Thursday, October 25, 2012

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 4

Thursday is theory day now. 

This is the fourth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail ( and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right. 

Prepare for part 4. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously. 

Jon will become something not-Night`s-Watchish. 
Ever since Stannis Baratheon offered Jon to make him a Stark and Lord of Winterfell, the fandom likes to contemplate possible futures for Jon. His death at the end of "A Dance with Dragons", that almost certainly won't be a final death at all, has further fired up these ideas. All of them revolve around the idea that Jon's vows, that bind him to the Night's Watch for life, can be circumvented. There are numerous chances for this. He can always just declare himself a follower of R'`hollor, declare his vows for null and void and hike out to become the King in the North. Now that he's dead, his vows are technically fulfilled - the watch shall not end until my death, after all. When Jon is brought back by Melisandre or Ghost or the Great Other or whatever - and I'm absolutely positive that'll happen - he will no longer be a member of the Night's Watch. Things are further made easy by the fact that his sworn brothers declared him traitor and stabbed him to death, so there's that. And should the Wall really come down, a scenario that's not exactly unlikely, given Dany's prophecy about fighting the Others at the Trident, the Night's Watch would be over. Unfortunately for all those hoping for Jon to marry Dany and to rule as king on the Iron Throne, all of this doesn't bare much weight at all regarding Jon's persona. If Caesar would have been brought back to life after being stabbed by Brutus and the other senators, he would still have felt as a roman dictator and regarded the vows of his legions as valid. So will Jon. When he decided against Winterfell in "A Storm of Swords", he did so finally. Jon is a member of the Night's Watch, and he will continue to be it until the final end, I firmly believe.

Bran is serving the Great Other and/or becoming dark/evil. 
This idea is becoming increasingly popular these days. We can't be sure what exactly the Last Greenseer is, and whether he is a force of good or evil, and Bran is certainly in for some dark corners. His warging into Hodor in ADWD shows a profound loss of moral perspective, and his desire for Meera could also drive him into something not-so-good. There is still this theory about Jojen (see next paragraph), and Bloodraven never had the best of reputations. Plus, there is this vision Melisandre gets, showing Bran when she wants to see evil, so who knows? However, there are some serious counter-arguments. At first, Bloodraven, the Children of the Forest and their cave are certainly not in league with the Others and the Great Others. If they were, there would be no need to keep them out with spells or to fight the wights to get in. And Melisandre isn't exactly the most reliable interpreter of her own visions. My theory about what we have here is the following: whatever power Bran is actually serving is the "Ice" aspect of the Song of Ice and Fire. Daenerys and her dragons and/or R'hollor are the "Fire" aspect. Both need to work together in order to defeat the Great Other. Now, we know that neither the Red Priests nor Daenerys can be described as "good" without making some serious exceptions. The Red Priests especially firmly believe in a "means are justified by the ends" approach, and Daenerys seems to get a tad more aggressive, too. On the other hand we have Bloodraven, a man who transformed the realm into something J. Edgar Hoover would have envied just to keep control. Neither of these guys is really "good" in a sense like Aragorn is good, for example. So I'd say Bran is about to do some really, really dark deeds that could possibly destroy him (at least the Bran we know), but that ultimately are committed in the service of the greater good. Whether they play out to be for the greater good is another question entirely; this is Martin we're talking of. 

Jojen was made into the paste Bran ate. 
When Bran was served a bitter taste in his last "A Dance with Dragons" chapter, he saw a red fluid in it, looking like blood, and rationalizing it as ahorn paste or something like that. There's a theory out there that claims that Jojen, who was getting increasingly sick and weak in the preceding two Bran chapters, dies or was euthanized by the Children and made into the paste to give some of his powers to Bran. There are two strong arguments for this. First, Bran's visionary abilities are drastically increased by eating the paste, and there are beliefs in the world of Ice and Fire that you can gain strengths by consuming vital parts of the bearer (granted, more pronounced around the Dothraki). Second, we don't see anything of Jojen, but Meera behaves very strange and rude towards Bran, as if stricken by grief, and Bran is increasingly encapsulated in his own world of greenseeing, warging into Hodor and jerking off fantasy Meera. It is very well possible that Jojen's disappearance slipped his mind. The Children themselves are enigmatic enough that we don't know whether they would do such a thing, but Bloodraven? Sure he would. So, if we don't see Jojen again in the next Bran chapter I would advise you to take this as a serious possibility.


  1. when did dany "see" an other battle on the trident

  2. She has a vision of melting down an ice army at a river, and I interpreted it as the Trident.

  3. Evil always thiks it is good and sees Good as being evil.
    Melisandre sees Bran as evil.
    Melisandre is evil, therefore Bran is good.
    Fuck Melisandre (Yep, still my #1 hated character).

  4. I actually feel fairly certain that Jon's future will NOT be with the Night's Watch. If the Jon/vows question was settled in ASOS, what did we just see happen in ADWD? In my view what we saw was Jon repeatedly bending and breaking his Night's Watch vows, in favor of doing what he wants, or what he sees as the greater good. He gives Stannis a battle plan, sends Mance to go get Arya, arranges a Karstark-wildling wedding, and finally announces a plan to attack the Lord of Winterfell with a wildling army. In all of these cases he sees the Night's Watch restrictions on his agency as inconvenient or impractical, and casts them aside. When he sees the Night's Watchmen walk out of the Shieldhall, he thinks, "It made no matter. He did not need them. He did not WANT them. No man can ever say I made my brothers break their vows. If this is oathbreaking, the crime is mine and mine alone." Given all this, is Jon's devotion to the Watch at the end of ASOS truly a fixed "persona," or merely one waypoint in his character arc that he has since passed by?

    1. I see where you are getting at, but bending the rules is something else than foreswearing the institution. After all, even Eddard broke and bended rules without casting aside the system in which he was operating. But to take some points: the battle plan for Stannis is a clear violation of vows ("take no part"), but no one else knows. Sending Mance to get Arya is clearly wrong, arranging the wildling wedding is ok in my book. Will Jon return as Lord Commander? Perhaps not. Will he stop being the man in black? I don't think so. But let's see what happens in the Winds of Winter, and then we know for sure and I owe you a beer if you're right ;)

  5. I don't think Bran is serving Ice at all, I think the Children etc are a thing of their own. I mean, their name for themselves is 'those who sing the songs of the earth'

    I've only read the Hedge Knight of the Dunk and Egg books so I don't know too much about Bloodraven's actual character, I know he has a bad reputation but I can think of another Hand of the King with a disability who is demonised by the general populace, despite looking out for them more than the rest of the ruling class at least. He is quite creepy in Dance, admittedly. I could believe the Jojen theory.

  6. when asha greyjoy sees the inside of a weirwood tree, she decribs the sap and roots as looking like blood. The children tell bran he is eating weirwood paste, so of course the paste would look bloody. Maybe the blood and veins represents how the children become part of the weirwood after they die.