Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, part 38

Sorry for the long delay. As I wrote, we moved, so no time and no internet connection. The latter will remain an issue for at least a week, so stay patient. :)
This is the thirty-eigth 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 38. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously. 


Is there a great conspiracy of house Spicer to undermine Lannister power?  
The role that Sybille Spicer played in the Red Wedding is a bit overlooked most of the time, since the bad guy spots are so firmly held by the likeable lords of Frey and Bolton. However, besides the recently deceased Tywin Lannister, there is a fourth power involved in the infamous affair – Sybille Spicer, the mother of Jeyne Westerling, Robb Stark’s bride to be. According to the information we get in “A Feast for Crows”, Sybille Spicer made sure that Jeyne wouldn’t get pregnant from Robb, giving her an abortive and masking it as a “tea for her fertility”. If this is true, it’s also one of the most potent arguments against the “Heir of the North” theory that proposes a Jeyne-switch, but we don’t know whether it is. What we know is that the Westerling-Spicer-gang is rewarded after the Red Wedding and welcomed back into the King’s Peace, so at least Tywin Lannister was sure that Spicer was on his side. However, there is a theory that goes that all of this is in truth an elaborate double-bait-and-switch and that Sybille Spicer is in truth still working for the “King in the North”, who currently grows inside Jeyne, who may or may not be swapped. I don’t really like this theory, I have to admit, for two reasons. As so often, one is narrative, the other in the facts. Facts first. Besides dubious motives of simply liking Robb and his claim, there is not much that would motivate Spicer to do this. They gain much from the Lannisters, so what do they hope to achieve other than the queen’s claim that died with Robb? Besides, this venture is even more dangerous than Doran Martell’s double game, which is elaborate and requires real pulling behind the scenes, including a whole kingdom (Dorne). Spicer has nothing. If she would be caught, they’d all die screaming, and, again, they have nothing to gain except some dubious “Yay, Robb!”-moment. It also doesn’t make much sense from the narrative. The storyline about Robb and his claim is over. We’re moving toward the North, and Robb never was in the North – he was the quintessential part of the War of the Five Kings, and his demise ended it not only for those participating but also for the readers. It was a clear signal to everyone. Pulling a U-turn now and calling Robb’s heir would play havoc with all the groundwork that was carefully laid for the northern storylines up to date (Bran, the quest for Rickon, Stannis, etc.). I can’t imagine Martin falling for this false moment of hoorah for a move that many fans might love but that would ultimately destroy everything he has worked for so hard. If there was any truth to this stuff, the whole narrative would take a different, more generic turn (or end in blood, which makes it pointless, since we had enough of that). I can’t see Martin do that. 

What happened to Alliser Thorne?
I have the feeling that he is alive and will come back soon enough. Alliser Thorne went ranging on Jon’s orders along with two other bands of rangers, one or two of which are already proven dead. Melisandre told Jon that they would all die, but given her current talent for misreading signs, it might well be that the mission failed, but that some people survived. I would be truly shocked if Alliser Thorne turned out to be dead in the field. I have the feeling he still has a role to play. 

What happened to Cotter Pyke?
Cotter Pyke on the other hand, who sailed to Hardhome under Jon’s orders to get the wildlings there out, is dead. Hardhome was a mistake from the beginning, the signs on the wall clear to read for anyone who wanted to, especially the reader. From the beginning, its role as a doomed place from which nothing good can emerge was established. Just look at the name! Also, Cotter Pyke is well known by now, so his demise in this venture would be a real blow-back for Jon who lacks good men anyway and prove to us readers that this shit is serious. I would be surprised if he made it back to continue to serve at Eastwatch. But, hey, perhaps that’s a post that Alliser Thorne can take?

13 comments:

  1. Good to have you back and posting.

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  2. Welcome back Stefan! Missed these

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  3. Good to have you back and hope your move went fine

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  4. Thanks for the kind words everyone!

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  5. heartsbane of hornhillAugust 9, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    Re: Al Thorne. Do you think he may have killed the rangers friendly to Jon, coppycatting the weeper, to undermine Jon's decision making. Leading to Jon's current predicament.

    I wouldn't be surprised if he came through the wall hours after Jon is betrayed.

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if this is true, but Thorne's been in the Night's Watch for long enough that he must have some loyalty to the institution and his brothers as a whole - him being an asshole aside.

      Though of course he hates Jon enough that he could rationalize away killing his brothers, maybe.

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  6. I wonder if Alliser Thorne isn't behind the raven from Cotter Pyke asking Jon to send a force overland. It'd be a good way to further weaken Jon. He looks bad if he doesn't try to rescue a trusted officer and the remaining night's watch with him and he's significantly weakened if he sends a force overland. That's also a probable death march and would probably kill morale. Probably just desperation from Cotter, but it was just a though I had.

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  7. heartsbane of hornhillAugust 12, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    I'd guess it'd be difficult for Thorne to relay the detail that was in Pyke's letter ie:dead things in the water.

    Re: Taylor Marvin: I would agree with that idea. Al Thorne has been loyal, begrudgingly at times, but loyal at every turn. Stuck it out in Kings Landing, Stuck with the Watch (given his treatment by Mormont, and dislike for Jon this is saying something)

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  8. I don't think Thorne would do that. He hates Jon, but he hates the wildlings more, and such actions would inevitably favor them.

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  9. Welcome back. Good to see these again.

    I have been wondering where the brothers of the Night's Watch get their money from. We know the Molestown has an active brothel and I doubt that whores work for free. So, is there a bartering system going on there with the brothers give food or something or is coin actually being exchanged? If so, where does it come from? I'm sure a few of the nobles who come there have money, but there is no way the brothers are being paid. So, how does it all work?

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    1. I guess they get kind of a little allowance, but mostly they pay in kind.

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  10. One reason Sybelle Spicer might have double-crossed Tywin and let Jeyne get pregnant then switch her for another girl (her sister perhaps) might have been to get revenge for Maggy (ie. maegi) the Frog, whom Cersei killed (I seem to believe this happened, but not why - all I remember for sure is she threw some magical powders in her face before leaving the tent, so at least there was an assault of sorts) as a young girl. I'll admit it's a stretch. But Jeyne's hips of varing width sure do seem like a clue... I don't buy that it was a continuity error on Martin's part - Cat thinks about her good birthing hips in a nearly word-for-word way (just as similar as the descriptions of Jaqen's new face and of Pigboy Pate's alchemist's face) on more than one occasion, before Jaime thinks of them in nearly opposite terms. If it's a red herring, IMO it's an intentional one. There are legit arguments for both sides of this one.

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    1. Yeah, but the most important one for me is that it does not really fit the narrative.

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