Monday, January 19, 2015

Boiled Leather Audio Hour 37

The Theory of Everything: Analyzing Popular Theories from a Narrative & Thematic Perspective

A Song of Ice and Fire fans are a meticulous, scholarly lot. That first baby step into the wider world of fandom that we all take instantly introduces us to an eye-popping array of theories about past, present, and future events in the story that our fellow fans have painstakingly assembled from hints and clues embedded within the text. We all have our favorites and our least favorites, theories we think is a sure thing and theories we break out our tinfoil hats to discuss.

In this episode, Sean and I vote yay or nay on many of the biggest, coolest, and crackiest — from R+L=J to fAegon, from Tyrion Targaryen to the Bran-tichrist, from “Oberyn poisoned Tywin” to the eternal question “Where do whores go?” — but with a twist. Our main metric: Does this theory make narrative and thematic sense?

Even the most beautifully constructed theories constructed from tantalizing tidbits in the text often fall apart when theorizers focus on how but ignore the why. Would this theory make for a satisfying story? Does it support the series’ primary thematic concerns or undermine them? Does it have a point at all beyond being a secret to uncover? Forget about why Roose Bolton or Obery Martell or Varys the Spider might do whatever’s being theorized about — Why would George R.R. Martin want them to do it? This has long been the approach both of us take, and we had a blast going full-throttle with it in this episode. Hopefully, you will too.

One quick note: Right at the end of the episode Sean and I begin discussing a recently discovered note in the publicly available manuscript for A Dance with Dragons that appears to spoil a much speculated-about theory in a way neither of us are quite comfortable declaring was intentional on the part of Martin or his editor/publisher. We give ample spoiler warning at that point, so feel free to bail on the episode during those final moments if such a thing makes you uncomfortable.

Mirror here.
The r/asoiaf Reddit thread that contains that semi-leak spoiler mentioned above (caveat lector) here.
Previous episodes here.
Podcast RSS feed here.
iTunes page here.
Sean’s blog here.
Stefan’s blog here.


  1. Great podcast.

    One point I disagree with is the whole Jeyne Westerling-business. Don't get me wrong: I agree that a lot of this is theory is built on a sketchy foundation of just a few different words, and there was nothing in ADWD to help it, so I'm not as sure as I once was. But I very much disagree that a child of Robb's would be superfluous to the story (or make Rickon and/or Sansa so). Sure, if it was just about all the Stark kids sitting in a circle and and deciding on the future of Winterfell. But it would be Wyman Manderly, Brynden Tully and Petyr Baelish duking it out, and while both Manderly and the Blackfish seem like pretty decent guys, I'm not certain that either would back down. So this whole thing could evolve into a big Northern civil war mirroring Dany and fAegon going at it down south. Is their room for that in the two remaining books considering everything? Maybe not, but I could see it being a catalyst of tragedy as opposed to the catalyst of Northern glory that everyone assumes it would be.

    1. My point isn't that it would necessarily be bad, but that I can't see the narrative being about this at this point.

  2. Stefan, doesn`t Miles (GLS) believe that Aegon is real?

    1. Didn`t he write an essay about it in your book?

    2. Yes, and it was about Aegon, but I'd have to reread it.

  3. I'd love to hear you guys discuss the Benjen as the Ghost in Winterfell tinfoil in your next installment. Oh, and the Bolt-On Bolton crackpot!

    1. Basically this:

  4. It's really nothing new... Is Roose Bolton a skin stealing immortal?... but the Reddit version (Bolt On! apply directly to the forehead.) cracks me up, that's all.

  5. Hi guys love your podcasts! Here are a some theories I'm interested in hearing about in part 2 (in addition to the Grand Northern Conspiracy even though I'm not a fan of that one). I also posted this in Sean's Boiled Leather blog

    1) Lem Lemoncloak is Richard Lonmouth (Rhaegar's friend/squire)

    2) Southron Ambitions theory curtesy of Stefan himself

    3) Grand Tyrell conspiracy

    4) Grand Maester conspiracy

  6. Hmm, while I am not particularly believing of the fake Jeyne Westering, OTOH there could be a purpose for Jeyne having an "heir".

    - There are three plot threads concerning the heir to Winterfell: Sansa (Littelfinger's bid), Rikon (Davos/Stannis/Manderlys), and in some way: Jon Snow (Stannis offered it to him once)

    - Hence adding either a Lannister claim into it (via a fake or real heir from Jeyne), or having Blackfish surface with said heir in the Riverlands and use it to rally an insurgency could add some theme to it. But I see this as a more CHAOS IN THE RIVERLANDS plot vs. having meaningful impact to the events in the north.

    - Granted, Martin has already conceded he has no time for Dany to reach Asshai, so perhaps the civil war in the north also lacks the time he would like to give it... so the Sansa/Littlefinger plot thread might fizzle.

  7. Great info. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have.