Author Archives: cantuse

My Own Private Hardhome

I regularly get inquiries about my health, especially since I haven’t posted an update since last August. I figure my latest correspondence with my headache specialist should suffice:

Hello Dr. Liu:

I am in agonizing pain. It seems that the second round of Botox has yet to have helped me at all. As of right now, I am hurting a great deal and have taken two sumatriptan and have taken all fourteen of my nightly pills (exedrin/ibuprofen, olanzapine, topamax, indomethacin, gabapentin, verapamil, prilosec, buproprion) and my head still hurts really bad.

Dr. David’s office says that my insurance will not cover the neurostimulator they wanted to consider, and that they have referred me back to your office for further care/treatment. I was desperate and asked how much it would cost me if I wanted to pay myself ($100,000)… I can’t afford that much.

I need to know if there are other providers that could help me out with more permanent/advanced options that might be covered because I’m in a living hell. The meds I’m on make me drowsy and stupid, they mess with my stomach and they probably aren’t good for my organs (at least not at the doses I’m taking). I haven’t slept the night through in almost a week because of head pain, it’s making me crazy. I’m terrified of trying to go to sleep tonight.

Please help me.

To put it simply… life with 100% never-ending excruciating head pain is so … so monstrously ruinous, it destroys all quality of life.

Moon Visions: Bran is Already Seeing the Future

I’ll get straight to the point:

Bran’s last chapter in A Dance with Dragons is rife with hidden meaning.

In particular, there are carefully hidden allegories buried in the various transitions of the moon.

By unraveling these mysteries, we realize that Bran’s powers of omniscience were already blooming, even before he—or the reader—was consciously aware of them.

Specifically: We can find intriguing possibilities that might support predictions about the fates of both Jon Snow and Stannis.

Lets start with Bran’s narrative: upon finally settling in at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, his narrative becomes increasingly distorted.

Bran’s last chapter in A Dance with Dragons is especially conspicuous, containing frequent—almost rhythmic—breaks in the storytelling—breaks which in almost every case describe the the moon overhead. These interludes all begin with one of the following phrases:

The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife.

The moon was fat and full.

The moon was a black hole in the sky.

These phrases clearly mark the passage of time, and make it clear that BRAN III—ADWD covers a period spanning several months.

Now this leads to an interesting question:

  • ?
  • Can we connect these passages to events happening elsewhere?

At first blush that seems absurd because Bran’s chapter and these sentences seem so abstract and independent of everything and everyone else. But all I’m really asking is–Can we find events in other chapters where the moon can be found in the same phase, or other evidence that events are happening concurrently with the events in BRAN III—ADWD as shown by Bran’s descriptions of the moon?

You may harbor serious doubts about this idea. However, if you’ll indulge me the opportunity to compare two passages from A Dance with Dragons, I believe you will be convinced that reading the remainder of this essay is worthwhile. Continue reading

An update

I’m sure by now some people would like to see something new from me, or at least see me back in the community. That hasn’t happened yet, due to some major problems with my surgery.

I’m only putting this out there so that people know just how difficult writing is for me at the current moment. Since my brain surgery, I have been to the Emergency Room three times. Last night was the last, and by far the worst.

I am dealing with some sort of inflammatory process that will not relent and only responds to really strong steroids (dexamethasone) and opiates. I am essentially a non-functioning human being at the present moment. I want to write, I want to play with my kids and squeeze my wife. Heck, I almost want to work.

But I can’t. Further, I don’t have the energy right now to be involved in the threads on /r/asoiaf that I interest me. There are lots of good things I see that I can’t talk about these days.

Temporarily out of commission

Just a small alert to the community and anyone who might try to contact me in the near future: I am having brain surgery July 20th, and fully expect to be completely offline for at least two weeks.

The surgery is relatively minor as far as brain surgeries go… only a procedure called a microvascular decompression, designed to treat my ongoing trigeminal neuralgia. It’s just that any time you operate on the brain, healing can be slow.

Feel free to comment as usual, but I won’t be responding for quite some time. Seven blessings and all that.

Eye of the Storm

Bran listened. “It’s only the wind,” he said after a moment, uncertain. “The leaves are rustling.”

“Who do you think sends the wind, if not the gods?”


In this quiet passage Osha introduces Bran, and the readers, to a recurring concept: the wind itself may occasionally carry supernatural importance.

Osha’s comment can certainly be dismissed as the primitive superstitions of a wildling—but as we’ve seen throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, folk myths often conceal compelling truths.

Getting to my point, I believe that Osha is largely correct in her statement:

The gods do appear to ‘send the wind’.

The reason for this claim is based on a more important observation:

Men and women can appeal to their gods for these winds.

Indeed, as I will show you there is plenty of evidence to suggest this is somehow true.

These are fun, insightful observations on their own—nice to know—but they do not inherently reveal details into the events that occur in the books. The only way to really generate exciting ideas from these findings is if we use them to explain or predict phenomenon. To that end, this essay proposes a possibly fantastical idea:

The blizzard that blankets the north was a deliberate ‘conjuration’.

It was conjured by someone allied with Stannis.

The two most likely candidates are Melisandre and/or Stannis himself.

Furthermore, I argue that such sorcery was likely a deliberate component of Stannis’s strategy, a key requirement for enacting the “Night Lamp” and subsequent plots. Even setting aside the Night Lamp theory and The Mannifesto, the ideas presented herein are thought-provoking at the very least. Continue reading

The Error of Her Ways

Melisandre has tremendous talent at seeing things in her fires, visions of events to come. She’s not perfect however—she predicted that Stannis could preemptively alter fate and avoid being crushed by Renly at that Blackwater, only to be instead crushed by Garlan Tyrell (in Renly’s armor) at the Blackwater.

At the Wall, Melisandre’s penchant for ‘misintepretation’ endures. She predicted Arya’s rescue, ‘a grey girl on a dying horse’, yet Alys Karstark appeared instead.

But there are underlying insights in her visions which cannot be ignored. Melisandre did predict Stannis’s defeat by a man in Renly’s armor, and that was correct. She also predicted the arrival of the grey girl, and that was correct.

By all appearances, Melisandre’s powerful visions are most vulnerable to error when she takes that extra step to apply proper names to the objects in her visions—to find their applicability. The ‘grey girl’ became Arya. The man in green armor became Renly. Towers by the sea became Eastwatch. In her obsessive quest to match vision to reality, she errs—a lot.

It seems obvious then that Melisandre’s visions do possess great value, but we must be wary of her attempts to apply them. We must look at all of the possible interpretations in the books.

When you do so however, an extremely bizarre pattern emerges: all of the visions that Melisandre has had since arriving at the Wall have more than one manifestation. In the case of Renly’s green armor, the resulting scenario where Garlan Tyrell wore the armor is the only observed manifestation of Melisandre’s visions. Compare that to her ‘grey girl’ vision, where there are perhaps a half-dozen candidates, all of extreme viability.

With that out of the way, here is what I want to do with this essay:

Reveal the errors in Melisandre’s recent predictions and identify other manifestations of the predicted outcomes.

Identify the failures of other seers and perhaps a root cause.

Analyze a vision Melisandre experiences but does not interpret.

Speculate on a major prediction from A Dance with Dragons.

Continue reading

A Ghostwriter in Winterfell


I formerly argued that Mance Rayder was the author of the infamous Pink Letter. I no longer believe that to be true. I believe the author is someone that the ASOIAF fandom least suspects.

Theon Greyjoy is the author of the Pink Letter.

If we assume for the moment that this argument is correct, it raises several logistical questions, to which I also propose compelling answers:

Under what circumstances did Theon author the Pink Letter?

Theon authored the letter after arriving at the Dreadfort.

Theon arrived at the Dreadfort as part of Stannis’s high-level strategy… to capture the Dreadfort under a false flag and draw the Boltons from Winterfell.

Why would Theon send such a letter to Jon Snow?

The Pink Letter’s purpose: To provoke. To inform. To confuse.

In short, the letter contains secret intelligence and/or messages. Yet the letter is written in a confusing and cryptic fashion, in order to confuse any readers who are unaware of the presence of secret content.

NOTE: The nature of these cryptic messages is not currently the focus of this essay. This essay has a very specific scope: to argue that Theon is the author of the infamous Pink Letter.

Continue reading

A Confederacy of Stewards


So I’m uh … I’m frankly terrified of publishing the following essay. In a series of essays making big claims, I am about to make some of the boldest and most contentious claims yet.

Where to begin the madness in this essay?

A fair criticism of the Mannifesto is that it paints Stannis and a few others as geniuses capable of little error and grand calculation. The Baratheon war machine as described in the various essays heretofore is well-oiled, precise in its engineering. However, such precision naturally leads to a weakness: throw a well placed wrench into the works and the entire machine can crash to a irreparable halt.

All it takes is a few unpredictable events to undermine the success of Stannis’s campaign.

Stepping further in this direction, most people believe that the unexpected sabotage will come in the form of something unpredictable from Ramsay Bolton. However, I disagree:

Stannis’s campaign may have been indirectly sabotaged by Cersei Lannister.

Continue reading

A League of Their Own


To be quite frank, this essay doesn’t need polished presentation, nor well-articulated reason, nor well-timed salvos of ‘mind-shattering new theory’. I simply plan to prove the following:

Stannis’s campaign in the north draws directly on elements of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most famous triumphs: at Ulm, Austerlitz, and Arcola.

Specific elements of Stannis’s northern campaign are derived from Hannibal’s famous victory at the Battle of Cannae.

Continue reading