As we all know, when the two brothers met on the field before their oncoming battle, Stannis offered Renly terms of peace:
“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.”
IMO, these were very generous terms. Renly knew that Stannis came before himself in the line of succession, but he thought that because he was dashing and charming (though ultimately a naive boy) that this would excuse the fact that he was usurping his brother's throne. For Stannis to offer these terms at all is incredibly gracious of him.
Now, as we all know, Renly declined and so it was not long before he was dead. But this topic is not about the terms that Stannis offered and whether or not Renly should have accepted, but about why Stannis having Renly killed isn't a reason for readers to hate him (Stannis).
1. Renly was set to die either way. He had the largest army (IIRC), he was the most loved by the people, and he was close to taking the Throne. It was all set up too perfectly, he just had to die. Now, had Tywin or another character killed him in battle, it would have made for a good scene but not a particularly interesting one. In a way, Stannis being the one responsible for his death was far more interesting, surprising and it helped to build up the plot and Stannis’ character/story arc. Let’s not forget, Renly’s death also added a great deal to the character and plots of Loras and Brienne too.
2. Stannis killing Renly wasn’t a particularly horrific event. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m condoning fratricide because I’m not. It’s not an acceptable act. But given what we know of ASoIaF and the world it’s based in, fratricide isn’t as big a scandal as it would be today. There are issues in ASoIaF that are equally “questionable”; incest, cannibalism, racism, slavery, rape…the list goes on. With all these issues featured in ASoIaF, why does fratricide stand out more than the others? Honestly, I just think it added more to the story.
3. Having Renly killed was a good plot move, not necessarily for the story itself, but for Stannis. It showed the readers that Stannis put justice and order above all, and anyone who challenged that would pay, blood or no. Renly was his brother, but to Stannis was also a traitor and a usurper and for Stannis, it needed to be done.
Of course, Renly’s death eventually backfired on Stannis but that’s not the point made here. The point is that Stannis having Renly killed wasn’t at all as despicable as it seemed, it was the norm for ASoIaF.
4. Given that Tommen, Myrcella and Joffrey are all bastards born of incest, Stannis is the rightful King and given that Renly was in open rebellion, even after being offered generous terms, Stannis had every right to sanction his death.
I might be alone here, but I’d like to hear the views of others on the matter. Do you judge Stannis harshly for his decision, or do you understand it?
Edited by Lady Nastja, 11 August 2013 - 09:19 AM.