Though I cannot say with any shred of certainty that Darkstar will go on to sack cities, assassinate kings, or slay a dragon, I do feel justified in drawing attention to the ever-emerging fact that Darkstar is character whom we should not take lightly, nor discard from our intrigue. George Martin is a exceptionally eloquent storyteller who excels at creating literature rooted in its characters; whether it be the destructive dynamics of Cersei's and Jaime's love, or Strong Belwas' adoration of chopped liver and onions; what is evident is each character's flavour and their consequent contribution to the tapestry world of ASoIaF.
Here are just a few reasons why I would like to exhume the character Ser Gerold Dayne from the untimely grave which readers have so rapidly assigned the poor chap to:
1) I will use the terms 'pretentious’ and ‘hypocritical’ here as large reasons for Darkstar being mocked, because that is - frankly - where the rejection appears to stem from.In another thread (I forget which), the point is raised about Jaime and Darkstar sharing certain aspects in their personality and deeds: attempted murder on children; their being assigned nicknames which they may not necessarily embrace; a strong sense of self-entitlement; and, yes, some memorable one-liners (e.g. "There are no men like me", Jamie, and "Men call me Darkstar, and I am of the night", Gerold). Many readers - including myself - initially found Jaime to be arrogant, loathsome and a generally malevolent character whom I anticipated meeting his end at the hands of, say, Ser Barristan, or another knight whose valour outshines Jaime's (at least objectively). As the novels progress, however, insight into Jaime's character truly forced readers to emphasise and even sympathise with the Kingslayer, as we discover more about his past and how his character has been shaped. He's a fantastic character with a well of depth. So why should Darkstar be so easily dismissed as a 'joke' after a single chapter with him present? All we know is that Ser Gerold Dayne could well be a crucial addition to the game of thrones, as, of course, we glean that Prince Doran for one views him as the "most dangerous man in Dorne". Darkstar is reminiscent of Hamlet, and I verily doubt that Shakespeare's contemporaries or audience sneered at the line "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/Seem to me all the uses of this world!". Admittedly, people do laugh at Hamlet’s over-the-top melodrama, but Hamlet went on to become a cultural icon and household name which still endures to this day, and his dialogue in the play is repeatedly quoted throughout literature and other media, despite it being even more self-indulgent and dramatic than anything Darkstar says. I'm not saying Darkstar would fit right in in a Shakespearian play, I’m certainly not saying he will be one of the most memorable names in literary history, hundreds of years from now. But, he shouldn’t be merited with such awful comparisons, like the painful-to-watch Hayden Christensen/Anakin Skywalker debacle, either. Methinks that if Shakespeare's Hamlet or Macbeth, Dostoyevsky's Raskalnikov, or Joyce's Daedalus uttered the words "I am of the night", people would have it tattooed on their neck like some kind of pretentious badge denoting “Look at me: I’m complex and troubled just like the character. Oh, and I’m also a scholarly connoisseur of great literature”. Darth Vader has some atrociously cringe-worthy lines throughout Ep IV-VI of SW; but he’s still an absolute badass who eats bowls of jedi for breakfast – with no milk.
2)Very few characters in the series have been gifted with an introduction like Ser Gerold Dayne has. More than likely, he is going to go on to do some pretty big things.
Personally, I find it extremely hard to subscribe to the crackpot theories about Darkstar being a Targaryen, especially not Rhaegar, Aegon, or any other notable member of the house. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the Darkstar=Darkstar conclusion. It would seem a little lazy on Martin's behalf if all manner of long-lost Targaryens began revealing themselves. Even the minuscule prospect of this manifesting immediately puts me off of Darkstar. His character was severely diminished by readers trying to make sense of his somewhat dramatic introduction to the series via fantasies of him, well, not actually being Darkstar. This is a character who the author has calculated very precisely (in dialogue, deeds, etc.) to be foreboding and enigmatic. I hate to atypically compare Tolkien to Martin, but even at the age of 10 it was Stryder/Aragorn's brooding and mystery which reiterated the fact that this was a character that would have a part to play. Coincidentally, he became king and served as a major catalyst to the Fellowship's success throughout Middle-Earth, and the ushering-in of the Fourth Age. However, I'm certainly not trying to suggest that Darkstar will be revealed as an heir to the throne any more than he will meet Gandalf the Grey; my point is that we don't know anything about him except that he is a renowned figure in at least Dorne, and is reputably volatile/dangerous, according to different characters found within the Seven Kingdoms. There is something ominous and disconcerting about Darkstar. Martin does not want us to forget about Ser Gerold any time soon.
3) Darkstar is resentful and bitter towards his family, as certain members have overshadowed and out-shined him all his life (Ser Arthur Dayne, namely). Instead of prompting the question, 'I wonder why he isn't as decorated and loved as his cousin, Arthur, was?', a lot of readers instead resorted to branding Ser Gerold as petulant and laughable, simply because of his juxtaposition of 'Darkstar' against the 'Sword of the Morning'. The whole uproar about an apparently ‘laughable’ one line (“I am of the night”) is absolutely fitting for a Dayne who swims against the current of his family reputation. For me, I'm interested in finding out exactly why Darkstar does not aspire to follow in the footsteps of Arthur. We know he has terrific martial skill (I’ll come to the ‘attempt’ on Myrcella, don’t worry), so why wouldn’t he want to be known as ‘Ser Arthur come again’, or something along those lines? For all we - as readers - know, Ser Arthur Dayne was a child rapist and a liar, thus Darkstar could have fashioned his own image as the polar opposite of his cousin, in disgust at knowing what he was decorated despite his sins. That particular idea is fancifully speculative and admittedly far-fetched, but who knows? None of us do. Often in literature the anti-hero figures are revealed to have a just cause or some virtue in their ill deeds. I for one am eager to learn more about why Darkstar seems so brooding and sour. After all, reader favourites Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys all possess ambiguous and somewhat detached relationships with their families, too.
5) He failed to kill a little girl, therefore he is not only loathsome, but also incompetent and generally shit at everything he has ever done or might do. I’m not even going to go into depth on this one, it’s just so hypocritical of readers I feel as though I’ve been lobotomised. Jaime failed to kill Bran, a preadolescent boy. The entirety of the military stationed at the capital of Westeros failed to capture/kill Arya, a preadolescent girl. Ser Mandon Moore failed to kill Tyrion, despite being about 4 times his size; moreover, he was then killed by Pod, an adolescent boy. Christ, the sea couldn’t even properly dispose of Patchface. The sheer multitude of perfectly capable, powerful characters failing miserably at relatively easy tasks is completely overlooked. What’s more, we don’t even know what Darkstar’s actual intentions were, unlike the aforementioned examples, all of which had quite explicit instructions. It seems to me like people are just sore that a character with such build-up (seemingly) failed to live up to the hype and readers’ expectations.
4) George Martin will defend Darkstar with a passion. We all know Martin is an ardent fan of The Grateful Dead, and Darkstar’s pseudonym is likely to be yet another homage to TGD. People have insulted a character whom Martin seems to enjoy writing – despite the minute amount of text he appears in. Martin has reportedly confessed to being stunned by readers’ reactions to Darkstar. This is a character who Martin obviously created to be a reader favourite; seeing as this failed to a certain degree, Martin has little choice now but to choose from a couple of options: A - Kill him off in some embarrassing manner, pleasing readers in the process whilst also rendering the character as completely anticlimactic and underwhelming. This scenario might launch an interesting story-arc, don’t get me wrong, and Darkstar could function as an instigator for something much larger than himself – this is entirely plausible. My bet’s on option B, however...
5) Option B: George Martin is gearing up to deliver a holy bitch-slap to those who dismiss Darkstar as a bad joke/literary slovenliness. Now, this is what really, really bugged me: how on earth do so many people feel justified in criticising Martin’s work, in the process insulting the author and depreciating entire series, merely due to one character? We’ve read, at most, about 500-1000 words concerning Ser Gerold Dayne. Bringing this OP full circle, I felt unsettled at Darkstar’s introduction. After recently learning from Arianne’s TWoW excerpt that The Red Viper, Prince Oberyn Martell, considered Darkstar to be “poisonous” and bad news for everybody, I was absolutely rocked. Oberyn instantly rocketed through the ranks and became a favourite character of mine – and remains so – purely on the premise of his dark, venomous personality and his sinister reputation. Not to mention, Oberyn was a man with an epic mission, one which climaxed with an epic scene at that. Now: take Oberyn, subtract a decade or so, multiply his “poisonous” character to the power of 10, add the name Dayne and all of its connotations, and subtract any prior inclinations of playing within the boundaries of the rules. Congratulations, you have reached Ser Gerold Dayne. Ser Gerold would have walked up behind Gregor and impaled him without so much as a warning. Oberyn was crafty (his use of poison on the spear), but even he, The Red Viper, adhered to the rules. What's more, Oberyn regarded Darkstar as a truly volatile and dangerous individual. What does this mean? Darkstar>Oberyn. Martin’s eyes and ears have caught wind of the Darkstar dismissal, and, by god, I don’t think he’s going to pander to readers’ fantasies any time soon: if he did, I would refuse to believe it was Martin writing the books any longer. Martin has sent a clear message to fans of the series: “Is that what Darkstar is? A man?” No. Darkstar is more vicious and cunning than the Red Viper; Darkstar is not an ordinary character who is to be laughed at, ignored or spurned: he is a monster in the making, so don’t expect him to be watered down, diminished or readjusted to please readers. Martin’s sustenance is our grief and frustration.
Martin is a master of coaxing his readers into a fit of rage and irritation. Be honest: what would piss you off more than Ser Gerold disposing of Obara and Balon with ease, throwing Doran down a flight of stairs, cutting ‘Aegon’s’ throat, pissing in JonCon’s face, and then, at the end of it all, turning out to be quite a cool character who is rewarded by ascending to a powerful seat? He’s depicted as a heart-throb and a villain, so don’t be surprised if Daenerys encounters him, swoons over him, and then gets absolutely everything stripped away from her in a dumbfounding state of naivety.
No character in the series thus far, as best as I can recall, has provoked such a passionate and divided stance on a character amongst the series' readers. Even the totemic and morally ambiguous Tywin Lannister didn't cause such a raucous reaction. The very fact that Darkstar has provoked such an aggressive and offended backlash only perpetuates his character. I’m not his greatest fan, for sure, but he’s a hell of a lot more intriguing to me than characters such as the Sand Snakes, Loras, Renly, Robb, or Dondarrion. My two cents: Darkstar will devastate readers via annihilating one or two reader favourites. I personally would like to see him ruin Areo Hotah, claim Dawn, reveal some significant plot details (think R+L=J, though I reckon it won’t be that clear-cut), and maybe kill, say, everybody who is anybody in Dorne. Dorne is in dire need of an adrenaline shot straight to the heart - Darkstar is the syringe and the formula.
Edited by Daecon Starkgaryen Dayne, 17 June 2013 - 01:34 PM.