Thursday, July 11, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, part 37

Thursday is theory day.
This is the thirty-seventh 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 (stefan_sasse@gmx.de) 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 37. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously. 

Was Rhaegar really as great as Ser Barristan and Jorah claim? Why does Jorah speak so highly of him, he couldn't have known him well?
No way of knowing, at least yet. The thing is, we have almost no information about the man himself. We know that he was melancholic, that he meddled with prophecy, that he was a decent fighter, bookish kid, and planned a "Great Council" which likely was a coup on his daddy. Other than, that, not much. The most important question is whether he was a piece or a player, and I have no clue. I tend to "player", simply because the most important other players are still around and no one ever claimed to have played Rhaegar. But don't give too much on the opinion of Jorah or Barristan, because both need to rationalize their initial support for Robert and their later turn back into the Targaryen fold, and praising a dead man is a certain way to do that. It's typical nostalgia. "If Rhaegar would still be around, we would still have summer, more money in the pocket and universal health insurance", something like that. Repeat it often enough, and you believe it yourself, especially as you start to compare the dead man and his potential to the living one (Robert) and the stuff he really did. Just look at Jack Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. How many people make up myths about what Kennedy would have, could have done, had he lived? But he didn't do that many good stuff in his time. Instead, the great stuff came with Johnson (and the bad, too, as always). But it's easier to rally to the banner of a dead man. So, take everything you hear about Rhaegar with a grain of salt. He was a man of his time, with great visions, but with flaws and limitations. He certainly wasn't the greatest politician, not the greatest fighter, nor the greatest leader of men. I guess he was decent at all of it, and one of the better Targaryen kings, but great? We will never know.  

Will Arya die frozen with a Needle in her hand?Well, perhaps, no one can say for sure. But I don't think Arya will die at all, so for me, the question of whether or not she will be frozen and have a needle in her hand is kind of moot. The line originates from Jon Snow, who teased her about it when she ran from the sewing session, and I wouldn't put any prophetic value in it. The line came very early in "A Game of Thrones" (I think it was our first real encounter with Jon, too) and served characterization, not foreshadowing of any kind, especially since Jon clearly talked about real needles. The idea for Needle came only later, as a parting gift, and at that particular moment leaving Winterfell was out of the question, and Arya hasn't touched a real needle ever since, so, no, she won't. 

How do you see the plotline with the Faith/Faith Militant in King's Landing playing out? Who will their champion be in trial by combat? Who has enough power in the city to dispose them if more and more of the faithful keep flooiding the city? What outside army (Dany/Aegon/Dorne) would they support, if any? I believe thier existence and future moves is going to be a big contributing factor to the eventual fall of Kings Landing. The rise of the Faith Militant is the single most interesting development of "A Feast for Crows", that's for sure. Let's go through the contenders: there are the Tyrells, the Lannisters, the Baratheons, the Aegon Targaryens and the Danaerys Targaryens. The Faith will not support the Baratheon claim, that's for certain (for obvious reasons), which leaves the Tyrells (ruling through Tommen and Margaery), for which, after a succesful trial for Margaery, there is no obstacle. The Lannisters could also be supported simply by force of habit. Aegon has the giant advantage of being taught very thoroughly in the mysteries of the Faith. If he gets the chance to talk to the High Sparrow, he could win him over, I guess, but the question is whether he will. The most fragile case is Dany. On the one hand, it seems likely that she'll convert to R'hollor, and her rag tag band follows all kinds of gods, and none of them are the Seven (she'll may end up with a sizable force of Ironborn, of all people), and my guess is (from a purely narrative point) that when she arrives in Westeros, she will have neither the time nor the mind for these powerplays anyway, since the Others will have launched their invasion. So, for the time being, I guess the Faith will chip away at the Tyrell/Lannister alliance for their own gain but support it officially, take a hostile stance toward Aegon and outright condemn Stannis.

21 comments:

  1. Do you think Brown Ben Plumm having "having a drop or two of dragon's blood" is just a casual aside?
    We know a long time ago Bittersteel served with the Second Sons but...Plumm is the name Bloodraven supposedly assumes in The Mystery Knight. There's something here but I can't put my finger on what.

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    1. I think it's just a throwaway line, showing the complexities of the blood bonds and relationships in Westeros.

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    2. I'm 99% sure you're right, but hey if not, you heard it here first!

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    3. And hey it also show how nonsensical it is to say [insert random name here] is a secret Blackfyre. Do you Blackfyre politics are pretty irrelevant in what's to come? (Except perhaps for irony's sake like The Golden Company championing a Targaryen)

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    4. The scenes in the Golden Company camp in ADWD made it pretty clear to me that the Blackfyres are a thing of the past.

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    5. The main things that made me think the Blackfyres are still involved were several remarks Illyrio made to Tyrion, about contracts being written in blood, not ink when queried as to his motivation by Tyrion.

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  2. Did Bran warg into Lady while he was unconscious in aGoT? He awakes when she dies...

    Will Sansa learn to warg? Or did she lose her ability to learn since her wolf died?

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    1. No, but the other wolves feel Lady's death, so Summer might have passed the knowledge on and shocked Bran. But I think you mix up the books and the show. In the books, there is no such timely coincidence.

      I think she has the ability, but it's sleeping, like with Bran before the fall.

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  3. The Faith Militant is 100% going to back Aegon, that's the whole reason they were introduced. They will be one more piece of the puzzle that helps assure Aegon/Dorne's quick taking of King's Landing. There's a passage in AFFC where the High Septon brags to Cersei about how he sees himself just like the High Septon who anointed Aegon I in Oldtown. Also note that Doran sent Tyene Sand to get close to the new High Septon, that is clearly heading somewhere. And it adds another dimension to the coming Aegon/Dany war, since as you say Dany is going to embrace the red faith, while Aegon will embrace the Faith.

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    1. The Tyene thing sounds reasonable, but I'd still expect initial hostility. As I said, it needs a f2f conversation with Aegon and the High Sparrow. And I don't see Dany embracing any religion.

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    2. That is just details. My main point is that the plot logic is overwhelming. Aegon's character has no point unless he takes Iron Throne before Dany arrives, and Martin confirmed years ago there will be a second dance of the dragons. Once we accept that Aegon must take KL relatively quickly in TWOW, it becomes clear that many things in AFFC/ADWD, including the establishment of an independent Faith army in KL, are setup for this turn of events. I don't use "100%" lightly, ha, but it is basically impossible for me to envision TWOW unfolding any other way and making sense.

      The case for Dany embracing the red faith is similarly strong. It is the religion of the Volantene slaves and she is headed to Volantis, the red priests have proclaimed her as the savior of the world, and she is about to meet Moqorro. Whether she personally believes the red faith or not is immaterial, the point is that her army and cause will be overwhelmingly identified with the cause of the red faith (and in opposition to the Seven).

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    3. I totally agree with you, we just differed on semantics and details of exactly how and when the events will come to pass.

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  4. Heartsbane of HornhillJuly 16, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    There is one army we didn't mention, of course I don't think they have any intention of negotiating with any of the armies they come across.
    Another Army to consider might be the vale depending on LF's next move, although I doubt he'd be intrigued buy cleaning up Cersei's mess with all the armies you listed who seem more than willing to do so.

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    1. I don't get what you want to say, sorry :)

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  5. So we know the battles of ice and fire are coming but what about some kind of showdown between the Redwyne fleet and the remaining ironborn? Water and wind if you will.
    We'd have no POV character on hand so maybe we'd hear about it after the fact, like when the small council discussed Duskendale. I'm counting on Euron to pull some kind of move.

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    1. He certainly has some kind of idea what to do, but I doubt it's a big battle. Perhaps he'll retreat forward, cruising through the Summer Sea (again out of sight of land), and then hitting either Dorne or the Stormlands. Or setting himself up on the Stepstones, which could become interesting with all the pirates there.

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  6. Why is Eddard Stark considered such a poor swordsman? He survived The Battle of the Trident and the Tower of Joy unscathed.

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  7. I have just read comments on forums mentioning his lack of prowess. I personally feel his own humble and honourable nature has led others to believe he was not a great swordsman, Nobody brags about him in the same way we hear about Jaime Lannister.

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  8. Somewhere it is mentioned that Ned's older brother Brandon was a better swordsman than he was; I think that's all it boils down to. There's nothing to suggest Eddard wasn't at least competent with a sword. They can't all be Swords of the Morning...

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    1. Martin mentioned that when asked directly.

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