Tower of the Hand

Heir to the North

Tags: Essay
8/2/2010 10:13:00 PM ET

Who is the heir to the North? New essayist ghostlovesinger discusses the question at length, details the evidence and counterfactuals, and concludes that there may yet be one true heir to Winterfell.

Heir to the North

The Case For Robb Stark's Son

It's been five years or so since the publication of A Feast For Crows, and as a result, we, the ASOIAF fan base, have been forced to while away our impatience at the delay of the next volume through a variety of speculative activities. The upcoming HBO series has kept many of us busy, as have the board games, card games, role-playing games and potential video games. I, personally, have been thoroughly engaged in all of these; however, I have found that, as a collective group, what we like to do most is wonder. Being, as we are, unable, to determine what will happen to our favorite (and most despised) characters, not to mention the world of Westeros as a whole, we often find ourselves talking and thinking about what might happen. We re-read the books over and over again, looking for clues, looking for some shred of evidence to lay before our fellow fans as proof that this (or that) will (or won't) take place or be revealed. And, using that most valuable and, perhaps, most subversive, of tools, the Internet, we discuss our theories with other fans. We discuss heraldry and prophecy, family trees and bloodlines, events that have already taken place, and those that yet remain in the future. Some of these theories jump out at the reader, and have been rehashed and debated to such an extent over the years that to continue doing so has become an exercise in futility. The secret of Jon Snow's parentage is the most obvious example of this, along with Daenerys' three betrayals and the life or death of Sandor Clegane, and there are many others.

However, I willingly confess my own addiction to theory, particularly when it comes to ASOIAF, and my purpose here is to discuss a theory that, while it has been brought up on certain forums, has not, I believe, been given the proper attention, and when it has, tends to be dismissed out of hand. The theory in question is that Jeyne Westerling, Robb Stark's widow, is pregnant with his heir.

As others have mentioned, this theory derived its initial credibility from one fact, and one fact only. There is a discrepancy between Catelyn Stark's description of Jeyne in A Storm of Swords, and Jaime Lannister's description of her in A Feast for Crows. Compare, if you would, the following passages (italics are from the book and represent the thoughts of characters; bold words are from me, for emphasis):

From A Storm of Swords, Catelyn II:

She was pretty, undeniably, with her chestnut curls and heart-shaped face, and that shy smile. Slender, but with good hips, Catelyn noted. She should have no trouble bearing children, at least.

From A Storm of Swords, Catelyn III:

The girl did seem to have a good heart, just as Robb had said. And good hips, which might be more important.

From A Feast for Crows, Jaime VII:

Jeyne was a willowy girl, no more than fifteen or sixteen, more awkward than graceful. She had narrow hips, breasts the size of apples, a mop of chestnut curls, and the soft brown eyes of a doe.

In ASOS, Catelyn makes note specifically of the shape of Jeyne's hips. In fact, she makes note of it twice, in the second and third chapters of her POV. The fact that this feature of Jeyne's appearance strikes Lady Stark so clearly that she brings it up, at least to herself, twice in a very short period of time, contrasts strongly with Jaime's opinion, much later, of the girl's "narrow" hips. As a result, the theory runs as follows: contrary to all appearances, the Westerlings and Spicers have remained loyal to the North. The girl that Jaime sees, the girl who bursts into tears when her mother informs the Lord Commander that she is not pregnant, is not Jeyne Westerling at all, but a double, the real Jeyne having been spirited away somewhere, possibly by the escaped Brynden Tully, with Robb's child growing within her.

Speaking as an obsessive fan with too much time on his hands, who has read these books far too many times and has given far too much thought to this particular topic, I believe that the theory stated above is true. However, before I go into my reasons for that belief, let us first present the arguments against that theory. The primary ones, from what I have read online, are these:

  1. There is no way Sybell Spicer, Jeyne's mother, could possibly be loyal to the North. It is obvious from the books that Sybell was giving her daughter contraceptive moon tea instead of fertility medicine, as Jeyne believed, and that Sybell was in league with Tywin Lannister to bring about the downfall of Robb Stark. All evidence indicates that events transpired exactly as Sybell explains them to Jaime; as a result of her scheming, the Westerlings are much better off than they were before, and they have escaped the famed enmity of Lord Tywin, which brought down the disloyal Reynes and Tarbecks. This story arc has been successfully concluded; there's no reason for Sybell to lie to Jaime about her actions and intent, since the Red Wedding has already put an end to the Kingdom in the North.
  2. The entire "Jeyne is pregnant" theory rests on the difference between "good hips" and "narrow hips." Catelyn was looking at Jeyne from the perspective of Robb's mother, and given Lady Stark's previously established character, the quality of hips and potential problems in childbirth would be at the forefront of her mind when looking at the wife of her son. Jaime, on the other hand, looks at women for their attractiveness (note that he, rather than Catelyn, gave a mental comment about the girl's breasts) and his observation of her hips denoted admiration of her figure, not calculated visual measurement. All the other details (Jeyne's age, hair color, etc.) fit in just fine with the Jeyne that Catelyn knew. The discrepancy in word choice does not tell us that Jeyne is not Jeyne, but instead tells us about the differences between Catelyn and Jaime.
  3. From a storytelling perspective, the concept of "Robb's heir" is superfluous, and doesn't add anything to the telling. Bran is Robb's heir, and even though the rest of the world believes him dead, we as readers know that to be false. And then there's Rickon, wherever he might be, and Arya and Sansa, as well. We know that Littlefinger is scheming to return Winterfell to Sansa via her marriage to Harrold Hardyng, and if all this wasn't enough, Robb himself, concerned that Jeyne might not be with child after leaving her at Riverrun, named an heir to the North in the event of his death: Jon Snow. Robb and the North are currently overflowing with heirs; another serves no purpose.
  4. Even George R. R. Martin makes mistakes. It's entirely possible that the discrepancy in word choice between good and narrow hips was simply an oversight on his part, symbolizing precisely nothing.

Okay, fine. All of these are reasonable responses to the least, at first glance. I will now present my arguments to the contrary. In the interest of logical progression, I will attempt to refute each of the above points in the order of easiest to answer.

First, I agree that, despite the brilliance of his prose, Mr. Martin is only human, and it is most certainly in him to make a mistake. However, I do not think this theory originated in writer error. If there is one thing we know about Mr. Martin, it's that he pays attention to detail. Find me another instance, anywhere in the series, in which the physical description of a character, from someone else's point of view, does not match a description of the same character, from a second point of view. That is the kind of thing that Mr. Martin tends not to screw up, and in this instance, it seems even less likely. It must be agreed that Catelyn's observations about Jeyne's hips are relevant in some way, even if only as further evidence of Lady Stark's character. With that in mind, when returning to the description of Jeyne from Jaime's POV, would Mr. Martin have been so thoughtless as to completely reverse the major physical characteristic that we, as readers, have associated with her? I think not.

And even if he did, he has editors, doesn't he? He goes over the book again, at least once, before he publishes, I imagine? Being a writer of sorts myself, I guarantee you that nothing is sent in for publication without the author having gone over it several times, tinkering and revising, and attempting to weed out contradictions. For crying out loud, how long have we been waiting for A Dance With Dragons because of Mr. Martin's perfectionist tendencies? I find it very hard to believe that he simply "missed" this severe alteration of Jeyne's physical description.

And even if he did, he must be aware of the mistake by now. I know he makes a point of staying out of the discussion forums, but surely someone must have pointed it out, if we on the Internet have already made such a fuss. Even if it was a mistake, the fact remains that it was published, and being published, it became part of the story. Even if Mr. Martin did not intend to add to the story of Jeyne Westerling, he must recognize that the discrepancy that led to this theory has to be dealt with, and part of that is recognizing that there must have been a reason for the discrepancy in the first place. Stories tend to grow of their own accord, and a skillful and accomplished writer like Mr. Martin should be able to weave this "mistake," if by some remote chance that's what it was, into the remaining work.

Now, given the previous discussion of the author's storytelling skill, let's get into the idea that "Robb's heir" is superfluous and unnecessary. He already has heirs aplenty, they say. And I respond: does he? Does he, really? Let's take a moment to go over the unfortunate Stark family, and their chances of ruling the North.

Bran and Rickon, presumably the last male heirs of Winterfell, are believed by all to be dead. The only living people who know otherwise are Osha, Theon Greyjoy, Ramsay Bolton, Sam Tarly, and the Reeds. None of these are at all likely to reveal the truth. Even if Bran did show up, claiming to be Brandon Stark, who would believe him? Not only that, but what good would Bran be as King in the North, or even Lord of Winterfell? He's crippled from the waist down; it's a fair bet that he won't be fathering children.

Arya and Sansa are girls; they cannot hold the North in their own right, and they are both in similar predicaments to Bran and Rickon. Almost everyone believes Arya dead, since nobody has been able to keep track of her since she started her wild, cross-continent ramblings. The list of people who know that she lived through the events of AGOT is short, and includes such paragons of honesty and virtue as Sandor Clegane and the outlaw band known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, neither of whom are in any position to give her away. Her disappearance has been so complete that the Lannisters are able to send a false Arya to the Dreadfort to marry Ramsay Bolton, with no one the wiser; anyone who knows what's really going on is quite sure that the girl is dead (incidentally, popular belief has it that the fake Arya is Jeyne Poole, Sansa's friend, and wouldn't that be deliciously Martin-esque, to have a common Jeyne pretending to be a high-born girl, while some common girl pretends to be a high-born Jeyne).

Sansa's dilemma is nearly as bad; she's off in the Vale, masquerading as Alayne Stone, bastard daughter of Petyr Baelish, and even if Littlefinger's plan succeeds (assuming that he told Sansa the truth and isn't playing her the way he plays everyone, which is not an intelligent assumption by any standard) Winterfell would then be in the control of House Hardyng, not House Stark, and would likely have returned to the king's peace, putting an end to this business about the King in the North.

Finally, as far as Jon Snow is concerned... well, we already know his decision in regard to this matter, don't we? Even if he was offered a sweeter deal than the one he refused from Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre, even if he didn't have to burn Winterfell's weirwood to claim the castle as his own, even if he discovered that he was Robb's chosen heir, and was given the opportunity to make good on it...I don't believe he would. Jon is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he said the words, he took his vows, and after all he's been through, I don't think there's any way he would turn his back on the Wall, not even to become King in the North.

With all of this in mind, as far as the world is concerned, there is truly no heir to Robb's kingdom... unless there is, growing in Jeyne Westerling's womb. Superfluous? No, I don't think so. Many would argue that even accepting the above arguments, the question still doesn't matter, since even if Jeyne is pregnant, it would be years before the child was old enough to rule in his own right. To this I say, tell that to the royal houses of Westeros, who regard lords as lords and kings as kings, no matter their age. The political situation of the Seven Kingdoms is still dangerously unstable; a King in the North, even an infant one, would do much to upset the already broken and poorly mended apple cart. If Jeyne's child doesn't matter, why are the Lannisters so eager to make sure that she doesn't have one? From a storytelling perspective, just about anything could happen at this point, and to brush off the possibility that Robb has a son (or, it must be said, a daughter, though that would be admittedly less dangerous to the Lannisters in power), just because it would be an unlikely and complicated wrinkle in an already convoluted tale, is to profess mistrust in the story being told, and in the author telling it.

Despite all of this, a burning question remains. Am I, and is everyone else who supports this theory, simply reading too much into it? Isn't it possible, even likely, that the discrepancy between the phrasing of good hips vs. narrow hips, the sole leg that this theory is standing on, is simply a reflection of two very different observing characters? To me, this particular line of thinking is, quite frankly, ridiculous. First of all, it works from the premise that the manner in which a character observes something directly affects its actual appearance. Perhaps, from a philosophical standpoint, one could make a case for our motives affecting how we see things. If Jaime hadn't noticed the girl's hips at all, for example, or if he hadn't seen her as pretty, the way Catelyn did, this argument might hold water; after all, people have different standards of beauty, and what stands out to one character might be utterly irrelevant to another.

The problem is, quite simply, both characters notice the hips. One sees them as wide, good for child-bearing, the other sees them as narrow (it's worth noting here that Catelyn never actual thinks of Jeyne's hips as "wide," merely as good, and helpful when it comes to having children; however, it should be remembered that in a medieval setting, wide hips are synonymous with good child-bearing hips, and Catelyn herself points out later in ASOS that narrow hips usually mean difficult birth, particularly when she observes the delicate figure of Roslin Frey). Certainly I agree that Catelyn's focus would be on Jeyne's hips, and how well she would deal with pregnancy, but to say, on the other hand, that Jaime Lannister sees Jeyne merely from the perspective of attractiveness is to be simplistic to the point of stupidity. Remember that Jaime encounters Jeyne in the penultimate chapter of AFFC; he's a far cry from being the same arrogant, incestuous Kingslayer we all loved to hate in the first two books. I believe it's a stretch to say that the Jaime Lannister who takes Riverrun in that chapter is a man who is only capable of judging a woman's appearance by her sexual attractiveness. Furthermore, it seems to me that sex is one of the last things on Jaime's mind at that point in the series, and that during the meeting with Jeyne and her mother, he is far more focused on politics. And even if I'm completely wrong on both counts, one of the most ingrained aspects of Jaime's character is that he has only ever felt true desire for one woman: Cersei (fine, the more romantic among you could make a case for Brienne as well, but for our purposes, the Maid of Tarth is neither here nor there). If the girl isn't his twin sister, he's not interested. This is confirmed by another descriptive passage in which Jaime observes Jeyne, from the same chapter and, in fact, coming directly after the one cited at the beginning of this essay:

Pretty enough for a child, Jaime decided, but not a girl to lose a kingdom for.

It would be hard to compose a less passionate description. "Pretty enough for a child, but not a girl to lose a kingdom for." So this is what Jaime is thinking while he sizes up Jeyne Westerling, and we're meant to accept that he sees her hips as narrow because he's looking at her from a sexual standpoint? Ludicrous. Even if this point were somehow valid, it's not as though women with wide hips were seen as unattractive in medieval times, and particularly in the fictional setting of Westeros. Why would Robb have fallen for her in the first place, if this were so? The argument that Jaime comments on the narrowness of Jeyne's hips because that would make her more attractive to him is merely a reflection of a modern western culture imposing its own views of beauty onto a world in which those views do not apply. Of course, fans will always see art through the lens of their own prejudices, assumptions and cultural values, and for good reason, but to make the case that a character sees the world in the same way is simply wrong. Catelyn and Jaime saw two different sets of hips on what is presumably the same girl; no other conclusion can logically be drawn.

Thus far, we have explored this theory primarily through the lens of storytelling. Would it make sense for Jeyne to be pregnant? Would it work in the context of the overall tale? Is the question relevant, or even worth mentioning? We have gone through all of this, and come to the determination that the possibility of Jeyne Westerling being pregnant with Robb Stark's child is not only distinct, but conceivably of vital importance. Now we come to the main argument against this theory, which is also the most difficult to refute: could it have even remotely taken place? In this fourth and final defense of the "Robb's heir" theory, we step completely away from the outsider's storytelling/reading perspective, and move into the reality of Mr. Martin's world. Could such a thing have happened? Given what we've all read so far, is there the slightest chance that we're all being fooled along with the Lannisters?

Certainly the evidence points to the skeptic's argument. There are no pieces missing from the story that we're being told through the ears of Jaime Lannister. After the Westerlings fell in with the North, Sybell Spicer, Jeyne's mother, actively prevented the conception of Robb's child and took a hand in the downfall of House Stark, so as to prevent her family from suffering the wrath of Lord Tywin, to whom the Westerlings owed fealty. The Lord of Casterly Rock was famous for the manner in which he dealt with traitors in the West, so her fears were completely justified. Now that the Red Wedding has effectively ended Robb's power, his kingdom, and his life, Sybell has everything she wants. A pardon for her family, a lordship for her brother, Rolph (ironically enough, he got Castamere, the most famous relic of Tywin's fury, hitherto abandoned after the extermination of House Reyne) and good marriages for her children. Ensuring that her daughter is not pregnant with the Young Wolf's child is the wax that seals her loyalty to Tommen's new regime. The intrigues of House Westerling are over; they've enacted their betrayal, they've been paid their thirty pieces of silver, and they've been sent on their way, having returned to the king's peace.

Now, does everyone reading this really believe that?

Stepping briefly back into an outside perspective: this isn't just about the hips. The hips were a starting point, a single innocuous point of interest that led to the formation of this theory in the first place. But think about it. We are right in the middle of a book series by George R. R. Martin. We've already seen Eddard Stark, the perceived main protagonist from AGOT, end up decapitated with his own sword before the first book was over. Our hopes then hung on his eldest son, Robb, who justly swore revenge, and even though we never got a POV from him, our hearts were always with him. He was the good guy, like his father. And like his father, he wound up dead. So did his ever-so-wise and interminably cautious mother, Catelyn. Mr. Martin seems to delight in overturning our previously-held conceptions of what a story should be; those familiar with his work will know that he had been doing this for decades before ASOIAF, messing with the reader's mind via the warped steamboat-vampirism of Fevre Dream or the twisted un-romance of Dying of the Light. Does anyone actually believe that Jeyne Westerling's aborted pregnancy and her mother's treacherous schemes are that simple? Moreover, should we believe anything we hear in this series from a second-hand source? I believe that Ygritte is dead, because Jon saw her die, and I saw her die through Jon's eyes. In fiction, that's as real as it gets. I do not believe that Davos Seaworth has been beheaded by Lord Manderly, simply because I haven't seen it happen. Why do you think so many people are so convinced that Brienne is alive? Or the Hound? Or Syrio Forel? Or even Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's son? Because we know that if we didn't witness it, it's by no means guaranteed.

With that in mind, let's immerse ourselves back in the world of Westeros, and take another look at Sybell Spicer. What do we actually know about her? The answer, unfortunately, is precious little. The best we have to go on is a somewhat mysterious exchange between Tyrion Lannister, his uncle, Kevan, and his father, Tywin, after their discovery that Robb Stark has married Jeyne Westerling (readers will forgive the lengthy quotation, but I find it rather illuminating in its vagueness):

From ASOS, Tyrion III:

"A maid of sixteen years, named Jeyne," said Ser Kevan. "Lord Gawen once suggested her to me for Willem or Martyn, but I had to refuse him. Gawen is a good man, but his wife is Sybell Spicer. He should never have wed her. The Westerlings always did have more honor than sense. Lady Sybell's grandfather was a trader in saffron and pepper, almost as lowborn as that smuggler Stannis keeps. And the grandmother was some woman he'd brought back from the east. A frightening old crone, supposed to be a priestess. Maegi, they called her. No one could pronounce her real name. Half of Lannisport used to go to her for cures and love potions and the like."

"It would have been kinder to leave her with a bastard in her belly," said Tyrion bluntly. The Westerlings stood to lose everything here; their lands, their castle, their very lives. A Lannister always pays his debts.

"Jeyne Westerling is her mother's daughter," said Lord Tywin, "and Robb Stark is his father's son."

This Westerling betrayal did not seem to have enraged his father as much as Tyrion would have expected. Lord Tywin did not suffer disloyalty in his vassals. He had extinguished the proud Reynes of Castamere and the ancient Tarbecks of Tarbeck Hall root and branch when he was still half a boy. The singers had even made a rather gloomy song of it. Some years later, when Lord Farman of Faircastle grew truculent, Lord Tywin sent an envoy bearing a lute instead of a letter. But once he'd heard "The Rains of Castamere" echoing through his hall, Lord Farman gave no further trouble. And if the song were not enough, the shattered castles of the Reynes and Tarbecks still stood as mute testimony to the fate that awaited those who chose to scorn the power of Casterly Rock. "The Crag is not so far from Tarbeck Hall and Castamere," Tyrion pointed out. "You'd think the Westerlings might have ridden past and seen the lesson there."

"Mayhaps they have," Lord Tywin said. "They are well aware of Castamere, I promise you."

"Could the Westerlings and Spicers be such great fools as to believe the wolf can defeat the lion?"

Every once in a very long while, Lord Tywin Lannister would actually threaten to smile; he never did, but the threat alone was terrible to behold. "The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them," he said ...

So, the folk of the West called Sybell's eastern grandmother "Maegi," did they? Not only does that name raise unpleasant associations (Mirri Maz Duur, anyone?) but it's also very likely that the grandmother was, in fact, Maggy the Frog, who Cersei Lannister visited as a girl and who gave the prophecy that the Queen Regent fears so much. Now, does this mean anything? Quite possibly. It could mean that Sybell is much more than she seems. How much of the "gift" could she have inherited? Can Sybell Spicer see the future? From an ordinary perspective, her motives for betraying Robb seem genuine, but is it possible that she's actually doing something completely different, for utterly different reasons? Of course, that's one of the more far-fetched theories behind Sybell's actions (although it does help, as I learned from some folks on the forums and have since confirmed, that the name "Sybil" has prophetic connotations in the real world, deriving from the ancient Greek term used to describe oracles and seers). "Half of Lannisport used to go to her for cures and love potions," Kevan says, and later, Tywin claims that "Jeyne Westerling is her mother's daughter." What could that mean? Gawen Westerling's marriage to Sybell was profoundly ill-advised, from a political standpoint; could it be that she used a love potion on him? And could it be that she, or even Jeyne, used one on Robb? We've had no POV account of what actually happened when Robb took the Crag, remember. Again, second-hand information. A love potion could certainly have been pat of Sybell's plan to make Jeyne a queen; this suspicion lends itself to the idea that she might not be a traitor, after all. It's another fanciful theory with ambiguous connotations, to be sure, but one that could very well lead to Sybell's continued loyalty to the Starks.

Leaving the area of potions and prophecy for now, any number of other things must be included in the list of possibilities. To start with, if Sybell is such a cunning schemer, why did she allow her family to join with Robb in the first place? If the Westerlings stood to lose "their lands, their castle, their very lives," if she lived in fear of Tywin's revenge, why risk incurring it to begin with? Was her plan to serve House Lannister from the start, worming her way into the North when the chance came and plotting the betrayal as a means of raising her family high? That makes sense, except for the fact that with Robb, her daughter was a queen. It doesn't get any higher than that for your children, so if her goal was the prosperity of House Westerling, hadn't she hitched her horse to the right wagon in the first place?

And if betrayal wasn't the plan from the beginning, what made her choose that course later? Perhaps she abandoned Robb's cause after the departure of the Freys and Karstarks, after Duskendale and Winterfell. But Lord Tywin appears to be sure of her treacherous intentions from the beginning. In the above passage, he seems uncharacteristically nonchalant regarding the Westerlings; even Tyrion is surprised that their betrayal has not enraged him. His attitude, his words regarding the Westerlings being "well aware of Castamere" and his comment that "The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them" suggest that the plans for the Spicers to turn on Robb have already been laid. But if that was the case, why didn't Sybell know about the Red Wedding, as she confesses to Jaime in AFFC? Why did she allow her son, Raynald, to travel to that doomed feast, stating herself that she never would have let him go if she had known the plan (it should be noted that Raynald's present fate is unknown; the Freys claim that he took two quarrels, in the gut and shoulder, before throwing himself into the Trident)?

Has Sybell Spicer been fooling everyone, including Tywin and Jaime Lannister? Traitor or not, she must be a fantastic actress; whatever her true allegiance, she's duped someone on a grand scale. Did she have some abiding hatred for Casterly Rock, perhaps some vendetta passed on to her by her grandmother? Or is something else going on? There's really no way to know.

Here, plain and simple, is what we do know, for a fact: in the large period of time between the Red Wedding toward the end of ASOS and the fall of Riverrun at the very end of AFFC, we, the reader, have had no eyes inside Riverrun or Robb's army. A significant span of time has gone by in which everything we might have learned from the POV chapters of Catelyn Stark has been lost to us. Her death meant that we no longer have any idea what's been going on with those who still bend the knee before the direwolf banner. Does it seem as though the North is lost, and all hope fled? Perhaps that's only because we've had no POV character to show us why it isn't. And if we consider all of this together; the good hips, the narrow hips, the heirs, the Spicers, the ambiguity, and throw in a healthy dash of knowing the kind of author we're dealing with, is it so inconceivable to believe that the word choice discrepancy that led to the "Jeyne's pregnant" theory actually means just that?

No, I don't think so. I think the discrepancy is there for a reason, and I think the reason is for there to be one clue, one single, tiny clue, that the Westerling angle isn't wrapped up quite as neat and tidy as everyone seems to believe. I think there's a little Stark growing out there, somewhere, inside the real Jeyne Westerling. What that will mean for the world and the story at large remains to be seen (as does the proving of my thesis in the first place, I know) but if it is true, one thing it definitely means is that there's still a King in the North. And that means the war ain't over yet. Right now, when everything is looking quite grim and pretty damn hopeless, having that small possibility to hang on to is important to me, even if it is just a single thread in a fictional epic. In a world where the good guys are dying like flies while the bad guys revel in their ill-gotten victories, I still believe there's a chance for the right side to prevail, and in the words of young Lyanna Mormont, I know no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK.

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