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Tl;Dr:. In-universe, why would Maester Aemon address his letter to Five Kings at a time when their were not five Kings leading armies that could help against the Wildlings?

Ok, so I know the five Kings in the War of Five Kings are enumerated in this related post. Who were the five kings?

Renly
Stannis
Joffrey
Balon Greyjoy
Robb Stark.

But when Maester Aemon sends the ravens out seeking help after the events on the Fist of the First Men, it's well after

Renly dies to Mel's shadow monster

In fact, I think there was never a time when all five Kings we're concurrently crowned.

So when Davos reads Aemon's letter in A Storm of Swords, why is it addressed to "The Five Kings"?

I know timelines are fuzzy and the Night's Watch doesn't always get the latest news, but it seems odd they would have heard of the crowning of Robb and Balon without having heard of Renly's situation.

Even if we agree with Skoobas argument in the linked post that Dany was one of the five, Aemon might not have seen it that way (note his inner monologue in ADWD re: genders and the Prince Who Was Promised) and likewise had no reason to believe she would be able to bring a force from Essos nor would he likely have the ability to get a letter to her with anything like the semi-reliability of Raven Post.

  • Isn’t this answered in the linked post in Skoobas answer? – TheLethalCarrot Mar 16 at 16:59
  • No, again I’m asking specifically about why aemon addressed five kings in his letter after the ravens came from the Fist. There’s no evidence to suggest he wrote to Dany at all that I’m aware of. The Maesters referees to the war as the War of Five Kings to be sure, but when writing the letter it wouldn’t make sense to address five people if only four were around when the letter was sent. – Paul Mar 16 at 17:39
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    Seeing as the Night's Watch does not take part in the politics of Westeros, pherhaps Aemon was just trying to play nice. – Skooba Mar 16 at 17:50
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    Possible duplicate of Who were the five kings? – Mithoron Mar 16 at 22:48
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    I thought this question was one I always wanted to ask: Why address any letter to multiple kings, just write "to the king" so everyone can interpret it as they wish. In the books, Stannis writes back saying there's only 1 true king. Aemon should have predicted that kind of response from every king. – Shanty Mar 18 at 16:13
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First of all, the Wall is a world apart. News often reaches them very late. It has been said a number of times by a number of people.

"It is not," Pycelle admitted, "but none of Mormont's men have returned as yet. Marsh fears the wildlings have killed them, and that the Wall itself may be attacked next." He fumbled in his robe and found the paper. "Here is his letter, my lord, a plea to all five kings. He wants men, as many men as we can send him."

"Five kings?" His father was annoyed. "There is one king in Westeros. Those fools in black might try and remember that if they wish His Grace to heed them. When you reply, tell him that Renly is dead and the others are traitors and pretenders."

"No doubt they will be glad to learn it. The Wall is a world apart, and news oft reaches them late." Pycelle bobbed his head up and down. "What shall I tell Marsh concerning the men he begs for? Shall we convene the council . . ."
ASOS - Tyrion IV

And also:

"The Imp?" Davos did not understand the question. "He is at King's Landing, condemned to die for the murder of his nephew."

"The Wall is the last to learn, my father used to say. The dwarf's escaped. He twisted through the bars of his cell and tore his own father apart with his bare hands. A guardsman saw him flee, red from head to heel, as if he'd bathed in blood. The queen will make a lord of any man who kills him."

Davos struggled to believe what he was hearing. "You are telling me that Tywin Lannister is dead?"
ADWD - Davos I

Secondly, GRRM deliberately tries to avoid providing a time frame when writing.

The reason I am never specific about dates and distances is precisely so that people won't sit down and do this sort of thing.

My suggestion would be to put away the ruler and the stopwatch, and just enjoy the story.
So Spake Martin - Entry 1198

So we can't really make any assumptions about the timeline and infer from it the date when Aemon dispatched his birds and when were they received by their intended recipients.

Now thirdly, Davos did not read the letter right away. It was received by Lord Alester Florent when he was the Hand of the King and he told the Maester that the King won't want to see it. After Lord Alester's downfall and his appointment as the new Hand to replace Florent, Davos Seaworth chanced upon the letter while learning how to read and immediately realised the gravity of the words.

His first duty was to help his king rule, and for that he must needs understand the words the ravens brought. The best way to learn a thing was to do it, he had found; sails or scrolls, it made no matter.

“This might serve our purpose.” Pylos passed him a letter.

Davos flattened down the little square of crinkled parchment and squinted at the tiny crabbed letters.

[...]

Davos suddenly realized just what he was reading. He turned the letter over, and saw that the wax that had sealed it had been black. “This is from the Night’s Watch. Maester, has King Stannis seen this letter?”

I brought it to Lord Alester when it first arrived. He was the Hand then. I believed he discussed it with the queen. When I asked him if he wished to send a reply, he told me not to be a fool. ‘His Grace lacks the men to fight his own battles, he has none to waste on wildlings’ he said to me.
ASOS - Davos V

Now that proves that the letter arrived right after the Battle of Blackwater Bay which happened a few weeks after Renly's demise. For all we know, it might be that Wall never learnt about Renly's death at that time. The fact that they knew of Robb's and Balon's coronation doesn't mean much. The Wall is in the North and anyone might have had sent the word forward that the North has a King again. Robb himself may have sent a raven forward to tell Jon. What we do know is that Lord Mormont knew about Robb's coronation and told Jon before they went on the Great Ranging. As for Balon's coronation, it was immediately followed by invasion of the North in the name of the Iron King of the Isles. Winterfell was sacked and burnt, and the Watch knew what happened down there in their neighbourhood.

Highgarden and Storm's End are however very far down in the South. News if any was sent their way, would have reached the Watch the last. Also note how long it took Davos to learn about Tywin's death, an equally important (If not more) event, he may not have learnt about it at all had he stayed at the Eastwatch. We know for certain that the Watch knew about Renly's coronation, but when did they learn about his death? We know they knew of it by the time they very electing Mormont's successor but when exactly? It is possible that Lord Tywin's reply may have informed them of that development (In which he subtly hinted that he favours Janos Slynt for new Lord Commander - That played a role in the elections) but explicitly? We do not know.

  • Good enough for me. I'll leave the question open a bit longer in the unlikely event that someone else has different info but as usual this is a pretty comprehensive answer, thanks. – Paul Mar 18 at 11:07
  • @Paul No problemo :) It's your right as the OP to accept (Or not) any answer anytime you wish. – Aegon Mar 18 at 12:06

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