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A truly just man? - a Stannis reread

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#81 The Drunkard

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 04:54 AM


Edited by The Drunkard, 27 September 2014 - 09:09 AM.

#82 Blisscraft


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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:55 AM

A Different Bird

Stannis is a man with a mission. The beginnings of the chapter reveal how far he is willing to go to accomplish it. He will sacrifice the "new gods" to his "new god." The end of the chapter tells us why: "[t]he Iron Throne is [his] by rights. . . ." The new god is the means. Stannis says:

There are four kings in the realm, three of them have more men and more gold than I do. I have ships. . . and I have her. The red woman. Half of my knights are afraid to even say her name, did you know? If nothing else, a sorceress who can inspire such dread in grown men is not to be dispised. A frightened man is a beaten man. And perhaps she can do more. I mean to find out.

Stannis tells Davos the story of Proudwing, his goshawk. (I agree with Kissbyfire that it is a sad tale). However, it is also a lesson learned. There is a moral to the story, according to Stannis, and that is, he is willing to let go of the past to achieve his future. Stannis will do this by following a bit of advise from his great-uncle Ser Harbert, to "try a new bird," and Mel is that new bird.

Birds are symbols of spirituality and/or spiritual aid. Also, birds are a symbol of the soul. In this case, Stannis not only refers to the color of his bird, a red one, but also the kind of bird, a goshawk. Both the color and the type of bird are signinficant as secondary symbols.

The color red is the color of life. It is the color of blood and fire. It is the color of passion. The color of anger as in, "seeing red." The new bird is a red bird, a red "sorceress." The color inspires both awe and fear. As clear from the above, Stannis means to take advantage of this fact.

As for the type of bird, a hawk is a bird of prey: sharp eyed and fast flying; meat eating, not seed eating. Hawks scream as opposed to sing. So the hawk's screaming becomes a clear message more akin to causing terror than to causing pleasure in the hearer. Like the color red, the hawk inspires awe and fear. Stannis means to take advantage of this as well.

ETA: A "bird" is also a slang term for a woman. Stannis is trying a new "woman."

Edited by Blisscraft, 11 December 2012 - 09:42 AM.

#83 Lummel


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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:57 AM

A goshawk is an interesting choice of bird, there's a medieval English poem that lists what bird of prey a man may keep based on his social estate (you might remember this if you've read "Kes":

"An Eagle for an Emperor, a Gyrfalcon for a King; a Peregrine for a Prince, and a Saker for a Knight; a Merlin for a lady, a Goshawk for a Yeoman, a Sparrowhawk for a Priest, and a Kestrel for a Knave"

A goshawk by medieval English standards would have been considerably beneath a man of Stannis' status. It suggests a lack of ambition and vision. A wounded Goshawk that wouldn't hunt shows that to be a pursuit that is futile and leads nowhere.

The abandonment of the low-status bird is a metaphor for abandoning his position as a Lord and pursuing the crown as well as for abandoning his old faith in favour of one that champions and asserts his role in the universe. It's as little as though in modern terms he's left the faith of his fathers in favour of one of those mega churches in which they preach that God wants the faithful to be rich and successful in this vale of tears. /wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

#84 Fragon



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Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:25 AM

I love this Davos chapter, as I love all interactions between Davos&Stannis and Jon&Stannis, they reveal so much about him and you begin to see Stannis in a very different way than the global impressions.

Great topic!

#85 starkalways



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Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:10 AM

I would love to see more stannis analysis. He's definitely a character I'm conflicted about. I want to love him but I have seen enough to make him unfavorable.

#86 Theda Baratheon

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:26 AM

I think there was a legitimate caution in giving men like Stannis too much power. And yes Robert had next to no skill or desire at running a kingdom, but he was no tyrant. While the council members arent particularly heroic, I can see LF while counciling Ned, picturing Stannis attending every single council meeting overruling everybody else's ideas in favor of what his own personal version of what is just and fair. I think Robert provided a climate of "at least hes not Aerys". Men like Stannis and Tywin have potential to be great and effective leaders, but there is just as much potential to become tyrannical maniacs. I think this was why a lot of the uneasiness about Stannis, from not just Robert but others as well.

I really can't see Stannis as a tyannical maniac in any shape or form. He is all about duty. He listens to good men like Davos.

#87 SeanSnow



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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:24 PM

"Stannis is iron, hard but brittle. Robert was the true steel."

#88 Kate Poem

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:10 AM

Reasons for Littlefinger' and Varys's dislike for Stannis?
He - after his official coronation - probably will remove Littlefinger's and Varys's heads from their necks.
Both of them knew about it.

#89 eva-e



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Posted 22 August 2013 - 12:33 PM

“When I was a lad I found an injured goshawk and nursed her back to health. Proudwing, I named her. She would perch on my shoulder and flutter from room to room after me and take food from my hand, but she would not soar. Time and again I would take her hawking, but she never flew higher than the treetops. Robert called her Weakwing. He owned a gyrfalcon named Thunderclap who never missed her strike. One day our great-uncle Ser Harbert told me to try a different bird. I was making a fool of myself with Proudwing, he said, and he was right.”

I'm probably way too impressible, but reading that story this closely, it's more than just sad, it's tragic. Here's a young boy with compassion for a wounded being, who forms a real and close bond with his animal. Probably only takes her hawking in the beginning as one among many activities, because she's a bird of prey, after all. Only that's the game of his big brother, who is succeeding at it in the eyes of the adults. And he manages to make the little one play by his rules in the end, even though he has no chance of winning anyways. Stannis never says, but I'm pretty sure Robert's bird would have still been the most impressive one they had.

If falling in with Melisandre really is equivalent to letting go of Proudwing, then Stannis has just basically lost his humanity to a doomed ambition. Sound about right?

#90 Ser Pounce FTW

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 03:01 PM

If falling in with Melisandre really is equivalent to letting go of Proudwing, then Stannis has just basically lost his humanity to a doomed ambition. Sound about right?

Yes. Butterbumps discusses the Faustian symbolism in Stannis' story in her thread The Paradox that is Stannis. It is a sad story. His ambition and desperate need for recognition (which is he has rightfully earned!) pushed him to do things he would not normally. It does make me think that he will have to pay for bartering his soul, in the long run.

#91 Stan the Man Baratheon

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 11:41 PM

Bumping up this brilliant thread!

#92 BrightStar Of The Day

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 05:33 AM

Bumping up this brilliant thread!

Yea indeed, where are the rest of the chapters? I enjoyed reading the first 3.

#93 Badal



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Posted 23 February 2014 - 05:56 AM

stannis <3

#94 Mithras


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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:33 PM

Mel wears scarlet robes. All she does is to tempt Stannis and make him commit ever greater sins. She is the Great Harlot.


Scarlet is also often associated with immorality and sin, particularly prostitution or adultery, largely because of a passage referring to "The Great Harlot", "dressed in purple and scarlet", in the Bible (Revelations 17: 1-6).


The color is also mentioned several times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament; in the Latin Vulgate version of the book of Isaiah (1:18) it says, "If your sins be as scarlet (si fuerint peccata vestra ut coccinum) they shall be made white as snow", and in the book of Revelation (17:1-6) it describes the "Great Harlot" (meretricius magnus) dressed in scarlet and purple (circumdata purpura et coccino), and riding upon a scarlet beast (besteam coccineam).


For some reason, Mel believes Stannis is the AAR (=tPtwP). However, she plays a mummer's farce to make Stannis fulfill the Lightbringer element of the prophecy. We can be sure that the sword of his carries a big fat glamor.


In this Davos chapter where the Seven was burned, the prophecy Mel told does not contain the element of waking dragons from stone. It only appears after the defeat of Stannis at Blackwater. Surely Stannis is in need of a great power. Mel foresees the death of the kings and plays another mummer’s farce by burning the leeches on a grill. That was only to give Stannis hope and make him sure of Mel’s power because shortly after that, Mel urges him to allow her burn Edric. She wants to use the blood sacrifice to summon a shadow dragon.


If Mel is forcefully fulfilling the elements of the prophecy, then what the hell is Stannis supposed to do?


Mel genuinely believes what she does. However, all she does seem to me like she is pushing Stannis to a darker path, making him commit greater sins. She said Mance wearing the ruby is completely under her control. Is she secretly being controlled by the same ruby around her neck and she does not even realize it?

#95 bloody_mummer


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Posted 24 February 2014 - 11:29 AM

Stannis is is interesting, as he combines the traits of so many other characters.  He has Ned's sense of "justice" (doing what is right in spite of popularity or other repurcussions); Twyin's machievelian "the ends justify the means" philosophy, and the grit and determination of a young Robert.


Two of these traits are in constant tension:  his sense of justice (each act deserves its own punishment/reward on its own), and his belief that the he is entlted to the Iron Trone by right and that he will use whatever means to accomplish those ends.   His whole chracater arc is the second overtaking the first.  He is willing to abandon his old gods and adopt a new religion to motivate his troops and give him an advantage in morale and devotion (much like Constantine did when adopting Christianity under similar circumstances), he accepts kinslaying both as a means to an end and as justice for Renly's usurpation.  Once he has crossed the kinslaying bridge, he is willing to kill Robert's bastard to further his ambitions, despite the fact the kid (forget his name) did nothing to "deserve" death. 


By the time he reaches the Wall, his "justness" has been completely overwhelmed by his obsession to take what is rightfully his by any means necessary, whether that means burning people alive, destroying the Night's Watch, etc.

#96 Ser Carson

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 09:51 AM



I disagree with his sense of Justice. If he really wanted to do what was right it would've been to help Ned and Robert take down the Lannister in aGoT. Stannis knew about the twincest. He knew he needed Jon Arryn to tell Robert because Robert may have killed Stannis if he had suggested it. Justice would've been sentencing Cersei and Jamie to death for high treason. Stannis after Jon Arryn's death runs away to Dragonstone and does nothing to save his brother or give out justice to the Lannisters. This could of been out of fear or just precaution thinking he had more time, but if he had talk to Ned just once they could've changed everything and probably for the better.


Since we don't see Stannis during aGoT it's hard to judge, but his inaction doesn't come off as this great act of justice despite the consequences. I think it comes off as a pity move its like well I tried to warn Robert by getting Jon Arryn involved, but they killed him and I can't/won't tell Robert myself because he hates me/I'm afraid of what he might do to me, so now I will just wait for the Lannister's to kill him and then I will be the rightful King and will be able to deliver Justice.

Edited by Ser Carson, 25 February 2014 - 09:53 AM.

#97 Stannis's Lawyer

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 09:21 AM



Summary: Stannis and Renly parley, but when both refuse each other’s demands, they choose battle at dawn.





1.   Stannis’s army

“Stannis Baratheon’s foragers had cut the trees down for his siege towers and catapults.”

Stannis has besieged Storm’s End. But he is well aware that it is an impossible feat. So why is he besieging the castle?


“To take the city, I need the power of these southron lords I see across the field. My brother has them. I must needs take them from him.”

Stannis besieged Storm’s End to draw Renly east. A very interesting fact is that Stannis understands Renly very well: Stannis is aware of the fact that Renly will idiotically rush to defend Storm’s End, while Renly clearly does not understand how Stannis works.


Now, let’s have a look at Stannis’s army.

“That paltry rabble I see there huddled under the castle walls? I’ll call them five thousand and I’ll be generous, codfish lords and onion knights and sellswords. Half of them are like to come over to me before the battle starts. You have fewer than four hundred horse, my scouts tell me-freeriders in boiled leather who will not stand an instance against armored lances.” (Renly is an idiot. House Codd is the only House with a codfish sigil.)

So Stannis’s army is very weak. It has less than 5,000 men, and most are sellswords or Targaryen supporters. However:

“She could see torches moving across the fields where Lord Stannis had made his camp.” Even if Stannis was aware of the shadow baby, which has not been confirmed, surely Stannis, perhaps the best military commander in Westeros, would have prepared for a battle in case the shadow baby failed?

The lords of the Narrow Sea have no love for Stannis, and they are outnumbered and the enemy is “all the chivalry of the South”, yet not a single lord defects. This strongly suggests that Stannis had a very good plan of some sort.


So Stannis might have been able to defeat Renly without a shadow baby. But we’ll never know.




2.   King of the Queen’s Men

“Stannis wore a crown of red gold with points fashioned in the shape of flames. His belt was studded with gold and yellow topaz, and a great square-cut ruby was set in the hilt of the sword he wore.”

“The device on his sun-yellow banner showed a red heart surrounded by a blaze of orange fire. The crowned stag was there, yes…shrunken and enclosed within the heart.”

“Even more curious was his standard-bearer-a woman, garbed in all reds, face shadowed within the deep hood of her scarlet clock.”


Stannis has completely embraced R’hllor, the only god (in Stannis’s POV) who actually manages to do things. The crowned stag-the traditional symbol of House Baratheon-has shrunk. Stannis has thrown away the traditional values of the Seven Kingdoms. The banner, along with the burnings and the fate of the Sunglasses, makes clear that ACOK Stannis will accept only one religion: the Faith of R’hllor.




3.   Kings have no Friends

“Kings have no friends”, Stannis said bluntly, “only subjects and enemies.”

We see that Stannis believes that kings should not have friends. Why is this?


Stannis has an obsession with justice:

“I shall bring justice to Westeros. A thing Ser Axell understands as little as he does war.”

“Every man shall reap what he has sown, from the highest lord to the lowest gutter rat.”

“For such crimes there must be justice.”

“Great or small, we must do our duty.”

For justice to be truly just, the judge must be impartial and neutral. A truly just man cannot have a friend. I think this is what Stannis believes a king is: the ultimate, impartial judge.




4.   War and Peace

There are three separate peace proposals made in the parley. Let’s look at each of them.


Renly’s Peace

“ I propose that you dismount, bend the knee, and swear me your allegiance.”

“I never liked you, Stannis, but you are my own blood, and I have no wish to slay you. So if it is Storm’s End you want, take it…as a brother’s gift. As Robert once gave it to me, I give it to you.”


Renly mocks Stannis’s twincest claims. He says “I never liked you” to Stannis, which must hurt, since Stannis took care of Renly for much of his childhood. He compares himself to Robert, fully knowing Stannis’s reasons for obeying Robert, and says he will give Storm’s End to Stannis as “a brother’s gift”. Stannis is provoked enough that he begins to insult Renly.


It is clear that Renly is intentionally provoking Stannis because he does not, in fact, want peace:

“’That was amusing, if not terribly profitable.’ He commented. ‘I wonder where I can get a sword like that? Well, doubtless Loras will make me a gift of it after the battle. I grieve that it must come to this.’

‘You have a cheerful way of grieving.’ Said Catelyn, whose distress was not feigned.

‘Do I?’ Renly shrugged. ‘So be it. Stannis was never the most cherished of brothers, I confess.’”

Renly does not value Stannis’s life at all. He seems to feel no fraternity for him at all.


“A clamor filled the pavilion, as other men loudly set forth their claims. The knights of summer, Catelyn thought.”

“The bold little boy with wild black hair and laughing eyes was a man grown now, one-and-twenty, and yet he still played his games.”


Renly sees war as a game, a riskier version of a tourney. Hence it is understandable that Renly wants war.


Catelyn’s Peace

“Catelyn said, ‘Let us hope there will be no battle. We three share a common foe who would destroy us all.’

Stannis studied her, unsmiling. ‘The Iron Throne is mine by rights. All those who deny that are my foes.’”


Cat makes a proposal for an anti-Lannister alliance. She is rudely rebuffed by Stannis.


Cat also connects defeating the Lannisters to saving the kingdom:

“’This is folly,” Catelyn said sharply. “Lord Tywin sits at Harrenhal with twenty thousand swords. The remnants of the Kingslayer’s army have regrouped at the Golden Tooth, another Lannister host gathers beneath the shadow of Casterly Rock, and Cersei and her son hold King’s Landing and your precious Iron Throne. You each name yourself king, yet the kingdom bleeds, and no one lifts a sword to defend it but my son.’”

The fact that Stannis is against an anti-Lannister alliance, instead choosing a battle against his own brother, IMO symbolizes the fact that he is currently focused on getting his throne, and not saving the kingdom. It is a subtler way of pointing out that Stannis had the cart before the horse.


Stannis’s Peace

“Stannis pointed his shining sword at his brother. ‘I am not without mercy,’ thundered he who was notoriously without mercy. ‘Nor do I wish to sully Lightbringer with a brother’s blood. For the sake of the mother who bore us both, I will give you this night to rethink your folly, Renly. Strike your banners and come to me before dawn, and I will grant you Storm’s End and your old seat on the council and even name you my heir until a son is born to me. Otherwise, I shall destroy you.’”


Stannis makes huge concessions to Renly. He promises to make him heir (abandoning his daughter, who he does seem to love), give him Storm’s End (thus giving him 35,000 loyal soldiers), and make him Master of Law (hence making a purge of the court much more difficult). We know that Stannis probably knew about the shadow baby, and that he does not believe in “kinslayer be cursed” bullshit. So why these huge concessions?


“’Only Renly could vex me so with a piece of fruit. He brought his doom on himself with his treason, but I did love him, Davos. I know that now. I swear, I will go to my grave thinking of my brother’s peach.’”

The answer is that Stannis loves Renly more than he loves Storm’s End, or Shireen, or even justice. Remember that Stannis took care of Renly for at least 6 years, and possibly 10 years. He probably remembers Renly fondly, like Cressen does. I wouldn’t be surprised if guilt over Renly’s death was one of the major causes of Stannis’s depression in ASOS.


They choose war

With Renly’s carefully planned “offer” to give Stannis Storm’s End, Stannis begins to mock Renly.

“’In your bed she’s like to die that way.”


Renly’s plan to provoke Stannis into choosing war has succeeded. Renly is pleased and proceeds to mock Stannis further:

“Renly smiled innocently. ‘As for your daughter, I understand. If my wife looked like yours, I’d send my fool to service her as well.’”


By now, Stannis’s actions are indistinguishable from Renly’s. They both insult their brother, and Stannis is the first to draw the sword. We see that Stannis is now as low as Renly: both blinded by their lust for the Iron Throne. Stannis’s arc in ACOK and ASOS is a subtle redemption arc, from “All those who deny that are my foes” to “I had the cart before the horse”.




5.   Renly’s Peach

Perhaps the most memorable part of this chapter. The next is from a GRRM interview:

“The peach represents... Well... It’s pleasure. It’s… tasting the juices of life. Stannis is a very marshal man concerned with his duty, and with that peach Renly says: ‘Smell the roses’, because Stannis is always concerned with his duty and honor, in what he should be doing and he never really stops to taste the fruit. Renly wants him to taste the fruit but it’s lost. I wish that scene had been included in the TV series because for me that peach was important, but it wasn’t possible.’”


So we know that the peach represents pleasure. Look at what Stannis says:

“’I did not come here to eat fruit.’ Stannis was fuming.


‘A man should never refuse to taste a peach,’ Renly said as he tossed the stone away. ‘He may never get the chance again. Life is short, Stannis. Remember what the Starks say. Winter is coming.’”


Stannis has refused to taste the peach, and he will never get the chance again. Renly references the fact that winter is coming as a reason to taste the peach…but after winter, summer, and more peaches, comes again. So why did Renly say this? I think it was inserted by GRRM, foreshadowing the fact that Stannis will not survive the winter (I’d be shocked if Stannis survives TWOW).

Stannis will probably never find joy in his life again (I’m crying right now). Let’s hope that he’ll at least bring joy to others during the few months he has left.





A very good chapter. By seeing Stannis from a neutral observer’s POV, we can objectively realize how low Stannis has fallen, to the point of fratricide. The peach was just so sad. Stannis deserves the peach the most…but winter is coming.

Edited by Stannis's Lawyer, 24 September 2014 - 09:24 AM.

#98 Kyoshi


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Posted 30 September 2014 - 03:59 AM

*so I can find it*

#99 Becket



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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:23 PM

Another factor to consider here is who exactly arranged Stannis' marriage?  Jon Arryn?  Robert?  Stannis' parents? (seems unlikely due to the fact that Stannis was married years after Robert's Rebellion.)  Surely the notion wasn't his own, was it? Was this marriage to Selyse possibly another one of Robert's "slights", or possibly just a political move to tie the Florent house closer to the Baratheons?  People remember Robert's "slight" on the wedding night, but what if that was just adding insult to injury?

I've always kind thought Stannis and Tyrion had more in common with their struggles than any other major characters did, and I would rank them closely on a morality scale as well, at least closer than Ned and Stannis.  Oh, new idea for a thread!

Edited by Becket, 02 October 2014 - 05:26 PM.

#100 Stannis's Lawyer

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 02:21 PM

Jon Arryn was probably behind the marriage, as a way to weaken House Tyrell.