The failure of my Grand Unified Theory


Happy Easter!
Jul 14, 2005
Back in 2005-2006, I was working on a theory to solve all prophecy, to decipher the Faith of the Seven, to recognize Azor Ahai reborn, and know the origins of humanity. It did not work. I could not make it all fit... not even with all the mental hurdles I like to jump.

My basic thought was that the prophecies and religions of Westeros, Essos, the First Men, the Children, the Valyrians, et al. all stem from a common source. Some long misremembered event and people were important to the resolution of the racial/supernatural conflict of ice and fire. The northmen say "Then North remembers"... but they don't remember as well as the wildlings to the north of them. The Dothraki say "It is known".... as if that ends all questions on a topic.

I thought that all of the religions of ASOIAF had prophecies that remembered the last great supernatural conflict and that they were aimed to solve the next event in the supernatural conflict. I wondered if AAR, the Stallion who mounts the world, and the Prince that was promised referred to the same person or people. My mind wanted to make the Targaryen family be the culmination of these.... especially by making Aerys II, the Mad King, the father of seven children (the seven faces of the Faith) and for these children to fulfill the prophecies.

In working on this, I was using my Christian faith, my knowledge of Tolkien, Lewis, and tradtional medieval fairy tales and fantasy tropes and imposing them upon GRRM. He's obviously inspired by Tolkien, fairty tales, and fantasy tropes.... and yet is determined to set them upon their heads in order to shock us and to make a great story. Martin is an atheist and so does not recognize a Creator who orders the universe and wants to work things out for good. I've had to try and get on board with comprehending his theology. This leads him to writing outstanding morally grey characters.

All that to say, I don't know how this story will end. I don't know how close to fruition these prophecies will come. Since they're not guided by a Creator, they are created by men.... and may or may not come true. I just don't know how to tie up these prophetic ideas.

Azor Ahai Reborn. AAR is the prophecy of the Lord of Light who will defeat The Other. He is tied to a magic sword, Lightbringer. He will kill his dearest love with his sword. The dearest love is associated with water.

The Prince that was Promised. TPTWP is a Targaryen (maybe even Valyrian) prophecy of a king to fight the darkness. Targs are associated with dragons. Dragons are associated with light and fire. TPTWP is associated with the song of ice and fire. This may be why the Valyrians first went to Dragonstone. It may be why Aegon the Conqueror conquered the Seven Kingdoms. It was a matter of deep study for Maester Aemon. It may be Rhaegar's entire raison d'etre.

The Stallion who Mounts the World. The Stallion is the Dothraki prophecy of conquest. Or at least they take it as conquest, it may be a conquest of evil.... or dragons. Dothraki men are associated with the sun.... fire and light. Dothraki women are associated with the moon. Dany's maids discount a tale that there used to be two moons... when one caught fire, it erupted with dragons.

The Dragon has Three Heads. The three heads seems to refer to the Targaryen royal right to rule and a formula for their success. It may be a way for them to ensure the spread of their genetics in a specific line in order to produce TPTWP.... or to continue to produce dragons.... or at least the martial strategy to conquer. Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenyra were the original conquerors. I wonder if this concept of the three heads goes back to the founding of Valyria. By having multiple wives, maybe this is how they try and overcome the genetics of incest.

The Seven faces of god. The Faith of the Andals features seven gods... or more precisely one god with seven aspects. It is a practical application of god's understanding of humanity. Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maid, Crone, and Stranger are all easily understood. Life, relationships, employment, love, and death apply. Every person in Westeros can be defined by one of the aspects.

Valar Morghulis. The Faceless Men of the House of Black and White of Braavos acknowledge only one god.... death. They deliver death when paid.... or when threatened. They are associated with weirwood... blood and water.

The Old Gods. Weirwood. Blood. Water. Blood. Blood. They may all be physically connected. They seem to be able to be used by powerful telepathic people. So there are not gods behind them.... it's just the Children or telepaths like Brynden Rivers and Bran Stark.

The Ironborn and water. They worship the Drowned God. What is dead cannot die, but rises again harder and stronger. They ritually drown each other and perform CPR to resurrect them. Their religious focus is under the sea. This is the most associated religion with water. I don't know that their religion is real, but people drown (actually and metaphorically) all the time in the story. Actual drownings include Patchface, Aeron, all of Aeron's disciples, some Ironborn, Davos, Tyrion, Dunk, Melara, Talbert Serry, King Robert's parents, Stannis' fleet, and more.... some of these are resurrected. Almost drownings include Jaime, Moqorro, Sam, Metaphorical drownings include most of the Ironborn, Mikken, Chayle, Tyrion (multiple times), Jon (numerous times), Egg, Symon Silvertongue, Edric Storm, Theon, Arya, Robb, the Blackfish, the Stone Men, etc. Many bodies are dumped in water.... Catelyn, Stark men at the Twins, Mandon Moore, Davos' sons, Hoster Tully, and others. Then there are "dead things in the water" at Hardhome. I don't know what to do with all of this.... but I think it's important. Does Martin like the Noah story? Does he like the Moses story? Is Martin mocking Christian baptism? Does he like the tactile experience of water in baptism? Is he recognizing water's place in life? Is under the sea like the upside down in Stranger Things? Is it the other side? Is water life or death? Is it both? Many big decisions and life changes are made crossing water or while in the rain, both symbolizing drowning.

There are now more peoples and religions in Martin's supporting works to ASOIAF.

I don't know about a unified theory anymore. I do know that Ice and Fire are major themes, but so are Water, Light, Darkness, Iron, and Blood. Father/Light, Smith/Iron, Warrior/Fire, Mother/Water, Maid/Blood, Crone/Ice, and Stranger/Darkness. I'd love to confindently state a solution.

Many people claim solutions based upon GRRM's other works. I don't see it. I read Tuf Voyaging and Fevre Dream. I think Martin is not going to give nearly as satisfying an ending as Fevre Dream where the good guys win. Well, they win but at great cost. Tuf wins in his story arc. But he definitely goes against the grain. He forces solutions with a very heavy hand. He wins, but does he do right? He does what he sees as right. He forces logical solutions on passionate peoples. If I apply those to ASOIAF, then Davos and Tyrion will win... sort of like Marsh and York in FD. They are broken and older and wiser, but they definitely did away with the evil villain. I don't even know that any evil villain (except for Ramsay and Craster) has been identified yet in ASOIAF. Or maybe telepathic Bran can force a solution upon everyone like Tuf did.

I think my failure to unify everything not only stems from a lack of information, but also from Martin's lack of a villain. Are the Others evil or just a branch of humanity trying to survive? We know they're a threat, but we don't have enough information to know that they're villains. Is Melisandre evil, delusional, or misinformed? Jaime is a villain because of incest and infant defenestration, yet his potential redemption makes him infinitely more likeable than Robert and Tywin. Because Robb is a Stark... young, handsome, rich, well educated, well cultured, a king, and has a kick ass pet direwolf.... on a mission to avenge his father, well, we tend to give him some slack while we don't give as much to Sansa, a child. Sansa's crimes? Loyalty to her betrothed crown prince instead of her bratty sister.... and continued loyalty to the Crown instead of her overbearing father. Robb's crimes? He married for love.... how sweet and true were his actions. That marriage, not Edmure's, Arnolf's, nor Catelyn's actions, lost the war and killed thousands upon thousands.

This greyness of Martin's characters define the direction of the story. I don't know where he's going. I'm hopeful that it will be interesting and engaging.
I thought The Others were representing the definition of evil. Cold, relentless, merciless, with a drive to kill and claim all land and people. With the lighter grey folks being the ones really opposing them. Is Bran close to being good?

Tywin was a villain, and he was disposed of at the halfway point. There are a few others like Ramsey, Littlefinger and Euron. But The Others seem more like endgame material.

The GUT makes a lot of sense, but perhaps like our world there are common threads in religions and even some of the same prophets, but they all have different starting points and different keystones.

It will be interesting to see if some of the big prophecies do not come to fruition after all.
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@Judderman I don't think the Others are evil. I used to.... but not now. I don't think GRRM holds to actual good and evil. Yes, the Others have been endgame material from the very beginning. The first book is A Game of Thrones.... everyone's concerned with the Iron Throne when the real threat is in the north.

The closest thing to a GUT would be the setting for Tuf Voyaging. In TV, all religions are mere superstitions. All supernatural activity is explained through science. Worlds are shaped in the desires of Tuf, who is just a man making hard calls in difficult circumstances.
As I continue to think about this story.... I compare it to my favorite other stories of fantasy/sci-fi. C.S. Lewis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert E. Howard are the authors whose works fired my imagination in my teens. The works of Lewis and Tolkien made sense in theology to me since I was raised in a Christian home. The Hyborian Age of Howard was steeped in the supernatural, but did not have any sense of an uncreated creator. Burroughs suprised me in the second John Carter book where the entire theological system of Mars was shown to be a massive lie. Despite their differences in theology, all four authors had a hero or heroes who are objectively moral and who display courage, strength, and forthrightness. But Martin does not stick to this throughout his story.

Almost all characters display courage, intelligence, and other cultural values at times.... and then turn around and engage in despicable behavior. As much as we admire Eddard, Robb, Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Barristan, Davos, Brienne and others for their strong moral stances, Martin cannot resist showing each of them infringing upon the civil rights of others, conspiring to commit treachery, or renouncing their vows. While it is true that no one is free from sin... not me, not you, not George.... the purpose of fantasy (when I was a teen) was to provide a modern myth. An important aspect of myth is to perpetuate specific cultural and human qualities that we value. So, there is no reason to present Aragorn murdering an ambassador. Lewis did show Edmund's betrayal of his siblings, but it was done in order to then display the qualities of Aslan. Martin makes all of his characters live in shades of gray.... and they are highly interesting... but there's no hope of redemption.

By the end of the third book, Jaime is my favorite character. I also like Jorah. I don't like Theon. All three men seem to be on various redemption arcs. Will they redeem their honor? Can they find psychological and social peace? I am now sure that Martin will not have a spiritual redemption nor a divine plan to help the wretched lives of the commoners. So he won't end the story like Lewis nor Tolkien. I believe that all of the supernatural in the story will have scientific explanations (whether they're revealed in the books or not).... so Martin can't end the story like Howard. And even though I think Martin is an evolutionist like Burroughs, his characters are not absolute heroes like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas.... so the story can't end with the good guys winning.

I think the story will end without hope.... if it gets finished. Stories, especially myths, should end with a way for hope going forward... and not just a warning of obstacles to avoid.
Could the tv ending of GoT have been written without first seeking GRR Martin's approval? No. Although he may not have finished the story, and he may not have been directly involved in the final tv series, he must surely have been

It's quite conceivable that the final tv episodes of GoT were based on Martin's vision for how the story should end. And that the book had a broadly similar outcome, with some minor tweaks and embellishments. And perhaps the exremely negative backlash from fans has either sent him back to the drawingboard, or has put him off finishing the story ever.

Even if we do see a conclusion to the story, the time elapsed since the last book finished makes it almost impossible for it not to feel disjointed or detached. There's a reason why authors don't leave a decade or more gap between volumes.
The Others will not have a scientific explanation, nor the rest of the magic that has been shown. It probably will be left unsaid if it has a divine source or not.
I suspect at least a hint of hope will be shown through some characters. Surely a bleak ending, but perhaps a chuckle in there too.
It's quite conceivable that the final tv episodes of GoT were based on Martin's vision for how the story should end
More than conceivable. It was well known that he told them his plans for how he was going to finish (though left wriggle room for making changes):

@paranoid marvin I watched through the sixth season with some friends. I regret watching the sixth and even the fifth seasons. I have no idea how the show ends and I don't want to know. Part of me wishes that I could speak knowledgably about it with you. I'm not rebuking you for mentioning it nor putting down Dave and Dan for their ending with (or without Martin's input), I'm just saying that I don't want to know any ending unless it appears in print.

My thoughts on this are tied to the reading of Ender's Game and Dune and the viewing of television shows LOST and Firefly. While I did not love nor hate Dune and Ender's Game, I feel no desire to continue to unravel their stories and characters.... I'll just let the stories end and maybe imagine a bit on my own. (I understand that Dune may indeed be a influence for ASOIAF. I also acknowledge that Ender may be an inspiration for Bran and Arya.) LOST disappointed me with it's attempt to unravel the supernatural mystery over the second half of the series and I particularly detested the last fifteen minutes. I wish I had quit watching either at the end of the first or second seasons and just let my mind imagine the rest.... as I've done with Dune and Ender's Game.

On the other hand, I love Firefly and regret it's story was cut short. Honestly, this kept the show from growing stale, slow, and nonsensical. This happened to LOST. So I am trying to just take ASOIAF as it comes. If it never ends, then I've decided to just enjoy my own thoughts on the story.

Also since the real slow down of activity on this forum around 2013 (two years after the release of The Winds of Winter), I've made the decision to stay on the Chrons instead of fleeing to dedicated ASOIAF sites. This is not a method to enhance my knowledge through input of others. I am kind of slowly building my own wheel and printing press. If I had been on a highly active ASOIAF site, I'd have been exposed to others putting forward their concepts of Martin's theology, morality, social consciousness, politics, etc. So I've slowly come to the conclusion that Martin will not give an ending that resounds with my morality and hopes.

Theoretically, I know that Martin is not the same person that he was from 1991 to 1995 when he wrote A Game of Thrones. It's been over thirty years since he began his story and his ideas. He was in his early forties when he developed his concept. He's now in his mid seventies. Is his heart softer or harder? Is he more entrenched in his beliefs or is he rethinking his views? I dunno. As I now believe that Martin will not give a definitive ending with justice and peace for all, I wonder what Martin thinks of his success.... If he's written five books to spell out his frustration with war, with social injustice, and with the class system but percieves the masses love of war, inequality, and birthrights, then he must be frustrated on how to continue. Hemust hate people celebrati
George has certainly suffered some heartache in the last couple of years with the death of many of his friends and peers. Often a focus of his blogs. I wonder how that impacts his writing.

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