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Barristan Selmy, True Knight or Jackbooted Thug?


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#1 GallowsKnight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:03 AM

I've been thinking about Barristan "The Bold" Selmy for a while now. During my first read through he was always a likeable character but with every re-read I've begun to lose all my respect for him.

He served in Aery's Kingsguard blindly. Facilitating an absolute monster.

While this charge should be leveled at all the Kingsguard some have mitigating reasons, Dayne, Hightower and Whent were obviously in on some plot with Rhaegar to overthrow Aerys. Lleywn Martell's family was held hostage in all but name. Jaime killed Aerys and saved hundreds of thousands of lives at the right moment. Darry...we know nothing about

Which gets me to the next point. Jaime "served [Aerys] well. When serving was safe", but at least Jaime actually switched sides. Barristan fell in battle (I'll give that he was serving when it was dangerous) to wake up on Robert's side. All he needed to do was swear an oath.

Then as Lord-Commanders of the Kingsguard he spent the next 15 years doing a most perfunctory job. None of the Kingsguard are loyal to him or Robert and one is an overweight disgrace. He doesn't join Jon Arryn or Stannis Baratheon's confidience as they tried to protect Robert.

He barely helps Ned Stark when he comes. He objects to the murder of an unborn child. But unlike Eddard he doesn't have the moxie to back it up. Then he does nothing when the deceased King's will is completely dishonoured. Or when Ned Stark is executed.

He then serves Joffrey even though he's a nasty piece of work. FINALLY he doesn't even quit, he has to be fired before he leaves the Kingsguard.

It's my opinion that Barristan Selmy is the sort of person who'd wind up in the Hague claiming he was "just following orders".

What are your thoughts on the man?

#2 Bright Blue Eyes

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:37 AM

You summed it up pretty good. Barristan is physically bold, but inside, where it really matters, he is craven.

#3 KingWolf

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:41 AM

That always bugged me that he never did anything when Cersie tore robert's final words.Sure he was dead but it was signed by him and he was king before he died so he should have honored Robert's wishes.

#4 Where Boars Glow

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:44 AM

You raise an interesting point.....but NO!.

The man has a code, he has integrity. Remember he didn't just serve the mad king. He served a dynasty. He served in an office. He has shown an ability to council Dany and several times to lead troupes. He also is genuinely good at being a body guard. He is no Janos Slint.

Edited by Where whores go <-, 12 December 2012 - 09:02 AM.


#5 The Manhood-Eating Goat

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:49 AM

He's a man who puts duty before honour. Perfect knight for the Kingsguard.

#6 The Red Pope

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:52 AM

He's the ideal kingsguard, a man who only cares about keeping his vowes and protects and obeys without second thought. These are the ideals that are encouraged and admired in his society and as a result he enjoys great respect from everyone. Jamie on the other hand thinks for himself and is troubled by what is part of something that is admired in modern society but not the medival so he gets despised for it.

#7 mormont

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:57 AM

A partial assessment, literally - it ends when Barristan's story (in the novels) has barely begun. Barristan himself notes that it was his dismissal from the KG that woke him up to what he had become, after all. He changes his perspective rather firmly as a result.

#8 GallowsKnight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:10 AM

A partial assessment, literally - it ends when Barristan's story (in the novels) has barely begun. Barristan himself notes that it was his dismissal from the KG that woke him up to what he had become, after all. He changes his perspective rather firmly as a result.

A fair point. I'm still musing over switching to Daenarys. The rabid Stannis fan crys in my heart "Treason! Treason!". But I do appreciate that he watched her to make sure she was good and is being honest about how shit her father was.

He also is genuinely good at being a body guard

Err two kings died on his watch. I'll admit there's little he could have done for Aerys. But he didn't really do well protecting Robert. Both in the sense of diving on the Boar and in trying to protect him from his enemies at court.

Edited by GallowsKnight, 12 December 2012 - 09:13 AM.


#9 ab aeterno

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:12 AM

A fair point. I'm still musing over switching to Daenarys. The rabid Stannis fan crys in my heart "Treason! Treason!". But I do appreciate that he watched her to make sure she was good and is being honest about how shit her father was.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And traitors. Those too...

#10 GallowsKnight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:15 AM

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And traitors. Those too...

In his defense he was confused by the vile abomination Joffrey "known as Baratheon".

That always bugged me that he never did anything when Cersie tore robert's final words.Sure he was dead but it was signed by him and he was king before he died so he should have honored Robert's wishes.

This is what gets me. Even if we accept he was the best at doing his duty. His duty was to enforce his King's will, even if it meant his death.

Edited by GallowsKnight, 12 December 2012 - 09:17 AM.


#11 ab aeterno

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:17 AM

In his defense he was confused by the vile abomination Joffrey "known as Baratheon".


Not Ser Barristan. Dany. She is well intentioned but her outcomes are somewhat less positive.

#12 GallowsKnight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:19 AM

Not Ser Barristan. Dany. She is well intentioned but her outcomes are somewhat less positive.

My mistake sorry.

Though technically she isn't a traitor (but Westerosi who aid her are). House Targaryan has no feuadal bonds to Stannis regime. But she would be a foreign invader.

Yeah her results are pretty crappy sometimes.

#13 RedBean

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:23 AM

He makes a perfect Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, meaning he's follow any orders the king gives him. His "morality" is basically defined by "what the king says", though he may give a token protest to some truly evil things. I see him as sort of an Areo Hotah character - "Simple vows for simple men" and all that.

#14 Wagshell

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:24 AM

Dayne, Hightower and Whent were obviously in on some plot with Rhaegar to overthrow Aerys.


Is that obvious? Not obvious enough for me clearly. I didn't get that impression at all. I assumed they'd been given orders and were following them.

#15 ab aeterno

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:25 AM

My mistake sorry.

Though technically she isn't a traitor (but Westerosi who aid her are). House Targaryan has no feuadal bonds to Stannis regime. But she would be a foreign invader.

Yeah her results are pretty crappy sometimes.


The traitor is potentially you, Ser. The King does not forget.

#16 Winter's Knight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

Not Ser Barristan. Dany. She is well intentioned but her outcomes are somewhat less positive.


And Stannis never fails of course. /dry.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='<_<' />

#17 ab aeterno

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:30 AM

And Stannis never fails of course. /dry.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='<_<' />


All men can fail, and all women. Dany just has a tendency to set herself up for failure, mostly out of inexperience.

#18 GallowsKnight

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:34 AM

The traitor is potentially you, Ser. The King does not forget.

No risk there. I know who the King is. Stannis Baratheon, First of his name. King of the Andals, Rhoynar and First Men. Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.

#19 Dornish Whine

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:34 AM

Bari is a true knight. His vows bound him to some true idiots though. Unfortunately the truest knights take those vows very seriously. His biggest failure of honor was when he knelt for Robert - an act he regrets and has been trying to make up for since his dismissal by Joffery.

If he were a Jackbooted thug I think we would have seen him defile his honor in more visceral ways - like say; participating in the Sansa beat downs or being contented with a land grant and retirement (self serving needs) and not caring about the dishonor his dismissal entailed.

#20 ab aeterno

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:35 AM

No risk there. I know who the King is. Stannis Baratheon, First of his name. King of the Andals, Rhoynar and First Men. Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.


Good. Because we don't forget either! /wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />