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Winds of Winter: Book Six Is Coming, Honest!


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#1171

agora

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 11:43 AM

He thought Jorah was just a big sanctimonious ox.

To be fair, that Ser Jorah kinda is a big sanctimonious ox. The one from the TV show is a seriously improved version, in my opinion.

Edited by agora, May 5, 2012 @ 11:44 AM.

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#1172

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 1:09 PM

Plus Tyrion doesn't really bother assessing how badass most men are, since almost any of them could beat him in a fight whether they're badass or not.
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#1173

rhyannelise

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 3:13 PM

I don't trust Varys words on anything. I think that readers get too caught up in Varys for the realm routine - a huckster who uses little orphans, whose tongues he cuts out, as spies isn't doing this for the "realm."


Wait what? Where does it say he cuts out their tongues? As far as I can tell, he rescues them from abject poverty, educates them, and probably finds them good jobs when they get too big to spy for him.

And which sandsnake in disguise is at the Citadel with Sam?
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#1174

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 3:22 PM

It's implied in the conversation Arya overhears between Varys and Illyrio in Game of Thrones. I think Varys needs more "little birds" and Illyrio says something about how it would be easier if they didn't need to know how to write and mentions something about the trauma they undergo.
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#1175

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 3:37 PM

The conversation:

"I must have gold, and another fifty birds."
She let them get a long way ahead, then went creeping after them. Quiet as a shadow.
"So many?" The voices were fainter as the light dwindled ahead of her. "The ones you need are hard to find... so young, to know their letters... perhaps older... not die so easy..."
"No. The younger are safer... treat them gently..."
"...if they kept their tongues..."
"...the risk..."

That sounds ominous. Does it imply that the birds are so young that they do die easy? And if they kept their tongues, is that about their general trustworthiness or mutilations committed to guarantee trustworthiness? I can't remember whether we learned more about the birds in ADWD.

The Sand Snake is Sarella/Alleras.
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#1176

emjay1116

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 6:03 PM

It seems to me that in this case "keep their tongues" is figurative? Varys is saying to be nice to them and Illyrio is saying he will if they keep their traps shut. At least that's the sense I get from it.
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#1177

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 10:39 PM

I didn't think it was meant to be literal, either. I thought the fact that they didn't speak was just to make them all the more sinister and not because their actual tongues were cut out?
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#1178

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 5:30 AM

I think there are a few references too, to the fact that Varys' "little birds" are mute. It never occurred to me for an instant that this would be metaphorical.

"If they kept their tongues," he wouldn't have to find children who can read and write, because they'd be able to talk instead. But he doesn't want them to talk. He wants them very young, mute, and able to write things down. "The risk" of letting them remain whole is too great. They might talk to the wrong people.

The younger ones die too easily if captured and tortured for information, but really I'd think that would be a plus, unless he's torturing his own spies for information.

Let's face it, Varys was made a eunuch as a child, rather casually, by someone who purchased him for the sole purpose of castrating him. He therefore might not regard mutilation as the end of the world, or mutilation of children as all that unthinkable as long as they're your own property. It's not the children who are sinister.

Edited by Hecate7, May 8, 2012 @ 5:35 AM.

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#1179

benteen

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 7:22 AM

So someone like Wex could have been a little bird for Varys. As a matter of fact, it was hiding in the weirwood tree that got Manderly his information that Bran and Rickon were still alive.

Edited by benteen, May 8, 2012 @ 7:22 AM.

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#1180

Maximum Taco

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 9:08 AM

The younger ones die too easily if captured and tortured for information, but really I'd think that would be a plus, unless he's torturing his own spies for information.


I think what he might mean instead here is that they're captured too often because the younger ones don't know enough to be careful.

I doubt Illyrio cares too much about the children dying quickly when tortured, it's more that Varys seems to burn through a lot of them very quickly, which would imply a high rate of capture.

Edited by Maximum Taco, May 8, 2012 @ 9:14 AM.

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#1181

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 9:26 AM

The younger ones die too easily if captured and tortured for information, but really I'd think that would be a plus, unless he's torturing his own spies for information.

I think the disadvantage of recruiting younger children is that younger children are less likely to know their letters, hence harder to find in the quantities Varys wants. Yeah, Varys and Illyrio are pretty creepy.
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#1182

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

I always took that Varys little birds had no tongues as well. I never much thought about how they got tongueless, but surely he had them cut out.
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#1183

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 9:47 AM

That makes no sense. If they can read and write, even with their tongues cut off, they could still "talk" by writing. How does that stop them from revealing secrets in any way at all? (They need to read and write to send and recieve messages without having to report in person.) IMHO, "keeping your tongue" is a pretty clear _figurative_ expression.
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#1184

mankandind

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 10:21 PM

It's obviously not bulletproof, but I think it's very effective. It cuts way down on the number of people who they could tell, because the person has to be able to read. In terms of incidental rumor spreading, it isolates the child and makes it harder for them to form normal human relationships with people who they might want to tell in the first place, and also obviously requires them to think more before accidentally saying something. In terms of selling secrets, it makes it harder for them to "feel out" the person they might sell secrets to before committing to telling.

"Keep your tongue [still/silent/quiet]" doesn't sound like idiomatic English to me. I think "hold your tongue" is way more natural if that's the intended meaning. So much so that I wouldn't even think GRRM was even intending to be ambiguous. But obviously quite a few people think it sounds fine. Funny how that can be.

Edited by mankandind, May 10, 2012 @ 10:22 PM.

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#1185

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 2:59 AM

I wondered about how having mute kids who could write, would make them better spies. It makes more sense to get mute kids who can't write yet, and teach them to write in a code you only share with your "little birds." The kids might still rat you out by drawing pictures or using some kind of sign language, but if they believe you rescued them and are their friend, they probably won't.

I've never heard "keep your tongue." I've heard "hold your tongue." And knowing GRRM and his fascination with dismemberment, I really doubt it's a figure of speech.
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#1186

zereaux

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 7:43 PM

That makes no sense. If they can read and write, even with their tongues cut off, they could still "talk" by writing. How does that stop them from revealing secrets in any way at all? (They need to read and write to send and receive messages without having to report in person.) IMHO, "keeping your tongue" is a pretty clear _figurative_ expression


Westeros doesn't seem to have a very high literacy rate, especially among the common and poor folk. Chances are, if one of Varys' "little birds" was caught and found to be mute, the captor would probably not think that a small, poor child could read and write, and therefore would be unable to question them.

I wondered about how having mute kids who could write, would make them better spies. It makes more sense to get mute kids who can't write yet, and teach them to write in a code you only share with your "little birds." The kids might still rat you out by drawing pictures or using some kind of sign language, but if they believe you rescued them and are their friend, they probably won't.


That's a clever idea, but reading and writing are pretty closely related skills, and if the children are going to be reading any sensitive documents and information they can find, they'd probably figure out how to write at some point. It's probably easier just to teach them to write in the first place, although I can see how some sort of shorthand or abbreviated system of encoding would be preferable.


I am definitely of the opinion that Varys has the children's' tongues removed before they become his "little birds." He may be serving "the realm" and care slightly more about the smallfolk than other information-gatherers like Littlefinger and Qyburn, but it is a necessary precaution to have informants and spies that can't be questioned if caught. Besides, if these kids aren't originally just slaves, they're probably from poor families and rat-infested slums, so exchanging your tongue for a roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back, and likely a bit of coin as well is an improvement and a kindness.
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#1187

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 9:27 PM

Or so Varys might tell himself.
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#1188

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Posted May 13, 2012 @ 9:01 PM

Westeros doesn't seem to have a very high literacy rate, especially among the common and poor folk. Chances are, if one of Varys' "little birds" was caught and found to be mute, the captor would probably not think that a small, poor child could read and write, and therefore would be unable to question them.


Not to mention it's a lot easier to pretend you can't read/write than it is to pretend you can't speak.
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#1189

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 1:44 AM

I've decided, Daenerys is not totally beyond redemption for me, so long as she gets into some serious action fairly fast. Given the propensity for anyone she meets to quickly suffer a serious case of death this shouldn't be a problem. As for where she ends up at the end, I think as the last schion of the true House Targaeryan it would only be right for her to go down fighting in Fire and Blood ;)
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#1190

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 8:10 AM

i dont think whether or not varys "little birds" have tongues or not is going to factor into anything at any stage at all.....

also which POV character does every one think is going to be the first to encounter Howland Reed? ive got a feeling its not going to be Jon... doesnt seem GMMR's style to have jons story revealed too smoothly
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#1191

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 9:37 AM

Perhaps Sam for Howland? I would love it to be Jaime or Brianne for the sheer randomness of it. That would be George's style since Jaime wouldn't give a damn about Jon's paternity or the tower of joy and Brianne would not know to ask.
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#1192

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 10:27 AM

i think jamie would be perfect, seeing as howland reed was responsible for killing the man he idolised in Dayne.... would make a very interesting chapter!
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#1193

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 11:32 AM

I kinda think Theon and/or Asha might be the first to encounter Howland Reed, but Jaime would be an interesting possibility as well. In either case, I could see Howland coming across as a giant douche, as he would probably hate all of those characters, and also be distrustful of non-Northerners.
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#1194

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 11:39 AM

I kinda think Theon and/or Asha might be the first to encounter Howland Reed, but Jaime would be an interesting possibility as well. In either case, I could see Howland coming across as a giant douche, as he would probably hate all of those characters, and also be distrustful of non-Northerners.


If Theon and/or Asha come across Howland Reed, then I can totally imagine a Howland-Stannis showdown. Stannis' rigid practicality complete with Howland's probably Yoda-esque cryptic proclamations.

This needs to happen. Come on GRRM, you know the comedy gold that can result.
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#1195

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

ive always had howland down as going to be a mix of his 2 kids, strong willed like his daughter but wise beyond his years like jojen. not douche baggish at all...... pure speculation but, he could be an absolute dropkick for all i know. but i see him as being the rally point for the stark kids either in the next book or the last.

it's kinda frustrating a guy that has so much pivitol information in regards to the history and plot of the story hasnt made an apperance in the first 5 books
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#1196

benteen

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 11:52 AM

For some reason I picture the actor who played Syrio Forel when I think about ole Howling Mad Reed.
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#1197

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 11:56 AM

haha yeah i can definitly see him as the yoda type..... "mother lyanna stark she is"
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#1198

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 12:47 PM

I kind of see George RR himself as Howland- Older, eccentric looking, wild patchy beard.
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#1199

Maximum Taco

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 1:18 PM

I kind of see George RR himself as Howland- Older, eccentric looking, wild patchy beard.


I always figured Howland would be more spritely. A thin guy who was very light on his feet.

If there's a Martin insertion in the books (and George is being honest with himself) I think it's probably Wyman Manderly.
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#1200

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Posted May 15, 2012 @ 1:26 PM

yeah theres no chance the guy who killed the sword of the morning is a fat mess like GRRM lol... no offence to the big fella
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