Game of Thrones cast choose which child Ned would be proudest of and Nikolaj Coster Waldau discusses Jaime’s ideal death

Ned
The Stark children have grown a lot over the past 6 seasons, some for the better, others … perhaps less so. Entertainment Weekly asked Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie William and Isaac Hempstead-Wright which Stark child Ned would be proudest of. Interestingly, nobody named any of Ned’s sons.

Kit Harington gave his vote to Arya but said that he doesn’t think Ned would be the sort of father to play favorites, a sentiment echoed by Isaac Hempstead-Wright.

Sophie Turner also chose Arya, “Just because he was always very, very supportive of her doing what she wanted and going against the grain and kind of being kind of being an independent young girl.”

In a predictable twist, Maisie Williams named Sansa for being the Stark child who’s developed the most since season 1. Turner then conceded that, yeah, Sansa’s her honest pick as well.

In other news, Nikolaj Coster Waldau gave an interview at Argentina Comic Con in which he painted a vivid picture of Jaime Lannister’s perfect death scene: dying of old age whilst professing his eternal love for Brienne  … though he also thinks expiration by dragon fire would be thematically fitting as well.

He also discussed his character’s ambiguous sense of morality, admitting that he never saw Jaime as a villain, even in his early days. He likened the character-defining decision to push Bran out of the window to refusing to allow a stranger’s child onto lifeboat that’s already filled to capacity by one’s own offspring. “There’s another option of course … you could just sacrifice yourself,” he added.

Good talk, Nikolaj.

116 responses

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    1. I think Ned would be most proud of Jon, since he’s the kid (nephew…) that resembles him the most.

      Idk if he would be exactly proud of Sansa’s choices… but then again he did lie for years to his own wife and ruined her pride for the sake of his sister’s son.

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    2. I think Isaac is the only one who nailed it.Ned would be proud of all his children.Mostly heartbroken about what has happened to them but proud that they have overcome such hardships and still remained good and kind people in their hearts.

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    3. Jon. He’s held the North together – Watch, Wildlings and Houses – in spite of the massive sh*tstorm in the south and all the little moments where he could have thrown in the towel. He has consistently put the needs of others ahead of his own. I reckon that though Ned would (of course) be proud of each of his children, of Jon he would be quite proud indeed.

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    4. Its definitely Jon, followed by robb. Rickons a good kid but never did anythin to inspire pride. Bran he couldnt fully understand. The girls may have done great things, but its so far outhos realm that he would feel more sympathy than pride

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    5. Ned would probably love his children no matter what. But would he be “proud” of Arya becoming a cold-blooded assassin ? Would he be proud of her cutting a couple of men up into little pieces and feeding them to their father ?

      Would he be proud of Sansa sadistically feeding a man (even a supremely evil man) to a bunch of dogs, rather than having him executed the “clean way” (which is what Ned would have done) ? Would he be proud of her lying to Jon ?

      I’m not so sure. I think Cat might understand the dark places her daughters have gone more than Ned would.

      All of the Stark boys, including Jon, are closer to Ned’s ideals than either Sansa or Arya at this point, but Jon and Robb would probably take the cake.

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    6. Almost everyone loves Arya, and Arya’s portrayal by Maisie Williams. I love Arya. But Arya is on a dark path. Do you really think that Ned would be most proud of his emotionally damaged child who chose to become an assassin? I think he would be the most worried about her, IMO.

      I imagine he would be proud of all of his children for becoming survivors in their own way, though. Robb was forced to become a man, but was still a boy. He did the best he could, under the circumstances.

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    7. I think Isaac is right on the money, Ned would be proud of all of them in a different way. I’m not surprised Maisie and Sophie chose each other, they always do they love each other very much.

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    8. Isaac Hempstead-Wright expresses a lovely sentiment but I am not certain I agree completely with it. Ned did love all his children, no question about that. But he did “play favourite” insofar as some of his kids had personalities he could relate to more…

      For example, he clearly favoured Arya over Sansa, not because he did not love his elder daughter but because the younger’s tastes were identical to his own and, therefore, “worthier” to him. Let’s face it, had Robert Baratheon asked for Arya to marry Joffrey (regardless of age), Ned would probably have said no. But Sansa ? Yeah, sure ! Let’s marry her off to some random bloke because my drunk BFF asked me to !

      As for which one of his kids he would be the proudest of…
      Robb ? A bit too bullheaded. Jon ? A bit too moany. Sansa ? A bit too sneaky. Arya ? A bit too violent. Rickon ? A bit too “straightforward”.
      I’d go for Bran. I think Ned would be amazed by what his son managed to accomplish in spite of his physical limitations and by the levelheadedness he often showed in the face of adversity.

      On a sidenote, why focus solely on Ned ? Why not also ask whom Catelyn would be the proudest of ? Weirdly enough, my bet would be on Jon…

      As for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s interview, it was quite great !
      Bless him for attributing Jaime’s decision to push Bran out of the window to… Jaime himself, instead of going for the infamous “he did it for Cersei” excuse (the very excuse Jaime loves to use to avoid responsibility for his actions). He made a choice, a cruel but understandable choice.

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    9. I think Ned would simultaneously be proud and worried for all his children with varying degrees. He’d be worried about the heavy burden Bran has to carry as the 3 Eyed Raven, but also proud that his son can take on such a huge responsibility. Of his biological children, Ned would be most proud of Bran.

      He’d be extremely worried about what Arya has turned into and about Sansa’s dealings with LF and not trusting her own family, though he’d be happy they both survived.

      However, he would be particularly proud of Jon for what he has accomplished in spite of being a bastard, for keeping the North together, thinking of the big picture, and for always putting others before his own personal gain.

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    10. ACME,

      Ned’s presence can still be felt on the show despite his early death. Since then, he’s been mentioned in almost every GoT episode and he still influences and will influence the story. We also got to see his young version on the show recently. It’s not surprising the interview is focused on his character.

      In the books at least, Catelyn’s favorite child was Bran, so I’d say she’d be most proud of him too. She was okay with Ned taking the girls to KL, but never Bran and said he was her favorite. I think Sansa comes a close second (but she’d be annoyed she’s not kicking LF to the curb) and Robb would be third (especially after she thought she lost all her other kids, he was her only joy and pride that was left).

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    11. Why does everyone think Ned would disapprove of Rickon’s “straightforwardness?” After all, he did the honorable thing and didn’t zigzag. 🙂

      As for his apparent bias toward Arya over Sansa, I always figured that was because she reminded him of Lyanna, not himself.

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    12. Markus Stark,

      The girls are just playing their roles. Frankly I think Ned would love all his children, even those of his sister equally. In TV viewing terms, Ramsey deserved his fate as did Walder Frey. Robb on the other hand broke a pledge and got massacred for it. Strange how it works out.

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    13. I don’t feel Ned was the type to play favorites. As for the Sansa/Arya thing, I think he understood Arya more than Sansa rather than favored one over the other. And I think Arya reminded him far more of Lyanna – the sister he had lost – than Sansa did.

      I think there was a bond with Jon that none of the others could break. While Arya reminded him most of Lyanna, Jon was really the last part of his beloved sister that Ned had left. And, while there has always been confusion and debate over whether Robb or Jon is the eldest of the younger generation of Starks, of all of them Ned knew Jon the longest. Even if Robb was born first, Ned held Jon months before he held Robb. And – of all of the children – Jon was the one who in looks and personality resembled Ned most.

      Ultimately, I think he would be proud of all of them, though in very different ways.

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    14. Alba Stark,

      This is a beautiful comment and I agree. Similarly, Cat understood Sansa more. The relationship both Stark parents have with their children (and nephew) fascinates me and it’s probably one of the most interesting aspects of the story to me.

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    15. Flayed Potatoes,
      I cannot deny you are entirely right about the Ned-related obsession the remaining Starks have, nor can I pretend not to understand the reasons behind it. But I have to confess I find it over-the-top and, quite frankly, counterproductive. For the characters themselves.
      Ned was a very good man; he meant well. However he made so many mistakes, so many errors of judgment over so many years ande on so many topics that I cannot help but believe that, if there is one dude no one should ever try to emulate in Westeros, it is him.

      As for Catelyn, you are absolutely right that her favourite child was Bran. Nevertheless, the one “Stark” kid who embodies “family, duty, honour” (in that order) better than any other is Jon.
      He is the “family, duty, honour” guy.
      Not Robb who let his sisters rot in King’s Landing not to lose a precious hostage and did not keep his promise to the Freys; not Sansa who did not want to be a Stark and is morally “plastic”: not Arya who left her family behind and sneakily kills people; not Bran who is more focused on his mission than anything else; not Rickon (whatever his personality may be ^^) Ironically, Jon is more Tully than anyone alive (or anyone with actual Tully blood for that matter). Blackfish would have adored him.
      Had Catelyn not been blinded by the horrible humiliation she believed Jon was the living proof of, she would have noticed, cherished and celebrated his personality.
      (Bran would be her second favourite and Sansa would come in third, I agree)

      Azor Asshai,
      Ned says Arya looks like Lyanna, it is true. But quite frankly, she just looks like an archetypal Stark (dark hair, grey eyes) unlike all his other children with Catelyn who look more Tully-ish.
      As far as Lyanna’s trajectory goes, considering Lyanna went behind her father’s back and dropped her family like a hot potato to follow a royal prince, creating a maelstrom of bad news for her relatives… She is closer to Book 1 Sansa, ain’t she ? 😉

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    16. ACME,

      I love Ned. Mistakes and all ¯_(ツ)_/¯¯_(ツ)_/¯¯_(ツ)_/¯

      Ned obviously did something right if he managed to rule the North and keep the peace and respect of his bannermen for so long. I don’t always understand the Ned/Jon comparisons though… I don’t think Ned would have been able to infiltrate the Wildlings the way Jon did, and I don’t think he’d have been able to make peace with them and bring them south of the wall. Jon’s moral code is not at rigid as Ned’s. I mean… Jon executed a kid (Ned would have pardoned him) and he let a child murderer go last season (Ned would have executed Melly for sure).

      However, I can see why Arya and Jon emulate him to some extent. Ned is pretty much Arya’s moral compass and a way for her to not lose her humanity, and I think Jon understands the respect Ned commanded and does borrow some of his teachings (“the hand that passes the sentence should swing the sword”). Considering all the loss Ned suffered after RR and the responsibilities thrust upon him that he had never been prepared to take on, he was a great Lord of Winterfell and Warden and a remarkably well-adjusted person. He’s also probably the only decent father figure in the story.

      I personally think Catelyn would be rolling in her grave at the thought of Jon being KITN lol. I think she would be furious. Lady Stoneheart, however, would be most proud of show Arya 😛

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    17. Flayed Potatoes: Ned obviously did something right if he managed to rule the North and keep the peace and respect of his bannermen for so long.

      Well, he was BFF with the King, the man who led a successful rebellion against the Targaryen dynasty, squashed the Greyjoy uprising and was more than happy to smash skulls with his hammer… Even if Ned had been terrible at his job as Warden of the North, I doubt any of his bannermen would have had the guts to stand up to him.
      For all their bravado, Northerners are much less ballsy than their southern neighbours, some of whom dared to rise up against the Crown-allied Freys, even though the Riverlands are stuck between King’s Landing and the Westerlands.
      Rivermen powa ! Fear the fish ! ^^

      Flayed Potatoes:
      I don’t always understand the Ned/Jon comparisons though… (…) Jon’s moral code is not at rigid as Ned’s. I mean… Jon executed a kid (Ned would have pardoned him) and he let a child murderer go last season (Ned would have executed Melly for sure)

      Ned lied to everyone he knew for close to twenty years; he sneakily changed the wording of Robert’s will; he openly threatened the survival of three children; he was best friend with a man who smiled when looking over the corpses of a violated woman and both her massacred chidren; etc.

      Ned’s moral code was not as rigid as we all like to think, I believe. He was more than willing to make allowances and excuses when it suited his purpose. However, he was a tad dishonest about it. More of a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of person…

      That is why I will forever love one of his scenes with Littlefinger. When Baelish tells him of his control over the City Watch, Ned goes in full pearl-clutching mode and berates Littlefinger for thinking of treason… The very same Ned who committed treason when he hid Jon’s real parentage ! Oh Ned, you delightful hypocrite ! ^^

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    18. Ooh, good one Nicolaj. He’s always so enthusiastic. Hee.

      Ned would be most proud of Jon, hands down. Aside from the fact that he’s not his kid. He’d be proud of Arya but probably fairly dismayed at how much death she’s seen and doled out.

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    19. Sophie Turner actually picked a character other than Sansa? Gasp!!

      Nevermind. Looks like she changed her mind and picked Sansa as well. lol!

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    20. Rickon ? A bit too “straightforward”.

      I get the joke – but think he was so young at the time he disappeared, we didn’t get a chance to know him once he came back again. Can’t really say what his personality would be like

      I agree about t his love for Jon and Arya, which, given how close they were, makes sense.

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    21. I think it’s a great sentiment to say he’d be proud of all of them and this is probably true in a way. But I do think the answer has to be Jon. Brought up as a bastard who doesn’t even know who he is and winds up LC of the Night’s Watch and King in the North and well respected and loved by Wildlings and Northern people.

      This is quite an accomplishment for someone hidden away.

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    22. Jerry M:
      Markus Stark,

      The girls are just playing their roles.Frankly I think Ned would love all his children, even those of his sister equally. In TV viewing terms, Ramsey deserved his fate as did Walder Frey. Robb on the other hand broke a pledge and got massacred for it. Strange how it works out.

      Regardless of what they “deserved” (a very vague and entirely subjective notion), Ned would not have carried out such punishments. He would have beheaded them and that would have been that. Walder Frey and Ramsay are sick and evil bastards. But one of the reasons why Ramsay is sick is because he enjoys feeding people to his dogs. Sansa enjoyed feeding Ramsay to the dogs. She smiled and didn’t even flinch. Why is Ramsay sick but not Sansa ?

      No sane person would do something like that, no matter how badly the guy “deserves” it.

      As for Arya, I think we should all be able to agree that no matter how bad Walder is, it’s pretty sad that a little girl has gotten to the point where she cuts men up into little pieces, bakes them into a pie, and feeds them to their father.

      Again, no matter how bad Walder is, one would have to be incredibly disturbed to even think of something like that. I mean seriously, where on Earth did Arya come up with that ? The fact that she not only thought of it, but also went through with it, shows that she’s pretty sick as well.

      Nobody who understands Ned’s character could think that he would condone something like that, let alone be proud of it. It’s sad what has happened to Arya and Sansa. It shouldn’t be celebrated. These girls are deeply traumatized and have become psychopathic and obsessed with revenge in an extremely unhealthy way.

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    23. A Dornish Tyrell: Is it Ned-bashing season again, ACME? Lemme get my gloves!!

      Ha ha ha ! Every season is Ned-bashing season, as long as it is done with underlying love and tenderness ! 😛

      Don’t bother with the gloves; we’re going to bare knuckle this one ^^

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    24. ACME: Every season is Ned-bashing season, as long as it is done with underlying love and tenderness ! 😛

      Always!! I’m more severe with the characters I love than with the ones I dislike…

      Markus Stark,

      I have to agree with you… I don’t think would be proud of what his children have become. I think he would be deeply sorry for them and would probably regret all the bad decisions he made and which consequences ended it up hurting his children…

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    25. Markus Stark:

      Again, no matter how bad Walder is, one would have to be incredibly disturbed to even think of something like that. I mean seriously, where on Earth did Arya come up with that? The fact that she not only thought of it, but also went through with it, shows that she’s pretty sick as well.

      Nobody who understands Ned’s character could think that he would condone something like that, let alone be proud of it.

      I’m certainly not going to argue that Arya’s behavior isn’t deeply disturbing (it is), but she didn’t come up with “something like that” on her own. You may recall Bran telling the story of the Rat Cook in S4; that is undoubtedly the tale Arya was thinking of when she meted out that particular punishment to the Freys. (Bran didn’t tell the story to her, but it’s well known in the Seven Kingdoms.)

      As I noted in another thread where Arya is currently being discussed, she has never seen “justice” truly be served. Some commenters have written—not inaccurately—that Westeros has a criminal-justice system that calls for clean executions, usually by beheading or hanging. But these options aren’t open to Arya. First, on whom would she call to try and sentence Walder and his sons, and how would a just outcome be guaranteed? It certainly wasn’t in her father’s case. Second, in the absence of judge, jury and executioner—roles she has taken on for herself—the “clean” methods of execution are not available. No one is going to kneel on a chopping block for her, or let her put a noose around his/her neck. So how, exactly, does an 11- or 12-year-old girl seek out and exact justice/revenge/vengeance/whatever you view it as? First, she does it for herself; second, she turns to the stories—Westeros’s versions of Aesop’s fables or Perrault’s Les Contes de ma Mère l’Oye—that would have been integral, along with her parents’ instruction, to shaping her morals.

      Again: Yes, what Arya did to the Freys was gruesome. (As I noted, whether or not it was “justified” is a current topic of discussion in another thread.) But in the absence of parents (or maester) to advise her and a criminal-justice system that actually renders justice, it’s logical that she would turn to “morality tales” to guide her.

      On the subject of “Ned’s character,” someone (it might have been ACME, but I could be mistaken) recently noted that Robert Baratheon smiled over the bodies of a violated woman and her butchered children—but he remained Ned’s BFF until death did them part. So Ned might not have “condone[d]” or “be[en] proud of” Arya’s behavior, but his disapproval would have been hypocritical. After all, he stood by Robert. And needled Jaime about the manner of the Mad King’s death, even though Jaime killed Aegon in the exact same way that Howland Reed killed Arthur Dayne.

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    26. Most Proud – Jon
      1. He’s a man
      2. LC
      3. KITN
      4. Legendary swordsman
      5. Nephew

      Second Most Proud – Sansa
      1. She’s a girl
      2. Weak Stark
      3. Reclaimed Winterfell
      3. Ended Boltons
      4. Slayed Lady guilt

      Least Proud – Bran
      1. Ignored Jon to monkey around underground
      2. Could have saved Rickon, Jojen, Hodor, 3 Eyed Raven, Leaf, Shaggydog & Summer

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    27. Wolfish,

      The Rat Cook story was definitely relevant here, because according to the story, the Rat Cook was cursed by the gods for violating guest right (he murdered a guest, baked him into a pie, and fed him to his own father). The gods transformed him into a giant rat who could only eat his own children. Arya clearly wasn’t being random when she chose how to punish Walder Frey for violating guest right to murder her family.

      Book Arya has a few killings that are harder to justify, but show Arya has really only killed people who deserved it (or in self-defense, in the case of the stable boy), and actually put herself at huge risk trying to protect Lady Crane. I think Ned would have respected that decision a lot (it’s the kind of dangerously honorable decision he’s prone to making).

      Arya’s methods aren’t the methods that Ned would have used, but I think Ned would actually be proud of her courage and sense of justice. She may not be acting in the manner that the traditional “justice” system prescribes, but as you note, her circumstances don’t really allow her to execute people the traditional way. I think the only aspect that Ned wouldn’t be proud of is the fact that she seems to really enjoy the killing, rather than seeing it as an unpleasant duty that must be done for the sake of justice.

      In a way, she’s like the Stranger, appearing unexpectedly and dealing out the gift of the Many-Faced God to people who have abused their position of power to commit atrocities. Arya’s methods may not be sanctioned by the totally dysfunctional secular “justice” system, but they seem relatively in line with the Westerosi (and Essosi) ideas about death gods and divine punishment.

      Regarding Ned’s friendship with Robert, there are a few things I would note about that:
      1) Ned actually did get angry with Robert about his reaction to the Targaryen children’s murder, and it wasn’t until after Lyanna’s death that Ned and Robert reconciled. I don’t remember if that was ever specifically mentioned in the show, but it was certainly clear that Ned disapproved to Robert’s attempted assassination of Daenerys. Murdering Targaryen children seems to be the biggest cause for discord in Ned and Robert’s friendship.

      2) Jaime never really told anyone (other than Brienne, much later) the details about his killing of the Mad King. Ned probably thought that Jaime just stabbed Aerys in the back with no immediate provocation, to help Tywin take the city. There’s also the fact that Jaime was a Kingsguard, and swore an oath to defend the king, and then willfully violated that oath by killing the king.

      Howland Reed stabbed Arthur Dayne in the back, but it occurred during a fight which Dayne was actively participating in (and winning, prior to that point). It may not be considered the most honorable style of combat, but it was still combat, not murder.

      I wouldn’t really say Ned is hypocritical for making a distinction between backstab/murder/oathbreaking vs. tactical backstab in combat

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    28. Casso,

      Excellent points about Ned, Robert, and Jaime. Saner Half (my husband, who as I noted in another comment, is a veteran) agrees with your assessment about the Tower of Joy scene. I have not read the books for a while, so there are some details that I had forgotten (such as Ned’s conflict with Robert over killing Targaryen children). So I will cede the points you made.

      On a slightly different note: I do love Ned, but like ACME and Ten Bears, I see him as a far more ambiguous character than many readers and viewers do. I think a big part of that is that Ned really does try to do “the right thing” for both his family and for the realm; however, that demands more plasticity in his adherence to his own code of honor than many of us like to acknowledge.

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    29. Casso,

      Just to follow up on one of your observations:

      I don’t blame Ned or Howland Reed for stabbing Arthur Dayne in the back. In a fight to the death, anything goes.

      However, what I do blame Ned for is allowing the perpetuation of the legend that he defeated the incomparable Arthur Dayne in “single combat”: his own son Bran was shocked to learn that the story he’d heard “a thousand times” was a total lie; in fact Ned had been soundly defeated and disarmed by Arthur Dayne and was seconds away from getting stuck with the pointy end when Howland snuck up behind Dayne. Ned “beating” Arthur Dayne amounted to administering the coup de grace to a legendary fighter already keeled over, bleeding profusely and incapacitated by a dagger plunged into his neck.

      (I’ve never understood why Ned allowed this “fake news” to become accepted as historical fact. If he was going to fabricate a story, he should’ve at least credited one of his fallen comrades with the victory.)

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    30. Ten Bears:

      I’ve never understood why Ned allowed this “fake news” to become accepted as historical fact. If he was going to fabricate a story, he should’ve at least credited one of his fallen comrades with the victory.

      This may seem counterintuitive, but I always viewed it as protecting Howland Reed. Reed is slight of build, brave but not a renowned fighter, and from a small, not-wealthy, and rather elusive house. Even though the manner of Arthur Dayne’s death was not dishonorable, having taken place during combat, it would not have gone over well (with either the common people or the nobility) that the most renowned knight in the Seven Kingdoms was felled by a knife from behind. Reed would have been hated (and possibly targeted) for it.

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    31. Ten Bears:
      Casso,

      Just to follow up on one of your observations:

      I don’t blame Ned or Howland Reed for stabbing Arthur Dayne in the back. In a fight to the death, anything goes.

      However, what I do blame Ned for is allowing the perpetuation of the legend that he defeated the incomparable Arthur Dayne in “single combat”: his own son Bran was shocked to learn that the storyhe’d heard “a thousand times” was a total lie; in fact Ned had been soundly defeated and disarmed by Arthur Dayne and was seconds away from getting stuck with the pointy end when Howland snuck up behind Dayne. Ned “beating” Arthur Dayne amounted to administering the coup de grace to a legendary fighter already keeled over, bleeding profusely and incapacitated by a dagger plunged into his neck.

      (I’ve never understood why Ned allowed this “fake news” to become accepted as historical fact. If he was going to fabricate a story, he should’ve at least credited one of his fallen comrades with the victory.)

      Ned never lied about this but deliberately didn’t correct anyone for the simple fact that he would not let Howland Reed, a man who saved his life, to be seen as a coward who stabbed a heralded knight in the back. Not that Howland did anything wrong, but others may not have seen it that way.

      I thought Bran was a bit of an ass in his reaction, tbh, but then teenagers are moody.

      Edit: What Wolfish said!

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    32. Wolfish,

      I agree that Ned isn’t always as strict about his code as he tries to appear. Something that I saw someone mention once is that one thing that will reliably get Ned to bend his rules is protecting children.

      He lied for years to protect Jon
      He resigned as Hand in protest of the assassination attempt on Daenerys
      He warned Cersei that he knew her secret to protect her children from Robert
      He falsely confessed to treason to protect Arya and Sansa

      I think Ned had a strong moral intuition, but it doesn’t always quite match with what his society considers “honorable”, and he sometimes (particularly when children are in danger) follows his moral intuition rather than his publicly acknowledged code of honor when the two are in conflict.

      In my mind, Stannis is a more pure example of someone rigidly and blindly following a code, regardless of the morality of it, and Melisandre uses that rigidity to manipulate him. Convince Stannis that it’s his duty to act in a certain way, and he’ll toss aside any concept of morality to get it done.

      If Stannis was like Ned, there’s no way he would have sacrificed Shireen, even if he was totally 100% convinced that a sacrifice of king’s blood was needed to save the world from the white walkers. He would have stepped onto the pyre himself, and told Melisandre that if she needed king’s blood, he had plenty of it. Then he would have told Davos to take Winterfell, and then continue to King’s Landing to seat Shireen on the Iron Throne. If Melisandre tried to argue with him, he would have grabbed the torch and lit the pyre himself.

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    33. Wolfish,

      Asking whether Ned would be “proud” of how Arya or Sansa turned out ignores the fact that all of the horrors and hardships his daughters endured, and the psychological traumas they suffered, were the proximate result of his boneheadedness. If he showed as much concern for his own daughters’ well-being as he did for Cersei’s children, he would’ve made sure Arya and Sansa were safely away from the capital BEFORE confronting Cersei with his ill-advised ultimatum. Instead, his daughters were both in the zone of danger when the sh-t hit the fan. The question isn’t if he would be proud of them, but whether he could ever forgive himself for what they went through because of his failure to protect them.

      Anyway, the answer to the question framed by the post is obviously Jon Snow. Everything he accomplished – from LC of the NW to KITN, he did based on merit alone and by inspiring followers (and turning enemies into allies), without thebenefit of the family name.
      Along the way, he demonstrated he was “honorable” while Robb did not. When faced with the tough choice of placing duty and loyalty over love for his foreign honeypot, Robb screwed up, precipitating his downfall and death. Even his own mother warned him if he didn’t honor his oaths, he couldn’t expect his men to honor theirs. And they didn’t.
      Jon, on the other hand, had the fortitude to leave Ygritte and return to CB.
      Everything Jon has done has been for the greater good. The same can’t be said about Robb. Ned would just be relieved that Arya and Sansa are still alive. As for Bran, thus far his most noteworthy act has been an unauthorized tree tripping fiasco that got Hodor, Summer, Leaf, and 3ER all killed. Not much to make a father “proud.”

      As much as I like Arya and Maisie W’s portrayal, this one is a no-brainer: Jon Snow in a landslide.

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    34. Casso,

      Agreed 100%!

      Ten Bears:

      When faced with the tough choice of placing duty and loyalty over love for his foreign honeypot, Robb screwed up, precipitating his downfall and death. … Jon, on the other hand, had the fortitude to leave Ygritte and return to CB. … As much as I like Arya and Maisie W’s portrayal, this one is a no-brainer: Jon Snow in a landslide.

      Excellent point about how Robb and Jon handled their respective, um, entanglements. But don’t you mean, “Jon Snow in an avalanche”? 😉

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    35. Pigeon,

      I understand the desire to protect Howland Reed’s reputation. Couldn’t that have been accomplished by floating the story that one of Ned’s other buddies was able to inflict a mortal wound on Arthur Dayne at the expense of his own life ? It just sounds sleazier for Ned to allow the false tale of his own supposed victory to be accepted as fact by failing to correct it.

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    36. Ten Bears:
      Pigeon,

      I understand the desire to protect Howland Reed’s reputation. Couldn’t that have been accomplished by floating the story that one of Ned’s other buddies was able to inflict a mortal wound on Arthur Dayne at the expense of his own life ? It just sounds sleazier for Ned to allow the false tale of his own supposed victory to be accepted as fact by failing to correct it.

      Oh, I think that’s a completely fair point, don’t get me wrong. Ned dealt the blow that ended Dayne’s suffering, but in theory I suppose he could have even truthfully said that in a blaze of heroics, Reed rallied and got Dayne while he himself was dealt an injury.

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    37. I Don’t know who ned would choose, I think he loved all of his children equally, of course he understood more Arya, but that doesn’t mean he prefered her over Sansa.
      The only think I am certain is that he would feel hoplessly heartbroken for what they puppies went through…
      1. Robb, his heir, his first son, betrayed by the North and stabbed to death by his bannermen along with his mother, wife and unborn child.
      2. Jon, his beloved nephew, betrayed by his own men and stabbed to death.
      3. Sansa, his beautiful princess, torutured, imprisionned, humilliated and raped several times.
      3. Arya, his girl, abandonned, betrayed and isolated from the rest of the world, she saw her father, mother and brother die.
      4. Bran, the sweet Bran, pushed over a window, betrayed by his own brother (Theon Greyjoy) and on the run.
      5. Rickon, the baby of the family, killed brutally un front of Jon, forgotten by the fandom and history.
      The one who survived have developped very dark personalities, especially the girls.

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    38. We’re all talking about who Ned would be most proud of
      Who cares he’s gone we’ll never get that answer even if Sean bean has 1 it isnt Neds answer
      What I’m more focused on is Sophie is at the dragonstone set 😱😱😱😱

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    39. Markus Stark,

      But Robb endagered his men and his alliance because he fell in love, where as Ned has done his duty and Married the woman his brother was supposed to marry take hi brother’s place for duty.

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    40. Wow. What a great topic. Great posts as well.

      Like others have said, Ned would have loved all is children but I think he’d have his favorites. He’d be most proud of Jon though. He’s put the Starks back in control of Winterfell. Been the closest to his moral code and sense of justice. Ned was all about the North and it’s customs. The “Stark Way”. Jon has embodied that more than the rest plus he has the Stark look.

      Robb kept with all Northern customs and Ned’s sense of justice. He was the Stark heir. So Ned was grooming him for the big job. Ned never grew up being groomed for the big job though, so it’s not a bond he could really forge with Robb. Robb didn’t have the “Stark” look but he was still probably Ned’s favorite with Jon as a close second. Both Jon & Robb grew up as the only boys around for a while. So they’ve had the most time with Ned.
      Robb’s biggest strike against him was that he didn’t keep his word and marry a Frey daughter. It’s magnified even more because it ended up costing him his life and ultimately the Starks the control of the North. Ned seems like the type to keep a vow or promise. He’s done it with Lyanna & Jon. He’d be heartbroken at Robb for that. So Robb would probably be last on the proud list and Ned’s biggest disappointment. There’s no way that after all the lessons he’s taught him that his firstborn and heir would fail what’s probably lesson number one. If you give your word or make a vow, you keep it…

      Tied for third favorite would be Arya. Reminds him of his sister. Definitely has the Northern Stark look. Arya would probably be 3rd as well on the most proud list. I don’t think he would be proud of the violent way she has executed people but I think he’d be very proud that she’s only killed evil people or for survival. According to the trailer, Arya may be coming home to the pack in the North. He’ll definitely be happy and proud of her for that because Winter is Coming and the lone wolf dies while the pack survives. She remembers daddy’s lessons…

      I think Bran would be in a tie with Arya on Ned’s favorites list but I think he’d be almost as proud of Bran as he is of Jon. Despite his condition he’s been brave and smart and looked out for his brother. He really hasn’t done much wrong if any at all. But the fact that Jon is the typical “warrior” type would give him the edge with Ned as he could relate more to Jon’s physical “warrior” accomplishments as compared to Bran’s mystical ones.

      Sansa is probably next to last on his most proud list and probably last on his favorites list simply because he couldn’t relate to her. I think he’d be very disappointed in a lot of the choices she’s made. Especially not sticking with family when it mattered most. And though she’s back home in the North, she’s there by way of Littlefinger. She’s fallen into the same trap he did of trusting that snake. But she just may flip the script on Baelish and make dad proud in the end. I think this season it will become clear whether Sansa is Team Stark or Team Sansa. It could come down to a choice between the two. I think we know which one Ned would want her to choose.

      Rickon is probably 4th or 5th favorite. He hasn’t been part of the story enough for Ned to be disappointed in him for anything. Oddly enough though, he’s the one child that Ned visited and talked to after he died… So maybe Rickon “The Wild Wolf” reminded Ned of his head strong, older brother Brandon??? And he would have actually ended up being his true favorite.

      So in order: Proud- Jon, Bran, Arya, Sansa, Robb with Rickon not really applicable.
      Favorites are: Robb, Jon, Bran/Arya, Rickon, then Sansa.

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    41. Some of you are so weird. Arya and Sansa aren’t “cold”, “dark”, or “warped”, they are simply better adjusted to their world than their father was.

      A world, let me just add, not that different from ours. Case in point: at age 11, in the middle of Europe, I was almost raped by a pedophile on a dark street. All I remember from that moment is – well, I had known by that time from adventure books that gut wounds are especially painful and deadly, because the sepsis comes in. So, all I remember from that moment was that absolutely *intense* regret that I could not stab the guy in the gut and leave him to the dogs to disembowel him, because I had no knife on me and was too weak to pierce the peritoneum and the abdominal muscles probably too, anyway (also, there were no convenient dogs around). He left, I can only assume I out-threatened him somehow with that feeling of intense loathing, lol.

      So, I dunno. Would you call me “cold” or “dark” for having those homicidal fantasies against a potential murderer/rapist, fantasies that may have saved my life?

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    42. Flayed Potatoes:
      Alba Stark,

      This is a beautiful comment and I agree. Similarly, Cat understood Sansa more. The relationship both Stark parents have with their children (and nephew) fascinates me and it’s probably one of the most interesting aspects of the story to me.

      Definitely agree – the Starks are, I think, the closest thing we see to a functional, loving family. And I think the Cat understanding Sansa better and Ned understanding Arya better thing is reflected in the earliest episodes, when we see Cat and Sansa bonding over hair brushing and Ned’s talk with Arya about Needle. Early on, I always find Sansa the most southron of Ned and Cat’s children in the sense that she is the most interested in knights and tourneys and Court life – that said, in season six I found her inner she-wolf start to emerge, and the costume she wears in the new stills is the most martial of any outfit I’ve ever seen Sansa in.

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    43. Ned talk ! I love it ! 😉

      Casso: Ned actually did get angry with Robert about his reaction to the Targaryen children’s murder, and it wasn’t until after Lyanna’s death that Ned and Robert reconciled.

      Which, in and of itself, is a tad strange, isn’t it ?

      Why would Robert grieving over Lyanna cancel out him snickering over the brutalised corpses of two children, in Ned’s eyes ? Surely, the latter is a better indication of Bobby’s personality than the former…

      Wolfish: On a slightly different note: I do love Ned, but like ACME and Ten Bears, I see him as a far more ambiguous character than many readers and viewers do. I think a big part of that is that Ned really does try to do “the right thing” for both his family and for the realm; however, that demands more plasticity in his adherence to his own code of honor than many of us like to acknowledge.

      I love Ned too. I really do. But, as you very rightly say, what we are given to see of him is less pristine than what the other Starks see and believe of him.

      That is why Bran was so profoundly shocked by the Tower of Joy revelations. He realised the man he had lionised as the most honourable in the whole world had lied to said world for close to two decades. Ned “I never lie” Stark lied, lied and then lied some more.
      He threw everyone and everything under the bus : his (repugnant) best friend, his brother (I doubt Benjen knows the truth about Jon), his kids, his wife. He made the mother of his children believe he not only had cheated on her but was also forcing her to cohabit with the living, breathing proof of his betrayal. For extra humiliation.
      And all that for what ? For the sake of Lyanna.

      Lyanna Stark, also known as the girl who ran away with a married bloke who had just publicly shamed and disrespected his own faithful, devoted wife (what a dreamy guy !); the girl who went AWOL when her brother and father were unjustly arrested; the girl who did not lift a finger when her relatives were brutally murdered; the girl whose actions started a monstrous, deadly war yet did not see fit to inform the world she was safe…
      Sansa did not even do half of that when she was 12 (Lyanna was over 16) and she is often perceived as an unforgivable cretin. Lyanna, conversely… Let us not call her an “unfathomably selfish twit”, let’s say she was a “free-spirit” because, well, she rode a horse, liked weapons and wore trousers sometimes ! A real strong female character 😉

      Casso: Something that I saw someone mention once is that one thing that will reliably get Ned to bend his rules is protecting children.

      He lied for years to protect Jon
      He resigned as Hand in protest of the assassination attempt on Daenerys
      He warned Cersei that he knew her secret to protect her children from Robert
      He falsely confessed to treason to protect Arya and Sansa

      I agree wholeheartedly with your first and second examples (though I would argue that Ned’s resignation as Hand in protest was not a bending of his rules…) Conversely, the third and fourth instances seem much less convincing to me.

      Ned did not “warn” Cersei; he threatened her and her children.
      He bluntly told her he would inform Robert of her adultery and her kids’ true parentage and he was under no illusion as to what the consequences of such a revelation would be : “wherever you go, Robert’s wrath will follow you”. He thereby condemned three children to be hunted down by a crazed and insanely brutal king. Just because he refused to do the dirty deed himself (he was willing to pass the sentence on the kids but was not that enthusiastic at the idea of swinging the sword) does not mean he was merciful. Had he truly wanted to be show mercy towards the Lannister/”Baratheon” children, he simply would have kept his mouth shut about their real origins. As was, he did not Cersei and her kids a chance; he gave them a headstart.
      Let us imagine for a second someone had done to Ned what he did to Cersei… Let’s imagine someone had told Ned : “I know who your ‘bastard son’ really is. I know he is Rhaegar and Lyanna’s child and I am going to tell Robert. You and your nephew should leave now, as far as you can. Take as many men as you can. Because wherever you go, Robert’s wrath will follow you.” Would Ned have thanked that person for their “mercy” ? Or would he have understood the exchange for what it was, namely a threat ?

      As for his false confession, it is true that he did it to protect his daughters. However, the idea was not his; it was Varys’s. While in the cells, Ned reconciled himself with the idea of dying in the name of his “honour”. Like a soldier. It took Varys to remind him that there were two defenseless little girls whose survival depended on him.
      Ned literally forgot about his daughters for a while… Dad of the year !

      Ultimately, the Stark patriarch was very willing to bend his own rules to protect Jon. When it came to protecting other children, including his own… It was more hit-and-miss. He had to be guilt-tripped into protecting his own daughters and downright drop-kicked Cersei’s kids.

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    44. Alba Stark: Definitely agree – the Starks are, I think, the closest thing we see to a functional, loving family.

      Wouldn’t the Tyrells qualify as well ? Or the Tullys ?

      The Tyrells have always proven themselves to be hugely supportive of one another and, since they were raised in an intelligent, pragmatic fashion which equipped them to survive and thrive, they fared pretty well (until a certain kaboom).
      The Tullys were also fairly decent people. Lysa was a bit of an “oddfish” but, considering the way her piece of “shift” of a father treated her, it was to be expected. Other than that : Catelyn was quite remarkable if flawed, Edmure always meant well and Blackfish was pretty alright. Overly principled, to the point of stupidity, but pretty alright all the same.

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    45. ACME,

      Great comments !

      As for Ned “Dad of the Year” Stark, if his warning to Cersei to get her incest bastard kids out of Dodge was intended to at least give her a head start before revealing what he knew to Robert, wouldn’t it have been nice if he had given his own daughters a head start before revealing what he knew to Cersei?

      This isn’t the first time I’ve whined about this. It’s just that while watching Ned’s false confession + beheading scene, with his little girls in attendance, I hear myself talking to the TV screen: “This is all on you, Einstein.”

      Both girls were scarred for life by witnessing their father’s public humiliation and execution. (Arya may not have seen his head leave his torso, but she saw enough to haunt her…as she confided to Yoren when she couldn’t sleep.)

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    46. Oh Niko – why do you keep my shippers heart hoping…? I know I will be disappointed.

      Ned Stark’s actions in KL are basically taking the oft-told “sneaky adviser tries to usurp throne” narrative and turning it on its head. Instead of the “usurper” Ned being a scheming opportunist, in fact he is a decent fellow who truly believes that what he’s doing is right. And make no mistake, as far as anyone in Westeros (except for Jaime, Cersei and Ned) knows, Ned tried to remove Robert’s rightful heirs from succession. And he did it through deceptive means (he forged Robert’s letter), with no evidence, and attempted to use physical force to achieve his goal (he allowed LF to bribe the city watch – which of course LF didn’t do ultimately).

      But because Ned is HONORABLY DEFENDING THE TRUTH we are like… well he’s technically right about the rules of succession, and he’s a good guy so doesn’t that count for something? Also Joffery is a shit and Cersei & Jaime are from what we know total assholes. But… what about Myrcella and Tommen? We already know that they are good kids by this point – still Ned is able to rationalize away that he’s forcing these kids into a lifetime of poverty and being hunted as ACME points out. And why the hell is Ned so damned concerned about preserving the “Line of Succession” given there’s no evidence he ever supported any of the other Targaryens after Aerys’ removal to be King? Honor went out the window there.

      The fact is that Ned hates the Lannisters (especially Jaime and Tywin) and wants them out – everything that Robert did that was nasty/unforgivable, Ned manages to forgive and forget – to the point that he’ll even defend the ideal of Robert’s Lineage (via Stannis’ succeeding). Yet with the Lannisters he will do anything he can to prevent them gaining an inch – because he already hates them (in one case quite correctly, the other not so much…). Because Ned is human and we have human biases. We think well of our friends, and we think badly of our enemies.

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    47. JSER:
      Hodor!

      You’re saying Ned would be most proud of Hodor?

      … You know what, you may be right. He got his brain fried in a waking nightmare of his own violent, future death that turned him into a scared simpleton. And yet, when the chips were down and the moment of his violent death was upon him, he didn’t let fear paralyze him.* He held the f-cking door while getting ripped apart by zombies to enable Bran and Meera to escape.

      I say Hodor at least deserves Honorable Mention for all he did and all he sacrificed for the Stark family. (By the way: does Hodor/Wylis even have a last name?)

      * Didn’t Ned once say something like the only time a man is truly courageous is when he is afraid???

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    48. Ten Bears,

      The question isn’t if he would be proud of them, but whether he could ever forgive himself for what they went through because of his failure to protect them.

      Your comments are similar th what Ihave been thinking about for a long time. Granted, If he had protected his children before confronting Cersei, we would have had a very different story, but it would have saved his children from much trauma and tears.

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    49. Ten Bears,

      Maybe just maybe, Ned thought that Sansa and Arya were safest with him? The main problem with Ned and sadly (and maybe a bit admirably) with Jon is that they are decent souls who lack the type of malice that the likes of Tywin, Cersei, Euron and to a certain degree Jamie are made of. Ned would never ever conceive of an atrocity as the Red Wedding. He’s a killer like the rest but within boundaries. Yes, he stayed friends with King Robert but as far as I can recall from the books, it was not a let’s talk by raven every day type of friendship, when the narrative of the book starts it is mentioned that they had not seen each other in several years. In fact it may even be that they had not seen each other since the end of the Rebellion. So while he didn’t break the relationship over Aegon and Rhaeny’s bloody end, he may have made the distinction that it was not Robert who had done that deed but Tywin (via the Mountain) which people forget. In his mind, Ned may have been able to excuse a lot of Robert’s anger (and his blind revenge) over what he thought the Targaryens did to Lyanna and to an extend to Rickard and Brandon. But Ned saw Tywin and Jamie as what they actually were: opportunists. And he was not wrong. Tywin didn’t take sides until he knew who was going to win. He ordered the Mountain to do away with Rhaegar’s family only to gain favor from Robert. And Jamie, the brave Jamie, did save a lot of people from dying by wild fire but let’s not ignore that he was safe in doing what he did because he knew his daddy was outside with an entire army to save him. Would Jamie have killed Aerys if he thought that Robert’s Rebellion was on the losing end? Would he have chosen to protect the folks in Kingslanding if he knew that meant his eventual death? I think we know that the answer is no, Jamie before Brienne didn’t know how to be selfless. So it is not like Ned didn’t have reasons to think the worse about the Lannisters and that was even before he suspected them (wrongly) of killing his mentor, John Arryn.

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    50. QueenofThrones:
      .Because Ned is human and we have human biases.We think well of our friends, and we think badly of our enemies.

      Very true.

      What is both infuriating and moving is to see Ned try to rationalise his sentimental bias. The only way he manages to forgive his BFF is by shifting all the blame onto the Lannisters, to whom he has no prior emotional connection.

      Robert smiled before the brutalised corpses of a violated woman and her children ? Yeah, well, the Mountain did it and he works for the Lannisters so there. It’s the Lannisters’ fault.
      Robert is a domestic bully and marital rapist ? Yeah, well, his wife is a b*tch so there. It’s a Lannister’s fault.
      Robert’s eldest “son” is a tiny tyrant with sociopathic tendencies ? Yeah, well, it is not at all because he grew up hero-worshipping a violently misogynistic sack of flesh whose only claim to fame is that he was able to smash people’s head with a hammer. No, it is because of his mum and biological dad so there. It’s the Lannisters’ fault.

      Ten Bears: (By the way: does Hodor/Wylis even have a last name?)

      Just for a laugh and to continue on the “the Starks behave reprehensively but no one takes offence because it is the Staaarks” theme : the nickname “Hodor”.

      What sort of unspeakably mindless bunch of people would start referring to a child whose real name they know by the sole word he is capable of pronouncing ?
      After all, Rickard, Brandon, Lyanna, Benjen and Ned all knew Wylis’s name.

      Imagine there is a child you know and he suddenly has a seizure, after which he can only repeat the word “table”. Would you, at any point in the future, start referring him to him as “Table” ? No one with any molecule of decency would do such a thing. The Starks (at least Ned’s generation) ? Sure, why not ?

      ash: If he had protected his childrenbefore confronting Cersei, we would have had a very different story, but it would have saved his children from much trauma and tears.

      It is in moments like those I really wish Cersei had a cooler head on her shoulders…

      If only, when Ned came to confront her about her children’s parentage, she had called his bluff (instead of stupidly confirming his guess), the whole thing would have resolved itself quite peacefully…

      Ned : I know your children are not Robert’s.
      Cersei : Really ? How do you know that ?
      Ned : They are blond.
      Cersei : Well spotted.
      Ned : —
      Cersei : I have it under good authority that their mother is blond too.
      Ned : Children of Baratheon blood are always dark-haired.
      Cersei : Have you seen Shireen recently ?
      Ned : —
      Cersei : Also, I believe that Stark children are supposed to be dark of hair too. I mean you, your sister, both your brothers, your father… All brunettes, right ?
      Ned : Yep.
      Cersei : So what about your ginger kids ?
      Ned : —
      Cersei : Did Catelyn cheat on you ? With a ginger bloke ? Oh, maybe her brother Edmure !
      Ned : —
      Cersei : —
      Ned : —
      Cersei : You trying your hand at deductive reasoning is like a bear attempting to fly a kite. Clumsy yeat oddly fascinating.
      Ned : —
      Cersei : Well, it was a real pleasure. See you ’round !

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    51. ACME,

      Yes, the narrative of the first book relies completely on Cersei confessing to Ned which of course only occurs because she is, basically, an arrogant fool… There was no reason to admit it other than basically because she wanted to brag about how she fucked Robert over. Which she wants to do because she wants to humiliate her enemies more than to defeat them. I suppose it was hard to keep the secret this long so it was probably pretty cathartic to her. But still… it is a bit of a plot hole, IMO.

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    52. ACME,

      What sort of unspeakably mindless bunch of people would start referring to a child whose real name they know by the sole word he is capable of pronouncing? After all, Rickard, Brandon, Lyanna, Benjen and Ned all knew Wylis’s name.

      My, this thread is active with lots and lots of great comments!!! I can’t possibly respond to them all right now, but I’ll respond to this one. My recollection (I could be wrong) is that “Hodor” was not only the only word Wylis could pronounce, but also the only word he actually responded to.

      Ten Bears,

      By the way: does Hodor/Wylis even have a last name?

      In the books his first name is actually Walder, and his last name is never revealed. He’s Old Nan’s great-grandson.

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    53. ACME,

      Good point about the flimsy hair color evidence. It didn’t appear that there were biologists in GRRM’s world with working knowledge of genetics eg dominant and recessive genes. So if Ned started in with his “proof” that Robert had black hair but Cersei’s three kids were blonde, she could turn around and say: “Hmmm. You’re telling me any kid who doesn’t have his or her father’s hair color must be a bastard born to a cheating wife? Well let’s see. I visited your home. I checked out the lineup when we were greeted there. By my reckoning, the little girl is yours. So is Jon Snow. The other ones? I guess Cat’s been on the prowl. Who’s their Baby Daddy? Any idea?”
      Come to think of it, after harboring a “dragon spawn” for so many years, Ned should’ve probably been the last one to start making accusations relating to parentage, and claiming a child’s legally recognized father isn’t actually his biological father.
      Robert B would’ve gone full-on Mad King if he learned that not only was Jaime L the father of all three of his children, but his best bud Ned had been hiding his archenemy Rhaegar T’s son in plain sight all along.
      I know many others have commented on this. I just wonder why Ned presumed to hold the moral high ground when he confronted Cersei: it’s questionable whether his own treason would be considered by Robert to be any less egregious than Cersei’s.

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    54. ACME: Wouldn’t the Tyrells qualify as well ? Or the Tullys ?

      The Tyrells have always proven themselves to be hugely supportive of one another and, since they were raised in an intelligent, pragmatic fashion which equipped themto survive and thrive, they fared pretty well (until a certain kaboom).
      The Tullys were also fairly decent people. Lysa was a bit of an “oddfish” but, considering the way her piece of “shift” of a father treated her, it was to be expected. Other than that : Catelyn was quite remarkable if flawed, Edmure always meant well and Blackfish was pretty alright. Overly principled, to the point of stupidity, but pretty alright all the same.

      Tullys and Tyrells are also good options – my head was full of thoughts on Baratheons, Lannisters, Targaryens and Greyjoys when I said that! Serves me right for typing before my morning coffee (or is it covfefe?).

      I think what I meant was that in the very earliest parts of season one, we are meant to view the Starks favorably when contrasting them with the Lannisters, Baratheons and Targaryens. I fell in love with House Stark pretty quickly, and I still have a soft spot the size of the North itself for them.

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    55. Ten Bears:

      As for Ned “Dad of the Year” Stark, if his warning to Cersei to get her incest bastard kids out of Dodge was intended to at least give her a head start before revealing what he knew to Robert, wouldn’t it have been nice if he had given his own daughters a head start before revealing what he knew to Cersei?

      But he did…in the books! Ned had made arrangements for the girls to leave and told them to prepare, when to board the ship, etc. Rather than lose her beloved Joffrey, future queenship, and beautiful blond baby chances, Sansa went and asked Cersei to let her stay. She told her a lot, but as it’s been 18 years since I read it, I don’t recall details. Cersei immediately sprang into action. Sansa became a pampered hostage and Arya became hunted. When Arya looked at the ship, she smelled a rat and fled back into the streets. IIRC, the people Ned had chosen to protect and accompany the girls were slaughtered by Lannister men. So because D&D omitted this important development during the climactic episodes of S1, four major characters are distorted:
      o Show Ned appears less clever than he was.
      o Show Arya appears less clever than she was.
      o Show Sansa appears less selfish/treacherous than she was.
      o Show Cersei appears less ruthless than she was.

      Even GRRM has admitted that in the books, Sansa betrayed Ned and is partially responsible for his death (it’s complicated). So she gains most by viewers not knowing any of this. That omission really rankles with me.

      I dislike Sansa, but am not a hater, even if sometimes I seem to be. However, the most vehement SanFans’ defense and exaltation of her infuriates me, often to the point that I jump into the fray. After years of watching Sansa, good and bad, I’ still can’t forgive her for betraying Ned, and for not defending or supporting Arya when Joffrey had her at sword point and yelled “I’ll gut you, you little c**t”. BTW, afterwards book Sansa told Ned privately what really happened and he said to tell the truth. But she lied like a trooper to Robert’s face anyway, to Ned’s and Arya’s chagrin and shock. How much could he trust Sansa after that? She’s still lying, though more artfully, having misled Jon twice on military matters with life and death consequences. Many SanFans rationalise that, as they rationalise young Sansa as being a child and naive. Lately, several have blamed Ned and Cat for not educating her right. If anyone points out that younger Arya had the same education but understood the reality, they reject it. Even Sansa later blamed herself for being a “stupid stupid girl”.

      Lately, a lot of Sansa fans have been flaunting her Season 6 arc, her new importance, her power, her fierceness, her daunting wardrobe, etc. Many predict she’ll be playing Littlefinger (quite possible), will probably become Mrs. Jon Snow (God forbid) or a queen in her own right (God really forbid!), etc. I’m glad she’s less stupid, no longer naive, and fairly astute in matters Starks look beyond. But she’s still selfish and mendacious, but has also become cold, manipulative, and ruthless, even to her own family (RIP Rickon). Her previous grayness/moral ambiguity is nothing compared to becoming Littlefinger Lite. And when she inevitably learns of his vile deeds against Westeros in general and her family in particular, she will take vengeance, as she should. I wonder how she’ll feel if she realizes that the hand that held the dagger to Ned’s throat was the hand that held her face for a kiss,. That the snake-voice that whispered lessons and ambitions into her ear was the voice that helped get her father and possibly Robb and Cat killed. She might move on, intent on implementing his lessons, maybe aiming at that pretty picture he painted, but without him. Or she could feel remorse and return as an equal member of the Pack. If she gets off her high horse and contributes some insight to united Wolfpack in their upcoming wars, maybe they’ll all be around in S8E6 to usher in the dream of Spring. I hope so, for everybody’s sake.

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    56. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      THIS.

      You do recall correctly.

      I’m not a Sansa-hater either, but I did see her younger self as so hopelessly besotted with the fantasy of courtly life and queenship that she selfishly, thoughtlessly, idiotically failed to think anything through before running to Cersei. I agree with you about how the adaptation fails Ned and Arya while portraying Sansa and Cersei in a better (or at least, less-shitty) light.

      In her time in King’s Landing Sansa also failed to learn anything from the only two non-Stark men who ever protected her: Sandor and Tyrion. (Ten Bears, in the book it’s Sandor who tells her about the burn, not LF, and the telling of the story is a warning in itself.) And hey, she was married to the most brilliant man in Westeros, a man who protected her from Joffrey and refused to rape her in their marriage bed, a man who could have taught her everything there is to know about courtly life…

      But she’s Sansa. Sigh. Ultimately trusting Dontos instead of Sandor to get her out of Dodge, and accepting LF as a mentor instead of Tyrion.

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    57. P.S.: I do realize that when Joffrey was poisoned she essentially had no choice but to flee with LF, but she completely wasted her short-lived marriage to Tyrion. My recollection is that she never made any real effort to learn anything from him. She did, however, feel sorry for herself for having been married off to such a monstrous-looking man, ultimately concluding that he was even uglier than the Hound.

      Yeah, superficial princesses vex me to no end.

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    58. Aanyway I love Ned and I’m happy he continues to be the most influential got character even five seasons after his death.

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    59. Great thoughts, everyone. Really enjoying this thread.

      Makes me think of some posts on Tumblr, by an author who’s written a number of interesting ASOIAF metas. Here are two on Ned, exploring how – as it is with most GRRM characters – he is indeed more complicated than he appears. They’re worth checking out, even if you don’t agree with everything written.

      http://zaldrizer-sovesi.tumblr.com/post/114455024090/over-the-last-few-days-ive-done-my-first-reread

      http://zaldrizer-sovesi.tumblr.com/post/158166737775/im-curious-about-your-views-on-ned-because-at

      (The author’s post on bastards as scapegoats is also quite good: http://zaldrizer-sovesi.tumblr.com/post/111836647140/scapegoating-in-asoiaf-bastards)

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    60. Stark Raven’ Rad: But he did…in the books! Ned had made arrangements for the girls to leave and told them to prepare, when to board the ship, etc.

      He absolutely did. But at no point did he tell his daughters why they had to leave, if I remember correctly.

      Now, one may say that it does not matter, that they both should have obeyed even though they did not understand their father’s decision. However, one could also argue that a twelve-year-old girl who is a delusional and selfish spoiled brat (no one is denying that !), who has always wanted to be a pretty princess, who has been taught that as, is the rule in Westeros, a wife’s duty is to stand by her husband no matter what his behaviour may be (even if he cheats on you and forces you to live with the proof of his betrayal, you stick by him…), who only has a passing acquaintance with reality and who was told she was destined to marry this particular bloke (the son of her father’s best friend, no less) would be completely puzzled and perplexed by her very same father’s sudden and unexplained decision to leave King’s Landing immediately, never to return again.

      And one could, I believe, also understand why the capricious girl would be baffled and miffed were the only response Daddy Dearest saw fit to provide to her questions the staggeringly dismissive “don’t worry, I’ll find you another husband” (a line I seem to recall features in the book, in some form or another). Yeah ! Don’t worry, baby girl, daddy will sell you off to someone else !

      It is usually easier to get people’s full cooperation when they understand what the stakes and potential consequences of events are… But I guess it is in the Starks’ genes to expect blind allegiance from those around them (Ned “I won’t tell you why you have to leave but do” Stark; Robb “I didn’t tell Edmure what the battle’s end game was but expect him to obey it implicitly” Star; Jon “I suppose that telling a traumatised kid whose parents were eaten by Wildlings to take my word that they are actually nice” Stark, etc.)

      Now, none of that takes away Sansa’s responsibility : she did what she did and she is entirely accountable for it and the repercussions, both intended and incidental. But those elements do, I believe, mitigate some of the surrounding factors and give a complementary explanation, aside from “she was just vicious”.

      Stark Raven’ Rad: I’ still can’t forgive her for betraying Ned, and for not defending or supporting Arya when Joffrey had her at sword point and yelled “I’ll gut you, you little c**t”.

      It is most certainly going to be a somewhat unpopular notion but I have to ask : why would delusional and selfish spoiled brat Sansa have defended or supported rude and disdainful spoiled brat Arya at that point in the story ?

      It is no secret that, at the time, there was no lost love between the sisters. Also quite a lot of baggage : Sansa was incredibly haughty towards Arya and there were only a few things Arya enjoyed more than ridiculing her sister, preferably in public.

      So what were Sansa’s options, at the time of the choice ? Tell the truth and betray Joffrey (the man she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with) or pretend she did not remember and… What ? Arya would get yelled at ? Of course, we know that the punishment turned out to be much more severe (and that Sansa was ultimately the one who paid the price) but, at the time of the decision, she thought “I get to show Joffrey my allegiance to him and see Arya get chastised… Win-win !”
      Petty, selfish and short-sighted ? Hell yeah !
      Unforgivable ? I guess it depends on one’s sensibilities.

      Also, it is to be noted that, by a tragic turn of fate, the last nail in Lady’s coffin was Arya’s violent reaction to her sister’s insincere testimony. Cersei could then, with cause, argue that the younger Stark sister was wild, impetuous and prone to aggressivity.

      Stark Raven’ RadLately, several have blamed Ned and Cat for not educating her right. If anyone points out that younger Arya had the same education but understood the reality, they reject it. Even Sansa later blamed herself for being a “stupid stupid girl”

      Since I am one of the delightfully vague “several”… ^^
      To be fair (to me, because I am always very fair to myself), I said that Ned and Catelyn had somewhat poorly educated all their children ! All the Stark kids were spoiled brats, each in his or her own way.

      As far as I am concerned, the only reason why we, readers and / viewers, do not think of those six kids as unfathomably obnoxious is because the only other children / adolescents we can compare them to are Joffrey, Viserys and Daenerys (the only other characters in the same-ish age bracket who are a tad developped, narratively speaking).
      Leaving Daenerys aside, compared with the “Baratheon” heir and the Targaryen “prince”, even Rosemary’s baby would look good 🙂

      If we go for a list of their flaws, and their flaws alone :
      Robb : smug, self-important, judgmental, rude;
      Jon : whiny, secretly arrogant, petty, gifted with a huge persecution complex;
      Sansa : delusional, selfish, haughty, self-important;
      Arya : rude, disdainful, huge persecution complex too, capricious;
      Bran : disobedient, nosy;
      Rickon : … I am certain he must have a personality somewhere ^^

      It is not about comparing the Stark sisters’ respective downsides (why oh why does it always come down to this ?) They were two different people with very different personalities and flaws, in very different circumstances.
      Arya had no stake in the Baratheons/Lannisters liking her, nor did she have any incentive to please the people of King’s Landing. Conversely Sansa, who was set up by her father to spend the rest of her life in the capitol among the Stags and the Lions, had a vested interest in staying in their favour. Apples meet oranges.

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      But she’s still selfish and mendacious, but has also become cold, manipulative, and ruthless, even to her own family (RIP Rickon).

      I might be misunderstanding your point here. Are you blaming Sansa for Rickon’s death ?

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    61. Stark Raven’ Rad,

      I think you and Ten Bears are both forgetting that Ned had already arranged for the girls to leave King’s Landing before he spoke to Cersei on the show too.

      Ned’s plan to remove the girls from the equation was thwarted only by the fact that Robert returned mortally wounded and he was forced to confront Joffrey/Cersei to prevent them seizing the throne before the girls had left. But their bags were all packed and ready to go.

      Cersei beat Ned to the punch. She’d already arranged Robert’s death before Ned realised the truth about Joffrey and revealed what he knew. Robert was already away hunting in Episode 6 and Ned didn’t speak to Cersei until Episode 7.

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    62. Wolfish:
      My recollection is that she never made any real effort to learn anything from him. She did, however, feel sorry for herself for having been married off to such a monstrous-looking man, ultimately concluding that he was even uglier than the Hound.

      Well, in the books, Tyrion is nowhere near as handsome as Peter Dinklage… We may find her reaction shallow and to a degree it is, but come on ! Tyrion is supposed to be shockingly ugly ! He does not even have a nose !

      Also, for how long was she married to Tyrion before she found out about the Lannister-orchestrated Red Wedding ? I find it difficult to fault her for not showing more open-mindedness towards the son of the man who ordered her mother and brother slaughtered, especially when still dealing with the immediate trauma of it…

      I do agree overall that it is a shame they did not connect better for it is true that Tyrion has a lot to offer, both as a man and as a friend. But I can’t really blame either of them for that.

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    63. QueenofThrones:
      Yes, the narrative of the first book relies completely on Cersei confessing to Ned which of course only occurs because she is, basically, an arrogant fool…

      Arrogant, yes, and also immensely bitter, I believe.

      As you mentioned, she probably found tremendous relief in being able to purge herself of all the Robert-induced repulsion and hatred she had let putrify for close to two decades. So she ranted.
      That’s our Cersei : hot-headed and viscerally reactive.

      Wolfish: Ultimately trusting Dontos instead of Sandor to get her out of Dodge

      When Sandor offered to take her out of King’s Landing, he was drunk and covered in blood… Not exactly the most reassuring side of a man who, by then, had bluntly admitted he took pleasure in brutality. And considering he laced his offer with a threat and concluded it by forcing her to sing for him… I can understand why Sansa chose not to follow him.
      I, as an adult and not-overly-fearful woman, would not have gone with him either, to be frank. Even if he had been dipped in chocolate.

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    64. ACME,

      Well, in the books, Tyrion is nowhere near as handsome as Peter Dinklage… We may find her reaction shallow and to a degree it is, but come on! Tyrion is supposed to be shockingly ugly!

      Also, for how long was she married to Tyrion before she found out about the Lannister-orchestrated Red Wedding? I find it difficult to fault her for not showing more open-mindedness towards the son of the man who ordered her mother and brother slaughtered…

      I know, I know. I shouldn’t judge so harshly, because she IS only 13 or 14 at this point. But her lack of critical-thinking skills still drive me batshit-crazy. I certainly didn’t expect her to desire Tyrion, but at this point she already understood that one man she had previously thought of as a monster (the Hound) was really a protector, and had begun to miss his presence. Yes, Tyrion is a Lannister, but sheesh. He stood up to Joffrey and stopped Meryn Trant’s beatings. He could have raped her (she was expecting it) and didn’t. He had always been kind to her, not only when it was expedient for him to be so. She couldn’t think that one through? She couldn’t start asking questions, even basic questions about, I don’t know, Casterly Rock, or his childhood, or Westerosi history, or how to play cyvasse?

      Again: I’m not a Sansa-hater. She’s just not the sort I’d ever want to share a pint with at the Inn at the Crossroads. No curiosity, precious few critical-thinking abilities, an absurdly inflated sense of her name and her importance (“How well do you know the North, Ser Davos?”), and a corresponding lack of sense about choosing and developing allies. Our conversation would be stilted, uncomfortable, and very brief.

      /end rant

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    65. ACME,

      Lol Ned was always loyal. The “drunk bff” was his best friend/king of Westeros. Do you really think he would have said no to any child being put in line to the throne? No way.

      And Med wasn’t thrilled with Aryas tomboyishness. He got Syrio because he realized that she’d do it anyway so she may as well learn right. Don’t forget the scene where he’s talking about the sons she would have and the castle she would run for her lord husband. The normal gender roll is what he wanted for her.

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    66. ACME,

      When Sandor offered to take her out of King’s Landing, he was drunk and covered in blood… Not exactly the most reassuring side of a man who, by then, had bluntly admitted he took pleasure in brutality. And considering he laced his offer with a threat and concluded it by forcing her to sing for him… I can understand why Sansa chose not to follow him.

      I don’t entirely blame her, and ultimately I believe it was best that she didn’t; she probably would have gotten them both killed with her naïveté and princessy ways. I do have difficulty understanding it when one considers whom she does choose to put her trust in, though.

      As for the infamous “Bedroom Scene,” I’ve found that different readers have very different reactions to how and why it played out the way it did. Some readers interpret it as a violent threat and a narrowly-averted assault; in contrast, from the first I read it as an act committed by a terribly lonely, broken, and drunken man to whom it didn’t occur that she might sing him the song without being threatened. Her own actions directly after the event (and long after) were, to me, a clear indicator that she realized, even before he left, that she wasn’t truly in danger.

      That’s not meant to be a justification for his actions (in any way, shape, or form), but rather an examination of them. As I noted in my previous post, at the time of her marriage to Tyrion Sansa had already (imo) come to the understanding that the Hound’s intention had never been to truly hurt her. Why she couldn’t extend the same logic to Tyrion, a man who certainly hadn’t held a sword to her throat and demanded a song, is beyond me.

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    67. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Stark Raven’ Rad,
      I think you and Ten Bears are both forgetting that Ned had already arranged for the girls to leave King’s Landing before he spoke to Cersei on the show too.

      I’d also forgotten, so… There’s plenty of guilt to go around!

      I just re-watched the series with Saner Half, too (he’d never seen it, and we’re watching the last two episodes of S6 tonight). Hmmm, I wonder if I’ll have time to do it all one more time before July 16?

      On a personal note, I wonder how utterly twisted, demented, and bizarre it is that my obsession with GoT is helping me maintain my sanity while I watch my country come apart at the seams. (GoT and a lot of red wine.)

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    68. Wolfish: Again: I’m not a Sansa-hater. She’s just not the sort I’d ever want to share a pint with at the Inn at the Crossroads.

      It’s somehow reassuring to know that you wouldn’t consider taking a 13-yo girl to drink pints to some Inn or pub…

      (sorry, couldn’t resist!) 😛

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    69. Wolfish: He had always been kind to her, not only when it was expedient for him to be so. She couldn’t think that one through?

      It is absolutely true he had always been kind to her. But Joffrey was also “kind” to her, until he wasn’t. And Cersei was “kind” to her too, until she wasn’t.
      Incidentally enough, at that point, Littlefinger and Lady Olenna had also always been kind to her. And then they framed her as co-conspirator in Joffrey’s murder ^^
      Speaking of the Queen of Thorns, she was also quite kind and respectful (in her own, snarky way) to Tyrion, until she let him be found guilty of a regicide she had committed.

      Kindness in King’s Landing is a gamble. Kindness from a Lannister is Russian roulette.
      It could be the mark of a genuine sympathy; it could be just another trap. Take your pick. ^^

      Wolfish:She’s just not the sort I’d ever want to share a pint with at the Inn at the Crossroads.

      You are much more open-minded than I am. I do not think there are that many characters I would really want to share a pint with. They are all somewhat appalling, each in his or her own way.

      Davos perhaps ? He is quite amazing… But then, he would probably start talking about Stannis and we would argue until the cows come home

      A Dornish Tyrell: It’s somehow reassuring to know that you wouldn’t consider taking a 13-yo girl to drink pints to some Inn or pub…
      (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

      You are always the voice of reason, my friend 😉

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    70. A Dornish Tyrell,

      LMAOOO!!!

      In my own defense, isn’t she 16 or 17 by now? At 16 I looked like I was in my mid- to late-20s, and was spending many a night hanging out at the Crystal Bay Club and the Cal-Neva, acquiring my lifelong taste for whiskey and questionable company… 😉

      (Hey, she’s got one of those down. Maybe she could use a stiffer drink than ale at this point.)

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    71. Wolfish:
      A Dornish Tyrell,

      LMAOOO!!!

      In my own defense, isn’t she 16 or 17 by now? At 16 I looked like I was in my mid- to late-20s, and was spending many a night hanging out at the Crystal Bay Club and the Cal-Neva, acquiring my lifelong taste for whiskey and questionable company… 😉

      (Hey, she’s got one of those down. Maybe she could use a stiffer drink than ale at this point.)

      And married twice! Plus I think they all start drinking as toddlers.

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    72. Pigeon,

      And married twice! Plus I think they all start drinking as toddlers.

      So you’re saying I can take Sansa and Little Sam to the pub. 10-4.

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    73. ACME,

      I have to agree with you, ACME. I cannot think of a single character I would like to have a beer with… I love many of them but from afar…

      Well, maybe Satin… but he’s such a tertiary character.

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    74. Pigeon: Plus I think they all start drinking as toddlers.

      That explains so much about all of them… 😛

      Wolfish,
      Oh, I would buy them a drink, no problem. But I would not necessarily drink it with them. The conversation would get weird so fast ! “So Gilly, tell me about your childhood… Oh dear god !” ^^

      On a sidenote, I most certainly would offer Meera a day in a spa. The girl has earnt a foot massage, dammit !

      A Dornish Tyrell,
      It is hard to choose, isn’t it ? Bronn is a fun drunk but, after a while, he would reminisce about the people he killed and I would have literally nothing to add to that conversation 😉
      Satin is an excellent if somewhat obscure choice. What about Pod and his adorable little face ? He could cook us an improvised meal on the way back from the pub, with some roadkills.

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    75. ACME: What about Pod and his adorable little face ?

      Pod is adorable… but I think his much more of a listener than a talker…

      BTW, you’re absolutely right!! Meera deserves a week in the best spa in Westeros: foot massage, back rubbing, the whole package… She has worked hard for it!!!

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    76. Wolfish,

      I know, I know. I shouldn’t judge so harshly, because she IS only 13 or 14 at this point.

      I really really wish GRRM had made these kids closer to older teens or YA, because I keep coming back to this – I know teenagers very well, and yes I understand that in those days teens were expected to be and act like adults. But the fact of the matter is that teens generally do not have the thought processes yet of an adult (tho I will grant you that there are many adults out there who have even less). So, I cannot blame Sansa for being selfish, or Bran for being rebellious, because they are not adults. They are still teenagers. If they had been older, I’d be able to make the same comments you all do. But they aren’t and I have to cut them some slack for their mistakes. I’d agree with most of the comments about Sansa, if she was older.

      That being said, the one I blame the most for messing up things is Robb – if he’d kept it in his pants and kept his promise, he’d have lived to fight another day and to perhaps win. And he was older and should have known better.

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    77. Wolfish,

      Well I am finding this a much better place to debate these issues than on any other site dealing with current events! There is a reason this is called a fantasy – its an escape from reality!

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    78. Ned would be happy about all of his children for making it this far and still remain a good people. Arya made a very questionable choices that he might not be entirely happy with and Sansa for lack of trusting to Jon but she was a difficult spot and had her reasons.

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    79. ash,

      Excellent points all. And I agree about Robb, not only as the oldest but also as the one raised to rule. I suppose he serves as a parallel of sorts to Rhaegar and, of course, his own aunt. They followed their hearts and hundreds of thousands of lives were lost; he followed his and, well…

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    80. Re who to take to the pub: in the books, Arya makes friends easily with all sorts of people & seems like good company, but in the series, she’s been progressively reduced to Vengeful Solo Murder Girl, and that aspect of her personality is missing.

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    81. A Dornish Tyrell,
      Yep ! Meera is the ultimate unsung heroin of this whole thing. The scene in which she drags Bran’s sleigh behind her to escape the Wights, stumbles, falls and, with the last of her strengths, crawls back towards her friend and covers him with her body to serve as a human shield… It enshrined Meera “saint” status to me.

      ash,
      That is a truly excellent point.

      Wolfish,
      First impressions are so potent, aren’t they ?

      From the purely narrative standpoint George RR Martin pointedly crafted, Sansa and Lyanna did the exact same thing : they both dropped their family to follow a highly questionable royal prince and, in both cases, the unintended consequences were quite disastrous for everyone.
      Yet, when we talk about Lyanna, who was 16-ish at the time (older than Robb !), we say that she “followed her heart”. A turn of phrase that romanticises and, to a certain extent, absolves her responsibility in regards to the repercussions of her choice.
      Conversely, when we talk about Sansa, who was 12-13, we say that she “betrayed her family” or “was stupid and vicious” or “should have known better”. No romantic absolution for her.

      Our double standard is a thing of beauty and I am quite fascinated as to its origins.

      I would assume some of it stems from us first hearing of Lyanna from Ned, our initial protagonist and her grieving brother who thinks she was the best thing since sliced bread. It could as well come from the fact that we do not spend any time with the characters whose deaths were indirect consequences of Lyanna’s choices (no POV chapter from Rickard or Brandon Stark) so we feel less empathetic towards them. It may also be because Lyanna is Jon’s mother and is therefore shielded from blame (Jon is the protagonist, his mum is thus by definition awesome ?). It might as well be because we think of Lyanna as “strong” and a “free spirit” because, you know, she rode horses and liked swords (masculine = good !) and is therefore cosmetically paralleled to Arya, a fan favourite, even though her most significant narrative arc is basically Book 1 Sansa’s.

      It could also have something to do with the dissimilar ways in which we view Rhaegar and Joffrey. We are left baffled that anyone could choose to be with sociopathic Joffrey while we think of Rhaegar as a fairytale prince.
      Rhaegar, the man who publicly humiliated the faithful, devoted wife who almost died twice when giving birth to his children so he could flatter a girl he had never spoken to and hook up with her.
      Rhaegar who ran away with his new girl, leaving his wife and children at the mercy of a kingly father he knew to be mad.
      Rhaegar who did not see fit to come out of hiding and intervene when said father started slaughtering Lyanna’s relatives.
      Rhaegar who did see fit to come out of the woodwork to participate in the Battle of the Trident so he could potentially wipe out what was left of Lyanna’s family.
      Rhaegar whose sole motivation during the whole affair might have been the materialisation of a prophecy, not love.
      Hum… Yeah Rhaegar ? ^^

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    82. I’ve enjoyed the above conversation so much, that I almost see no point in adding any feelings and opinions of mine. But I can’t resist imagining myself having a drink with some GOT/ASOIAF characters. I’d basically drink with all/any character that I like, but my favourite would be Tyrion. We could also play his drinking game, if he wanted to.

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    83. ACME,

      Our double standard is a thing of beauty and I am quite fascinated as to its origins.

      Interesting comments; I had not thought about comparing Sansa with Lyanna, but what you say makes perfect sense. I think you are right – Lyanna is more of a myth, and beloved by Ned, so we accept her choices more. Wonder is the rumor of her rape rather than her elopment is part of that – making her so much more sympathetic.

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    84. ACME,

      ACME, you never cease to amaze me… As per usual, I thoroughly enjoy reading your comments!!! I think the comparison between Lyanna’s and Sansa’s arc is spot on.

      Shy Lady Dragon,

      The only reason I would go drinking with Tyrion is to finally hear the end of his “a honeycomb and a jackass” joke… 😀

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    85. Markus Stark,

      I can’t understand how Sansa is credited with Ramsey’s death when she didn’t do anything besides not turn away(initially) when she just HAPPENED to get there in time to see his dogs rips him to pieces.

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    86. ACME,

      Kindness in King’s Landing is a gamble. Kindness from a Lannister is Russian roulette.

      LOL, Acme. It’s as good as some of Tyrion’s quips. Also, after months of close caregiving, your Saint Meera rings true. And I still owe you that Arya chat, but now I must find the thread and your quote. Sorry about the delay.

      FWIW, I’ve never seen anyone compare Lyanna and Sansa before, and you’ve spotted some rad parallels. Well done, you. Lyanna’s most significant/only clear arc has some parallels with S1 Sansa. Unlike Lyanna, her prince was arranged and she ‘fell in love’ only with an (incorrect) image. Her reputation suffers compared to Lyanna’s because it wasn’t romantic, she supported Joff against her sister, he was the first big bad in the book/show, and she couldn’t accept how evil Cersei and Joff were until the Stark folks in KL were all dead or scattered. But Lyanna and Arya are more than cosmetically connected. Resemblance is in character, inclination, and independence. Not only are they both free spirits, but rebellious because they’re so smart and capable but totally blocked from non-domestic achievement by their gender (which affected Cersei as well.) I doubt Lyanna mooned over Jonquil and courtly romance. An outdoorsy, frustrated free spirit, she’d probably agree with Arya’s words to Tywin, “Most girls are idiots.” But who can resist movie star handsome, athletic, royal, musically seductive, blue roses, and the best pick-up line in history, “ Come away, Luv, for the gods say to me that if you and I shag we shall make the Prince that was Promised and he will save the world.” So off they went. Arya really is a lot like her, so maybe someone will come sweep her off her feet too (preferably Gendry). But for now, the best thing she learned at the HoB&W was how to control her impulsiveness. It may keep her alive. Truly wild wolf Lyanna never learned that.

      I do think that the fact that Lyanna mucking in with her brothers was more important than using swords (Ned said his father forbade it) and riding horses. The 4 sibs were close because they were compatible. Sansa was aloof from her siblings, maybe intentionally or maybe just because she happened to prefer doing girly things indoors. TBH, she was comfortable as a little bird in a gilded cage. In the show and maybe in the books (it’s been years since I read Book 1) Sansa didn’t interact with any young wolf except Arya. So her siblings hardly knew her.

      Also, Sansa’s mum was a Southerner and a Tully, a true lady. OTOH, Lyanna’s was from two Northern houses, and her grandmum Arya (!) Flint hailed from a Northern mountain clan, and so was probably much less interested in courtesy and protocol than, say, Catelyn. So Lyanna’s upbringing must have been more congenial for a free spirit and tomboy. She truly was part of her Pack. I’m sure you know she was protective of Howland Reed during the Tourney of Harrenhal. Some fans even think she was the Knight of the Laughing Tree, who fought for Howland’s honor, though elsewhere I’ve argued it was almost definitely Ned incognito. If so, it was probalby as much for her as HR. That ties in with the discussion of why Ned’s ToJ narrative credited Howland with saving his life but avoided saying he had stabbed Dayne in the back. We see it purely through Ned’s eyes, but he must have found it painful to discuss, so gossip and rumor colored the story. So the legend grew without his input.
      I think Bran’s remark to the 3ER misconstrued what Ned said. The I&F Wiki writes, “Servants at Winterfell whisper that Ned defeated Arthur, the Sword of the Morning, in single combat.[7] When Bran Stark was little, Ned told his son he would have died if not for Howland.[11] Ned left it open-ended otherwise.

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    87. Wolfish,

      During her time in KL she also failed to find out LF publicly betrayed her father and had a knife to his throat when he got arrested. Like how is that even possible?

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    88. Alba Stark: I think what I meant was that in the very earliest parts of season one, we are meant to view the Starks favorably when contrasting them with the Lannisters, Baratheons and Targaryens.I fell in love with House Stark pretty quickly, and I still have a soft spot the size of the North itself for them.

      That is a perfectly fair and entirely understandable point 😉

      The Starks are our protagonists. Literally. Proto = first; agonia = to struggle, to suffer. They were the first characters whose victimisation we witnessed and, as a result, we have a visceral connection to them. Furthermore, their initial “competititon”, so to speak, were appalling families : Baratheons, Lannisters, Greyjoys. So, in comparison, the Starks seemed even better than they objectively were.

      And they still seem better to us than they objectively are (but not Sansa) ^^

      Ten Bears: I just wonder why Ned presumed to hold the moral high ground when he confronted Cersei: it’s questionable whether his own treason would be considered by Robert to be any less egregious than Cersei’s.

      There is zero doubt in my mind that Ned’s treason would have looked even worse than Cersei’s in Robert’s eyes. Not only because Bobby trusted Ned (I doubt he ever trusted his wife) but also because it had something to do with Lyanna and the Targaryens : Fat Bob’s obsessions.

      You are entirely right : Ned’s “moral high ground” was made of quicksand.

      A Dornish Tyrell,
      So very kind of you to say so, my friend.
      George RR Martin is one hell of a devious writer, isn’t he ? Evil Santa Claus ! 😛

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    89. Stark Raven’ Rad

      And I still owe you that Arya chat, but now I must find the thread and your quote. Sorry about the delay.

      No problem ! Take your time ! I very much look forward to it 😉

      (And I am very flattered by the Tyrion parallel 😀 )

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      Unlike Lyanna, her prince was arranged and she ‘fell in love’ only with an (incorrect) image.

      I may be completely mistaken here (wouldn’t be the first time !) but didn’t Rhaegar and Lyanna spend close to zero time together before she agreed to elope with him ? I find it difficult to believe she “fell in love” with more than a necessarily-incorrect “image” of him either.

      I think Rhaegar and Lyanna are clearly framed as the “star-cross’d lovers” of Westeros and, as far as I am concerned, comparing one’s relationship to Romeo and Juliet to highlight how in “true” love one is is a bit like quoting Hamlet to show how healthy and well-adjusted one’s family life is…

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      she supported Joff against her sister,

      Rickard had arranged a marriage between his daughter and Robert Baratheon. By leaving with Rhaegar, Lyanna technically supported the prince against her father.

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      Not only are they (Lyanna and Arya) both free spirits, but rebellious because they’re so smart and capable but totally blocked from non-domestic achievement by their gender

      I know I have already used this video but I am sorry, it is almost too perfect ! The Animaniacs were a work of genius 😉

      More seriously, what indications do we have that Lyanna was smart and capable, aside from the scattered testimonies of people who loved her and have been mourning her for twenty years ? If I died in tragic circumstances and you asked my best friends and relatives, two decades later, what I was like when alive, I can pretty much bet they would all say I was as close to perfection as is humanly possible (Spoiler alert : I have it under excellent authority that I am not ! ^^)

      Also, in relation to non-domestic “achievements”, I cannot help but notice that, in Lyanna and Arya’s cases, those are all basically war-related. Neither the aunt nor the niece wanted to be great politicians, brilliant intellectuals or fantastic artists; they wanted to fight. For Arya, we know that for a fact; for Lyanna, we can presume.
      Having a sword and stabbing people with it… Achievement unlocked ?

      It is, of course, a fundamentally subjective matter but I, for one, will take the achievement of the women who embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry (which is not a tapestry !) over the achievement of the men featured on it. Any day of the week ^^

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      But who can resist movie star handsome, athletic, royal, musically seductive, blue roses, and the best pick-up line in history,

      Perhaps I am being grossly over-cynical here (all my apologies) but I would say that a real “free spirit” would resist that line, especially if spoken by that guy.

      Lyanna witnessed Prince Rhaegar’s heartless and vile public humiliation of his loving wife; seven hells, she was the object of it ! She, like everyone else in the Kingdoms, must have known that Ellia had almost died twice giving birth to her princely husband’s children. A real “free spirit” would have thrown his roses back into his face !

      I assure you my take on this has nothing to do with a puritanical view of adultery (I am French, for Pete’s sake ^^). Rhaegar did not love his wife ? I am sorry for him. He wanted a little bit of action on the side ? Mazel Tov ! He intended to create the Prince that was Promised and needed a bit of “ice” to add to his “fire” ? If the “ice” is ok with it, I am delighted for both of them. However, he did not have to crush his wife’s ego and heart to achieve any of that. He chose to do so. Consciously. Cruelly. And Lyanna apparently thought it was the most romantic thing in the world !

      If Rhaegar had strangled a (female) puppy in front of her, would she have disrobed instantly ? I wonder… ^^

      I am thus left to assume that, when one is a “free-spirited girl” who thinks that “most girls are stupid”, one is allowed to participate in (and benefit from) the very public humiliation of a “not-free-spirited girl” because “not-free-spiritedl girls” do not deserve even the slightest amount of sympathy. They are not “free-spirited” enough.

      Stark Raven’ Rad

      Sansa was aloof from her siblings, maybe intentionally or maybe just because she happened to prefer doing girly things indoors.

      Bullseye ! If I could clap with my keyboard, I would !

      This is the real reason for Sansa’s continued impopularity. Not that she chose a royal prince over her family’s wishes, not that her choice ultimately led to death and pain for her relatives, not that her “love” was a mere illusion, not that the royal prince she chose was a piece of “shift”. All of that, Lyanna did. And then some. And yet, we all think she is awesome.

      Sansa’s real crime, the old sin whose long shadow she is cast under is that she did not want to be a Stark.

      Because of the story’s structure (not its content or its structure), we have been led to view the Direwolves as the epitome of all that is right, beautiful and awesome in Westeros. We, the readers/viewers, love the Starks. Almost unconditionally so. Being a Stark means being fantastic. We want to be Starks.

      It does not even matter that we do not have a clearly defined understanding of what it actually means to be a Stark ! Does it mean to be honourable at all costs, in all circumstances ? Then, neither Ned, nor Lyanna, nor Robb, nor Sansa, nor Arya qualify (and Jon is on the fence). Does it mean to stay with your “pack” no matter what ? Then Lyanna, Jon, Sansa and Arya are out !
      Who cares ? The way we see it, being a Stark is not about “doing” anything. It is a feeling. A sense of revendicated identity. Characters are “Starks” because they love being “Starks”. They want to be “Starks”. If anything, they wish they could be even Starker ! And so do we.

      Sansa was born with the unfathomable privilege of being a Stark and yet she had the unmitigated gall not to care. Even worse, she actually wanted to be something else. And all of us, Stark-wannabes, when faced with such unfathomable madness, we collectively think : “B*tch, you for real ?”

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    90. Markus Stark,

      Arya came up with the pie idea from Old Nan’s retelling of the “Rat Cook”. All the Starks got to grow up with Old Nan’s stories..not just Bran. Can’t get much worse than slaying a guest beneath your own roof.

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    91. I think he would be disturbed by what his daughter Arya is capable of. Killing someone in cold blood etc. I’m not sure if he would like how Sansa turned out either. He would still love them of course, but be disturbed by how much they changed. I think he would be very proud of Jon, because he turned out so much like Ned. And come on Bran is some kind of god now.

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    92. ACME: That is a perfectly fair and entirely understandable point

      The Starks are our protagonists. Literally. Proto = first; agonia = to struggle, to suffer. They were the first characters whose victimisation we witnessed and, as a result, we have a visceral connection to them. Furthermore, their initial “competititon”, so to speak, were appalling families : Baratheons, Lannisters, Greyjoys. So, in comparison, the Starks seemed even better than they objectively were.

      And they still seem better to us than they objectively are (but not Sansa) ^^

      Agree – and for me, so much of what I see as Act I of GoT (seasons 1 – 3) is about the determinations of the Lannisters in particular to bring about the downfall of House Stark. These are the two families most in opposition to one another in season one (leaving the Targaryens aside in this as there are no meetings between them and any other Westerosi save Ser Jorah) and when we see things like Jaime throwing Bran from a window in the very first episode, we automatically lean towards being pro-Stark and anti-Lannister.

      There is zero doubt in my mind that Ned’s treason would have looked even worse than Cersei’s in Robert’s eyes. Not only because Bobby trusted Ned (I doubt he ever trusted his wife) but also because it had something to do with Lyanna and the Targaryens : Fat Bob’s obsessions.

      You are entirely right : Ned’s “moral high ground” was made of quicksand.

      More than Robert trusting Ned when he did not trust his wife, I think that he was the only person left Robert felt he could trust after Jon Arryn’s death. When Lord Arryn dies, Robert doesn’t appoint Stannis or Renly as Hand of the King (this would not be without precedent – numerous Targaryens served brothers, cousins, nephews etc as Hand); instead, he travels to Winterfell and offers the position to Ned.

      Robert sees Ned as more of a brother than Stannis and Renly, and absolutely his treason would have been seen as far more raw and painful than anything Cersei could inflict upon him. I think part of Robert almost expected Cersei was conspiring against him at just about every turn, while the thought of Ned acting against him was unfathomable. Robert may not have instructed the Mountain to kill Rhaegar and Elia’s children – that was Tywin – but he benefited from it and didn’t regret it, and he was prepared to kill anyone else named Targaryen. Ned, the only person I think Robert really trusted at the point we meet him, was hiding Rhaegar’s last child – one that was a walking, talking reminder that Lyanna had lain with Rhaegar (regardless of whether or not it was consensual – and I think it was, not that Robert would ever accept that under any circumstances).

      I think having brought Jon up from birth, Ned was haunted not only by Lyanna, her death and the war, but by the sight of the dead Targaryen children before the Iron Throne. He wanted to prevent the deaths of innocent children and that is why he warned Cersei – something that, in Ned’s position and dealing with a rival family, I doubt Tywin would do.

      No, Ned is not as honorable as he likes to make out – nor as even those closest to him believe him to be. That said, I understand in a way why he made the decision he did. I don’t believe treason was a thought that went through his head at the Tower of Joy. He thought only of the promise to his sister; he had to make a choice between loyalty to Lyanna and loyalty to Robert and he chose his sister. He chose Lyanna and the life of her son and I don’t believe he ever regretted that.

      Let us not forget – technically speaking, Ned could have tried to rally rebels and put baby Jon (or, rather, baby whatever-Lyanna-named-him) on the throne, installing himself as Lord Regent to rule Westeros until his nephew came of age. I could see Tywin doing such a thing in the same position to increase the power of his family. I don’t think that thought ever crossed Ned’s mind, though. Lyanna wanted him to protect her son, and I don’t believe Ned ever considered trying to sit him on the Iron Throne would achieve that.

      But, yes, ultimately Ned’s honor is not what it appears to be on the surface. When thinking of it, I always come back to Jon and Aemon’s talk from 109 when Aemon asks Jon if Ned would choose honor of those he loved. It is clear from his actions in that episode (confessing to treason in the hope it would spare his family – particularly Sansa) and the Bran-vision sequences in season six, that Ned would choose family over honor each and every time. Jon, however, says that Ned would “do whatever was right, no matter what”. Even those closest to him have a false sense of how far Ned’s honor stretches.

      And it isn’t just Jon that has an overly idealistic view of Ned – in 302 when Sansa meets with Margaery and Olenna to be quizzed on Joffrey, she says that her father always told the truth. Really? So that child he brought home from the war wasn’t his sister’s secret son?

      I do like Ned as a contrast to Jaime – one seems to have no honor, but when we delve deeper it seems he has more than we thought, and the other seems to have it in spades, but a closer look reveals there is more on the surface than under it.

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    93. Markus Stark,

      The way Arya decided to take out Walder Frey has its basis on the story Bran is telling at some point in the series about the Rat Cook.

      According to legend, the man who would later be known as the Rat Cook was a simple cook at the Nightfort. He became infamous when he served an Andal king a pie that was made of bacon and, unknown to the king, the king’s son. The cook killed the prince in revenge for a wrong the king supposedly did to him. The king was unaware of this, however, as he ate and praised the taste and asked for a second piece. The gods were angered — not because the cook had committed murder, nor because he had made the king a cannibal — but because the cook had slain a guest beneath his roof. They cursed the cook and transformed him into a massive rat who was doomed to be unable to eat anything but his own young.

      Notice the fact that Walder F killed Robb, Cat and everybody (The Red Wedding) under his roof after breaking bread & salt with them. Also, another interesting fact is how Walder Frey’s kids and kin are portrayed in the series and the book – many, piling up just like rats.

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    94. Alba Stark,
      I couldn’t agree more. And this is precisely why “killing the father” may have to play such a crucial part in the Stark children’s future.

      Ned’s words are still regarded as gospel truth by his kids. In and of itself, it would not be too problematic if the lessons he had imparted onto them, the myth he had left them with, were not so utterly unrealistic. A standard no one could ever live up to, not even Ned. And yet, the Stark children seem to still believe in its validity and attempt to live by it.

      Alba Stark: in 302 when Sansa meets with Margaery and Olenna to be quizzed on Joffrey, she says that her father always told the truth.Really?So that child he brought home from the war wasn’t his sister’s secret son?

      This example is particularly telling because a strangely similar exchange can be found in the sixth season.
      When Davos, as the true pragmatist he is, expressed certain doubts about the number of Northern Houses who would be willing to fight for the Starks, Sansa retaliated by quoting Ned : “my father always said Northerners are different, more loyal”. Now, as proven by most Lords’ reaction to the Starks’ request, that was quite a lot of hogwash…

      Trying to emulate Ned the sometimes-hypocritical and oft-mistaken man would be a tad counterproductive. Trying to emulate the myth of Ned is downright suicidal.

      The Stark children will all eventually have to follow in Bran’s footsteps and come to accept that they know very little about the man their father really was. On the downside, it will be a crushing blow to their sense of identity and value system; on the upside, it may help them revisit Ned’s teachings with a more critical and pragmatical eye.

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    95. Sooooo…

      I have nothing intelligent to add right now. I just wanted to say, I’m really blown away by the wonderful conversation on this thread. Maybe I’ll have something cogent to write later, after I’ve digested it all.

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    96. Wolfish,

      I just wanted to say, I’m really blown away by the wonderful conversation on this thread.

      Indeed, it had been a pleasure to read. Much to ponder here, even in the off season!

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    97. Ned would be proudest of Sansa, for enduring all that she’s gone through and coming out a stronger, wiser and nobler person.

      He’d promise Jon he’ll tell him all about his mother one day, and never get around to it. Dads, right?

      To Bran he’d say, “You did all that %$#@ because of what a %$#@ing bird told you in a %$#@ing dream? What the bloody %$#@ were you thinking boy?”

      He’d think Arya was a feral cat, grab her by the scruff and throw her out the front gate.

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    98. ACME:

      I think Rhaegar and Lyanna are clearly framed as the “star-cross’d lovers” of Westeros and, as far as I am concerned, comparing one’s relationship to Romeo and Juliet to highlight how in “true” love one is is a bit like quoting Hamlet to show how healthy and well-adjusted one’s family life is…

      Because of the story’s structure (not its content or its structure), we have been led to view the Direwolves as the epitome of all that is right, beautiful and awesome in Westeros. We, the readers/viewers, love the Starks. Almost unconditionally so. Being a Stark means being fantastic. We want to be Starks.

      First, I would like to say that I really appreciated the Lyanna/Sansa comparison and the follow-up comments by both Stark Raven’ Rad and Alba Stark (yes, we “want to be Starks”!). Following on the Romeo and Juliet comparison, I would add that an underlying theme in ASoIaF is the folly of rule by the very young. (I don’t know whether or not GRRM did this on purpose, or whether he’s ever addressed it in interviews.) Of course, rule by adults is often equally calamitous—don’t get me going on the Orange Dumpster Fire, or “the ODF,” as I now refer to him—but rule by children and, perhaps worse, adolescents having their chains yanked by puberty is a virtual recipe for disaster. On Planetos, as on Earth, youthful infatuations can change history… and both the romanticization of such infatuations and enduring bitterness of thwarted plans ensure that history keeps repeating itself.

      (Rhaegar + Lyanna) + (Robert – Lyanna) = (Westeros – Targaryen Dynasty)
      (Robert – Lyanna) + (Cersei – Rhaegar) = (Miserable Robert + Miserable Cersei)
      (Miserable Cersei – Miserable Robert) = (Westeros + Cowardly, Sociopathic Teenage King)
      (Robb + Talisa/Jeyne) = (North – Courageous, Lovelorn Teenage King)

      …and so on and so forth.

      In another vein, I also appreciate all your points about our love for the Starks, even though they have not really proven themselves to be any more “honorable” than the other great houses of Westeros. In addition to being predisposed to rallying behind them after Bran’s near-death, I think many readers and viewers are drawn to the North for the same reasons we are drawn to Celtic cultures before Anglo-Saxon conquest or indigenous cultures before European conquest: Among other things, we tend to be fascinated by them because we view them as being closer to some primeval human experience that civilization has inexorably stripped away. Of course, the First Men were conquerors themselves, but they adopted the Old Gods still worshipped in the North—gods who have no temple or scripture, no complex moral code that can easily be twisted by zealots such as the Faith Militant, nothing but faces in the weirwoods and an understanding that blood must be paid for with blood. We are both horrified by human sacrifice and, on some level, morbidly respectful of the simple math that decrees that blood sacrifice = good harvest.

      On that note, yes, the direwolves are an enormous part of the Starks’ appeal. To have a connection to wild lands and wild animals—connections long lost to many who practice agriculture or live in cities—is also a primeval fantasy. And of course, the direwolves, like the Children, are a vanishing species, remnants of a far older world. “We want to be Starks” because despite understanding that technological progress has, for the most part, been a boon to humanity, we also understand that when our connection to nature and her harsh laws is lost, an enormous part of what it means to be human is also lost.

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    99. Wolfish:
      ACME:

      First, I would like to say that I really appreciated the Lyanna/Sansa comparison and the follow-up comments by both Stark Raven’ Rad and Alba Stark (yes, we “want to be Starks”!). Following on the Romeo and Juliet comparison, I would add that an underlying theme in ASoIaF is the folly of rule by the very young. (I don’t know whether or not GRRM did this on purpose, or whether he’s ever addressed it in interviews.) Of course, rule by adults is often equally calamitous—don’t get me going on the Orange Dumpster Fire, or “the ODF,” as I now refer to him—but rule by children and, perhaps worse, adolescents having their chains yanked by puberty is a virtual recipe for disaster. On Planetos, as on Earth, youthful infatuations can change history… and both the romanticization of such infatuations and enduring bitterness of thwarted plans ensure that history keeps repeating itself.

      Between ODF and Canada’s ‘BS’ (Boy Selfie), we have a real comedy of errors going on in North America, don’t we? I suppose at least BS pretends to be adult at times, but….ANYWAY good points on the various pairings and results in the history of Westeros/Planetos. Well said.

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    100. Wolfish,
      That is a profoundly appealing (and appealingly profound) take both on the overall storyline and the Starks ! Thank you for such an excellent read.

      Your point about the folly of rule by the very young is truly interesting and, I believe, a subcategory of one of George RR Martin’s recurring themes, namely what constitutes a good / bad ruler.
      One of the most quietly fascinating exchanges in both the books and the show is the one between Tywin and Tommen when the grandfather, over Joffrey’s corpse, asks his grandson what characteristics he believes a king must possess to be “good”. Of course, the old Lion does so to manipulate Tommen into relying on him but the conversation is griping. From the holy king who starved himself to death to the just king who got murdered by his advisors, and so on and so forth.
      Ultimately, Tommen comes to the conclusion that a good ruler’s main feature is wisdom (a trait few very young people possess ^^). The wisdom to ask those who know better and abide by their advice. Which, to a degree, implies that a good ruler is, at heart, a good servant.

      As for the Starks’ continued (and to an extent, unfair) popularity, all the arguments you raise are brilliant. I would add another, much less poetic and intellectual I am sorry to say, namely sheer volume. The story is initially told mostly from the Starks’ perspective; they are our main narrators and, as such, we very mechanically identify with them first and foremost for it is easier to empathise with someone whose thoughts we can “hear” than with someone whose emotions remain unknown.

      However, it is to be noted, I believe, that as the story progresses, the Starks’ dominance over the telling of it erodes away. Different viewpoints are added and take precedence over the Direwolves’ accounts (in the first book, there are nine POV characters, six of which are Starks; in the second book, ten POV characters, five are Starks; in the third, twelve POV characters, five Starks; in the fourth, thirteen POVs, two Starks; in the fifth, eighteen POVs, three Starks).
      I am under the impression that George RR Martin is meticulously dismanteling the pedestal onto which he had elevated the Starks…

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    101. ACME,

      Thank you for the compliment; it truly is a compliment, especially from someone who makes such cogent arguments.

      I’m glad you brought up the conversation between Tywin and Tommen. I just finished re-watching the series with Saner Half (his first viewing), and that happens to be an exchange he also loved. I was reminded of a comment you made on an earlier thread, in which you argued that both Tywin and Littlefinger might be good rulers despite being, shall we say, unsavory individuals. Partial quote:

      “Tywin’s satisfactory run as a ruler had little to nothing to do with him caring for Westerosi (I doubt he ever did); it had everything to do with his understanding that a nation that is both satisfied and at peace is stronger economically, commercially, diplomatically, politically and strategically.”

      This argument made me think of two things. (Warning: The first might make you laugh.) In Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Spock famously explained to Kirk why he had sacrificed his life: “Logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Of course, one of the chief reasons that Spock was such a compelling character was that his Vulcan logic was both infuriating, not taking emotion into account, and enlightening, illuminating a culture that—to put it simplistically—had literally disposed of warfare through “cold” calculation. I immediately thought of Spock when Tywin asked Tyrion, “Explain to me why it is more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner.” ‘Tis funny, indeed, how we think of this as cold and calculating, not humane; it also echoes points you have made about how many people romanticize Rhaegar and Lyanna, at the expense of the tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) who died as a result of their elopement.

      Back to Tywin, though: One of the page-to-screen adaptations I most enjoyed in GoT was the substitution of Tywin for Roose Bolton during Arya’s sojourn at Harrenhal. Of course, it helped immensely that the writing was witty and the chemistry sparkling between Maisie Williams and Charles Dance. Having watched it several times now, though, it strikes me as odd that Tywin is rarely (if ever) credited as being one of the people who taught Arya how to survive. They were certainly never friends, although they might have been if she hadn’t kept him at arm’s length for obvious reasons; she did not hesitate to ask Jaqen to kill him as he was riding out of Harrenhal. And yet: He immediately saw she was a girl and, respecting her gumption, took her on as cupbearer. He discerned that she was highborn and instructed her how to speak in order to blend in. He taught her how to be a good—and more important, believable servant—a skill that certainly served her well in Braavos and (of course!) at the Twins. Despite the fact that he was one of her greatest enemies (a fact unbeknownst to him), he respected her intelligence and—perhaps because he was already the wealthiest man in Westeros—granted her his own peculiar form of mercy, in that he never demanded to know who she really was.

      With only 13 episodes left, there are many conversations I’d love to see that I doubt will occur. One of those would be a conversation between Tyrion and Arya, about what a coldly brilliant shithead Tywin Lannister was… and how much they each owe him.

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    102. Wolfish,
      You are very welcome, My appreciation of your posts was most heartfelt 🙂

      And thank you.

      Ah Tywin ! The parallel with Spock is entirely justified (and I will most certainly not laugh, I quoted the Kobayashi Maru experiment in another thread ^^). Tywin was an emotional desert but he was in no way, shape or form, evil. His brand of realpolitik separated him from his peers in the emotionally-charged world of medieval politics, rendering him both more ruthless and less vile than many of his contemporaries, and helping him serve as a brilliant mentor to quite a few people.

      However, he did have a spectacular flaw, namely his obsession with names. Witnessing the humiliation of his beloved father as Warden of the West pushed Tywin down a path of constant preoccupation for his family’s standing. To rehabilitate his father’s name and his father himself through it.
      Surnames operated as emotional blinders for Tywin : once someone had a name, he could no longer see them as individuals with singularities and emotions, only as representatives of a group, as pawns.

      I would be tempted to believe this is why he failed to spot the relationship between his twins. He never saw either Jaime or Cersei as people; he merely viewed them as Lannisters, engineered to carry and pass down the name. This is also probably why he managed to connect with Arya on an emotional, somewhat intimate, level : the nameless girl was a person to him, by virtue of her being nameless. Had she been revealed to have a surname, he would have immediately reverted back to his usual behaviour and he knew it. This may be the reason why he never asked; he enjoyed being able to talk to someone, to bond. For once.

      Tywin was not a good man but, in many paradoxical ways, he was a great one. Through him and others (Varys, Littlefinger, Tyrion even), George RR Martin encourages us to view the “greater good” as a fairly unromantic notion. Loving people is not enough, being a good person is not enough… Not enough, not always necessary and, at times, even counterproductive when it comes to politics.

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    103. Fio Sargenti !! I love her!
      I always hear her on the radio!

      That interview was great! The lifeboat thing was perfect to explain Jaime’s decision.

      And of course, Go River Plate!!

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