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Note to tropers: The television show has its own Headscratchers page. This one will have many unmarked spoilers.

  • Why didn't Ned simply tell Robert about his wife, then stand up for the kids and protect them with his very life? The kids are innocent, but their mother isn't, and there's no reason for him to give her a chance to save herself (and cause a war with Castelry Rock). And it's not like he hadn't taken hostages before, such as Theon.
    • The kids were the product of incest(abominations in the eyes of the faith of the seven), and the product of the queen cheating on the king with a member of the kingsguard. Every thing about that sentence equates to all of them needing to die by law. Also, Ned's track record with convincing Robert that killing kids was bad was 0-2 at that point. He couldn't do anything to convince Robert not to kill Dany, he had no reason to think he'd be able to convince him not to kill the Lannister bastards.
    • Plus Ned was honorable, not a complete idiot. He'd seen there was remarkably little love between Robert and the children. Ned knew perfectly well that the moment Robert was told they weren't his, any and all affection he had for them would cease. If he didn't kill them himself in outrage at them being a sign of Cersei's infidelity, he certainly wouldn't have wielded any royal power to save them. Their only real hope for survival was the one Ned offered Cersei: taking them and leaving Westeros. But since it's this series, no good deed goes unpunished.
  • Why did Varys put out the hit on Dany? ADWD reveals that Varys' plan, at the time, was for Viserys to join The Golden Company with Khal Drogo's khalasar (the price of which was Dany's hand in marriage), so wouldn't her death pretty much put an end to the pact? I understand he didn't want to support Ned in front of the Council so as not to draw attention/suspicion to himself, but, why not just take Robert's orders, tell him the assassin failed? Why actually send the poisoner?
    • According to Jorah, they didn't so much send the poisoner as they put out an open bounty; kill one of the Targaryan siblings, get a lordship. Dany even joked that Robert owed Drogo a lordship for killing Viserys. Varys seemed to be betting that any attempt made would simply fail; Dany was the most protected person in what was suggested to be the most powerful khalassar in the world, sending anything less than a Faceless Man would most likely result in failure. On the other hand, he did have the ace of "Aegon" up his sleeve; maybe he was planning on killing Viserys and Dany as a way of putting Robert into a false sense of security. Varys' plans have to be flexible.
    • The Khalasar joining the Golden Company seems to have been a very minor part in Varys' ultimate plan, which seems to focus entirely around Aegon, not Dany. Aegon's not the ace up his sleeve, he's the whole plan... it's possible that Varys even engineered the fall of the Targaryen dynasty to put Aegon in a position to be raised the way Varys wanted him to be. Varys wanted a king raised by an honorable man, who would grow up to be humble and in touch with the common man, feeling like he'd been one of them. Dany was raised by her sadistic brother and can't go a conversation without reminding everyone she's "the blood of the dragon"... while she's a good person and would probably make a decent ruler, she's not what Varys wants, unless she's simply being Aegon's queen.
  • If Lysa Arryn was behind her husband's death, what is Cersei so worried about in the beginning of Go T? Jaime has to tell her that "If Lysa knew anything, she would have gone to Robert before she fled King's Landing." There's nothing for Lysa to know, unless they're just talking about their Twincest? But how would Lysa know about that? Was this just a Retcon, then? GRRM deciding in ADWD that the Lannisters being behind Arryn's death didn't make as interesting a story?
    • I think it is their Twincest, and that Jon Arryn was starting to work out that Joffrey and Tommen and Myrcella might not be Robert's children, because he was looking at some of Robert's bastards as well and how they all had black hair. Cersei's worried that Jon knew Jaime was the father of her kids and told Lysa about it.
  • If the men of the Night's Watch aren't meant to hold titles, how come they are lead by a Lord Commander rather than, say, just a commander?
    • Commander is a title as well, so I don't see the difference here. At any rate, the oath they swear about holding no titles surely mean no titles external to the Night's Watch. An organization which ideally employs several thousand people can't work if there is no sort of hierarchy.
      • In a feudal context, a "title" is more than just an appellation in front of your name; it's actual lands and authorities for yourself and your heirs. Lord Commander is just a rank (the lord part being relevant partially because it's just a generic term for a ranked person, and partially because the Night's Watch as a whole possesses lands).
        • The Kingsguard is also led by a Lord Commander. Also, both Varys and Hallyne are Lords even though they hold no lands or even a house.
          • Varys 'isn't' an actual lord, he is only called 'Lord Varys' out of respect.
    • It's probably bits and pieces of the above, but also that the Night's Watch needs their leader to be a Lord specifically so that other Lords might theoretically listen to him.
  • If a winter can last for as long as an entire generation (20 years +), er, how exactly can they grow food during this period? I mean, in our world, a hard winter can be enough to cause some serious starving, but when virtually the entire continent(?) suffers from extreme temperatures, how in the name of the old gods do they have even a slight chance of making it through a relatively short winter period, let alone a long one? And with this continent wide civil war going on... will a wizard do it all??
    • Bear in mind that summers last longer than winters, and winters rarely last more than five years, so if they can preserve food they're just as well off as on earth. Also, in the area of Kings Landing it's probably going to be possible to raise some frost-resistant crops even during the winter. The winter that lasted an entire generation was all-around bad news, but that was 8000 years ago.
    • Westeros in general seems to be slightly more tropical than mediaeval Europe - there are alligators in the Neck, remember. Out on the Wall it is probably fairly grim, but then they can hunt animals and have other food sent up from the southern parts of the North.
    • Westeros suffers generation-long winters sometimes, but these seem to be somewhat rare... they seem to expect most winters to last between one and five years, ten being an extremely long one, and twenty years being a rare and horrible thing. They survive by 1) putting large caches of preserved food aside, 2) importing food from the parts of Westeros that aren't as bogged into winter, or from outside Westeros, 3) adapting to the conditions, such as Winterfell's very thorough methods (greenhouses, heated walls, etc.). Also their winters likely aren't one long, single bout of unbroken absolute cold... they probably include mild thaws and simply coolish days, enough at least for trees and bushes and grass to stay alive, and thus for animals to stay alive, and thus people to stay alive.
  • How do they measure years in this universe? Actually, why do they measure by years, considering the main cultural point of a year is seasonal shift?
    • The seasons are not regular enough to use as years in the Ice and Fire universe. They could use the moon, of course.
      • Exactly - why don't they just measure by the lunar cycle? Or say ten lunar cycles equal a year - because ten is a more natural number to use as an increment than twelve is. (On the other hand, what if that's what they've been doing all along? Just when I thought this universe couldn't get any squickier...)
        • You're used to the decimal system, so it's understandable that you think people might choose ten months because it is "more natural". Look at stuff like the Imperial system, and you will realize that this really hasn't been the case throughout history. People have used base-20, base-12, base-60... you can't just make a blanket statement like "ten is more logical" and expect it to stick. They could have made it twelve months or even thirteen, because both of those numbers are more "mystical". Without detailed reference to Westeros astronomy, we really can't tell what system they used to decide the year.
          • You know who started base twelve (and, by extension, 60)? The Mesopotamians. Not coincidentally, they were the first to mix agriculture and astronomy in a big way. Base ten, of course, came about because humans have ten fingers, and one of the main points of A Song of Ice and Fire is just how self-centered human beings are.
          • We can be fairly sure that they use base-10 in Westeros because there were 77 courses at Joffrey's wedding in A Storm of Swords. Eleven sevens would not have been particularly holy (by virtue of 77 having two sevens) outside of base-10. It could be argued that any multiple of 7 would do the job for a wedding, but the fact that 7 is the only number Tyrion quotes as acceptable below 77 when thinking about a cheaper wedding would suggest otherwise.
    • Word of God says the Westerosi year is approximately the same length as an Earth year. So if their lunar cycle is the same, 12 months.
    • A year is not only seasonal, it is also the time it takes for the planet to go around the sun or, from the POV of the locals, for the sun to repeat its path through the sky (e.g. time between solstices)
      • Seasons on Earth are caused in large part by insolation, literally the term for how much of the sun's energy is hitting the Earth's surface. The Earth's tilt causes less or more sunlight to hit a particular area at a particular time, so it is colder or hotter there on average...hence we have seasons. So if the book universe has the same insolation patterns, i.e. the same solstice/equinox timeline, we would expect it to have the same seasonal pattern as well. Clearly it doesn't. The most likely explanation for years being the same is so that we can hear that someone is 10 years old and know what it means; i.e. the author doesn't have to invent, explain, and keep track of an entirely different year system. Or it's possible he just didn't think about it very deeply.
      • How do you know that? More to the point, how do they know how long it takes their world to orbit the sun? Do the know that their world orbits the sun and not the other way around? Does their planet orbit the sun or is it the other way around (only one planet in a star system with a moon could be said to be the center of the system)? Are their solstices a year apart, what with the seasons being crazy like they are? Really I'm just curious how you can have a irregular seasonal structure.
        • They may not know the orbital mechanics of it but it's trivially easy to make a practical measure of the position of the sun. Stonehenge and various Egyptian structures serve as or have that function included. It's the difference between being able to measure something and understanding how it works. And I'd also point out, the heliocentric model is a lot older than people think.
        • The sky does have seven 'wanderers', implying that there are eight planets in total orbiting the sun, like our universe. If all seven are visible to the naked eye, and don't include the sun and moon this implies that the equivalents of Uranus and Neptune are closer and/or brighter than in our universe. Alternatively, the last two may only be visible through telescopes (Myrish lenses).
          • When ASOIAF first started being written, the solar system had nine planets, so I wouldn't rely too heavily on the intent being to have an Earthlike solar system. This also, of course, depends exactly which book this was mentioned in.
            • False, Pluto was discovered back in 1930. Anyways, it's actually possible that the unusual seasons can be put down to multiple suns (mostly because we don't know how that would work with certainty just yet), only one of which is visible thanks to atmospheric issues or such other crazy things that can distort the light. Is it also possible for there to be a slighter planet tilt on their world, and that their winters are just ice ages like our planet has gotten...?
    • No idea how the seasons actually work. Even the author shrugs and goes "magic" on that one.
      • To be fair, the seasons and the coming of Winter are big plot points that the author may not want to reveal prematurely, rather than just not knowing how it works.
      • The seasons could be explained by an elliptical orbit, similar to Pluto. If the planet orbits the sun slower, then long summers and long winters can be explained by the planet's distance from the sun.
        • The seasons would still be regular in that case, just longer.
      • He doesn't just shrug and say magic, he says that the explanation for that is magical. That doesn't mean he doesn't know what it is.
        • In fact, if you pay attention to the bits about the White Walkers, who are coming out in force during the events of the novels, something that's said several times: "They come when it's cold... or perhaps it becomes cold when they come." It's entirely possible that Westerosi winters are created by the White Walker population ebbing and surging for whatever reason.
    • Perhaps they don't actually measure years, and any mention of years is part of a Translation Convention. Alternately, I recall hearing somewhere that Westeros' peculiar seasons are not natural in origin, and may be linked to The Doom of Valyria. In that case, they might be referring to the length of the seasonal cycle before then, which they've been keeping track of themselves, and which no longer has any bearing on the state of the world.
      • Translation Convention doesn't quite work because they celebrate birthdays at roughly speaking annual intervals.
      • The Doom is stated to have been around 400 years before the series starts, but the seasons have been strange for millennia.
    • Maybe they actually do have regular seasons, but when "Winter" comes it causes summer to be shorter and much cooler, and when "Summer" comes, it causes winters to be shorter and much warmer.
    • Or they could just look at the stars. If they have similar zodiac-like constellations, it would be a small matter for the maestars to construct a calendar based on which constellation is overhead at midnight, creating a very familiar year-based unit without worrying about the seasons. Since seasons can last decades, they're a rather impractical way of measuring years.
    • Based upon the non-Westeros chapters in the books, it would appear, as many have intimated, that the strange seasonal cycles are unique to the continent of Westeros. There is no mention of the impending winter in the Slaver's Bay, for example. Given that Dany speaks with several different people about their food supply, this would certainly come up at some point if it affected them. Since Westeros was conquered and populated by invaders (three times over), they would have logically brought their own calenders with them. The current "year" is likely based upon a Valyrian Calender, which would explain why characters from Westeros and Braavos, for example, are able to compare ages. It is quite possible that the solstices occur in the other parts of the world as they would in our world.
      • Then why would anyone live in Westeros?
        • That's like asking why people in our world live in deserts, near polar regions, or places prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. Westeros appears to be at least a quarter of the habitable land in the known world, it would be highly unrealistic for no one to live there. Also, it's usually not that bad. The north is hit hardest by winter, and it is the least populated region in all of Westeros. Down in King's Landing or even Dorne, an average winter (short, not severe) probably just means "it gets a little cooler".
    • It's been stated that the seasons weren't always messed up. The planet and various civilizations were around long enough for the old measure of a year to stick before the cataclysm that changed the seasons happened.
    • As far as I remember, the world DOES have regular seasons - I do remember one character remarking that none of the young characters have seen a true winter. The climate does change and they do have seasons (presumably normally) beyond the Great Winter/Long Summers. Methinks the Great Winter is more likely associated with the coming of the Others, who bring the chill with them, not the other way around.
  • In A Game of Thrones, a group of mostly experienced rangers of the Night's Watch (including officers), find two bodies in the woods in a very strange state of non-decay: their hair pulls out easily and is brittle, their skin is milk-white, they have dried blood on their wounds and even in their veins (these are described as looking like "iron worms" and the blood as black dust.) Oh, and their eyes are blue now although they didn't used to be. But they are not rotting. This group containing experienced fighters and, presumably, hunters (all nobles hunted), notices only that last fact and stands around saying the men must have been recently killed, rather than being royally creeped out by the weird symptoms, and it is Samwell Tarly the wimp who shows his smarts by pointing these out, complete with a detailed description of the different stages of blood drying, which he knows from watching his father gut deer. Way to go Samwell and all, but seriously, does George R. R. Martin (who normally gives us so much realism) really believe that only geeks notice things? Hunters & fighters who don't notice things get killed.
    • A possible explanation is that only Sam knows what to look for - the likes of these two men have not been seen in thousands of years. The hunters and rangers may simply have all had a Weirdness Censor that Sam doesn't have because, unlike them, he knows what he is looking at.
    • The simplest explanation is that the others were looking at the corpses and just seeing two dead men, and were more focused on trying to figure out how and why they died than the little details. They probably didn't think about the eye color change since they just weren't thinking about eye color at all. Most of the men of the Night's Watch, especially the Rangers, are rough, practical men who, if and when they had gutted deer had probably had their minds on what their blades were doing than what the blood was doing, while Sam was looking at it from a more detached, analytical point of view... sort of the difference between a beat cop's appraisal of the scene and a CSI's appraisal.
  • Something I read on the character page stuck me: Jaime frets a lot about his killing of Aerys, but one of his very first actions in the series is to try to kill an 8 year old boy. Now, I'm pretty sure, if it was brought up in the series now, he'd rightly feel like crap, but the fact he's cut up more over killing a batshit-crazy king than an innocent kid (well, attempted killing, but still) is a bit odd. What do other tropers reckon? Maybe the fact everyone keeps going on about Aerys? I dunno...
    • Jaime isn't cut up over killing Aerys. Throughout the Jaime chapters he frequently makes remarks to himself that sound like it always comes back to Aerys, but what he's upset about is not that he killed Aerys, what bothers him is that everyone treats him as though he has no honor because he is the kingslayer and no one knows or cares that his actions saved Kings Landing.
      • Sorry, you're right - I meant that he's cut up about everyone harping on about his killing of Aerys, but I wrote it wrong. It still doesn't answer though his complete dismissal of his attempted murder of a kid. That's a pretty clear indication of "no honour" if you ask me, but he hasn't even mentioned it in his POV chapters.
        • He's bothered about him killing Aerys because everybody but him thinks he did the asshole thing. He doesn't care about crippling Bran because if he hadn't, his sister and their children and he himself would have been killed. He's seen horrible things happen to women and children in war, after all, so he doesn't feel it's any different to kill a child than it is to kill a man.
        • It may also be because he sees the Aerys incident as the defining moment of his life, the one which has led to the treatment he receives and his own becoming bitter and cynical and so on. He may feel that the killing of Aerys and subsequent reaction is what eventually led to him becoming the kind of man who would toss an eight year old from a window. Even if he does think that was a terrible thing to do (one would hope he does), he probably feels he never would have done something like that if it were not for Aerys, and since he appears to be in the process of reevaluating himself since his injury, he may be choosing to focus on what he sees as the root cause of him being a murderous arsehole and not specific instances of him being so. He no doubt has plenty of other things he could fret over we haven't heard yet. Although really Jaime, I know most people would probably be disinclined to believe you at the time anyway, but maybe if people knew the exact reason you killed Aerys they would have been less derisive of you.
          • It's also worth noting that Jaime goes through a hell of a Heel/Face turn in the novels, and from memory he does express regret about Bran later on. I personally feel that the author didn't plan on Jaime being more than a Dragon
        • While it isn't an excuse for his actions, it should also be remembered that, on top of Jaime's belief that he, Cersei and their children would all be put to death if the truth was discovered (which we know would have probably been the case), Jaime himself was knighted at an uncommonly young age, and was fathered and raised by the man who ordered the deaths of Rhaegar's infant son and young daughter and then proudly presented their corpses to the new king as if they were some kind of trophy. While having a shitty father obviously doesn't absolve you of your own actions, a large part of who a person is is how they are brought up.
    • You're not taking the settings values into account- Jaime was a Kingsguard. He killed the king he was sworn to protect, and now everybody questions his honor because of it. Breaking such an important oath in this setting is a bigger deal than just killing a young boy. If Jaime hadn't been a Kingsguard, nobody would be giving him any grief over it.
  • What in god's name possessed Yoren to take BITER to the wall? Surely he would be able to tell after a couple of minutes talking to him that he probably was not exactly Night's Watch material. I mean, Rorge I can understand to a degree - a lot of unsavoury people join the Night's Watch - but... Biter!?
    • Haven't you read the Jon chapters? The Night's Watch is going to be attacked by an army composed of all the wildlings from beyond the Wall and they have absolutely no men to fight them off.If you have less than a thousand men to defend what amounts to hundreds or even thousands of miles of Wall, you're going to take anyone you can, even if they're complete sociopaths.
      • Um, did the Night's Watch know about this impending attack around the time they sent Yoren out recruiting, which would have been about half-way (or even earlier) through the first book? I was under the impression they only realised why the Wildlings were all disapearing from their villages when they spoke to Craster in A Clash of Kings. And as far as I can recall - I'll admit it's been a while since I've read AGoT - they only found out something odd was going on with the wildlings near the end of A Game of Thrones.
      • Not quite--they were already aware even around the beginning of the book that there were reports of bad things happening in the wild, including the mountain people migrating south in numbers they had never seen before, and reports had come from fisherfolk who worked the waters around Eastwatch of seeing White Walkers on the shore. So while they didn't know for certain that an assault was coming, they had plenty of reasons to be concerned about manpower.
      • Just because they didn't know an assault was imminent didn't mean they weren't aware of the problems of lack of staff.
    • As a military officer cadet undergoing training, I say that the decision to recruit Biter was idiocy for a large number of reasons. Being horribly under-strength isn't reason to accept anyone into armed service. Would you rather have four relatively trustworthy men at your back, or four trustworthy men and another one who you know will try to kill you when he gets the chance? The magnitude of whatever threat you're facing should never alter the answer to that question. Anyone with half a brain could tell that Biter was untrustworthy, and would almost certainly have killed again and deserted at the first opportunity. If he had done so he would likely have cost the Night's Watch a few other men in the process, and they would have been worse off than they were before. However, while Yoren made a stupid choice, it is realistic that many people would simply take whatever resources were offered when faced with the perils of the Night's Watch. Its not as if the Night's Watch is made up of geniuses after all.
      • You seem to fail to realize that Medieval-era troops were largely not trained at all, and they basically put a sword in their hand and said "Get to it". Nowadays, we have psych evaluations and rigorous training for everyone who enters the armed services, not just officers... but back then, and even as said time and again in the books, their military policy is "If he has hands, he can hold a sword".
      • (cont'd) Plus, the world was confident that the Night's Watch wasn't doing anything, and that there was no threat beyond the wall -- they had essentially become a dumping ground for criminals, a place to put some of the worst offenders far out of the way. If Westeros took the threat beyond the wall seriously, they would be sending up a lot more qualified soldiers, rather than just criminals.
      • in addition to the above, there is training period on the wall prior to taking vows. As the above poster mentioned, The Wall is a sort of dumping ground for the worst criminals. If Biter couldn't be made to work, one of the ice oubliettes at the wall would probably be better at "restraining" him than anything any castle might offer.
    • Well with guys like Biter, a good leash ought to do the trick. Other than that, every sociopath on the Wall makes adds another target to draw enemy fire away from the more important of the Night's Watch.
    • It was For Science!. Yoren was curious to find out if the Others were edible.
  • I really liked A Game of Thrones, but the very end really got to me. Okay, dragons are essentially giant lizards with wings, so I'd assume they'd be classified as either birds or (probably) reptiles. So why are the dragons suckling at a human woman's breasts right after their birth, without any conditioning, when that's a distinctly mammalian thing to do? I suspect it might just be a chance to showcase Daenerys's breasts, but it's still irritating.
    • Tis a metaphor for childbirth. Maybe dragons are like platypi.
    • Perhaps the dragons of this setting are essentially giant lizards with wings and tits. Also, magic. Plus what the other guy said.
      • The Targaryens clearly have some kind of magical connection with their dragons. The fact that Dany was able to hatch dragon eggs that no one else could without being taught suggests that the normal rules of logic should be suspended in this case.
    • Maybe they're an offshoot of the warm blooded predecessors to mammals in Westeros.
    • There are allusions in the book to the strange duality between Targaryens and dragons, as if they could transform from one to the other or one could give birth to the other. The disaster at Summerhall seems to have been an attempt to birth a dragon that instead produced Rhaegar.
    • Dragons ain't lizards. Dragons ain't birds. Dragons ain't dinosaurs. Dragons is dragons. Your taxonomic categorization, ser, may go fuck itself.
      • marry me Agreed. Dragons are very obviously magical and shown to have more than one dietary quirk in common with humans.
      • Indeed. Dragons are not simply biological, although they have been implied to be essentially magical or at least elemental. Isn't it repeated throughout the series that 'dragons are fire made flesh'? It might be worthwhile ponder this is more than just poetic language.
      • Well said, ser.
  • So, why isn't Catelyn given a tougher penalty for letting Jaime go at the end of the second book? I can understand why she did it, but sacrificing her son's single most valuable prisoner in the middle of a war? Potentially endangering his life even though his well-being is the only thing ensuring her daughters' safety? The same safety which was promised by the transparently devious Tyrion Lannister? As I say, I can comprehend the purpose of her actions, but house arrest seems like a bit of a light sentence for treason, even if she is the North's equivalent of the queen mother.
    • Which is why a percentage of his army left him. It's a plot point.
    • Yes it's a vital plot point, but it also well explained in the first two Catelyn chapters of Storm of Swords. No one wants to punish the queen mother so the job gets passed up the food chain to King Robb. However, Robb decides that he needs his mother to forgive him for marrying a Westerling instead of a Frey, and it probably occurred to him that he would need her help in dealing with Walder Frey. He says he knows what it means to commit a folly for love, and with those words Catelyn knows that her pardon comes at the cost of supporting Robb's marriage.
    • A tougher penalty was implied as the norm, given Catelyn's expectations to be locked up in chains. But in addition to her her status, personal affection prevented the steward from doing so, and later on Robb used a little tit-for-tat logic to get some forgiveness of his own. It probably would've been better if Robb punished her as she'd suggested, but that's the human drama element.
    • Nitpick: Devious Tyrion may be, but he actually did intend to give Lady Catelyn her daughters back, at least as many as he could manage. The reason it couldn't work on his end is because his father forced him to marry Sansa, not due to any scheming on his own part. He didn't even want the marriage himself.
    • Whether or not Tyrion was trustworthy in general has nothing to do with whether Catelyn could trust him to trade Jaime for the girls. As she points out, Tyrion swore in open court while he was acting as Hand of the King for his father that he would return Sansa and Arya when Jaime was released. If he goes back on that, it means that the Lannister side will never be able to conduct a prisoner exchange again. Holding onto Sansa isn't worth it.
    • All reports were that Jaime had escaped, as Catelyn herself lamented. So Tyrion married Sansa. A few days later Robb and Catelyn were reported dead. The fault perhaps lies with Jaime for not pushing the matter, though he did try to make up for it later.
  • I need to know this: Exactly how long has the war been going on? The official faq is saying that it has been going on for about 2 years by the time the war starts and the Red Wedding happens. However, I have recently been rereading A Storm of Swords, and in an Arya chapter she says that she made her first kill (the kid who was trying to capture her when she escaped while her father was being captured, meaning right at the beginning of the war) when she was eight. But then, there is another chapter where she is questioned on her age, and she claims she is twelve. Can someone explain this to me?
    • Nevermind, it seems I found my own answer. As it turns out, Arya was actaully 9 and a half when she made her first kill and she was almost 11 when she said she was twelve. Reading over it again, I notice that exacty wording was "'I'm twelve!' she lied loudly," so, goof on my part. Still, I guess she either forgot the exact age she was when she made her first kill, as she is thinking it to herself rather than lying to anyone outloud, which is understandable, or the author really did make a mistake there. Either way, mystery solved.
  • How could Littlefinger have predicted that Joffrey would actually be in range of Sansa's hair net? It was complete happenstance that he walked over to rub Tyrion's nonexistent nose in it, IIRC.
    • It didn't matter whether Joffrey got within range of Sansa's hair or not. Olenna Tyrell pulled the poison out of the net at the beginning of the feast, when she adjusted Sansa's hair.
      • And continued sitting right next to Sansa. ...Though I suppose that she could go see to Margaery at any point, and if that's a breach of decorum, then Olenna Tyrell can ruddy well get away with it. Thanks!
      • I always assumed that Littlefinger planned for Tyrion to be blamed for Joffrey's murder. He arranged the dwarf jousting to piss off Tyrion, knowing that Joffrey would take the opportunity to mock him and Tyrion wouldn't be able to resist giving a bitingly witty comeback. So, Joff gets mad, comes over to humiliate Tyrion for his insult, gets poisoned by Olenna, who sat next to Sansa for the specific purpose of framing Tyrion. It doesn't take a Magnificent Bastard on Littlefinger's level to figure out Cersei would blame Tyrion for the murder if there was the slightest possibility of him being involved.
    • He didn't need to know any of that. He just made sure Olenna Tyrell had motivation to kill Joffrey, and added the Dwarves to make sure everyone at the party got a front-row seat to Tyrion and Joffrey not liking each other. Then, he sat back and let things take their course.
  • Why are all the leaders constantly riding stallions in to battle or tourney!? It makes no tactical sense. In a cavalry setting, you're automatically riding with a mixed bag of horses. What if someone's mare goes into heat on the battle field? Also, you'd think one of the cunning generals would have realized that if they want their enemy's leader(s) they should start riding nimble, female horses and lead them off. It seems that only Ser Loras ever thought about that.
    • Up until the 1800s, stallions were considered by all to be the only manly way to ride into battle. Mares were considered frail, feminine creatures not fit for a true warrior, and geldings were a reflection of that, although sometimes used as transportation rather than warhorses. Even into the twentieth century, though, high-ranking officers were expected to ride stallions, which were harder to handle while riding, as a symbol of their stature. Seeing as geldings did make appearances as warhorses in other parts of the stories, I don't think it's too far-fetched to assume that GRRM was playing on those same presumptions for his characters' mounts.
    • The above is correct, stallions were often regarded as 'superior' horses in the same way that swords were often considered 'superior' weapons, because they were simply thought to be more manly/noble/etc. Tactical knowledge was often lacking during the medieval era, as can be seen in many of Europe's most famous historical battles.
    • Not only that, but the OP actually is brought up has having occurred in the first book. It was actually considered a dirty trick since it maddened the other horse.
  • At the end of one of the Daenerys' viewpoint chapters (in Game of Thrones), Khal Drogo is apparently very gentle, at least to his new wife. And then in the following one, he would "...ride her relentlessly as he rode his stallion." Which is it?
    • Yes. No, seriously, why can it only be one or the other? Most people don't confine themselves strictly to gentle sex or rough sex; they go back and forth, depending on their moods. Khal Drogo's preference for horsie-style isn't surprising, considering the emphasis on Testosterone Poisoning in Dothraki culture, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a sensitive side, just that he's not likely to show it. Besides, it's an important moment of Character Development for both Dany and Drogo, showing that there is potential for love and affection in this Arranged Marriage.
    • It's both... sequentially. The first time, Dany is very scared and doesn't know Drogo at all. Drogo can see that she's uncertain and terrified, so he asks her if it's okay, and is gentle. Afterward, he figures she's seen that it's not so bad, he can just take his rights. He doesn't think that she might just be saying yes for her brother's sake, and he doesn't think it might be a matter of the sex itself, just that she's nervous about her first time.
    • Also consider that sometimes they have sex in view of the entire khalasar. Drogo is essentially saying, "Yeah, you WISH you were this manly." So, he's not going to be gentle there.
  • How exactly do the ravens know where to go?
    • Ravens and Crows are pretty damn smart birds. If pigeons can figure it out, they certainly can.
    • That's not a sufficient answer. (I'm not the original question-asking-person--what do you call that, by the way?) Carrier pigeons are raised in the location they fly to, and only fly to that one location. They need to be carried by someone else to wherever they're going to leave from. The possibilities for the ravens are: A. One fixed route; B. Two or more fixed routes; or C. The ability to synthesize new routes. Evidence for A would be the two cages of ravens that Sam releases-- the Shadow Tower cage and the Castle Black cage. That indicates that the ravens function like homing pigeons. Then again, when Stannis is going all-out on his propaganda, he sends out 117 ravens everywhere, without duplicates (if there were duplicates, then it would be only fifty-eight and one half destinations, and in that case, there would be significantly less thorough coverage than Stannis wants). Whereas when Tyrion sends a letter to Dorne, it doesn't raise any alarms that he wants it sent by two ravens, and Pycelle doesn't object that they don't have two Sunspear ravens (not that he actually sends them both out, but...), indicating that either the Red Keep is more amply provisioned than Dragonstone (quite plausible) or the ravens can be directed to go different places. (Or that Stannis doesn't want to waste birds in case he needs to send more messages.) The only thing that I would think indicates that the ravens can synthesize new routes is the white ravens. They are said to be more intelligent than ordinary ravens, though. Intelligent enough to read maps? Maybe not. But maybe they follow an ordinary raven, and that part's not mentioned.
    • The original question-asking-person is usually called the original poster or OP, FYI (at least on most sites/boards). As to the matter at hand, I think we're just meant to take it that these ravens are smarter than the average bird (perhaps something like dog-smart or maybe even dolphin-smart). The fact that they can learn to recite a few words, which real-world ravens cannot do, may be meant to showcase this. They even seem to be aware of what the words mean on a basic level, such as Mormont's raven begging for corn, or Sam's ravens saying "Snow" before a snowstorm (could be wrong about that one). Of course, what would be involved in training and using such birds is beyond me.
      • Real-world ravens can mimic human speech, FYI.
    • It's magic. The raven system could not work as well as it is described in the book. The logistics are impossible. I'm afraid you'll just have to suspend your disbelief on this one.
    • Maybe the ravens of the ASOIAF world are smarter than ours.
    • A story is mentioned of how the Crone brought the first ravens to Westeros, and with all the warging and fire-related magic going on, the Seven seem a bit left out on the miracle front - maybe this is their contribution?
    • A Dance With Dragons fields this; apparently, pretty much every raven in Westeros either contains the second life of a skinchanger or has its intelligence boosted by being ridden frequently by them. The tradition of using ravens as messangers goes back to the time when the First Men frequently interacted with the children of the forest; skinchangers and greenseers would ride ravens and use them to convey messages (actually speaking them upon arrival). While the techniques to control the ravens have been forgotten, the tradition of using them for messages remains (with maesters probably just assuming that ravens have the intelligence to know where to go).
    • When the Watch went beyond the wall and Sam was in charge of the ravens they made mention that the ravens were separated by cages. It was indicated that each cage contained ravens that knew how to get to a particular location. It seems like they keep ravens that go between two locations.
    • The preview chapter of Winds of Winter actually gives a detailed bit of exposition on this point. Most ravens are trained to fly to one location like real world pigeons; some to fly back and forth between two, and a very few especially smart ones can recognise destinations by name. The thing about all ravens being used to warging with people I believe was only a reference to the ones that live in Bloodraven's cave.
  • Has Dany ever considered how she plans on making a long lasting new dynasty if she can't have children?
    • Who says she cares? And anyway, it's not like the person who told her she can't have children was entirely trustworthy, or all-knowing.
      • If Jon Snow turns out to be her nephew, he would be her natural heir. Or if he isn't actually of Targaryen blood, there are other ways to create a line of succession other than heredity. Dany could set up some kind of apprenticeship dynasty, taking in a worthy child and raising him/her to be her adopted heir. Or have an elected monarchy like in Poland and the Holy Roman Empire. Or if you like a rather whimsical solution, she could set up a constitutional republic and be done with the horrible excesses of aristocracy.
      • If Jon Snow turns out to be her Trueborn nephew, then he would become King automatically, as he has a stronger claim to the Throne than Dany. If he was still a bastard, but she intended for him to carry on the Targaryen dynasty, then he has to have his baseborn status removed, in which case he automatically becomes the rightful King over her (by being the heir of the last heir). The most sensible solution would be for Jon and Dany to marry and rule together, but Jon could have a polygamous marriage to a second wife (which the Targaryens did practice) in order to conceive heirs.
        • Dany doesn't have to remove Jon's baseborn status. Robb already did that when he, acting as King in the North, signed a document saying that he was legitimizing Jon and designating him the Heir to Winterfell in the event of Robb's death. At this point it's only the fact that most of the people who know about that document are dead and that Jon is still theoretically part of the Night's Watch that would keep him from either taking the name Jon Stark and becoming Lord of Winterfell (if he really is Ned's son), or Jon Targaryen and becoming King of Westeros (if he's Rhaegar's).
    • Considering her age (fifteen), she seems to lack the maturity to fully understand what it means to rule. Until the end of A Storm of Swords, her plan was to reclaim Westeros in the name of her family as soon as she could, and that was pretty much all the detail there was to that plan. No thought of what she'd do then or why she really should. If I remember correctly, she didn't even think about opposition until it was pointed out to her. And it wasn't until after she had conquered three cities and saw that the first two could not keep their peace that she realized some of the consequences to her actions. It looks like she may mature a bit more now that she's taken a break from warring to actually rule these cities. However, she still shows signs that she's a teenage girl in that, when thinking about who could be one of the other two 'dragon heads', she fancies choosing a handsome, flirtatious man rather than someone better qualified to help her rule, which leads to another point regarding Dany and possible heirs...
    • She has three dragons, and a Targaryen saying goes "the dragon has three heads". Since the dragons hatched, she's thought about who could be worthy enough to ride the other two. It's possible that she thinks that one or both of these people will be her heir in name rather than blood. But, really, I think it's that she's still too immature to have thought things through.
    • I also think part of it is that she isn't absolutely certain she's barren. She acknowledges that if the Maegi was telling the truth, that's the most likely interpretation of what she was saying, but that's understandably so painful for her to contemplate that she doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on it. Probably she's thinking "Once I find a king(s), we can at least try for a few years before it becomes a problem and we have to figure out a solution." Birthing an heir is hardly an immediate concern, after all... she has to actually get her kingdom before she can start worrying about who will rule it when she's gone.
  • All the noble houses seem to have disproportionately more sons than daughters. As just one example, Walder Frey has 22 sons and just 7 daughters.
    • Many might have already married off or sold their daughters to other houses at younger ages, while the boys have more time to grow.
  • Speaking of The Late Lord Frey...why, why, would any sane monarch leave such a strategic stronghold in any hands but those of the throne itself? When the Targaryens had their dragons, they could have told the Freys: "Okay, fun's over... we're taking this castle (the Twins) over in the name of the kingdom. We'll give you other castles, but this one we have to hold." If that castle had been held by the Targaryens themselves, Robert Baratheon's revolt would have been nipped in the bud, or at least confined to the north until the Targaryens could mount a really good counter-attack (possibly after arranging an accident for Mad King Aerys.)
    • Because they had Dragons. Fiery death machines that could fly over the land without any trouble at all. Dragons could literally take out entire armies, so there was no need to keep the twins for safety measures.
    • They were too busy holding the Red Keep (citadel for what seems to be the largest city and a major port) and Dragonstone directly. They wouldn't have been too worried about any fortresses while they had dragons, and arbitrarily revoking titles wouldn't make them popular. So long as they could make like Harrenhall and melt fortresses they wouldn't need to upset everyone like that, and afterward they wouldn't dare.
    • Another idea: Are the Twins really that strategically valuable at all? A quick look at this enormous and beautiful map of Westeros shows that the Twins are off to the side, west of the Kingsroad and bridging the Green Fork river of the Trident. Presumably, the Green Fork is very difficult to cross, which makes the rare crossings like the Twins very valuable property as far as charging tolls and the like. But as it happened, the Jaime Lannister's army was west of the Twins, in the Whispering Woods, while Robb's army was east. Using the Twins' Crossing was the only way Robb's army could catch up with him, and from a direction the Kingslayer wouldn't suspect. So in this one instance, the Late Lord Frey knew he had Robb over a barrel and squeezed him for everything he was worth for permission to ford his army. On the other hand, the most valuable real estate in the North would be Moat Cailin, which stands directly on the northern Kingsroad and along a very narrow and highly defensible isthmus. When tensions flared, the first thing Eddard Stark did was dispatch 200 archers to Moat Cailin, confident that that would be enough to hold off almost any force the Lannisters (or even the Crown) could raise on short notice.
      • Rivers are very, very big and often quite difficult to cross. Also, traveling on a river is faster than travel by foot or horse. Fords and other river crossings have always been vigorously sought and defended throughout history. So the Twins is a river crossing on a very important river. Further, it's a stronghold in the middle of a narrow stretch of land, meaning that it has strategic importance as a place that can manipulate the entire region. Finally, being on the river itself means that it has easy access to resupply, making it difficult to besiege. A castle is never just a castle, it's like an aircraft carrier; it projects force a distance from itself and you ignore it at your peril.
    • Why? Let's take a page from Dune, which has a similar social structure to Westeros. Remember why it's a big deal that House Harkonnen has Sardaukar support when they retake Arrakis? Because every noble house fears the Sardaukar being unleashed on them. They know they can't stand against the Sardaukar on their own, which is why they banded together (as "the Landsraad") for mutual protection. The same is true in Westeros... except this time in the other direction because the Targaryens don't have Elite Mooks, and haven't had dragons for a century either. If King Aerys (or whoever) just arbitrarily declares, "I'm removing Walder Frey from his ancestral seat at The Twins," he not only has to remove Lord Frey (by force), but he risks every lord in Westeros saying, "Uh-oh, that could be me," and, say, declaring a rebellion. How many high lords does it take to screw a new king into the Iron Throne? When the king was Robert, it only took four.
    • To answer the original question: because it's a feudal system. Functionally, it isn't "in the hands of the throne itself" unless you decide to park the throne on it and govern directly. By the conventions of the land, removing the Freys and placing a new vassel to control the Twins just means that you've got exactly the same situation, except the names are different. For all the effort it takes, you might as well leave the Freys so long as they are loyal because otherwise, unless you wipe them out comletely, you're going to create unnecessary aristocratic tensions between the Freys and the new guys for generations (like what happened in the Reach, which was much more relevent to control because it was a breadbasket, and because the original owners didn't yield).
    • I think you're looking at this backwards - it's implied that the reason Frey can get away with being so backstabby in the first place is the fact that he holds such an important territory. He has a very defensible and valuable location, but not much military force, so he goes in for treachery in the confidence that no-one will want to call him out on it.
    • Look at it this way- let's say that at some point in the past the Targaryens had made The Twins part of the throne's direct holdings. Of course, the king is in King's Landing, so he'd have to send one of his relatives to rule it. Now, I seem to remember lesser Targaryen siblings having this problem with rebelling...
  • So, counting the above discussion, particularly the last point. What makes the Eyrie such a valuable castle? Since it has no force projection, as it does not have a garrison, and is very difficult to enter or exit even if you're welcome. The only benefit of it, is that cannot be sieged, since it can't be starved out, and storming it is nigh impossible. The defense of the Vale seems to most be important at the Bloody Gate, so why waste men defending a castle that cannot be assaulted?
    • Because it's pretty much immune to being conquered, and it's the regional capital. It's easy to bottle an army up in it, but the war isn't over until you actually conquer it. The Bloody Gate is also important because of its strategic location, but to actually hold the Vale in any security you need to dig the Arryns out of the Eyrie. If it weren't the capital, an invader could simply build another castle at the foot of the mountain and wait until they convinced someone to give them the order to surrender, but it is the capital. In short, it's important for reasons unrelated to strategic value, and also is nearly impossible to take.
      • I was originally with you, but the more I think about the Eyrie the less impressive it seems. Only the castle itself is effectively immune to assault... and traveling to the castle from its support fort/town below (which is not nearly as difficult to conquer, albeit obviously heavily-defended) is an all day affair even for a small handful of people, often requiring them to ride or walk single-file. If you laid siege to the place, you wouldn't need to take the Eyrie itself... just the town at the base. Any attempt to move large amounts of troops down from the castle would 1) see a lot of them die in the descent, most likely, and 2) be pathetically easy to deal with as you sat down below plinking at them with arrows all day or just killing them as they came to the single thin windblown bridge where they'd have to walk across. At that point you could defeat the castle's force by throwing rocks. The Eyrie itself may be impregnable, but that doesn't mean much when an army can park itself outside and starve you to death at absolutely zero risk to themselves. Heck, at that point the Eyrie isn't a fortress, it's a prison.
  • Why does the watch use Shadow Tower instead of Westwatch-by-the-bridge? Shouldn't they use the castle that best guards the edge of the wall next to milkwater river?
    • Most probably the castle fell into disrepair and the watch had too few men to fix it. Maybe they abandoned Westwatch-by-the-bridge for the same reason they abandoned the Nightfort. Knowing Martin we'll probably get an official explanation sooner or later.
    • Also, tradition? Castle Black is effectively their "capital", so maybe hey just never got around to moving. Also, Eastwatch is important for supply reasons, so maybe they want their commander placed equidistant from the other two.
  • Do most people in the seven kingdoms just not get the concept of a direwolf? There's an absurdly large number of instances where people seriously antagonize or threaten the Stark children without seeming to realize that their direwolves are right there. It makes sense when they're relatively small, but Ghost's eyes are level with Tyrion's chest before Eddard even reaches King's Landing and Summer has killed someone.
  • So everyone in the book keeps going on on how Valyrian steel is very rare, and there's very little of it left in the world. But Ned Stark has one, Jon Snow has one, and very early in the book someone attempts an assassination with a dagger of Valyrian steel that was cheap enough to be given away in a bet... and STILL Tyrion has to remark on how unusual it is when the King's Father wants to give a sword of Valyrian steel to the upcoming king for his coronation??? Shouldn't the king's armory have most of the steel that's left in the world anyway? Shouldn't King Robert have had a few Valyrian steel swords his son could inherit?.
    • Ned's and Jon's both belongs to the heads of some of the most powerful houses in Westeros (Stark and Mormont respectively). Your clearly not far enough in the book to know this, but the dagger was given away by a very wealthy person, and that is actually a hint on who could have possibly done it. And even if the king does have some valyrian steel stowed away, for Tywin, it was a matter of pride that Joffrey had one from the Lannister line, rather than just from the Baratheons.
      • Also, it was in a bet between the King's Master of Coin and one of Tywin Lannister's children. So, in other words, two of the richest men in the Seven Kingdoms
    • The Lannisters had lost their own Valyrian steel sword generations before in Valyria. At least one attempt was made in recent generations to recover it, unsuccessfully.
    • Tywin had also tried to buy the ancestral Valyrian weapons of lesser, impoverished houses, who would gladly have married a son or a daughter to one of his house, but whereas there are more kids every time you look, it seems there are fewer and fewer Valyrian steel swords in the world with every passing year...
    • "a dagger of Valyrian steel that was cheap enough to be given away in a bet" Yeah, because nobody ever put up expensive things (or lots of money) in a bet. Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that there are gambling tournaments with multi-million dollar pots or something...
    • Also, a dagger is not a sword--you're talking about a much smaller amount of steel, and something that is basically a sidearm, not a weapon of war, making it likely an order of magnitude less valuable both in real life, and in terms of prestige.
    • The dagger from the start of the book was probably given away without it's rarity being known. The character in question is also not known for being very smart, so they wouldn't have known the implications of giving it away.
    • The list of Valyrian steel blades that are mentioned as being in actual circulation is ten, and one of the only reasons it's as high as it is, is that Tywin had one blade (Ice) turned into two (Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail). It also includes the nameless knife. That's not very many for a continent the size of Westeros, let alone the known world. Even if you add other known and named weapons that have been lost it only brings it up to fifteen. That's pretty damn rare.
  • How, exactly, does Ned figure out that Jaime is the father of the royal children? I can see how he discovered that they were not Robert's, all Baratheon-Lannister unions having Baratheon looks. But to immediately jump to that conclusion? I mean, it may well be that he was just guessing based on his dislike and then Cersei admitted it, but I don't quite see that last bit of the jump. why didn't he guess it was a stable boy, or some random kitchen staff? Why Jaime?
    • It's more than just that. There are other clues as well. First of all, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen all look like Lannisters, so the idea of Cersei having an affair with a non-Lannister seems questionable. Then, there was Bran's fall. Ned suspected the Lannisters were behind it and Bran saw something that he shouldn't have seen. Conveniently, Jaime was one of the only men who hadn't gone hunting that day. Third, Ned knew as well as anyone that Cersei and Jaime were very close and that as a member of the Kingsguard, he'd have plenty of excuses to spend time around her. Finally, there's Jon Arryn's mysterious death (that Lysa claimed the Lannisters were also responsible for) and Stannis' departure from King's Landing... Put that all together, and it becomes apparent that something very wrong was going on.
      • OP here. Some of that does help, like Jaime not being out hunting, but the "non-Lannister partner" thing was actually one of the unsettling points. If every time a Lannister married the children looked like the other party, how could their be the typical Lannister appearance? This definitely does alleviate my head-scratching, but for whatever reason I still feel like a tiny note is missing.
        • First off: it's not that "Lannister + [other party] = kids that automatically look like [other party]"; it's that, in Westeros as on Earth, pale-hair genes are recessive to darker ones; black trumps brown trumps gold trumps red. (Where the Targaryen coloring would fall on this scale is unknown, but presumably they're way down at the recessive end, which is why Aegon used Brother-Sister Incest to "keep the bloodline pure".) Also, the Lannisters are an old family, and probably marry from within the Westerlands most of the time, where their influence (both political and genetic) has had 8,000 years to percolate. To keep the "Lannister look," Report Siht Lannister needs a blonde wife... which are likely are likely a dime a dozen 'round Lannisport and Casterly Rock. And, if that's not good enough, do what Tywin did and marry your cousin.
          • Indeed. Early in the second book Tyrion ponders on the connection himself and notes that Cersei would have been able to keep this truth hidden if only she'd borne Robert one child (note that all Robert's bastard children had his hair), before simply concluding that if she'd done that, she "wouldn't be Cersei". All the factors added up and the smarter characters came to the logical - and true - conclusion.
            • To explain further, in order for a child of Cersei (pure recessive blond) and Robert (dominant black) to come out blond, it would mean that Robert would have to carry the recessive trait, even though it was suppressed. That would mean that not only should at least some of his bastards be blond, but the odds of ALL THREE of his legal kids being blond was highly unlikely (with only a 25% of any given child being blond, the odds of all three being blond is around 1.6%, about 1-in-64). But with EVERY SINGLE BASTARD he produced coming out dark, it argued in favor of him actually having full dominant dark hair, meaning no true born child of his would EVER come out blond. Westeroi obviously don't know the literal science behind figuring that sort of thing out, but they likely know enough from circumstantial experience to puzzle out that something's up.
          • It's also mentioned at least a couple times that the Lannister family's relatives, descendants, and cadet branches are all over the westerlands including an entire other branch of the family running Lannisport, making golden hair quite common in those parts.
          • Also, it may well be that Ned had help coming to that conclusion - it is fairly heavily implied that a lot of House Lannister at least have suspicions (Tyrion has known for years and Kevan hints to Cersei that he does). It is even more heavily implied that Varys and Littlefinger already knew.
    • To answer the question of "How Ned figured out Jamie was the father" as opposed to "How Ned figured out Robert was not the father", it's possible that after he figured out Robert was raising someone else's kids he sat down, mentally took note of what he knew about Cersei, and ran through a list of likely candidates. Who does she spend time with? Who does she trust? Its possible he had a eureka moment where he recalled seeing some innocuous action between two people that gives you that feeling that "Hey, those two are fucking!" between Jamie and Cersei that he had previously written off because they were twins. How much Joff looked like Jamie might have helped clue him in, too, not that that means a whole lot given that Jamie and Cersei are twins.
      • This is kinda backed up by hints in later books that Jaime and Cersei weren't nearly as discrete or subtle as they should have been or thought they were. Tyrion knew the whole time. Varys, Littlefinger, and Pycelle all knew. Kevan, if he didn't know from the start, apparently suspects that it's true after Stannis declares it publicly, which would suggest that there's something about their behavior together that does give the impression of two people in a sexual relationship that others might write off because they're twins. And of course, Stannis of all people was apparently the first person outside of the Lannisters to figure it out; he claims to Renly and Catlyn that he had gone to Jon Arryn with his suspicions and that was the reason Jon had been investigating it in the first place. Stannis doesn't elaborate on what tipped him off, but one would think it would be something fairly obvious, given the difficulty Stannis has in relating to other people. They're really just lucky that Robert was too drunk to notice and that their father was too busy trying to see what he wanted his children to be that he couldn't see what they were.
      • I also want to point out that when Eddard was studying the outrageously dull book with the Lannister lineage described, he notes that the recessive blonde hair is present in every Lannister child for many generations back, even when they were married outside the family. That is, all Lannisters are the offspring of incestuous cheating. That's how there can be a "Lannister look," they never have any outside blood.
        • Not only would that not prove they're all incest babies, that is the opposite of what the book says. It's explicitly pointed out that all the children of Lannister/Baratheon pairings have the Baratheon look; black hair, blue eyes. Doesn't really get into the other Lannister pairings. If that were what the book said, it would actually be strong evidence for the kids being legit; Westros doesn't have the science to know about dominant and recessive genes. Only that some traits show up more often than others. Ned would simply assume that Lannister traits were dominant over other families, not that the Lannisters were getting Targaryan behind their spouses' backs.
        • The Lannisters can't be solely based on incest - leaving aside that they would mostly be horrifically deformed, Tyrion makes it clear that he views Cersei's and Jaime's relationship with distaste, which would make no sense if they were all incestuous. Kevan also hints that he knows to Cersei, which again would make no sense if all of them were incestuous. Also, Kevan is married to Dorna Swyft, and in his fatal POV chapter before he dies, makes it clear she is the real mother of his kids and that he loves her deeply.
  • What is with the fanbase's love for Littlefinger? Seriously, he's a creepy prick whose total accomplishments so far have been switching sides a lot, and trying to pull off a little Wife Husbandry. Ooh. How magnificent.
    • Because he essentially turned the internal politics of an entire continent on its head with apparently very little effort. It's the equivalent of him convincing every single nation in South America to declare war on each other, while at the same time getting rewarded by every single said nation for his supposed "help" in their cause.
    • Look, everything currently happening in Westeros in political terms can be traced back to three organizations: Nebulous Targaryen Conspiracy, the Red Priests, and Littlefinger. Everyone else is reacting to their movements, although some of them are providing unexpected reactions. Littlefinger set up the entire chain of events leading up to the death of Ned, including inducing him to come south after Jon Arryn got offed by Lysa at Littlefinger's instructions. He's also become the ruler of one of the Seven Kingdoms, and technically the Lord of Harrenhall.
      • Littlefinger's accomplishments would have looked a lot more impressive if 2/3rds of his big successes weren't achieved by fucking an ugly woman who was crazy enough to think he loves her. Moreover, Littlefinger is just like Freys and Boltons in that the means he uses to gain short-term advantages inevitably create a precarious situation from him in the long term. His rise of power and titles is predicated on chaos in the country, but said chaos also means that titles or even wealth lose value compared to having loyal men with swords at one's command, something which Littlefinger really lacks. He's more competent than Freys or Boltons, so his position is not falling apart yet, but it is inherently unstable. Whomever secures the Iron Throne safely is almost inevitably going to move against Littlefinger, because he grabbed way too much, revealed his ambitions way too clearly, but lacks power to protect what he theoretically owns.
        • Uh, no. Littlefinger's advantage is that, unlike most of the other players, he has kept most of his moves a secret. As far as the characters in the book know, he's a clever man without a proper household who has been perfectly loyal to the Lannisters, and has been given a cursed castle in return. He's also incredibly useful as a master of coin. He's currently residing in a place that has been, so far, kept out of the war. Littlefinger *hasn't* revealed his ambitions, beyond seemingly obvious ones that wouldn't raise anybody's eyebrow. As long as he kneels to whoever becomes king, there's no reason to go after him. He hasn't made any claim on the Vale (He's going to let it pass to Harry the Heir when Lil' Robert dies) and Harrenhal had been abandoned before the war. Riverrun, Winterfell, the Twins, and possibly a dozen other properties will be much, much bigger issues to deal with if the crown flips. Littlefinger won't be given a second thought.
      • In the books proper, he hasn't really revealed any of his ambitions. Sure, to the reader it's clear he's got big plans, but to the characters in the book he's more or less retreated to the Eyrie. Its unlikely anyone would move against him, because for starters no one really wastes much time thinking about him. As far as the Iron Throne would be concerned, they'd have much more legitimate concerns. He knows his position is shaky - most of aFfC was him working damn hard to cement it and setting up his plans for the future. And he's significently more competent than the Boltons or Greyjoys when you consider, while they have families following their rule by virtue of their blood, he has nothing other than a sly wit and...pretty sociopathic nature (and money). So while he's hardly likeable (he's a psycho creepy douche), he's damn impressive.
    • Now that the TV show has aired I expect some of the love of Littlefinger comes down to two words: Aidan. Gillen.
    • Draco in Leather Pants. That's about it. Really, personality-wise he's much more of a Smug Snake: he's a capable Chessmaster but most of his victories take place offscreen, so what we see is a creepy, pompous little weasel of an Ephebophile with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder who only gets ahead in life through a complete lack of morals. What makes Varys so downright scary is that, in Cersei's words, "he doesn't have a cock" - nobody really knows what he's after though, apparently, he wants Aegon VI on the throne. Littlefinger is most definitely not a eunuch, so it's all too obvious what he's after.
      • Not that I don't agree he's creepy and awful, but isn't this whole world pretty ephebophile-normative?
        • Along these same lines, what he really wants is Catelyn (Tully) Stark. What he has access to is Catelyn Stark v 2.0 younger and prettier. Sansa is considered a grown woman and there is no indication that he is interested in her because of her age, rather he is interested because she is her mother's daughter, looks like her mother, and can be molded to love him.
      • Keep in mind people are perfectly capable of admiring a character's accomplishments without actually liking them (eg. the Joker, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Master, to name a few)[1]. And you're right that he is a pretty smarmy, cleverer-than-you prick, but that doesn't mean he isn't also patient, savvy, and very very clever. The majority of his victories (but not all, ie. Feast) take place off screen because watching them play out fully would be boring - he would write a letter, pay someone some gold, whisper in someone's ear, etc etc. And again yes, all Littlefinger ultimately cares about is Littlefinger. He's got a Napoleon complex up the yazhoo, he's a horrible person, and I wouldn't want to be within 500 miles of him. Doesn't meant I can't go "Ok, that was pretty damn impressive" when I read about him.
    • What the one right above says. Liking Littlefinger is not the same as thinking he's a good person, or a hero, or actually wanting him to win. It is, however, rather enjoyable to watch him thoroughly and deftly fuck over a lot of people that think they're better than he is when most of them aren't, and the reasons most of them think that are petty anyway. It's fun to watch him work. I enjoy him as a character, and I enjoy a lot of his actions (pushing psychobitch Lysa out the Moon Door was arguably one of his finest moments, especially since she was trying to kill Sansa not long before)... that doesn't mean I think he's a great person or that I want to fuck him. If George RR Martin is more interested in telling a good story than he is in driving home that storybook tales are naive, Littlefinger will likely be undone by a wonderfully sublime and subtle plot by Sansa using everything he taught her, and die half hating her and half immeasurably proud.
  • Is it just me or does the internet overstate how dark, grim, gritty and depressing this series is? Someone on Live Journal pointed that The Iliad is much darker, has far more unlikeable characters (partially as a result of Values Dissonance) and is, by far, much more bloody and gory.
    • It is just you. Like mentioned below, compared to other modernly written stories, especially fantasy (as in, anything after Shakespeare) these books are on the far more cynical side than most any other examples you could think of. For one thing, main protagonists do not as a rule die in modern literature. If they do, it's often in heroic fashion or natural events: not after being branded a traitor, made to give a false confession, and seeing all their loved ones and legacy thrown to the winds. Furthermore, the family of the dead protagonist is supposed to be able to rise up in the name of justice, as the lower point falsely indicates is likely to happen (there's absolutely no guarantees of this). Their wives are not supposed to go mad and carve up their own faces before being stripped naked and dumped in a river: their children are not supposed to be slaughtered and have their corpses defiled. On top of this, classic tropes are subverted left and right. Prophecies fall through with resounding crashes, noble and just men die left and right to deceit and betrayal, rape, murder and torture are commonplace, and the bad guys can WIN. While many have died, there are still over a dozen twisted, evil people who have completely avoided any negative repercussions to their acts, and in fact have even gained substantially and permanently from them. I challenge you to find a book that came out after the renaissance, BEFORE this series, that covers even half of that. It's becoming a more popular thing thanks to Martin, with many writers (like Brent Weeks, of Night Angel trilogy) outright crediting him for inspiring them to write more realistic fiction.
    • By the standards of all of literature, it's not so bad as all that. By the standards of modern fantasy?
      • Dark Fantasy is actually starting to become the main form of fantasy released now a days and by the standards of the genre this is fairly average in its soulcrushing content.
        • Is that true of Heroic Fantasy specifically as well? Anyway, yes, it's certainly not that dark by the standards of contemporary fantasy as a whole, much less contemporary literature as a whole, for Pete's sake. Probably what most people mean is that they were expecting Lord of the Rings, but it's not like that at all. Oh well.
    • It is not just you. These series are not particularly dark, save for squicktastic details. They just describe in detail the stage of the story which other series usually just describe briefly as a backstory, namely one where villains triumph, kill off the chosen heroes' mentors and/or family and lead the land to ruin. But karma is already catching up with the bad guys, and the heroes are already starting their climb back to revenge and triumph. It is theoretically possible that the latter books are going to subvert that, but so far things seem to be lining up for the straightforward "Plot-shielded heirs of the Rightful King return, fulfill a shitload of prophecies, beat back the inhuman evil and set right all that was wrong" ending.
      • "Karma is already catching up with the bad guys" after five books. Some of the bad guys, that is, while others are still fine so far and new ones are being introduced. Some of the heroes are climbing towards revenge and triumph, but others never will. It's clearly impossible for there to be a "straightforward" return of the heirs of the "Rightful King", since Robb, the only heir to Ned, is dead, and the reader can hardly regard either Targaryen as rightful considering how the last king of that line went. Even if there does turn out to be a happy ending in the end, it will be very, very hard-earned. There is no truly ambiguously good character. (Admittedly, Jon Snow is the closest who's still alive as of aDwD, but even he is far from flawless.) All things considered, this series isn't completely bleak and may yet have a happy ending, but it really is quite a bit darker and grimmer than most.
    • Agreed, it's not just you. Yes, Martin has killed a lot of significant characters, but he has so many significant characters to begin with. I can think of several modern fantasy novels significantly older than A Song of Ice and Fire that were proportionally as bloody, if not bloodier. Just to pick a couple of examples, in Wishsong of Shannara, Brooks kills off all of Jair's companions except Slanter, and also kills off Allanon, and in the Second Book of Swords, Saberhagen kills off all the thieves except Mark and Ben. So proportionally speaking, Martin has not killed an unprecedented number of characters.
      • The Once And Future King is pretty damn grim by the end of it, and it's got plenty of grey and grue along the way.
  • It's been a long time since I've read A Game of Thrones, but something struck me when I finished reading the last book - in A Go T Varys is spying on Daenerys through Jorah Mormont. Not only that, he actually was OK with Robert Baratheon's plan of killing her off. Now, why would he want her killed (he actually sent a poisoner) when it's later revealed that he and Illyrio were conspiring all along with the idea of Daenerys and Aegon uniting?
    • Bear in mind that Varys and Illyrio's plan has been changing month-to-month, and it's still unknown what they actually want. Varys might be calculating that killing Dany might be just the thing to provoke Drogo into invading Westeros, which might be what he really wants.
    • Well... then he's quite the hypocrite, since he says he's "working for the realm" and unleashing a devastating horde of BloodKnights upon it is kind of counter-productive. But yeah, I guess him and Illyrio are constantly improvising. Bonus points for him if the attempted murder is actually a hoax.
    • At the end of ADWD, it is very clear that Varys genuinely wants a Targaryan back on the throne. He supported it in court to keep up appearances in front of Robert, and it's likely that either: He set up the poisoner knowing he'd fail, or Littlefinger was the one to arrange everything.
      • Of course, that is if you believe that Aegon is actually Rhaegar's son and not the mummer's dragon from Dany's House of Dying visions. It seems that even more important than having a Targaryen on the throne is having a king with a certain "King Arthur" like education who would be willing to work for the realm, not himself.
        • And Aegon the Puppet is not a such king. He's Joffrey Mk.II. As about Varys' true motives and end goal, we know nothing of them yet. Varys is a liar, and his words can't be trusted in the slightest. Particularly Evil Gloating.
        • I wouldn't put "Aegon" in the same league as Joffrey, the worst of his name, yet; he just seems a little bratty. However, it is interesting that Dany and Jon - even with their mistakes - have more positive qualities as leaders than the heir trained in selfless rule. It's Fridge Brilliance.
    • I had more trouble working out his plan for Viserys. If he wanted him to build up power and conquer Westeros, then "use the Dothraki" in itself is a terrible plan, because they won't cross the sea willingly and if they did they'd utterly butcher the realm in the process, so that seems unlikely. If he'd noticed the Taint and wanted him to die, there must be easier ways of getting it done (though this might explain the assassins). If, as seems most likely, he wanted to keep him out of the way until Aegon could be installed, leaving such an arrogant and unstable guy in the hands of the Dothraki seems like an unnecessarily dangerous place to keep him. The utterly unpredictable way it's actually played out is probably close to the best-case scenario in terms of putting a Targaryan on the throne - use the Dothraki to extort some major cities in Essos and recruit sellswords and ships to take you west. Possibly he knew about the dragon eggs and the "three heads" prophecy and was originally hoping for Aegon to hook up with Dany and Viserys?
      • If you believe that Blackfrye theory (i.e.Varys is a Blackfrye loyalist), it makes more sense. Varys was using Viserys and Dany as pawns. The Dothraki were supposed to be the vanguard of the attack on Westros. They'd utterly devastate the small folks and Westros would hate Dany and Viserys for invading with such a brutal force. Enter valiant Aegon and the Golden Company, who would clean up the mess. Aegon would ascend to the throne as the hero who saved Westros from the Dothraki. Viserys and Dany would either end up dead in the invasion or valiant Aegon would execute Viserys for war crimes and marry Dany to cement his claim. Unfortunately for Varys, Viserys was too dumb to live and died before he was supposed to.
    • We never actually see anyone poisoned by the wine. Maybe Varys actually sent unpoisoned wine and convinced the seller and Jorah that it was poisoned, counting on Jorah being in love with Dany. So, his plan was for Jorah to stop the assassination, provoking Drogo into attacking Westeros.
    • Or, despite being a Targaryen loyalist, he recognizes that Viserys would be a totally inept ruler, unlike Dany, so he sends Viserys to the Dothraki to get him killed.
  • Maybe I'm just entirely missing the point, but how did Arya kill the old insurer in Braavos for the Faceless Men? The chapter mentioned something about a cutpurse, a heart attack, and a "valar morghulis" coin...
    • Remember the prologue of Feast for Crows? Pate died after he bit down on the gold coin the stranger gave him, likely because it had a veneer of poison on it. The Ugly Child observed that the old insurer bit down on every coin he counted. All she had to do was replace a poisoned gold coin with one from the person she "robbed," and when he handed it to the insurer he would bite it and die.
  • I'm guessing this is explained somewhere, but I was wondering that if Faceless Men believe death is a gift/good thing, why they won't kill anyone upon request. Also, kind of wondering what they do with what must be fabulous wealth (by repute, they are very expensive to hire). They have a nice temple, but there's got to be more to it.
    • Maybe they're closely associated with the Iron Bank that became an important plot point at the tail end of Dance with Dragons. If you are going to be ruthless with collecting debts as the Iron Bank is, it would be important to have skilled assassins... wouldn't it?
    • It isn't for us but for the God of Many Faces to decide who deserves the Gift. In aCoK, Arya got her three deaths by making a direct trade with the God, from Jaqen's perspective. They're expensive... but not necessarily in gold.
      • Actually, expanding on this, it seems that the Faceless Men always want equivalent exchange, as it were. Arya prevents three deaths, so she's entitled to inflict three deaths. The Faceless Men do charge gold by default, it seems, but they probably charge an amount of gold they consider equivalent to the person's life. In Game of Thrones it's implied that the King of Westeros could probably just barely afford to have them kill a merchant, let alone a princess. This is just a guess, but I'm guessing that the Faceless Men would have charged entirely different prices for killing Viserys (a sloppy, violent, crude man best known as the "Beggar Prince") as opposed to killing Danaerys (young, kind, and famed for her beauty).
  • So Samwell Tarly's dad considered him an Inadequate Inheritor for not being Badass enough, but bore him no hard feelings otherwise (or at least not enough to simply murder him outright), and so he got him out of the way by sending him off to the Night's Watch, who forswear all lands, titles, and inheritance, and are a group of PROFESSIONAL BADASSES. WTF? Why would he send him there as opposed to, say, the Maesters, who ALSO forswear all lands, titles, and inheritance, but are a bunch of peaceable advisers and scholars? Wouldn't that have been far more up Sam's alley?
    • He obviously wanted to go with the option more likely to leave his son dead. Further, it's not like Sam thinks of himself as much more suited to being a maester than the Black -- the cutting up of dead and all that. Lastly, and probably most importantly, the maesters train in close proximity to his family's holdings, and the whole point was to get Sam far, far away.
    • He wanted to get rid of the kid in a way that gave himself (and the general concept of "honor" on the whole house, I suppose) enough ass-cover to at least allow for the pretense that he wasn't just plain disinheriting him. Also, making him swear service to an order that requires lifelong service on penalty of execution effectively means he can't ever try to come home again, much less try some sort of revenge (not that that was likely, but you never know). After that, I think he just figured whatever happened to Sam or didn't was someone else's problem. If he'd cared at all about scholarly pursuits or his son's sensitive feelings, or the idea that one's son even has a right to sensitive feelings or his own desires at all, he'd never have sent him away in the first place.
    • Sam actually mentions that he had some interest in becoming a Maester (minus the dead body part) but his father forbade him to join the Maesters because Maesters serve other lords. Sam says Lord Randyll told him "The life of a maester is a life of servitude. No son of House Tarly will ever wear a chain. The men of Horn Hill do not scrape and bow to petty lords."
      • Randall Tarly didn't just forbid it; he actually chained his son up in the dungeons at Horn Hill when Sam got up the courage to propose this solution to his father. Basically telling him if it is chains you want then I'll give you them. A Feast For Crows infers that this is why Sam is so against going to Oldtown, not cutting up dead bodies. Cutting up dead bodies is the excuse that he gives Jon.
    • Randall would not accept any son that wasn't a Badass. The way he saw it, the Night's Watch would be Sam's last chance- he'd either finally become a warrior there, or die. He'd rather his son get killed than not live up to his expectations.
    • Not all men of the Night's Watch are rangers. Someone's got to clean the stables, cook the food, mend the clothes, and so on.
    • Furthermore, if he wanted to make sure that Sam would never be able to interfere with him or his chosen son again, the Wall was a much safer bet. Once a Maester finishes his training, he is usually assigned to a Lord's house. And even though they hold no formal power, maesters can still influence their Lords, and thus Sam could conceivable try to work against his father. No such problem at the Wall. He is going to stay there until his death, and even if he is one of the few to do business south, he still has almost no way to influence politics.
  • It's mentioned that the Stark family is 8000 years old, and presumably this applies to the other great houses. Because Westeros practices primogeniture, this means that these families have not failed in the male line for about 2000 years longer than all of human civilization. I understand that Westeros has some kind of temporal stasis, but this doesn't seem possible. Furthermore, there's no way that the Stark crypt is large enough to contain eight millenia's worth of leaders, and the chances of ancestral castles and artifacts surviving that long is slim to none.
    • This is discussed in the books themselves. Sam talks about how unreliable the history that they have is, and that the Maesters seriously doubt the given time scale.
    • It's possible that female descendants kept the name if they were the inheritors of Winterfell. See Maege Mormont and her daughters - Maege didn't take her husband's name because she is Lady of Bear Island in her own right and whichever daughter inherits will almost certainly do the same.
    • And as or the crypt: Theon mentiones in ADWD that there are many more levels beneath the crypt now in use, some already partially collapsed, so theoretically, yes, there could be room or eight millenia of rulers.
    • They probably started with more houses and they've dropped to this number over time. Google Galton Watson extinction of family names which provides a statistical analysis of how the number of names drop over time. An example is China which used to have thousands of family names but is now down to 450, the rest have died out. Countries which have adopted surnames more recently still have thousands.
    • The name has almost certainly descended through the female line at times. Brandon the Daughterless was succeeded by the son of Bael the Bard if Ygritte's tale is to be believed.
  • Why exactly is serving in the Night's Watch so horrible? I am not talking about how people of noble birth or otherwise decent surroundings would be reluctant to volunteer - I can see that, it would not be my career choice either. But it's mentioned several times that some criminals prefer to be executed or castrated rather than joining. Why would anyone EVER consider this? The first leaves you definitely dead, and the second in excruciating pain, with a lifelong stigma, and probably also dead (given the low hygene standards the procedure is bound to be performed in). Joining the Watch on the other hand means MAYBE freezing to death, and MAYBE being killed by wildlings (or Others, but since pretty much no one outside the Watch really knows about them, they should not figure into this). All the while you are fed (not much, but enough to survive, a big deal), clothed and get a roof to sleep under (a commodity many in wartorn Westeros lack). And even if most officers are of high birth, the Watch is one of the few places in Westeros where you can earn status even if you are a commoner or bastard. So I guess my question is - why has the Watch even a shortage of men? Shouldn't there be a great influx of volunteers whenever there is a war, famine or other desaster that leads to lots of people losing everything?
    • The main reason is that there has not been a famine or debilitating disaster in quite a while. It seems that Robert's Rebellion did not do nearly the damage to Westros that the War of the Five Kings did - probably because Tywin Lannister spent most of it at Casterly Rock biding his time and the realm has had fourteen years of mainly summer to recover from any effects. Nobody knows about the Night Watch's importance and most bastards and younger sons would rather become masters, septons, or knights than freeze at the Wall. However, it does seem that when given the option most criminals take the Wall.
      • A lifetime of celibacy and being bored off of your ass standing on a frozen wall made of ice staring at nothing while freezing your balls off. It's like prison but hey, it's freezing. Oh, and it's a life sentence. If you run? You die. I can't for the life of me understand why this would be seen in an uncomplimentary light. Did I mention that it's cold?
        • Is it a nice fate? No. Is it a nice fate compared to, say, starving because one dick marched through your land when he went to war and took everything you had, and then three weeks later another dick marched through and took what's left, and any moment now a third dick may show up and just kill you because it's fun, and right now no one's around to persecute him. Sure, when everything is peaceful no one wants to go to the wall. But you can only go so many days without food before the group of people who promise to take everyone (now including women) and feed them starts to sound very appealing. And unlike joining the army of one of the lords, you are not going to end up on the wrong side of a rebellion. Most of Westeros considers the Watch to be without a purpose anyway, so there does not seem to be much danger up there (excluding the cold). Granted, becoming a maester sounds much more appealing, but for that you have to get all the way to Oldtown, and for almost half the continent (the North) this is next to impossible right now.
          • The difference is that after some dick marches through your land and burns all your stuff that he doesn't steal, you can still theoretically rebuild. It's not a certainty, but you at least have the possibility to return to a semblance of your old life, continue your family line, maybe even better your position. (You were the assistant tanner? Good news, the chief tanner got a sword through the face! Well, "good" news.) But you go to the Wall and boom, that's it, you're done, you stay at the Wall for life and that's all you'll ever do again. Your old life is over, and if you didn't already have kids that were sure to live on and reproduce, your family line is done too. Plus while there's a lot of snickering about how the Watch just protects the realm from "snarks and grumkins", this leaves aside that 1) most people actually are aware of the Wildlings too and that they're fairly murderous, despite the snickering otherwise, and 2) on some level they actually do fear that beyond the Wall there might really be things like snarks and grumkins.
    • There is no reason to assume that Westeros has a lot of crime, or at least not a lot of serious crime. It's a mostly rural society, and prior to the War of the Five Kings, a peaceful and prosperous one. Such crime as Westeros has probably runs more toward petty theft, the periodic drunken brawl, or other minor crimes likely to be punished with nothing more than a flogging or a day in the stocks. The number of crimes serious enough to invoke a penalty severe enough to make heading for the Wall attractive may have been small, at least in recent years.
    • There are ton of reasons. First, the vast majority of people are not eligible to join the Watch. Women (initially) and the young aren't eligible. The old typically have roots and/or families they don't want to abandon. And during the war, men of fighting age can easily find work in one of the many armies rampaging around. Also, the Watch is filled with killers, thieves, and rapists. Sure, there are those with noble hearts like Halfhand, but as the fiasco at Craster's Keep showed the lid can come off the rest. Many of them aren't all that pleasant to spend your days with even when discipline does hold. But most importantly, the Watch involves sacrificing your entire future. You will never have kids. You will never own a business, work good land, enjoy any prosperity, or even get laid again (in theory). You can rise up in the ranks, but to what end? Your life will still be brutally austere until your inevitable cold death.
  • Why hasn't winter hit yet? They made a big thing in the first book about how winter is coming, and that it would be a long one. I was expecting that the winter would hit about the same time as the war did - we'd have heavy snowfall in Winterfell in ACOK, the rivers in the Trident would freeze in ASOS, and by AFFC Cersei has to dress in furs to avoid freezing her butt off. However, the only major sign of winter we've had in the south is that the Eyrie has been abandoned (which they do every winter), and that happens at the end of AFFC! Unless the last two books cover a lot of time, when the whole series ends, they'll still be in the dead of winter. Of course, it's entirely possible that this is all part of GRRM's plan - I'm speculating from the title of the next book that winter is about to hit hard. Still, It Just Bugs Me.
    • Winter has come -- a white raven from the maesters clinches it. The whole narrative up till now has used the encroachment of winter as a slow, inexorably creeping factor that adds a forbearing subtext to everything that happens -- all human accomplishments, good or ill, will have to answer that which cannot be changed. The Seven Kingdoms, you might say, are fiddling while Rome freezes. And like you say, it seems like we see its full effects soon.
      • Winter has only just come. The first batch of white ravens from the citadel announced the arrival of autumn, and we've been seeing autumn-like weather for the duration of the War of the Five Kings, but just now we're seeing the beginnings of winter, with the first frosts in the south and the north's first big snowfall. tWoW will probably open with another white raven.
        • In fact aDwD finishes with a white raven in the epilogue
  • Okay, so, in book three we find out that Littlefinger arranged for Jon Arryn's death, knowing that it would bring the Starks to King's Landing and, once they were there, subtly led Ned to discovering the whole Twincest thing, then played off his Honor Before Reason tendencies so he'd get himself arrested and sent to the Wall. Of course, this didn't work out exactly how he planned. However, the going theory is that he did this, at least in part, so Ned's marriage vows would be anulled, making Cat single. But, in ADWD, Cersei mentions that, even before the whole beheading thing, he'd asked her if he could marry Sansa Stark, his Replacement Goldfish. So had he given up on Cat already? Did he view Sansa as an equal, if not superior, substitute, and only kept after Ned out of revenge? Or did the whole Stalker with a Crush thing not factor in at all, and it was just convenient that the Starks were caught up in it? Pretty minor, but it occurred to me the other day and has been bugging me since then.
    • This occurred to me too, except my bone to pick with it was that it was a very stupid action in Petyr's part and he is not stupid. Not only does it not make any sense re:his love/obsession with Catelyn but it declares his hand to Cersei and by extension the other Lannisters way too early. At that point he hadn't gained any social standing at all and Sansa has just turned twelve. And surely Cersei would have suspected Petyr when Sansa vanished from King's Landing? I view this as a bad Retcon. I can't fit it into canon at all. However, when Petyr is demanding a large but unspecified reward for recruiting that Tyrells at a council meeting in A Clash Of Kings, I now think he was asking for Sansa at some point in the future. Like, when she's not a child.
    • OP here. Maybe the fan-theory that his plan was to get Ned sent to the wall is wrong. My guess now is that he was exclusively after revenge. He had no designs to win Cat; he wanted to take everything away from her, and all the Starks. Which also explains why he didn't try to stop or appear to react to her death. When he saw Sansa, he saw her as a second chance, a way to get the girl, except he'd be getting a version of the girl who hadn't scorned him. So, in summary, my new theory: Littlefinger hates Adult!Catelyn, but he's still in love with Child!Catelyn, and looks at Sansa as a kind of reincarnation of that. Yeah, I know.
      • This theory holds a lot of water, but it still needs to be proved. My impression is that Petyr's an opportunist who has already shown readers that, often, he'll take what he can get and make it work. I think he viewed Sansa as an equal substitute for Cat, especially since he's already eyeing her up earlier in the book. Notably, Sansa would have, at that point, been a gateway to less prestige, given her position at court (agree: stupid). It would also be disadvantageous given the necessity of eliminating the other Starks before he could get a political payoff from her (which gives water to the "abandoning Cat" theory). Or maybe it's really just true love.
  • A Feast for Crows was split into two volumes, because it turned out much too long. Instead of just cutting it in half, Martin decided to split it by POV, because otherwise every character would only get two or three chapters, and there would be little progress individually. ADWD supplied the remained POV. And Martin has announced that TWOW will not be split. So... doesn't that mean we are faced with the exact same problem. The only recurring POV to die in ADWD was introduced in the same book, along with two more recurring ones. Meaning the number of POV is now actually higher than it was before. That means either:
    • Some characters just don't get chapters in TWOW. They return in the next volume, but what happened between is only mentioned in passing.
    • Some POV are discontinued. So far PO Vs only ceased to exist if the character died (except Catelyn, a special case). But it may be used to solve this problem. However, as of the end of ADWD, only a few POV are together (so that one could fill in for the other). Arianne (confirmed to appear in TWOW) could fill in for Areo Hotah (who never ...did much anyway), Theon for Asha (if they are still together after what may or may not have happened to Stannis' host). Barristan only got his POV to narrate the story in Mereen after Dany was gone, so he could lose it if she returns soon. Melisandra only had a single chapter anyway, but she will very likely be used to narrate what happened to Jon.
    • They are discontinued because they die. Well, while that could happen (to one or two, maybe), I don't think Martin would just kill off a significant number of them in the first few chapters. Yes, Anyone Can Die, but so far the number of truly 'central' characters to die has not been that large.
    • Nothing. All POV appear in TWOW, but the number of those who only get one or two chapters (like Melisandre or Jon Connington in ADWD) increases.
  • While in-character, but I'm kind of puzzled by Jaime's creative interpretation of the oath Catelyn had him make and how Jaime seems to think he's keeping it. Jaime was made to promise that he would not take up arms against Starks or Tullys. While Jaime does argue that the oath was meaningless since he made it at sword-point, he still feels bound by it (if only in defiance of his rep as The Oathbreaker). The problem is, if he really cared about the oath, then he'd be following the spirit of it, not just the letter. Cat obviously would have wanted him to stay out of the conflict entirely, and I can't believe that Jaime himself thinks he's really following the oath. I'm sure Un-Cat will be really understanding when Jaime meets her.
    • Shutting down the conflict without any further casualties sounds like it would be perfectly within the spirit of the oath.
    • Jaime notes several times that he's really hoping that the conflicts can just be solved straightforwardly and easily, so that he can adhere to both the spirit and the letter of the oath... negotiating on behalf of the crown with the Blackfish doesn't really violate either of those. He does probably violate the spirit of it by what he eventually does, but he feels like crap about it, even though it's actually much closer to the spirit of the agreement than just standing by and doing nothing would have been. (Sort of like killing Aerys was actually much closer to keeping the spirit of his knight's vows than letting him live would have been.) And words like understanding, logical, and compassionate have never really defined Catelyn Stark anyway, which have not been improved by her death and resurrection... even if Jaime turned up with both her daughters and Bran and Rickon for good measure, she'd probably hang him anyway because that's the sort of psycho zombie she is.
  • So, on Westeros, do bears hibernate through the entire winter? because I'm pretty sure a bear would die if it tried to hibernate for 20 years.
    • Well, it's unspecified exactly how long the weird seasons have been going on, and many animals that depend on the changing of the seasons in our world seem to be doing just fine. I suppose they've adapted, or this is an example of Call a Smeerp a Rabbit.
    • There is also mention of "Summer Snows" which suggests there could be 'Winter Thaws.' Just because they enter into extended cold periods doesn't necessarily mean it does nothing but snow and be cold for years on end. They might simply have greatly shortened warm spells. Short summers that never get very warm or sunny would impede crop growth while still allowing wild flora and fauna a break.
  • Okay, what exactly happened with Asha and Qarl? I honestly couldn't tell if it was roleplay or rape. Sounds kinda petty, but there's a world of difference between two people acting on a fetish and a woman coming to enjoy a man forcing himself on her because they're in love.
    • I think it was the latter. Very disappointing, because until then Martin had been so good at demonstrating that rape was a part of Medieval life without glorifying it or playing any stupid "but then she liked it" games. Really, GRRM, why?
      • Because some women do like it? Whether or not it's PC? Considering Asha also comes on to her brother for shits and giggles she is probably not the most vanilla person by nature anyway.
      • I'm pretty sure it was roleplay, although I wish that GRRM had given us a hint ahead of time because the scene does read like a rape scene if you don't know what's going on.
      • After the fact, it sounds like she and Qarl have done this before. I'm going with "roleplay", but a more extreme version.
      • Keep in mind, these are ironborn. They're tough as nails (remember the "finger dance," anybody? Or being drowned and brought back as a religious rite?) and could easily have a taste for very rough sex.
  • Why does Rhaegar get so much in-universe respect? He was pretty and good at the harp and tourneys, but he didn't do anything to protect his mother from the brutality of Aerys, neither did he do anything to mitigate the damage Aerys's insanity was doing to Westeros, betrayed his wife by getting (consensually or no) with Lyanna, which also started a war, which he then lost, failed to protect his wife and children from being brutally murdered, couldn't protect Lyanna either... Aerys may have been crazy, but it was Rhaagar who truly caused the downfall of his house. The house of Tagaeryn, his mother, his father, his wife, his children, his lover, his country... was there anyone this man had a responsibility to that he DIDN'T let down?
    • Because he was the sane pretty prince and up until the Lyanna thing (and we don't actually know if he was in any way really in the wrong there) he probably could have held the realm together once the Mad King was dead. As for "betraying his wife", given the number of obvious (by their name) bastards roaming around who are openly acknowledged, why would anyone even bat an eyelash? The only problem was his choice of whom to dally with. (If that's all it was, which seems increasingly unlikely.)
    • He was handsome, accomplished both in the harp and tourneys (so both art and war), probably noble all around and liked by the common people and his peers both. Basically he was a model knight until the Lyanna thing, after which things escalated quite fast. Considering the patriarchal, feudal model, and the sheer number of acknowledged bastards around, nobody would've cared if he had a bit on the side if it wasn't Lyanna and she wasn't engaged at the time. Also, as far as I remember Aerys wasn't a bad king until the madness started getting at him hard - he'd been a decent king for years, so why would Rhaegar antagonize him?
    • It is a case of people remembering things as being better than they were. Rhaegar is dead and it is easy to cast a dead man as the savior. It is a case of the people of Westros thinking that if only the dashing prince was alive, our lives wouldn't be miserable.
  • Something I thought of that kind of confused me, and wondered if there was evidence in-series for there being precedents. Cersei is shown having a plan dependent upon Osney Kettleblack being sent to the Wall, and had promised to pardon him afterward, something he seems to trust. Similarly, Stannis is shown promising to release Jon from his vows. While I guess royals can do whatever they want, it seems strange that you could release someone from the Night Watch, since they say a vow to serve for life. In the case of conscripts, their being pardoned/innocent of a crime is immaterial to the oath, and with someone who joined willingly, like Jon, it seems even stranger that a royal edict could cancel out their oath.
    • It's exactly the "royals can do whatever they want" case. Just like Cersei dismisses the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, another station that requires a life-long oath to be taken, Stannis can dismiss a member of the Night's Watch. It's unorthodox and probably unprecedented, but well within their capabilities. Or you can see it as the oath being broken, and then the king pardoning this crime.
  • In A Game Of Thrones, Ned and Robert are talking about how Jaime is going to become Warden of the East because Robert Arryn isn't strong enough to take up the post, and how he will also become Warden of the West when Tywin dies. But hasn't Jaime been in the Kingsguard since he was fifteen? In later books it makes the point that he can't inherit Casterly Rock because he's a member of the Kingsguard, so he can't hold titles. How can he then be Warden of the East?
    • The warden titles represent the person responsible for defense of the given region; traditionally but not necessarily held by the high lord of the region. Jaime can't serve as high lord, but as a member of the Kingsguard, he can serve as a general in times of war, and therefore serve as a warden. It's likely that Warden of the West is the only title that Jaime can inherit from Tywin, and it would be one he'd be far more capable at than Tyrion or Kevan, who at the time would have been Tywin's heirs-apparent.
  • How does Samwell Tarly remain so fat? In his POV chapters he is still the huffing, puffing round mound of touchdown that he was when he was introduced. Yet, this is after all the training he did at the wall, the whole expedition to the Fist, basically starving on the voyage to Braavos, and months and months of Night Watch food. He shouldn't be in shape just yet, but he should be significantly slimmer after that much time.
    • Diabetes?
    • Sam's father had been trying to get him in shape for years, so it's not like he wasn't getting any exercise.
    • Sam does mention in one of his last PO Vs in ADWD that while he's still overweight, he's not nearly as fat as he used to be. And people can be fit/in shape while still appearing "fat", which may be the case with Sam.
      • Sam's last POV chapter where he says he's not as fat as he was actually bothered me as well. So trudging across the wilderness and nearly starving to death for the better part of two books did nothing to help him lose weight, but sitting on a boat for awhile and eating fish was super effective. Um, okay. I imagine he'd remain pudgy despite all the training while at the wall itself, though, because night watch food would probably be fairly hearty in order to provide enough energy for the primarily already-fit night watchmen.
  • Why didn't Tywin ever remarry and try and have another son to replace Tyrion? Yea, he loved his late wife, but he's cold, ruthless, and above all, pragmatic. And he hates Tyrion. Why hold onto some vain and irrational hope that Jaime will be allowed to inherit despite being a kingsguard instead of trying to produce a non-dwarven heir and pulling a Randal Tarly on Tyrion?
    • I've been wondering about both this and Tywin's helping himself to Shae. He hates Tyrion and he hates whores, but he's fine with having sex with Tyrion's whore?
      • As for that it's as simple as him being a hypocrite. As for why he fucks Shae specifically, well, She's hot and very good at telling men what they want to hear. Another factor is he might not be so opposed to whores in general as he is embarrassed by Tyrion's flagrant, open whoring. Tyrion makes no secret of his visits to brothels. Tywin might have been less hostile about it if his son wasn't dragging the family name through the sludge. Still, original question stands.
    • It's mentioned that he was devoted to his wife (Aegon ruled the kingdom, he ruled Aegon, she ruled him). Further, after he found out about the infidelity of his wife and the past business with his fathers mistress, I can imagine him being a bit bitter on official relations with women, if not still heartbroken. Remarrying purely for power gives conflicts with his other children, who he does love. Still, I'm not convinced myself...
      • "Infidelity of his wife"? I don't recall that ever being mentioned, but I may have just forgotten. Where did you get this?
      • Page 57 of Book I: Tyrion: "All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes." Jon Snow: "You are your mother's trueborn son of Lannister." Tyrion: "Am I? . . . Do tell my lord father. My mother died birthing me, and he's never been sure."
      • And that's leaving out the hints about Joanna and King Aerys that we get in Book 5.
      • Ignoring Book 5 (can't recall those hints, need to reread), but Tyrion's comment is clearly meant to be about the lack of recognition he's gotten from Tywin, not any real doubt as to his bloodline.
      • In book 3, Tywin states: "Men’s laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors, since I cannot prove that you are not mine."
      • I have had a theory for some time that the reason Tywin never remarried (as could be seen to be his duty, be his private inclinations what they may; heck, gays marry if they're lords, and need to produce heirs to their Houses) is that he's either impotent, or has something else wrong. Remember, at weddings, the bride and groom are stripped in public as part of the bedding ceremony. Someone as prideful as Tywin Lannister would sooner remain unmarried rather than either not be able to display an erection or show the world that his genitalia are damaged.
  • Aeron Damphair apparently drinks nothing but sea water these days. Do that and at the very least you'd get incredibly, horribly dehydrated from all the salt in it, not to mention the effect it would have on your renal system in trying to get said salt out of you. Why has Aeron not died by now?
    • It's made pretty clear that Aeron is being utilized by the Drowned God in some way or another (he doesn't need sleep when he has 'the god in him', similar to how Melisandre, the other prophet, doesn't need to eat). Presumably the religious nourishment of the seawater is all the god requires from him.
  • Okay, I'm not well-versed in medieval history, but what makes the Great Houses great? There don't seem to be very many of them, and the lesser houses are apparently being extinguished in the male line all the time. Is there a certain number of Great Houses that need to exist?
    • The Great Houses are all overlords, charged with running each of the Seven Kingdoms, with many lesser lords swearing fealty to them. Also, they're essentially royal houses, and before the Targaryen's landed most of them were kings of their realms. This is why the Seven Kingdoms are the Seven Kingdoms despite being ruled over by one king for a long time.
    • You can certainly replace one Great House with another (House Tyrell for House Gardener, or House Lannister for House Casterly). But eliminating the need for one is virtually impossible, since that would leave you with a power vacuum in a geographic region resistant to being ruled from afar.
    • They have the most defensible castles and the most income from their lands. That's basically it.
  • It seems that half the women who get married in this series get to keep their last names. Despite being married to Robert Baratheon, Cersei is never called Cersei Baratheon, only Cersei Lannister. And Sansa remains Sansa Stark after getting married to Tyrion, instead of being renamed Sansa Lannister. Yet the Tully sisters took on the last names of their husbands, being called Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn instead of Catelyn and Lysa Tully. There are a bunch of other, smaller examples of both that i can't name off the tip of my head, but i can't remember specifics. So can someone explain this?
    • There could be any number of explanations. For one, maybe taking the husband's name is a northman tradition and keeping the maiden name is a southern one. The north does seem to be more traditional, maybe its an Old Gods vs. the Seven thing. On a personal level, Catelyn and Lysa married men who were at least interested in them as people, even if the matches were arranged. Cersei married Robert, who was pining for Lyanna and who couldn't give two craps about her, so he wouldn't have pressed the issue - and she was in love with Jaime so she would have wanted to keep the name. Sansa could be explained in two ways: Either they still thought of her as a traitor's daughter and didn't want to give her the Lannister name, or they wanted to keep the Stark to strengthen Tyrion's claim to Winterfell.
    • I always thought that it was unofficial. So basically, technically speaking Cersei's last name is Baratheon, and Sansa's is Lannister, but that's not the name people mentally associate with them for whatever reason, so no one calls them that, out loud or in the narration. They just don't think to do it, whereas Catelyn and Lysa both became far more associated with their married names. For Cersei there could be another reason; Westeros is inspired in several ways by medieval England, and English common-born Queens continued to be referred to with their surnames, even though technically their name was now Plantagenet or Tudor - the foreign ones rarely had a last name they used in the first place, they were So-and-so of Country.
    • similar to the above poster, I always thought it had to do with title. House Tully has a male heir so the sisters take their husband's names. Jamie can't inherit and Tyrion is effectively disinherited so Cersi/her issue is the inheritor of Casterly Rock, not to mention that much of Robert's power came from the Lannister marriage, you don't want people forgetting that. (Also why Joffrey's sigil is the stag AND the lion, not just the crowned stag of Baratheon.)
  • I don't get why there's so many bastards running around. Clearly, there are ways of getting rid of unwanted pregnancies (something about tansy) and preventing them entirely (moon tea). You would think that at least noblewomen could avoid it, like Lysa or Cersei did. Whores also get pregnant all the time, wouldn't it be prudent for the whorehouses to keep moon tea on hand? Yes, it's difficult for them to get hold of a maester, but it's hardly impossible. Not to mention woods witches.
    • It's doubtful any form of birth control in a society at this level is foolproof. In addition, it's as likely as not that the mothers simply couldn't bring themselves to do it.
    • Lysa and Cercei didn't want to (Cercei, in fact, drank moon tea the one time Robert got her pregnant). As for common gals, depending on the lord doing the impregnating, being the mother of a bastard often means some level of financial security and physical protection, as in Real Life.
  • The conclusion that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen seems so inescapable, that one is given to wonder why people don't suspect it in universe. This is not to say that it is necessarily true -- it could well turn out to be a red herring on Martin's part. The strangest part is that there seems to be no adequate explanation for how Lyanna Stark died, when you would think that's the first question anybody (Robert, first and foremost) would ask.
    • The R + L = J theory is built upon a very specific aspect of Rhaegar's personality (his obsession with the Prince who was Promised). And some little details that Ned's viewpoint chapters revealed about the last time he saw his sister. The vast majority of people in Westeros have absolutely no way of knowing about those things, adn therefore have no reason to suspect that Jon Snow is anyone other than Ned's bastard.
      • The question remains: how did Lyanna Stark die, or more precisely, how do people think she died? When Ned Stark comes back north, cagey about the details of what went on in the Tower of Joy and with a baby about whose origins he is equally cagey, I find it hard to accept that nobody, anywhere, would at least develop suspicions.
        • Robert assumed that Rhaegar treated her badly enough for her to die. Ned never disabused him of this notion. Everyone south thinks that Ned bedded Ashara Dayne, who happened to commit suicide after delivering a baby right around that time, and everyone north just assumes that honor-ridden Ned is prickly enough about one indiscretion to not want to talk about it.
          • Plus, assuming that the theory is true, Ned would have actively attempted to discourage people from the notion. After all, revealing info like that would basically be planting a massive neon sign over Jon's head saying "Kill me! I'm a threat!" Notice that both times someone brings up Jon's mother to him, he responds in a way that convinces the other person to just drop it. First by scaring the living crap out of his wife, and then by telling Robert a small believable lie that gets him to forget about the kid.
    • It really comes down to the readers having lots of small pieces of information that are not, in their entirety or even at all (for some), known in-world. Rheagar being obsessed with the PTWP is one - only people close to him would have known that, and most of those people died in the war. Ned's internal oddities about Lyanna and Jon are the main clues (the bed of blood, the promise he made her, recalling all his children by name when imprisoned and leaving out Jon, etc) and not one of those was ever whispered outside of his own head. The timeline stuff helps, but it was a civil war - people were out of touch, it was chaos. So not many survivors are going to put the pieces together. Finally, it's a pretty crapsack world; no one is going to bat an eye at a great lord having a bastard around. No one. And in the end (as any trip to a Westeros forum will rapidly indicate), it's not an "inescapable" conclusion to all the readers.
      • For the record, that's "inescapable" in the sense of "cannot be safely dismissed," rather than "is certainly true."
  • Joffrey is shown as being uncontrollable by the small council and Cersei, and Tywin sends Tyrion to be the King's Hand for him and rein Joffrey in. When Joffrey has Eddard Stark executed, wouldn't it have been a smart move for Robb to send a message to Joffrey challenging him to single combat? It seems to me that Joffrey has such bad judgement and is so quick to anger that he would accept. Granted Cersei would probably try to sabotage it so Robb loses...
    • When Robb's grandfather Rickard did that, it got him, Brandon, Brandon's friends, all the fathers of Brandon's friends, along with all 200 men in his escort killed.
    • Is one even allowed to challenge the King to single combat over a grievance like that? I know you can have combat by champion if you are on trial, but that would have been Ned's right, I thought. And of course, Robb would have to run the risk that Joffery would not take his bait and just name Gregor Clegane, and then he's proper fucked.
      • Not necessarily, if Joffrey appoints a champion, Robb would be allowed to do the same. The issue then becomes whether there was anyone in the North that could have bested the Mountain in single combat, which... there probably wasn't, but Robb wouldn't necessarily lose his own life. Unless he had a particularly strong surge of HONORRRRRRRRRR!!!! and refused to let someone else fight for him, even though the laws of challenge said it was totally permissible.
    • Joffrey's stupidity is ever so slightly outweighed by his cowardice. Robb knows that Joffrey is full of shit; he'd figured that out the first time they met.
    • Also, even if we assumed Joffrey wasn't craven and would accept the challenge, there's the more pressing fact: he'd never hear about it. Pycelle would get the message, he'd tell Cersei, Cersei would burn the message (and probably anyone but her and Pycelle that had seen it). Robb could then spread it around how Joffrey was too chicken to fight him, but it would just come off as war propaganda (like they semi-successfully spun Stannis revealing Joffrey's bastardry) and Robb would also probably consider it unworthy anyway.

Notes

  1. Ok, Thrawn is actually genuinely likable, but you get it
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