When people talk about Game of Thrones, they often leave off the “s” in thrones. They think only of the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, the King of the Andals, Rhoynar, and First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. There is more than one throne in their world and more than one monarch though. The main conflict of the first few seasons is named the “War of the Five Kings” with Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Balon Greyjoy, and Robb Stark all declaring themselves kings separately. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen declares herself Queen of Meereen (and Westeros). Tommen Baratheon also sits the Iron Throne and his mother Cersei Lannister after his death. Euron Greyjoy sits the Salt Throne after his brother Balon. Viserys Targaryen is the Beggar King, and there’s Mance Rayder the King beyond the Wall. And who could forget Jon Snow, King in the North. Quite a lot of choices; so, who is the best of the bunch?
One difficulty in evaluating monarchs is your own beliefs and politics. Some prefer the strict adherence to law of Stannis Baratheon, while others like the mercy Dany shows the downtrodden of Essos, and so on. What I want to see in a ruler may not be what you want, and vice versa. Instead I’ll try to stay relatively objective about their performances and rate them on how well they thought ahead, the outcomes of those plans, the extent that they achieved their goals, the condition of their subjects, and the devotion they inspire.
First up, he’s not the actual worst monarch, and due to unforeseen circumstances his reign was cut quite short.
Renly Baratheon: Incomplete
Renly barely got started; he was crowned king by the Tyrells by agreeing to marry Margaery, and was dead the night before his first battle. In some ways he was very successful; Renly found very powerful allies, had a popular cause, inspired loyalty in the Stormlanders versus Joffrey or Stannis, and had all the food and men to make him the dominant military force in the Seven Kingdoms.
And then his brother Stannis piloted a shadow baby and killed Renly. Renly’s plan of “amass resources and let the other armies bleed each other” is a solid strategy when you have the largest army. But again, he died so quickly after being crowned that I can’t give him a grade.
Viserys Targaryen: F
This one is a bit of a stretch- he was an heir to the Iron Throne (mostly because people don’t know about AeJon Targaryen) and called the “Beggar King”. Viserys had only one subject if you can call her that, his little sister Daenerys. He mistreated her, beat her, and sold her off to Khal Drogo to try and buy the Dothraki khalasar. Everything about this plan is awful. He doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know anything about the horselords or Khal Drogo, has no way of enforcing the bargain, and has no control of the situation. Remarkably everyone around him was better off after Viserys died and he failed at his idiotic plan. The Beggar King died begging for his life.
Joffrey Baratheon: F
Joffrey, at his core, wanted to be a better and more respected king than his “father” Robert. For some reason he interpreted this as being the biggest dickbag he could possibly to be to as many people as possible. And also to be known as a great warrior like Robert with his famous warhammer. Unfortunately, Joffrey succeeded at neither and is almost certainly the worst king to ever sit the Iron Throne. He was despised by his subjects, his servants, even his own family. Joffrey delighted in cruelty and murder for fun, including the murder of beloved courtesan Ros. He ran from the one battle he was anywhere close to, at the Blackwater. He had no operational control over the war against the Starks and the Baratheon brothers and was frequently overruled by his mother, grandfather, and uncle. His subjects were worse off for his rule as it was Joffrey that ordered the beheading of Ned Stark that kicked off a civil war that devastated Westeros. As he drew his last breath, the rest of Westeros breathed a sigh of relief.
Robert Baratheon: D+
While the lords that supported him wanted the Mad King off the Iron Throne, Robert wanted his bride-to-be Lyanna back. He was wildly successful in his rebellion, actually deposing the Targaryens. Robert lacked any sort of plan or long-term goals for his rule unfortunately. People were more or less fine, but it had very little to do with Robert himself. Tywin Lannister kept the peace for the most part along with Ned Stark and Jon Arryn, and Robert was allowed to be a drunken womanizer who did little in his reign. He fathered bastards up and down the realm and mistreated his own family. At one point, he comments to Ned that he would rather abdicate his throne and travel Essos as a sellsword, just to feel the rush of battle again. Robert was a neglectful king whose realm puttered along as more interested lords kept it together for him. His disinterest created opportunity for people like Littlefinger and Varys who pushed the realm towards a war of their own designs. Had he not married Cersei Lannister, it’s likely he would’ve been overthrown by resurgent Targaryen loyalists without the protection of Casterly Rock.
Balon Greyjoy: D-
Balon famously tried taking his own crown, paying the Iron Price for it by declaring the Iron Islands free of Robert’s control. And then the united armies of Westeros stormed Pyke, killed almost all his sons, took his youngest son Theon hostage, and left the “Lord Reaper of Pyke” sitting on his rocks powerless. He tried during the War of the Five Kings to take advantage of Robb Stark marching the best warriors out of the North by taking the Neck and North behind the campaigning Northern army. And for a short time it worked: the Ironborn seized Moat Cailin and Winterfell, along with several smaller castles. Unfortunately these conquests were short-lived and Balon lost almost all of this territory when the Boltons seized the North. Theon was captured by Ramsay and “removed” from the line of succession via torture. The Ironborn were no better off, and then Balon was assassinated by his brother Euron.
Balon briefly had a reasonably sound strategy yet the backlash has been traumatic. And as with Viserys and Joffrey, Balon’s former subjects were better off as he fell to his death.
Tommen Baratheon: D
Given Tommen’s age, it is difficult holding him against the standard of the other kings and queens of the story. He claimed the throne at a very, very young age and shortly after lost his primary supporter and adviser in his grandfather Tywin. Had he not been killed, it’s likely that Tywin could’ve held the realm together similarly as he did for Robert. Tommen did not and his performance as a monarch suffered.
At first he was doing okay, set to marry his late brother’s wife Margaery and solidify the relationship between the Tyrells and Lannisters. The fight for his affections between Cersei and Margaery spiraled out of his ability to control, and Cersei armed the Faith Militant. Tommen did not free Margaery nor diffuse the situation. Eventually he fell in with the Faith Militant and High Sparrow, allowing them to arrest Cersei after releasing his queen. And of course the eventual explosion at the Sept of Baelor that killed them all leads to Tommen’s suicide.
His inability to wield his own power and control the actions of his family made King’s Landing a battlefield. His arming of the Faith Militant led the persecution, capture, and torture of many of King’s Landing citizens. Tommen had good intentions, and he was extremely young; even with context, he performed poorly as king of Westeros.
Cersei Lannister: C-
For the purposes of this, I’m going to ignore the heinous way Cersei seized the Iron Throne. Instead, we’ll look at what she did since becoming Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. First, she put down the Faith Militant (ending the problem she helped create) through vigorous use of Ser Gregor Clegane. Unfortunately she replaces the Faith Militant’s violent purging with a political purging as she sends her men out to kill and capture dissenters. In addition, as a result of the killing of the Tyrell family, she loses the support of the most powerful family in the Seven Kingdoms to the newly arrived Daenerys Targaryen. Also Cersei’s decision to withhold the Iron Throne’s support from the incoming White Walker invasion has the potential of dooming the entire planet to death and a neverending Winter.
In spite of herself, Cersei makes key alliances with Euron Greyjoy, the Tarlys, and the Iron Bank and manages a stalemate with Daenerys, her dragons and allies against all odds. Cersei is a cruel tyrant but an effective one so far. On the downside she killed many of her own subjects through war and murder. Her plan of fighting Daenerys worked against all odds not through strategic thinking but largely through Dany not having the stomach to burn King’s Landing down around Cersei.
Euron Greyjoy: C
Euron has been a surprisingly effective King of the Iron Islands so far. He declared he wanted his people to build a huge armada of ships, and despite being on what looks like a treeless island, they delivered! He made a successful alliance with Queen Cersei, he captured his political rival in his niece Yara, smashed her loyal fleet, and against all odds survived a war against a Targaryen with dragons so far.
As is the case with Cersei, he is extremely brutal and because of his murderous desires towards his niece and nephew, he has split the Ironborn into a bloody civil war. Euron continues achieving his objectives; only his marriage with Cersei is still unaccomplished from his stated goals. Outside the civil war it’s unknown how the Iron Islands are faring during all of this.
Jon Snow: C+
Controversial entry for the King in the North, I know I know. Jon has made some serious decision-making and tactical errors as his time since becoming king. King Jon has a bad streak in politics. The Northern Lords only rally around him after a rousing speech by Lyanna Mormont when Jon’s own speech falls flat. He also regularly ignores the advice of his advisors, particularly Sansa, in surprise declarations at court. On his own devices Jon would likely not be King nor still have the support of the lords.
And then there was the wight hunt strategy which proved dangerous and his whole party nearly died. It’s only out of affection, which Jon could not have counted on, that Dany would fly her dragons up at a warp speed and save them. Also in this mission Thoros of Myr, only one of two followers of R’hllor that displays they can raise the dead, dies following a wight bear attack. Then, of course, the death of Viserion will prove devastating. The Night King knocks down the Wall with Viserion and now the North will be overrun by the unchecked hordes of the dead.
Jon does have some successes as ruler. He has forged an alliance with the most powerful ruler in Westeros at the moment in Daenerys Targaryen- and a romantic relationship. All of his other mistakes pale in winning the loyalty and affection of the dragon queen and her forces, particularly the two dragons. And although the wight hunt was incredibly stupid, it convinced many in Westeros (particularly Jaime Lannister) of the true threat coming from beyond the Wall. Overall, he hits the major objectives in a big way at huge costs and is bailed out from his ill-advised plans by the women around him. Ideally he should not need saving from his own plans.
Stannis Baratheon: B-
This one pains me as a definitive Stannis disliker. King Stannis had well-organized, thought-out, and executed plans that fell through for reasons beyond his control. While I personally find his murder of his brother via sorcery repugnant, it was the quickest and most efficient way of acquiring the majority of Renly’s army. Stannis’ following attack on King’s Landing was within minutes of succeeding except for a surprise charge from the Tyrell and Lannister forces from the North. And even that was not Stannis’ fault- Edmure Tully had blocked Tywin from crossing into the Westerlands and gave the Lannisters just enough time that they could race back and smash the Baratheon forces on the walls of King’s Landing. He saves the Night’s Watch from Mance Rayder’s attack. His surprise attack saves the Watch from certain doom and allows for an eventual uneasy peace.
King Stannis has his major faults as well. His reliance on Melisandre and her powers led him down dark and self-destructive paths. Her vision convinced him of an ill advised march on Winterfell, and then during that brutal march through blizzards he burned his daughter Shireen for better weather. He lost many of his soldiers in the night who couldn’t serve a man who kills his daughter. Stannis converting to the Lord of Light drove away potential allies who would not fight for an unknown god. Overall, up until the Winterfell plan, Stannis had sharp ideas, well-thought-out strategies, and executions foiled by chance. He does get dinged though for the near-total destruction of two separate armies, a fleet, and no real improvement in life for his subjects.
Robb Stark: B
Robb is the kind of king that, had his dinner plans at Chez Frey gone better, would’ve been remembered for generations. The Young Wolf sweeping out of the North, winning every battle, riding a direwolf and cutting down men like wheat. The truth is a bit less impressive. Robb did amazingly well in battle, never losing a battle he commanded. He had the devotion of his soldiers and most of the North. His plans were surprising and effective. Despite all that, Robb failed in two specific ways.
First was politics. After he was crowned King in the North, Robb needed more allies. His first instinct was sending Theon Greyjoy back to the Iron Islands as his envoy, which blew up in his face as Theon turned his cloak and sacked Winterfell. Another option was making common cause with Stannis Baratheon or Renly Baratheon. They both demanded that Robb give up his crown in order to join as allies which Robb was unwilling to do. Had Robb accepted being Warden in the North again, his army with Stannis or Renly would’ve smashed Tywin even if he lost some popular support among the Northerners. It’s these decisions that isolated Robb and gave Tywin the window he needed.
Second was Robb breaking his promise with Walder Frey and marrying for love. This broken promise leads directly into the Red Wedding and the end of King Robb. A huge swath of the Northern army was slaughtered, many heirs and lords of the North killed or captured, and Robb himself killed with his mother, his wife Talisa, and their unborn child. In the end, he was an incredibly smart and talented battle commander whose pride and young heart got the better of him. The North suffered dearly for Robb’s failure.
Mance Rayder: A
Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, did amazing and impossible things in his lifetime. The wildlings were fractured into a thousand different tribes that all hated each other and fought constantly. They had no shared identity or purpose, and Mance gave them that. With his skills and knowledge of the return of the White Walkers, Mance improbably brought the clans and giants together under his leadership. And then, convinced them that they needed to assault the Wall itself. Of course when death is at your heels it’s less of a crazy notion. Mance sold them on one thing, no matter what they would be on the other side of the Wall. And bless his heart, Mance did it.
It took a surprise attack by Stannis taking them captive, and Jon and Tormund going to Hardhome to finish his work, but the wildlings got through the Wall. Mance had an objective, nearly an impossible one, and it was achieved by himself and those that believed in his message after his death. As with Robb, his only failings as a leader was pride in that he refused to make common cause with Stannis in exchange for all his people being ushered through the Wall. The catch was swearing loyalty to Stannis, all the men joining his army, and taking the Red God R’hllor over the Old Gods. Just about all his people would be better off, considering the army of the dead chasing them- although Mance reckoned death would find them quickly anyway in Stannis’ army.
Mance was a great leader and probably the best king in the story so far. His main defeat was a surprise cavalry charge from an enemy and king he had never heard of before. And in the face of that, Mance ordered surrender to preserve as many lives as possible. Well done, Mance; you’ve done far better than most and were an effective, popular, intelligent, and compassionate leader. Had Mance not been surprised by Stannis and actually taken the Wall from the Night’s Watch, he would’ve gotten an A+. No one did more with less.
Daenerys Targaryen: A
Daenerys makes for a challenging ruler to evaluate, she has something no one else in the story has. Well, three things. Three flying, firebreathing lizards that render defenses and armies useless. It’s almost like she is walking around with tactical nukes in a world of swords. And how she uses them is remarkable. Imagine Drogon in the hands of Joffrey or Viserys, what they would do with that kind of power. Joffrey would’ve just flown around roasting peasants for fun and feeding his dragon people who were slightly mean. Viserys would’ve burned alive every family who turned against the Targaryens and likely brought back the Valyrian practice of slavery on the wings of dragons. Instead, Daenerys uses her power to smash the Masters of Slaver’s Bay and free the slaves. Her mercy and compassion is unusual for someone in her position, and unlike Tommen, she didn’t let others take advantage of her.
Dany promised she would lead her khalasar succesfully, and did. She wanted to free the slaves of Meereen and improve the lives of the subjugated people, and made it happen. She also came back to Westeros and instantly changed the power dynamics of the country.
One main knock against her was highlighted in the last season: her reliance on killing for getting her way. She’s no different than any of the other rulers in this list, however- they all take a “gotta break some eggs to make omelets” strategy. And before she returned to Meereen with the Dothraki nation and Drogon, Slaver’s Bay erupted into civil war and slaughter. Dany’s people adore her (except the deposed Masters) and she has accomplished just about everything she set out to do. I imagine Robb Stark or Stannis would’ve also won their wars pretty easily if they had dragons. A successful queen, mother to her people, highly intelligent, excellent at executing her strategies, and harnessed the dragons like Aegon the Conqueror come again. Overall well done, Dany! (Stop burning quite so many people to keep the Mad King comparisons down.)
What do you think, dear reader? Did I hammer Jon too hard for his planning abilities and not reward him for improvisation? Is Stannis deserving of the highest grades possible and I’m blind to his greatness? Is Dany actually a brutal warmonger the world would be better without? Let me know below and I will surely disagree but listen respectfully.
Arya = 👸🏻 A+
Dany didn’t improve the lives of the ex slaves in meereem. She left them with no economic alternative and then left them underrated the control of a mercenary… Daario isn’t well known for his ruling ability or kindness. I’m actually offended by the scoring here.
She’s don’t nothing good except free the slaves. She doesn’t trial just executes. Which is unjust and not something a good ruler does… See meereem literally Everytime someone dies by her command, usually innocent or not guilty of the particular crimes. Hizdars father innocent but hey let’s just cruxify 137 people without trial and that’s A-okay.
She’s done thing good in Westeros period. Burned food, in the field of fire… Why burn food. Winter is here and she’s burning food… At least it looked good.
Cersei as bad as she is as a person, was bringing food to Kings Landing and some would have fed the people and herself. But Daenerys just burned it dooming not only her own people but also the common folk of Kings Landing.
Can we stop pretending she’s a good ruler. A good conqueror but she couldn’t actually make a good long term decision if she tried.
I would have put Jon first. He is the only one of them all that didn’t choose to be king because he wants to or feels he has the right to be king, he don’t want to be king, the only reason he choose to be king is because he needs to for his people. He’s selfish, he rather hurt himself if that saves his people. And he has the better claim.
second I would have put Mance like you for the same reason. Third I would have put Cercei as you explained why, not because she’s loved or because is she unselfish, because she is very selfish, but because she’s very stategic like her father.
Stannis at place four for me, he was higher before he killed his daughter. one of the reason Stannis was so high was because he listened to his advisor Davos.
fifth I would put Daenerys, for me she’s not the best ruler of them all. What she is is the best liberator of them all. As Loras stated in season 1 that being a good warrior doesn’t mean you will be a good king. As for her dragons, you can say it’s something good, but I always thought that GRRM saw the dragons as something like a “nuclair power”, it are creatures that could easily be the end of everyone. In the real world you don’t say that the best leader of the world is the best leader because he has the bigger red button on his desk.
Second as Tywin said in season 3: a King who must say he’s king, isn’t a true king. Dany always needed to state to everyone all her titles. For me Dany will only be the best of them all, if Tyrion and Varys keep supporting her and that she listens to their advice.
I think I would have given Balon a slightly higher grade.
Considering the shitty ‘advice’ that Sansa gives Jon, I would put him ignoring her advice as a positive, not a negative. Not punishing children for the sins of their fathers and going south to make an alliance were both the right decisions by Jon. If he had listened to Sansa, a child would have been thrown out of his ancestral home and they would be sitting there in WF with no weapons or armies to take on the WW/Army of the dead.
I don’t know why the Sansa who was manipulated by LF into nearly executing her own little sister is considered by many here to be some political expert who Jon should listen to.
That is not to say that Jon is the best ruler. He has made his share of mistakes. But I don’t consider him not listening to Sansa – especially when she actively undermined him in front of the other lords – a mark against him. Rather the opposite. I thought he did the right thing in firmly and decisively forgiving the children and having them swear oaths to house Stark. He showed who was in charge, affirmed his leadership and made the right decision regarding those children. Stannis and Tywin would have approved.
Other than that, I agree with the rest of this article. Dany gets an A++. Best ruler with actual experience ruling. She should also stop listening to Tyrion.
Dany gets an A.
Holy cow that’s freaking brilliant.
This show only fandom man, holy shit.
She gets my vote!
JoeMagician is one of our resident ASOIAF experts, actually. 🙂
Dany an A?
Whether you go by books or show this is an, I’ll call it “interesting”, conclusion to come to.
I think Jon is rated too low. Sansa, herself believes that Jon is good at ruling and the Northern Lords respect him (7×01). The Wight hunt was Tyrion’s idea, not Jon’s (7×05). Jon was also smart enough to send Gendry back to Eastwatch, so Gendry could sent a raven to Daenerys, saving the group’s lives. We haven’t seen Jon rule that much, but from Sansa’s opinion, he has the potential of makings of a good ruler. Jon’s overall position is stronger by the end of the season since he bent the knee to Daenerys, gaining a powerful ally against the White Walkers.
Daenerys is rated too high. Daenerys destroys the political and economic system in Meereen without a plan to replace them. Former slaves like Fennesz want become slaves again due to the fact that Daenerys didn’t a new system to replace the old one. Daenerys leaves Daario, a sellsword as regent of Meereen and the Bay of Dragons. Daario doesn’t care about Meereen and we never see Meereen’s fate though it is very possible that Meereen and the Bay of Dragons fall into more chaos.
Daenerys’ invasion of Westeros has been a complete disaster. Daenerys follows her Hand Tyrion’s plan to attack King’s Landing and Casterly Rock, but Euron destroys her fleet and Jaime abandons Casterly Rock to take the Reach, taking the food and the gold. Daenerys blames Tyrion for his failed plan and notices that the food is gone. Daenerys goes on to destroy the Lannister army, but destroys the Loot Train with the needed food. Tyrion comes up with the plan to capture the Wight which leads to the death of Viserion and allows the White Walkers to destroy the Wall. Daenerys looked to be unstoppable at the beginning of Season 7, but by the end of the season, she has taken heavy losses.
Cersei and Euron entered Season 7 in a unfavorable position. They quickly allied with each other. Jaime and Euron proved valuable and destroyed Daenerys’ allies. Daenerys dealt them a blow at the Field of Fire 2.0, but Cersei was able to gain the gold she needed to hire the Golden Company. They still don’t have a favorable position, but their survival is more likely than in the start of Season 7.
Dany is the best ruler? seriously? Jon faced worst situations than anyone in the list. He is facing the threat, which didn’t even exist for at least 8000 years. Every other person is taking that threat lightly. All those northern lords along with Sansa(whose advises you are saying Jon denied) will know what happens when they ignore much bigger threat next season. Dany is only a conqueror. She is not a great ruler. She never does anything completely. I don’t think all those cities she conquered all safe now. Her mereen arc is disaster, and she left daario to look after the city who killed his own fellow companions for his benefit. Dany’s solution to all the failed tactics is fly on a dragon and burn people to solve her problems. That’s literally what she did last season. She even burnt the supplies, which she was worrying about not having before. Now having a dragon made her best ruler? Seriously?
Dany is not rated the best, she’s tied with Mance. Also put in a caveat that I feel Mance is better but his defeat at Stannis’ attack push him back from an A plus.
Whatever. Her only flaw that’s mentioned is burning people. So, it doesn’t matter.
Deaneries could be considered a somehow good queen in judging only by the show. Looking from the books’s point of view, so far she’s a complete loser
I also mentioned that she killed many of the Masters which includes Astapoor and the crucifixions among other non burning deaths.
I would also rate Jon higher than that, and with respect to advice, he clearly listens to Davos (and occasionally to Sansa too, e.g. when he asks her judgement on Tyrion “who she knows best”, so he does learn from his mistakes). In this respect, Daenerys doesn’t listen to Tyrion when burning the Tarlys and this is (a) clearly something less human than forgiving innocent children and (b) it estranges the Citadel from her another cause leading to Tyrion proposing the witch hunt to convince Westeros. Ultimately Dany suffers from not wanting to wield her full power, which is probably a good thing. Jon’s surprise decisions at court should certainly be spoken through with Davos and Sansa first, but for some decisions (like letting the Wildlings through, which is ultimately a good thing, one would think, also from the Westeros perspective, considering the WW threat) it’s perhaps even better to act quick to prevent a mutiny before the decision is announced.
And the witch hunt, I am curious how this will play out in Asoiaf… The Iron fleet not being attacked by dragons could come from the Dragonbinder horn in the books, although that’s a bit cheap as well.
But how to rate rulers in the first place, by achieving the goals that they themselves think are important, by the way they subjects fare, or by the way the world fares? I think Cersei is rated too high for the last two reasons, and also Robb is rated too high. He never listened to Roose nor Karstark who were somehow communicating his war was a lost cause, and both rebelling when he didn’t listen to them. Maybe Glover seems rebellious too, but at least Jon was clever enough to leave Sansa behind to keep the North under control, trusting she wouldn’t plot against him.
Also, I would like to add something about Jon. The ruler who is rated C+ is the one who gained what he wants successfully last season for the north, whereas others lost their allies and men fighting for the throne. If we consider his effect on dany, I can even say that he is in a powerful position than anyone other than NK.
This is going to be an entertaining thread. No one would’ve batted an eye if you put Daenerys at the bottom of the list… But put her on the top and meltdowns ensue. I do agree that one can make a very good case for Daenerys being at the top (or tied with Mance).
“You didn’t ask for MY advice!”
“Okay, I’m listening. What should we do?”
“I don’t know!”
Q: What does honor demand?
A: That I defend my family from those who would harm it. That I defend the North from those who would betray it.
Thats’s why Arya gets my vote, and an A+ rating as monarch. No drama, no vacillation, no “clever plans.” Those who harm her family and betray the North get dealt with swiftly and decisively. That’s the kind of Queen I’d want protecting me.
(I am waiting for Lord Manderly to proclaim her Queen and announce in his booming voice: “I was wrong! Arya Stark avenged the Red Wedding!”)
Night King grade?
Yup! As soon as I saw Dany graded with an “A”, I thought, uh oh. Here we go. I never understand why some people associate being a Dany fan or thinking she’s a good ruler with being a “casual” fan or being a “show-only” fan.
Also, I too, think Jon should have had a higher grade. To be fair, it was Tyrion’s plan for the wight hunt to which Jon agreed. Maybe Robb and Jon’s grade should be switched. Robb reaaally should’ve listened to Cat: Keep your direwolf by his side, don’t send Theon to Balon.
After “saving”* slaver’s bay, Daenerys took her entire army, left the continent, and left in charge a sellsword who told her he didn’t give a damn about slaver’s bay. Oh and he’s also the guy who beheaded his officers when he met her the first time.
So, now that he doesn’t have his lover anymore, and he’s in a place he doesn’t care about… How long until he sells Slaver’s bay to the highest bidder and lives the rest of his life as an immensely wealthy lord, or funds the biggest sellsword company the world has ever seen?
Daenerys has zero plan/foresight, takes terrible decision and it works because it’s a show and people want it to work because they root for her. There’s 0% chance Slaver’s bay wouldn’t riot the second Dany leaves. Hell, they rioted/tried to take it over when she was just away in a different city…. Now she’s in another continent.
And yeah the “saving”*… In the books, everyone in Slaver’s bay is dying of disease, war and starvation. Because Dany cut down slavery with absolutely no plan about how they’re gonna feed all these people and bring money in after shutting down the region’s main economy. They didn’t have that on the show because it’d make Dany look terrible (well intentioned, but a terrible ruler).
And on the other hand, Stannis is a million times better in the books. He inspires loyalty from his men even in desperate situation (they’ve been on the verge of annihilation for years, and people are still following him), he’s the most experienced and skilled war commander in the world, on par with the likes of Tywin and such… On the show? Half his army deserts because no one cares, also he doesn’t even see them leave because he was sleeping (guess the ENTIRE ARMY was sleeping, or no one bothered waking him up?), 20 good men are able to disrupt this entire army and enter his camp because “they know the north”?!? Guards can’t stop someone from entering your encampment if they know the north?
I’d never give Daenerys an A , The only place she has really ruled is Mereen and that went well, didn’t it? With a complete lack of planning it fell into chaos, then she takes off and leaves it with her castoff lover, the mercenary.
Then we have last season. When you start off with:
a navy, three dragons, 8000 Unsullied, a Dothraki horde, zero losses and a fearsome reputation
and you currently have:
a ship, diminished and defeated Unsullied, fewer Dothraki and only two dragons (which your rival Queen noticed to her advantage) vs. one battle win over the Lannister Army which, ill-advisedly, ended up burning the provisions your people need to thrive…
You can’t call that winning.
I agree, the Night King deserves a ranking!
Hmmmm good question. I think you’ve gotta give him an A. He’s moved his forces in such a way that the people of Westeros could reasonably dispute their existence. He’s amassed a huge army, exterminated and chased off wildlings creating resistance, killed Bloodraven and the children, whittled the Night’s Watch down. His main victory in acquiring Viserion and knocking down the Wall was a lucky break although he did mark Bran so there’s a chance that pays off. Made intelligent risks and accomplished his goals, A or A+ I’d reckon.
King Gendry Baratheon, first of his name?
A refreshing analysis, Joe, and whilst we quibble over some grades, most of them are reasonable. It’s an apt subject: one of the saga’s recurring themes is “What makes a good ruler?” Actually, one King deserves an A+: the Night King. So far he’s made no mistakes, acquired an army and a WMD, broken through the Westeros Maginot Line and is blitzkreiging Westeros in pursuit of his mysterious goal. Though some key enemies managed to escape his clutches, his rule looks promising for his ‘people’.
Mance might also deserve A+–he made few mistakes and his strategy and tactics were excellent. Perhaps he should have finished off Castle Black after the original battle. He trusted Jon enough to martyr himself rather than break his principles. I’d move Jon up to B- or B and Dany and Cersei down. I think Cersei’s best move was raiding Highgarden and using the loot to get the Iron Bank to subsidize her Golden Company hire. And her securing Euron and his fleet while dangling herself as his prize.
“Considering the shitty ‘advice’ that Sansa gives Jon, I would put him ignoring her advice as a positive, not a negative. Not punishing children for the sins of their fathers and going south to make an alliance were both the right decisions by Jon.”
Agreed. She did advise him to rule better and be smarter than Ned and Robb, but she also wanted his focus on Cersei. Cersei deserved some attention, but if he had done that they’d have no hope against the seemingly more immediate and devastating threat from the North.
Does anyone here, or in the rest of the world, really believe this narrative that Sansa is a brilliant advisor? And that Jon is somehow ignoring said advisor to his peril? I know the show keeps pushing the idea, but looking at the evidence…well, there isn’t any. Nothing that supports the idea, and plenty that proves the opposite. Joe, I support much of your list (I do think Dany deserves an A!) and hey, if a list wasn’t controversial there’d be nothing to talk about. But if one of your main criticisms of Jon is not listening to Sansa, I think that needs to be examined. To recap:
1) Sansa has never ONCE given Jon a good piece of advice that he chose to ignore. Before the battle of the bastards, Jon asked her what it was she wanted him to know about Ramsay. She gave him a vague answer that was next to useless, AND chose to withhold the one piece of information that was vital. Her “advice” (read: opinion, vehemently expressed in an inappropriate setting) about the Karstark and Umber children was misguided, and rightly overruled.
2) He DID respect her opinion about Tyrion. She advised against going South – again, poor counsel, as it turned out, because it was the right decision to head to Dragonstone. In this instance, Jon took Davos’ advice over hers, and that’s what a ruler does: takes counsel and weighs it before coming to a decision.
3) slightly more controversial opinion here: Sansa is untrustworthy – or at least she has been between mid s6 until the end of S7. Now, I loved her character in the book, and on the show up until s6. And I certainly don’t buy into this idea that Sansa betrayed her family in KL. She was a young girl and had suffered greatly. However, from mid s6, she’s started to show the influence that Cersei and more importantly LF has had on her. She essentially used Jon to her own ends in coercing him into retaking Winterfell. And she then put him in extreme danger because she wanted the glory of revenge for herself* – look at her expression as the Vale rides in. She didn’t care about her brother, who was deep in the mud and blood and nightmare of the actual fighting – until she saw him heading after Ramsay, potentially taking her kill away. And then in S7, we she was considering usurping Jon’s position (as evidenced by her pregnant pauses when both Arya and LF mentioned this).
Her loyalty is now clear. But in s6/7 the show demonstrated the indelible mark LF and Cersei have left on her. She became a “morally grey” character – traumatised by her experience, desperate to control her own destiny for once, and understandably distrustful of others – even her own family. She’s now learned that choosing LF over Jon and Arya was a mistake. But the show – and, with all due respect, people with similar views to yours, and you yourself – can’t logically push both ideas: that Sansa is someone whose advice was to be trusted, AND that she was going through an internal battle that made her untrustworthy where Jon was concerned.
I’ll leave it at that, apart from reiterating I’m not anti-Sansa. I disliked many of her actions in the latter two seasons, but I understood their origin. As viewers, it was frustrating to watch, because we were party to knowledge she is not: that Jon WAS someone to trust implicitly, and LF was not. But for Sansa it was the devil she knew versus the, um, entirely non devilish person she didn’t. She chose wrongly, and has rectified this. But that does not change the fact that up until this point she has been neither a sage, nor a trustworthy advisor to Jon. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I’m all ears.
*Note that the showrunners have never given an explanation for Sansa’s actions. The only time the question has been answered was by Sophie at Comic-Con, who said that Sansa wanted the glory for herself. Maybe that was tongue-in-cheek, but it fits with what we saw on screen, and her subsequent (totally inadequate and too quickly accepted) apology to Jon. Since no one on the panel contradicted her, that’s all we have.
Very interesting article! And guaranteed to provoke debate given how subjective everyone’s list would be.
I definitely agree that Mance should be highly placed, though it is not his defeat to Stannis I consider his greatest weakness. Mance did an extraordinary job in bringing together disparate clans who had warred against one another for generations and gave them a single objective – get south of the Wall to escape the Night King and his army. For me, his weakness is not compromising to achieve that objective (when he refuses to bend the knee as mentioned).
Think on Tormund’s words – “Mance Rayder was a great man. A proud man. The King-beyond-the-Wall never bent the knee. How many of his people died for his pride?”
I tend to contrast this with Jon, who does bend the knee because he thinks it will benefit his people. Jon reflects on Tormund’s words and I think on this matter they influence him as much as his latest dealing with the Night King when he takes his decision to swear fealty to Daenerys. The fact that he clearly values the lives of his people above the title they call him by gives him a high rating with me.
Yes, Jon has made mistakes – every ruler on this list has – but, as others have stated, the Wight Hunt was Tyrion’s idea. Jon went along with it because, in spite of it being a bad plan, he had no other – and he needed to make everyone else in the Seven Kingdoms see what is coming for them. I tend to reflect on the conversation he has with Sam at the end of Watchers on the Wall, when Jon states his intention to find Mance and kill him to disband the Wildling Army on their doorstep. Sam points out his plan is a bad one and likely to end up with Jon dying a slow, painful death. Jon agrees, but asks Sam what his plan is – and Sam has no answer. Sometimes there isn’t a good plan – sometimes there’s the only one you’ve got.
Currently dead leaders – while I think Stannis was driven far by duty (a noble undertaking) for me, any positives he has are outweighed by his willingness to listen to a religious zealot who advocates burning people and leads Stannis to burn his own daughter.
Renly, Tommen, Joffrey, Robert, Balon, Viserys – all awful, and for different reasons.
Robb – I thought for someone who had never sought power (Robb is born heir to Winterfell, he doesn’t choose to be) he was predominantly a good king. He was a good leader, was proven in battle, a strategic commander, and listened to advice well. But, ultimately it is his selfish desire to marry the woman he has fallen in love with rather than honor a promise to his subject (which Walder Frey is ultimately as the Riverlands have joined with Robb – the Blackfish refers to Robb as Edmure’s king) which leads to his downfall and is the reason he doesn’t quite manage to reach the top of the list.
Daenerys……I’m not sure I would have rated her A, but then I’m not sure I would ever rate any of these rulers that highly. They all have their pluses and negatives. Her obliteration of slavery as a way of life is a massive plus point, but her lack of planning for what comes after is a negative, for example.
Cersei – yes, she has picked up some of Tywin’s strategic moves, but ultimately her rule is an authoritarian one. She wants power for the sake of having power. For me, the first sentence of her first POV chapter in Feast is telling – She dreamt she sat the Iron Throne, high above them all.
Jon, I have spoken a little of above. He is as driven by duty as Stannis is, though without the willingness to burn people alive (in fact, he is the only one to defy Stannis’s order Mance be burned alive and he grants Mance mercy). His unwillingness to involve himself in petty politics is both reminiscent of Ned and a negative against him. Like Ned, he has a tendency to value honor perhaps too highly – but I agree there is a disconnect between his time with the wildlings and his attitude to honesty in season seven.
I found the following three season seven quotes interesting:
I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms. And I will – Daenerys
My only current venture is re-establishing control over this continent and every person on it – Cersei
The Lords of the North placed their trust in me to lead them, and I will continue to do so as well as I can – Jon
Lol in the books and the show, Dany has shown herself to be one of the least competent rulers. The only strategy she ever comes up with herself is burning dudes. She’s lost her allies and does nothing to try and get them back(say like exchange pows). She’s burnt all the food in the Reach and winter is here.
Moreover, Dany and Jon meeting has created an even bigger problem for Westeros and specifically the North in that it gave the NK a dragon and it really didn’t take him that much effort so maybe the dragons aren’t the great saviours in all this.
Don’t even get me started on Jon, I dunno why they wanted to show him as particularly incompetent and repeating all the mistakes he was specifically told not to make. Maybe they plan on getting him killed off by not only repeating Robb’s mistakes but also repeating Ned’s mistakes cause there’s no reason for Jon to survive repeating those same mistakes this late in the game while Ned and Robb died.
And she held on to her identity as Arya and principles as a Stark even when it seemed to her that all hope was lost that she would ever see her family again or that they were even alive (in refusing to kill Lady Crane, and in a more general sense innocent people for money). At risk to her own life no less. She has consistently gone out of her way, even at her darkest point, to protect innocent people!
She also has a keen insight into the nature of people. She knows from the get-go that Joffrey is evil, and can see right away that Melisandre is bad news.
Hmm, I’d have to disagree at least regarding Book!Dany. GRRM very intentionally parallels Dany’s POV and Jon’s POV in ADwD to show how each rule – Dany as Queen of Meereen and Jon as Lord Commander. I actually think Dany is a lot more capable in the books as she shows more political and military strategy, but i guess that’s the caveat of choosing what to adapt and what not to adapt for the show. Having said that, I do hate how Dany is a lot more paternalistic in the books and keeps referring to the marginalised groups she helped liberate as “her children.” I’m like, can you not?
Damn! You’re right! Ol’ Blue Eyes has been the most effective king thus far. By my scorecard, he’s got a 3-0-1 record against humans, and I’m being charitable in calling the attack on 3ER’s cave a tie because Bran and Meera managed to escape. Other than that, NK scored resounding victories against the NW at the Fist of the First Men and against the Wildlings at Hardhome; and the one-two punch of acquiring a dragon and breaching the Wall in S7 was a major victory.
I’ll give NK an A-. I’m deducting half a grade because of his showboating on the dock at the end of “Hardhome.”
“…we were party to knowledge she is not: that Jon WAS someone to trust implicitly, and LF was not.”
But she was in the know about Littlefinger. She had watched him kill Ser Dontos, Joffrey, and Lysa, and heard enough to guess he had Lysa kill Jon Arryn. She watched him lie and finagle his way around KL and people in the Vale. Shae distrusted him and offered to help her; later Brienne offered to help her leave him. For that matter,Sansa ignored the fact that LF effectively framed her (and Tyrion) for regicide! But in 4.10 Sansa chose to lie to protect him in (tacit) exhange for his mentoring and maybe power. Even so, he didn’t perform the due diligence to vet Ramsay sufficiently, but sold her to him sight unseen. She knew his mendacious, oleaginous ways intimately, telling Jon in 6.10 “Only a fool would trust Littlefinger.” But she continued to, confiding in him, following his advice to send away Brienne, and (according to Isaac discussing a deleted scene) nearly being Littlefingered into “gutting” her own sister! Why anyone thinks Sansa can or should rule is beyond me.
Margaery isn’t even quoted in the list when Viserys and Tommen are… In a brief life she proved extremely smart, she even succeeded in manipulating Jeoffrey, and I think taht she would have been the real ruler if Tommen and her had survived.
I see shitting on Sansa is still a national past time around here, *sigh*.
Sansa isn’t perfect at ruling by any means, but her time at WF in S7 was pretty damn good and she’ll be ultimately right about Cersei since she’ll be the end game.
PS Almost no one is good at ruling on this show, I mean I think Jon is one of the best and he got knifed to death by his own followers.
If you’re including me, I’d like to respond. I don’t feel like I was “shitting” on her. I was pointing out the impossible-to-reconcile show narratives that Sansa was both a wise and trustworthy advisor to Jon, and yet that she had taken on some of LF’s “lessons” and worked against Jon to her own ends in S6, and contemplated usurping him in S7. She can’t be both. Therefore, I was questioning Jon (supposedly) ignoring her “wise” advice as being a legitimate reason for criticising Jon’s rule.
I like the Sansa character – loved her in the book, right from the start. I just didn’t like what she did in s6 and 7. Just as I love Cersei, but don’t support her atom bombing KL. The two things – the overall feeling about a character, and how one regards their actions – are not the same.
I wasn’t aiming it at you directly, I’m just tired of the constant hate Sansa gets. I agree she’s got that dark element to her.
As someone who loves Sansa, I’m kinda glad they did add some sort of dark side to her, it’ll be impossible for her to come out of it without insane trust issues. I feel like Sansa is more along the lines of a trusted and wise ally to Jon, especially now. She was very respectful of him and his wishes when she was away from him and even said how much she missed him when Bran got home. Instead of focusing on Cersei she stockpiled food and paid attention to Jon’s warning about the undead even though she’s never personally seen them, it’s a sign she trusts his word and takes it seriously, that’s some major props and shows some trust and self-control.
One reason I sigh when I see Sansa bashing is that Sansa does have a legitimate argument and the only reason she “undermined” him in front of the lords is that he kept making such big decisions without her and in front of said lords.
There are also people saying how short-sighted Sansa is with Cersei, but she knows how twisted, cunning and ruthless she is and how she’ll want them dead. She suffered years under her and had her life shattered at her hands, it’s only reasonable she’ll be in her head first when thinking of enemies. But like I said earlier, she respects Jon’s wishes and does exactly as he wishes.
Sansa is far from perfect at the ruling, but she gets way more shit than she deserves, all because some people have never let go of their image of Sansa from S1…
JoeMagician – A good article and an interesting read. I would pretty much have given the same grades as you have. Even before reading your article, I had a think about it and would have put Mance Rayder (the king beyond the wall) at the top. What he achieved was remarkable and bringing all the tribes together knowing that one day they would have to face the NK and the Army of the Dead.
Stannis was only interested in power as was Renley. Succession wise, I guess he should have sat on the IT after Robert Baratheon, but as we know Cersei manipulated things to make her bastard son Joffrey the king. The rest as they say is history! However, I don’t believe Stannis would have been a good (or a popular) ruler in any case.
As for the Greyjoys, both Balon and Euron were/are bad news as of course is Cersei. She doesn’t give a shit and just thrives on the power being the queen has given her.
I can’t really comment on Jon and Daenerys. I guess this is what S8 will all be about – That is if the NK and his minions can be defeated. They are both true Targaryens albeit Jon/Aegon doesn’t know this. What will Dany do when that fact is revealed?
As I see it, Jon has no interest in sitting on the Iron Throne, but whether Dany will who can say. Probably the ‘bittersweet ending’ is that neither of them do? Maybe the Red Keep is destroyed as Dany saw in the ‘House of the Undying’ in Qarth?
The bottom line is we’ll just have to wait a year or so before all is finally revealed 😉
It’s sad, really. Especially when people actively ignore things that actually happened on the show in order to suit their bias.
– For example, before the Battle of the Bastards Sansa warned Jon that trying to get Rickon back would likely compromise their chances of winning and advised Jon not to fall into Ramsay’s trap.
Jon promptly does just that (no matter how much we may sympathise), undermining his battle plans and leading him to lose the battle. But apparently that doesn’t vindicate Sansa’s advice.
– In Season 7 she advises Jon to strip disloyal houses of their lands and titles and reward loyal houses. For some reason this perfectly reasonable advice immediately becomes the most stupid and heinous possible, simply because Jon disagrees and chooses a different course of action.
– She advised him not to go to Dragonstone himself, stating that “This isn’t an invitation, it’s a trap” and citing the example of Brandon and Rickard Stark’s fates.
Next episode, Jon arrives at Dragonstone, has his weapons and ship confiscated, faces demands he bend the knee, ends up brooding on a mountainside realising he’s now a prisoner, and saying these exact words, “Everyone told me to learn from my father’s mistakes. Don’t go south. Don’t answer a summons from the Mad King’s daughter, a foreign invader. And here I am. A northern fool”.
Earlier in the episode, when Jon says that his bannermen think he’s a fool for going there, Tyrion says, “Of course they do. If I was your Hand I would’ve advised against it”.
But obviously Sansa’s advice was completely worthless even though Tyrion validates it and Jon soon comes to realise its merit.
Sure, Jon eventually manages to work things to his advantage at Dragonstone, with the help of Tyrion and the fact that Daenerys is horny. But Sansa’s basic advice was vindicated by characters and events on screen.
I doubt anybody would pretend that Sansa is perfect. But the way some people actively ignore, misinterpret and even fabricate things (e.g. her wanting Jon to die in the BotB) that she’s said, done and felt in order to vilify the character is tiresome.
I would say more: had Jon listened to Sansa’s advice and given theLast Hearth and Karhold to his loyalists, those loyalsts would have become lambs to the slaughter. Now all he risks are two underaged kids: if they survive by seeking refuge in WF – good, their gratitude to Jon will increase and they won’t be making any problem; if they get slaughtered by the NK – sad, but it won’t be a major loss. So, Jon’s decision was not only kind – it was rational.
And in general, I can’t agree with this rather provocative Jon’s under-rating. Jon has a key quality of a good ruler: he inspires loyalty. Therefore, evern when he gets into trouble, there’s always someone to save him. Even Sansa, who had a certain rather natural desire to seize power to herself, couldn’t force herself to go against Jon. And he also won the hearts of many of his former/natural enemies – wildlings, Dany, Jaime, etc.
And when it comes to Dany, you can also say, that she inspires loyalty, but when you look more carefully – not so much. Tyrion and Varys who were ready to follow her now are full of doubt. Missandei and the Unsullied may follow: as for now they worship Dany, only because she gave them power – their freedom is yet to be tested and I’m affraid that things won’t go the way Missandei imagines it. But sure, Dany has many redeeming qualities – first and foresmost she really wants to be good and fight for her people, so Jon should stay loyal to her and things should be OK in the end.
Cersei also inspires loyalty – but only through strength and fear andother obusive methods (just like Ramsay). But people get tired of that: it took Jaime all his 40 years to break, but he finally did. With Euron or Qyburn it’s just a matter of a rather short time, though the NK may arrive before that.
And when it comes to other kings: Mance was able to inspire loyalty, while he was alive, but after his death Tormund basically called him a fool. Show!Stannis also was maintaining some loyalty, though eventually his habit of killing family members resulted in disaster. And when it comes to Balon or Joffrei or poor Tommen – neither of them inspired any loyalty whatsoever (Tommen was too much of a coward to fight for the ones he loved).
You forgot to list the Night King. Not that I would vote for him of course but the best king is Jon Snow.
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
In many respects, both of them are right: In S7, Sansa gave Jon prudent advice about the risks of going south, and he explained that he was aware of those risks but he had to take them because the North desperately needed the Dragonglass at Dragonstone – along with the possibility of dragon fire and a powerful army.
As for the Last Hearth and Karhold: They are not really prime real estate these days. They’re the first pit stops for Team NK. If I were a deserving Northern Lord, I’d say “thanks, but no thanks; let those kids have ’em.”
Re: Giving up on Rickon: Sansa’s the one who had urged Jon to fight for WF because [paraphrasing] “a monster has our brother.” Yes, she was right that the kid was a lost cause. I just don’t understand why she didn’t say so from the outset. (And I’m not going to dredge up the nondisclosure of the KotV. That dead horse has been beaten so many times there’s nothing left for the glue factory.)
“Sure, Jon eventually manages to work things to his advantage at Dragonstone, with the help of Tyrion and the fact that Daenerys is horny.”
I can’t argue with your logic. 🙂
Well, indeed. Both Jon and Sansa put forward valid points of view. But as is often the case when analysing this show, people will instinctively dismiss the rejected approach/opinion on the very basis that it was rejected or because of who it was offered by.
Just because we can understand Jon’s ultimate decisions, doesn’t mean that the alternative advice he was offered was entirely without merit or that he’s beyond criticism for having ignored it.
As for Rickon, when Sansa insisted that they go and rescue him she was still under the illusion that the loyal, honourable North would all rally to their side, making saving Rickon more plausible at that point in time.
Over the next few episodes, her confidence in their chances of even defeating the Boltons, let alone doing so without losing Rickon, is obviously chipped away at as they struggle to raise an army.
By the night before the Battle of the Bastards their prospects seem pretty bleak, which has presumably led to a sobering conclusion about their chances of getting Rickon back and the fact that he may even be used to undermine their prospects.
The fact that she confesses that if they lose she’ll take her own life, and offers the depressing proclamation that nobody can protect anybody, gives an insight into just how desperate she now considers the situation.
Dany as a ruler is an exemplar of the Peter Principle of management (people within a working environment tend to rise to their level of incompetence and get stuck there). She comes to a place, grandstands, achieves some flashy-but-not-lasting victory and then gets the hell out of Dodge before the fraying edges have a chance to pull apart on her watch, letting somebody else take the blame. Cersei, as delusional as she is, at least is in it for the long haul. I would give Dany a much lower ranking: C- at best.
I also think that Robert’s rating is a little too harsh. Benign neglect is sometimes the best one can hope for from an absolute monarch. If he hadn’t been so profligate with the Crown’s funds, expecting his Master of Coin to make more appear from thin air, I suspect his reign would have gone down in history as about average. Being willing to delegate a lot of decisionmaking to abler advisors is not necessarily a terrible quality in a ruler (though it does, of course, potentially leave lots of room for corruption to fester).
Bobby B is a classic example of an “Old King Log.” I recommend reading what the aged Emperor Claudius has to say on that subject as he nears the end of his reign in Claudius the God, the sequel to Robert Graves’ delicious novel about the Caesar dynasty, I, Claudius. (In fact, I highly recommend both volumes to anyone who enjoys the politicking side of GoT/AsoIaF.)
Agree, and many can’t seem to read facial expressions well, or body language.
Many are like Arya; stuck in book 1 season 1 story line WRG to Sansa.
Her whole arc, book in show, is to realize the importance of family, home and country.
To me she’s the one Stark that grew emotionally.
Here comes the book purists in an attempt to shame this list in order to fulfill their fantasties from ASOIAF. The raging is always quite entertaining. It’s clear that Joe has knowledge from both the show AND books so people should chill on the accusatory statements.
Either way, I think the awesome thing about GoT (ASOIAF in general) is that NO king in this series has been infallible. They’ve all made their mistakes and their grades can be disputed until the end of time. This series has made it blatantly clear that there is no such thing as a king devoid of unjust decisions. One of the many things I love about the complexity of the world.
With that being said… people need to chill on my girl Dany. She’s definitely not the best leader, but she has shown extreme compassion and the ability to rally up forces that truly believe in her plight. Beyond that, she has done a lot of things that were impossible before her birth such as take the Dothraki across the narrow sea, abolish slavery in Mereen and etc. And although the latter came with its share of political upheaval, it was still a very brave effort on her behalf to liberate disenfranchised people. Slavery is such a complex system and although we can all agree it’s terrible, there’s no “ultimate” way to get rid of it without some pushback closely following. Anyone of these kings would have suffered similar backlash within the story had they tried to do what she did. To peg her harshly for that doesn’t seem fair to me. There’s other legit lows of her rule that are far better examples.
Lastly, she knows how to assign people to her counsel that can check her worst impulses and give her advise that doesn’t always please her. And although she’s been indifferent to a lot of Tyrion and Varys’ pleas, she’s still cognizant to the fact that she needs people like them in her corner.
I personally agree with everything else. Although I would definitely give Dany a “B” instead. And boost Jon up to that as well.
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
We do have common ground here in that I completely agree that the vast majority of criticism sent Sansa’s way is undeserved. Perhaps I should have led with that disclaimer before I launched into my argument against her being a good advisor!
As someone who loves Sansa, I’m kinda glad they did add some sort of dark side to her, it’ll be impossible for her to come out of it without insane trust issues. I feel like Sansa is more along the lines of a trusted and wise ally to Jon, especially now. She was very respectful of him and his wishes when she was away from him
I agree that she is to be trusted now. But in s6? No. I’d also reiterate that she clearly considered usurping him, and therefore wasn’t trustworthy until LF’s toxic influence was removed at the end of the season. He did anyway, which just shows the divide between them. Sansa is understandably extremely jaded and suspicious. She doesn’t know Jon’s heart. Jon, on the other hand, still hopes for the best in people, despite all he’s been through, and that’s his main weakness. Like Ned, he expects people to honour promises; to be true to their word. And to be honest, that’s admirable. His speech at the end of the dragon pit meeting about the meaning of words, and the folly of lies was important, and is poignant in view of the current political climate.
But I digress. What I’m saying is that Sansa wasn’t Jon’s ally, not for a while. She is now. Oh and the fact that she stockpiled food and sorted out the armour? That wasn’t for him. SHE thought of all of that. That was just good stewardship! Give the woman credit 😉
– For example, before the Battle of the Bastards Sansa warned Jon that trying to get Rickon back would likely compromise their chances of winning and advised Jon not to fall into Ramsay’s trap. Jon promptly does just that (no matter how much we may sympathise), undermining his battle plans and leading him to lose the battle. But apparently that doesn’t vindicate Sansa’s advice.
I’ve already stated my case and this has been argued about for a couple of years now! I understand your point of view. My concern is that she gave vague, unhelpful advice, and didn’t tell him about the Vale. Which leads me to this:
I doubt anybody would pretend that Sansa is perfect. But the way some people actively ignore, misinterpret and even fabricate things (e.g. her wanting Jon to die in the BotB) that she’s said, done and felt in order to vilify the character is tiresome.
Do people really think she wanted him to die? Or were you referencing my comment, saying that she didn’t care about his safety? Because the former is ridiculous, and I haven’t seen it stated anywhere (thankfully). But I do think in that in her pursuit of vengeance, Jon’s safety wasn’t paramount to her at all. And remember, we’re been told nothing to the contrary about why she didn’t tell him: we only have Sophie, and the acting choices she made. Do I understand her burning desire for vengeance? Hell yes! Do I think it was cool she used Jon that way? Hell no! Do I enjoy the Sansa character anyway? Absolutely!
And if you haven’t come across people who think she’s perfect, then you clearly aren’t on a certain website that rhymes with “rumbler.” Lucky you! There has to be a happy medium between “Sansa is a power hungry bitch and she sucks” and “Sansa is amazing and never puts a foot wrong and should be queen of fucking everything” (excuse me, my coffee cup says that I am!). HOWEVER, given how much shit she seems to get, I can understand people holding that view, however extreme. I get a knee-jerk reaction like that for underdogs too. Unfortunately is seems to always come with the demonstrably preposterous notion that she is Jon’s most loyal and steadfast ally, and that any tension you see between them isn’t her resenting him or not trusting him – it’s ~romantic~ tension~” – *headdesk*
Hey, what was this post about? Oh yes, rating the rulers! Ok. Well, I’d give Jon a B+. I think you were way too harsh Joe, as you based it on flawed logic (in my opinion anyway).
The Night King gets an A+++ and all the gold stars. He’s been killing it lately.
(geddit? killing it? cause he kills things and then raises the dead? Ok, I know it was low hanging fruit. I’ll see myself out)
Testing. Longer reply being banished to “Page Not Found” Purgatory.
I totally disagree with you.
1. She did give Jon good advice, especially about Ramsey, she told him off camera what happened to her, I would be willing to bet she told him of the old women, and what happened to Theon.
At the time of the Pink Letter, she didn’t coerce Jon at all, she point blank told Jon that in their heart he knows Ramsey has Rickon and they had to try, and I believe she belived it right up to and until the parlay.
At the parley when Umber threw down Shaggy’s head she knew then that Rickon will be toast, most likely thought if they did win, they find him on an X dead in WF courtyard, which leads to her saying at night, that Ramsey will push Jon to act first, she just didn’t know how, again I’m assuming she thought Rickon was already dead in WF.
Her advice to Jon about the two houses wasn’t wrong either, but Jon was talking from his own experience growing up in WF as a bastard and had a slightly better argument, neither was wrong and it could have been avoided if Jon told Sansa and Davos his plan before the meeting.
2. It’s obvious he respected her opinion beyond Tyrion, she knows Cersei and LF well, she may not known all of LF long game of getting WF through her, but she understood he was going to use Brienne as a piece and sent her away to remove her from his game that line from Arya about vows to Cat wasn’t for nothing, they cut right to Sansa side glancing at LF realizing he could use Brienne.
3. There is nothing saying she’s untrustworthy except Arya’s false memories and attitude from long ago.
Sansa confiding in LF. what did she tell him?, nothing that he didn’t already know, she kept her secrets to herself gave some truths: Arya loved Jon more then her, Arya would follow Jon and protect him no matter what etc. and some lies, Arya wants to be her, be the Lady of Winterfell. There was nothing wrong in her using his lessons, smart moves : Know your strengths and weakness, choose wisely one man can be worth 10,000, everything you see happening you have seen before, and her final lesson , I play a little game; she used them all against him.
She didn’t leave with Brienne because it was dangerous and wouldn’t be successful, she was saving Brienne’s ass in that scene ( since Brienne didn’t listen to Podrick either ).
You think her facial expression when she and the Vale rode in was not caring about Jon? seriously !?
Her look was of sadness and pain, because Jon got suckered by Ramsey and was losing the battle ( actually did lose ) and they lost a lot of people, and she was rightfully concerned when Ramsey was fleeing to WF, he could stay there indefinitely.
Nothing in S6 or S7 showed her untrustworthy, but everything shows her to be pragmatic and knowledgeable.
As about the narrative of Sansa being a brilliant adviser etc. , yeah I do, because that’s what her book arc shows her heading to ( show definitely cut short the Vale arc ) and what the author stated.
George RR Martin on Sansa “Up until now, Sansa has been a piece that other people have moved about the board to achieve their own goals. Using her, discarding her, using her for different purposes, you know, ‘you’re going to marry Joffrey, you’re going to marry Loras, no you’re going to marry Tyrion.’ She is beginning to try to understand how she can play the game of thrones and be not a piece, but a player. She’s not a wild-child like Arya. She can’t fight with swords, but she has her wits…same as Littlefinger has.”
Tyrion seen it, Jon’s seen it and both gave creedence to it.
And she’s using them.
Oh Grail King I love the way you rationalize all things Sansa. A certain someone needs you on the front lines, you would be amazing.
“In many respects, both of them are right: In S7, Sansa gave Jon prudent advice about the risks of going south, and he explained that he was aware of those risks but he had to take them because the North desperately needed the Dragonglass at Dragonstone – along with the possibility of dragon fire and a powerful army”.
And he who hesitates is lost. TB, you may have hit the nail on the head. Sansa and Jon are a dichotomy resulting from their opposing natures. Generally speaking, Sansa is and always has been timid, passive, prudent, cautious, analytical, and a bit cold. Jon is and always has been courageous, active, impetuous, audacious, instinctive, and a bit hot. I don’t attribute this to different genders, or Stark vs Targaryen, or even bad and good. A good ruler needs both aspects, bold at times yet prudent. That’s one reason Westerosi kings have Hands, British rulers have Prime Ministers, and presidents have cabinets. A Dany needs a Tyrion. (FWIW, book Jon is The Compleat Leader–much more analytical, prudent, measured and visionary than his telly counterpart.)
We live in an unprecedented society–well-read, educated, global, and saturated with instanteous communication. Knowing history, we realise that leaders, especially in times of war or upheaval, need to be in the mould of book Jon, Winston Churchills rather than Neville Chamberlains. I suspect that those of us who see very little ruling ability in Sansa are more aware of her timidity, poor decision-making, and propensity to lying , and don’t think her good qualities and the administrative capability she showed in Season 7 compensate for that. In her defense, accepting the prescribed limits of her gender, she never trained for or aspired to be a leader. Jon did, to the point that he was impatient about it. Jeor Mormont had to tell him that if he wanted to lead, first he had to learn how to follow. He did, and he did.
We clearly have very different opinions. I could argue with you, but it’d basically be repeating my three posts, and no one needs that.
Part of this is interpretation. I’ll give you an example – you clearly interpret Sophie’s expressions at BoB very differently from what I did. I saw absolutely nothing other than satisfaction in her face. I mean, she SMILED. She only became interested in Jon’s whereabouts when she saw him heading to Winterfell. Your interpretation is just as unfathomable to me as mine is to you.
I think you’re trying to push back at a wider “anti-Sansa” feeling of which I want no part. I didn’t mention anything about Brienne, or Arya being justified in her attacks on Sansa. I also never said she was wrong to use the “lessons” – just that she chose to trust the wrong person. I couldn’t quite follow what you were talking about in the middle there – Arya has false memories? You seem to think Sansa was playing LF all along, but that’s not true. Unless she and Arya thought Baelish was eavesdropping on all of their private conversations and therefore were putting all of the arguments on for an audience? Nah.
I think it’s all in the past now. They’re happy families again, LF is gone, and Jon’s coming home. There needed to be conflict between Jon and Sansa and Sansa and Arya – each pair weren’t close as children and they’ve all suffered greatly in different ways. They’re each flawed in different ways. Sansa has developed a cold and calculating streak out of self-preservation. Arya has opted for violence as a way of processing her trauma. Dany in S7 strayed into morally grey territory, at least from Tyrion’s point of view. It doesn’t mean they’re villains. They’re still the “good” guys. Just because Sansa did some dodgy things in the last two seasons doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in her.
I’m sorry for starting this, by the way. Well, I wasn’t the first to comment, but I continued it when I should have been able to predict the outcome. Ummmm, how about those rankings then hey? Stannis is way, way too high!
Jon is there because of Rickon. If Sansa suspected that Rickon was a lost cause she should have brought that up earlier rather than wait for the eve of the battle to unload this on Jon. And ‘Don’t do what he wants you to do’ is good advice? For someone who is supposedly the Ramsay expert, that’s the best advice she can give him? Then she castigates him for not asking her for advice, despite speaking up freely early, and withholds information about the Vale army despite scolding Jon for fighting with less men.
No it’s stupid , because they are at war and need as many allies as possible. Why create another Arya or Sansa by punishing the children of traitors when the traitors themselves were executed. And this criticism is funny from people who criticize Dany’s decision to execute traitors. And it’s not just that Sansa’s advice was bad. It was the way she advised, ordering Jon to punish the children and trying to overrule him. If Jon had acquiesced, he would have been seen as unfit to be a ruler – Sansa would be seen as making all the decisions. Jon needed to firmly push forward his decision when Sansa was actively undermining him in front of the lords. And for this Sansa compared him to Joffrey – sorry, but she was the one coming off like Joffrey in there.
Jon understands Tyrion as a person and trusts that Tyrion would do the right thing. Jon also understands the risks. Against Sansa’s advice he goes and comes back with the alliance of the Dragon Queen, her large armies and tons of dragon glass weapons. Tyrion helps him and he gets Dany to his side. So Jon was right and Sansa was wrong. Jon judged the people and the situation right and got what he went for.
And then Tyrion helps him get the dragon glass and helps him convince Dany about the truth of the army of the dead, goes to KL to set up the Dragon pit and is going North. So both Tyrion and Sansa would have been wrong if they had advised Jon to not go North
BTW, I don’t consider Tyrion’s validation of Sansa as being fool proof, considering all the foolish mistakes that Tyrion did last season.
No, Sansa’s advice was not vindicated. Rather the opposite. Events show that Jon was in the right and Sansa was in the wrong. If Jon had taken Sansa’s advice they would be sitting there on their ass with no dragonglass, dragons or huge armies to take on the NK.
Any character can be criticized and their flaws pointed out. Hell this very article is about pointing out the flaws of the different character. Not a thread goes by without comments about Dany being mad and cruel, but the minute Sansa is criticized it is character villification.
Show Sansa is not written to be as clever or smart as she is supposed to be. She has lied to Jon and hidden things from him. She was manipulated by LF into nearly deposing Jon and killing Arya. She wanted to be queen instead of Jon. She undermined him and her advice is not always right.
If there is an adviser that Jon should be listening to it’s Davos. As Liam Cunningham says:
When the get letter from the south gets there, it is Davos who points out the relevant bit about the dragons and dragon fire. And I will criticize Jon for not listening to the good advice Davos gives him.
Next season, Sam is also going to be there at WF. With Sam and Davos there, Jon will have the best advisers.
And last point. Tyrion was the absolute worst last season. With his admission to Cersei that he is the reason she and Jaime are alive, it is now evident that he was actively holding back Dany for his own selfish reasons. Dany’s only victory was because she did not listen to Tyrion. The wight hunt was because of Tyrion. Tyrion thinks that Cersei is trustworthy and then asks Jon to lie. He was the ultimate fool last season. The best ruler would be whomever does not listen to Tyrion’s crappy advice anymore.
At times, I’ve had to type my replies into a text editor and then paste them into the form on this page in case I lose it when I hit post..
Night king A+
I love that scene so much. Everyone has their own interpretation of it but it’s always been clear to me.
Littlefinger thought that Sansa was putting Arya on trial but the scene initially started with Arya putting Sansa on trial (or testing her or getting her to swear allegiance). It was Sansa’s Final Loyalty test. To truly be back with the pack, she had to sever ties with Littlefinger.
Scene starts with Sansa on the ramparts building up courage. Then Arya asks if she’s sure she wants to do this now? As in do you still have doubts. Sansa says honor demands & Arya keeps questioning her. Then Sansa says that line.
It was like Sansa was swearing an oath or taking a vow to never allow a snake like Littlefinger inside the Wolf’s den again. In my eyes Sansa proved her loyalty to the pack in that scene after some questionable and selfish decisions leading up to that.
I partially don’t blame her because of the hell she suffered in KL and the two mentors she had in LF & Cersei. It’s time to start using those shady skills in service of Team Stark now and not solely Team Sansa though.
The Lone Wolf dies while The Pack survives. Team Stark for the win.
On the whole “Sansa’s advice is bad” bit. It’s kind for Jon to take pity on the Umber and Karstark kids. For now. Not sure how they’re supposed to shore up the defenses at their respective keeps. Sansa’s point was valid. And those lands could’ve strengthened the loyalty of the Vale in ways that had nothing to do with LF if Jon had given them the lands. And battle-ready knights would be helming those keeps instead of children. The show didn’t say what her plans were for the tykes, but she is still portrayed as a motherly figure. And she knows first hand what it’s like to be ward to a cruel ruler, so she wouldn’t have mistreated them. They could’ve become her wards, like Theon became to Ned.
Everyone beside Varys has been conned by LF, and the point of last season was LF upping his game to bring Sansa to heel. She’s not a political savant, yet, but she understands politics way better than Jon. Like her mother, she understands people’s motivations. She understands Jon’s setting himself up to make the same honorable and romantic mistakes — I’m putting bedding Dany in the possible mistake category — that killed Ned and Robb. Never mind that bending the knee out of hormo–, er, gratitude and informing the North by Westerosi tweet. Tohrren didn’t bend the knee till after hours of talks with Northern lords and Aegon alike.
As far as the rankings go, I wouldn’t give Dany an A. As others have said, she’s more like Robert. Great conqueror. Good ally. Hasn’t proved she’s good at being queen. She keeps talking about breaking the wheel, but she’s acting like every other would-be ruler. Soldiers bending the knee out of terror don’t make the best subjects.
Lol, I was taken aback when I saw that grade. All I can say is I think Renly would have probably been a very good king 🙂 And now that I’m reflecting on the subject I think on their own Jon and Dany aren’t perfect rulers but together they could possibly be great. Jon has heart and shows mercy (couldn’t kill Ygritte, showed remorse for having to hang his “brothers”) where Dany has resolve and shows toughness (that one young man she had beheaded, masters crucified, Tarley’s burned.) Together they could balance each other out quite well. But we will never see how their reign goes in the aftermath even if they win the war and take the throne, not with only 6 episodes lol.
Danny is an awful ruler.
She managed to cause the destruction of Astapor.
Didn’t have any backup plan for anything, freed the slaves but failed to introduce a new system that woukd help former slaves get paid and have jobs.
Never tried to understand the people and culture of the cities she conquered, she simply didn’t care enough…
I could continue the list, but the point is, how on earth does that make her a good ruler?!!
Daenerys may have good intentions, but that’s not how the world is run, by good intentions! She just isn’t adequateand without her dragons, she stood zero chances of achieving anything in Essos. Having dragons and using them to burn your enemies isn’t what makes someone a good queen/king.
No one would’ve batted an eye if you put Daenerys at the bottom of the list…
You say that but since you yourself see good reason to put her at top of list with Mance then that isn’t neccessarily true is it? You would have batted an eye and surely you aren’t the sole person who feels that way. 🙂
I’m just tired of the constant hate Sansa gets
Criticism does not have to be called out as “hate.” All the characters are critiqued. Why should Sansa be untouchable?
The Karstark and Umber kids will shore up defenses of their castles and holds just like 11 year old Lyanna Mormont is going to shore up the Mormont defenses. They will surely have men and advisers and soldiers to do their bidding.
And taking those lands away from Northerners and giving them to the Vale Lords would be the worst thing to do. The Northern lords would dislike that and Jon himself would be a fool to do that – as pointed out by Royce, the Vale rode for the Tully Sansa. Jon would be better off shoring his own support among the Northerners. Now, he cleverly has got Umber and Karstark loyalty. If ever Sansa had tried to usurp Jon’s position while he was away, those two houses would have stood by Jon along with the Mormonts.
That’s the difference between Jon and Sansa. Jon wins loyalty by his actions. Sansa got her armies and support because LF is infatuated with her and manipulated people (Royce, Glover) into supporting her.
And now that Jon is there with the dragon queen and her armies behind him he does not have to worry about the loyalty of these weather vane lords and their 10,000 men. They can piss off and try defending their castles themselves without weapons and dragons.
Sansa has already pointed out that “The North” is short of food.
Jon and Danny are turning up, presumably with two armies, and two hungry dragons.
Where is all that food coming from???
Also the Lords of the North has stated that they hate Targaryions, and Lanisters.
How is that going to play out?
I foresee Sansa as “The Lady of Winterfell, and Queen of the North.
Unless she marries Gendry.
Do you not understand that Dany is literally a pubescent girl (in the books at least) and only aged a few years upward in the show? How do you expect someone of that age to have any conception of how to displace slavery in a way that would evolve into peace? It’s just not an easy ordeal by any standard. She’s a decent ruler and queen BECAUSE she’s done quite a decent job despite her growing up without being immersed in a royal background and formal house ettiquette.
And spare the “she wouldn’t be adequate without her dragons argument”. That antiquated defense is so tired and irrelevant. It’s just a cop out that fans themselves have created to deny Dany of a significant plot device that’s defined her house for CENTURIES.
That’s your opinion, which I don’t agree with for many reasons, yes she is young and so is Jon, she is also surrounded by seasoned advisors. However Young or not, she’s on a quest to become the queen of seven kingdoms and she hasn’t exactly shown she’s up for the job by the way she’s handled the situation in Essos. I haven’t seen the descent job you talked about and GRRM made sure the reader knew that.
It amazes me how her fans (I dont hate or even dislike her just think she’s not a good queen) can ignore all her bad decisions which have effected many lives. (mostly in the book)
The wight hunt was Tyrion’s ‘brilliant idea. Don’t hold that against Jon. He’s proven himself as the leader. And the canon Jon is even better
How can you ignore the messy political decisions Daenerys has done in Essos. She’s made many mistakes there.
I concur that knowing Jon is the likeliest ruler to sit on the iron throne in the end, everybody starts to drag him down unfairly. 😑
Also don’t hold the Northern Lords’ behaviour against Jon. They were ruined by the writers. They are extremely loyal and smart in the books, they’re stupid whiny children in the show. Their behaviour was unwarranted.
It’s good he didn’t listen to Sansa. She’s given nothing but shit advice, particularly regarding the Umber and Karstark kids
Seasoned advisors aren’t the only thing that makes a great ruler. It’s just a small part of a large whole. Even with advisors at her helm, thinking of a system to displace slavery while in tandem liberating civilians was a tall order for anybody as I’ve repeatedly stated.
A king needs to take initiative, even if it’s bound to cause mistakes, if they truly want to be a ruler worth celebrating. None of the rulers in GoT got to where they were without bloodshed and hardship. And Dany’s tale is one full of pits and peaks, but she has triumphed and proven herself capable of leading for being so young. She’s not calculating and meticulous like Stannis or cunning like Tywin. But she does have her own mother-like devotion to her followers and empathy which they both lacked.
At the end of the day you’re entitled to think she’s not a great leader. I wasn’t debating you on that. I just dislike when people solely choose to base her ineffectiveness as a leader on the basis of her troublesome liberation of Mereen and Astapor (although I do recognize that in the books that is where a huge chunk of her story has taken place and still is). She has other triumphs that cancel out her failures. That’s why I also said I don’t think she deserves an A because she’s made plenty of mistakes.
The Sansa hate is so tiring, I’m so sick of the way people literally twist truths and intentionally misinterpret actions to suit their bias, hopefully Sansa never becomes the Jon Snow cheerleader everyone wants her to be.
But at least the Wall would still be standing and no wight viseron. He would had have the opportunity to talk to Bran and find out more about the NK or that him and his army can’t cross the Wall because it has magical protection.
Dany would have defeated Cersei and she would has no opportunity to betray them, no GC in Westeros.
The hunt was on Tyrion. Jon was reluctant to agree to it. It was Jorah who agreed to it immediately, only after the whole “Wildlings won’t listen to Jorah” speech did Jon agree to go too (because they listen to him and he knows the enemy/territory). Daenerys decided to go beyond The Wall of her own volition. And she decided to take all three dragons with her (could have left with Drogon only)
Because both book and show Dany are bad rulers but show watchers usually get distracted from that by “cool” scenes and dragon cgi. Book fans are usually more realistic about Dany even though I think book Dany is a better person than show Dany who lacks a lot of the nuance you get from book Dany.
Seriously!!! I don’t know why people think that the dragons will be the saviours when they clearly can’t do anything against the White Walkers. Yea they’re helpful against the wights but that’s about it. If Jon had stayed at Winterfell the NK wouldn’t have a dragon right now with which he can easily attack just about anywhere in Westeros cause the wall has been brought down because of Dany and Jon meeting. Thanks to their meeting the wights and wws can now move past the wall.
Even in the books it’s clear she’s a conqueror not a ruler. She even says so herself that she’s tired of the people of Meereen. She’s a typical white saviour. I think Dany is on a very negative path in the books as well as illustrated by the Meereenese blot blog. She’s in it for herself in the end and, in my opinion, that never ends well in Grrm’s world.
The whole “dragons plant no trees” thing, the whole “if I look back I’m lost”. She knows her dragons are forces of destruction(if they’re monsters so am I), how can she start a new age with monsters of the old age used to subjugate people. The fact that she’s unwilling to learn not only from her own mistakes but also the mistakes of her ancestors tell me that she isn’t on a positive path. Whether she turns it around at the end has to be seen but I don’t think she’ll ever be queen in Westeros. I’d consider the house with the red door more likely but seeing as the show hasn’t done anything with that at all, I’m guessing she dies with the throne in sight.
“Jon is there because of Rickon. If Sansa suspected that Rickon was a lost cause she should have brought that up earlier rather than wait for the eve of the battle to unload this on Jon. And ‘Don’t do what he wants you to do’ is good advice? For someone who is supposedly the Ramsay expert, that’s the best advice she can give him? Then she castigates him for not asking her for advice, despite speaking up freely early, and withholds information about the Vale army despite scolding Jon for fighting with less men.”
Perfect encapsulation. Well done. My only (additional) observations are that in all fairness to Sophie Turner the actress and Sansa the character, there was a dearth of onscreen justifications for Sansa’s questionable decisions. I felt bad that Sophie was thrown to the wolves (no pun intended) during interviews and at conventions when she was asked to explain her character’s inexplicable actions, eg, concealing the availability of the Knights of the Vale; or when the showrunners’ “talking points” were that Sansa felt she was smarter than Jon; that Sansa wasn’t given the “credit” that was rightfully due her; and that Jon didn’t “listen” to her.
In retrospect, I reasoned it must be extraordinarily difficult for an actress or actor to portray believable behaviors and emotions -when the script doesn’t really provide logical reasons for the character’s actions. When it’s up to the viewer to fill in the gaps and construct one’s own “head canon”, the audience can come up with any number of alternative rationalizations.
Another thing: I remember when I was in school, teachers kept drumming into our heads that old maxim for writing (including, I assume, screenwriting): “Show me. Don’t tell me.”
Thus far, I’ve seen lots of offscreen commentary by the showrunners and some of the fandom that Sansa has “learned to play the game”; is a “savvy politician”; and is using the skills she learned during her apprenticeship with the so-called master manipulator JerkoffFinger. (Apparently, GRRM has said Book!Sansa’s supposed to evolve from pawn to player.) One or two scenes actually demonstrating that Sansa has acquired such “skills” would’ve been nice. A throwaway line between Tyrion and Jon walking up the steps to Dragonstone that Sansa’s smarter than she lets on (or something like that), doesn’t do the trick.*
Now, if they had showed Sansa discovering that LF was trying to turn the sisters against each other, and then had a few scenes of Sansa devising an elaborate ruse to ensnare LF, culminating in the “Gotcha!” moment in S7, that would’ve been satisfying. Instead, the show opted to turn the sisters into morons for three episodes, to manipulate the viewer into thinking the girls might want to gut each other. (At least that’s what the director said.)
* What does do the trick is something like Tyrion’s scene in S2 when a smug Lancel shows up at his door with a scroll from Cersei demanding the release of Pycelle. By the end of that scene, Tyrion has turned smug Lancelot into a frightened, pliable puddle of jelly who’s more than willing to spy on Cersei for Tyrion. [My all-time favorite Tyrion scene, by the way…]
Sansa knows nothing about warfare and even less about governing (she has no experience either), no one should listen to her advice about this matter. And she had no advice on it, even though she whined about not being asked for one. She could speak freely, she didn’t need a special invitation. Witholding information about the Vale was a monumental mistake. She also didn’t bail Jon out. Littlefinger helped, all she did was whine all season and write one letter. She should not be considered as a good advisor. So Jon did well ignoring her. That’s some bs from the author
Aegon the Icedragon,
Q: What does honor demand?
A: That I defend my family from those who would harm it. That I defend the North from those who would betray it.
I like your analysis of that quote as applied to Sansa realizing where her true loyalties belong. 🙂
I cited this S7e7 quote as a “bookend” to the cold open in S7e1, because it applied equally to Arya’s condemnation of the Freys for harming her family and betraying the North. The Freys had “butchered a woman pregnant with her babe. Cut the throat of a mother of five. Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home.”</em"
Arya did what honor demanded. For me at least, Sansa's answer to the question “And what does honor demand?” in the season finale echoed Arya’s concluding words in the cold open to season 7:
“When people ask you what happened here, tell them: ‘The North remembers.’ Tell them: ‘Winter came for House Frey.'”
In other words, Arya sent a clear message: As a matter of honor, she had defended the North against those who would betray it, and defended her family against those who would harm it.
That’s why I prefer to consider the S7e1 Arya speech and S7e7 Sansa speech as “bookends” – which also serve to show that the sisters are now on the same page. I hope.
But why did Tyrion came out with that idea? Because Dany refused to help Jon cause it would give Cersei the opportunity to take back the lands she has won.
Tyrion is no king, he can’t ordered Dany or Jon to do something. He gave an idea and Jon thought it was smart because he realized it was the only way to convince both Queens about the WW. Also, I like to point out that Tyrion has never face or see a WW, Jon has. So if someone should has know it was a stupid/dangerous idea it should has be Jon.
Tyrion told Dany not to go beyond the wall, that was his idea and Dany rejected. No one can force a Queen or King to to something.
Tyrion, Davos, Sansa are just advisors it’s up to the King/Queen if they listen of what they say.
Yeah, I personally think show Dany was graded too highly, but I still enjoy her character and, really, any strong female protagonist (Arya, Yara/Asha, Brienne, show Sansa). I think having Barristan Selmy around also helped a great deal when it came to justice/ruling both in the books and the show. I’m eager to see how the slaver’s bay story line will play out in the books since there’s still so many loose ends. I mean reading the sample chapters helps, but it’s such a tease.
Also I have a tinfoil theory related to that red door. My theory is that Dany is only half Targaryen and the red door is perhaps an instance of an unreliable narrator and it may be a red door in the water gardens of Dorne, rather than Braavos. I just think it would be a nice juxtaposition to have a character who thought she was a true born heir to the Iron Throne only to realise she’s a bastard, while Jon on the other hand lived his whole life as a bastard who’s in fact a true born heir. But I digress.
I definitely agree. She was technically Queen for a moment and both she and Olenna had to remind Cersei she was Queen Regent. Despite the fact that she was “fake” with the common people, she definitely knew how to work a crowd and she knew how to play the game of thrones. Margaery was a character that grew on me. #GrowStrong
In fairness to Daeny, she has had to launch her invasion without her two experienced battle commanders, having lost Barristan Selmy to the silly Harpy ambush and Jorah Mormont to greyscale. Tyrion was retained as a political advisor, not as a military strategist.
(I won’t get started on the perplexing decision to let Jorah join the Wight Hunt Squad five minutes after he finally made his way back to her. I thought there was a scene in S2? when she declined to let Jorah go one-on-one against some city’s “champion” outside the city walls because she couldn’t risk her valued general; Daario was expendable so she let him to it.)
Jorah has more than redeemed himself. He’s a battle-hardened, experienced knight. He ought to be by her side, not chasing after ice zombies a thousand miles away pursuant to a ridiculous plan hatched by Tyrion.
Did you watch season 7 and episode 5? Clearly the wight hunt was Tyrion’s idea. Stop inventing something that did not happen to force your opinion on Daenerys to be better.
I agree about Jon. He is just and wise beyond his years. He saves the Wildings, spares Melisandre even though guilty, speaks truly to Cersei, does not take back the Houses of traitorous Karstarks and Umbers et al. He is what a King should be.
The wall was coming down anyway. This only hastened the fall of the wall. Or are you saying that the wall was never , ever coming down and the WW/NK were just randomly marching towards the wall and that WF and the North is safe and Jon was unnecessarily worrying?
So in effect Jon destroyed Westeros by going for help to protect Westeros? And the undead was never a serious threat at all?
The dragons are the only weapons to take on the army of the dead. What’s the point of dragons if one can’t use them in this war? Viserion was a casualty, but does that mean that the dragons should never be used against the NK?
Now they know what the NK is capable of. Now Dany and Cersei know what’s facing them. Dany is going North with the full force of her army and dragons to save the North. And that only happened because Jon went south.
And Dany would not have able to defeat Cersei, seeing as her adviser was being shady and hobbling her campaign. If she had ignored Tyrion and just attacked the Red Keep, then the war would have been over sooner and Dany could have turned her attention North.
Do people really not understand Jon or is it willful ignorance? I have seen such comments so many times its ridiculous. He DID NOT kneel to Dany because he had a hard-on for her. Gratitude might have played a role, but the main reason Jon decided to kneel to Dany at that point is this – she finally showed him, by flying north to save them and willing to put aside her quest for the Iron Throne, that she was the type of ruler who would put people’s welfare ahead of personal ambitions and he had no problems kneeling to such a person.
His situation is also quite different from Torrhen’s. Aegon had not promised Torrhen all his vast resources to save his people from an apocalypse.
Jon, Tyrion, Dany and Greyworm with D&D in Belfast yesterday
There are two other people between Peter and Weiss, but we dont see their faces.
No, it wasn’t. “The Wall was made to defend the realms of the First Men, and the men of the Night’s Watch have reportedly defended the Wall against Others and other monsters for eight thousand years since the end of the Long Night”.
NK/WW weren’t marching toward the wall. Jon and company faced them close the mountain with the arrow shape. That’s not close to the wall. The NK started marching towards the wall, when he was gifted a dragon to break the wall.
Of course the WW are threat, a threat that has been there even before Jon became a brother of the night’s watch, but is not the same to face that threat beyond the wall, that facing them in Westeros. You realize the WW brings with them the long night, right? No sun, just darkness and cold.
If Jon has stayed north, he would had have the opportunity to learn more about the enemy he has to face (like book Jon is trying to do). Eventually Dany would have defeated Cersei, especially with Jorah at her side comanding the military strategy, and Jon would have being able to parlay with Dany and show her the threat with Bran and Sam at his side.
You’re correct we do, her ” smile ” is not evil or derogatory, she was hurt seeing Jon trapped, she was happy she stuck it to Ramsey, and probably a little proud she tipped the battle. You and others seem to think those emotions are misplaced or wrong, I don’t.
WRG to Sansa playing LF the whole time in S 7, no I don’t think that, she was playing him back in S 4, S4 to S 7-6 she was playing the game, 7-6 after the dagger incident on wards yes, she was playing him.
Arya’s false memories are all the way back to season 1, she never let that go, even when she told Jauqen Hahgar she had to find her sister too, that was not a look of hope or happiness but one of we have questions to answer for look.
This is an objectively poor ranking.
Cersei Lannister should be given a much higher grade. Only her actions as Queen should count, so nothing pre-Winds of Winter (s6e10). In Season 7, she managed to strategically defeat a foreign invader who had three armies and 3 dragons, even though she seemingly had no allies. By partnering with Euron Greyjoy, she was able to mobilize her army in a way Dany could not; and used this advantage to attack Dany’s forces at multiple locations at once, while Dany never considered a multi-pronged attack. By killing off Olenna Tyrell, she was able to make her allies the leaders of the Reach’s armies. And by refusing to help Dany’s forces in the North, she ensures her reign. Like Cersei says, her forces are much smaller than Dany’s so her going north will not make a difference either way. But if she had agreed to Dany’s armistice, she would have ensured her own demise and the brutal deaths of her loyalists (Dany intends on burning them alive ala the Tarly’s). She is betting on the Jon/Dany alliance being successful, because that will weaken their forces while also eliminating one of Cersei’s enemies, allowing her to defeat all her foes. The only flaw in the plan is the chance that Jon/Dany lose, but like she says her forces couldn’t change that anyway.
And Dany is an awful Queen. Ignoring Slaver’s Bay, since the book/show canon diverge so much on this, and just focusing on her S7 invasion of Westeros, she is objectively shit at her job. She brought 100,000 Dothraki, 3 dragons, and the full strength of Dorne and the Reach, and made no progress in conquering Westeros. By never considering what Euron Greyjoy was up to in the months she was sailing the Narrow Sea, she allowed almost the entirety of her fleet to be ambushed and burned. One of her major allies Yara is being held prisoner and she never attempted to secure her freedom; even burning Randyll Tarly, who easily could have been traded for Yara. Without ships, she never even considers other ways to get Dorne’s army further north. And even though her entire plan hinges on laying siege to King’s Landing, she never actually lays siege to King’s Landing; we know this because Jaime had no problem ferrying Highgarden’s gold into the city. And when she attacked the Loot Train, she actively sought out the wagons of food and burned them; even though she herself noted food was running scarce earlier in the episode. And on top of all of this, her selfish need to have an armistice with Cersei is what led to the Wight Hunt; and her rash decision making handed the Night King a weapon of mass destruction. If she had thought that through for even a second, the Night King never would have been able to breach the Wall. She is the reason the realm is now in grave danger.
Agreed! Dany will have an even greater source of counsel once she’s introduced to Sam and possibly Bran.
This is an AWESOME take on that scene and after reading your post i totally agree with you. wow
How would Jon have had the opportunity to learn more about the enemy if he had stayed north? He thought Bran was dead. He had no reason to think Bran was alive beyond the Wall AND has any sort of info about the Night King AND that he would be arriving in Winterfell shortly. Is he supposed to be clairvoyant and anticipate things before they happen now?
Dragonglass ( and possibly dragon fire) were the only known defence against the white walkers, and as such, going to collect dragonglass was the best decision he could have made, with the information they had.
I wonder if the female wearing light blue jeans is Lena?
Jon is there because of Sansa’s influence and the need to get WF and Rickon, Jon was BAILING due to his PTSD from coming back from the dead, he didn’t want to believe the letter.
What info did Sansa have to give Jon about the Vale ?
None, they trekked over 2500 miles looking for help and in that travel Sansa learned just how badly Robb F_ed up, until that travel ended Sansa believed in her dad’s words about the north and Loyalty and Glover gave it between the eyes.
Somewhere between Deepwood Mote and Winterfell she sent a letter ( most likely to Moat Calin ), so assuming LF got the letter, where does he send his reply? Ravens are trained to go castle to castle, would LF even send a reply knowing it could end up in the wrong hands, let alone not knowing where Sansa would be, she could be anywhere in a 250-300 mile stretch between Deepwood and Winterfell. Not until the day of the parley did Sansa feel Rickon was gone to them, she interpret the wolf head like many would, I have him ,you won’t.
If she tells Jon ( and she could have ) she would have no answers for him : when will they get here ? _ I don’t know I never got a reply, where are they? _ Last I knew Moat Calin, How many? I don’t know, Jon just stick to your plan, Ramsey will try to take you out of it, etc. The facts are she had no answers she could give him to reassure him help is coming and if by some chance he held back , how long would Ramsey wait? Jon did not have the leverage here even if he had knowledge of the Vale army.
Ramsey had : The numbers, he had Winterfell, he had food, he had time and winter on his side and he had Rickon. Along with that it was LF whole plan to show up at the absolute last minute to pickup the crumbs and decimate both sides.
He could has learned from Bran that the death can’t cross the wall? That the Wall has magical protection? Just some minor things, don’t you think? Oh and my answer was at this comment:
SerNoName: If Jon had taken Sansa’s advice they would be sitting there on their ass with no dragonglass, dragons or huge armies to take on the NK.
The wall would still be standing. The rest would has come later.
I’m not quite sure I follow you here, but are you honestly suggesting that when Arya tells Jaqen that she needs to find her sister at the end of S2 that she has some kind of.. ill intent towards her? Because that couldn’t be more wrong! It was a look of longing, of wanting to reunite with her family (even the sister with whom she never got along) amidst some conflicted feelings that she also wanted to go with him to be his student. Arya’s first priority has always been to reunite with her family. In the books, Arya specifically thinks about Sansa a number of times, admitting to herself in her thoughts that she would throw her arms around her sister and shower her with kisses.
Yes, some people really do think she wanted Jon to die. It’s been stated on this site before and on that other website you refer to repeatedly.
And your opinion isn’t much different in suggesting that she doesn’t care for his safety. This is obviously nonsense and appears to be based your (wilful?) misinterpretation of her facial expressions in one moment.
You think she went from that emotional reunion, gifting him Stark clothing and begging him the night before the battle not to make a mistake that could get them all killed to suddenly not caring about his safety?
In fact, the moment that you bizarrely interpret as her being upset that he’s going to “steal her kill” is seen by most people as a look of concern as he goes recklessly charging off into danger once again.
As for the idea that she used Jon, if she was so determined to fulfil her “burning desire for vengeance”, even at the expense of her only present family member’s life, then why didn’t she simply accept Littlefinger’s initial offer of assistance?
I just find the wilful interpretation of the character’s behaviour in the worst possible lights rather tiresome.
I will copy my comment again. Jon, when he made the decision to go to Dragonstone, had no way of knowing that Bran was alive and that he had any info about the NK and the Wall and that he would be arriving in Winterfell. He is not clairvoyant. He cannot forsee the future. With the info he had, going to collect dragonglass was the only right decision.
And I still hope Sam and Bran realize they should keep the secret of Jon’s true parentage to themselves. Ned knew everyone was better off if he didn’t tell a soul. Albeit for different reasons, Bran and Sam should reach the same conclusion.
P.S. Pop Quiz (Multiple Choice)
Q: If you were Jon Snow, would you rather go through life believing you are:
(A). The bastard son of Ned Stark
(B) The trueborn son of Rhaegar the Philanderer?
So basically in summary, everything Jon did was right, everything Sansa did was wrong.
– Jon and Dany don’t have to take responsibility for The Wall falling and the Night King now having a dragon.
– Tyrion’s opinion is now worthless, particularly when it concurs with Sansa’s.
– Stripping the Umbers and the Karstarks of their titles was stupid advice – even though the Northern Lords were clearly shown to agree with it- and is apparently on a par with burning prisoners of war alive.
– Telling Jon not to fall for Ramsay’s obvious traps – which he did – is worthless advice.
– Advising Jon not to go to Dragonstone himself and to try other means of securing the alliance automatically equates to “sitting there on their ass with no dragonglass, dragons or huge armies to take on the NK”.
And so on.
As I said earlier, you’re one of those who are eager to dismiss everything Sansa (or any character) said and did as wrong simply because a different approach was adopted or if things ultimately worked out well in the end regardless.
And you’re even willing to completely dismiss the negative consequences of Jon’s alternative choices in order to avoid giving Sansa any credit.
I mean, your response is so blatantly blinkered, wilfully unsympathetic and determined to judge everything in black or white that it’s almost devoid of credibility as a result.
Everyone beside Varys has been conned by LF, and the point of last season was LF upping his game to bring Sansa to heel. She’s not a political savant, yet, but she understands politics way better than Jon. Like her mother, she understands people’s motivations:
I take issue that Catelyn understood politics and people’s motivations. She is the one who started the War of the Five Kings by taking Tyrion prisoner. (1) she should have expected that Tywin Lannister would try to annihilate House Start…remember the Reynes and Tarbecks? (2) She believed Littlefinger still loved her and would not lie about the dagger (3) She thought her sister would support her position. Both her sister and Littlefinger had become complete strangers to her. (4) She was not equipped to treat with Walden Frey in the first place- he was a Sworn Bannerman of House Tully, yet she capitulated to ALL his demands, which was unheard of: two marriages, a squire and two wards for crossing a damn river!! Please see “Why Catelyn Sucks” by The Order of The Greenhand. They pointed out that Ned sent Catelyn on a mission to “prepare” the North and all their Allies in the event of a war with the Lannisters which she promptly ignored.
I must admit that I am not a huge Sansa fan. She looks regal, is extremely well mannered and diplomatic but she is self centered. Yes, I know she was quite young when she had fantasies about becoming Queen. But it was quite evident that she didn’t care about the sacrifices required of others for her to achieve her goal. She was brutal to her sister and had no relationship with Jon because he was a bastard. She was the only sibling that did not have a relationship with her half brother.
I love the way her fans choose to forget how she turned on her little sister for her Prince and betrayed her father to Queen Cersei which resulted in the slaughter of her Septa, all Ned’s men and the beheading of Ned himself. I reread a Cersei chapter from A Feast for Crows last week where she mused that Sansa’s betrayal of Ned to her was the second best present she ever received.
That little gem of advise Sansa gave Jon regarding the gifting of Umber and Karstark Castles was beyond the pale and so much like Cersei. Let’s see, Cersei gave away Winterfell which belonged to the Stark family before Lan the Clever “won” Casterly Rock and started House Lannister, yet she had no sympathy for little Ned and Allys sitting right in front of her. In the meantime, she totally ignored Glover and Cerywin who were sworn Bannerman yet refused the call. And what about the Dreadfort? She didn’t mention that Castle, did she?
I must admit that Sansa is growing as a person but many questions remain regarding where her story is heading. Let’s see what S8 brings. From what I’ve read so far in the Winds of Winter she could remain a pawn or emerge a force worthy of the Stark name.
I am rooting for you Sansa!
Again my answer was about what would have happen if Jon have followed Sansa advise and stayed north. He decided instead to get dragonglass.
The quote you’re taking from me came because someone pointed out that it was Tyrion idea to go beyond the wall. My answer was that, just as Jon decided to go south to get dragonglass ignoring Sansa advise, he could have done the same with Tyrion. He is the King, and is up to him to decide what to do.
I think it’s fair to say that the Night King is the valedictorian of this class.
Ha! I like that. S6e10 should’ve gone like this…
Lyanna Mormont: “You swore your allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover, but in their hour of greatest need, you refused the call.”
Lord Glover (to Jon): “I did not fight beside you on the field, and I will regret that til my dying day.”
Jon: “Okey dokey. We’re taking away your castle and giving it to Tormund Giantsbane. [House sigil: baby seal.]
Oh, JoeMagician, your article just incited a riot, lol. Shame!
I know! Nothing like rabid fan wars to spice up the weekend.
True. I never thought of using Ned’s omission of the truth as a guide for Sam and Bran-Flakes to do so as well.
But I’m just so curious to see the ramifications of the realization that he’s half Targaryen. It’s going to be a great source of conflict not only for the realm, but it’ll give a lot of chance for the humanistic-drama to permeate the upcoming narrative. Things will probably get dicey between him and Dany, the Northern Lords, and whoever else has something against Southron lords and the Targs.
So I will veer from you a bit and pick Option B!
Ill intent , no, but that look was not of longing, and since we bring up the books, GRRM himself stated, Sansa and Arya have issues to discuss.
I n 7-4 Arya did not readily embrace Sansa in the crypts, she was stiff and unfeeling.
Arya held her grudge, she was at Baylor as we were, she wasn’t around as Sansa was pleading for Ned, nor did she care that Sansa was forced to write that letter to Robb, or her attempt to kill Joffery etc.
Yet all she remembers is her sister’s pretty hair and pretty dress, If Bran gave Sansa the scoop on LF in KL, he also would tell Arya her memories of Baylor are wrong and missing info.
So ill intent no, but if you think she had good reasons to mistrust Sansa in season 7, I disagree .
There is no way that after the reveal of the biggest (yet one of the most obvious) secret in this epic saga, that Jon is the true born son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, that Sam and Bran are just going to sweep that juicy piece of intel under the rug and keep it to themselves. I mean, what would be he point of it all? Just so we, the readers/audience, can know but it has no impact on the story?
No, that secret is definitely going to emerge before the end of the story. The question is to whom, in what manner, will they believe them and what impact will that have going forward.
When was Arya ever crowned? Where is her throne?
I got my popcorn a while ago, I’m enjoying watching the discussions.
Also, just so everyone knows, on this list Jon is my favorite character. Dany is 4th or 5th.
Aha… and the reason I keep a low profile in these debates 😉
There’s always going to be differences of opinion in the fandom. I could stick in my pennies worth, but seldom do. I’m quite happy to sit on the wall and watch the shit fly past 😛
Tens Bears – one question? Are you retired or still have to work for a living? I find it just amazing the sheer amount (and size/word count) of the comments you post or reply to on this forum. If there is ever a prize for the ‘Most Prolific Poster’ on WotW’ you’d win the gold medal LOL 😀
I don’t see why this has turned predominantly into a war over Sansa. I’ve been on this site, though not often posting, for years and there are few characters who can create such impassioned debate as Sansa can… Even on threads not directly about Sansa!
As for the ratings, I agree on some, but like others have mentioned, I feel Jon and Dany are not judged as objectively. I am unable to separate my book-opinions of those characters fully, but even going just by the show, I feel Jon’s mistakes have been held against him too harshly and Danhy’s have been largely overlooked.
Jon: there is a propensity in this fandom to unfairly blame Jon for what many consider to be mistakes or foolish actions. Take the battle for Winterfell for example. Ignoring the poorly handled debacle over Sansa and the secretive manner in which the knights of the vale were handled just so we could have them swooping in to save the day elevating Sansa at Jon’s expense, the moment where Jon rushes out to save Rickon is often blamed on stupidity and not heeding Sansa’s advice. However, think about what would have happened had Jon just sat on his horse and watched his brother be slaughtered? Would this have instilled confidence or admiration in the men that were about to risk their lives for him? Would the Northern Lords have made him their king if he had sat back and let Ramsey slaughter the last (they believe) son of Ned Stark, a man they worshiped? No! Jon had no choice in that moment. It was a lose-lose situation for him whichever way it went. Sansa’s vague advice was moot. There was no way he could have made a different choice. And once he had rushed out to save Rickon, I remember him being slated for not turning back to resume the plan, but I would remind those who believe that of what happened when Rickon tried to run. Jon could not have survived turning back, so instead, he did the only thing he could do: attack.
(I really feel it needs to be restated hat had Jon had all the facts, had he known they could approach LF and be granted an army and cavalry more than suitable for the job, then none of this would have to happen!)
The second mistake he supposedly makes is not listening to Sansa when she publicly undermines him in front of his court. I’m sorry? This is a mistake? Not withstanding that loyalty and instilling loyalty through forgiveness are pillars in the Northern mindset and Jon was right to forgive the sins of the fathers of Umber and Karstark junior, just as he forgave (or didn’t need to forgive) Glover refusing to join him on the battlefield, what the hell kind of a king would he be if he allows his sister to publicly denounce his plans and decisions? Sansa is woefully inexperienced at instilling loyalty and earning trust (unlike Jon who wooed the wildlings, the nights watch and the northern lords, all of whom hated or disliked him to begin with) compared with Jon, yet her plan to punish two children for their fathers’ crimes (while forgiving Glover his crimes) at a time when the north needs to come together is somehow a suggestion Jon ought to have listened to? Especially the manner in which she so publicly challenged him? This makes him a weak king? I would hugely beg to differ.
And Dany, I am not going to rehash others’ points regarding the chaos she left in Slavers bay (they literally just came out of a siege and she’s jumping ship, leaving the former slaves in the hands of a scorned lover who happens to be an unscrupulous sell-sword who would be unable to keep the peace even if he wanted to because he has no dragons or unsullied (I mean wasn’t that the whole point of their little display – for that one master to return to those other cities and tell them about what happened there…. great… but Dany and her dragons have left town, so how is that supposed to put down any future uprisings exactly?) and also her inability to use her enormous arsenal upon arriving in Westeros to quickly seize power – she was so incredibly outmanoeuvred by Cersei in season 7, so I don’t see how that speaks of her strength in rulership.
I feel Dany is a less strong monarch than Jon, but neither is perfect. I love them both. In fact, I am always amused by these fan wars because I love almost every character in this series (including Dany and Sansa, who usually are such divisive characters).
Right, I have rambled long enough. Sorry for any typos. This was a one-hands phone post while trying to get my baby to sleep in the dark! Sorry if it’s non-sensical!
Jon has achieved what he has on merit, not because of his name. He kind of bashed Daeny for claiming entitlement based on her paternity:
(Excerpted from Jon meeting Daeny, S7e3):
Davos: “…He is the first to make allies of wildlings and Northmen. He was named Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. He was named King in the North. Not because of his birthright. He has no birthright. He’s a damn bastard. All those hard sons of bitches chose him as their leader because they believe in him.”
Jon: “I mean no offense, Your Grace, but I don’t know you. As far as I can tell, your claim to the throne rests entirely on your father’s name. And my own father fought to overthrow the Mad King. The lords of the North placed their trust in me to lead them, and I will continue to do so as well as I can.”
Look, I know the juicy secret’s going to be revealed in S8. I just believe that if Bran and Sam gave it some thought they’d conclude the revelation will cause a whole bunch of sh*tstorms at the worst possible time.
And for those still awaiting a “bittersweet” [ugh! I hate that word] ending, what would fit better than the sullen Bastard King who never knew he was the rightful, trueborn king?
I agree with everything you said here. While I am biased towards Jon, because he is my favourite character, alongside Arya, I don’t believe he is the perfect king or anything. I also like Dany and I admire her for a lot, but she is also not perfect.
I think you can say things like OMG. This character is the best/perfect whatever while fawning over them, but you can also admit in a real discussion that they are not perfect and have faults and weaknesses.
LOL. It’s hilarious. I mostly agree with this except Robb being placed above Jon.
I believe Daenerys CAN BE a great ruler in WESTEROS and actually probably the best option to be the leader of Westeros. Unlike some others, she wants to be queen and wants it for the right reasons, and to do the right things in that capacity. I don’t really think her past experience can be completely judged against her, but it is experience nonetheless.
In conquering the slave cities she tried to do what she felt was the right thing, end slavery, but doing so meant completely turning everything about their society on its head. That of course led to opposition from everywhere. She took on something that was too big and wasn’t wanted by the people. She put herself in a position of ruling people that didn’t want her ruling. Nobody will do well in that situation. It’s not easy to be the leader of the unhappy.
On the other hand we have Tyrion, Jorah, Missandei, etc., the Unsullied and Dothraki who all had/have the option to go their own way but choose to follow her because they believe in her. We don’t hear them complaining. While Tyrion may have misgivings about how she conquers, he still stood in front of his sister and told her he believes Daenerys should be queen.
I think it would have been a struggle for Daenerys to rule Westeros had she simply charged into KL/Red Keep and taken control like she did the slave cities. She would have been forcing the people to follow her. However, Westeros is used to people fighting their way to the throne. Had she immediately made good on the people it probably wouldn’t have taken long to gain favor. They wouldn’t be required to change their lives very much – certainly not something as drastic as slavery. Still, she would have had a lot of work to do to get people on her side and probably need to defend her position often.
If she is to become queen I think she needs to be ‘chosen’ by the people to be queen. That could happen if she were to do great things in protecting them and saving them from the NK. If she earns the throne in such a manner I think she would be an excellent queen because she’d be able to lead happier people and not continually fighting opposition. So I don’t think she’s a bad or incompetent queen if she’s ruling the right society.
At first yes. Given their history and what each had been through, it’s right for their reunion to start off a little awkward. By the end, however, Arya initiates the second hug with Sansa and has a wide smile on her face when she hears that Bran is back.
This one I can somewhat agree with you on. Arya should have been more understanding of the pressure Sansa was under in that situation, even if Arya is the kind of person who would rather have died than betray her father and brother. However, this wasn’t just a little betrayal — this was declaring her father and brother as traitors, so at the same time, I can see Arya’s frustration and anger over this seeing as how honor is one of the pillars upholding the Starks and their name.
First let me preface this by saying that I do like Sansa and am on the side of those who feel she gets undue hate (she’s in my top 5 characters list). However, let’s look at some of Sansa’s behaviour towards Arya early in the show/books.
– She sided with Joffrey over her own sister at the Kingsroad. Even after that, when Cersei orders Lady to be killed in place of Nymeria, Arya comes to Sansa’s defence in trying to protect the dire wolf.
– After Arya accidentally ruins one of Sansa’s dresses (in the books), she goes to apologize and offers to fix it or make her a new dress. Sansa throws the apology back in her face and calls her names, causing Arya to run from the room crying. This only adds to Arya’s feelings of guilt over the events of the Kingsroad and makes her feel very alone at KL. She even remarks to Ned that Sansa won’t talk to her.
– During Ned’s execution, Arya sees Sansa standing with Joffrey nodding and smiling as Ned is about to admit to treason. This is her own father who is one of the two people she loved the most in the world and with whom she had a very close relationship with. Maybe she didn’t hear Sansa’s pleas and cries for mercy amidst all the ruckus, but then that’s information she doesn’t have.
It’s obvious that Arya has a distrust of politicians and their ways, given all the lies, treachery, betrayals and manipulations that she has witnessed. After returning to WF, she sees Sansa in league with LF (who she saw meeting with Tywin at Harrenhal), and with her Faceless skills is able to see the conflict in Sansa in regards to Jon’s rule.
Also, an overlooked detail in 7×05 when Arya is spying on LF is the line that he says when Maester Walken gives him the scroll: “Lady Stark thanks you for your service.” This implies that Sansa ordered LF to retrieve the scroll and hide/destroy it, further supporting the idea in Arya’s head that Sansa is covering something up and working with LF.
So let me ask you, why wouldn’t Arya be suspicious? She would be downright naive if she wasn’t!
Arya’s got a more legitimate claim to the title than Viserys or Renly, neither of whom ever ruled as a “king” or had the lawful right to be king.
She was Princess and fourth in line to KitN Robb Stark, but Rickon’s dead; Bran remembers what it was like to be Brandon Stark but he’s now someone else; and as I understand it, Lady Sansa’s a Bolton. Or is she a Lannister? I’ve heard conflicting reports. 🐻 Arya’s the only eligible family member left “whose name is Stark.”
An exception was made when Jon was named KitN despite his illegitimacy based on the mistaken assumption that “Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins.” Besides, Jon abdicated his crown. Again, Arya was next in line, and became queen upon Jon’s renunciation of his title.
At least that’s how things roll in my tinfoil world.
“….. to become queen I think she needs to be ‘chosen’ by the people to be queen. That could happen if she were to do great things in protecting them and saving them from the NK.”
Didn’t Stannis (or Davos?) say something like this once, ie, that he had it backwards? That he should save the realm to get the throne instead of the other way around? Maybe it’s a book quote someone here cited once….
Anyway, you’re right in that the best way for Daeny to earn the devotion of the people is to protect and save them, not conquer them.
This. And more of this.
I don’t hate Arya, I just like Sansa, Jon and Ned more
Sansa took no side, between Joffery or Arya, if she told the truth or lied for Joffery Arya was in jeopardy of loosing a hand at most, we may know Robert wouldn’t do that but Sansa didn’t.
As far as the dress that’s sibling bs, Sansa grew up and out of it Arya did not.
Arya seeing her sister smile on the dais is because she has no facts, or info that WE have, she was busy dancing and chasing cats; nothing wrong with that, but it skewed her vision to a false narrative, and the fact she saw Sansa passed out and dumped, but chose not to remember adds to her false memories.
Arya being played like a fiddle, when Sansa explained it; Arya refused it out of hand. Eight years older, and she still didn’t get her sister was a hostage and forced, good thing she escaped KL because she likely have died there.
Sansa listening to the Lords, and backing Jon without upsetting those Lords was a proper move, Arya’s is off on this also, if Jon did that she back him without question, but Sansa does it and she reverts back to her childish state, she is emotionally crippled she hasn’t learn to let go .
Nothing wrong with being suspicious, but not having facts, or down right ignoring facts that come to light makes a person make wrong decisions, and she made them.
Just like Ned,Cat,Robb,Sansa and Jon.
I’ll just quickly touch on a few points here.
Sansa was in a difficult position to be sure, but she lied and took Joffrey’s side. Ned even admits this when talking with Arya in 1×03. “She has to take his side, even when he’s wrong.”
Yes, she did get it. But Arya is the type of person who would have let them kill her instead of betraying her family.
Okay, you can’t expect Arya, after all she’s experienced and seen, to be a picture of mental health and emotional stability. She has suffered a great deal. They both have. But after being presented with the truth and facts (unfortunately off screen by Bran we presume), Arya forgives her and they patch things up, and they are on good terms by the end of S7.
This is the same Jon Snow who was killed by Ser Alliser Thorne, Olly and co after he chose to ignore Stannis’s advice to send Thorne as far away as possible, to prevent him challenging his leadership, and underestimated the level of resentment the likes of Olly harboured towards the Wildlings, right?
I often see people arguing that forgiving the Karstarks and Umbers and letting them keep their lands/titles will inspire loyalty and bring The North together.
But on what basis is that considered beyond doubt?
Rickard and Harald Karstark (not to mentioned Harrion and Torrhen), along with hundreds of Karstark men, died fighting against or fighting for the Starks.
Smalljohn Umber was killed by a Wildling fighting for the Starks, along with hundreds of other Umber men. And I doubt he was the only Umber to despise the Wildlings enough to turn them against the Starks.
Yet we’re supposed to accept, without question, that everything is now water under the bridge because of Jon’s magnanimity and because of the oaths they swore?
Let’s say there was some lingering resentment and at some future point in time the Umbers or the Karstarks again feel wronged by the Starks, or perhaps House Stark is vulnerable for some reason; would it still seem wise to have left those Houses with a history of betrayal and animosity in power? Could it not come back to haunt House Stark?
Alternatively, rewarding those Houses that kept faith with House Stark would not only ensure that they were surrounded by Houses that proved their loyalty, but would surely inspire further loyalty.
What do those Houses that stepped up when the Starks really needed them have to show for their sacrifice? Nothing.
Even the Houses that betrayed the Starks, some of the most powerful in The North, still have their lands and castles.
Had the Boltons won, the Houses that fought for the Starks would have surely been eradicated. But I guess that risk is not worthy of any reward? Is that really going to inspire loyalty?
Don’t worry about staying true to your oaths, because you’ll be forgiven and get to keep your home and lands regardless. And you’re not going to be rewarded for your loyalty anyway so…
We know thanks to the multiple betrayals suffered by Robb, Jon and the Starks that words and oaths are cheap and that it’s actions that prove or disprove a person’s loyalty/honour.
Look, I absolutely see the merit and rationale behind the decision Jon made. And I certainly wouldn’t say it was categorically wrong. But it carries its own risks and downsides.
I just take issue with the stance that Jon’s decision was undoubtedly the wisest course of action and that the alternative approach Sansa suggested was fundamentally flawed, when both courses of action had their own merits and pitfalls.
And I agree that he was in a position (of his own making) where it was near impossible to backtrack. But that’s another point against him, really, since (as far as we’re aware) he didn’t discuss his plans beforehand or predict opposition to them.
Obviously, criticism of Sansa for contradicting him so strongly in public is valid. But given that the Northern court seems to operate as an open forum, where everyone is free to have their say, and he apparently didn’t give her an opportunity to raise her objections away from the rest of the court, it’s a bit rich to condemn her for trying to undermine him and applaud Jon for ignoring her, when she too has the best interests and survival of House Stark / The North at heart.
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
I should have written in my final sentence either that it’s a bit rich to accuse Sansa of trying to undermine Jon or to condemn her for supposedly trying to undermine him.
Sounds a bit contradictory the way I originally wrote it.
Aegon the Icedragon, thank you for that insight. I’ve said it too a few times, but not as well or as clearly. By then Arya surely knew Sansa would act, but those calm questions also reinforced and reassured her before she had to get to the nub of LF’s charge sheet. It was an ordeal for Sansa to lose–much less condemn–a mentor of several years who had rescued her twice times as well as sold her to Ramsay and manipulated her. And in his own strange way he had loved Sansa…and flattered her…and made her seem important. Also, Arya opened their post-trial conversation on a similar note, gently asking, “Are you all right.?” And while I think they had reconciled in the Crypt when they each intiated a hug in front of Ned, their new, shaky bond had to be tested before it proved worthy of Ned’s Pack. Through her emotional fluctuations and eventually joining her siblings in exposing Littleginger, Sansa finally came to realise where her loyalty lay, which is probably why D&D gave her Ned’s (and book Arya’s) iconic line about the Lone Wolf. Sansa is no longer the lone wolf.
There is a saying in german – in rough translation:
One man asks, “What follows then?”
The other, “Right behave?”
And in this question differs so
The free one from the slave.
A ruler finally must make decisions and can’t endlessly discuss everyones objection – in Westeros they know nothing about democracy and equal rights, they know about kings and lordship, about violence and force and suppression – but he/she must have an idea, what have to follow.
There was a sequence, when Talisa asked Robb, what his plans were for after the war, and he said, “First I must win the war.”
That was poor, wasn’t it?
And this is, what I wonder: no one of all the kings and queens above seem to have a plan, what’s to follow. We think about that later. First we must win.
Good night fellows, please don’t bite Your heads off!
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
Very convincing! You’ve got me backtracking on my initial impression that Jon did right by bringing young Ned Umber and Alys Karstark back into the fold with the stirring “Now and always!” pledge. (Though I have to admit, I thought Jon’s Johnson was giving him advice to make nice with pretty ginger Alys.)
It wasn’t just one wayward Karstark son who’d betrayed the Starks. Old man Rickard Karstark betrayed Robb, and then Harald (?) and their men joined up with Ramsay. The Umbers were worse: Rickon was taken there because the Umbers were supposed to be the Starks’ most loyal bannermen, and would protect Rickon, Osha and Shaggydog with their lives. Instead. they served up all three to sicko Ramsay to be butchered and mutilated.
Ned Umber’s a cute kid, but I’ll bet there are cute kids – now orphans – of some of the 62 Bear Islanders who did NOT break faith with House Stark, and gave their lives in the battle to retake WF from the Boltons.
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
“We know thanks to the multiple betrayals suffered by Robb, Jon and the Starks that words and oaths are cheap and that it’s actions that prove or disprove a person’s loyalty/honor.”
Yeah, and wasn’t Jon saying just the episode before (S6e10): “My father used to say, we find our true friends on the battlefield.”
Dany clearly deserves an A. She literally ended slavery. It is hard to top that.
I think Jon gets too dinged here. But certainly going on the wight hunt instead of just bending the knee was a huge blunder.
Mance is too high in my opinion. The man let his pride get in the way of the well being of his people and now almost all of them are in th AOtD.
Would have knocked Stannis down a few points for the spectacular way it all came undone for him.
Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,
I often see people arguing that forgiving the Karstarks and Umbers and letting them keep their lands/titles will inspire loyalty and bring The North together.
But on what basis is that considered beyond doubt?
Nothing can be considered beyond doubt, including the assumption that stripping the Umber and the Karstark kids of their castle would ensure that they would never be able to go against House Stark. The Starks themselves were stripped of all power, and their home, by the Lannisters/Boltons.. and yet they managed to fight back and regain what they had lost. What is the guarantee that the Umbers and the Karstarks would never have been able to do this?
Jon’s decision was sound, irrespective of the fact that he did not listen to Sansa. He not only showed magnanimity to those kids, but also reminded them what he did to traitors, he reminded them of the traitors he has executed in the past, that he would not hesitate in swinging the sword himself. Being magnanimous does not mean that he would forgive treason. And if word did spread about what happened to Alliser Thorne and co, it would act as a further warning for anyone considering treason.
And which are these northern lords who should have been rewarded? House Mormont was the only house that fought with the Starks (I am not considering House Mazin and the other minor house here, since they have remained offscreen) and Lyanna Mormont’s loyalty does not depend on how many castles she is given. Besides, she has all of 62 men. How are they supposed to hold 3 castles between them? The Wildlings were the only other people who fought for the Starks. But how would the other northern lords have reacted if Jon had given away these ancient lands to the Wildlings? Not well, I am guessing.
And as for the other northern lords, they are some of the most fickle people on Westeros who deserve nothing. Like Lord Glover, who first refused to fight for the Starks. And then asked forgiveness from Jon and swore eternal fealty to him, only to be ready to betray him in just a matter of weeks, due to being influenced by Littlefinger. No amount of castles would ensure the loyalty of scum like him.
Come on. We are evaluating various charaters’ PERFORMANCE on the throne. When has Arya sat a throne? Sure, she might potentially be good. But that’s really irrelevant to the discussion that’s going on.
So that kinda tells me that Jon is simply making decisions that will bring about the fate he is destined for, the prince that was promised has a date with the NK and not just to kill him but imo these events unfolding will culminate in some kind of shift in the realm of magic in this world . The old gods and the new etc. have guided events unbeknownst to him or anyone else save Melisandra and other seers like her.
Yep, if I had to be ruled by a king Jon would be my choice because he’s forthright and trustworthy, he’s in no way a tyrant nor will he shy away from his less desirable duties. He commands respect but only because he feels he’s truly earning it. He’s merciful and judges on case by case basis. I mean, can you get any better than a guy who’s main goal in life has been trying to protect/save the world? Lol. I can’t judge Dany side by side so far because the supernatural element of the dragons. They would by nature affect her attitude and actions. Who is she without them? Who would Jon be with them?
Hmm so with Melisandre basically saying she did her job with bringing ice and fire together while overlooking Jon arriving at Dragonstone, one now has to wonder which side she’s on/who she works for. Did she want them together because her visions show it will be the catalyst to giving the NK an ice dragon to take down the wall? If so, why? Are the NK and Lord of light in cahoots or something? Lol.
I am with you on this. There is so much of interest to come out of the revelation that I can’t wait for it to happen and don’t understand why some fans would like it to stay hidden. Also, the show has been building up the revelation of Jon’s heritage for two seasons now, putting the bits of information as cliffhangers in two consecutive season finales. You do something like that only if important consequences regarding the plot and the fates of the characters are to be expected of it. At least, that’s my opinion:)
I wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence! I did get to like Sansa’s character as well. And because I really enjoyed all of your comments down here and because you wrote “loved her in the book, right from the start“, I would like to know why that is? Would you mind explaining?
Me personally, I had a hard time with her in the beginning. I started to like her slowly from Sansa II onwards where she did show compassion towards Sandor Clegane. I was on the fence in regards to Sansa for a long time, until I watched a great (imo) video called “If You Hate Sansa Stark You Are Wrong”, which I agree with. I never hated Sansa btw, just disliked some of her actions, which are understandable from her perspective, her character is understandable… And now I am back to the sentence that you made which I absolutely agree with, truly! 😉
But this also brings me to this:
The thing Grail King agrees on is this:
And the irony is seemingly lost on them.
Disclaimer: I don’t accuse you of this Grail King and Ramsay’s 20th Good Man.
I agree that there seems to be a larger amount of people not liking or even hating Sansa or her actions, but there is also a certain amount of people bashing Arya and her actions. And I would always agree that critique is totally fine, but it should be within reason and with understanding the other side, which some of these extreme opinions are not, imo.
But this is what I truly hate: the unnecessary vicious cycle of “if you dislike Arya, I dislike Sansa” and “if you dislike Sansa, I dislike Arya”. Dislike the actions of a character, that’s totally fine and understandable, but when it gets out of reasonable limits, I’m out. I know, GRRM probably kind of anticipated this with how he wrote the story in the first place and I’m definitely also guilty of taking sides subjectively, which also means I am not being categorically unbiased, but I would like to think within reason and being able of meta analyses afterwards and understanding the other side.
Saying “I don’t hate Arya, I just like Sansa, Jon and Ned more” and than rattle reasons off which do not show why you like certain characters more, but instead basically show why you dislike a character. Why not start with “I dislike Arya”? That would have been the truth of it if you consider the rant that followed to this statement which is made obviously with blindfolds on for one character but not for another. This is the epitome of the quote above: “People actively ignore things in order to suit their bias.”
Have a bit more empathy both ways! Ugh, so frustrating…
*btw: What does WRG mean?
**Sorry that I went sooo off topic in regards to the original post:
I would have given Jon and Dany a B and the Night King an A. 😉
Along those lines, I’d still like to know how NK was able to see and touch AvatarBran when Bran decided to go vision-joyriding while 3ER was napping. Nobody else “saw” AvatarBran or Avatar3ER during their prior tree-trips. How come NK was able to? And how did grabbing AvatarBran’s wrist result in a magic shield-deactivating tattoo on RealBran’s wrist?
It’s also got me wondering if NK is able to “hack” into Bran’s weirwood transmissions (e.g., when Young Ned thought he heard something; and when Young Wyllis heard “hold the door”), or maybe even send out broadcasts of his own.
If NK is able to “wiretap” Bran, that could make it risky for Bran to go on vision quests.
If NK somehow acquired these magical powers, it’d be hard to rate him lower than “A” on the King-Queen rankings.
– End tinfoil speculation –
“I would have given Jon and Dany a B and the Night King an A. 😉”
My goodness! It’s looking like Night King, a write-in candidate, is running away with this contest! I haven’t seen a grade below “A” for him yet.
Since they left out a lot of the mystical elements, clues and prophetic stuff or whatever from the books (from what I hear) I couldn’t begin to realistically speculate on those things with Bran and NK and it’s no fun really lol. I’ve read there is not even a NK in the books. And Martin is to have said there really are no “gods” either right? So there’s just magic but what are the guiding opposing force(s) behind the magic? If there are no hard and fast rules in that world of the supernatural impacting the natural anything can happen, and I suppose it doesn’t have to even make sense except very broadly.
Glad we’re on the same page!
The reveal of Jon’s parentage is too juicy not to explore immediately into season 8. The fall out should take place over the season at a gradual pace.
I’m I the only one that thinks Robert should have a higher grade. Yes he wasn’t much of a king but he did rule the seven kingdoms for 17 years with a relative peace (except the Greyjoy rebelion) which is better then all those other kings combined (except Mance).
Indeed! And Sansa ain’t gonna like it, in my opinion. Now she will have to bend the knee to that bastard she and her mother always hated. On the other hand, if she behaves, maybe Daenerys and Jon will let her keep Winterfell. And Tyrion.
What an interesting article, JoeMagician, thank you, and what interesting comments and discussion BTL, thank you, all you WotWers.
As to grading the kings and queens… I agree with Renly getting an i for incomplete. He had potential for C+ or even B+, but we’ll never know. That’s actually why I rate Stannis lower than you do. His reliance on the Red Witch (not my words, Ser Davos’s), that is, his willingness to rely on her (black) magic while not really being a Rholler believer paints him as a hypocrite and a man so consumed by his sibling resentment and ambition that he’ll do anything, anything, and justify it as his “duty”. Thoroughly unpleasant man, thoroughly unpleasant actions, though some of them were effective. I’d give him a C+, just for listening to Ser Davos on occassion, and saving the Night’s Watch.
Viserys and Joff are clearly Fs… though maybe Joff could be granted an F+ because he let uncle Tyrion and gramps Tywin do most of the ruling..?
I’d give Bobby B even C-. He clearly wasn’t a good king but he let able people handle the administration so the realm had peace and prosperity during his reign. His grade gets downmarked by what came after.
Balon Greyjoy – D by any stantard. The “Old Way” just cannot be ressurrected. Asha/Yara knows it, tries to find a different way forward (I’d bet she’d be a B- as queen/lady of the Iron Islands). Euron plays to the “Old Way”, a great populist, very successfull so far, so must be granted a C.
Tommen was only young. He was a good person and tried his best when he was in way above his head. I’d give him D+.
Now we come to the interesting end. Cersei, Jon, Robb, Mance, Dany.
I agree with C- for Cersei. She’s a horrible person and a tyrant, but she has been effective, so far.
I’d rate the glorious, romatic Young Wolf Robb Stark as C-. He evoked loyalty from his bannermen but squandered it all. Reading his story/watching it is like watching a train wreck in slow-motion, all the more poignant/frustrating for knowing it didn’t have to be that way. Poor Robb, he brought it on himself.
I’d argue his bastard brother (actually cousin) Jon is doing better. He sees the bigger picture and (quite mercenarily) uses his family connection for his family’s AND the greater good. He’s worked so hard for the realms of men, though making mistakes on the way. I’d give him a B+
Mance did a tremendous job, uniting all the Wildling clans for one purpose, and nearly achieved it. A-.
Dany has a tender, good heart, yet crucifies and burns innocents. She doesn’t quite know how to use the power she has for the good she tells herself she wants to do. Oh, and she left her “training ground” Meereen in the hands of her jilted lover, a fickle and ruthless mercenary Daario, so I suppose everything has gone to shit by now. B, maybe B+ for Dany.
So I rate Jon higher than the article, Stannis, Dany, Robb lower. Oh well, it’s all fiction.
Apologies for the overly long post.
“People were more or less fine, but it had little to do with Robert himself” is a great quote from the article that sums up my feelings on him.
Not having much to deal with doesn’t really make you a good or bad leader. I think how you deal with problems that arise during your reign is the true mark of a good/bad leader.
I don’t think Robert was terrible, however, he didn’t teach his son and heir Joffrey a thing about ruling or even how to be a respectable human. Had he been a better father then Joffrey might not have turned out so bad and Cersei might not have felt the need to whack him. He also blew through money leaving the seven kingdoms that he ruled over in debt.
Could’ve been worse, but could’ve been a lot better.
Somewhere above some commenters were saying Sansa wanted to ursurp Jon in S7. I just don’t know where they get this idea, unless it’s their dislike of Sansa and willfully misunderstanding/misinterpreting things.
There was the scene where the Northern lords were grumbling about their newly proclaimed king going south, hinting that Lady Sansa would’ve been a better ruler. Sansa flat out says Jon knows best. If that isn’t a demonstration of loyalty, what is?
Veangeful, angry Arya wants their heads for disagreeing with Jon’s choices, Sansa knows you don’t just kill people who disagree with your political or personal choices.
BTW, earlier on, Sansa’s view on how to handle houses that betrayed the Starks – the Umbers and the Karstarks – to attaint them is standard procedure. Sansa wasn’t advocating killing the kids, just taking their titles and lands and giving them as a reward to someone who actually helped the Starks in their war. A standard procedure in a feudal society. Then maybe rearing the kids as noble Stark wards, still having a better life than any smallfolk. Jon chose otherwise, following the idea Tywin Lannister once told Joffrey: When your enemies kneel, you help them up.
So I’m a bit baffled about why much of the fandom condemn Sansa for suggesting to follow normal feudal society prodecures – attaint the Umbers and Karstarks – and complement Jon for using his prerogative as King to show mercy…. And then lustily agree with Arya that anybody disagreeing with her or her idea of Jon should have their heads roll. She suggested taking the heads of Lords Glover and others because they dared to disagree with her favourite brother Jon’s decisions. Sansa knew better.
There’s no simple answer on this point, like there aren’t on any concerning this TV show or these books.
Sansa hated Jon? Where book or show was this established? And how does she has to behave, so Jon and Dany let her keep her (and Arya and Bran) home?
Why do people fault Dany for not unilaterally deciding the government of Slavers Bay? Shouldn’t it be the people themselves? Do you really think she just left Daario and split? The had to be a temporary government set up until the people could draft their own constitution. I know most here are from the US isn’t that what you all love? Democracy Freedom and well guns but we will ignore that last one. The former masters were defeated. They aren’t coming back. Her job was done there and I am personally glad there were 0 scenes about the establishment of a follow up government in slavers bay. It’s just another nitpick. Dany has made mistakes. They are outlined in the above article. No need to make stuff up.
Don’t worry about it. They’re just baiting. Not sure why they felt it necessary. Everybody else seemed to be having a pretty respectful discussion. This site, thankfully, isn’t reddit or tumblr.
I think the very concept of a “constitution” is fairly modern, like the last few hundred years. Moreover, “democracy” as in everybody gets to vote, doesn’t stand a chance unless most everyone is well educated, understands how their government works, has learned a lot of history, and has good sources of accurate news.
Not a chance of any one of those factors in Westeros. Heck, we don’t even have this in the US anymore, and look what’s happened!!
But – back to Daenerys’s retreat from Slaver’s Bay. I’m pretty sure the show did this too fast and as an afterthought, like they killed off everyone in Dorne (slight exaggeration). Don’t know what the books will do to resolve “the Meereenese knot”, but that, too, may involve a preemptive pull-out and leaving those awful people to return to their disgusting customs. Blood and fire! (At least, that’s how I think Dany and the other Westerosi view the “master” class of Slaver’s Bay.) But their slaves will have known freedom, and that could make a difference, possibly leading to revolts, guerilla warfare like the Sons of the Harpy, and possible freedom again. If so, this would have been some good done by the Dragon Queen.
Perhaps “hate” was too strong a word. Disdained, maybe. We do know that Catelyn hated Jon. And by “behave”, I mean accepting this “foreign” woman as Jon’s queen and possibly spouse, rather than acting rude and cold to her.
There’s no reason Arya and Bran couldn’t continue in Winterfell under “different management.” Possibly their own, Bran being the de facto Lord. Sansa could eventually return to Casterly Rock with her little hubby.
I’d go for a softer version of ‘disdain’ – more ‘look down on.’ I never felt any ill-will or personal dislike from Sansa toward Jon in the books, and they seem to remember each other fondly, but Sansa definitely looked down on Jon’s social status, yeah.
Definitely agree with your whole post! 🙂 Also, I’d likewise give Jon and Dany a B, and the Night King an A 🙂
It might not have seemed very evident on the show itself, but in D&D’s outline for S7 that was leaked online, they clearly mention that in the scene where the Lords Glover and Royce are backing Sansa to become their ruler, Sansa was tempted to take up their offer, even though she ultimately does not act upon them. In the scene itself, there is a hesitation by Sansa after the Lords speak up, before she speaks up for Jon. That was because she was tempted. A part of Sansa’s arc last season was reconciling her loyalty to her family with her personal ambitions. And her last scene of the season, where she talks about the pack sticking together, was the culmination of this conflict where she realized that her loyalty to her family would always come first.
And Arya saw and sensed Sansa’s temptation, that’s why she was hostile towards her. Arya was trained to read people, to separate lies from truth, and she could sense Sansa’s thoughts. Arya did not pull this out of thin air, you know.
In that scene in episode 5, this exchange:
Arya: And if Jon does not come back, you’ll need their (Lord Gover, Royce and others) support, so that you can work together, to give you what you really want,.
Sansa: How can you think such a horrible thing?
Arya: You are thinking it right now. You don’t want to be, but the thoughts just won’t go away.
Sansa then looks shifty, does not reply to this and deflects saying “I have work to do”. That is because Arya was right in what she said. Sansa was conflicted, and that’s why Arya didn’t trust her.
Look at this from Arya’s point of view. She has always valued loyalty to family above everything else. In the books, loyalty to her pack was a recurring theme in her chapters across all the books. Even on the show, she gave up on her quest to kill Cersei, when she heard that Jon was in Winterfell. Even though revenge has been the main driving force for her for all these years, she was willing to give it up the moment she heard about Jon, That’s how much she values family. And when she did not see this same degree of loyalty in Sansa, she became hostile.
It isn’t just about Jon and Sansa. If say, for any reason, Jon were to betray Sansa next season to gain power, she would never support it. But the thing is, Jon would never do such a thing. That’s why Jon and Arya are so close, their value systems match each other so well.
So I’m a bit baffled about why much of the fandom condemn Sansa for suggesting to follow normal feudal society prodecures – attaint the Umbers and Karstarks – and complement Jon for using his prerogative as King to show mercy…. And then lustily agree with Arya that anybody disagreeing with her or her idea of Jon should have their heads roll. She suggested taking the heads of Lords Glover and others because they dared to disagree with her favourite brother Jon’s decisions. Sansa knew better.
I have so far not come across anyone who agreed with Arya’s suggestion to kill Lords Glover and the others for dissenting. Even the most ardent Arya fans either admitted she was out of line, or tried to explain away her behavior by saying she was putting on an act or blamed the writing for her character. I fall in the last category. I think the writers did a disservice to her character by having her act out of character, just for the sake of some Stark drama.
We all know Arya likes killing and that she loves Jon. But nothing in the prior 6 seasons had suggested that she lacks common sense or basic human intelligence. Or that she likes killing indiscriminately. She is not a psychopath, she is not Joffrey. She has only killed people who have already themselves committed crimes. She did not kill Lady Crane, she did not kill those Lannister soldiers. Suggesting to behead someone for showing dissent would have been totally in character for someone like Joffrey, not Arya. Arya is not Joffrey.
ghost of winterfell,
Hear, hear! Well put.
And at least I would never come to the conclusion that this conflict within her makes Sansa a bad person. On the contrary, I understand where she is coming from, it makes total sense for her character. This makes her character more interesting to me. And in the end Sansa did choose her family, just like Arya chose her family at the inn at the crossroads. That’s what matters.
Btw: Can we also give Tyrion a grade? At least a gold star? 😉
I can’t remember exactly how it went down with the mountain clans, but didn’t he improbably brought the clans together (which Tyrion ‘came across’) under his leadership and then, convinced them to fight with him? 😁
Excellent point here. I’m fully in the “ardent Arya fan” category, and I disagreed with her remark about killing the Lords. And I certainly didn’t agree with her advancing on Sansa with a knife threatening to cut off her face. (But I also blame the writing). Taking it at face value though, it’s actually quite sad to see how her experiences have affected her, and how she at times has these flashes of irrational behaviour. i.e. “No One” is maybe still a small part of her, and comes out when she feels threats against her family.
I would like to add that when it comes to favourite characters, we don’t always have to agree with what they say or do, or always take their side. They’re flawed and make mistakes just like we do in real life. I love Arya, for example, because I find her to be one of the most layered and complex characters in the story. Beneath her violent tendencies is a traumatized young girl who is lost, confused, and in pain, who has managed to survive against all odds using her wits, determination and skill. There is a darkness in her that has been nurtured by some not-so-good influences, but fundamentally she is kind, compassionate, and fiercely loyal. She has incredible strength, but there is still a vulnerability in her. All these elements of her character (and more.. I don’t want to turn this into a short story) make Arya one of the most compelling characters to read/watch.
He convinced Shagga with Lannister bribes. His portion of the Stone Crows then agreed to fight with/for him out of greed. The show version had multiple clans.
Book!Shagga and his band stay with Tyrion to KL and then decide to relocate in the kingswood instead of going back to The Vale with Shagga as chief of a ‘new’ clan.
That damn short edit timer…
the books and show did have multiple clans go with Tyrion; Burned Men, Painted Dogs, etc.
I guess the point for this topic is, Tyrion paid for their service.
Thanks! I appreciate that you took the time to read it. 🙂
I don’t know about disdain, but scant regard is definitely a part of Sansa’s thoughts on Jon in AGoT, so yeah, ‘look down on’ is probably pretty close. Just like young Bran ‘looked down on’ the girls for being girls. 😉 And I also never felt like it was something personal, more like certain social standards spoon-fed by Catelyn and Septa Mordane. So yes, ill-will isn’t it either.
Although I do not let it pass that Sansa let Arya feel bad (which is one of the reasons Arya has feelings of not being enough in AGoT). Not following the rules or being bad at something does not give you a free pass to initiate an humiliation of your younger sister in front of an audience, imo. I don’t know why somebody would have the need to do this.
But I get that, again, it’s probably something Sansa learnt from Septa Mordane. Just according to the motto: “If she constantly scolds Arya, why not? She probably deserves it.” Sansa probably never had the feeling of being inadequate, because she is so good at being a lady and therefore has a hard time to empathize with Arya. Totally a Septa Mordane rant. I know. 😉
Thanks for the info. Appreciated! And yeah, dang, the edit clock runs fast. 😁
Totally agree with you. Some (uneducated) people say she is a psycho or what not, but she has no mental illnesses, she is just traumatized. But at the same time she is very resilient.
Just recently I made the following comment on one of her earlier chapters (a little short story too 😉 ) :
“I just love Arya’s unique perspective, which shows in Arya II. I mean you already got it in parts in Sansa I, but here you can look into her head again. She doesn’t think about social boundaries as everyone else in her highborn environment. She just sees everyone as equal, including princes and commoners, that’s why she is so irritated and frustrated with everyone around her in this chapter and had no issues defending her friend against the crown prince.
There is this little part in the chapter where Arya pulls her clothes out of her chest.
Needle, a token from her bastard brother. It‘s a nice little metaphor that it is no matter to her if you are highborn or lowborn. She doesn’t care about noble and fine stuff as long as you are a decent human being. I think this ‘color blindness’ is what elevated her likability factor from the beginning. I never really liked the notion that her popularity was just based on her being a tomboy. At least I don’t think that’s true.” End of story. 😁
Loving the A for Dany!
I think Renly would have been the best of the bunch, to be honest.
I’m not sure how Renly would have been in the seat. You may be right. With Margaery on his arm they may have earned some high favorability among the people. One has to question though if the High Sparrow would have still gotten on his high horse and worked against him in the same way for the same reasons he did Loras.
It’s as if you plucked my thoughts out of my brain and put them on the screen. I concur completely with your ratings/ critiques, especially about Stannis, Robb, Dany, and Jon.
YES, again! Now, I’m not going to get into Sansa vs. Arya mess, or even the Sansa’s loyalty questions, but, briefly, Sansa’s suggestion about the Karstarks and Umbers was in keeping with the feudal norm. Jon’s larger concern was keeping the north intact, to the best of his ability. As noted, Tywin understood this tactic, as did Aegon the Conqueror as it is how he brought opposing forces into fold. Both were valid, and Jon heard her advice and chose to trust his (I think in this case) better judgment. Neither option is without potential backlash.
Further, I think it’s interesting that Jon gets blamed for Tyrion’s wight hunt plan, but no credit, for example, for stopping Dany from burning down King’s Landing (she listened to him, not Tyrion).
Also, I know some people felt that if Jon just bent the knee sooner, then they could just get on with things, but Jon couldn’t do that. He needed his men for the northern fight, not to be conscripted into Dany’s army to fight where and when she wanted. That would’ve regulated the AotD, something none of her retinue really believed in, as an afterthought that she’d get around to when it suited her needs. Dany’s stubborn focus on the throne rather than the true threat to the realm is what necessitated the wight hunt, not so much Cersei. Sure, it was done in name to convince Cersei to a “cease fire”, but ultimately and most importantly it swayed Dany.
Now, do I blame Dany for not understanding the threat? No. As Davos conceded, “It sounds like nonsense.” But Jon was downgraded for going on the fool’s errand in the first place, it was because he needed Dany’s armies and her dragons for the true fight, and, unfortunately, that’s what it took to open her eyes and turn her away from the fight in the south. Perhaps she should be downgraded for requiring such a thing in the first place.
P.S. I love Dany, but this analysis seemed a little lopsided.
Queen Margaery = A+. Just because her reign was cut short by Cersei and the High Hypocrite shouldn’t exclude her from consideration. She had the best qualities. She had the best long game going – until the Mother of Madness blew up the board.
ghost of winterfell,
You’re definitely right here. Didn’t really want to get into any of this, but I thought D&D were trying to make Sansa’s season 7 internal conflict fairly clear… she’s wanted “power” her whole life (ever since she wanted to be Queen in season 1), and through a bit of LF manipulation, she feels this internal conflict that she still wants power. It was set up from the season 6 finale with LF’s talk with her in the Godswood about who the North should rally behind, and then again in that finale with the look exchange that LF and Sansa have after Jon is crowned King.
I can see where people might get confused, especially since that scene with Sansa and the Northern lords after Jon leaves for Dragonstone isn’t the most clear, but it was definitely put in the season to show her conflicting feelings. This isn’t to say she wanted to betray Jon, hated Jon or any of that; just to say that she, like many people would be if they were in her position, had a desire for power (part of this probably stemming from everything LF has been telling her, basically that it is her right to have Winterfell).
Thankfully for all of us, Sansa chose wisely.
This whole discussion just got me wondering again what IS an acceptable place or position for the remaining characters at the end of the story. It’s doubtful that all of them will make it through S8, but if they did it’s an interesting thing to ponder… Where would they be or should they be if they live?
A few for thoughts…
Jon & Daenerys:
It’s difficult to picture them not being king and queen. Their stations at this point are seemingly too high for them to be something else, especially considering if they live they would have led the people to victory over Evil and tyranny. Their balance together may actually be the best leadership Westeros could get.
It’s almost impossible to believe she’ll live, but if she does it’s even harder to believe she’ll be queen. She has to be gone from the 7K in some fashion, like banished to a far away land (or driven into hibernation in the LoAW as the Night Queen). 😉
One might quickly suggest he’d continue as hand and advisor to J&D, or as Lord of Casterly Rock. I think his ending should be stepping away from politics and such obligations. A quiet and content life in his “Imp’s Delight” vineyard sounds proper.
At this point, if everyone else were to live, I don’t see her as anything less than or other than Lady of (rebuilt) Winterfell and Warden of The North. I don’t think Jon will take the seat and no other Stark is more likely. She’ll feel it’s her duty to fulfill but also desire it even more than any desire to be queen.
It still seems unlikely that she becomes the Lady of a House and also not likely to just live at Winterfell. She’s too adventurous and free-spirited so her ending should be leaving for west of Westeros. Ideally for me, Gendry would go with her.
Bran: no clue. Can he even live a normal life anymore?
I’ll think about the others to myself… 🙂
I don’t know where you got this idea that Sansa wanted to be queen because she was interested in power.
I’m not going to repeat everything she said about Joffrey and marriage and babies during the first 6 episodes of the show, since I wouldn’t want to make people nauseous, but needless to say power never came into the equation.
For the next 4 seasons we don’t get any inkling that she craves power. I imagine that while she was being tormented and humiliated by Joffrey, Cersei, Meryn Trant and everybody else at court the thought of power would naturally have been appealing from a vengeful and self-preserving point of view; yet it’s never expressed or pursued on-screen as far as I remember.
And her grateful reaction to a kind gesture from Tyrion or an offer of friendship from Margaery suggests someone seeking love and comfort rather than power.
Again, in Season 4, her happiness at meeting Aunt Lysa and her apparent displeasure at the prospect of marrying Robyn Arryn and becoming Lady of the Vale doesn’t seem like the behaviour of somebody craving power.
In Season 5 she married Ramsay seeking vengeance.
Only in Seasons 6 & 7 could it be argued that there’s any hint of power-hungriness, although even that’s debatable and any such motives unclear.
Especially since she rejects it at every opportunity – she rejects Littlefinger repeatedly; rejects the Vale/Northern Lords; happily reminds Bran that he is the rightful Lord of Winterfell; begs Jon not to leave and repeatedly wishes he was still around; worries about Jon’s army disbanding in his absence and trusts his word on the Night King; etc.
This idea of Sansa craving power seems to be based simply on her disagreeing with Jon early in Season 7, on Arya’s magic mind-reading plot device and the cast/producers hyping up a potential “Starkbowl” that never truly occurred.
Did Sansa face some internal conflict over power in The North, especially after Jon disappeared for months without contact, the Northern Lords’ loyalties started to waver and she had Littlefinger whispering in her ear?
I guess. Although it’s really never truly conveyed apart from in that Arya mind-reading scene.
Was it because she craves power and always has done?
Speaking for myself it’s already gotten to be a bit nauseating, whether it’s the aggressive attacks against Sansa or the equally aggressive defense of Sansa, but ymmv.
I don’t think, Sansa’s craving power, too.
Once, when she was a girl and longs to become queen, it wasn’t for power, it was for queeny life, diamonds as girl’s best friends, dressed in white satin etc, music and dance, giggling court ladies, noble king at her side… quite romantic. Too much rosy fairy tales.
She learned hard by life, dreams and hopes are burst and the only thing she was longing for, was to come home.
And now at the point, when she is back at Winterfell again, home, her only interest is to keep it, that also means to keep the North.
And that explains perhaps, that she was suspicious of Arya in the beginning, before she had assured herself, that Arya is on the same side. Sansa couldn’t really know, when Arya arrives after many years, whilst there were no solid information about her.
One point, I though about… Sansa as an women, two times married, no sex with Tyrion, no kids – what did Ramsey do to her? No pregnancy? No kids? Can she ever become pregnant since Ramsey’s loving torture ever?
She once saw herself with many propper kids…
What might that mean for her?
She came home and acted like a Lady… may be… like an mother of Winterfell/the North?
This echoes a lot of my thinking! Would say, though, re: Cersei – I don’t see her surviving.
” Cersei – I don’t see her surviving.”
Nor do I.
Did anyone notice: the captured wight in the dragonpit… as soon as he was loose he pounced straightaway on Cercei.
Reminded me of LotR, the scene in front of the door of Moria, when the monster of the lake straightaway haunted for Frodo…
Become wight or – better – NQ and then be “killed” by… whom?
My personal beliefs on their endings as it stands right now, though could be subject to many changes over the next year:
Arya – Sailing West of Westeros
Gendry – Sailing with Arya
Sansa – Queen in the North
Tyrion – Drinking his Imp’s Delight as Lord of Casterly Rock
Cersei – She dead. Maybe once as herself and a second time as a wight, but at least once for sure.
Bran – Either dies in some sacrificial way or goes off to be the 3 Eyed Raven 2.0, but I’ll go with the former for now.
Jon/Dany – This what I’m having the most trouble figuring out. My gut tells me that Jon will die in some sacrificial way and Dany will get the throne that she wants so badly, but she’ll end up finding that it wasn’t worth the cost. I have a hard time believing they will both live.
Jorah – Dies in an effort to save Dany
Sandor – Dies saving Arya? Not sure, but I don’t think Sandor makes it one way or another.
Jaime – Dies in Brienne’s arms
Brienne – No idea yet. Could go either way. I could see her living, but I could see her dying too.
Davos – Same. Could go either way, but I could see him dying more than living right now.
Mel/Varys – Obviously both will die
Missandei/Greyworm – They’re kind of a package deal, so I think they’ll either both live or both die. My gut says they live.
Also, IF Dany gets pregnant then I think it means Dany survives the series. There’s no way Dany gets pregnant just for that baby to die before it’s born. She’ll need to stay alive for at least 9 months, so unless there’s some sort of time leap in season 8, Dany survives the series…Or dies in childbirth at the end, but I don’t think so for now…
umm…D gets an A? Only if you like your Lords extra crispy. Conquering, sure give her an A. But ruling no way. She gets a C at best. If she didn’t have the dragons, she really wouldn’t get anywhere. Burning the Tarlys was an extremely bad idea. They were valuable hostages that she could’ve traded for idk Yara Greyjoy, the person who had commanded a huge part of her fleet.
And Sansa, as regent in the North, definitely gets an A. She’s the only one keeping things together.
Veangeful, angry Arya wants their heads for disagreeing with Jon’s choices, Sansa knows you don’t just kill people who disagree with your political or personal choices.
And so does Arya. It was shocking to hear especially only because we’ve seen Arya for years,and know she’s never hurt anyone who wasn’t guilty of a crime against innocents. The lords were never in danger from her. In that whole scene she was lie-detecting Sansa, and she needed to assess Sansa’s responses. When Sansa did pass the test, it freed Arya to turn her full attention to Littlefinger. BTW, while spying she saw LF talking closely with those two lords, which implies LF was behind their plea. So she confirmed he he was probably behind that effort.
BTW, earlier on, Sansa’s view on how to handle houses that betrayed the Starks – the Umbers and the Karstarks – to attaint them is standard procedure. Sansa wasn’t advocating killing the kids, just taking their titles and lands and giving them as a reward to someone who actually helped the Starks in their war. A standard procedure in a feudal society. .. So I’m a bit baffled about why much of the fandom condemn Sansa for suggesting to follow normal feudal society prodecures – attaint the Umbers and Karstarks – and complement Jon for using his prerogative as King to show mercy…. And then lustily agree with Arya that anybody disagreeing with her or her idea of Jon should have their heads roll.
As I said, so did anyone who not only realized Arya was speaking totally out of character, but that she was using a Faceless Man method to determine critical information. But in answer to your other question…you’re entirely right about Sansa suggesting what would have been common and even considered merciful in the Mediaeval period. And Sansa was rightly disturbed when Jon reminded her that the punishment for treason was death. I suspect some of the criticism had to do with the irony that a someone who had been a teenage prisoner of people who were unkind to her for what her father and brother had done didn’t herself extend any sympathy to two kids in a similar situation. IMO, it’s a minor infraction–everyone is a hypocrite at times. FWIW, I’ve never heard anyone say heads should have rolled. Gods forbid!
Well, yes, but Cersei gave the high sparrow the power to do so, the opportunity to do so..
I think that Renly was a gentle king, but also showed that he had tactical intellect in my opinion. (show Renly) and being married to Marg would only have improved his reign for the better.
I agree to your whole comment, but this statement especially. Some people seem to forget that humans make mistakes, it’s totally normal. That’s why we need empathy and someone who kindly reminds us from time to time that we and the people we love (who we still love regardless) made and make mistakes too.
That we can argue about this with those characters…we have to thank George for that. 🙂
Dany: “I will have a very large army and very large dragons.”
Tyrion: “Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.”
It’s funny, but not all that unusual I guess, that conversation in a thread titled “Ranking Game of thrones queens and kings” veers off heavily towards Sansa. Who, as far as I can recall, never held either title 🙂
Not yet anyway 😉
Hmm, maybe Arya and Gendry can go be queen and king of the Dragon’s Bay cities from Meereen. 😛
Really great article! For me I hope Jon ends up ruling, he’s compassionate, brave, fair and the rightful heir. Having recently re-watched S2 I also have the same feeling that I only wish that Renly had won because he would have made a fairly decent ruler in the South and was clearly aligned with Robb, in fact had Stannis not assinated him I’d be confident he would have won the crown and Robb would have returned to the North victorious too.
Must admit I was extremely surprised to see Dany get an “A” here especially ahead of Jon, Robb who were much better rulers. Interesting take on Mance though, would not have given him such a high rating but the rationale provided I fully agree with.
That’s a good point. I really like Dany, I think she’s got potential, but I have no earthly idea why Dany burned the food when she knew she needed the food. But yes, it did look cool.
Just like I have no idea why Sansa withheld information about the army of the Vale. I have no idea why Jon publically dropped that ‘I’m going to Dragonstone now!’ bombshell on Sansa without telling her beforehand. I have no idea why Sansa kept on publicly arguing with Jon after her initial objection and he made his decision. And I really have no idea why those two don’t discuss shit in private first. And I have no idea WTF Arya’s deal was and why she was just being so extreme and scary with Sansa.
I love the show, I love it, so many things I adore about the show, but contrivance. Jeeeeezus, contrivance. The Sansa-Arya conflict, in particular, made me feel unsettled. While I felt like Jon and Sansa should have duked it out in private, their conflict felt like typical sibling bickering – they still felt like siblings who love each other but irritate the fuck out of one another. Arya’s deal with Sansa…. that felt so out of character and frightening because Arya loves her family above all else. I can’t see Arya ever threatening Sansa that way, no matter how much she prefers Jon. She loves her, all the Stark kids each other despite their differences. And Dany burning the food, the deal with withholding info about the Vale army, why people don’t discuss stuff before public meetings… No answers. Why? Why?
I’ve read fan metas on this but no… I can’t buy any of them. I think it might be to contrive drama. I understand the need for drama and I do love the show, but oh, the writers could have gone about it in better ways…
Cercei gets an automatic F for not protecting the realm against the walkers. Even faced with that threat she’s a petty madwoman.
Hi, Adriana. This theory is not widely believed, but I’ve watched, re-watched, and listened to the relevant videos. So I’m pretty sure that once Bran gave her LF’s Dagger, possibly as a signal, Arya temporarily became No One to protect her family and Winterfell from Littlefinger. She could not kill him–he and she were both under Guest Right and he was protected unless he attacked his hosts. So she displayed her skill with his Dagger and gave him the Death Glare, presumably to ensure he understood she was a threat. In a nutshell, her openly spying on him, actions around Sansa, and weird statements were all part of her Faceless Man-style ruse to essentially goad LF into trying to kill her. Before he could strike, she lured Sansa to her room and showed her how to do lie-detecting and gave her LF’s dagger as a signal. So in 7.07 Sansa realized LF was trying to manipulate her into killing Arya for a false reason and finally (and legally) took action against him. You don’t have to believe this, but at least the theory is consistent from the Godswood scene through the Sisters’ reconciliation on the battlements. Sansa would not have told Arya she was “the strongest person I know” unless she had bloody good reason to.
@ Stark Raven’ Rad
I can follow Your throughts :o)
Hi Stark Raven’ Rad, thank-you for explaining this theory to me 🙂
There is a reference to a Night King in the books but they are structured from a point of view of main characters at which point they have not yet set eyes on him. If I recall correctly the only chapters where the White Walkers are really seen is the battle of the first men (shown at the end of S2 through Sam’s eyes). Hardholme in the books happens but none of the main characters are there – in the show it makes far more sense for Jon to be there and of course then he sees the Nights King.
Interesting. Is there anywhere it explains what he, or WW in general looks like? I wonder if the current show NK is what George described to the writers or is their own idea.
She’s don’t nothing good except free the slaves
And to look at it from a cynical (or perhaps realistic) Point of view her biggest reason for doing so was because she needed an army. What better than one that would feel indebted to her for their very freedom. I mean, we know she’s basically a good person, but it’s not as if she risked anything in doing so.
I don’t recall any description at all just some tales being told a of Night Kings, and some reference that he was once part of the Nights Watch (but I may be mistaken there).
My interpretation is that the show took guidance from GRRM but likely also are pushing the Night King more in a tv visual as in the books the focus is more on the collective. I suspect in the books we won’t see the Nights King revealed fully until A Dream of Spring unless the Wall is passed at the end of Winds.
That would be pretty cool 🙂 I’d like both ladies to find someone special by the end of it.
No, the NK wasn’t a member of the Nightwatch. He was “created” by the Children of the Wood to fight the First Men. At this point there was no Nightwatch at all, the NW was founded later…
It’s correct in the show the Night King was created by the children, I thought in the book there was a story he was Nights Watch man who married a strange wildling woman – I could be incorrect though.
Yes, You are right, Jon Snowed, in the books he was the 13th Lord Commander of the NW :o)
The White Walker’s are actually described in the books as extremely elegant and beautiful (honestly sort of like the beauty that all Valyrians have). Can’t remember if I read this in the ASOIAF series or in the World of Ice and Fire book, but I definitely remember this and I’ve heard others mention it. If any of you like watching videos on this sort of stuff, I recently got into this YouTube channel “GrayArea.” She discusses all kinds of stuff about the books and TV show, and has some great videos about the background of the White Walkers. And her spoilers are always marked so you won’t accidentally stumble on anything (though there isn’t much to spoil for S8 yet that you wouldn’t see on WotW).
This is sort of true. The Night’s King in the books is not the same Night King on the TV show. And if there is a Night King in the books (we haven’t heard mention of one yet), he would also not be the same as this “Night’s King.” The Night’s King was a man of the Night’s Watch who was a Stark, was the Lord Commander, and fell in love with a strange woman who was thought to possibly be a White Walker. Not exactly positive on how this story ends, but I believe the Night’s King (and the woman who he fell in love with, his Night’s Queen) caused some big disturbance for the Night’s Watch, caused the current Lord of Winterfell to aid the Night’s Watch and eventually the Lord of Winterfell kills the Night’s King who was his own brother.
Anyway… there is a Night’s King, but they are different people. Mainly because the “Night King” we know on the show was created before the Night’s Watch was created.
I’m guessing you’re unfamiliar with teenage girls? The “mean girl” persona is common, particularly among the pretty, privileged, popular girls. It wasn’t really necessary to have additional training from Catelyn or Septa Mordane. Boys may fight and bond afterwards; girls are more likely to cut one another apart with words, leaving wounds that never heal.
From the Prolog of Game of Thrones:
All I know is that I’m still here for Renly. Yes, he was full of himself, but most people who seek positions of power are. It doesn’t disqualify them from being good leaders. Had he not died in the manner that he did, I think he would have won the battle of the five kings and been an effective and beloved ruler. Thank you for giving him an “Incomplete” instead of a poor rating. Ahhhh, the lost possibilities.
That said, I still think Book!Stannis is one hell of a leader thus far, even though he killed my Immortal Beloved. Too bad about the character assassination in the show universe. 🙁
Thanks everyone for a great post and comment thread!
I should note that Cersei, although ranked here exclusively on her performance as Queen Regnant, also had a much longer career as Queen Consort. In this former Queenly role, her most important duty was to provide King Robert, First of His Royal House, with a true-born heir. At this, she intentionally failed, thus creating one of the necessary conditions for the War of the Five Kings. If we factor in the “F minus” she earned in this role, her final mark suffers tremendously. (As does Westeros.)
Also, my quill now adds to the write-in votes for the Biggest Bad of All Westeros, The Night’s King. Just as his local rival, The King Beyond the Wall, did the most with the least, Ol’ Blue Eyes has done the most with the most. Holding formidable advantages over his still-human rivals (greensight, a growing yet faction-less following, eight thousand YEARS into his reign) has enabled him to steal a dragon, breach the Wall, and send his legion of undead into the lands of the living. Bravo sir, and may you never succeed in your last and final ambition!
I can understand from the comment that I made, that one could think that. So that is totally my lack of expressing myself precisely.
I was bitchy too at that age, but I never had such a need to humiliate someone in front of people that I actually did it purposefully and/or manipulated a situation like this, I rather was the one humiliated, therefore my lack of understanding. I do cut Sansa some slack, though , I have an 11 year old niece. 😁
But I have to commend your comment. I never read such an on point description of what GRRM wrote into Sansa’s character in AGoT, imo.
That sounds like a good rec’ for a video a this point in time 🙂 I explored so many GOT theory vids and recaps etc. during the off season between 5, 6 and 7 but don’t recall seeing one from this angle. Now that these beings are going to be featured more heavily next year (it sucks saying that lol) I’m curious to learn more about them with a book reader’s insight.
You should definitely check it out then! GrayArea puts out awesome videos and she’s really insightful/ knowledgeable about everything GoT. I believe she has a couple of videos about the WW/ Long Night, but I’m going to link the one that I watched below. It’s really cool and only like 10 mins.
Tensor the Mage (Admittedly Not a Fan of Royalty, Neither in Concept Nor Execution),
“Ol’ Blue Eyes has done the most with the most.”
🎵”I did it, my way.” 🎶
– Ol’ Blue Eyes
New kid here.
You guys are all so, um, passionate. Wow!
Just thought I’d chime in about loving book Sansa from the start. Reasons:
1. She’s the character that is most of her time and era. Nothing extraordinary, just a typical teenage girl who wants to marry a cute boy and have a family. She’d be playing with Barbie dolls if they’d been invented. That was kind of refreshing with all the female characters who weren’t happy being females. And the relationship between Sansa and Arya was so real. “Perfect” older sister vs. Daddy’s favorite.
2. She thinks she gets what she wants only to find out it’s Joffrey (who I still miss on the show, BTW — I initially thought the casting of Jack Gleeson was all wrong but he ended up being the best person on it IMO and that’s saying something with this cast… but I digress). Martin did a wonderful job in showing what it’s like to be a survivor of abuse. As someone who was raped less than two weeks after turning 16, I really appreciated that.
4. Sansa has less of a way out than any other character in the books / show at any given time. And she’s survived. She’s learned. She’s adapted.
5. But more than anything else, she’s the one character who has always had and never lost faith in humanity. And we’ve seen that shaken time and time again. No — she isn’t perfect (especially TV Sansa). But she’s us (at least some of us).
I hope you don’t mind me asking questions:
Who was unhappy being female?
Fair enough. Though I never would have thought that their relationship is a reason to like Sansa specifically. It is one reason why I personally had a hard time with Sansa at the beginning (in the books). Would you mind explaining further? Because I’m specifically interested in knowing what got others to like her from the start, and beside your #1, the reasons are more related to book 2 onwards and her development, you know? 🙂
I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. I’m glad Martin’s empathy towards his characters was a positive and helpful input for you.
Thanks! This makes it particularly painful for Sansa who soon finds herself in the “Arya” position of the younger, denigrated and humiliated sister.
Sansa comes across as one of those girls/women whose self-image is strongly influenced, if not determined, by what others think of her. She’s queen bee at Winterfell, but in King’s Landing, her beloved Joffrey and Cersei constantly tell her how stupid and immature she is – so Sansa believes it. When Littlefinger butters her up at the Eyrie, she begins thinking of herself as a budding “player.” Teevie Sansa seems to have sorted herself out better at this point than Book Sansa, but the teevie series is at least a book ahead of us. I’m looking forward to see what eventually happens with all these characters!
It is a very well written and enjoyable article! Well done to the author.
However, because I cannot help being nitpicky : Daenerys getting an A and Robb getting a B seems… Incredibly generous, to say the least.
Both are excellent leaders but terrible rulers, and sadly I am not referring to the “right kind of terrible” Tyrion justly praised. The support they attract tends to be solely “negative”, namely the people who coagulate around them do so because they want to fight against a common enemy, be it the Lannisters for Robb’s subjects or the slavers/Cersei for Daenerys’s. However, “negative” support rarely transforms into its “positive” counterpart, fighting against something seldomly becomes fighting for something else, and in Robb’s and Daenerys’s case, it never did/does. And it is not without consequence.
Furthermore, they demonstrated a rather noticeable lack of interest/talent in regards to the everyday management of their kingdoms and their ability to implement any sort of practical policy beyond sloganism is highly debatable.
In my opinion, Robb and Daenerys are very similar to Jon, another natural born leader/subpar ruler combo, and should get a grade identical to his : C (the “+” is optional and a touch overly generous… ^^)
Cersei, Arya, Brienne (but she moved on from that), to name but a few examples among the main characters.
I unsurprisingly agree with every word you have written during this debate so all my kudos to you. I would nonetheless like to add a small detail concerning the Umbers and Karstarks. Forgiving these two Houses and allowing their heirs to keep their titles and lands has a sound political justification, just as punishing and disinheriting them would have, however there is more than pure politics to consider.
Last Hearth and Karhold are the two northernmost castles in Westeros. They are quite literally the Army of the Dead’s next two obstacles after the Wall. And these two strongholds, as well as whatever is left of their armies, are now led by children… Putting aside any consideration of loyalty or political messaging, leaving two inexperienced kids in charge of humankind’s first line of defense is at best questionable, at worst catastrophic.
You’re welcome. I probably have to save and file the comment somewhere. 😁 What you further describe is also very interesting. And true. Which makes me think about Sansa, appreciate her development, but fear for her in TWoW. I just recently made a comment somewhere about the Alayne sample chapter, that Sansa still has some behaviors that did not change significantly within her. And that her chapters still are called Alayne hints at the fact that she didn’t have found herself yet, didn’t come into her own person yet, same as Arya (beside the fact that Sansa still plays the role of Alayne of course).
Although I think being strongly influenced by what others think isn’t a prominent trade just by Sansa. Because as I said, Arya’s feelings of being inadequate is heavily influenced by Sansa and Co. as well. It’s a common human trade, I think. Sansa probably is just a little bit ahead on the spectrum because of what is demonstrated to her during her upbringing in Winterfell, which was never something negative at least from her perspective, and her naivity to some extent, I guess (though Arya has some naive moments herself).
You and me both! 🙂
I can’t speak for Cersei or Brienne (which are POV characters in later books not in AGoT), but Arya isn’t unhappy being female. 😉 That Arya feels unhappy specifically because she is a girl is a common misconception, though.
I agree with you that in the books, Arya isn’t unhappy being a girl. On the show, however, she is and has stated her disdain for the vast majority of the members of her sex as well as her admiration for members of the opposite one quite unambiguously.
I don’t think, that they (Cersei, Arya, Brienne) are unhappy being girls/women – they are unhappy with the social role they have to play as girls/women.
And look, they overcome it, Cersei rules and Arya and Brienne fight.
This is true, but ACME is right that Cersei explicitly states multiple times (might just be in the books…) that she hates being a woman.
Apparently Arya’s disdain is ambiguous. If it’s safe, show Arya always corrects people who call her a boy. In point of fact, she hasn’t known many females in the series. Her relationship with her mum isn’t touched on at all–they’re not even given a conversation. The septa was harsh to her and young Sansa’s behaviour would have put anyone off. Cersei’s power led to lies and cruelty. Tywin tells her most girls like love stories, and she understandably ripostes, “Most girls are idiots.” (IMO, most teenagers are idiots!) But Arya did admire Visenya and Nymeria, women who led, fought, and accomplished a great deal. She likes Brienne. While she never knew an Olenna or Margaery, or a even female baker analog of Hot Pie, when she met the feminine Lady Crane, she understood, respected, and liked her…to the point of risking her life for her. She took a risk sparing the Frey women too. And she mentioned Lyanna Mormont to Sansa in making a point about living one’s principles.
Arya’s true grievance about being female is societal. IMO it’s summed up by two things she told Sansa in S7. “He was smiling, so I knew it wasn’t wrong. The rules were wrong.” And later that episode she is even clearer: “We both wanted to be other people when we were young….Neither of us got to be that other person, did we? The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they’re going to be.” Rules imposed lack of choice and lack of freedom–these were issues for her, and are issues even today.
I agree completely with your premice : Arya, Brienne and Cersei were initially displeased, and bloody rightly so !, with the social and behavioural limitations enforced upon them due to their sex. However, instead of fighting against the very cause of those limitations, namely misogyny, they (minus Brienne, fairly quickly) wholeheartedly embraced its implicit hierarchy (male = good/superior; female = bad/inferior) and reinforced it by rejecting and degrading their fellow women who, in their unspeakably self-celebratory opinion, did not have the talent to elevate themselves above their stupid feminity.
Cersei does not bemoan the fate of other women, unless it is her daughter (“Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls”). She does not try to support or encourage them to resist or, at least, withstand the horrific consequences of being a woman in Westeros. She does not care what happens to them. She loathes them pretty universally while, at the same time, celebrating masculinity in all its forms : be it worshipping at the altar of hyper-masculine Tywin or using Jaime as a penis substitute.
As for Arya… Well, I do not wish to be overly controversial but “most girls are idiots” cannot be legitimately called an ambiguously misogynistic statement any more than “most Blacks are idiots” could possibly be called an ambiguously racist statement. These sentences are what they are, they mean what they mean and they are unquestionably prejudiced.
That is partly why her interactions with Lady Crane were so significant. Lady Crane was 100% feminine, displaying none of the characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity Arya promoted and valued above all else for 6 years. Lady Crane was maternal, both onstage and off; she was sweet, kind and had no desire or ability to fight. And Arya allowed herself to be welcome in that embrace, to be cared for, to be mothered. She learnt to see worth in a world where swords and brute force are given no celebration.
I can see your point but I struggle to agree with it, I am terribly sorry to say.
If Arya’s unambiguous disdain for women and feminity were solely the byproduct of her limited but negative experience with women, she should have had the same a priori about men and masculinity given her encounters with men for what men, aside from the father she worshipped, could young Arya have reasonably admired?
Robb ? If we are to say that Arya was put off of feminity by Sansa’s shallowness, then she should have been put off masculinity by Robb’s for the Robb Arya grew up with was no more a “real lord” than Sansa was a “real lady”.
Jon ? The Jon Arya knew was a broody git with a heightened sense of self and literally no idea of where he was going and what he was doing. I always found deeply amusing the parallel between season 1 Jon and Sansa to be honest. Both desperately want to leave Winterfell to go somewhere else (the Wall for him, King’s Landing for her), believing that it is going to be amazing; both end up bitterly disappointed by what they discover once they arrive and both have to learn to survive in an entirely hostile environment.
Bran and Rickon ? They were children so I doubt they had a major influence on Arya ideological makeup.
Robert Baratheon ? A fat and incompetent drunkard.
The Hound (pre-redemption) ? A man who murders an innocent child because he was told to.
Joffrey ? A sociopathic man-boy.
Syrio Forel ? The poor man’s master Yoda who does not live up to his motto of “not today” since he got disposed of in under a minute.
Based on her interpersonal encounters, Arya had no more objective reasons to admire masculinity than she did to respect feminity. Yet, she did the former and not the latter…
One should distinguish the feelings about the individual role as girl/woman and the opinion to women and their behaviour in general, I think.
What (f. ex.) Arya didains are – in her eyes – point-headed, mean-spirited people, whether they are female or male. And that has nothing to do with her personally being female but with her charakter.
She was lucky, because she was the younger daughter and was allowed to mature freely compared to Sansa, who always was planned to marry a highborn and to become a lady – if not queen! – and was raised up to that role from birth on.
Again, I do sincerely agree with you but I fail to understand how that distinction applies to Show!Arya.
“Most girls are idiots” is a statement about women and their behaviour in general. It is a statement that blames women for what Arya appears to consider their inferiority to men or “masculine” individuals like herself.
There are quite a few ways in which this statement could be tweaked : “most people are idiots” would be a touch misanthropic and self-aggrandising but it would at least not be prejudiced; “most girls are taught (by men) to be idiots” would still be a bit questionable because it would validate the hierarchy between masculinity and feminity inherent to the patriarchical system but at least, it would rightly identify the main architects and beneficiaries of said system; “most songs about love are idiotic” would be an unfair literary criticism but it would be harmless…
“Most girls are idiots” does not contain a hidden message. It is not a particularly puzzling statement. It is what it is.
On a broader point, I am genuinely puzzled and would like someone to explain to me why it is so unacceptable to imagine that Arya, someone who grew up in a profoundly misogynistic society and spent most of her childhood worshipping her all-masculine father, might have absorbed and integrated some of said misogyny. It sure as seven hells would not make her a bad person. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It would merely make her a product of her environment. Which we all are, to a degree.
That is what culture does to us all; it influences us in ways we often are not aware enough of to question.
Since most of the men she has encountered are no less point-headed or mean-spirited than their female counterparts, why doesn’t she generalise about them too ?
Because some people like to cherry pick and apply 21st century ideals where it’s not relevant in order to prop themselves up to look like some sort of holier than though figure 😉
It could be. Or it could be because, at times, characters are held in such high regard that the idea that they might, just might, be affected and/or motivated by context-appropriate, decidedly non 21st century-friendly dynamics is too unpalatable to even contemplate. 🙂
I prefer my phrasing.
Did this (book) character discussion (formerly about a royal ranking 😁) just degrade to a rant about ‘certain’ community members? I‘m baffled…
I think you do Stark Raven’ Rad and cos alpha (and me, I guess?) a major disservice if you directly or indirectly ascribe a ‘holier-than-thou attitude’ to them, just because of an (in my eyes tenable) opinion or even the use of 21st century morality. If that is relevant or not, that is a decision everyone has to make for themselves. So who are you to judge them with – one might call – your own ‘holier-than-thou attitude’?
And now let‘s get back to the original discussion, are we? I will respond topically later, I just don’t have enough time right now…see you later. 🙂
I believe you misunderstood Mr Derp‘s comment. Its target/addressee was, as far as I can tell, solely me due to the fact that I think Arya’s opinion on feminity and women is firmly rooted in and inspired by the misogynistic society she was born and bred in. That appraisal makes me “holier-than-thou” because it seemingly translates into me bemoaning the fact that she is not a 21st century feminist. Now, I obviously bemoan no such thing. I am perfectly fine with Arya holding misogynistic views. To me, it makes perfect sense given the world she was brought up in, the identity of her role models and the way in which she managed to survive so far.
I am merely puzzled as to why this obviously stated prejudice of hers is viewed as ambiguous when there is no real downside to it being blatanly there. It does not make her a bad person and it does not diminish her as a character. If anything, in my opinion, it makes her more realistically “flawed” and thus more interesting.
Let me respond to the comment which you made and where this new discussion comes from:
The one thing does not automatically have something to do with the other. That Arya stated her (indeed) generalized opinion about the majority of girls (hence not the majority of her sex), does not mean that she is unhappy being female. You threw these distinguishable statements together and piggybacked your opinion that Arya holds misogynistic views into the conversation, which is fair enough, but this was not the question in the conversation before. You can very well open a discussion about it, though. And because you did, for the record: I agree the one-off statement by Arya you were referring to is misogynistic and to an extent generalizing. Though your notion that she is unhappy being a girl because she thinks a certain amount of girls are idiots isn‘t entirely coherent. So where do you get that from, that Show!Arya is unhappy being a girl?
Lol, um yea, I wasn’t referring to anyone specific on this site, and I didn’t even read the comments that you’re talking about, so I don’t know what your problem is. It was a general answer to something that ACME asked and it wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular. If you’re so baffled by my comments then perhaps you should seek clarification on them first before going off on a rant of your own, and if you’re so triggered by my comments then it seems to only help to prove my point. Look, if anyone took offense to what I said then I apologize, but really, there was no reason why offense should’ve been taken to begin with.
My comment is stuck in moderation purgatory, but to summarize what I said, my comment was for ACME and it had nothing to do with any previous posts you are mentioning. I didn’t even read them, so I don’t know what you are talking about. Have a nice day.
Acme, as always with utter respect, I too disagree. I”d sum it up by saying that the show almost entirely focuses on her many relationships with several men/boys. And while none is perfect, almost all are kind, respectful, and helpful, even Sandor in his gruff way. Even Tywin in his. Probably even Jaqen. This ‘tough love’ is still love, and most of these men taught her how to save her life. They are all her Threshold Guardians and Mentors in terms of her Hero’s Journey. After leaving Kings Landing, her exposure to women is limited a brief interaction with Brienne, and relationships with the Waif and Lady Crane. Honestly, other than her semi-quip response to Tywin’s comments about “most girls,” she’s hardly thought about females. No wonder we both cite her interaction with Lady Crane. I think it’s Arya’s definitive moment of turning back into herself, symbolised by gazing at her reflection and shortly after publicly aborting her poisoning of LC.
I just found this in another of your posts:
I think Arya’s opinion on feminity and women is firmly rooted in and inspired by the misogynistic society she was born and bred in.
It crystallised my thoughts: She’s not anti-female. She’s anti-misogyny. As I said–in her opinion the rules are wrong. She wanted freedom from rules but had to learn from people who themselves were free from those rules. I honestly think she is gender-blind. She asked Brienne to spar because Brienne beat the Hound. That is Arya’s standard for The Best. She apparently admires Lyanna Mormont. And, come to think of it, Lady Crane also chose a feminine life of freedom, and even gets to be different people onstage. Arya gravitates to strong women, whether they wear armour or make bad soup.
I am quite confused by this, I am sorry to say…
Her statement pertaining to the idiocy of most girls was prompted by Tywin’s amused question in regards to said girls’ presumptive interest in love songs and stories. Said interest is not solely a girly one but an overall female one insofar as it is socially and culturally constructed as feminine in Westeros. Being interested in love songs or embroidery or dancing or being pretty are not activities reserved exclusively for girls but for all females since adult women are expected to maintain the same interests as their younger counterparts.
If Arya’s justification for calling girls idiots was their interest in traditionally feminine things (in this case, love songs), which it was, then it stand to reason to deduce that the core object of her disdain was the aforementioned traditionally feminine things. And since most adult Westerosi women also partake in said traditionally feminine things, then they too are, as per Arya’s reasoning, “idiots”.
Arya prefers traditionally masculine activities but, since she is a girl, she is expected to take part in traditionally feminine activities she happens to have no taste, time or talent for. However, she does not express anger or disdain for the patriarchical structure that forces her to focus on “girly” things she does not like. Instead, she appears to focus her resentment on said things and the people who enjoy them, aka girls and women, deeming them silly and idiotic.
Being a girl forces Arya to be associated with activities and people she believes to be beneath her. Hence her dislike of being a girl… On the show. In the books, Arya has no such resentment, is perfectly happy being a girl and has nothing bad to say or think about traditionally feminine interests. She just happens not to be into them and merely wishes she could be allowed to explore what appeals to her, without ever denigrating anyone else’s favoured hobby.
I agree wholeheartedly with you on this point. Arya’s mentors have always been men and, as such, she is bound to have a better and more nuanced appreciation of them than of women. However, her “pre-crisis” interactions with women are strongly hinted at and she appears to have little else than contempt or indifference for them.
As a child and completely unprovoked, she endeavoured to humiliate her sister in public by throwing food in her face; as a a young woman, she barely ever mentions Catelyn even though she namedrops Ned and Jon whenever she can; she solely remembers Septa Mordane (a woman who raised her and died for the Starks) for her alleged cruelty over her poor penmanship…
You are completely right to state that, overall, Arya does not seem to spend much time thinking of women. Though, on the few occasions when she does, it is rarely with any kind of fondness or affection. Which is interesting considering that Show!Arya has, as far as we can tell, not suffered any mistreatment at their hands unlike Book!Arya who could legitimately be said to have been bullied by girls and women but who has no animosity whatsoever towards them… It always struck me as paradoxical.
I truly wish I could agree (the story of our relationship, dearest Stark 😉 ).
If Arya were anti-misogyny, she would not be so disdainful towards activities and attitudes many women choose to adopt. To Arya, freedom and strength are equated with acting “like a man” as if there were no freedom and strength to be found in traditionally feminine women and their endeavours (which there is !)
Septa Mordane was a strong woman who worked all her life to give the best education she knew of to her pupils. Catelyn was as tough and independently-minded as they come and she enjoyed arts and crafts and running a house. Even young Sansa was strong-willed and crafty in her own dreadfully misguided and dumb way.
Some people find their freedom within social rules (Ned, Catelyn, Jon, Robb, Sansa… None of them ever shattered societal standards to exist and follow their purpose); some find theirs outside of them (Arya, Brienne, Daenerys, Cersei, the Hound…) And neither freedom is inferior to the other, I believe.
Then should she not at least admire/respect the heck out of Cersei ? For all her sins, Cersei is one hell of a strong lady. Yet, I sense Arya may not have a whole lot of regard for her 😉
Fair enough, my bad. I guess it’s sometimes irritating if general statements are made. I did made some assumptions, sure, but I also said “If” and asked questions. And I was totally chill btw, hence the smilies. So there was no “problem”. I wasn’t “triggered”. There was no “rant”, just a friendly reminder similar in kind to your comment,…you did talk about some people, whoever may have urked you in the past.
But I have to say, I did attach the quotes because I think your statement that “some people like to cherry pick and apply 21st century ideals” is only correct, if you say “everyone is cherry picking”. Not all of the time, of course, but I think that’s human nature. And “to apply everyone’s, hence our 21st century perspective on things”, that’s also not just what some people do, everyone does it, even if we are not aware of it. We remind us that the world of Westeros is more like medieval times, that doesn’t mean we are able to blank out our ideals completely every time. “And who am I to tell myself or who are you to tell yourself, no, I’m the exception”, you know?
But I do agree with the quote you commented on, though. No cherry picking at least in this. 😉
None taken. Though, again, I think that has everyone to decide for themselves.
Nice day to you, too.
I can’t think of anyone better to amicably agree to disagree with, though I’d rather agree :-). There’s no proving it one way or the other. We might not even be disagreeing if Arya hadn’t said “Most girls are idiots”. It did make Tywin hoot and say she reminded him of Cersei. Speaking of whom:
What a thought-provoking question about Arya potentially admiring Cersei! Arya should have come to respect her strength and the origin of her resentment in the limitations of gender, but she didn’t get to know her as far as we know. I think Arya was around her only during the Joffrey-Nymeria incident, the event that probably introduced Arya to the world of injustice. After Cersei gratuitously demanded the death of the innocent Lady, Arya gave her a deadly glare (perhaps foretelling the List?). I doubt she ever got past Cersei’s initial ‘sin’ to find anything to use or admire in her. By contrast, since Cersei was a mentor (and sometime tormentor) for Sansa, she did get to know her methods and learn from them. Ironically, even Arya came to somewhat empathise with Cersei in the Braavos play, which held the mirror up to nature. Discussing the role with Lady Crane, Arya rightly zeroed in on the need to express Cersei’s anger. Cersei is still angry. Though most fans predict Jaime will be the Valonqar, it could be almost as satisfying to see the two sisters bring her down.
I‘m sorry that you are confused, but I would like to differentiate things.
Let’s see. Your flood of conclusions are coming from a single statement. Fair enough. And one can follow where you are coming from, but your view on Arya that she has a misogynistic world view, which is fair enough (but a discussion in its own right), seems to make you mix this up with the discussion about whether or not she is unhappy being a girl. Again: That has not automatically something to do with each other. Your assumptions about what is not said are fine, but there are also other interpretations that can be made, if one broadens the view and not only focuses on a singular statement. It is still essential for the discussion, don‘t get me wrong, but if it is your only focus, than it stands on shaky ground. Your train of thoughts is coherent to you. Again, that‘s fine. But here are the things I do not agree with, because they are not coherent to me.
You make the connection that because loves songs and being pretty is something not only girls find interest in, but also most women. (Which in itself is an assumption. Being pretty? Certainly. Loves songs? I don‘t think so.) And therefore she automatically meant „most girls and women are idiots.“ or „almost every female is idiotic because feminine things are idiotic.“ Again, I don‘t think so.
Yes we see women doing embroidery and maybe girls are expected to maintain such interests when they grow older and come of age, but is grown women listening to songs what we experience in A Game of Thrones in general? Do we see most adult women reading books like little Shireen Baratheon? No.
Tywin Lannister: „Aren’t most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?“
Arya Stark: „Most girls are idiots.“
Yes, Tywin was talking about pretty maidens and a figure from a love song. But what was the focal point in this situation? Tywin was talking about Arya and therefore about girls her age and what their supposedly interests are. Arya was talking about her heroines before Tywin made the assumption about most girls. He was surprised that she had different role models in comparison to other girls her age. And who were those role models? Women. Yes, they did have certain roles and did tasks which are traditionally masculine. But Visenya and Rhaenys (and Nymeria) are also clearly female and also feminine. Arya could have had a number of other childhood heroes, but she gravitated towards her own sex. Go figure!
What‘s the context around this conversation? Arya wasn‘t good at womanly arts, Septa Mordane made her remember that. At the time of this conversation she is in a war zone, death and torture is everywhere. Did she make the experience that listening to love songs is helpful in this situation or being pretty? Certainly not. Is it or was it ever a focus in her life? No. Is it more a distraction from staying alive from her point of view? Yes.
Just from a pragmatic point of view, her taking Tywins cue to make this statement does not make it automatically an commentary about her view on feminity in whole. Imo, it makes it just a commentary about Arya thinking that taking interest in love songs and being pretty in a world like that is just not practical. Rudely speaking, it would be idiotic to pursue these kinds of interests in such a kind of situation from her perspective. And we know Arya never was shy to rudely speak to males as well: „You are the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!“ (which Sandor is not, he displayed shitty behavior, but that does not make him „the worst“, see, another generalized comment by her as a young girl, but about a male).
First of all, it’s your reasoning. Arya didn’t give any reasoning to her statement, we have to assume. 😉 Secondly, it‘s more reasonable to me, that the core object of her disdain flows from the behavior in the feminine space which she had to experience during her upbringing. She was rejected because she did not show interest in the pretty maidens and Jonquil with flowers in her hair. So yes, she made this statement at that time, which was geared up by Tywin, that most girls are idiots. And I don‘t know how you think about that, but I think it‘s fairly comprehensible for teenagers to have a dislike for such a behavior towards them and express it like that. She isn‘t a grown ass woman that could already have all the reflective tools on hand.
Um…no. This is what she acknowledges and verbalizes in Season 7 (as a grown woman):
“He was smiling, so I knew it wasn’t wrong. The rules were wrong.”
“We both wanted to be other people when we were young….Neither of us got to be that other person, did we? The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they’re going to be.”
Do I expect from a young girl in this world to make this connection? No, that would be a very 21st century view and even today, I wouldn‘t expect my 11 year old niece to make these connections all by herself and then go solve it all on her own. I mean there are young girls who do this and I‘m sure it‘s a pretty amount, but do I expect this in general from girls this age? No. Do we see any other young character do this in AGoT? No. We see them grow up in this situation and either except it or struggle with it.
I don‘t think that‘s it, because it was the other way around first. Arya got rejected and degraded from the feminine circle first, because she was not very good at what was valued in that space: embroidery, singing, dancing etc. She was put off. The statement was also shaped by the behavior of the circle itself. It was a process. It didn‘t appear out of thin air. So I can‘t blame her that she came to this conclusion at first, at this age. The feminine circle’s behavior towards girls and women who pursue traditionally masculine roles is discriminatory as well, that‘s why I also agree, as I said, that she got shaped by her environment and certainly was influenced by the misogynistic world view.
And look, the role models she admired showed her that she could also (at least in theory) pursue a and thrive in a more traditionally masculine role as a girl, as a woman. It showed her that she didn’t have to be sad that she wasn’t a boy or that she didn’t have to be unhappy that she is a girl. It stands to reason to deduce that this is why she chose women as role models, not men.
When we go from here, than there is not much merit to your claim that she is unhappy being a girl. Just because there was definitely set an example for her with the misogyny around her, I still don‘t think the conclusion is that she is unhappy being a girl. She doesn‘t say: „Oh, if I were a boy, everything would be fine and the misogyny would be ok!“. No, that‘s not her, if anyone that would be Cersei. Sorry to say, your arguments are not convincing to me.
I don’t really have a horse in this race, so I’ll just add my two cents and move on.
I personally think Arya said “most girls are idiots” because most of them in this time period give in to misogyny rather than stand up to it. They let men tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I believe Arya simply finds that to be idiotic, fair or not.
Arya is also very young during this scene, so I think it’s entirely possible that Arya said that line without much thought to the context or the reasons why she feels that most girls are idiots. In her short life she’s observed most women being subservient and doing things that she personally would not be ok doing, so she simply sees other girls as idiots rather than thinking about why that may be the case.
Simple as that for me.
Just some hiccups:
Young Lyanna Mormont was thrust into her leading situation because her mother was killed and her mother was already a leader before her and even she did not actively strive for it. It wasn’t a process to take down patriarchy. It’s a nice development resulting from a sad situation. And Bear Island is more an anomaly in the Westerosi society in regards to gender roles, just like Dorne is. But I think, Arya shows in Season 7 that she admires Lyanna.
Whoops, I meant ‘then’.
Just wanted to say what a pleasure it’s been chatting with you after the ‘room’ quieted down and we could delve deeper. It’s clear we all find the character and her actions, words, and motivations worth discussing. This is one reason I esteem the WotW community. It has a large number of very smart and analytical people who seldom descend into the sort of contentious shouting match that is common elsewhere.
Stark Raven’ Rad,
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