critical re-evaluation since key pieces of their endgame plans were unveiled in AFFC/ADWD.

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Hi Yeade, with all those groups, the GNC Riverlands faction, Lords Declarant etc Stannis will want to make an impression and also send a message to King's Landing.

Something like:- 'A gross breach of the codes of courtesy by the Freys', the true king will go punish them for the realm, for the laws.'

Stannis can claim to have saved the wall, punished the Freys. Something the true king would do.

He'll get northern support, the more men he takes to the crossing, the more power he's seen to have.

Whilst Jon recovers from near death and the GNC scheme over Rickon etc, it's the best way to move things onward IMHO.

By heading south, Stannis gets to Moat Caitlin. Having a garrison of sorts there is practical and covers his back, it may also see the crannogmen finally emerge. It may also allow those that melted away from the Red Wedding and other defeats to go back with Stannis.

In the time it may take Jon to recover, Stannis could go South deal with the Freys and return back to Winterfell, I suspect Jon will be taken from the wall to Winterfell and the GNC rather than a focus of characters at the wall.

I think I said adequate in my post, I meant that there was roughly the same or more manpower on the Wall than when Jeor Mormont lead his great ranging. The threat from Wildings has lessened, the wall is the barrier the Others cannot cross. Until the 'event' that breaches the wall happens it is adequately manned.

If it were to be fully manned with the right resources at each castle fort on the wall, I'd simply see that as a slaughtering ground for the Others. More bodies to be made wights etc. in this case, less is more.

The Kingsroad will play its part, Stannis will head south on it, garrison Moat Cailin, go after the Freys. Jon will be taken south to Winterfell on it.

My theory on events after the Wolfswood/Wintefell events are resolved is a that there will be a siege at the Dreadfort (either Roose or Ramsey will escape) Davos will unveil Rickon, Jon will be near death and Melisandre, Val and Dalla will cure him (possibly by magic), Stannis will head south with a host to deal with the Freys. Jon will be taken to Winterfell. If Benjen is hooded man that could give a bit of play in the story.

Stannis meets up with the Crannogmen and Blackfish before having a clash with Lady Stoneheart and getting the GNC Riverlands on board.

There will be a siege at the crossing and Stannis will be resolving it before the Wall is breached.

Stannis's rush back north will be like the English King Harald Goodwinson in reverse. The Freys will be his Stamford Bridge and the others breaching the wall like William the bastard landing at Hastings.

It's a theory. But I think reasonable.

I think that Stannis will attack the Twins as well, but definitely think his next stop is White Harbor. Sneaking suspicion that Robett Glover's army will come up the White Knife with Manderly's galleys, everyone will sort of assess the situation post-Battle of Ice and then Stannis will go down to WH on the galleys and regroup. His Southrons are truly exhausted, starving men. They need at least a little time to go to a safe haven, repair all their damaged equipment, get new horses and feed themselves up to fighting strength again before marching down to the Riverlands.

btw, I'd love it if those stupid Ironborn had a role to play in attacking the Twins. Everyone planning on how to attack the pretty unassailable castles, before Asha's motley crew, perhaps with Dagmer's men, chipping in and going 'you know we know a thing or two about naval warfare, we might have an idea....'

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I think Davos will take Rickon to White Harbour,fulfilling his promise to an extent,but also to guage the temperature of the political,military and weather situation.Taking him to Eastwatch would ostensibly be a betrayal of Manderly and taking him on a more direct route to Winterfell would be foolish.

Davos plays it by the book.He will take Manderly at his word,he can empathize with losing sons.But from White Harbour, Robett Glover can act as a go-between,at least giving the nod that the way is clear.

But of course,this is all assuming that everything has gone smoothly.It may turn out that just as they were boarding the boat,Rickon challenged a unicorn to a headbutting contest.

That unicorn is going DOWN!

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That unicorn is going DOWN!

I really hope Rickon literally shows up either riding a unicorn or Shaggy. Direwolves are mentioned to grow as large as ponies, and we haven't seen Shaggy in a while...time for a reveal that he's huge monster.

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I really hope Rickon literally shows up either riding a unicorn or Shaggy. Direwolves are mentioned to grow as large as ponies, and we haven't seen Shaggy in a while...time for a reveal that he's huge monster.

I second this :)

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I think that Stannis will attack the Twins as well, but definitely think his next stop is White Harbor. Sneaking suspicion that Robett Glover's army will come up the White Knife with Manderly's galleys, everyone will sort of assess the situation post-Battle of Ice and then Stannis will go down to WH on the galleys and regroup. His Southrons are truly exhausted, starving men. They need at least a little time to go to a safe haven, repair all their damaged equipment, get new horses and feed themselves up to fighting strength again before marching down to the Riverlands.

A great point on fatigue for Stannis' Southron Lords at some point they have to stop and rest.

I suppose if fresh troops come from Manderley at White Harbour, then could Stannis grab them and cajole them into going south with him? It depends on the rest of Stannis' troops and whether the Northerners have an appetite for it as well.

I'm guessing Manderley's knights are similar to Southron knights and armour rather than the other northern nobility's riders.

btw, I'd love it if those stupid Ironborn had a role to play in attacking the Twins. Everyone planning on how to attack the pretty unassailable castles, before Asha's motley crew, perhaps with Dagmer's men, chipping in and going 'you know we know a thing or two about naval warfare, we might have an idea....'

Question of how to get into the twins, a small longboat might be able to ride between the twin castles, how fast is the flow though and I'd guess on murder holes overlooking the bridge piers too. I'd say its a maybe as a tactic, certainly a good diversion if nothing else

The ironborn and Wildings ability to climb though might be a better approach. I'm guessing that there won't be a conventional siege or that Stannis goes to do one as a ruse.

All in all it could be a good fist pump type read for the Stannis fans as well as the Frey haters.

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Question of how to get into the twins, a small longboat might be able to ride between the twin castles, how fast is the flow though and I'd guess on murder holes overlooking the bridge piers too. I'd say its a maybe as a tactic, certainly a good diversion if nothing else

The ironborn and Wildings ability to climb though might be a better approach. I'm guessing that there won't be a conventional siege or that Stannis goes to do one as a ruse.

All in all it could be a good fist pump type read for the Stannis fans as well as the Frey haters.

I posted this earlier, but it's certainly true that the Twins seem invincible to most conventional types of attack. Here is the description:

It was near midday when their vanguard came in sight if the Twins, where the Lords of the Crossing had their seat. The Green Fork ran swift and deep here, but the Freys had spanned it many centuries past and grown rich off the coin men paid them to cross. Their bridge was a massive arch of smooth grey rock, wide enough for two wagons to pass abreast; the Water Tower rose from the center of the span, commanding both road and river with its arrow slits, murder holes, and portcullises. It had taken the Freys three generations to complete their bridge; when they were done they'd thrown up stout timber keeps on either bank, so no one might cross without their leave.

The timber had long since given way to stone. The Twins--two squat, ugly, formidable castles, identical in every respect, with the bridge arching between--had guarded the crossing for centuries. High curtain walls, deep moats, and heavy oak-and-iron gates protected the approaches, the bridge footings rose from within stout inner keeps, there was a barbican and portcullis on either bank, and the Water Tower defended the span itself. One glance was enough to tell Catelyn that the castle would not be taken by storm. The battlements bristled with spears and swords and scorpions, there was an archer at every crenel and slit, the drawbridge was up, and the portcullis down, the gates closed and barred.

The Greatjon began to curse and swear as soon as he saw what awaited them. Lord Rickard Karstark glowered in silence. "That cannot be assaulted, my lords," Roose Bolton announced. "Nor can we take it by siege, without an army on the far bank to invest the other castle," Helman Tallhart said gloomily.

Note that even an attack by water would be foiled as the Water Tower commands the span. So I think an invasion by stealth, such as enabled Dany to take Meereen, is the possible answer. Roose himself has pointed out the only other option-- a dual siege with both banks invested. This would probably require the total defeat of the Bolton forces in the north and control of the Riverlands, either of which could conceivably be realized early on TWoW. Taking a castle by stealth is always preferable though, as it avoids the costly effort of a siege. I could see such a stealth attack coming from either side, with Freys scurrying like rats out the opposite gates into the arms of foes waiting either by design or chance :devil: . Of course, the left flank of any army attacking from the north would be exposed to attack from the Vale, which is why I think it's important to begin to consider how the political chips are going to fall there.

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Regarding my LOTR comparison, I only meant to suggest that, with the looming threat of winter and the Others, an ad hoc alliance with a somewhat unofficial leader chosen by consensus (Jon, IMO) could form, all other political issues tabled until humanity's survival of the apocalypse is assured. I figure this will be the pattern not only north of the Neck but when Jon and Dany, who brings with her the might of the southern kingdoms, finally meet to decide the fate of Westeros.

It's interesting because, while I know it wasn't your intent-lol, mentioning LotR actually brought me back to some of the more magical theories associated with the Starks and Winterfell. My mind went to Winterfell as the place where the threads converge and the last stand occurs. While asoiaf is dealing primarily with low level magic unlike LotR, it seems pretty clear that there are certain places in Westeros that are infused with magic- the Wall, Winterfell, Storm's End and even Oldstones that we've seen so far. IMO, there has to be some significance to "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell" and the answer lies in magic. With the looming ice zombie apocalypse, I feel like the magic level of the series has to be cranked up more than a bit. So while I agree that at its heart the GNC is political, and that early on in TWoW we'll see it tabled for the greater good, I also think the magic element will ultimately mean the question of who rules the north becomes something else. This is part of my conviction that as far as efforts to place Jon Snow in a northern leadership role go, he'll accept nothing more than the role of dux bellorum. That I'm fond of Arthurian parallels, especially Jon as Arthur, and the historical inspiration for Arthur is believed to have been a Romano-Briton war leader only reinforces that for me. Of course, there's much more to the story than that, as none of this considers the significance of RLJ, which I think will be part of the "something else". That's something for another post, lol.

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I posted this earlier, but it's certainly true that the Twins seem invincible to most conventional types of attack. Here is the description:

thanks for that.

Note that even an attack by water would be foiled as the Water Tower commands the span. So I think an invasion by stealth, such as enabled Dany to take Meereen, is the possible answer. Roose himself has pointed out the only other option-- a dual siege with both banks invested. This would probably require the total defeat of the Bolton forces in the north and control of the Riverlands, either of which could conceivably be realized early on TWoW. Taking a castle by stealth is always preferable though, as it avoids the costly effort of a siege. I could see such a stealth attack coming from either side, with Freys scurrying like rats out the opposite gates into the arms of foes waiting either by design or chance :devil: . Of course, the left flank of any army attacking from the north would be exposed to attack from the Vale, which is why I think it's important to begin to consider how the political chips are going to fall there.

Could be an eclectic mix of Northmen, Ironborn, Wildings, BWB and Riverlands folk.

The how will be the most interesting part.

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Joe Pine, interesting ideas... I guess I just don't see the northmen supporting Stannis in a triumphant march south, and he'd need those northern troops for any campaign against the Freys because they already comprise the bulk of his forces outside Winterfell, his southron knights dying like hothouse flowers in the snow. Rather, I feel the natural response to hearing that an ice zombie apocalypse is knocking on your door is to send the women and children away, grab your shotgun, and take cover behind a hastily erected barricade of furniture, lol. Plus, if the GNC proves true in that another King in the North is crowned, Stannis would first have to deal with this latest usurper and the traitors who follow him. You can bet that if Jon is available to hold any power or influence over the northmen, he would want the Wall to be reinforced over another foray south whether he's still in the Night's Watch or not.

Speaking of which, while the Wall does seem to be warded against the wights, I think it's folly to rely on these magical protections to defend the realm. For starters, neither Jon nor Stannis knows that the undead cannot cross the Wall. We readers and Sam learn of this from Coldhands but, in addition to being in Oldtown, Sam is sworn to silence about Bran and his companions. What Jon knows is that, in AGOT, Othor and Jafer Flowers turn zombie while south of the Wall in Castle Black to assassinate Lord Commander Mormont and the then acting First Ranger. Not to mention, nobody can tell how far the Wall's wards extend--past Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower to cover the open ends? high into the air to prevent the Others (ice spiders!) from climbing over?--or even if they'll withstand a sustained assault, given that Brandon the Builder raises the Wall after the Long Night is over, meaning that the Wall has never truly been tested against the enemy, who's had some eight thousand years to come up with a means of contravening it. The capabilities of the Others are largely unknown at this point, but I'd err on the side of caution when fighting a potentially world-ending threat and because, historically, undermanned static fortifications with vulnerable strategic flanks don't fare too well (see Great Wall of China vs. Genghis Khan, Maginot Line vs. Nazi Germany).

My mind went to Winterfell as the place where the threads converge and the last stand occurs. While ASOIAF is dealing primarily with low level magic, unlike LOTR, it seems pretty clear that there are certain places in Westeros that are infused with magic--the Wall, Winterfell, Storm's End, and even Oldstones that we've seen so far. IMO, there has to be some significance to "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell," and the answer lies in magic.

TBH, while I admire the dedication of folks who contribute to threads like the endless Heresy ones in the ADWD section, I think a lot, if not most of the speculation about ASOIAF's magical elements is a crapshoot, people firing wildly at every bump in the night.

For example, the theory that the Wall will fall because the men of the Night's Watch are no longer true. The obvious question to ask is why didn't the Wall fall when the Night's King and his corpse bride reigned, if this superstition is indeed grounded in magical reality. How is "true" defined? And is there a minimum number of black brothers who must meet this criteria? At least one? Half of those who've sworn their vows? Keeping in mind that Bowen Marsh and co-conspirators plotting to kill Jon doesn't mean Giant, Iron Emmett, Dolorous Edd, and all the other men Jon assigned to garrison the Wall's newly reopened castles throughout ADWD are automatically traitors, too. Far more likely, IMO, that this is an expression, appropriately exaggerated for storytelling, of the military principle that any wall is only as good a defense as the men standing guard upon it.

Similarly, imagine that a greenseer back in the times of the Stark kings foresaw the War of the Five Kings and coming fight against the Others. Wouldn't he or she conclude that the North and possibly all of Westeros is doomed if a Stark doesn't take control of the situation? Which grew so desperate to begin with in part because the Starks were drawn south, away from Winterfell, and ousted from power. So, this hypothetical greenseer makes like the Ghost of High Heart (AAR/PTWP born of Aerys and Rhaella's line) and prophesies that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. Point is, since there's a critical lack of information about the origins of this saying and others like it, I feel concluding that, for instance, the Others have some blood pact with the First Men that they'll refrain from invading Westeros so long as the Starks, who led humanity to victory in the first Long Night, rule from Winterfell is... premature, at the very least.

All that said, I expect GRRM to begin a major reveal of the magical underpinnings of his universe in TWOW, so many of these questions will hopefully be answerable in the near future.

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Joe Pine, interesting ideas... I guess I just don't see the northmen supporting Stannis in a triumphant march south, and he'd need those northern troops for any campaign against the Freys because they already comprise the bulk of his forces outside Winterfell, his southron knights dying like hothouse flowers in the snow.

Hi Yeade that's a fair shout.

For me it's in the interests of the north's collected lords and nobles to give Stannis some of their troops and say bye Stannis, go get us some Revenge.

Firstly, they do actually want the Freys dead. Pretty much every main house of the north lost kinsmen to the RW or to Roose and Ramsey before ADWD.

Secondly, the longer Stannis is around, the more chance of him seeking fealty from the Starks, by that I mean both Jon and Rickon. If Stannis gets them to swear as being 'his men', then he strengthens his claim to the Iron Throne. I suspect that's why Manderley instructed Davos to bring Rickon to White Harbour and not Stannis direct.

Thirdly, guys like Greatjon aren't around, there's no-one that'll lift up little Rickon and shout 'He's the King of the North' in Stannis's face and create an incident.The GNC are schemers to have got as far as they did and if they help Stannis win his battle on the ice at the Wolfswood and also engineer a defeat of the Boltons to get rid of the influence of the Iron Throne, then why battle with Stannis when you don't have to?

Fourthly, Roose or Ramsey may either be at large or bolted up inside the Dreadfort. Ideal opportunity to stay north for some of the schemers of GNC.

Rather, I feel the natural response to hearing that an ice zombie apocalypse is knocking on your door is to send the women and children away, grab your shotgun, and take cover behind a hastily erected barricade of furniture, lol. Plus, if the GNC proves true in that another King in the North is crowned, Stannis would first have to deal with this latest usurper and the traitors who follow him.

Ok first, no-one has any idea of what might be coming from the Others.

I suspect Stannis has listened to Mance and Jon but his eyes are firmly on Kings Landing. If Stannis gets the north on his side, then he's has a chance to get the Riverlands and possibly try to sell himself to the Vale as the true king and best protector of their young lord.

He can claim to have saved the Wall and the North, next is the Freys and Riverlands. He's did that with limited resources.

Stannis is determined he's the real genuine only king of the seven kingdoms, he wants the North as part of his united realm. The GNC know that and don't want young Rickon swearing any oaths to Stannis, they'll promise friendship, promise nearly anything that doesn't stop them later Proclaiming a King of the North.

Stannis will know what strength of his own troops he has left, he'll know that he can't force the North to kneel to him, he may try and fail and lose face. He'll fear failing and The GNC know that. Only the North can feed and re-equip his men. For all he's done, the reality is that after the events of the Wolfswood and Winterfell, he's spent his army.

You can bet that if Jon is available to hold any power or influence over the northmen, he would want the Wall to be reinforced over another foray south whether he's still in the Night's Watch or not.

Jon may not be in any fit condition to hold any power, his recovery will likely have to be away from the wall and might well be hidden if he's named as Robb's heir in the will. I'd say Jon would want revenge for Robb's murder, I'd go as far to say he'd want revenge for Catelyn's murder too. Also as Jon's heir, as either the new KitN or the regent for Rickon, he'd be seen to be expected by his subjects (the North) to get revenge one way or another for his predecessor's honour.

Speaking of which, while the Wall does seem to be warded against the wights, I think it's folly to rely on these magical protections to defend the realm. For starters, neither Jon nor Stannis knows that the undead cannot cross the Wall. We readers and Sam learn of this from Coldhands but, in addition to being in Oldtown, Sam is sworn to silence about Bran and his companions. What Jon knows is that, in AGOT, Othor and Jafer Flowers turn zombie while south of the Wall in Castle Black to assassinate Lord Commander Mormont and the then acting First Ranger. Not to mention, nobody can tell how far the Wall's wards extend--past Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower to cover the open ends? high into the air to prevent the Others (ice spiders!) from climbing over?--or even if they'll withstand a sustained assault, given that Brandon the Builder raises the Wall after the Long Night is over, meaning that the Wall has never truly been tested against the enemy, who's had some eight thousand years to come up with a means of contravening it. The capabilities of the Others are largely unknown at this point, but I'd err on the side of caution when fighting a potentially world-ending threat and because, historically, undermanned static fortifications with vulnerable strategic flanks don't fare too well (see Great Wall of China vs. Genghis Khan, Maginot Line vs. Nazi Germany).

We'll see. I'm fascinated by how the wall could be breached. I'm of the view that will be broken in one place, not vanished or magicked away.

TBH, while I admire the dedication of folks who contribute to threads like the endless Heresy ones in the ADWD section, I think a lot, if not most of the speculation about ASOIAF's magical elements is a crapshoot, people firing wildly at every bump in the night.

For example, the theory that the Wall will fall because the men of the Night's Watch are no longer true. The obvious question to ask is why didn't the Wall fall when the Night's King and his corpse bride reigned, if this superstition is indeed grounded in magical reality. How is "true" defined? And is there a minimum number of black brothers who must meet this criteria? At least one? Half of those who've sworn their vows? Keeping in mind that Bowen Marsh and co-conspirators plotting to kill Jon doesn't mean Giant, Iron Emmett, Dolorous Edd, and all the other men Jon assigned to garrison the Wall's newly reopened castles throughout ADWD are automatically traitors, too. Far more likely, IMO, that this is an exp<b></b>ression, appropriately exaggerated for storytelling, of the military principle that any wall is only as good a defense as the men standing guard upon it.

Similarly, imagine that a greenseer back in the times of the Stark kings foresaw the War of the Five Kings and coming fight against the Others. Wouldn't he or she conclude that the North and possibly all of Westeros is doomed if a Stark doesn't take control of the situation? Which grew so desperate to begin with in part because the Starks were drawn south, away from Winterfell, and ousted from power. So, this hypothetical greenseer makes like the Ghost of High Heart (AAR/PTWP born of Aerys and Rhaella's line) and prophesies that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. Point is, since there's a critical lack of information about the origins of this saying and others like it, I feel concluding that, for instance, the Others have some blood pact with the First Men that they'll refrain from invading Westeros so long as the Starks, who led humanity to victory in the first Long Night, rule from Winterfell is... premature, at the very least.

All that said, I expect GRRM to begin a major reveal of the magical underpinnings of his universe in TWOW, so many of these questions will hopefully be answerable in the near future.

I'm open minded to Heresy. I think there's plenty room for interpretation.

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I don't think Jon would go much further than Winterfell, if that, before the Others arrive. They are about to, and he must be on the Wall. It'd be nice if he knew Winterfell was ready for winter so he could send at least some of the children there. Those don't need to be around when the attacks start.

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I don't think Jon would go much further than Winterfell, if that, before the Others arrive. They are about to, and he must be on the Wall. It'd be nice if he knew Winterfell was ready for winter so he could send at least some of the children there. Those don't need to be around when the attacks start.

I take your point, but it depends on Jon either being dead and beric'd as Un-Jon to lead the fight or that he recovers from a non fatal stabbing and re asserts his position as LC of the Nights Watch

My feeling is that he won't lead the Nights Watch again, he broke the oath after all and he will end up in Winterfell.

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This would not be a huge piece in the bigger picture of the GNC, but has anyone given any thought to whether there might be an undisclosed, secret entrance to Winterfell via the crypts? (Apologies if this is already addressed in the material above. Haven't had the time to give it all a thorough review - though what I've read is damn impressive!)

My distinct impression of Lady Dustin's tour of the crypt (with Theon) was that she had some unstated motive for wanting access. And in re-reading AGoT, I noticed two pieces of info we're given early on that seem intriguing. One is that we are repeatedly reminded of the many lower levels of the crypts which our POV characters have not explored. The other was an observation by Bran during his trip down with Maester Luwin and Osha that the crypt passage extends below, and then well beyond, the outer walls of Winterfell.

Assuming the lady of Barrow Hall would have more than just a passing familiarity with northern burial grounds and customs, I wondered whether her request to Theon (and her warning that he speak no word of it) might serve some purpose other than simply a chance to bad mouth dead Ned...

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