quote:I never saw the Faceless Men as an influential group on a large scale as that. Hopefully we get some more info on them in the coming book.
Isn't the Crackpot theory with the Faceless Men is that they caused the Doom of Valyria and used Hardhome as a sort of test grounds for it? Also, maybe Jaqen is at the Citadel to learn about dragons and get rid of Dany's...
Isn't the Crackpot theory with the Faceless Men is that they caused the Doom of Valyria and used Hardhome as a sort of test grounds for it?
So many factors seem to come together, if you think about the implications of Hardhome. The Faceless Men and the Doom. Skinchangers and dragonriders. Slavery. Aegon the Conqueror and Torrhen Stark. The Valyrian Empire and Westeros. A picture begins to emerge.
1) The Valyrian Empire DID try to conquer Westeros before Aegon the Conqueror came. Six hundred years ago, in fact. They landed forces north of the Wall, thinking that this would be the perfect way to begin an assault: the wildlings are spread out and disorganized, they have no proper towns, and the kingdoms below the Wall don't really have information about what goes on north of the Wall, relying on the (even-then) undermanned Watch. The plan was to land at Hardhome, the only proper town (thus, the only possible threat), overwhelm it, and use it as a base of operations for the landing of more forces. When everything was in order, dragons would destroy the Watch, dragonriders would open the gates, and an army would pour south of the Wall, seemingly from nowhere, surprising and overwhelming the Stark's kingdom. The Valyrian dragonriders would consolidate their forces, land more at White Harbor and along the coast, and then pour south into the Riverlands and beyond (again, using the North's natural landmarks--Moat Cailin and the Neck--to shield themselves from detection from the southern kings, until it was too late).
2) The lands beyond the Wall, however, have something Valyrians had never encountered before: skinchangers. Think about it: in all of various characters' travels through Essos, has anyone encountered any group that bear a resemblance to skinchangers? I can't think of any; no legends, no stories, nothing.
3) An exploratory force lands at Hardhome. Skinchanger meets dragonrider, and the struggle for control of the dragons---a struggle the Valyrians were completely unprepared for---leads to the mini-Doom, the destruction of Hardhome. The surviving dragons end up in caves, and die quickly in the snow--not many were brought for the first assault, in any case, and since not all skinchangers have Bran-level skill, maybe they were unable to fully warg the dragons, lost control for some reason, or there were fewer skinchangers than dragons (since skinchanging is not a common skill). In any case, Valyria abandons its plans to take Westeros, since the idea of sorcerers who can steal their dragons terrifies them.
4) The Faceless Men hear hints of this. They investigate, head to Westeros and meet some skinchangers, and adapt their magic accordingly (they can't really skinchange like a Stark, but they can push their magic in that direction). We know the Faceless Men allegedly had something to do with the Doom. We know they were slaves in Valyria, and the old gods of the North abhor slavery. When Arya puts on a new face, she can feel the personality/experiences (briefly) of the original owner; that sounds an awful lot like an approximation of warging. The House of Black and White has a weirwood door; chairs are made of weirwood with ebony faces. This can't be a coincidence---do weirwoods even grow in Essos? Not to mention that Arya hears people in Braavos talking about Jon (they call him the Black Bastard of the Wall). Why on earth do the Braavosi care about the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch? Yes, the Iron Bank wants a word with Stannis, but Arya hears about Jon, not Stannis. Braavos was founded by Valyrian slaves, and it makes sense that people in power in Braavos would be accustomed to keeping tabs on the North of Westeros, having heard rumors of a connection to the Doom.
5) There is no indication that Aegon the Conqueror ever set foot in the North---the Inn of the Kneeling Man, where Torrhen Stark surrendered, is located in the Riverlands. Which is odd, since you'd think Aegon would want to have Stark surrender in Winterfell, seat of power of the oldest ruling family in Westeros, before all of the lords of the North. No battles were fought in the North or against Northerners. Aegon the Conqueror never even tried to take the lands north of the Wall. And Aegon was willing to leave off conquering Dorne---essentially leaving an undefeated foe at his back---to accomplish the rest of his conquest. Why?
6) I think Torrhen Stark was no skinchanger, but many of his ancestors were. I mean, look at the current generation: half a dozen wargs, at least one of whom is a greenseer. Brandon and Lyanna were said to both be "part horse", and the "wolf blood" could very well be a euphemism for warging aptitude. If Benjen is Coldhands (and Coldhands and Bloodraven seem to be two separate entities), he possibly has skinchanging abilities; look at how he's able to use ravens for scouts. Aegon the Conqueror attacked when he did because he was on a timetable---he knew he had to get the North to submit before the Starks produced a skinchanger, since otherwise, his great weapon--dragons--would be useless. And look at how the Targaryens treated the Starks after the conquest: they left them the hell alone. Queen Alysanne and her husband (whose name escapes me) took their dragons on a trip North once, but it sounds like that was a really unique event. No Targaryen ever married a Stark, as far as I can tell, and that is really strange when you look at the Starks' long bloodline and enormous prestige.
7) The implications for a new Targaryen conquest are huge. It's not like Aegon can invade the North without dragons--it's winter, and because of the long isolation of the North, he can't find any Targaryen loyalists. The wildlings would laugh at him, the Northern lords are probably still pissed about Rickard/Brandon/Lyanna, and there's no indication that Aegon knows anything at all about Northern culture---the major reason Robb was declared King in the North was because the northerners were sick of being ruled from the south. So Dany brings her dragons, but they aren't the unstoppable weapon in the North that they would have been in the past; between constant snow (snow doesn't burn!) and the fact that the current crop of Starks are all wargs . . . Aegon and Dany will have to content themselves with six kingdoms, at most.
No Targaryen ever married a Stark, as far as I can tell, and that is really strange
where Torrhen Stark surrendered, is located in the Riverlands. Which is odd, since you'd think Aegon would want to have Stark surrender in Winterfell, seat of power of the oldest ruling family in Westeros, before all of the lords of the North. No battles were fought in the North or against Northerners