In Mailbag Of Thrones, A.V. Club contributor Michael Walsh answers your pressing questions about the Game Of Thrones universe. Wondering about the show, novels, theories, characters, past episodes, or Game Of Thrones/A Song Of Ice And Fire lore? Have questions about the current season? Forget using a raven, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or pose them in the comments.
We learned a lot from Game Of Thrones’ season seven premiere, “Dragonstone,” like never accept a drink from Arya, and that the best entertainment can be found in the Lord Of Light’s flames. But it raised plenty of questions, too, and in this week’s Mailbag Of Thrones we’re tackling your inquiries about timelines, Faceless Men magic, and whether or not the show’s biggest victim was the man bun.
Justin emails: How did Euron build 1,000 ships in the offseason?
It’s a stretch. Euron ordered his men in season six to cut down every tree they could find, but there just aren’t that many growing on the bunch of rocks that constitutes the Iron Islands. That means they had to raid the coast for wood, but wouldn’t someone notice a lumberjack-like Ironborn attack?
Also, even with the nebulous timeline employed by Game Of Thrones, such a massive endeavor seems impossible in such a short time. Sequences and plots from the same episode don’t happen in the same time period, but they aren’t years apart either. So while Arya poisoned the Freys within a fortnight of killing Lord Walder, we can give Euron a little more time. But we could generously give him six months and he still wouldn’t be able to build 1,000 ships in that time. Westeros’ largest fleet (in the books) is the Redwyne fleet. It has 200 warships, and five times as many merchant and trading ships, and that took years to build and acquire. Did Euron really match that in half a year?
The Iron Fleet primarily uses longships (bigger than most longships, but smaller than typical warships). Balon Greyjoy spent five years after Robert’s Rebellion building larger ships so he could rebel himself, and he wasn’t building anything close to 1,000 of them. Even if Euron only wanted longships, Balon’s mass shipbuilding project proves it takes time. The Ironborn might be the most efficient shipbuilders in the world, but no one is that good.
There is a slim chance this is possible though. The Iron Fleet is controlled by the Seastone Chair/lord of the Iron Islands. That is usually about 100 ships in size, but the Iron Islands has more ships beyond the Iron Fleet. So add the ships of other houses and you don’t actually have to build 1,000. Also, the Ironborn take many ships in raids, and we can guess they were adding ships that way, too.
Is it possible they already had a few hundred ships available (minus those that fled with Yara and Theon), captured some more, and quickly built the rest? Ehhhhh. Even if they got all the wood needed without any problems, and that lack of problems continued into a swift period of construction, it’s a stretch. We’ll just have to accept the other Houses on the Iron Islands had way more ships than we ever thought, or Euron came home with more than we realized.
Jenna emails: Why are there chains on the bookshelves in the Citadel? Is Jorah receiving treatment or waiting to die? Was that giant wight Wun Wun?
The chains are weird. Maybe the floors of the Citadel slope slightly, so they hold the shelves in place?
As for Jorah, yes to both. He’s looking for a cure so he can stand beside Daenerys when she finally takes the Iron Throne, so he went to arguably the greatest center of knowledge in the world, hoping the maesters would know of a cure. However, considering greyscale has been a problem for a long time, that’s unlikely (should have gone to Asshai!), so he’s probably waiting to die the way a terminal patient is when they are trying an experimental new treatment. It probably won’t work, but there is a glimmer of hope. For now, he’s Schrödinger’s Jorah.
That was not Wun Wun. Jon knows what can happen with the dead, so he probably had him burned (who has the time to build a grave for a giant anyway?). Plus, that giant wight was missing his left eye, not his right one. Ramsay shot Wun Wun in his right eye at the battle of Winterfell.
Falcone22 comments: Why was the Dragonstone completely abandoned? It’s one of the most strategically important places in the Seven Kingdoms.
Stannis, desperate for more soldiers, might have taken every available man with him when he left for the Wall. Though he was the lord of Dragonstone, his mission was the Iron Throne, and by winning that he would be able to easily reclaim Dragonstone if it fell in his absence. Dragonstone is very close to King’s Landing.
More likely: He left a small force behind to hold it, since it probably wouldn’t take many men to hold back a siege for a short time. But those men might have fled after learning about Stannis’ death at Winterfell, and if not then they might have (wisely) run when they heard three dragons and an armada were heading their way.
As for why no one else would have tried taking such a valuable, vulnerable castle in the meantime, we can probably chalk that up to no one being able to come so close to the Lannisters without risking everything. They have a large force, and until recently had the Tyrells on their side, too. Who was even a threat to take it? The North was a mess, the Vale disengaged, Dorne was in disarray, and all the Baratheons died. Cersei probably wasn’t worried about it. Oops.
Alexorella comments: So how is Arya making these masks exactly?
Rabbit Troop forever comments: Masks? How did she do the voice?
Skullboy0 comments: Voice? How did she do the height?
Okay, I get it. How is anything The Facelss Men do possible? Magic. Seriously: actual magic. Magic doesn’t have to follow the laws of physics. It doesn’t have to make sense.
Clearly the magic employed by The Faceless Men goes far beyond gluing on a face. Even the “easiest” part to understand is unexplained, because the wearers take on the skin like it’s their own, not like they have a mask on.
The process looks a lot like the “glamming” Melisandre does. We didn’t hear her speak in her old-woman form, but 400-year-old people probably sound different than people in their 30s. It seems like the magic used by The Faceless Men isn’t purely defined by changing your look, but by changing the way others perceive your look. It’s a sort of magical force field that makes others see what you want them to see, not what is really there. Arya’s voice and height probably didn’t literally change, rather the magic she employs in her transformation creates a mirage to others.
Euron’s shipbuilding project bothers me far more, because I can’t excuse it away by saying “magic.”
Lewis emails: Did The Hound officially kill the man bun with one line?
I’m going the other way: The Hound insulting Thoros’ hairstyle—“I’ll tell you what doesn’t scare me: bald cocksuckers like you. You think you’re fooling anyone with that topknot? Bald cunt”—finally justified its existence. I can respect the look as a method of covering up baldness. I can’t respect it as a lifestyle.
Oddham comments: The Wall has to come down, but I don’t think the show has really set up a method of doing this. Has it?
It hasn’t. Benjen said the Wall has powerful magic and spells cast into it that hold the White Walkers back, so that might mean it has magical vulnerabilities too, but no specifics on how that would work have come up.
In the books the legendary Horn Of Winter (a.k.a. the horn of Joramun) is said to be able to bring down the Wall, but that has never been a plot point on the show. There was a small horn in the bag of dragonglass Sam found at the Fist Of The First Men, but it was never acknowledged or seen again. Some people think they saw the Night’s King carrying a horn last season, but that’s far from clear.
So if the Wall is coming down on the show, it will be a late development. My theory: Bran learns about the horn in a vision, warns Jon, and that’s why Jon goes north of the Wall like we saw in the trailers.
Al Mata comments: In the preview of episode two, that had to be Nymeria, right? I rewound and that was a gray wolf.
Certainly looks that way, but would HBO reveal something that cool in a preview? That’s so silly it feels like an intentional misdirection. But since that’s so obvious, too, they might be counting on us predicting their misdirection.