Stannis Baratheon: the Prototype for King Bran Stark

stannis

Game of Thrones the TV show is over, but the book series A Song of Ice and Fire remains unfinished, and there’s no reason not to speculate on what might happen in the books to come, as well as what elements from the show might happen in the books.

One of the endgame pieces established on the show was the election of Bran Stark as king of the political region formerly known as the Seven Kingdoms. Not everyone agrees that this will happen in the books, but a case will be made in this essay that Bran Stark becoming monarch would satisfactorily reflect on the failed journey of another character: the almost-king Stannis Baratheon.

On the surface, there might not seem to be many similarities between Bran the Broken and Stannis “he’ll break before he bends” Baratheon. But there are similarities, some so specific that it’s hard to imagine that they’re entirely coincidental.

FAMILY MATTERS

Before setting off on comparing Bran to Stannis, it’s worth comparing their older and younger brothers as a unit. Both Bran and Stannis are the middle of male siblings, and therefore have the almost universal situation of having an older brother to live up to and a bratty younger brother to deal with. That’s certainly not enough to establish a strong literary connection between these two groups, but all of the brothers have associations with their respective counterparts.

Bran’s eldest brother Robb was named after Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark’s best friend from Storm’s End. Both Robb and Robert rebelled against injustice from King’s Landing, and both became kings. Robert ended the Targaryen dynasty’s rule, and Robb reversed the Targaryen-imposed rule of the North being a vassal state to southern kings.

Robb_Stark_after_the_battle

Each established a legendary reputation for military success during their rebellion, with Robb never losing a battle and Robert – although not undefeated like Robb – leading his army to a record-breaking three victories in one day.

Bran and Stannis do not just have seemingly blessed older brothers to measure up to; they were in the shadow of popular kingly brothers.

The low stone steps balked Dancer only for a moment. When Bran urged her on, she took them easily. Beyond the wide oak-and-iron doors, eight long rows of trestle tables filled Winterfell’s Great Hall, four on each side of the center aisle. Men crowded shoulder to shoulder on the benches. “Stark!” they called as Bran trotted past, rising to their feet. “Winterfell! Winterfell!”

He was old enough to know that it was not truly him they shouted for—it was the harvest they cheered, it was Robb and his victories, it was his lord father and his grandfather and all the Starks going back eight thousand years. Still, it made him swell with pride. For so long as it took him to ride the length of that hall he forgot that he was broken. Yet when he reached the dais, with every eye upon him, Osha and Hodor undid his straps and buckles, lifted him off Dancer’s back, and carried him to the high seat of his fathers.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran III

RobertBaratheon

“Robert could piss in a cup and men would call it wine, but I offer them pure cold water and they squint in suspicion and mutter to each other about how queer it tastes.” Stannis ground his teeth.
— A Clash of Kings, Davos II

The connection between young Rickon and young-ish Renly might not be as obvious as the similarity between Robb and Robert, and it’s not enough to suggest that any resentment that the middle brothers might have in dealing with their respective younger brothers really reinforces a Bran-Stannis connection. But Rickon (in the books) seems to be following in the steps of Renly in regards to their roles in the political narrative.

Renly was the first Baratheon to declare himself king in defiance of the Lannisters, with much pomp and celebration. And, if we accept Lady Catelyn’s observation: childishness.

Renly

This is madness, Catelyn thought. Real enemies on every side and half the realm in flames, and Renly sits here playing at war like a boy with his first wooden sword.
— A Clash of Kings, Catelyn II

He was the first to die in The War of the Five Kings, his rising star dramatically fizzling out.

Renly’s quest to become king was largely enabled by the ambitions of the powerful and rich House Tyrell, who sought to gain political power by using Renly and his weaker claim as an excuse to displace their largest rivals, the Lannisters.

Rickon is just a child, and is not likely to be a mastermind seeking glory, but he exists in the story more than just to irritate Bran by hanging out with Big and Little Walder. Even though he exits the narrative at the end of A Clash of Kings with his wildling guardian Osha taking him to refuge, the boy remains a political piece in play in the North.

rickon2

Lord Wyman, the leader of powerful and wealthy House Manderly, has publicly sided with the new Bolton regime, but in A Dance with Dragons he dispatches Ser Davos Seaworth to follow the available clues to Rickon Stark’s whereabouts with the hopes of delivering the Stark child to Manderly protection in White Harbour. With Rickon, the last known surviving heir to Winterfell, Lord Wyman asserts that he can rally the North against the unpopular Boltons.

Supporters of the Great Northern Conspiracy theory suggest that although Manderly has not made this explicitly clear, Lord Wyman’s true goal would be to support Rickon over Stannis’ claim to rule the North. The similarities from a plot perspective between Rickon and Renly can be clearly summarized:

  1. Rickon being used to deny Stannis’ claim to the North would be a replay of Renly being used to deny Stannis’ claim to the throne.
  2. Rickon’s weaker claim, like Renly’s, will be supported despite him having a living older brother. To be fair to Lord Wyman, few know that Bran is even alive.

Rickon: Wait! I know Bran is alive!
Lord Wyman: That’s adorable. Let’s keep that a secret for now.

But, Rickon’s impact on the overall narrative does not seem promising. For years, readers have examined the associations of the names of each Stark child’s direwolf as reflective of the child. Rickon’s direwolf is named Shaggydog, and a shaggy dog story is a story that’s rambling and complicated and ends without justifying its telling. So Rickon’s story will likely fizzle out like Renly’s ambitions.

If we can accept that Robb and Rickon are or will be reflections of their respective Baratheon, we should now consider the similarities between Bran and Stannis and how that might affect Bran’s story in The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.

SURLY LORDS

Stannis Baratheon is known for being the unpopular Baratheon brother (although he does have his fans with some readers.) One doesn’t have to ask anyone other than Stannis for this confirmation:

“You have given me an honored place at your table. And in return I give you truth. Your people will not love you if you take from them the gods they have always worshiped, and give them one whose very name sounds queer on their tongues.”

Stannis stood abruptly. “R’hllor. Why is that so hard? They will not love me, you say? When have they ever loved me? How can I lose something I have never owned?”
A Clash of Kings, Davos I

His unpopularity made it easier for Renly to gather support, since Renly could make the case that Stannis was an unsuitable candidate for king, based entirely on his brother’s personality.

“I have twice that number here,” Renly said, “and this is only part of my strength. Mace Tyrell remains at Highgarden with another ten thousand, I have a strong garrison holding Storm’s End, and soon enough the Dornishmen will join me with all their power. And never forget my brother Stannis, who holds Dragonstone and commands the lords of the narrow sea.”

“It would seem that you are the one who has forgotten Stannis,” Catelyn said, more sharply than she’d intended.

“His claim, you mean?” Renly laughed. “Let us be blunt, my lady. Stannis would make an appalling king. Nor is he like to become one. Men respect Stannis, even fear him, but precious few have ever loved him.”
— A Clash of Kings, Catelyn II

If there are differences between little Bran and grim Stannis, one of them is certainly in being loved. Bran is loved, no argument can be made otherwise. Bran’s adorable. Even when he’s crabby.

branface

But Bran’s crippling accident took away more than the use of his legs, it took away his dreams. (Some of them, at least.)

Bran had never asked to be a prince. It was knighthood he had always dreamed of; bright armor and streaming banners, lance and sword, a warhorse between his legs. Why must he waste his days listening to old men speak of things he only half understood? Because you’re broken, a voice inside reminded him. A lord on his cushioned chair might be crippled—the Walders said their grandfather was so feeble he had to be carried everywhere in a litter—but not a knight on his destrier.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran II

Stannis was handicapped politically by his personality, while Bran felt that he was looked down upon for his injuries, particularly among the ableist Northmen.

Leobald seemed surprised that he had spoken. “I’m grateful, my prince,” he said, but Bran saw pity in his pale blue eyes, mingled perhaps with a little gladness that the cripple was, after all, not his son. For a moment he hated the man.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran II

But things changed for both Stannis and Bran, when to their respective courts came colorful characters.

MAGICAL KINGS

Melisandre

Even her eyes were red . . . but her skin was smooth and white, unblemished, pale as cream. Slender she was, graceful, taller than most knights, with full breasts and narrow waist and a heart-shaped face. Men’s eyes that once found her did not quickly look away, not even a maester’s eyes. Many called her beautiful. She was not beautiful. She was red, and terrible, and red.
— A Clash of Kings, Prologue

Melisandre of Asshai, the Red Woman, brought the gospel to Stannis that he wasn’t simply an overlooked noble, but Azor Ahai, the prophesied reincarnation of a legendary hero.

During his tenure as the prince of Winterfell, Bran received a similarly-described individual with a specific color palette, who would support the magical initiation that had started with Bran’s crow-haunted dreams.

Jojen

Her brother was several years younger and bore no weapons. All his garb was green, even to the leather of his boots, and when he came closer Bran saw that his eyes were the color of moss, though his teeth looked as white as anyone else’s. Both Reeds were slight of build, slender as swords and scarcely taller than Bran himself. They went to one knee before the dais.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran III

The fact that Melisandre and Jojen Reed are described primarily by a color feels very intentional on Martin’s part, as well as highlighting their magical connotations, as if Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and Saruman the White were also on the scene. Melisandre is clearly the embodiment of fire, the symbol of her magical god R’hllor, and Jojen is connected to the Old Gods and their gifts of greensight and green dreams.

To summarize, both Renly and Stannis are middle sons, with heroic kingly older brothers and younger brothers vulnerable to being political pawns. Both are presented with the idea that they have a magical destiny by agents of two major religions who strongly and visually identify with those religions.

If we are not supposed to see similarities between Stannis and Bran Stark, then this is one very large coincidence.

Assuming that this is not coincidental… there is one large difference between Stannis and Bran as magical figures. One of them is actually a magical figure (Bran) and one of them (Stannis) is not.

Carice van Houten as Melisandre_photo Helen Sloan_HBO

It’s not entirely clear why Melisandre is so convinced that Stannis Baratheon is her foretold savior, Azor Ahai. She came to Dragonstone because Stannis’ wife Selyse was a true believer in R’hllor. When King Robert died and Stannis had suspicions that Joffrey was not Robert’s true son, it might have seemed fortuitous that Lord Stannis was destined to be king, and if he would bring the faith of the Lord of Light to Westeros, then perhaps he was the faith’s hero Azor Ahai reborn.

Melisandre probably has some chicken-egg circular logic to support Stannis’ clear role as king and Azor Ahai.

Melisandre: Stannis is the rightful king because he is our lord, Azor Ahai reborn. I know that Stannis is Azor Ahai because he is the rightful king. Obviously.

Melisandre is also not above blindly accepting events to support her zealotry. A little bit of confirmation bias and Stannis is truly the hero (not a ham) born of smoke and salt. She even went so far as to stage a farcical recreation of Azor Ahai forging the famed magical blade Lightbringer as if that would make Stannis the legit savior figure. But this sword was more forgery than mystically forged, and that can’t really be considered solid bona fides for Stannis’ supernatural status.

Whereas Bran seems more like the real deal. Maybe not Azor Ahai reborn, but Bran is magical. He’s a warg and a greenseer, which is extremely rare. He not only has the blood of the First Men, but the blood of thousands of years of Starks, who have been associated with Winterfell, the heart of the North. Is Winterfell a magical place? With its hot springs and heart tree and convenient location to shelter so many during the winters, it feels like a place of beneficial blessed nature, just like Harrenhal feels supernaturally cursed.

wargingbetter

The show has indicated that Bran has a destiny to be the king of the many kingdoms, but is there evidence that he’s Azor Ahai? Wouldn’t Melisandre know? Wouldn’t her flames tell her so?

In A Dance with Dragons, Melisandre has a single point-of-view chapter where she’s desperate for information on her hero Stannis, who has gone marching off into peril.

The red priestess closed her eyes and said a prayer, then opened them once more to face the hearthfire. One more time. She had to be certain. Many a priest and priestess before her had been brought down by false visions, by seeing what they wished to see instead of what the Lord of Light had sent. Stannis was marching south into peril, the king who carried the fate of the world upon his shoulders, Azor Ahai reborn. Surely R’hllor would vouchsafe her a glimpse of what awaited him. Show me Stannis, Lord, she prayed. Show me your king, your instrument.
— A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre I

She’s presented with apocalyptic visions of shadows and skulls and crumbling towers. When she breaks from that channel to try to tune in on a vision she had seen once – of a grey girl on a dying horse – she gets a glimpse of someone unexpected.

A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment … but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf’s face threw back his head and howled.
— A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre I

Melisandre’s prescient scrying in the flames is tricky at best, and there could be other explanations of why she’d see Bloodraven and Bran when looking in the flames, as if they’re using the same prophetic astral plane as a shared party line. But one takeaway is that Melisandre went looking for Stannis, and ended up seeing Bran.

Sansa Jon Bran Arya War Meeting Season 8 802

She also sees Jon Snow, who is an excellent Azor Ahai candidate and has a strong claim to the Iron Throne. In Melisandre’s world view, Azor Ahai is closely associated with kingship; it’s not correct to conflate the two, but there does seem to be some correlation.

The books will probably be different in major ways from the show, but if we take some of the endgame elements as given: Bran being king, Jon in exile, Stannis dead, then the ‘Stannis —> Bran’ focus (with Jon in the middle) satisfies one of George RR Martin’s favorite storytelling element: the threefold reveal.

Simply stated, the threefold reveal will present a succession of answers to a certain question, with two incorrect ones and the final correct reveal. For example:

Who is Jon Snow’s Mother?

  • Answer 1) No one of importance. Like, some chick named Wylla, or a fisherman’s wife from the Sister Islands. (This is the wrong answer.)
  • Answer 2) Ashara Dayne. (This is also a wrong answer, but it’s a cool answer. There’s some drama here.)
  • Answer 3) The real answer. R + L = J

If Stannis is Melisandre’s initial candidate for Azor Ahai/King – he’s the first part of the threefold reveal, and false.

With the knowledge that Jon Snow is a Targaryen with the best claim to the Throne, he’s the second part of the threefold reveal. A reasonable answer, kind of spicy. But if Jon is going into exile at the end of the series, he doesn’t become king, so that’s not quite right either.

Bran is then the third part of the threefold reveal.

Stannis establishes the end goal – kingship (with the eventual defeat of the Others wrapped in as a complementary goal) but cannot achieve that goal in the story. Instead, he acts as a foil to a character with similar (but not identical) characteristics who does achieve the goal. In this case, magical middle-brother Bran Stark.

SEEING THE FUTURE IN THE FLAMES/DREAMS

If Bran is a kind of improved version of Stannis, then his untold story in the books might adopt more elements from Stannis’ narrative journey. Unfortunately it’s hard to know what how Stannis’ story is going to unfold definitively in the books. The show has Stannis dying in an attempt to capture the virtual heart (and loyalty) of the North. If it is a given that Bran will become the high king, then dying won’t be in his cards.

The other notable element that’s currently absent in the books is Stannis’ sacrifice of Shireen, consigned to the flames in exchange for a magical advantage. The logistics won’t be the same in the books, but it is probable that Shireen will indeed burn with a desperate Stannis intentionally agreeing to sacrifice her.

If Bran is an analogue of Stannis, will there be a similar sacrifice in his story? Was Hodor the sacrifice?

Hodor's Death on Game of Thrones

Will Rickon’s role be as a sacrifice required by Bran for some magical advantage against the Others? Rickon has the same ancient (and probably magical) blood of the First Men that Bran has, and blood magic is a thing in this world. The requirement for Bran to sacrifice his little brother would also reinforce the Rickon-Renly connection.

The Others will need to be driven back and since there is no singular point-of-failure command-and-control feature among the Others in the books as there was for the White Walkers on the show, something less simple than Arya stabbing the Night King will probably take place. And what that will be might require Bran and the choices that he makes.

And that might also go a long way in making him king.

Perhaps this is why the resolution of the Long Night failed to deliver to some of the show’s watchers. It was an epic event, but not necessarily mythic in the way that Bran’s active and supernatural involvement might have made it.

Comparing characters in a written work is a compelling activity, because character similarities and differences are often intended by the writer to be noticed, even if the reader’s perception of these attributes operates unconsciously. Shakespeare included the Norwegian prince Fortinbras in Hamlet not because Fortinbras had a major impact in the story, but because his decisive action to assert his rights contrasted with Hamlet’s natural inaction and indecisiveness.

When a set of characters share characteristics or circumstances with another set, the comparison is even stronger. Sir Thomas Mallory had a handful of lesser kings in Le Morte D’Arthur with whom Arthur could be favorably compared, but his decision to include the love triangle of Sir Tristan, Queen Isolde, and the unsavory King Mark of Cornwall was specifically intended to be the yardstick against which Lancelot, Queen Guinevere, and King Arthur were to be measured against.

This essay might have cherry-picked characteristics between Stannis Baratheon and Bran Stark to establish a possible correlation, and the fact that their brothers have shared characteristics with their respective counterparts can only reinforce that.

But, it doesn’t make it true, necessarily.

Bran Stark King Red Keep King's Landing Season 8 806 Iron Throne Podrick Brienne Bronn Tyrion

Bran might become king in the books, which would validate the show and demonstrate that Bran’s journey is the culmination of what Stannis was trying to accomplish. And present Bran as a sort of successor to Stannis as a character.

If he does not become king, then this essay is largely the same as Melisandre looking into her flames and imagining Stannis becoming king. Which would then make Bran exactly like Stannis.

Bran: Except, actually magical.

The proof will be when The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring come out, to continue and conclude the adventures of Rickon Stark, Bran Stark, and Stannis Baratheon. But until that happens we’ll have to take what clues we can from Martin’s text, informed by what’s happened on the show, and make our best guesses.

Being right is good, but being wrong isn’t that bad either. But it’s probably not ideal to stop thinking about the story to come.

Stannis: I’d rather be right.
Bran: How unfortunate for you.

54 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. When he was alive, he and Robb Stark were my favorite characters. After they died it was Daenerys. Well, I had a hard time with this show…

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    2. I don’t think parallels between Stannis and Bran really exist in any intentional way in either books or the show. Dany and Stannis have similar journey but Bran and Stannis is reaching in my opinion.

      But nice article.

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    3. Bran the Broken was the most amazing thing that happened in the show. I still dream about it every night and I think that Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss wrote it beautifully. Bran the Broken has the best story, not just his story but all the stories that happend. This is the meaning in the first place. He is the memory of Westeros. He knows all the things that unite the people of Westeros. Bran keeps all the stories that’s why, he has the best story.

      Tyrion talked with him in Season 8 Episode 2, I’m just curious what they talked about. This conversation was also the reason why Tyrion later proposed Bran as King.

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    4. The LightKing:
      When he was alive, he and Robb Stark were my favorite characters.After they died it was Daenerys. Well, I had a hard time with this show…

      Yeah, it’s much easier when you have a favorite character wire to wire.

      👸🏻🗡

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    5. The LightKing:
      Bran the Broken was the most amazing thing that happened in the show. I still dream about it every night and I think that Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss wrote it beautifully. Bran the Broken has the best story, not just his story but all the stories that happend…”

      This is hyperbole, right? Or a discussion kickstarter?

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    6. mau:
      I don’t think parallels between Stannis and Bran really exist in any intentional way in either books or the show. Dany and Stannis have similar journey but Bran and Stannis is reaching in my opinion.

      But nice article.

      Mau,

      Thank you, not only for the compliment, but for your skepticism. I agree that Dany and Stannis have a ton of parallels plot wise, and you’re not wrong to push back on My Stannis-Bran thoughts.

      At least I didn’t indulge in any “what GRRM is saying here” or “what GRRM wants us to notice” because that would be disqualifying unless I literally had gotten confirmation from Martin.

      This all makes for good discussion.

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    7. Ten Bears: This is hyperbole, right? Or a discussion kickstarter?

      I’ll take it as a discussion starter, optimistically. I think the underplaying of the Others in the final season took weight away from Bran, but I’m happy to head canon in details of Tyrion’s talk with Bran, and his extra-human experience.

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    8. The LightKing:

      Tyrion talked with him in Season 8 Episode 2, I’m just curious what they talked about. This conversation was also the reason why Tyrion later proposed Bran as King.

      TB made a post about missing conversations – this is one of them. As the Bran and Tyrion exchange was so seminal to the future, one would reasonably expect that we would have heard the exchange. But, nope, the writers did not bother.

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    9. Bran had the first chapter in the Novels. So if the end mirrors the beginning, he will have the last as well. It did somewhat in the show that began and ended beyond the wall. So while I don’t know how to get there in the books, I do feel that there is a reason why Bran opens the book series and that may be because he ends up on the throne.

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    10. The LightKing:
      Mango,

      I think it would have been a big spoiler for the end to show this conversation.

      I mostly agree. I think my head canon for the conversation works for me, and if it was just Bran explaining to Tyrion that he has the memories of Starks (like Paul MuadDib from DUNE and the Atreides) and the memories of Targaryens (because he’s also Bloodraven/Brynden Rivers) that show watchers would just complain about this being filler or something.

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    11. Mango,

      Because they would be literally telling the audience what we already know that’s lazy writing to have ten minutes of Bran recapping his Journey to Tyrion.

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    12. * if it was just Bran explaining to Tyrion that he has the memories … show watchers would just complain about this being filler or something.*

      Nonsense, the show-only watchers love intrigue, legend, and mystery as much as the rest of us. They aren’t shallow idiots just because they didn’t read the books.

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    13. Thank you for the article. If the last two book are ever published and I read the series, I’ll be looking for the paragraphs you quoted.

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    14. QueenofThrones:
      * if it was just Bran explaining to Tyrion that he has the memories … show watchers would just complain about this being filler or something.*

      Nonsense, the show-only watchers love intrigue, legend, and mystery as much as the rest of us.They aren’t shallow idiots just because they didn’t read the books.

      No need to put words into my mouth, my Queen, I didn’t call anyone shallow idiots. But if the show began talking about how the Three Eyed Raven was really Bloodraven was really the sorcerous Brynden Rivers and his magical backstory it would vibe with book readers and not with show only watchers, because the show had laid no groundwork for that.

      And people complain about what they consider unnecessary of filler, even if there is payoff later. Few people revisit old rants to walk back their words.

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    15. LadyGoodman:
      Thank you for the article.If the last two book are ever published and I read the series,I’ll be looking for the paragraphs you quoted.

      Thank you very much, m’lady.

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    16. Fireandblood87:
      Mango,

      Because they would be literally telling the audience what we already know that’s lazy writing to have ten minutes of Bran recapping his Journey to Tyrion.

      It would have been interesting though to see how Bran told the story. There are some people (my wife is one) who likes to start at the beginning and go through all of the conversations that happen along the way and explain all of the details as a good narrator would do. Then, there are others that would just hit the main plot points and give you the twitter brief version. My guess is Bran’s going to be very brief. He might say something like, “We went North and we found the 3ER, and now I’m the 3ER”. That may be it for Bran’s version of the story! I would really be interested in hearing Bran’s story from Meera’s POV. She was such a star through the whole journey. What exactly did Meera do for all that time in the tree/cave while Bran was 3ERaven tripping? It was also such a sad goodbye when Bran could only say an unfeeling thank you. I wish Meera was there that night and told Tyrion the real story.

      I would have also loved it if Arya and Meera would have teamed up on the battlements in the battle at Winterfell (the long night). They would have made an awesome team. Meera may not have made it. It would have been sad, but she could have saved Arya somehow. That could have been her destiny just as her brother’s destiny was to sacrifice himself for Bran.

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    17. Why was it so easy for the lords at the Dragonpit meeting to agree on Bran being king? None of them know what a Three-Eyed Raven is nor do they have any connection to the Old Gods up North.

      Tyrion said they should ignore the line of succession because the sons of kings/queens are often terrible like Joffrey. Ending the line of succession is “breaking the wheel”. It’s stopping a bad system. However, this could also lead to more conflict. Tyrion said that each new king would be chosen by the lords of Westeros, meaning that every time a king dies, there would be a new uncertainty. At least with the old system there was some stability. Now anyone can be king, so it could turn into a free-for-all every time a king dies. This change in no way makes anything inherently more stable.

      Right after this, Sansa stated that everyone would be ruled by Bran, but the North would be ruled by Sansa. It’s a total Stark coup. How is everyone just going along with this?

      Yara wanted the Ironborn to be granted independence in season 6, yet by the end of season 8 she kinda forgot about that and was completely cool with being ruled by Bran. This makes no sense.

      Dorne also has a long and proud history of being independent, and they should be in a strong position at the end of season 8 since their armies went untouched in the recent wars, but this random unnamed prince just handed over Dorne to the Starks? This whole show was about ambitious noble families fighting and scheming for power, but now, in this one scene, all the great houses agree to give up their power to a strange psychic kid because he “has a good story”.

      Sansa set a precedent for kingdoms to secede, so there could easily be rebellions in the future.

      Bran will apparently be a good ruler because he’s inhuman, which is a pretty depressing message. Game of Thrones was always about the struggle between human good and human evil within each person. Bran being the only choice for a good king suggests that the solution to human evil isn’t human good, it’s being not human at all. With the failures of Jaime and Dany, season 8 felt deeply cynical about the possibility of human good.

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    18. Wow. Comparing Stannis being “crippled” politically by his personality to Bran being actually crippled is certainly… a take

      #SaveusGRRM

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    19. Court:
      Wow. Comparing Stannis being “crippled” by his personality to Bran being actually crippled is certainly… a take

      #SaveusGRRM

      You put crippled in quotes as if I said that.

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    20. Patrick Sponaugle: You put crippled in quotes as if I said that.

      ok then.

      Wow. Comparing Stannis being “handicapped” politically by his personality to Bran being actually crippled is certainly… a take

      #SaveusGRRM

        Quote  Reply

    21. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thank you for the article Patrick. It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I am sorry you have to deal with those that cannot disagree with you in a respectful or reasonable manner. Unfortunately, it seems to be par for the course these days.

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    22. I like the new theory that Bran is Dreaming himself as King of the Six Kingdoms. I think it is Bran that will go into exile and become the new King beyond the Wall.

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    23. Court: ok then.

      Wow. Comparing Stannis being “handicapped” politically by his personality to Bran being actually crippled is certainly… a take

      #SaveusGRRM

      That’s better. Although you’re still implying that I said Bran was crippled.

      Stannis’ personality and Bran’s physical conditions are both political liabilities. Stannis doesn’t care, but Bran does. Calling it certainly a take is fine, but why is it wrong as a point of comparison?

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    24. Shemom:
      I like the new theory that Bran is Dreaming himself as King of the Six Kingdoms. I think it is Bran that will go into exile and become the new King beyond the Wall.

      Ah, I hadn’t heard this. In relation to the show and this theory, when does this dream begin?

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    25. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thanks for the reply and I generally agree, though I don’t think that comment in particular was really meant to generate an honest discussion.

      As for me, I did attempt to add to the discussion with my questions about the dragonpit meeting, which have so far gone unanswered. Oh well 🙂

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    26. Mr Derp,

      The vast majority of lords at the dragon pit were Stark friends, allies, and relatives. No way would they object to Bran being made king. The only two outliers were the Iron Islands and Dorne, so even if they voted no, the vote still would have gone through. Besides, no one had any better suggestions.

      As has already been pointed out to you, yes, the system of government may not be perfect, but there is no such thing. It seems you would have been disappointed no matter what form of government they decided on. It may not work, or it may very well work out perfectly. It all depends on whether you have a positive or negative outlook.

      A coup is a violent and illegal seizure of power. It doesn’t involve the representatives of each kingdom voting for the same ruler. And I believe it was Tyrion who wanted Bran to rule, not Sansa. In fact, it was Sansa who pointed out that Bran couldn’t have children, which is a mark against him being king.

      Yara knew the Iron Islands are unsustainable on their own, and gave up being queen. That is why she was going to reconquer the Iron Islands in Dany’s name. Besides, Theon died for Bran, so she voted for him as a way of honoring his memory.

      Dorne has never once in the duration of the entire series expressed any desire for Dorne to gain independence. Dorne not doing so at the dragon pit was not strange or inconsistent with their previous behavior. As I said, the prince was outnumbered and didn’t have a better suggestion.

      If any other kingdom was going to secede, the dragon pit was their opportune moment.

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    27. Mr Derp:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thanks for the reply and I generally agree, though I don’t think that comment in particular was really meant to generate an honest discussion.

      As for me, I did attempt to add to the discussion with my questions about the dragonpit meeting, which have so far gone unanswered.Oh well 🙂

      Egad! What, I have to read these comments too? Fine.

      (I’ll get back to you, and I do appreciate the feedback and your support. I just need to collect my thoughts and give due consideration to your questions – and it’s dinnertime. And my wife wants to watch THE EXPANSE. What I’m saying is, be patient…)

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    28. Mr Derp:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thanks for the reply and I generally agree, though I don’t think that comment in particular was really meant to generate an honest discussion.

      As for me, I did attempt to add to the discussion with my questions about the dragonpit meeting, which have so far gone unanswered.Oh well 🙂

      Okay, now your complaints or observations with the Dragonpit meeting are not invalid. I didn’t perceive this as them setting the precendent of breaking the wheel/getting rid of primogeniture. This was similar to the Great Council that screwed things up in the past during Targaryen History, when there was a succession question to be answered.

      I mean, Sam did broach a kind of “hey, we should get the realm involved in on this decision” and got laughed at, so I don’t believe that anything has really changed. If Bran had a son (I don’t think he can – maybe he’ll adopt some nephew if Sansa one day has a baby) to be his heir, that kid might end up ruling as the next king.

      Or not? Westeros politics can be turbulent.

      There’s not really a good reason on the show for why the nobles chose Bran, but they were going to have to choose someone to satisfy the Unsullied and get them out of the capital (that was my take) and the Starks had a bigass army outside the walls. So Lord Flowerpot from the Reach was not really going to get into it.

      As for Dorne, you’re not wrong, but since the show deviated from a reasonable Dorne plot, I can happily head canon Prince Whomever Martell to be as cautious as his predecessor, and not want to give anyone a reason to shiv him. Since the last shivvers were all dead, he might have wanted to keep things cool instead of kicking off a Dornexit.

      I don’t think that the lords were specifically wanting to choose an inhuman king, but I won’t argue against your interpretation. With the show ending, we can all imagine a continuity going forward and no one can really convincingly argue against it.

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    29. Patrick Sponaugle,

      i think the point that made all of the lords and ladies at the pit come to the conclusion that Westeros has had enough of people claiming(!) the throne was: Edmure´s try of an application speech – and Sansa shutting him down.

      the meeting´s participants can identify all the suffering, destruction and bloodshed of the story as the result of a dumb and inhumane game. a Game of Thrones. a game that has been going on for generations. here they sit in the ruins the last candidate left as sort of the game´s final outcome, and forward comes this guy who has obviously spent some years under a rock…

      this brings Edmure´s story to a useful ending. he´s still a moron. but: by being so old schoolishly self confident, he passes the ball to Sansa for her to end the game. she does not tell him to shut up or that he would be a bad king. she simply tells him to sit.

      in other words: to be modest. the words that may have changed history. his words may be the last selfish claim to sit on the throne a tortured country has heard for quite a while.

      none of the other participants stepped forward. who should have? Robyn Arryn?

      Sansa´s remark actually leaves some claim-vacuum for a moment. and this is Tyrion´s moment. but first, there´s Sam. with his suggestion of a sort of democracy, he shows the lords and ladies what would be completely unthinkable for them. every suggestion not going to Sam´s extreme had better chances. in comes Tyrion and makes a king.

      the advantage for the houses in chosing their king instead of getting a royal baby announced they will have to bow to bc tradition is clear in a country devastated by wars. they agree with each other. none of them can say “you´re not my king / queen” after having had his vote in such a kingmaking council. this increases the chance of avoiding wars for the throne. and this is actually what all of the houses and regions and lords and ladies need most after all the years of bleeding.

      this is why they agree on a king without blood on his hands and with no visible intention of spilling blood. not the way i want my government to be chosen, it sounds too much like electoral college. but for a fantasy world, i think is is alright and pretty progressive.

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    30. Patrick Sponaugle: I mean, Sam did broach a kind of “hey, we should get the realm involved in on this decision” and got laughed at, so I don’t believe that anything has really changed. If Bran had a son (I don’t think he can – maybe he’ll adopt some nephew if Sansa one day has a baby) to be his heir, that kid might end up ruling as the next king.

      I definitely get why Sam’s suggestion of a pseudo-democracy was received as poorly as it was since it’s such a dramatic step from one form of government to another for all of Westeros, but on the other hand, should Sam’s suggestion of democracy have been met with such distain and incredulity? The NW has an election to choose the LC and the Greyjoys have the Kingsmoot, so there is precedent for democracy in Westeros.

      Patrick Sponaugle: There’s not really a good reason on the show for why the nobles chose Bran, but they were going to have to choose someone to satisfy the Unsullied and get them out of the capital (that was my take) and the Starks had a bigass army outside the walls. So Lord Flowerpot from the Reach was not really going to get into it.

      I would like to officially nominate Lord Flowerpot from the Reach as the next king of Westeros. If nothing else, it sounds like he/she would make Westeros pretty again after all the destruction 🙂

      In regards to the Unsulled, why did Greyworm wait for Jon’s family’s approval to kill him before killing him? I assume it’s because it would start another war with the Starks, but the Unsullied were so loyal to Dany that I thought that plot point wrapped a bit too neatly for me.

      Also, the Dothraki were fanatically loyal to Dany. They saw her rise from fire twice and they followed her across the Narrow Sea to win Westeros for her. In season 6, Dany made them her blood riders, her sworn protectors. If a khal is killed his/her blood riders live to avenge them, so surely when Jon killed Dany her blood riders would be honorbound to kill Jon. So, how did they react to Dany’s death? They did nothing. They walked right past him at the docks. Again, I didn’t hate this scene, I just thought everything wrapped up a bit too neatly there. Just my opinion, of course.

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    31. Young Dragon: Dorne has never once in the duration of the entire series expressed any desire for Dorne to gain independence. Dorne not doing so at the dragon pit was not strange or inconsistent with their previous behavior. As I said, the prince was outnumbered and didn’t have a better suggestion.

      Dorne was a sovereign kingdom before the invasion of Aegon the Conqueror, and weathered his attack to remain one afterwards, the only one of the Seven Kingdoms to retain its independence. It joined the Seven Kingdoms through peaceful marriage alliance nearly two centuries later, only one century before Robert’s Rebellion. As a result of joining through marriage and not conquest, Dorne was allowed to keep many of its local customs and laws, such as equal inheritance laws for male and female heirs. Due to these different ethnic, legal, and political factors, the Dornishmen are very independently minded, with a stronger sense of “national identity” than many of the other Seven Kingdoms.

      As I stated previously, Dorne was not particularly affected by any of the fighting, so they are basically fully intact with a full army at their disposal. They have a history of being independent and different from the other kingdoms, but in one fell swoop, they just blindly go along with being ruled by Bran even though the North just stated in front of everyone that they will be independent without permission? I found it bizarre that everyone didn’t raise an eyebrow after Sansa declared independence. Why wouldn’t they follow suit, and say, yea, we’re going to rule ourselves now too? That seems like a much more logical step to me.

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    32. Ooh, this seems so interesting!

      I haven’t the time to read through it now but I will definitely come back to do so and maybe even comment. This seems like the content that kept me a WotW regular during the “Long Night” between S7 and S8.

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    33. talvikorppi:
      Ooh, this seems so interesting!

      I haven’t the time to read through it now but I will definitely come back to do so and maybe even comment. This seems like the content that kept me a WotW regular during the “Long Night” between S7 and S8.

      Thank you! I appreciate your interest, and I hope you enjoy the read when you get the time.

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    34. Mr Derp,

      That’s a logical call, but Dorne seceding would undercut Sansa’s Queen in the North storyline. And it would just play out as a Peggy Schuyler Me Too! moment. (Not hashtag me too, just a Oh I’m independent too! and it wouldn’t matter, other than to water down what Sansa is doing.

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    35. Mr Derp,

      There are pros and cons of becoming an independent nation. It wouldn’t have been odd if any of the lords requested independence, but it’s also not all that odd that they decided to remain a part of the 6 Kingdoms. The Dornish prince’s actions aren’t inconsistent because we don’t know anything about his character.

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    36. The LightKing:
      Mango,

      I think it would have been a big spoiler for the end to show this conversation.

      It did not have to be. Maybe the conversation would not have ended with Tyrion saying if Daenerys goes nuts then I think you should be king. Well, not if the writer had any sense. It may have given some sense of why Bran made such a great impression on Tyrion while he did not seem to have made this same impression on a large percentage of the TV audience.

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    37. Patrick Sponaugle: I mostly agree. I think my head canon for the conversation works for me, and if it was just Bran explaining to Tyrion that he has the memories of Starks (like Paul MuadDib from DUNE and the Atreides) and the memories of Targaryens (because he’s also Bloodraven/Brynden Rivers) that show watchers would just complain about this being filler or something.

      The magic words here are my “my head canon”. What each viewer feels about the conversation may depend on a personal headcanon on how the conversation went and what was said.

      For me, if Bran said that he possessed a pile of memories amd was threeeyed then Tyrion should have send him to the Citadel to be a living library. Or for a mental examination.

      For me, after watching GOT, (in the book he is a 10-year-old boy) and knowing Bran’s story there is NOTHING in it that would have made any sane, practical, human being make him king. Tyrion was supposed to be a practical, clever man. From Tyrion’s character to that point it is unclear why he would think a “dune” character would make a great king.

      In my head canon something new and essential should been delivered in that Bran/Tyrion exchange to have set a believable basis for Bran as a king. It did not have to be obvious going forward in the story but when we look back it should make sense. At the moment, when you look back in the story it is still ludicrous.

      The best story??? hahhahahahahaaa!

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    38. Fireandblood87:
      Mango,

      Because they would be literally telling the audience what we already know that’s lazy writing to have ten minutes of Bran recapping his Journey to Tyrion.

      There is NOTHING in Bran’s story shown in the previous 72 episodes of GOT that provided any basis for him to be king. Nothing. There is no basis set in the previous 72 episodes that established that Tyrion would be interested in a “Dune” like character as the king. There is no basis to believe “having the best story” was accepted in Westeros as a basis for selecting a king.

      So telling us what we had already seen would not have helped to solve the mystery for me. (Worse, as you say it would have been redundant!)

      That conversation would have had to contain something new about Bran and/or new about Tyrion.

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    39. There is NOTHING in Bran’s story shown in the previous 72 episodes of GOT that provided any basis for him to be king. Nothing.

      Actually, there was plenty:

      — Bran rules (with Maester Luwin’s kind assistance) as The Stark In Winterfell after the rest of his family departs to the South;

      — Bran leads a very diverse group of adventurers out of Winterfell, Beyond The Wall, escaping from Wildings, Night’s Watch deserters, and wights to reach the Three-Eyed Raven;

      — Bran carefully and subtly influences other parties at Winterfell after his return;

      — Bran helps plan the defense of Winterfell against the Army of the Dead.

      Throughout the series, even before becoming the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran showed the patience and temperament to rule and unite diverse factions toward achieving a distant goal.

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    40. Tensor the Mage, Who Does Sometimes Wonder Which Show Other Viewers Were Watching,

      And how does any of that make Bran king material?

      So, he ran his father’s household under the supervision of elders in the absence of his mother, went with a group of caretakers to the three-eyed’s cave, played part in the defense of his family home where he was mainly protected by others.

      At least you did not claim he had the best story.

      Come to think of it….Tormund could be king of the Westeros if this is all was needed to qualify. Tormund has been leading his “nation” for a while and was an important part of the defense. Grey Worm also had greater leadership experience and was important is the defense. Sansa, Bran’s sister had also run Winterfell, plotted to seize it back from Ramsay etc., had more experience in KL. Davos also had lots of leadership experience.

      Of course, Tyrion could claim to be a successor to both Cersei and Daenerys and had long political/leadership experience.

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    41. “So, he ran his father’s household under the supervision of elders in the absence of his mother,”

      In the show I watched, Bran ruled the North, as The Stark In Winterfell after his brother, Robb Stark (“The King In The North!”), rode south with the Stark’s bannermen. (As with any wise ruler in Westeros, Bran had the counsel of a Maester to assist him.)

      You are entitled to whatever opinion you like of the show you watched; I can’t speak to your opinion, as I never watched that show. In the show I watched, we repeatedly saw Bran in leadership roles, long before he became King.

      You should try watching Game of Thrones sometime; I think you might like it. 😉

        Quote  Reply

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