Do you have a favorite character? Do you have a favorite non-pov character?
Thanks for the question!
Favorite POV character: Sansa Stark. No contest. I love her characterization, her genre archetype, her chapters’ themes, her inner monologue and her fascinating journey throughout the books.
I love her characterization and, hell, I even appreciate it in A Game of Thrones. Yes, she was a snob and a brat who wanted things to be nice, the knights to be chivalrous, the queens to be graceful and the princes to be sweet, but she’s eleven at that time and all that idealism and naivety only made Ned’s execution all the more heartbreaking, opening the trapdoor underneath Sansa and causing her to fall into that horrific reality of King’s Landing.
Also, it’s really nice to have a classic princess that still has substance. In fact, I think Sansa was my first of the archetype to be given a rich density of character. I know, by now, Sansa’s genre archetype is old hat and has been done time and time again, given a more deconstruction-conscious fantasy market, but Sansa still calls to an inherent part of me that I’ll get to later on below.
Her chapters’ themes? Internal resistance, idealism, abuse, survival, story-and-song thinking, lies, knighthood, femininity, navigating the rules of high society and patriarchy, empathy, romanticism, the eventual disillusionment from reality and kindness-under-pressure… they’re universal (and even relevant to this day) and I can always return to them whenever I reread a book.
Her internal monologue is super crucial to the heart of Sansa’s characterization because A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords constantly play in her head. Passages and pages can turn as her mind whirls and the gears in her mind start to work. Anyone who tells you that Sansa is just a passive pawn clearly doesn’t read hard enough because she’s making active resistance in her mind against the Lannisters and thinking over the political implications of letters sent to her, trying to figure out if they can be trusted and which one she can take up while being safe.
She has an amazing character arc that takes her from a naive, head-in-the-clouds girl to an abused political prisoner actively resisting her captors in her mind to a woman taking control of a castle’s household under the guise of being bastard-born, all while trying to hold onto her humanity and retain a measure of kindness when she’s exposed to more and more horrors in the upper class of society.
Also, I personally think she has one of the best supporting casts in the story, all of the characters in her story pertaining to and enriching her narrative going from Cersei, Loras, Jeyne, Margaery, Olenna, Tyrion, Dontos, Littlefinger, Lysa, Myranda, Mya and Sandor, all of them challenging, adding, compounding upon her worldview, complicating her ideals and turning into her a fascinating person who’s increasingly seeing the strings of political theater and is going to start utilizing them with purpose.
Lastly, her want for there to be true knights? Breaks my heart because I constantly struggle with my ideals like that too. There are good values worth standing up for, but not everyone’s going to live up to them… but that doesn’t make the effort itself worthless. If the world fails us, then we should endeavor to live up to those ideals ourselves. There are monsters, abusers and indifferent people in the world, but the best we can do is hope to outlive them, hope to do it while being better than them.
In short, I will always be here for “He was no true knight.” and “If I am ever a queen, I’ll make them love me.”
Favorite non-POV character: Stannis Baratheon. Let’s see, grumpy, pragmatic, bitter, deadpan, grim, strict, yet fair, meritocratic-leaning with an inferiority complex towards his older brother who he thinks outdoes him everywhere that matters? GEEZ, STANNIS, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE PRETTY MUCH ME IN ASOIAF.
But yeah, I love Stannis’ characterization so much. It’s such a multi-faceted portrait ranging from his strength (meritocratic ideology, drive towards justice, willingness to commit to good kingship) to his weaknesses (pettiness, willingness to commit to past grudges, bitterness and tactless manner of speech) and it’s such a rush to see him when his weaknesses outweigh his strengths in A Clash of Kings to later have the pendulum turned around nearing the end of A Storm of Swords.
And his character archetype is actually what I’d consider some of GRRM’s most subversive genre work. On the surface, he looks the Evil Overlord, complete with living at a grim island full of gargoyles, housing pirates, sellswords and a mysterious sorceress. He looks like the Evil Uncle because he’s rebelling against his “nephew’s rightful crown.” But the truth is far more complex, Stannis himself actually being the Cape, the man who wants to right the wrongs of Westeros, who wants to deal justice against the Lannister’s incestuous reign, who only came upon Dragonstone because he was doing his duty to his older brother.
His chapters’ themes… oh boy, they hit at me. Justice, duty, wounded pride, bitterness, past grudges, mockery from empathy, choosing from lawful or good, meritocracy, good kingship, the choice between valuing the individual or the many and complicated relationships with religion and gods… Stannis just hurts to read.
It is legitimately fist-pumping to read his character arc because it’s a rush. From a bitter, resentful, petty lord sitting at a dreary rock to a man who’s lost one of his central battles as claimant and who is torn between careening further into the abyss or committing to rising above the loss to a savior protecting the realm in truth rather than in title to a truly fascinating and worthy king who’s learning from the past, willing to take advice from all wells of knowledge and take charge to fight against the “only enemy that matters.”
And I tend to love Stannis’ supporting cast. I know we all love Davos, but I even love Melisandre because she brings an interesting facet to the philosophical/theological dialogue between the Dragonstone trio. Davos and Melisandre are constantly in conflict, externalizing the duality raging in Stannis’ heart and how he wants to conduct himself as king. And Stannis’ court also helps, being a bunch of (mostly) unlikeable, fanatic, squabbling lords and knights… who nevertheless help protect the Wall, ordered by their king, from the Free Folk attacking it.
There’s a lot of Stannis I keep coming back to, to be honest. It’s just inspiring that, amid all the destruction, death, rot and chaos of Westeros… there’s one man who’ll stand steadfast and fight for Westeros’ best interests because he’s the man you want against the Others when they come to bring the night that never ends. My One True King.
In short, I’ll always be here for "Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!“ and "Then we will make new lords.”
Why did Robert dislike Stannis? I can't think of a reason that wouldn't also apply to Ned. The pros would be that they're both obedient and dutiful. The cons would be that Robert would find them too boring/serious. They're not the same character but I can't see what he loves about Ned that he hates about Stannis.
You’ve just put your finger on the main reason why Stannis resents Ned so much. Because yes, Stannis and Ned are not really that different which is exactly why Robert’s close friendship with Ned hurts Stannis tremendously. Ned is the brother Robert chose above Stannis which is something Stannis does not understand, he is just like me Robert, can’t you see? Why did you pick him and not me?
We don’t get an outright explanation to why Robert dislikes Stannis but considering all the talk about Stannis’ grim personality and how Stannis himself ruminates on how different he and Robert are, and how different they are viewed by others, it seems like a classic case of different personalities and temperament that created a rift between the brothers as the reserved and serious Stannis made for a disappointing prospect in companion to the lively and wild Robert. But it’s Robert’s fosterage at a young age that played a huge part in the chasm between the two Baratheons. The two brothers never really built a relationship because while it’s possible for fostered children to still have a good relationship with their siblings (hence Ned’s strong attachment to his own siblings), I don’t see Robert going out of his way to stay in touch and build a relationship with Stannis, and Stannis…. well, Stannis had trouble reaching out and showing vulnerability and the one time we hear about him doing so as a youth with Proudwing, he abruptly got smacked down by both Robert and their great uncle. So with distance, and no interest in forging a relationship, their disconnection grew.
Comparatively, and while Ned shares an introverted and reserved nature with Stannis, he was Robert’s childhood and teenage companion. It was Ned that shared Robert’s new exciting life in the Eyrie, Ned that he trained with in the yard and squired alongside, Ned that he built a brotherly bond with. It’s a given that Jon Arryn took great care in fostering friendship and kinship between his two wards, and Ned’s strong family values and good relationship with his siblings surely also appealed greatly to Robert whose relationship with his own brother was aloof and distant. Ned also had experience with a Robert-like character in his brother Brandon, and so probably was quite used to dealing with (and somewhat indulging) a wild and boisterous character Robert. And when you take into consideration Robert’s knack for romanticizing, I’m sure the Vale felt like a grand new adventure that he got to experience and Ned was the person he got to experience it with, which built a brotherly bond between them.
With how fosterage relationships is regarded as being equivalent to blood relationships, and with Robert building relationships there that he did not have back home, Robert all but replaced his blood family with his foster one, something he displayed repeatedly and made no secret of. Once Robert found a new family in Ned and Jon Arryn, and later zeroed in on the Starks as his chosen prospective family, his relationship with Stannis was doomed. He simply couldn’t be bothered. Robert is notoriously lazy, and he had a brother he liked in Ned, one that came with a family that
actually likes each other and that Robert can be a member of, so why should he exert himself to build a relationship with a brother he
did not like, especially since all of Stannis’ good qualities existed in
Why does Stannis trust and likes Davos so much? Yes, Davos saves his life but Stannis is also stubborn and he won't listen to anyone he doesn't trust so how did their friendship grow so much?
Thanks for the question, Anon.
Tagging @poorquentyn as a preliminary matter, since he always has good stuff to add about Stannis and Davos.
I think one of the big defining moments in Stannis and Davos’ relationship was Davos insisting Stannis cut off his fingers himself. Until that moment, Stannis might have seen Davos as a mere smuggler, bringing in fish and onions where he thought he could get the best price (among starving people who would pay whatever Davos said). But when Davos said he would only accept the punishment from Stannis’ own hand, I think Stannis saw him as someone different. Davos was testing him for his sense of justice - if Stannis was ready to execute a sentence as much as he was willing to deliver it. Ordinary smugglers wouldn’t demand that seemingly minor distinction, but Stannis might have started to see Davos as someone who would care that justice was done, and would accept reward and punishment with equal magnanimity - someone who would advise him to the just course.
Additionally, especially in the first years of Robert’s reign (when Stannis was heir in lieu of a son of Robert and Cersei), I’m sure Stannis was surrounded by lordly flatterers. The king’s next younger brother might have seemed a perfect avenue for favor at the royal court, and I bet he was surrounded by lords eager for advancement for themselves and their families (even in ACOK, years later, Stannis still found his lords sycophantic where they weren’t demanding). To be lordly is to be false, Stannis tells Davos in ASOS, and Seaworth might have seemed the very opposite of a grasping lord. Certainly, Stannis might have initially thought he could trust Davos simply for his lack of great name - he had no ambitious family to advance, no natural lordly allies - but as Davos offered him honest counsel with no desire for lands or favors, I think Stannis would have started to trust him more and more.
What if Stannis Baratheon found a dragon egg at Dragonstone and ended up owning/raising a dragon himself?
He would name it Proudwing II and it would be the most adorable useless dragon ever. Stannis didn’t get to train him, so this dragon would be like a really big puppy who sometimes loses it and sets everything on fire (usually stannis)
“We were never blessed with the kind of love Mother and Father were blessed with,” Robert said. “I could see it still, the way his eyes would light up every time she entered a room. And it was the same for Mother.”
“Cersei and I. You and your perpetually scowling wife.”
“My marriage is not like your marriage,” Stannis snapped.
Robert was not listening, though. With a faraway look in his eyes, he said, dreamily, “If Lyanna had lived …”
If Lyanna had lived, she would be flesh and blood, someone with thoughts and feelings of her own, someone who could disappoint and be disappointed, not a goddess on a pedestal whose perfection is forever unmarred and untouched by the passing of time, by the passage of life itself. It was a shadow Robert loved, not even the faint shadow of Lyanna Stark as she had been in her too short of a life, but a shadow he created out of the skeletons of his own needs, dreams, and desires.
The real girl, and the woman she would have become had she lived, had no place at all in this equation.
“I want it so badly, to have what our mother and father had,” Robert said, his hand gripping his wine goblet so tightly that some of the content spilled out.
“You will not find it at the bottom of that goblet,” Stannis retorted. “Nor will you find it in the beds of a different woman each night. Father would have told you the same.”
“Where, then? Where can I find it? Tell me, Stannis,” Robert implored.
You cannot love, if you cannot truly see, Stannis.
What is it that we must see, Mother?
“You are asking the wrong person,” Stannis replied to his brother.
“If she had lived -”
“She, she, she. That’s all you keep harping on. Lyanna Stark is not a magical creature who could cure you of all your ills, Robert.”
“I meant Mother, this time. I meant our mother. If she had lived -”
“If she had lived, then she would be disappointed in us.” Us, you and me both, Robert. Not just you.
There, he had said it, finally, and in saying it, knew it to be the truth, the truth he had always refused to see before.
Robert was shaking his head. “If she had lived, if they both had lived, Mother and Father, we would not be as we are today. We would be different. We would be better.”
“Better men, or better off?”
It was tempting, so very tempting to believe that.
If, if, if. If only …
No, it hurt too much to believe that, for it would also mean mourning the selves they could have been, the selves now forever lost to them.
He refused to believe it, refused to believe in that better future that could have been but never was.
“We were young men, almost fully-formed, not a babe in his cradle like Renly was when Mother and Father died,” Stannis said, in a tone that brooked no argument, in a voice that told Robert that the conversation was at its end.