Bear ancestry

A stab at me, Asha thought, but let it be. “You are wed.”
No. My children were fathered by a bear.” Alysane smiled. Her teeth were crooked, but there was something ingratiating about that smile. “Mormont women are skinchangers. We turn into bears and find mates in the woods. Everyone knows.” (aDwD, The King’s Prize)

The Mormont Women

House Mormont has their seat on Bear Island that lacks resources. Living and surviving on an island with such poor resources, we could imagine how there might come about a sacred bear belief at Bear Island, exactly because it is teeming with bears. Various subarctic regions the world round – where bear encounters were normal – share similar bear folklore, from the Germanic area to Siberia, Japan and Northern Native America. It is no surprise then that a northern subarctic island, teeming with bears and woods, where people rely on fishing and hunting for survival would feature similar folklore.

“My home . . . you must understand that to understand the rest. Bear Island is beautiful, but remote. Imagine old gnarled oaks and tall pines, flowering thornbushes, grey stones bearded with moss, little creeks running icy down steep hillsides. The hall of the Mormonts is built of huge logs and surrounded by an earthen palisade. Aside from a few crofters, my people live along the coasts and fish the seas. The island lies far to the north, and our winters are more terrible than you can imagine, Khaleesi. … Bear Island is rich in bears and trees, and poor in aught else.(aCoK, Daenerys I)

The Mormont blazon is a black bear over a green wood. They have an acenstral Valyrian Steel bastard sword called “Longclaw”. The gate of the hall has a carving of a woman in a bearskin with a child in one arm suckling at her breast and a battleaxe in the other. Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont was called the “old bear”. Dany refers to the son, Jorah Mormon as “bear”. Maege Mormont is called the “she-bear”, and her heir – after Dacey is killed at the Red Wedding – Alysane Mormont is called the “young she-bear”. Both Maege and Alysane are unwed and have children they claim to have been fathered by bears, and they claim the women are skinchangers.

We can easily recognize that Mormont women portray themselves as a female version of Tolkien’s Beorn (skinchanging bear and warrior women). Metaphorically women are armed against all the potentially violent forces of the island, or as they are “bears” they are “warriors” just as well. The Mormonts fit the subarctic folklore of the nature of bears (skinchangers, woods, magical sword, bears for fathers of their children). They even match the biological rearing patterns and lifestyle of solitary bears where males mate but remain functional bachelors, while the females rear their cubs by themselves. Though Jorah and Jeor were married at one time, they lead a bachelor’s life in the books: Jeor as Lorc Commander with the celibate Night’s Watch and Jorah who is widowed from his first wife and living separated from his second. Meanwhile the women certainly had lovers, but are bachelorettes in  life.

But is there truth in Alysane’s claim? Or is it just a bunch of lies? And if so, why did they use this lie at least two generations in a row?

It is completely possible that Mormont women are skinchangers to bears, just as the Starks are wargs to wolves. aDwD’s prologue featuring Varamyr at least shows us that some people can bond and skinchange a bear, though not without danger and difficulty.

Varamyr Sixskins was a name men feared. He rode to battle on the back of a snow bear thirteen feet tall, kept three wolves and a shadowcat in thrall, and sat at the right hand of Mance Rayder. It was Mance who brought me to this place. I should not have listened. I should have slipped inside my bear and torn him to pieces… [snip]… Varamyr had lost control of his other beasts in the agony of the eagle’s death. His shadowcat had raced into the woods, whilst his snow bear turned her claws on those around her, ripping apart four men before falling to a spear. She would have slain Varamyr had he come within her reach. The bear hated him, had raged each time he wore her skin or climbed upon her back… His shadowcat used to fight him wildly, and the snow bear had gone half-mad for a time, snapping at trees and rocks and empty air, but this was worse. (aDwD, prologue)

Varamyr has more affinity with wolves, like his mentor Hagon, and warging seems more common. But he was strong enough to skinchange into other animals as well. It is hinted that Bran can skinchange ravens because of this and shown to us that Arya skinchanges cats at will in Braavos aside from Nymeria when she dreams. Still, just as there are people with an affinity to wolves, other people have an affinity to a boar, eagle, goat or a bear. Notice too, that Varamyr skinchanges a she-bear, and that it are the Mormont women alone who claim to be skinchangers.

“There’s a carving on our gate,” said Dacey. “A woman in a bearskin, with a child in one arm suckling at her breast. In the other hand she holds a battleaxe. She’s no proper lady, that one, but I always loved her.” (aSoS, Catelyn V)

The improper carving of a woman in a bearskin at the gate of the Mormont hall reveals that the claim of Mormont women being skinchangers is an old one. The allusion of her being improper and a child suckling at her breast indicates the lady of the carving is naked, except for the bearskin. In legends, a naked character with a bearskin usually does imply the character has the nature of a bear.

But the claim that human children were fathered by a bear while they had skinchanged into bears themselves is far stranger. Skinchanging in folklore means physically changing into an animal. In aSoIaF it means being able to enter and control the mind of an animal, not actually changing shape. When Bran eats the prey that Summer hunted, while he’s warging Summer, Bran feels like he has just eaten, but Bran’s stomach remains empty.

Jojen shook his head. “No. Best stay, and eat. With your own mouth. A warg cannot live on what his beast consumes.” (aSoS, Bran I)

If a skinchanger’s stomach does not get filled by his animal eating, then surely a skinchanger will not get pregnant by his bonded animal copulating with another animal. So, Maege’s daughters and Alysane’s children having been fathered by a bear through skinchanging is an impossibility, and therefore certainly a lie.

What George seems to feature in the Mormont women is something akin to the totemic bear-wedding and ancestry, where the hunted bear’s bride gets to keep the bearksin of her totemic groom. The improper lady of the carving seems to be the ancestral mother of the Mormonts, while her child would be the first Lord Mormont, the offspring of a totemic bear-maiden wedding.

That the Mormonts who are said to be so poor when it comes to material wealth own a Valyrian bastard sword “Longclaw” seems to fit with the Wayland the Smith legend. In the legend, Wayland gives the princess his magical sword and she becomes the mother of the totemic ancestral Wayland-bear bloodline. And of course the name alone of the sword suggests a tie with a bear.

Longclaw also gives us an answer to the necessity of the skinchanging lie – it’s a bastard sword. Both the bastard sword Longclaw and the improper lady of the carving suggests House Mormont was a bastard line. Normally, the child of an unwed woman would be regarded a bastard, who has no right to inherit his family’s name , land and hall. And yet, none of Maege Mormont’s daughters are regarded as bastards, nor are Alysane’s children.

Mormont snorted. “My sister is said to have taken a bear for her lover. I’d believe that before I’d believe one fifteen feet tall. (aCoK, Jon I)

There is no mention of Maege’s husband. Instead she claims, to her brother, that she took a bear for a lover. Alysane explicitly claims she is unwed to Asha Greyjoy and that her son and daughter were fathered by a bear. A bear being the father of their children I already established to be an obvious lie, even if they can skinchange.

She-bears, aye,” said Lady Maege. “We have needed to be. In olden days the ironmen would come raiding in their longboats, or wildlings from the Frozen Shore. The men would be off fishing, like as not. The wives they left behind had to defend themselves and their children, or else be carried off.” (aSoS, Catelyn V)

While Maege explains to Catelyn how the women of Bear Island learned to defend themselves and their children against the raids of ironment and wildlings, while the men were out on sea fishing, some readers have gone to this extreme vision that the men of Bear Island are stay-at-home fathers protected by their women. Jeor, Jorah and the men Alysane takes with her to fight at Deepwood Motte are evidence enough that such an interpretation goes overboard. The women of Bear Island took to arms to defend themselves and their children, not their husbands.

If they are neither widowed, nor wed, then why don’t they marry? At least their children would not be bastards, and then there is no need to lie about a bear being the father of their children. The answer is the preservation of the Mormont name and bloodline. One of the duties of a noble House is to have heirs and carry on the name. And House Mormont was recently in trouble in that regard. Jeor had only one child, only one son, Jorah. And Jorah failed to produce an heir with both his wives. His first Glover wife could not bear him any childen and died after her 3rd miscarriage after nearly 10 years of marriage.

“Still, the island suited me well enough, and I never lacked for women. I had my share of fishwives and crofter’s daughters, before and after I was wed. I married young, to a bride of my father’s choosing, a Glover of Deepwood Motte. Ten years we were wed, or near enough as makes no matter. She was a plain-faced woman, but not unkind. I suppose I came to love her after a fashion, though our relations were dutiful rather than passionate. Three times she miscarried while trying to give me an heir. The last time she never recovered. She died not long after.” (aCoK, Daenerys I)

And there is no mention of Jorah having any children with Lynesse Hightower, whom he married nine years before the start of events in aGoT. Jorah has been in exile for five years in 298 AC of aGoT, which means he fled Westeros with Lynesse in 293 AC, and his marriage did not last longer than four or five years since they married after the Tourney of Lannisport (celebration of the victory against the Ironborn rebellion) in 289 AC. While Jorah had plenty of marriage offers as Lord Mormont, since his father had joined the Night’s Watch by the time he was a widower, the Greyjoy rebellion prevented Jorah from making any decision, so it seems he was not long a widower before he met Lynesse. Jorah notes he is thrice Dany’s age in 299 AC, when she is fifteen, and so Jorah was Jeor’s only living son for what seems to be forty-five years (born around 254 AC).

Maege is Jeor’s sole sister. Her eldest daughter was Dacey Mormont. Alysane is the second eldest and almost of an age with Asha Greyjoy. Asha is twenty-four and remarks Alysane started young if she has a daughter of nine. Indeed if Alysane is anywhere between twenty-three or twenty-six this means she had her first child between fourteen and sixteen in 291 AC. Dacey seems to have no husband either and while theoretically Dacey could have been born a decade before Alysane, Catelyn’s thoughts about her suggest that Dacey must be years younger than Catelyn and not yet thirty during the Red Wedding. So, Dacey was probably born between 271-275 AC.

Taking a rough timeline into account, Maege started having children when Jorah, the heir of House Mormont, was between sixteen and twenty one, and her brother Lord Jeor Mormont was above his forties. It seemed that Jeor was unlikely to produce other children of his own. With just one male heir to an island that has a rough history of being beset by ironborn and wildlings, Jorah and Maege seemed to have been the sole members of the House to carry on the name. And as the years rolled by with Jorah unable to have an heir of his own, the preservation of House Mormont fell completely on Maege. At the very least she attempted to beget a male heir, for she had five daughters – Lyanna Mormont is the youngest, born in 290 AC.

But there is an issue with Maege’s children being the branch to preserve their dynasty on Bear Island. Normally, children get the name of their father and a son of a noble House equal to or higher than that of his wife’s tends to be more than a consort. That is exactly what many of Stannis’s southern knights are after when they appear in the Northern territory. What the Boltons attempt to do when they proclaim Jeyne Poole to be Arya Stark and wed her to the legitimized Ramsay Bolton. It is what Robb Stark fears and Tywin and Tyrion hope for when Tyrion is wed to Sansa Stark – the usurpation of a noble house and seat through marriage – and exactly the reason why Robb creates a will to appoint his heir and bar Sansa from inheriting Winterfell.

Take note that Alysane chooses to disclose Asha Greyjoy this, not long after Justin Massey attempts to charm Asha constantly. To Catelyn and most likely Robb’s bannermen, Maege and Dacey remain mute about absent husbands and fathers, only hinting at it by mentioning the lady of the carving. Since Maege’s daughters all carry the name Mormont, instead of Snow, the others most likely simply assume there must have been some lowborn husband. But Alysane talks of it explicitly, to a warrior woman who is a historical enemy of hers.

“He wants you,” said the She-Bear, after his third visit….[snip]…
“He wants my lands,” Asha replied. “He wants the Iron Islands.” She knew the signs. She had seen the same before in other suitors. Massey’s own ancestral holdings, far to the south, were lost to him, so he must needs make an advantageous marriage or resign himself to being no more than a knight of the king’s household. Stannis had frustrated Ser Justin’s hopes of marrying the wildling princess that Asha had heard so much of, so now he had set his sights on her. No doubt he dreamed of putting her in the Seastone Chair on Pyke and ruling through her, as her lord and master. (aDwD, The King’s Prize)

If Maege got herself a noble husband of a strong noble house in the North, when Jorah was still young and unwed and there was still a chance that he could get an heir, there was no way she could make it a condition that her husband would forfeit passing on his name to their children. And what were her chances in demanding him to waiver being Lord Whateverhisname of an island that has no other riches than game and wood? Maege could only enforce that if she wed a noble of far lower birth than herself or a commoner. In the South that would be manageable with a knightly house, but the North has no knights, and therefore no knightly houses. The problem for Maege was that she was not sure enough yet that her possible children would end up having to continue House Mormont, but that the risk for that to happen was big enough. Maege risked her reputation by not marrying at all, took an anonymous lover and claimed the father of her children is a totemic bear. In this way, she repeated what House Mormont’s improper ancestral mother did. So, it may be impproper and shady, but not being queens of King’s Landing or princesses of Dorne, this seems the only possible solution to their lineage issues.

And we see Alysane picking up Maege’s torch at the time it becomes almost certain that Jorah will father no heir, not even with his second wife, and is getting into financial trouble. The year after Lyanna Mormont is born, Alysane’s first child is born, two years before Jorah flees Westeros, while she is still very young.

“Do you have brothers?” Asha asked her keeper.
“Sisters,” Alysane Mormont replied, gruff as ever. “Five, we were. All girls. Lyanna is back on Bear Island. Lyra and Jory are with our mother. Dacey was murdered.”
“The Red Wedding.”
“Aye.” Alysane stared at Asha for a moment. “I have a son. He’s only two. My daughter’s nine.”
“You started young.”
Too young. But better that than wait too late.” (aDwD, The King’s Prize)

Not until 298 AC does Alysane have her second child, a son, a male heir, explaining why Alysane remained at Bear Island at the start of the war. While Dacey, the unmarried heir, takes the most chances, being one of Robb’s close battle companions.

It is sometimes argued that Alysane lies to Asha about having a husband to protect him from the Ironborn. But that is a very odd claim to make. Why would Alysane protect the knowledge on the identity of her husband more than the knowledge of her children, including the only male heir, and the whereabouts of her sisters?  If she would lie about being married to protect her husband from being captured by Ironborn in a raid, would she then not also deny having children at all? Would she then not remain mute about her youngest sister of ten commanding Bear Island for the moment? And if she were widowed, there is even less reason to lie about it.

No, Alysane is passing along vital lineage information to Asha – the ruling Mormonts are all women, with only one male heir, her own son who is a toddler of two, and the only reason I can fathom Alysane telling Asha this is presenting a way for Asha to keep the Iron Islands for herself. At the time, Asha does not yet realize it, not believing anyone will ever be able to take the Iron Islands away from Euron, but with Masey hoping to have Asha as a prize and either Theon dead or unable to have an heir in the future, the continuation of House Greyjoy will fall on Asha. There is even a chance she might be pregnant already, having been unable to drink the abortive tea due to her capture at Deepwood Motte, the same night she shared her bed with her lover Qarl the Maid, a thrall’s grandson. She herself already goes by the nickname “the Kraken’s daughter”. It seems George wrote this totemic ancestry tale of the Momont women in Asha Greyjoy’s arc as a checkhov’s gun for her to remember and apply in her own tale, once she finds herself with child – she could claim she is a skinchanger and that a kraken fathered her child.

After Jorah flees and becomes an exile, Meage becomes ruler of House Mormont. She has five daughters, with Dacey as heir, and certainly within marriagable age, and yet she too seems to remain single, despite her elegance and looking pretty.

When she wore a dress in place of a hauberk, Lady Maege’s eldest daughter was quite pretty; tall and willowy, with a shy smile that made her long face light up. It was pleasant to see that she could be as graceful on the dance floor as in the training yard. (aSoS, Catelyn VII)

You would think, that normally, some second son would be interested in marrying the heir of Bear Island. If Justin Masey can see past Asha Greyjoy’s attire, then surely some other Lord’s son could see an opportunity in Dacey Mormont. Nor does Dacey appear to have any children. It seems that Dacey opted out of marriage and children, and that Alysane volunteered in maintaining the bloodline in the same manner her mother Maege did. And perhaps not so coincidentally, she has her mother’s looks too.

Catelyn had grown fond of Lady Maege and her eldest daughter, Dacey; they were more understanding than most in the matter of Jaime Lannister, she had found. The daughter was tall and lean, the mother short and stout, but they dressed alike in mail and leather, with the black bear of House Mormont on shield and surcoat. (aSoS, Catelyn V)

Her proper name was Alysane of House Mormont, but she wore the other name as easily as she wore her mail. Short, chunky, muscular, the heir to Bear Island had big thighs, big breasts, and big hands ridged with callus. Even in sleep she wore ringmail under her furs, boiled leather under that, and an old sheepskin under the leather, turned inside out for warmth. All those layers made her look almost as wide as she was tall. And ferocious. Sometimes it was hard for Asha Greyjoy to remember that she and the She-Bear were almost of an age. (aDwD, The King’s Prize)

In conclusion, it seems that Meage, Dacey and Alysane all made some sacrifice to ensure the continuation of their house. None of them married, thereby preventing any man from usurping their home seat, and two of them risked their reptuation by having bastards with lovers but keeping those children legitimate through the claim of a totemic bear. In that sense, Dacey’s comment about the lady of the carving is also a sign of recognition to her mother – improper it may be, but they love her nonetheless.

Personal commentary: I hope Lyanna Mormont writes as strong a letter to Daenerys as she did to Stannis, if Dany were to ever decide to make Jorah Lord over Bear Island again. He cannot be blamed for remaining childless, but to squander away his home and his house’s name, while his aunt and cousins sacrificed the possibility of a respectable marriage to ensure house Mormont would remain house Mormont. 

Many have wondered why a House would simply give away a 500 year old Valyrian sword away. Jorah abandons Bear Island and the ancestral Longclaw. Instead of keeping it, Maege sends it to Jeor at the Wall, where Jeor gives it to Jon. It is another indication that Maege seems to consider the ancestral totemic bear bloodline from which she and Jeor are descendants finished. The bloodline only continues now through the female line with a new totemic bear. It is still House Mormont, but a new “bear” as ancestral father.

Wayland’s sword was given to his princess for his bloodline, but at some point in the legends ends up in the hands of the hero Sigurd’s foster-father. His foster-father gifts the sword to Sigurd who slays the dragon Fafnir with it. Fafnir used to be a dwarf, but after killing his father and betraying his brother for a hoard of gold and treasure, he gained the form of a dragon guarding his hoard. At Castle Black, Jeor Mormont becomes Jon’s emotional foster-father. On top of that he is a bear character who can gift a precious sword to a hero after a test. And it is hard not to think how befitting Fafnir’s tale sounds of Tyrion with Casterly Rock as the hoard. But that is for another essay.

Conclusion (tl;tr)

At least for the last two generations, the Mormont women seem to establish a new totemic bear ancestry in order to avoid usurpation of their house and seat through marriage. Regardless of their ability to skinchange (which is uncertain), GRRM brings the Mormont bloodline as well as the Mormont warrior women, their offspring and the bear-lovers within a social, acceptable matrlinieal context. They do this out of necessity, the same way the Bear Island women took to arms out of necessity.

The improper lady of the carving at their gate as well as the ancestral Valyrian sword Longclaw suggest that the Mormont bloodline is actually a bastard bloodline since the beginning, but that people and other houses allow for it with the claim that a bear is their male ancestor.

This type of cultural practice to prevent other houses of taking a female heir to wife to usurp their seat in the way the Lannister and Boltons attempt to do with House Stark and Winterfell, and Orys Baratheon did with Storm’s End of the Durrandons, was most likely featured in Asha Greyjoy’s arc so that the Kraken’s daughter can do something similar by claiming a kraken as a father of the child of her lowborn lover.

Note: Tormund as husband and father to bears will be handled in a bear essay of Jon’s arc.

16 thoughts on “Bear ancestry”

  1. To be fair to Orys Baratheon, he did defeat House Durrandon in combat and could have just killed the last woman of the line, taken the castle and made up his own sigil and words. Marrying her and adopting her sigil and words was done more as a show of respect than some sort of contrivance to usurp the power of another house, a la Bolton and Lannister. =)

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    1. Well, the war started by Aegon offering a marriage to Orys Baratheon to House Durrandon. House Durrandon refused and Orys got it by force. That Orys was somewhat chivalrous about it, does not make it any less of a usurpation. Tyrion is also chivalrous to Sansa, but it does not make the marriage any less of an attempt to usurp Winterfell by Lannisters. And Tyrion might have hypothetically decided to keep the wolf sigil and words, but still make it House Lannister of Winterfell, like Lancel does not alter much to House Darry, but still keeps his name. Again in the latter example, we know it is House Lannister’s aim to usurp lands and castle, but keeping the symbols, because the common folk know it by sight and are more prone to accept the usurping lord as their own because of it. Since Durrandon’s daughter tried to proclaim herself Queen rather than accept defeat and Orys as husband, until she was handed over naked, we know she was not a willing bride. Sounds to me as if Orys had a nose for PR, and is no different than Tywin, Tyrion or Kevan Lannister. All these men could have just claimed the castle without taking a woman to wife who bears the name of the original house, but they did not, and not out of kidness of their heart, love or respect.

      If one looks to other prior historical cases (except those of Lannisters) where men of lesser houses or birth married an heirress, most of them took on the name of the heirress, not imposed their own onto it.

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      1. Orys hadn’t sought her out or anything though. Her father was basically trying to sell her to Aegon as a third wife, using coin (land) not his own, in order to have a buffer from Harren the Black. Aegon was already set for wives, but was still willing to *be* that buffer for some land that actually *was* Argilac’s to give, and offered his best friend and half-brother in his stead. Argilac was totally free to reject that, and if he had done so *non-violently* I don’t think anything else would have come from it. And that’s an important difference. He didn’t though and drew first blood in the battles to follow. In war, it’s pretty common to wipe out all of the previous line so there isn’t anyone left to rally against you or compete for loyalties. (Orys’s own great-great-whatever-grandson Robert would do this). And Durrandon’s own men realized that, or else they wouldn’t have presented Argella like they did. It would have been completely different if Orys had been like ‘Marry me! No? Then war!’ but the text doesn’t support that theory.

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  2. Indeed, Argilac was willing to use his daughter for a marriage alliance, but not to the bastard half-brother. I’m inclined to think that Aegon the Conquerer proposed Orys Baratheon, knowing full well that Argilac would take it as an insult. Aegon’s eye had been turned westward anyhow. He only needed a personal offense pretext to actually start the attack. What it does also show is that Aegon intended to make Orys a ruler of an old dynastic house, whether Argilac and Argella liked it or not. It is comparable to Tywin sending the Mountain to the Riverlands to raid without sigils, trying to provoke the Riverlands into drawing first blood.

    Actually it is not common in Westeros to wipe out all of the previous line. The Starks regularly took the daughters of the houses they conquered and beat and included within their kingdom to wife. However, they never usurped the House’s seat or name. Even the Andals did the same with several houses in the Vale, including House Royce, even though it was a King Royce who battled the Andals on the flanks of the Giant’s Lance. Crabb relates a similar tale for Cracklaw Point. It’s even suggested that House Arryn is actually a First Men House pre-dating the Andal invastion and that the Falcon Knight adopted this First Men name. With the Lannisters we see again how they do not extinguish the whole line, but use the daughters of houses they do want to usurp, but unlike other historical examples that predate Aegon the Conquerer, the men keep their names. Orys does the same thing with house Durrandon. Maester Yandel just gives a “see what a chivalrous, gentle man Orys” PR sauce over the tale, which I take with a very great deal of salt.

    It was not Robert who killed Rhaegar’s children. That was Tywin. He was not the actual conquerer, but he was making sure that his daughter would be queen and had personal vengeance reasons to have Elia and her children dead. Aegon did annihilate two houses personally, but I don’t regard Aegon Targaryen as culuturally Westerosi. Dragonstone was a Valyrian outpost and fairly recent agains the thousand years of history. Complete annihilation is a rare occurrence, not the rule. A forced marriage alliance with a daughter of the losing house is the rule instead, and in many cases the groom either adopts the name, or the house is not even usurped at all. Notable exceptions are

    1. House Lannister, including the first Lannister who usurps House Casterly somehow (different versions for that) and we see this again in the last two years of Westerosi history.
    2. Orys Baratheon with Argella Durrandon and Storm’s End.
    3. The annihilation of House Mudd against the Andals. The Andals also annihilated some houses we don’t know the name of in the Vale, while others survived.
    4. The annihilation of House Hoare and House Gardener by Aegon the Conquerer.
    5. The annihilation of House Harroway, House Lothston and House Darklyn by Targaryen kings.
    6. The annihilation of House Greystark after joining House Bolton in a rebellion against House Stark. House Greystark was a cadet branch of the Starks. While House Bolton did not go extinct, house Greystark did. How we do not know. But is possible that House Stark fell harder on House Greystark for their betrayal than House Bolton.
    7. The annihilation of House Reyne and House Tarbeck by Tywin Lannister. That a song was made of it shows how rare this actually is.
    8. House Woodfoot that held Bear Island was extinguished by Ironborn.

    Most houses that were deliberately extinguished were annihilated by Ironborn (the Hoares and Greyjoys), Targaryen kings and Tywin Lannister (and possibly the anestral first Lannister the Clever). House Frey intended to do the same with House Tully. Actual confirmed houses that usurped a House with their own name, through marriage, even if they had a lesser name are House Baratheon (once), House Lannister (several times) and House Bolton with fArya. It is not the company that conquerers would be proud of to be associated with.

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    1. Since Aegon isn’t considered culturally Westerosi, it’s not a given that he would see his bastard brother as an insult. The fact that Orys had a last name that wasn’t some common form of nature hints that they were doing something different with their bastards. And since one kingdom doesn’t represent all the others, I don’t think Aegon could really use the Durrandon act of aggression as justification for conquering all the other kingdoms, which means he didn’t really need an excuse at all. And, I would think if your brother was conquering almost all of an entire continent you would have quite a few options for castles and wives and wouldn’t have to take the first eligible one you knew of.

      The common deciding factor of whether someone wipes out an entire line or just marries in seems to be whether they hold a grudge. Some Andal conqueror who came along and wanted a castle, there’s no reason not to marry in if it’s an option. Or someone like Lann the Clever who didn’t even have an army, if you *can* get a castle through some sort of trickery, that’s how you’ll do it. As opposed to the Lannisters, with the Reines and Tarbecks, who they killed to a man because they were sending a message to their enemies that you go against them at your peril. I think they’re fans of their song because it promotes this message. Or with King Aerys II and the Darklyns and Hollards (barring Dontos’ survival thanks to Barristan). They hope others will look at their example and think twice before messing with them.

      My point is that Orys could have easily developed a grudge from what Argelac did. It was pretty offensive, especially if things were different in your culture. I’m not saying it would be forgivable if he then slaughtered them all, just that he would have some company in the history books if he had. Not *good* company, but company. In a world where it’s apparently fair game to kill off all the Hoares just for not yielding their castle, and Argella expected the same for not giving up hers (dooming everyone else inside the castle too of course), when she was trotted out all vulnerable, she was probably praying that it would just be a quick death. I’m not president of Orys’s fan club or anything, but he’s not on par with the Lannisters and Boltons.

      Side note, Robert didn’t order Tywin to have the Targ children killed, but Ned notes that he was pleased that Tywin had because he didn’t want to think of himself as a child killer (implying he would have otherwise). And then of course he rewarded the behavior as well, even though Tywin had come late to the war. Also later Robert gives the order to have Daenerys (practically still a kid herself) and her unborn child killed who are still half a world away and may never even make it to Westeros. So there’s no way he would have let Rhaegar’s kids (and heirs) live. Even if Rhaegar had had a daughter of marriageable age, whom Robert could have married (which would be a decent option), again with his grudge against Rhaegar, I still think he would have rather had her killed instead. (Almost 20 years later and the guy is still obsessing over killing the one Targ he was able to get his hammer on). =/

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      1. Great discussion

        We agree that Aegon may not be Westerosi when it comes to annihilating Great Houses, but Valyrians are obsessed over purity of blood and dynasty. So, I’m pretty sure that Aegon the Conquerer could understand that Argilac Durrandon would be a snob about his sole child and heirress marrying a bastard.

        It is true that from our modern pov, Aegon did not need a personal pretext to send ravens to all of Westeros, demanding them to bend the knee to him. He was planning it all along. But in the cultural era of Planetos he does. Take the Trojan war for example. With our present day insights of geopolitics, we can see that the Greeks allied against Troy for economical and military reasons, and that there would have been a war regardless of a Paris stealing queen Helen while a guest at Menelaos’ home. And if Paris had been the son of a lesser king of a further away city which was less of a prize or possible threat, then his brother Agamemnon of a neighbouring kingdom, would have done no more than a few punitive raids, but otherwise say, ” You should have watched your wife better.” The other Greek kings might not even have bothered.

        That said, up until recent history, it was culturally important to have a personal pretext reason to go to war and to force others to take sides. And this is true for the cultural context both in Essos and Westeros. If you have no personal pretext when going to war, then you’re no better than how people regard Ironborns, Dothrakis, Vargo Hoats, wildlings or mountain men. No succesful Ironborn conquerer in Westeros was ever accepted by the region he conquered, because no Ironborn had personal pretext to conquer them to begin with. The whole idolisation of certain historical figures and the oral tradition of songs in the series matches such a view. In such a context the following line of thinking matters: “That guy stole my daughter or wife, or was so arrogant to kill my messenger with my marriage arrangement proposal: so now, it’s war, and you are with me or against me. And if you are against me, I’ll destroy you too.”

        As for Orys and the original point you made: the “he could have done worse” is an argument that I do not ascribe to. Consider the Sorrowful Men of Qarth, who apologize to their victim before murdering them. The Qartheen consider themselves to be the pinnacle of civility, because of their show of empathy: they can cry a single tear to perfection and say “oh those poor children” as well as “I’m so sorry” to the victim they’ve ordered a hit on, but are they truly a bitter civilisation and people when they plot war and assassination, just because they show empathy? Sure, the psychopaths in the books are monsters, what we consider “true evil”. But is a man who has the capacity to feel empathy or at least makes a show of pretending to be empathic, while forcing a woman into marriage, or plotting war for power and/or economical reasons a good man? George gives us constantly both monsters as well as mercenary grey characters who we know are capable of empathy, but still make the selfish choice, albeit with a Qartheen-like show of empathy. And with each of those characters, I would love to throw a cherry at their noses (like Dany) for an act that I consider to be a mummer’s empathy: Orys is one of them.

        The World Book is not an objective historical telling. It was written in-world by maester Yandel, who wrote it as a gift to King Robert Baratheon. In many sections of the Targaryen Kings, Yandel tends to cite “the songs say this” usually when it comes to the romanticised versions of events, and then will counter it with more strategic or mercenary explanations, and then lets the reader make up their mind. Yandel avoids this ‘the songs romanticise x and here’s the more mercenary alternative motive” with Robert’s ancestor, Orys Baratheon. He just writes “It is said that…”. However there is motive for Yandel not to question the romanticised version of Orys in a book he intends to gift to Robert Baratheon. It is clearly a romanticised version to make Orys look good: oh look how gentle and kind he was, and see he even honored her father, the king he killed in battle, by taking on the sigil and the words, as if it is something out of the ordinary. Again this over-romanticisation fits the cultural aspect of the version that makes the winner of a personal-pretexted feud look the better man. But just as we can see through this with the Greeks against Troy, we can see through this for Orys as well. By comparing it with the actual historical norm or standard across thousands of years, we see that it is the norm to take sigil and words, and even adopt the name, especially if the man is of a lower house or birth. So, Orys is praised for somethign that is the norm (sigil and words), and not criticised for what isn’t the norm (keeping your name). And if we then compare it to the “present day” examples durign and after tWo5K, we see that what Orys did (stripped down from the romanticism) is exactly the same thing that Lannisters and Boltons do, and in most of those cases it makes our reader’s blood boil.

        ROBERT

        Yes, Robert was relieved that Tywin had dealt with Rheagar’s children. I do not consider Robert as having rewarded Tywin for it. He simply did not punish Tywin. Some may see “absence of punishing” == “reward”. I don’t. One could say that Tywin was rewarded by Robert marrying Cersei, but he did not plan to at the time Tywin offered him the bodies of Rhaegar’s children, and Jon Arryn has to talk Robert into it. So, I think it more correct to say that Jon Arryn rewarded Tywin.

        I do not think highly of Robert, and I think he could have murdered Cersei’s children in a fit of passionate rage if Ned had informed Robert about the truth of it. I am not however convinced that Robert would have murdered Aegon and Rhaenys, if it had not been done by the Mountain and Ser Amory. If Tywin had believed Robert to be actually capable of it at the time, Tywin would not have bothered ordering his men to do so.

        First, I don’t think Robert even considered Rhaegar’s children, let alone their fates, at all before Tywin presented their bodies to him. Robert would have had his mind on Aerys II and conquering KL, not a toddler girl and a baby boy. Aside from Aerys II, the king who murdered the kin of his adoptive father Jon Arryn and best friend Ned Stark and the winning of another battle, everybody else within KL would have been abstract, unnamed collateral damage without faces. He arrives and Aerys II is already dead and KL conquered. He learns that Tywin Lannister chose the rebels’ side after all and conquered KL for him.

        Robert’s moral code is a fairly simple one. He knows right from wrong, when his friends are wronged. “My best friend’s father and brother were murdered for seeking justice and Rhaegar stole my bride – that is unjust, they must pay and die for it.” And “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” So, when he enters the throne room, it’s all neat and easy – Rhaegar and Aerys are both dead and thus justice has been served, and he even has a new powerful friend he can call an ally, and worked for it. All ends well, and it’s a good start for a new beginning.

        At that point, Tywin presents the dead bodies of Rhaegar’s children – a shocking display. And I think that internally Robert was as shocked as Ned was it, also only then realizing that “oh yeah, Rhaegar had 2 children”. That is the moment that Robert is confronted with his actual responsibility and a complicated ethical issue: he does not just have to judge right from wrong over people he considers enemies, but over allies too. Either Robert could accept that moral judgment is complicated, take the time to deal with it and think it all through, or he can avoid the complexity by oversimplifying it emotionally and maintain status quo. How does Robert deal with Joffrey and Arya? By not actually dealing with it and choosing the easiest way out of it. What was the easiest way in that moment of display of dead Rhaenys and Aegon? “Tywin = ally, Targaryens = enemy. I’m not rocking the boat over this.” But just as he has come to this internal decision in the split moment of the confrontation, his best friend starts to rain in on him, pushing for him to make the much harder decision to punish an ally for killing the children of the enemy. That annoys Robert and he gets angry, and that’s when he calls them “dragonspawn”.

        The consequence of this is that he has now judged Tywin’s actions while being worked up and emotional, and choosing Tywin’s side against his best friend’s. Linking it to his anger, he has now emotionally post-rationalised it, and the process of avoiding cognitive-dissonance sets in: he not only will defend his decision, he will repeatedly prove and argue that it is the best course of action. Let’s say that Viserys and Dany were not smuggled out of Dragonstone, but captured, after this. I think it was highly likely that Robert would have ordered their execution, just to prove to himself and to Ned that he believes that what Tywin did (see Rhaenys and Aegon dead) is what he would have done (though in fact, he wouldn’t have originally).

        That he is not a child murderer in his heart is shown at his death bed. One of his dying wishes is to repeal the plan to assassinate Dany. And while it’s true he’s obsessed with winning from Rhaegar, dreaming of killing him nightly for so long, is not him dreaming of killing Rhaegar’s children or siblings. He wants to win from an adult man he holds responsible of harming his life and future directly (and Robert is not incorrect from his POV). Anyhow, Robert would have made a great commander of the Golden Company, but having him rule a realm or region or be a husband was never a good idea.

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      2. Lol, our responses keep getting progressively longer, hopefully we reach some common ground before they require chapters!… 😉

        The Targaryens have an actual reason to care about their blood line though, to maintain their ability to be dragon riders and hatchers. Would Aegon consider some random Durrandon house to be as special? Not likely. Probably bastard or not Aegon would consider Orys’s ‘dragon blood’ he’d be bringing to Durrandon’s line a great improvement.

        I take your point about the Trojan war being a handy excuse to do something you already wanted to do. But just like the Greeks couldn’t use that wife stealing excuse to conquer some unrelated place five kingdoms away, neither could Aegon. Everyone else would be like, ‘what’s that got to do with me?’. Even if, as you said, that it was an opportunity to force others to pick sides, ‘with us or against us’ like, 1) no one else really owes him fealty anyway, 2) that mentality would only work if Aegon was asking them to join him in the fight against the Storm King (or else), (And as far as we can tell, none of the other rulers even cared much for Argilac the Arrogant, so it’s not like anyone would be on his side anyway) and 3) we don’t know that it was even mentioned in the letters he sent off to all the realm before even landing on the continent. So, I just can’t believe he needed to prompt some squabble to “justify” his campaign. And this was in the time of a bunch of squabbling kingdoms (though fewer than previously in history!) and not all of those conquerors had a great excuse beyond ‘my army’s bigger, take that!’.

        None of that is to minimize Argilac’s crime though, an envoy isn’t quite the same as Guest Right, but it’s in a similar boat, same with truce banners and stuff. You need to be able to trust people on some basic things in order for society to function. Even in our own world, “don’t kill the messenger” is still in common usage. =)

        It’s not so much that ‘Orys could have done worse, so he deserves a prize for not being a monster’… It’s that, I think if it had been Tywin, things would have been very different, or Roose, probably some flaying. And my point that started this whole conversation, (the one I was trying to make anyway =P) was that Orys, even if he got a Maester boost in the text, is not cut from the same cloth as those two, and thus shouldn’t be lumped in as all equally bad wife usurpers. And, unlike Roose and Tywin, he wasn’t replacing a beloved house going back 7,000 years, who had been destroyed largely through blasphemous trickery, which required turning all the loyal hearts and minds to him in order to keep it. Much smaller shoes to fill. And anyone taking issue with the ‘new leadership’ can talk to a dragon. And, even if Argilac was actually very popular and we just haven’t heard about it, (he was brave at least), he was old and had just the one daughter. His people would have been expecting someone new to come along anyway, changing things to at least some degree. We never see Tyrion at Winterfell after marrying Sansa, but I got no indication he was planning on giving up *his* sigil and words. And I don’t believe Ramsy did with Lady Hornwood either, even though he was a bastard. And he seems to be keeping them after marrying (f)Arya, but, we’ll see I guess. I don’t think it was super rare to do so. Even in the same families, not even after a marriage, people can change up their sigil, (the Ryswell sons, the younger Fossoway brother, all the people who quarter them), so I think there would have been at least wiggle room for Orys if he had wanted.

        Was it a smoother transition for Orys this way? I would assume so! But the very fact that Argella didn’t slit his throat in his sleep makes me think he won her over a bit. We know that she wasn’t afraid to die, or to condemn all her people to be slain either (and that was before they betrayed her!!!). So I think if he hadn’t won her over she would have gone out like Agnes Blackwood to Harwyn Hoare “I would sooner have your sword inside me than your cock.” =D

        Ah, Robert.
        We never get a POV chapter from Robert, and he never states difinitively how he felt about the murders. (Other than to call two murdered babies ‘dragon-spawn’). But, we do get some pretty interesting bits from other people that can help us suss it out, and I think they lean heavily towards him being, not only glad they were killed, but that he would have, (with some regret of course, but still…) ordered it himself if they had not been.

        Firstly, we can look at the more recent similar example, Robert is willing to send an assassin to kill Dany (practically still a pre-teen) and her unborn child, (again calling any children she may produce “dragon-spawn”), and Ned disagrees with the choice obviously, but isn’t surprised by it (indicating it’s par for the course) he argues against him but to no avail even when he quits being Hand over it. And Dany is female and thus can’t typically inherit in Westeros, and she’s half a world away, so there’s no guarantee she’ll ever even make it there. And this is before she has dragons, she’s way less of a threat to his claim than the son of the prince, but still, he wants her killed. Robert regrets it on his deathbed, but that’s *exactly* the sort of stuff you *do* rethink when you’re dying. He should also have been a better husband, and father, etc. etc. There’s not even a guarantee that any of it would stick if he suddenly got better, (think Cat praying that she’d be nicer to Jon if he lived =/ ).

        Then back to Aegon and Rhaenys, I believe Ned also mentions Robert was relieved and that he had not wanted to have to think of himself as a child killer, but I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment, so I can’t find the quote. =/ But, Ned is his best friend, so that would carry some weight. Ned also wanted Tywin punished and Robert instead made his daughter queen, which is exactly what Tywin always wanted for her, so… kind of the opposite.

        Tyrion, Robert’s brother in law, later asks Tywin why he didn’t leave them for Robert to kill rather than sullying their house with it, (strongly implying that he would have) and that’s when Tywin explains that because he sat it out until the war was won he had to do something extra to show Robert that he supported him over the Targs. Tywin also says Robert was relieved. Tywin is pretty cruel, but he’s also a savvy player in the game of thrones, so the fact that he felt so confident, not only that it wouldn’t displease Robert acting without his permission, but that it would, in fact, bring favor to his house says a lot.

        And lastly, Barristan Selmy, after working close to Robert for the past 15 years, still wonders to this day if Robert *smiled* when he saw the bloodied children (!) and says no one could have stopped him from killing him if he’d been there and seen him smile.

        There’s not a solitary character that even suggests that Robert truly condemned the act or would have done something different with them, it’s all to the contrary. I don’t think Robert’s a total villain, but he’s definitely not as honorable as Ned or Brienne. =) And in order for him to use his distant relation to the Targs as anything, there can’t be the full blooded heir just sitting there. Some others might finagle some sort of locked in a tower thing, maybe until he could be sent to The Wall, if their conscience couldn’t hack it, but I don’t think there’s evidence to support that Robert is one of them.

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  3. Actually, the blood purity has little to do with preserving the ability of dragonriding , but everything with monopolizing the dragonriding ability. While the Dance of the Dragons saw to the death of the dragons, Nettles and (other) dragonseeeds, and Alicent’s children and Rhaenyra’s children by Strong hatched eggs and/or rode dragons. Ben Plumm’s a descendant of Aegon IV and Elaena, but to Dany he looks a mongrel, because there’s also Summer Islander, Dothraki, even Ibbinese allegedely and blood of other Free Cities in him. Apparently the dragons don’t mind that: they like him. Of course, the period of the Dance of the Dragons also shows that once everybody with just one drop of dragonblood rides a dragon, regardless of upbringing and character, unbound to loyalty of a house, the chances increase they’ll use the dragon WMD for a grab for power and civil war ensues. Dany wouldn’t want Ben Plumm to be a dragonrider, for he’s more likely to do as Ulf the White. So, yes, in a sense Orys Baratheon’s blood did carry something special – the ability to hatch eggs and ride a dragon. But Orys was not given a dragon egg to hatch, nor were the Velaryons. Just like the other dragonlord families of Old Valyria, Aegon Targaryen (and his father before him) kept eggs and dragons to his own incestuous bloodline. Did Aegon know that Orys would be able to be a dragonrider? He may not have. Much of the dragonlore was lost with the Doom.

    You seem to have misunderstood my point about the cultural idea of necessity of personal pretext, of which the Trojan War is but one example. A Hittite city-state would use similar pretexts to attack other city-states. There are historical examples of what Aegon the Conquerer did: use a story of offense done to them by city-state A to attack city-state C. That may seem illogic to us, but in their mind the personal pretext story makes gods chose sides. The personal offense pretext is not so much a story to rally others against attacking Durrandon, but a story that would offend the gods, and rally the gods behind the Targaryens, and from that moment the Targaryens can make any sort of demand. Refusing it would make the gods angry. And that is exactly the mentality the High Septon of Oldtown displays when he urges he city and the Hightowers to bend the knee to Aegon. That is why I mentioned the Trojan War, as Homer’s Epic of Troy reflects that type of thinking. Refusing to submit to the man the gods favor is an offense to the gods. (Note: I’m an atheist, but I’m just reflecting how the non-existing gods think in the minds of such cultures).

    It seems you have not truly checked on the history of House Durrandon. It is a house founded in the Age of Heroes. Durran, the founder of House Durrandon, is a hero of the Age of Heroes, a “compatriot” of Brandon the Builder and Garth the Green, Lann the Clever and the Grey King. So, yes, it’s a House name that goes back for thousands of years, if not 7000 years, maybe 6000 or older, like 8000 years. So, yes, Orys did replace a house that existed for thousands of years. In reality, just like with House Stark and Hornwood, there must have been other times when House Durrandon was near extinct in their thousands of years of history, and yet it preserved the name, sigil and words. This would only have worked if the consort took the name, or a bastard or a nephew through the female line was legitimized and took the name. Your examples of Ramsay keeping his sigils and words while appropriating Hornwood, through marrying Lady Hornwood (who isn’t a Hornwood) is an anomaly, an exception. We know this, because the lords discuss two solutions before Ramsay’s deeds: there’s a bastard fostered at House Glover who could be legitimized, and he would take the name Hornwood, and then there is Beren Tallhart, the second son of Berena Hornwood, who would also take the Hornwood name. Berena is the sister of the late Lord Hornwood, and thus Beren Tallhart is Halys’s nephew through the female line. Just the fact that Houses existed for 7000 years and preserved the name, despite the many wars, points that the proposed Hornwood solutions are the common ones.

    Most people wouldn’t know the Lord personally. They wouldn’t know his face, nor his personality. It’s always a Lord Durrandon to them. And the common folk will always be levied for taxes or work, no matter what, and yet still love the ruling house. After all the common folk still love Aerys II. And the vassal lords of the Stormlands fought for Argilac. Nobody revolted against House Durrandon, until the house garrisson decided they didn’t want to die for Argella, and only a few of those with access to Argella are enough to silence their fellows in arms who would have been willing to fight to the death against Orys. I don’t see how you could suppose that House Durrandon was not loved by its vassals and common folk. Even Farlen, the kennelmaster, goes in search of Bran and Rickon for Theon with the dogs, after Bran and Rickon escaped. And yet, Farlen, loved Bran and Rickon.

    All in all, imo, it’s ironic that Argilac is nicknamed the Arrogant. Orys and Aegon are at least as arrogant. I’m sure the Dornish believed them to be arrogant presumptious men. And they were. Of course, Durran, the founding hero, is arrogant too. He married Elenei, the daughter of the sea god and wind goddess, against her parents’ will, declared war on the gods when all of his family perished on his wedding night, and then built castle after castle until he managed to build one that could withstand their wrath. Hubris has been a characteristic of House Durrandon since the very beginning. Without Orys being nicknamed “arrogant” he is indeed arrogant, when he takes the Durrandon’s words and sigil, but stamps his own name on it. And perhaps that is the reason how Orys proved himself worthy of the House that had so much hubris it dared to defy the will of the gods of sea and wind (even winning that war) since its founding. A humble man could never be a worthy consort of such a house.

    The changes in color for the sigil that the brothers Ryswell use are but personal arms. As long as they are not Lord Ryswell, it doesn’t matter. The brother who becomes the new Lord Ryswell will still sport the House sigil. Littlefinger’s personal arms is the mockingbird, but his house sigil is still the coloss of Braavos. If Harrold Hardyng does end up surviving (0 chance of that imo) and ends up being the lord of the Eyrie, he’ll take the Arryn name and Arryn words and sigil.

    As for similarities to Tywin and Roose. Now it’s understandable that Orys was bitter and resentful of the loss of his hand when Lord Wyl had it chopped off during Aegon’s faled conquest of Dorne. He doesn’t get his chance of revenge until Aegon’s son Aenys I is king and a Dornish outlaw declares himself Vulture King and raids the Dornish Marshes. The Lord Wyl was dead, but his son Walter Wyl was the new Lord Wyl and he had joined the VUlture King’s armies (like 30000 others). At Stoneshelm (Stormlands), Orys captured Lord Walter Wyl. What did he do? He chopped off Walter’s sword hand, then the other hand and his feet, making Orys as monstrous as the Mountain or Vargo Hoat. Worse, he kept the rotting limbs as trophies dangling in his tent, as he lay dying of his battle wounds, and he died with a smile on his lips while looking at them. He was probably a better charmer than Tywin and Roose though.

    ROBERT

    Most of what you bring up, I already addressed. Tywin disproves that regret is typical as you lay dying. He was shot in the gut and dying and he showed no regret to Tyrion whatsoever.

    Selmy wonders whether Robert smiled, but he serves him for fifteen years, implying that Selmy does not believe that Robert did. If he had believed Robert could smile at that, he wouldn’t have served him.

    I never even tried to argument that Robert punished Tywin. I said that “not punishing” is not necessary “rewarding”. And while Tywin can be said to have been rewarded with a daughter as queen in a metaphorical sense, it’s not the same as Robert actively rewarding Tywin for the murder of the children. First, Robert didn’t agree to marry Cersei until months later, after Lyanna was confirmed dead. Robert had no intention to choose Cersei over Lyanna. Meanwhile, there was no other elligible bride to be had amongst the war allies. Lyanna was dead. Both Tully daughters were married already. Arryn’s sister was long married, and he had no daughters himself, not even an heir with his name anymore. So, Robert had a choice between Cersei Lannister, 6-year old Arianne Martell, and baby Margaery Tyrell, amongst the great houses, and only one of those houses had risked its armies for Robert. If Aerys II hadn’t ordered the gates to be opened, it would have been a far bloodier battle on the Lannister side. It were circumstances that rewarded Tywin with Cersei as queen. If Jon Arryn had a marriagable daughter, or Ned Stark another sister, or Hoster Tully a third daughter, do you really think Robert would have chosen Cersei over them, because Tywin had Rhaegar’s children killed?

    Yes, Robert was relieved. But the relief is more likely because Tywin took the problem of Robert having to ponder a difficult decision away. That is the very basis of his behavior when confronted with decision time up close and personal. Arya attacked the crown prince Joffrey, his own son (and I don’t blame her for it). If it were up to him, he’d have Ned Stark have a serious talk to Arya and he to Joffrey and be done with it. Cersei ordered Sandor to kill the butcher’s boy, because she knew that Robert wouldn’t. Now, if Tywin had a pet lion, Ned Stark might have managed to have Robert agree to execute a pet lion. But be relieved if the pet lion managed to escape.

    If Rhaenys and Aegon had been presented captured and alive to Robert, Robert woudl have had to ponder what to do with them, and that would include contemplating the cold-hearted execution of them, but also promising them to the Faith, raising them as fostered hostages amongst his allies and arrange betrothals and child marriages with his own children or with children of his allies. Which of those decisions would Robert make? Well, he decided not to execute Theon Greyjoy, but gave him to Ned to be fostered. Executing Rhaegar’s children would have become the “rock the boat” option, and Robert wouldn’t have taken it imo. He probably would have given Aegon to the Faith, and raise Rhaenys for a bride to his own children or one of his allies’ children, especially if Ned Stark volunteered to foster her.

    Sure, Robert wants Dany dead. I argued that it can also fit post-rationalisation behavior, which is quite typical for a man with little ability of introspection. And while Ned believes Robert capable of killing Cersei’s children, he believes this would happen while Robert’s wrath is on him. He is certainly aghast that Robert wants a young pregnant girl dead, for a cold strategical reason. That cold, strategical chidl-killer did not yet exist before Robert actually sat on the Iron Throne, nor was he in passional wrath when entering a conquered city victoriously. He made allies of the Reach armies after defeating them. He didn’t demand the annihilation of Tarly’s house for defeating him. The Mootons, the Whents, the Hightowers, the Griffins, none of them were extinguished.

    Is Robert as honorable as Ned Stark or Brienne? Obviously not. And I never argued him as such. That should be clear from my chthonic essays. But unlike Orys, Tywin and Roose, I don’t think he’s a ruthless man. I don’t even regard his order to have Dany assassinated to come from ruthlesness. It’s as Ned calls it – from a manipulated, imagined blown-up fear, from a man lying to himself that he should be doing this, and he only manages to tell himself that exactly because Dany is an abstract person far far away.

    Plenty of readers are relived that Joffrey is dead. Plenty of readers wanted Joffrey to die. Plenty of readers are annoyed that Aegon pops up again. Plenty of readers consider Tommen Baratheon likeable, but still consider his death necessary to see Cersei Lannister removed from power. Would these readers ever actually order the execution of captive children up close and personal? The majority would not and could not, unless their eyes see red blood. Robert imo falls into that category.

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    1. Alright, I’m going to really try to pare things down a bit. (p.s. it only partially worked) Firstly, I can’t believe I forgot that House Durrandon claimed descent from Durran, that was my bad. I take a lot of the Age of Heros stuff as mythology, but of course, a house that took his name would hold on to that claim as long as they possibly could.

      Not every Targaryen seems to be able to be a dragon rider, much less every person with just a drop of their blood. And I don’t think it would be hard to keep dragons to yourselves, just don’t give away any eggs, and always find a new rider for a dragon when the old one dies (which they’re pretty good at) so that even if you left a dragon lying around, no one would be able to make off with her. And, if anyone were to steal an egg and miraculously be able to hatch it on their own, you have years and years before it would be any sort of threat and your full grown dragons could kill it off at any time. But, passing along the needed genes to your own line, is awfully important, and the chances of them being riders and hatchers increases if both parents have the gene to pass on. Otherwise, why do you think they suddenly lost the ability to hatch dragons? We know they still had eggs, and they had been doing it recently, so it’s not like the secret was lost to time. It’s because their numbers were cut by the war, and because the High Septon ruled against incest, and for every parent without the abilities added to the line, their kids have drastically less of a chance of having it, and that just continues lessening with each following generation. If you’re interested, this video series goes much more in depth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aoFCZGr3LY

      Like I said, if I knew Aegon had actually even included the slight in his letters, (or perhaps if the High Septon had come to that decision immediately and not when there was already gobs of proof that they’d be cooked had accrued), I might lean more that way.

      They discuss some different options of how best to handle the Hornwood problem, including the ones you mentioned, but don’t forget, she’s also already being hounded by marriage proposals from men who want her lands. Rodrik Cassel thinks of her as not uncomely for her years, but it is also noted that she’s past bearing more children, so, it’s got to be her land that’s making her a catch. If multiple houses are jumping at that chance, it’s not a total anomaly. A lot of these houses are indeed very old, but of course, we’re more likely to be told about the houses that survived, with just some of the extinguished ones to add interest. Plus their society is set up to keep power where it already is. Characters aren’t splitting up the farm for each of their sons, the oldest gets it, and maybe the next couple stick around to help and be a spare, beyond that they start looking at going to The Wall or trying to win renown in battle (or at least eek out a living soldiering for a larger house). So we’re not constantly seeing new houses pop up. If the younger Fossoway brother hadn’t been involved in some important history we could easily have never heard of him, and only some future spectacular success would have allowed his family to gain a keep and continue on to present day.

      Winterfell had already fallen when Farlen helped Theon. It would have been considerably different if he had just thrown them over the wall from inside or something prior to that.

      Do you think if LittleFinger had kids he would pass on the Titan or Mockingbird to them? Assuming he doesn’t marry again. I hadn’t really thought about it. I lean towards Mockingbird so they’d have the same signage, and because he doesn’t seem to care much for his origin story anyway.

      So you said it’s the norm to take a conquered house’s sigil and words, but Orys is super arrogant just for keeping his name? Let’s look at it from a different angle. When the crown kills off an entire line (and doesn’t also destroy the keep) it’s pretty common for them to give it away to someone loyal, and those new people bring their own house stuff to it. The Tyrells in Highgarden, like five different families in Harrenhal, Duskendale, etc. Aegon had named himself king, Orys was fighting with *his* army, you seem to feel that Orys had particularly wanted that castle (it *is* a very nice one), so this wouldn’t be very far from the king redistributing castles from those who opposed him to those who were loyal. Thus, Orys would have had every right to choose all new everything specific to his own story, yet didn’t.

      Like I said, I’m not huge into Orys, I am highly opposed to hacking off limbs in general. But like in the tale of the Rat Cook, (which also involved killing a son for his father’s crimes) a man is entitled to vengeance, just don’t go offending the Gods. And I still feel like Roose and Tywin wouldn’t have been satisfied until Roose had flayed several and Tywin had killed off the entire family. But, I suppose it’s a small thing to disagree about and doesn’t matter terribly in the grand scheme. (lol, after all this?!) =D

      Robert

      Tywin only had a couple minutes between the first bolt and the second. It’s hardly the same as the long reevaluation of one’s life on a deathbed. And that’s not even counting that the person he had most wronged was standing right in front of him in the process of killing him. Robert wasn’t going to apologize to the boar for hunting him even if he lay there dying for a year!

      If Selmy doesn’t think Robert definitely could have smiled, why is it still haunting him 15 years later? He also looks back on accepting the pardon and that very service as where he really went wrong in life!

      Tywin took the castle by lying that he had come help and then killing all those same people. It might have saved the lives of some of Robert’s soldiers, but Bloodraven also saved many lives by killing Aeneys Blackfire after granting him safe conduct. Aegon still used his first act as king to send him to The Wall. And they were blood-related, *and* Bloodraven had done it for the good of the realm, not just to save his own ass because he had sat out on a war until too late. Aegon still did it because that sort of thing is not acceptable. And if you’re in charge and you allow that, it’s a partial endorsement. So not sending Tywin to The Wall, or stripping him of his lands and titles, or banishing him or whatever, *was* a reward. Even if he hadn’t made his daughter queen.

      Robert gave Theon to Ned as a ward, but *also* as a hostage to keep his father in line. Robert had killed Rhaeneys and Aegon’s father, so they can’t really be of the same use to him. And if Robert is okay killing Dany and her child, who again *pale* in comparison to the threat of a boy actually in line for the throne, he should be doubly okay wanting Aegon dead. And the throne wore on Robert sure, but he would be well aware that babies died in his rebellion by the hundreds (as in all wars). So why should the children of his mortal enemy be more special to him than the rest?

      I hope none of the readers of this series are living in some sort of feudal society where almost every man they meet carries a sword and one person in 100 makes it to old age… I don’t think Robert is evil, but he is certainly flawed, and much more comfortable killing people than hopefully 98%(?) of readers.

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      1. Yes, it is part mythology, but it still gives us an idea. Durran was supposed to be the King of 1000 years. So, either Durran was a greenseer who got to be 1000 years old, or for about 1000 years they were all called Durran. But yes, the name was preserved.

        DRAGON HATCHING & RIDING

        Preston Jacobs puts a lot of work and time in his theories, and I respect he aims to answer questions. And I can see reoccuring themes in George’s older stories. However, this theory relies on circular reasoning and hand waving (jmho). His dragon hatcher-and rider theory assumes that only certain human females hatch dragons. This is his premisse. But then he runs into issues with Alicent Hightower. Her children cannot be dragonriders according to his theory, and yet they are. His explanation relies on circular reasoning: Hightowers must have a dragonrider x-gene, because there were dragons in Westeros before Valyrians, to prove his theory that dragonriding depends on an x-gene, yet they are not Valyrians. Nor do I accept his explanation that Viserys II was away from his mother. Because Viserys II was around his mother for several years, always keeping the egg close. The same amount of years sufficed for her first four sons to acquire hatched dragons, but suddenly it’s not enough time for Viserys II? So, these are two significant issues against his premisse, which he adequately fails to explain. Some parts of it are persuasive, but ultimately it falls apart with these two.

        Now I’m not opposed to a simple Mendelian genetic explanation, but Mendelian is not necessarily X or Y related. There are plenty of chromosomes to which dragonriding and/or hatching can be magically linked to (and that it is magically related we know because the first dragons appeared in the Shadow Lands, and the world book alleges it was a shadowbinder of Asshai who enabled the Valyrian nobles to be dragonlords). Viserys II just happened to have a non-viable egg, and so did Baela. Miscarriages and non viable foetuses are not a rare occurrence in nature, but pretty common. Of course it also means that dragonriding can be passed on by a father to his sons (which solves the whole Hightower issue). Preston can then still keep the hatching gene as tied to the x-chromosome, since Rhaeyra spent most of her time in the Red Keep, even after marrying Laenor Velaryon. The low number of dragons hatching during the first century that Targaryens live on Dragonstone sounds realistic. The Velaryons were not a dragonlord family yet, and one needs a female dragon. It would take several generations for the Targaryens to spread the magical hatching gene through intermarriages with the Velaryons. Preston also does not seem to be aware that George introduced a Valyrian-Martell marriage in Dorne a generation prior to the Daeron-Mariah and Dany-Maron match: the uncle of Larra Rogare was married to the Princess of Dorne. I also have a hard time accepting the Faith would know better than Targs what makes a dragon hatcher, so much that they can dupe the Targs.

        And then there are the dragons themselves, magical creatures. George uses the principal of consequences and costs for magic (like Bran being shoved out of a window). We could consider magic to have a volume, there’s a pool of it. Every dragon is draining magic out of that pool. Notice for example, how the number of dragons surges after Alysane and Jaehaerys managed to curtail the Stark warging by taking the NW away from the Nightfort and the Black Gate, which coincides with the time that direwolves disappear from the North. Also, if we consider that a human female is necessary to hatch eggs, would it also not be logical to consider that hatching is facilitated by having female dragons around, or at least facililates it? But as the magic has been drained and female dragons were dead, it would require time for the pool to refilll, but would still require a ritual similar to the one done in Asshai that first created fire to gain flesh. Anyway, this takes us way too far from the actual points.

        Yes, some Targaryens neither hatched nor rode dragons. Plenty of half-Targs did have hatched eggs and/or were dragonriders, or managed to bond with a wild dragon. And all the dragons were dead due the Dance.

        Viserys I being livid when Daemon Targaryen gives an egg to his pregnant mistress shows how Targaryen rulers try to preserve the monopoly and contrasts Rhaenyra’s decision to give dragons to dragonseeds.

        AEGON

        I lean that way because we are to take the World Book within cultural context as well as with a grain of salt.

        HORNWOOD

        Lady Hornwood is not the heir of Hornwood. She is a Manderly. And Ramsay is hunted and even “killed” (though they ended up killing Reek) for the appropriating he did. Yes, she gets marriage proposals, because she “holds” the lands. They’re not kicking the widow out of her home where she raised her sons. The man who marries Lady Hornwood has regency over the elected heir, either the legitimized bastard or the nephew through the female line, and can use the taxes and the levies for their own benefit for several years. Those men don’t become Lord Hornwood, just like a second husband of Catelyn Tully would not become Lord of Winterfell, or Littlefinger does not become Lord of the Eyrie, by marrying Lysa Tully. And yet there is power in being a regent or a castellan. And once a house has gone truly extinct, no nephews and no bastards, then the family of the husband of Donella Manderly might have a better chance of getting the lands appointed for a second son of their brother or somesort.

        FARLEN

        The point was that subjects can still love their lords while choosing survival. You have the whole Stormlands fighting and dying for Argilac, and yet you question the love for House Durrandon, because a few guys of the garisson were mysoginistic assholes? I doubt the kennelmaster of Storm’s End got a say in it.

        LITTLEFINGER

        House Baelish of Harrenhal is a “cadet branch” of House Baelish of the Fingers. The cadet branch has the mockingbird sigil, the Fingers has the coloss. Of course, Petyr Baelish is lord over both the Fingers and the cadet branch, and never stepped a foot inside Harrenhal, nor does he plan to do so anytime soon.

        WHAT IS COMMON

        You keep using what Targ kings do for the last 300 years as the norm, while my point is that this is indeed another way of doing things. No, it is not the norm for houses that go against a king to be utterly destroyed. We have 2 separate occasions where the Boltons rose up against the Starks and tried to do away with the Starks before the current timeline in the series. And yet the Dreadfort was not taken away from them, nor House Bolton extinguished. House Dustin fougth the Winter King Stark as the King Stark conquered the barrowlands. House Dustin did not go extinct. The Stark took a daughter Dustin to wife and made her his Queen of the North. The same thing happened with House Reed. The Neck was an independent petty kingdom conquered by a Stark, who took a crannogwoman to wife and made her his queen. At worst a house was exiled, such as House Blackwood or House Manderly. Sure, their lands and home were taken away from them, but they were neither exterminated nor their house name taken away from them.

        Yes, several houses have gone extinct, but rarely from usurpation through marriage or the execution of a whole house, before there was an Iron Throne, and it gradually becomes the fashion. You can throw as many examples at me about this new era and tell me how it is the “right” of a conquerer, it proves NOTHING about the 8000 years before it, when no conquerer is known to have usurped a house through marriage. No, instead they made the daughter of a conquered royal house their queen, and in the Andal case seem to have taken the name Arryn. Aside from probably House Lannister in the Age of Heroes, Orys keeping his name is a historical precedent. It is therefore imo no coincidence that it is exactly House Lannister and House Baratheon who end up trying to usurp houses in a similar manner and make it the fashion of the post RR-era.

        As for Aegon and Targs; I have neither a high opinion of Aegon the Conquerer, nor Orys, nor the Targaryen legacy, nor the Iron Throne, and that is because they made such a mess of things while believing they had a “right” to a whole continent. You only have to look at the increased number of Kings Beyond the Wall making it across the Wall in just less than 300 years, against the times that happened in the thousands of years before that, and to look at the figure of 10000 NW at the start of Aegon’s conquering to a mere 1000 in 298 AC to realize that the Targaryens created the present situation for the most part. I call Alysanne the Not-so-good-Queen. I don’t think well of Valyrians either. There was only one good Targaryen who ever sat the throne in my opinion in those 300 years and that was Dearon the Good.

        VENGEANCE

        Orys was the one who went to Dorne to conquer it in the first place, got his ass kicked. He’s lucky to come away with it with his life. Anyway, you claimed he was not up there with Tywin and Roose, but usurpation of a great house through marriage + smiling at his cruelty that is comparable to the Mountain or Vargo Hoat does put him up there.

        The Rat Cook story is slightly different. Yes, there is vengeance in it, and the sons were killed and fed to the father. It does not say however, that the Rat Cook tortured the sons before killing them and feeding them to the father. And I don’t care much whether the Old Gods approve of torture or not. I don’t think highly of men who have schadenfreude over having tortured a prisoner (and that includes Lord father Wyl).

        Also, Roose doesn’t flay anyone as far as I know. Ramsay’s the flayer. Roose disapproves of it.

        ROBERT

        Tywin does not recognize the wrong he did to Tysha, keeps on calling her a whore. It’s not Tysha who’s standing before him.

        Regretting not trying to join the surviving Targ children, and wondering about Robert, is not the same as believing Robert was capable of it.

        Sorry, but you’re not going to convince me that absence of punishment = reward. It is a very erronous conclusion imo, and even a possible harmful way of thinking in a very fundamental way. It is this type of thinking that prevails in abuse victims when the abuser withholds punishment: they come to see that as a reward. But it’s not a reward.

        Nowhere did I argue that Robert was correct in not punishing Tywin. Bloodraven was punished. Tywin should have been punished, and he was not. But it’s not the same as being rewarded.

        Robert did not kill Rhaenys. He neither ordered it, nor did the deed.

        I already explained why I think Robert was okay with the assassination of Dany. There’s little point in repeating ourselves.

        You seem to have missed my point about the reader comparison.

        I think Robert is a shitty king, a shitty husband and a lousy friend.

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      2. Alicent’s children are dragon riders and his explanation why (x genes from their Targ father) is totally consistent with everything that came before. (shown at 4:45 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjAAL4JJv4Y)
        “Of course it also means that dragonriding can be passed on by a father to his sons (which solves the whole Hightower issue). ” <– this is exactly the case as he shows throughout all of his dragon genetics videos.
        Her *grandchildren* seem to acquire two new dragons when they otherwise shouldn't have been able to hatch them without a female descended x, and that's where he suggests a potential explanation for that. Maybe the Hightowers have something way back like he puts forward, but we actually don't even know that those dragons were from eggs they hatched at all. There had already been some wild dragons in the story, maybe they found two more. But whatever the reason, it doesn't seem to be a large enough mystery to overrule the rest of the 400 years of dragon riding/hatching that *does* follow his theory.

        The Maesters are the most learned people in the realm. I don't find it the least bit surprising that they would have the best grasp of genetics! We have no reason to believe that the Targs knew everything there was to dragons, just that their "dragon blood" helped enable them, and that they shouldn't "water" it down to keep it pure.

        It's possible that the Targaryens struggled to hatch more eggs without dragons around, but they hadn't left existence in the world yet, there were at least 4 that we know of, so I would guess the hatching process didn't need to be as complicated as the first time in Asshai, or most recently with Dany, bringing them into the world from "scratch". You've mentioned female dragons a couple times, but remember dragons can be either gender as needed, so any ol' dragon would do. =)

        The Starks are one of the "good guy" houses, so of course we won't see a history of them vanquishing a lot of houses. House Manderly had their keep taken from them and is said to have been in peril of their lives when they fled north. But, of course, we can't see the full history of Westeros, just the bits and pieces George cares to share with us, and those are largely chosen for world building purposes and to expand our knowledge for the current story.

        Roose disapproved of ruining a good highborn hostage, but I'm not sure we can say he detests the time honored tradition of his house. And we haven't really seen him with a personal grudge, besides the general dislike for House Stark.

        And Tywin didn't hurt Tysha for her sake, but to teach his son a lesson. Not that that would matter to Tysha, (or good and decent people far and wide!). But his actual grudge was with Tyrion. Again though, pretty suddenly actively dying with your killer standing over you is not the same as a death bed. This is closer to someone who is injured on a battlefield and then finished off a minute later, there's not a whole lot of time to ponder the meaning of life. Plus I don't think Tywin fully realized that Tyrion was actually prepared to kill him.

        "I think Robert is a shitty king, a shitty husband and a lousy friend."
        On that, we can agree.

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  4. PRESTON’s THEORY

    Sons cannot inherit an x-gene from their father, only from their mother, except if they’re chromosomal hermaphrodytes. Preston points this out too. Men have XY chromosomes. Women have XX chromosomes. Women cannot pass on an Y-chromosome, only men can. In other words, Alicent’s 3 sons are XYs and they can only get their Y from their father. So it’s impossible for them to have an x- from their father. They got the x-chromosome from Alicent Hightower. This is the most basics of basics of genetics. At least Preston acknowledges that basic gender chromosome fact, and at least recognizes that poses a problem with those boys ending up being dragonriders while Alicent has no Valyrian heritage. You trying to argue that Preston already claims that Alicent’s sons got their dragonrider gene from their father Viserys I unfortunately shows I know and understand Preston’s theory better than you. Preston does not claim such a thing at all.

    Preston recognizes the issue I point out, but then unforunately does this “well Hightowers look like Valyrians without being Valyrians and there were dragons in Westeros (that nobody rode) before Valyrians so Hightowers are x-dragonrider carriers and Alicent passed it on 100% to all her children, because dragonriding is x-related.” Wait what? That’s a lot of extra assumptions without evidence for it, and on top of that relies completely on circular reasoning: using the conclusion to prove the conclusion. Not to mention how he goes into see “a nice statistical spread here of passing on the gene” for some generations, but Alicent can pass on his new invented Hightower x-dragonriding chromosome for 100%: her three sons and daughter. Even if we accept that Alicent has this circular logic x-dragonriding chromosome, there’s only 50% chance of her passing that on. She can only pass that on for 100% if both her x-chromosomes are dragonriding genes, and that would now make Alicent a dragon-hatcher, which begs even more suspension of disbelief.

    No the 400 years of Targaryen lineage does not follow his “it’s x-gene related” theory, exactly because Alicent’s children being dragonriders are heavy evidence against it.

    Preston mentions septonsnot maesters. Apparently septons can spot a dragon hatcher better than Targs can. You have to ignore that the Targaryens are a dragonlord family that ruled Old Valyria for centuries along with other dragonlord families, keeping their dragon power and secrets to themselves, the whole mention of dragons first appearing in Asshai and an Asshai shadowmage teaching and helping these dragonlord families, one which were Targaryens, to bond with dragons so they can hatch and ride them. Now, I’m willing to believe that some lore got lost and forgotten. But septons knowing by sight what makes a true hatcher, but not Targs is ridiculous, jmho.

    Dragons are not physically genderless. George mentions it’s difficult to ascertain what gender dragons are, until they lay a clutch of eggs, suggesting that dragons have cloacas (like birds), rather than externally visible genitals. Just because you can’t externally make out which of the pair of pigeons is male or female, that doesn’t mean they’re genderless. Same thing for dragons. The word “dragon” in High Valyrian is gender neutral. That’s grammar gender, not physical gender. English grammar gender is very easy, unlike in other languages. The article with a noun is always “the” and no matter what grammar gender a noun has, “the” is always correct. You will know the gender because the noun is specific. Grammar gender in other languages requires the use of different articles when you talk about the chair or the table. In French chair has a gramatical male gender, while table has a gramatical female gender. Obviously chairs and tables don’t have sex and don’t have a physical gender. And in Dutch you have male, female and gender-neutral nouns. In my native language any male or female noun has the same article ‘de’ (like ‘the’ in English), but genderless nouns have the article ‘het’. The noun for sheep and horse in Dutch is genderless: het schaap, het paard. Of course this does not actually mean that sheep and horses in Flanders physically do not have a gender. While the cat and dog are gendered nouns (we just can’t derive which out of the article): de kat, de hond. A ram, stallion or mare have the gendered article: de ram, de hengst, de merrie. The whole point that Aemon Targaryen makes is that the word “dragon” when applied to a dragon-person is gramatically gender neutral, and thus only mean “a Targ”, who can be a Prince or a Princess. Let’s say that the Netherlands or Flanders have a prophecy that contains the expression “het arme schaap” (poor sheep), which is an expression used for people we pity, there’s no way you can conclude whether the prophecy speaks about a woman or man through the noun. If someone were to translate that in English to “the poor prince” that would be an erronous translation.

    THE ACTUAL ISSUE

    Yes, George gives us the bits and peaces that are relevant. And what is relevant is that aside from the possible usurpation by Lann the Clever, we are told that houses survive, and at its worst are exiled (Manderlys and Blackwoods), but if a conquerer marries the daughter of a house, he doesn’t stamp his name on it. That George may do this to put the Starks in a beneficial light does not negate that’s what we have as historical examples of how Westeros deals with conquered and betraying houses. And if George did this to portray those houses as “good guys” then we can thus conclude that Orys Baratheon is not exactly one of the good guys.

    ROOSE

    If you admit we have not seen Roose carry a personal grudge against anyone, then what is your evidence to conclude that Roose would love to flay a whole house. There isn’t even evidence for a personal grudge against Starks – just the opportunity to become the top dog.

    TYWIN-TYSHA

    It never occurred to you that Tywin had Tysha gang-raped by his whole garrison to make sure that if Tysha ever was with child it would be impossible for her to positively claim that such a child would be Tyrion’s? Tyrion thinks it was only to teach him a lesson, and Tyrion tends to think the world revolved around him. Tywin though is a man who has a bigger perspective. He was dealing with two issues at once.

    Like

    1. Lol. It’s tempting to address your arguments, but that would just suck us further in. Surely any fun there might have been in discussing a series we both love is progressively declining. Likely we could continue going back and forth for weeks, but it appears that there’s about a 4% chance of us making any constructive headway with one another, (on a great number of topics!). There are enough stressors and time sinks in life already and surely we both have better things to do than beat our head against a wall. I’ll leave you to your thing.

      Like

      1. I’m fine with that 🙂 One of the reasons why I prefer literary analysis is because it goes beyond personal opinions on who’s good and bad (the most mundane of discussions). The whole point about the conclusion of the essay was to point out that some characters or houses (historical or present) aim to acquire a house by marrying a daughter, and then put their male name on it, while those same women and their houses try to prevent the extinction of their house name. Whether or not you defend Orys for doing it from his and Aegon’s POV is irrelevant to the Mormont women having found a way to protect their house from this, and Alysane slighly hints at this way to Asha, who a) might be pregnant by Qarl the Maid b) is a prize in the eyes of men like Masey who hope to make House Greyjoy, House Masey.

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