Thursday, March 25, 2021

A Song Of Ice And Fan Theories

 In the Discord group we'd set up for my Amber campaign, me and my players were discussing our favorite Fan Theories from various media. I decided to snip my rambling opinions from there and repost it here, because I feel I did a decent job of summarizing some complicated and nerdy theories.

I will say, if you like fan theories, and can stomach a bit of literary gore, you'll find no series of novels more rewarding than A Song Of Ice And Fire. They are intentionally written to encourage infinite dissection and analysis. Every chapter has a point-of-view character, which are chosen by the author to very strictly control the reader's access to what's really happening and what the prime movers actually think about it. Varys and Baelish and most of the other big conspirators never get POV chapters of their own, so you're constantly trying to puzzle out their schemes from what others observe. Most viewers of the show are aware of the famous fan theory about John Snow's true parentage (which was proven true after the show outpaced the novels) but there's hundreds of fan theories conjecturing all sorts of secret conspiracies and hidden meanings, and I'd guess more than 30 of those hundreds are actually truly what the author intends to reveal by the end of the series. If you want to send your brain down a deep dark rabbit-hole, ASOIAF is your bunny-burrow. 

The following Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones theories are without major spoilers, unless of course all my harebrained theories prove ultimately to be true. So most likely <1% spoilers, but with an outside chance that it's 100% spoilers if I'm actually correct on all counts. And if it is possible that I'm right on any of this, it's not because I'm clever. None of these theories are my own, they're almost all from random videos on Youtube. I've collected them here because I've never seen them in one short place in print together, but generally posted in multi-chapter youtube video channels.

 Where to start: The internet has determined that the final season of GOT was not up to the same standards of the previous seasons. I believe the reason it falls apart is because the motives and schemes of the two most important manipulative bastards in the novels, Varys and Littlefinger, simply proved to be too byzantine to translate to the screen. Once their goals were cut, it left huge holes where the plot should have been, and the show-runners couldn't fill the gaps in a way that lived up to the premise.

So here's my beliefs on the motives and backstories of Varys and Littlefinger in the novels:

Varys is a secret Blackfyre, and this hidden King's Blood within him is why he was castrated by the wizard in his youth. Young Griff (a character who didn't even make it into the show) is not the semi-secret Targaryen he appears to be, but is actually a secret Blackfyre. Specifically, he is the son of Varys's sister Serra, who was the second wife of Illyrio Mopatis. Serra and Varys are matrilineally descended from the Blackfyre line. Varys is just looking to put his own nephew on the throne, which is a simple-enough goal, but you would have to put 300 years of world-building and history on the screen to explain who the Blackfyres are and why anyone should care. That's a lot (s)exposition, even for GOT.  Also, Young Griff doesn't show up until maybe book 4 or so, meaning there would have been no way to introduce him before Season 5, and giving him a major story arc at that point would have taken too much focus off the fan-favorite characters (Jon and Dany).

Peter "Littlefinger" Baelish has goals that are legitimately much harder to make seem sensible on screen. Hidden mystical /occult goals, that involve deceptively-fulfilling specific bits of prophecy in front of the Weirwood trees. The most powerful supernatural beings of the setting can see through the trees. Baelish's goal is to fool the Gods (or at least the three-eyed raven) into thinking he is the messiah. He is definitely NOT actually The Prince Who Was Promised, but if you can only see the things he does in front of the Weirwood Trees, he is recreating all the story beats of the in-universe tales of  Bael the Bard, the Night's Queen, and Azor Ahai myth-cycles. It's a little unclear to me what power he thinks this will get him, but he does very specific things in places where specifically only the Children of the Forest can see them happening, and coincidentally these are also the only places in the world where the Children of the Forest would be able to see him. Each such action casts him in the role of the hero figure of yore who kidnapped a Stark bride, or the other hero figure of yore who defeated the Others. It probably also means he's planning to sacrifice Sansa in a ritual. Tangential to all this, it is also worth noting that all the major plotpoints that take place 17 years prior to the first novel, including the deaths of Ned Stark's father and the birth of Robert's Rebellion, are also events engineered by Peter Baelish. It's just not clear to me yet if he did these things to advance his magical agenda, or if said occult agenda came about after seeing as a young man how easy it was to upend the world.

Credits: Most of the Baelish stuff came from videos by Preston Jacobs. There are a ton of videos about Varys and Young Griff being Blackfires, but I know I've watched some (f)Aegon videos by In Deep Geek that we pretty great. So if you want to learn more about these theories, those are your search terms. Happy hunting.

As I said there are hundreds more theories of ASOIAF, and I think a few dozen are likely to be true, but those two are among my favorites, and their absence goes a long way towards explaining the way Varys and Littlefinger fizzle out in the later seasons of GOT.

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