RFTIT Tumblr Weekly Roundup

book2

Hello everyone! Davos is almost, almost finished, but before that mighty behemoth finally lands, let’s see what Tumblr has in store for us this week:

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21 thoughts on “RFTIT Tumblr Weekly Roundup

  1. Grant says:

    I could imagine that the Faith of the Seven might be supplanted in Essos by newer religions, but I suspect the main reason that we see little variation in the Faith is just that Martin wanted to avoid making the story even more complex than it already was.

    As for Tywin, if we assume that it was him being in character then we might see this as the start of him acting to fully assert that no king after Aerys would humiliate the Lannisters and there was nothing the king could do about it. Alternatively, depending on what’s established, it could possibly be Gregor Clegane just being stupid and aggressive (two things we know describe him well*) and that unintended attack being swallowed up by much bigger events so it never got investigated. A third possibility is that people just often don’t appreciate how much Tywin can go down to a simple philosophy of attacking any enemy that he sees before him.

    If don’t consider it in character then it could have just been Martin getting events to happen and still getting a grip on these people.

    *He seriously openly confessed to rape and murder in front of a crowd of VIPs while brutally killing a prince of a land that his boss needs neutral? He never had a chance of leaving King’s Landing any way other than dead or a prisoner of the Martells.

    • Sean C. says:

      I don’t think GRRM really put much thought into the religions of Westeros when he began writing the series. There’s a lot of stuff dropped into the narrative beginning in A Feast for Crows that doesn’t, to me, jibe especially well with what came before, and the backstory around the religious institutions is pretty thin and not especially logical.

  2. Iñigo says:

    About a conflict between a potential westerosi bank and the Iron bank:
    If things get tough, Braavos has the faceless men trump card. Sending one to kill Tywin would cause a conflict in the westerlands almost inmeadeately, for example. Properly used, the faceless men can make any society crumble. That is one of the main reasons why Braavos is the most powerful free city.

  3. Space Oddity says:

    Regarding the Faith–obviously, there’s the Doylist explanation–Martin was was still feeling his way towards what the Seven were about when he started–but I like to think a Watsonian explanation for much of it is quite possible.

    For example–the lack of pilgrimages to Andalos?

    Well, for the first few centuries during the migration, the Andals were sort of busy carving out their homeland with a sword, and afterwards, when a pilgrimage tradition COULD have started up, the area was under Valyrian rule. And so, it never really began. Andalos became, for most of the Seven worshipers in Westeros, a sort of fairyland, with a sort of vague sentimental value, but no practical element in their religion. Of course, some are doubtless going to bring up Jerusalem, but in fact, if you look at the situations, you realize they are quite different… Jerusalem isn’t after all, simply important in some abstract “And here God talked to man” way–that is where Jesus is held to have physically died and been resurrected. In contrast, Andalos seems to have a few contradictory stories that aren’t extraordinarily important to their faith–enough to perhaps encourage the occasional curious Loras Longstrider to look around, but not enough to start up a pilgrimage industry.

    Now, as to why the Vale and the Riverlands don’t have a rival for the High Septon…

    Well, I have a few ideas, actually, but I’ll put them up later…

    • derzquist says:

      I think generally you’re correct with how the Faith connection to Andalos would have guttered out. Another real world comparison would be Buddhism’s connection to India. India is the wonderful land where the Buddha became enlightened…but barely anyone there is Buddhist any longer, so it occupies a weird conceptual space.

      I saw someone on Tumblr also suggested that the Faith of the Seven was never a majority religion amongst the Andals in Essos. Hell, maybe the Faith was a minority religion amongst the invading Andals too, and only consolidated strength as they began to encounter the very intimidating religion of the Old Gods.

      I also suspect that the history of the Faith involves a great deal of (our Blog Maester’s favorite term) presentism. The Faith is currently consolidated under the High Septon, thus that must have been an inevitability whether through the guiding hands of the Seven (if you’re a historian septon) or simply through the natural building of hierarchies and bureaucratic structures (if you’re a maester who considers the Faith to be a net-positive opiate of the masses).

      Thus any contradictions found in historical records or religious texts can be papered over. Oh there’s some story in the Seven-Pointed Star which suggests an early female-led version of the Faith (thus explaining how 3 of 7 faces of the divine are women)? Well that’s just a parable. A maester finds a text suggesting some weird cult of the Stranger 1200 years ago? Cite it in your catalogue, file it away and don’t pay too close attention to the hints that this cult was incredibly widespread for a couple decades.

      Some day there will be some sort of Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Andalos or in a lost cave in the Vale that will toss a big stick into spokes of the Faith’s history of itself. Honestly if GRRM ever got around to post-ASOIAF stories of Planetos, something like that would be a lot of fun for another maester historical essay.

      • Space Oddity says:

        I see we think alike on this matter.

        Now onto the why the Vale and the Riverlands–two areas which constitute the earliest and second earliest areas of Andal intrusion into Westeros, AND the only two that can be considered (almost) completely successful–don’t have potential rivals for the High Septon… well, I suspect they did, way back when. Actually, they probably had dozens of them, abbots of monasteries built in holy spots, keepers of sacred shines and precious relics, littered all over the place. And these potential rivals were probably subverted and brought under the High Septon’s authority because they all viewed their rivalries with each other as more important than that guy in Oldtown who said the Seven had granted him some special authority, and so were willing to get some help from that guy in outflanking their rivals. And if this all sounds far-fetched, remember–to go back to the Buddhist well–something similar happened in Tibet, where the Dalai Lama’s Yellow Hats managed to ultimately outperform, and in some instances even absorb many older sects partially because those older sects were as apt to quarrel amongst themselves as they were to quarrel with the Yellow Hats.

        Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that many of the Most Devout are in fact the titular heads of various holy brotherhoods and abbeys that most of them have never even visited, and that this is a state of affairs that goes back a long, long time, even before Baelor moved the Faith’s HQ. Hell, I’m even willing to bet there’s a ‘Back to the Starry Sept’ movement in Oldtown who simply haven’t been loud enough or important enough to play a big part in the narrative. Sheer speculation, I freely admit, but hey–at least it’s fun and reasonable speculation, which is a lot better than simply complaining about it, to my mind.

        • derzquist says:

          I would also toss in the Bishop of Rome comparison. There was no particular reason why that regional leader should become The Man for everything west of the Adriatic (and plenty of reasons why it was very unlikely). As Space Oddity suggested, in ancient Westeros there could have been any number of local leaders of varying sophistication. Each one a potential to expand influence.

          Yet as waves of Germanic tribes (or Ironborn, or Mountain Clans, or Stepstone pirates) roll in for a few generations, any bit of authority becomes the proverbial port in a storm. Piece by piece the Pope had gone from being one of a half dozen theoretically equal leaders to arguing that his position is higher and getting many parts of western Christendom to go along. In the case of the High Septon in Oldtown, you have a religious leader in an economically strong kingdom, in a relatively secure city (sure there’s the once a century Dornish raid, but that’s no worse then Rome in the early Middle Ages) offering financial help to rebuild septs, sending brave septons and silent sisters to ravaged kingdoms, and maybe even sending the Faith Militant to assist when the moment seems right.

          And as for heretical sects in the region; how many Christians of a western tradition today can tell you the first thing about Arianism, or anything on the Cathars (that they didn’t learn from a crappy Da Vinci Code documentary)? While conversely, the Roman Catholic Church has shown itself surprisingly flexible in accepting mismatched sects into the Holy See so long as they acknowledge Papal supremacy. Who knows how many sects have either been snuffed out by the Faith Militant (and erased from the history books) or been allowed to quietly remain while Oldtown sends a more orthodox septon when opportunity appears.

          So yeah, while it is surprising at first glance that the High Septon is in Oldtown, it’s no weirder than the head of Buddhism being in Tibet, or the head of the largest branch of Christianity being halfway across the Mediterranean from the Holy Land.

          As for the lack of schisms…I suspect that the Faith is in the middle of a lull period of schisms. They achieved détente with the Old Gods millennia ago and with surprise twists like the Manderlys allowing small inroads in the North. The Targaryean unification allowed them to roll back the priests of the Drowned God and consolidate themselves against any internal turmoil.

          However, both of those religions are resurgent and the night fires are spreading in the Riverlands and along the Wall. So the lull is pretty much over.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Indeed. We’re basically in the middle of a highly secularized “Babylonian captivity” period of the Church which is being upset by the High Sparrow–and let’s be honest, if the Iron Throne were in even slightly better shape the Sparrow movement would be heretics in the “Spiritual Franciscan” mode. Which also brings up another matter–there’s actually a good reason why the cries to bring the High Septon back to Oldtown, if they are there, wouldn’t have the same urgency as the cries to bring the Pope back to Rome. Oldtown is a well-organized, well-run city that remains one of the great cities of Westeros even with the High Septon away. Medieval Rome was a chaotic city in a state of significant decline who needed the Pope there to run the government–indeed his absence led to things like the government of Cola di Rienzi, “the last Tribune”. Simply put, it’s more of an academic matter for them, even if for some, it is a matter of great emotional weight.

        • It’s as better an explanation than I’ve seen before.

      • “I saw someone on Tumblr also suggested that the Faith of the Seven was never a majority religion amongst the Andals in Essos. Hell, maybe the Faith was a minority religion amongst the invading Andals too”

        – Nope. Description of the Battle of the Seven Stars makes it very very clear that fanatical belief in the Seven was a key motivating factor in the invasion. They were literally fighting under a sign from the gods.

    • It could well be. Also, the fact that Westeros is the promised land in Seven theology might mean they have less of an emphasis on what went before.

      • Space Oddity says:

        Oh, that would doubtless help make such a transition possible. I’m just talking about the practicalities–no septon’s gonna feel a burning urge to recommend his flock purge their sins by returning to Andalos when he could have them do it with the latest holy war in Westeros, when it’s a matter of life and death they do the latter. The business of pilgrimages were religious, yes, but there was also actual business attached to it…

  4. Keith B says:

    Why would you necessarily need swing bridges in order to maintain the rivers as defensive barriers? Just put fortresses on both sides of the bridge to defend it. They wouldn’t need to be as strong as the Twins; they only need to be strong enough to hold out until reinforcements arrive. Only a small part of an army can cross a narrow bridge at any one time, and it would face massive local superiority of forces on the other side.

    If you need to preserve navigability along the rivers, drawbridges would probably be easier for Westerosi technology to build than swing bridges.

    In order to make this work well, the Lord of the Trident should build a road parallel to the River Road, but north of the Red Fork, to allow forces to move quickly up and down the river.

    While we’re on the subject, to defend the southern riverlands, you’ll want a system of watchtowers. They need to be close enough to communicate by smoke signals or, at night, by signal fires. Enlist the smallfolk, too. Promise rewards to anyone bringing news of enemy movements, and bigger rewards for captured dispatches. Back it up with fast cavalry that can attack foragers, scouts, and supply trains, then get away before the main army arrives. Avoid actual battle until you can force the enemy to fight on ground of your choosing.

    You’re welcome.

    • Building fortresses at every ford and the both side of every bridge is prohibitively expensive. Swing and/or drawbridges are much cheaper.

      A road paralleling the Red Fork on the north bank might be a good idea, but it’s not hugely critical – it’s probably faster to move troops down the Blue Fork and then up or down the Red than to move them by road.

      • Keith B says:

        How many bridges are we talking about? I have in mind a route from the Kings Road to the River Road directly through Fairmarket, and another in the eastern Trident. In the central Trident, that means a bridge across the Red Fork and another across the Green Fork, plus replacing the wooden bridge at Fairmarket with a stone bridge (but you don’t need additional fortifications there). Since you want to build a second Riverrun anyway, you might as well run your second route through there. That’s only a few new bridges. The forts don’t have to be that strong, only strong enough to hold out for a few days until help arrives. If Tyrion can build fortified winch towers on both sides of the Blackwater in a few months, I don’t see why you can’t build reasonable forts if you put a few years into it.

        Certainly you can move supplies up and down the Blue Fork (but easier downstream than up), but you want to be able to move a lot of horses quickly. That’s a lot of boats, and horses move pretty well by themselves if they have a decent road to travel on.

        Even swing bridges need guard towers at least, otherwise a small enemy force can seize the bridge and hold it until the main body arrives.

        • Given the number of fords that Edmure has to defend at the eponymous battle, quite a few. But that aside, swing bridges are just more of a sure thing. The bridge fort might hold, the bridge fort might not hold – but a swung bridge means the enemy cannot cross.

    • Grant says:

      You could only rely on the smallfolk so far when it comes to reports about enemy forces since not many peasants know much about judging quality of warhorses or how to quickly estimate enemy size, plus there’s the problem of how to quickly get the reports when possession of messenger birds for most professions would be evidence of spying. There’s some use for it, you just can’t expect much.

      • Keith B says:

        Every bit helps. There are precedents for using locals as eyes and ears; Wellington’s army in Spain, for example. You can teach people to recognize the difference in types of forces and make rough estimates of numbers. Reports would be delivered on horseback, not messenger ravens, but lone riders on horses can move faster than armies on the march.

        • Grant says:

          That’s still really just spies, not a more widespread institutionalized information-gathering system among the smallfolk I thought you were suggesting.

          • Keith B says:

            Nope, spies are all I had in mind. Wellington probably relied more heavily on his exploring officers (scouts) than on the partisans, but he didn’t turn down other sources of information when he could get them. The smallfolk don’t even have to travel far, they only need to talk to your scouts when they ride through. The Tullys have a lot of good will with their smallfolk, they might as well use it to their advantage.

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