Right on. I mean, I think Cersei is limited as a parent because of her overall limitations as an empathetic human being. I think at the very least Cersei admires Joff’s personality because he is strong-willed, unlike Tommen who’s so nice, it worries/disconcerts her.
W.R.T. Cat, she probably does “get along” better with Bran because, like, he’s an easy kid to get along with. Everyone gets along with Bran. In that sense she may have a special bond with him, but I don’t think it translates to preferential treatment. CERTAINLY I can’t see that anything awful and galling came of any specialness of the bond, which is what cracks me up about people clutching their pearls about her so-called biased parenting.
Can I say that I love your icon?
Yeah, Catelyn hate is ridiculous. She doesn’t have to float everyone’s boat but if the emotion leads people to say things that are patently and demonstrably absurd, it’s not an emotion that I think deserves a lot of attention, rather just a lot of mere noise. What’s even more ridiculous is when people are so proud and defensive of their irrational hate.
Like, yeah, um. You go. With that.
Note: There’s an ETA at the bottom of the post now reflecting something I read after I wrote this.
Somewhere between last night and this morning Entertainment Weekly posted James Hibberd’s blog post/article/whatnot called 'Game of Thrones' finale: No Lady Stoneheart! And why that's a good thing (book spoiler). Now, nobody knows that Lady Stoneheart is for sure out of the TV series completely. She might have been slated to appear, hence the suggestive Instagram post from Lena Headey and the other arguably leading hints that have been dropped. I’m not informed enough to guess either way*. But I’m going to respond to Hibberd’s “case both for tonight’s finale absence and against a future appearance: No Lady Stoneheart is a good thing for Thrones" (bolding mine) anyway since what it boils down to is a case against Lady Stoneheart’s appearance in the novels themselves:
The balance between reality and fantasy is always delicate and tricky in ASOIAF. Lady Stoneheart represented the fantasy element running roughshod over the medieval realism side of the Westeros-set story. First, her rescue seemed too convenient — her body just happens to be found via Arya’s absent direwolf and resurrected by Lord Beric by magic? Second, her return undermined the impact of Martin’s most powerful scene, The Red Wedding, by “taking back” her death to some degree. Third, LS then presides over a “trial” of Brienne and finds her guilty — which seemed horribly unfair, with the final LS chapter condemning Brienne; the wrong person punished because Catelyn is now a murderous zombie who doesn’t much discriminate about who she kills. It’s all kind of a bummer, and then … that’s it! The LS story thread doesn’t continue after that chapter in book 4, though it’s not clear if Martin has discarded it or if there is more to come (presumably the showrunners know more about the future importance of LS in the books than we do). So removing LS from HBO’s version gives the story of Catelyn Stark a stronger — albeit more tragic — ending. I want to remember Catelyn for who she was, not as some twisted Monkey’s Paw version. And the changes have arguably already improved the story of Brienne, who as portrayed wonderfully by Gwendoline Christie, deserves a more interesting and satisfying fate.
Anyone who knows me knows that Lady Stoneheart is not my favorite thing about Catelyn Stark, and that people who think that Stoneheart is the only good thing about Catelyn Stark piss the ever living fuck out of me, so it’s not like Stoneheart is the hill I’m going to die on. But I’m getting a little weary of people just not understanding Catelyn’s arc and the meaning of things within it, and that inevitably extends to Stoneheart.
Less importantly, the idea that Stoneheart of all things is what tips the balance of magic vs realism into the territory of irresponsibly fantastical, in a series with fucking ice zombies and fire-breathing dragons and purple-eyed ethereal beauties and magical ancestral swords that denote the Chosen One is a little difficult to countenance. Come on, Beric Dondarrion already exists (even in the show)? Not even touching how many other plot developments require stretches of believability to exist (well, one: for my money Jon Snow being elected Lord Commander is something that would only ever happen in a fantasy novel, but I would guess that if that was eradicated from the TV show in the name of plausibility people would cry bloody murder on behalf of precious Jon Snow’s storyline, yeah?). And yes, she disappears for the whole fifth book, but the AFFC/ADWD split means that practically everyone disappeared for a whole book at some point.
Much more importantly, Hibberd mischaracterizes Lady Stoneheart’s role when he describes it as “an awesome vengeful twist, some soothing balm for the book’s most heartbreaking chapter”. While it is awesome in the sense of sheer drama and grotesque vibrance, it is not a good thing, and this is made abundantly clear by Thoros’ disillusioned descriptions of what has happened to the Brotherhood Without Banners under Stoneheart’s leadership. Nobody in the books is actually cheering “The north remembers!!!1” behind Lady Stoneheart, the prevalence of that phrase in fandom lately is due only to the show using it (prematurely, relative to the books, but whatever) because they’re afraid of losing viewers if they let them think the northern cause is dead.
Stoneheart, like a number of equally creepy and equally fantastical developments in Bran’s storyline, is a great example of “Be careful what you wish for”. The Red Wedding leaves people despondent and they think all they want is revenge. Martin gives them an element of revenge (Stoneheart) and it goes very wrong. This is exactly why Brienne’s fate is so unjust. Revenge is not about justice! Of course it’s a bummer, it’s supposed to be! It’s easy to cheer indiscriminate revenge when none of the victims are people you care about, but we care ever so much about Brienne, whose goal is so noble, whose character is so pure, whose very arc is tied in so closely to the woman Stoneheart used to be. The bitterly regrettable nature of revenge is exactly what Martin is getting at, and he very intentionally puts it alongside the vivid and extreme horrors that inspire that desire for revenge in the first place, thus creating palpable and truly visceral emotional conflict rather than a detached intellectual exercise. This is all very much by design, you should feel bummed.
What befuddles me most of all is the idea that Catelyn’s arc is more tragic without Stoneheart. Stoneheart is possibly the most tragic thing that could happen to Catelyn. Stoneheart is the denial of closure, it’s the denial of peace, the denial of rest. No human being should have to go through this, no mother should have to lose all her children and then live supernaturally transfixed forever within that moment of grief. That is tragic. Without Stoneheart, Catelyn’s tragedy is more like Ned’s or Robb’s, it’s a martyr’s tragedy, a beautiful, heroic, inspirational tragedy. But with Stoneheart, Catelyn’s arc moves so far above and beyond anything Ned or Robb ever achieved as classically tragic figures. The Catelyn+Stoneheart arc perverts the classical order, for the express purpose of making you uncomfortable, for the express purpose of creating a difference between the Great Men of History like Ned or Robb and a character like Catelyn who is so very much a woman and a mother, for whom the way is harder to know, for whom the classical formula does not include a part. You don’t get to remember Catelyn Stark as an ideal, pure, heroic memory, and that makes her a more revolutionary and truly challenging figure than Ned, Robb, or Lyanna Stark ever were. Stoneheart is not a takeback, Stoneheart is one of the most emotionally complex developments in the entire series.
If the omission (and again, we don’t know if it’s omitted or if it’s just delayed, but Hibberd certainly prefers the former) is an improvement because it removes a major bummer from the story and lets a great performer like Gwen Christie shine, then I wonder why nobody ever argued to let Catelyn Stark, played by a great performer like Michelle Fairley, survive the Red Wedding. I mean, that was a total bummer, right? Or is it just that supposedly “everyone” dislikes Catelyn any way and so when it comes to her arc and hers alone, less is always better? Go read any comments section or any discussion and you will find no shortage of people who crave her to stay dead for real not because it’s kinder or a better tragedy, but because they can’t stand her. HOW SURPRISING.
Whether or not it behooves the HBO show to include all this, and whether or not they even can given how much they fucked up Catelyn’s earlier seasons, is another discussion (one in which I’d happily partake, because though I don’t care about Game of Thrones any more I will always care about Catelyn Stark, if for no other reason than because of all the people who care about everything except Catelyn Stark) but it’s a discussion that should start here, with the analysis of why Stoneheart exists in the source material. Hibberd intends to expound on his position in EW’s Book Club post Monday afternoon; I would hope that his points reflect such an analysis.
* ETA: According to Alex Graves Stoneheart was never intended to be part of the season. I find it ironic that Stoneheart’s violence could be considered extraneous and meaningless given how many scenes of violence HBO decided to add that were not in the books, especially whenever they could combine it with women in sexual situations. I also find it very hard to believe that HBO did not like the Stoneheart speculation and willingly went along with the buzz, much like I find it hard to believe Matt Weiner didn’t intentionally troll Mad Men fans about Megan Calvet/Sharon Tate.
Well, in the beginning of A Game of Thrones Bran remembers how his mother would not allow him to climb trees and how his father caught him one time when he disobeyed and instead of punishing Bran, Ned laughed and told him not to let his mother see. It’s kind of one of those conspiratorial cutesy things like Jon and Arya giggling “Don’t tell Sansa!” that’s supposed to make us coo and squee at the closeness of two Stakrs (at two other Starks’ expenses). Except while it may be cute, it’s also fucking dumb. Like, dude, your kid could fall and hurt himself, and moreover, once your wife sets down a rule, you should NOT undermine her authority if you can help it, and in this case Cat’s rule is not only reasonable, but very much for the best.
It’s not like Ned is repeatedly disrespectful of Cat as a parent, and I do think he is a good parent, but I hate how this sort of incident just makes people endeared to him as the loving Cool Dad who *gets* his kids when, you know, if he had helped Cat enforce the rules maybe Bran would’ve been a lot fucking safer. I hate this position that moms, in popular culture and quite honestly frequently in life too, are put in where they say the incredibly sensible and wise thing and then are dismissed as smothering killjoys because, hey, why can’t you be more like dad? Dad's cool. It's hard for me to articulate but I find it so patronising and condescending and aggravating. “Don't do XYZ because your mother is right, do ZYX because we need to spare her little feelings and not make her cry and not let her know that we know that she's not really that important as an authority figure, just a person whose emotions we need access to even though we don't want to admit that.” That's condescending and patronising and aggravating.
So that’s why I brought it up before. It’s just one incident, I realize, and it’s not like I blame Ned for Bran’s injury (obviously Jaime) and I am pretty sure that most of the time he and Cat were on the same page. But again I hate how the text just makes people go “Awww Ned’s so cute what a great dad how cool I wish he was my dad!” and not even realize that he’s just making a bigger problem for Cat to have to fix. And I hate how the built-in reaction “we” have to this scenario is “Ah the little wife, so domestic, so frustrated, of course she gets in a tizzy from time to time, isn’t it so cute bless.” If moms are supposed to be defined by their children more than dads are then at the very least their expertise should be respected and not in a condescending “Watch it, boys, your mom’s serious!” way.
A few days back someone had reblogged my little post about Ned undermining Cat’s parental authority re. Bran’s climbing and how it sucks even though he gets seen as the Cool Parent. I think the question was asking if I thought that we readers were meant to see Ned as being, and I don’t quite remember here, but a bad parent of any sort?
If that person is still interested, I do think that Cat is supposed to have a Should’ve Listened To Mom thing going on, nobody appreciated it but she was right all along in that regard. Everyone constantly tells her she worries too much and she internalizes it but her bad feeling is right. This happens again re. Stone Mill and the Red Wedding.
But as for Ned, there is really nothing more in the text that forces you to question anything at all about Ned’s parenting. All of the main mothers get tangible textual scrutiny either via the extreme alarmingness of some of their actions or because other characters actually directly question or indirectly call in to question their choices. Some of the dads, like Tywin, are scrutinized too. But Ned, not really. So who knows what’s “intended” because determining that would require reading something in to the absence of information and that’s hard to do. But it’s obvious that Cat’s parenting is much more scrutinized than Ned’s even when both were alive.
I think that the impact that the word “scheming” has is largely due to connotation over denotation. I think the reason it might bother you is that it has connotations of being deceitful and selfish. And I think that some people do use that descriptor that way for Catelyn when they realize that she has some calculating traits in her personality. Problem is, the way they probably mean the word is an exaggeration. Catelyn has some calculating elements, but she finds it necessary to be that way because she is living in a society that denies her power because she’s a woman. She has to calculate ways to get around men who stand in her way, instead of being more direct, because being more direct wouldn’t work because she has to rely on them for their power too. What does she use her calculations for? To try and protect her family. That’s not ignoble. People look at something like her trying to get Ned to go south as something very diabolical. Western story telling tradition conditions us to see the Lady Macbeth type as evil and devoid of noble qualities. But wanting your family to rise is not really evil. If you step on dead bodies to get to the top, sure that’s maybe evil. But Catelyn has a sane, rational, good citizen’s limits. Really, what is wrong with wanting her daughter to be queen? Given that she doesn’t know Joff’s personality, given that advantageous political marriages is what everybody in this stratum of society does?
I kinda lost my train of thought but TL;DR Cat is a little calculating because that’s what you have to do to cut it in this male dominated world. But her objectives are perfectly normal and reasonable and not evil. She’s just stuck because she’s a “good woman”; she’s good so she can’t transgress all sorts of boundaries like murder and blackmail, but she’s a woman so she can’t do directly heroic things like rescue damsels and stage political coups to remove mad kings. It’s hard being a normal person in a story full of epic winners and epic losers, but that’s what she is. If by “scheming” one means she sometimes calculates, sure. But if “scheming” is supposed to mean she’s especially deceitful or recklessly power-hungry or improperly disrespectful to the existing structures of power*, nope.
* Any disrespect she shows to the existing structures of power is out of desperation owing to the core fact that the system protects men’s rights to act in their own “selfish” interests disproportionately more than women, and if that’s the case it doesn’t deserve unlimited respect anyway.
Stephen Youll’s depiction of the Tully funeral from A Storm of Swords.
LOOK HATERS if you hate Catelyn can you please keep it OVER THERE in the Catelyn Stark tag and at least leave the Catelyn Tully tag for us that actually like her?
You can say what you like but some of us are sooooo daaaaaamn sick and tired of the Cat hate so CAN YOU JUST PLEASE LEAVE US ONE PLACE ON THIS EARTH PLEASE KTHX.
Every now and then I come across the idea in fandom that Catelyn Stark is at fault for making the pact between Walder Frey and her son, Robb Stark. Along with this complaint generally come the reasoning that she is a poor negotiator who, had she been better, could have arranged some other deal that would leave Robb in a far superior position, the implication that she is at fault for the Red Wedding, and the context that this is but one example among many showing how she repeatedly undermined her son and relentlessly compromised his efforts.
Let’s look at the Starks’ situation at this juncture. While at Moat Cailin Robb points out to Catelyn that “our food and supplies are running low, and this is not land we can live off easily” and Catelyn realizes why this must be when she recalls that “This host her son had assembled was not a standing army such as the Free Cities were accustomed to maintain, nor a force of guardsmen paid in coin. […] When their lords called, they came … but not forever” (AGOT Cat XIII). Thus we see that the Starks must go forward, and their chosen direction is towards Riverrun to encounter Jaime’s host, avoiding Tywin’s superior host for the time being. This choice is necessary, purposeful, and thoughtfully enacted.
Once this choice is made, they must cross the river to get from where they are to where they have decided to go. “There is no other way across the river. You know that,” says Robb (AGOT Cat IX). “The river’s running high and fast. Ser Brynden says it can’t be forded, not this far north,” adds Theon (AGOT Cat IX). “Oh, our horses might be able to swim the river, I suppose, but not with armored men on their backs. We’d need to build rafts to pole our steel across, helms and mail and lances, and we don’t have the trees for that. Or the time. Lord Tywin is marching north,” comes Robb again (AGOT Cat IX). When Theon suggests that Robb “take the Twins if you need to” Catelyn points out that “While you were mounting your siege, Tywin Lannister would bring up his host and assault you from the rear” (AGOT Cat IX). Upon sighting the twins Roose Bolton ascertains that “That cannot be assaulted, my lords” and Helman Tallhart adds, “Nor can we take it by siege, without an army on the far bank to invest the other castle […] Even if we had the time. Which, to be sure, we do not,” and upon all this the situation grows more dire at Riverrun as Edmure Tully has been “Wounded and taken prisoner” (AGOT Cat IX), thus increasing the need for expediency.
Note the explicit attention repeatedly Martin draws to the fact that the river must be crossed at the Twins specifically, and it must happen right away. Also, all of this is arrived at by a consensus of several characters, not Catelyn alone. Catelyn’s point that there is not enough time to mount a siege is by a northman and a seasoned warrior, Helman Tallhart.
At this point Catelyn enters the Twins to negotiate with Walder Frey. Walder Frey is characterised by “an old man’s caution and a young man’s ambition, and has never lacked for cunning” (AGOT Cat IX). He also nurses grudges: “Your lord father did not come to the wedding. An insult, as I see it. Even if he is dying. He never came to my last wedding either. […] Your family has always pissed on me, don’t deny it, don’t lie, you know it’s true. Years ago, I went to your father and suggested a match between his son and my daughter. […] No, Lord Hoster would not hear of it. Sweet words he gave me, excuses, but what I wanted was to get rid of a daughter” (AGOT Cat IX). Walder Frey is veritably defined by his desire to raise his family up through the social rankings and join those who now look down upon him.
When Catelyn leaves the Twins we learn that she has negotiated a deal where Arya would marry one of Walder’s sons and Robb would marry one of his daughters. This gives Walder just what he wanted: a high lord for a son-in-law and the promise of his future progeny as high lords themselves. It’s the one offer he won’t refuse. As a result the Starks reach Riverrun in time to lift the siege and even capture Jaime Lannister. Robb’s army coelesces ever more around the clear agenda and ensuing victory.
This is where many say Catelyn should have done better. Shackling Robb to Walder Frey is seen as too high a cost.
You might venture that even without hindsight, she can tell that Robb would be marrying downward in promising to marry a Frey, and thus should have found another way to win the crossing since she cedes the opportunity to make a better match for Robb with a greater house that could add more troops and resources to his army. Margaery Tyrell is an oft-floated name in this conversation. The logical conclusion is that this line of argument suggests that either she ought to have made another match or employed a tactic besides marriage alliances.
When actually asked to give a concrete alternative for what Catelyn ought to have done, her critics usually say that she should have offered Edmure Tully instead. This is, however, next to impossible. First of all, Catelyn has no authority over Edmure. The only person who can make a match for Edmure is Hoster Tully or himself. If she is to broker a marriage on his behalf, she would have to get his permission to seal the deal. And guess where Edmure Tully currently is: imprisoned. For him to okay this alliance, Catelyn would have to get a letter or an envoy in to Lannister camp with the intention of making an alliance designed to give the Starks a greater chance of defeating said Lannisters. How likely does anyone suppose this is to happen? Even if she were to find some way to do it deceptively, it would take more time than anyone here has. Second of all, Edmure Tully could die in that war camp. Why on earth would Walder Frey promise his daughter to and put all his eggs in the basket of a man who easily might not even survive?
Who else might do? Nobody within Catelyn’s reach. Walder Frey is already a lord, and only a lord paramount or a king outrank him. Yes there are families with more blue-blooded prestige and/or money, and that’s good to have too, but Walder Frey knows there are bigger fish in the sea. There are two great houses within Catelyn’s orbit: Bran is a second son and disabled, Rickon is a third son, Edmure is imprisoned, Arya and Sansa are daughters who are fourth and fifth in line of the Stark inheritance. None of these people will do; Walder Frey would not even settle for an able-bodied second son, especially when all it would do is remind him that there is an unpromised heir right there. Yes, Robb is the only thing Walder Frey wants.
If there is another incentive besides a marriage alliance that would appeal to Walder Frey’s sense of self-interest, I have yet to see anyone actually name it. Have the Starks the money to buy Frey’s support? Would he respond to the promise of a northern keep? Is he known to crave vengenace against anyone that the Starks can promise to take out as a reward, even if that sort of thing was in their nature? What is Walder Frey’s heart’s desire, if not the one Catelyn has zeroed in on?
Alternatively, people might sugggest that Catelyn could’ve caught some flies with vinegar instead of honey. Potential tools include authority and force. Authority only works if it is respected, and clearly Frey does not respect Tully authority sufficiently. Whyever this is, the fact remains that the Starks have to deal with this reality in short order. Moreover, Walder also is also beholden to the authority of the crown, which the Starks are flagrantly defying. They put him in the position of choosing between king and lord, and if he is honor-bound to one, he is equally honor-bound to the other. What could Catelyn possibly say against the argument that Robb is trying to drag Walder into treason? “But Ned!!!” can hardly be expected to have any sway over him. Is she to promise Hoster’s or Edmure’s future wrath? One a dying man and the other a POW?
The possibility of the Stark army taking the Twins by force is, again, shot down by the likes of Roose Bolton and Helman Tallhart in the text itself.
To get real for a minute, the true reason for Catelyn getting blamed for this contract is that eventually, Robb breaks his oath to Frey which prompts Frey to plot to kill Robb. People don’t like that the Red Wedding happened, and usually they feel bad for Robb, not Catelyn, who people already dislike, or at least don’t relate to or feel attracted to as much as young boy hero Robb. Thus, Catelyn is blamed in retrospect for a consequence that not only was not reasonably forseeable, but was actually instigated by somebody else’s actions. While I would never argue that the Red Wedding was Robb’s fault, the fact remains that Robb’s decision to marry Jeyne Westerling instead of Frey’s daughter was far closer to the inciting of the Red Wedding than Cat’s brokerage of the pact. It was Robb who crossed Frey and dishonored his pact.
I generally think that most accusations of Catelyn supposedly “relentlessly undermining” Robb are bullshit arguments borne out of the resentment of unsexualizable female authority as represented by the mother figure that is often found in the adolescent male psyche. Other than freeing Jaime, Catelyn served Robb’s cause unflinchingly loyally and as well as her limited situation and position allowed her. In this particular case, do no forget that Robb was never forced to agree to marry Walder Frey’s daughter. He was given the choice to agree or disagree. You think Catelyn was ever given the choice to agree to marry or not marry Brandon or Eddard? Hah. Robb chose to go along with the terms Catelyn had arrived at and then he later chose to break them. If Catelyn undermined his cause here, Robb undermined his own cause a hundred times more.
(I like your icon.)
Well first I don’t think anyone has to like anyone. I think it’s kinda silly when people hate characters disproportionately, and I’ll fight anyone who says she above all is at fault for the war and for the downfall of the Starks, but if you simply don’t relate to her or find her interesting or something like that, that’s really okay.
But if you’re curious anyway, I wrote this long post not too long ago about why I like her character. As a character I think she is usually very well written, not everything is always spelled out and I think she has layers and nuances without being an exxxxtreme character type. There is arguably a tendency for her to be a naked plot device but I think there’s a bit more to it than that. And I find her construction and her emotions very honest, more so than a lot of the other characters (not that they’re poorly written, she just feels like a more naturalistic character to me than most, some of the others are more theatrical or poetic or epic or such).
As a person I think she has an every day sort of courage. For the most part I think she lives without the comfort of fantasy and dreams and I just think that that’s very hard. True that she is not the most cynical person and she can come off as naive compared to some, but I think she operates at the limit of her knowledge, so to speak. If she’s ignorant, she’s honestly ignorant, and once she learns something new she incorporates it into her world view, she doesn’t ignore it. Her love for her children can be the one thing that makes it too hard to accept some realities, but even then I personally sensed a lot of struggle to eventually come to grips with reality. That’s maybe the one thing that stands out to me about her character. There are a lot of sarcastic cynics in ASOIAF, but they’re often just covering up their romantic soft underbelly with a protective casing. She’s not like that, she struggles to maintain hope, but she also has to balance that against a dark reality. It’s all in earnest. The thing about Catelyn is she is always trying very hard, she’s trying her best, and I just appreciate that and how it was realized on the page. I find struggle to be very compelling and I think GRRM wrote her internal struggles very deftly. There’s a quote by Robert Heinlein that he quoted in a speech once, “‘Die trying’ is the proudest human thing,” and I felt that the most with Catelyn’s chapters (not least because she literally dies trying, I guess). But there’s just a very human pride that you can take in that state of internal conflict and struggle and that’s a big reason she appealed to me.
There are a number of female-character-specific things too that I wrote in that post. In short she felt like a person to me early on rather than a Female Character Type, but you can read more about it there. Sorry, I’m not very good at being brief. But yeah you can always let me know if anything’s unclear or whatnot, thanks for the question!
You know, for all the flack that House Tully gets about choosing the trout for their sigil, it’s not like they chose wheat or grapes or apples, you know? I mean, wheat and grapes and apples are great IMO but they’re hardly badass themselves.
So let’s keep some perspective eh guys okay then.
Remember that time someone was like “Ned and Cat are the best romance/couple/whatever in ASOIAF” and someone else was like “Nuh uh Rhaegar and Lyanna are where it’s at NED AND CAT ARE THE GOP”
do you believe in the theory that the septa who travels with Griff, AegNot & co. in ADwD and whose name escapes me is Ashara? also, thoughts about the relevance of the Daynes in general?
I think it’s possible that Lemore is Ashara, but the only thing that makes us think so is that Ashara is a mysterious female figure and Lemore is a mysterious female figure. So it’s not really strong support. I’m not saying that stronger support exists for any other alternative theories about either Lemore or Ashara, since, by definition of the word “mystery”, we just don’t know much in any direction.
A lot of fuss is made about why Tyrion doesn’t mention purple eyes when he describes Lemore. If she is Ashara, GRRM can simply choose to create whatever reason for Tyrion not noticing or mentioning it (like, her eyes were so dark a purple that they seemed black and Tyrion didn’t see anything noteworthy about black eyes … or just because he didn’t wanna mention it, the way Ned skirts around important memories (although I don’t think it’s quite the same)). Or she could be not Ashara and nothing changes as well. Eye color is one of those things that is usually very inconseqential, except for the case of the easily mistakable purple eyes, that it can go either way and you can’t really read much into it at all. Gotta love authorial fiat.
But I am going to go with no. I don’t think Lemore is Ashara. I’m not convinced yet anyway.
The significance of House Dayne centers around Ned, Arthur and Ashara Dayne are most conspicuous because of Ned’s past. Being a possible decoy for the potential R+L cover story is obviously something that’s been floated around. The fact that we don’t really have much of them through five books makes me really unsatisfied with the idea that they’re around because Dawn is needed to save the world from apocalypse. It’s possible but I wouldn’t find it a great plot choice I suppose. There’s also the fact that the Dayne we see the most of is not the heir to Starfall or Dawn, but then maybe it’s because Gerold Dayne has SUCH a chip on his shoulder that the narrative will eventually give him Arthur Dayne’s sword. But does anyone really care all that much about Gerold Dayne either
besides angryampersand? He wasn’t a huge hit with the audience XD But he has to be here for a reason I figure.
I mean, House Dayne is weird, like, it has all these features that signal prominence on some level, the connections to initial protagonist Ned Stark’s romantic past, the potential connections to farm boy hero Jon Snow’s super sikrit lineage, the magic sword, the Targaryen-like eyes, the elite first men bloodlines and 10000 year old history, etc. At the same time what’s there on paper doesn’t seem to me like it’s achieved enough critical mass to have obtained a lot of momentum 5 books in. So finding the right size shoe to fit is kinda tricky.
I don’t think Jon is the heir to Dawn though. I think Dawn will become important and Gerold will find a way to fuck it up. He’s just so mad bad and dangerous to know, he would’ve been the fire in Barristan’s fire vs mud analogy and GRRM clearly sympathizes with the mud men over the fire men.
I do think that they serve a red herring purpose, but if they aren’t slotted into another satisfying role then that red herring quality is going to feel a little cheap.
I wish I had a real answer for you but I don’t even know how to go about making something up. The Lightbringer/Dawn type speculations don’t really speak to me, I know they’re important but I don’t have a lot of thoughts about it in my head and that’s going to be the connecting factor. They’re clearly involved in this magic shit because Dawn, first men shit, Jon Snow’s parentage, Targaryenesque looks, proximity to Rhaegar, but I don’t even know how to go about saying anything specific.
I’m sorry :(((((((((