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James Steller

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About James Steller

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    Head of House Steller, serving King Stannis I Baratheon

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  1. Personally, I think the tragedy of Stannis is that he fails to realise that he's actually better than Robert. One of the big reasons for that is the way Stannis has evolved and changed across the story so far. He starts out with a reputation for being brittle and utterly rigid in his determination, but thanks to men like Davos and Jon Snow, Stannis has learned to temper this bitter edge and re-focus his motivation. He's never going to be a people-person like Robert, but he is just as efficient as Robert when it comes to military command, and with Melisandre at the Wall, Stannis only burns people at the request of his own followers, and even then he won't do it except with those who would be executed anyway (ie the cannibals). And even with such a brittle, introverted personality, Stannis does inspire incredible loyalty. Davos Seaworth is just the main example. Those 1500 men endured all kinds of hardships under Stannis' command, and they are all still utterly devoted to him and his cause. I brought this up in an earlier chat, but one of the things I loved about ADWD is getting to know the diverse knights in his army, and how even though none of them ordinarily like each other, they are all completely loyal to Stannis. Even a misogynistic bully like Clayton Suggs risks his life for his king. That speaks to Stannis' abilities as a commander. I don't know what depths Stannis will plunge in the future novels (and I really hope GRRM changes his mind and alters what happened in the abomination) but from what I've read, he's one of the most fascinating characters of the story, and at his best, I think he was worth five of Robert.
  2. Sure. I'm not pretending like I know the answers, I'm just giving an opinion based on what I think happened. I'm not trying to make pronouncements. Sorry if I was unclear. I wasn't implying that Steffon wanted the throne. I was saying that Robert inherited Storm's End, as well as the leadership over the Stormlands, when his father died abruptly, and based on what little we know of Robert, it's clear (to me, at least) that he was not spending much time doing anything to actually administrate or rule the Stormlands. And this aversion to responsibility continues after he wins the Iron Throne for himself. It's the same principle at work. Robert never stops whining about how he didn't want to be king, how he hates being king, how he could just go off and be a sellsword on the road (midlife crisis?) or how he wants to just indulge himself. Well, again, I'm not saying it's written in stone, nor am I trying to claim I know what's going on. But this is a site for speculation and debate based on what we know about this series. It's an opinion. Take it or leave it, preferably without being hostile or derisive. But to answer your question, neither. Robert has issues, and some of them revolve around fatherhood. We don't hear him talk a lot about Steffon, but we do hear him lament his inabilities as a father to his own children. Jon Arryn was also a surrogate father that he adores. And knowing what we know about trauma and how it can affect people, I don't believe that Robert could see his own parents drown in front of him and walk away from that unscathed. His subsequent failings as a ruler and as a father, arguably, could at least partially be a side-effect of his unresolved issues with Steffon. Sure, it's speculation, and I can't prove I'm objectively correct, but you also can't prove I'm objectively wrong either.
  3. Also I think it did. Robert never talked about it, sure, but that's not abnormal for people who can't deal with trauma. Robert's go-to strategy for things he doesn't want to deal with is to ignore it or bury his head in booze, food, and women. And I know that noblemen of Westeros aren't the highest standard of effective leadership, but Robert was bad even by that low bar. He was at the head of what has got to be one of the most corrupt and mismanaged administrations this side of Aegon IV. The fact that neither Stannis nor Jon Arryn could restrain Robert (something which astonishes Ned) shows just how far gone Robert was. I could easily see that as him being unable to take up his father's mantle of leadership, and by extension the mantle of the crown's leadership. Robert doesn't want to rule, he says that many times, and as far as I'm concerned, that stems at least in part from a profound sense of daddy issues which never got resolved. And it only gets worse when he loses his surrogate daddy Jon Arryn. Okay, I dislike Robert, and I do believe that he deliberately snubbed Stannis a lot of times in their lives, but even I wouldn't say he's as bad as Tywin. Maybe you could say that a lot of Robert's treatment of Stannis was done out of carelessness, but you can't say that about Tywin's treatment of Tyrion. It's crystal clear that Tywin was motivated by unadulterated malice.
  4. Personally, I can think of a few ideas: Self-Loathing/Envy: I definitely get an idea that there's a big hole inside Robert, and to paraphrase Bojack Horseman, he tries to fill that hole with feasts, drinking, hunting, and meaningless sex, but the hole doesn't get filled. Stannis also has his own issues, sure, but it's the opposite issue with him. He's way too rigid, way too controlled. But to someone so out-of-control as Robert, that could be something he admires and even envies. We know that Stannis envies Robert's popularity and his people skills, so why shouldn't it be a two-way street? Resentment: Stannis is a man of justice, much like Ned. And we know how Ned felt about Robert's lack of conviction when the two dead Targaryen kids were delivered before him. I can only imagine how Stannis would have felt about that if he'd been there. Plus we know that Stannis had Janos Slynt's number, and Littlefinger's and Varys'. He knew about the rampant corruption and told Robert to do something about it, and Robert never did. You could say that Stannis was a sort of conscience that Robert does his best to ignore. Maybe that's an argument in favour of what I was just saying regarding resentment? but another option which ties into resentment: PTSD: Robert and Stannis were both there when they saw their parents drown, and it clearly left a serious impact on both of them. I think for Robert, Stannis could be a perpetual reminder of that day, and we all know how Robert deals with things like that. On a side note, it's worth pointing out how the last words Robert ever got from his father included a jape about Stannis and no mention of him. I don't think so, personally. Stannis never talks fondly of Robert, even as children. He is bitterly jealous of Robert's abilities, always being the forgotten middle child, and Robert apparently bullied Stannis for his choice of hawking bird. I know that's not a big thing, but it clearly left a serious impact on Stannis that he still remembers years later. And he really resents Ned for being Robert's surrogate brother. I don't think it's about losing a brotherly relationship with that resentment, it's about Stannis never having had any sort of brotherly relationship with Robert. And honestly, I think he's justified in resenting Robert for that. Stannis was always loyal to his brother, did so much for him, but Robert doesn't care. None of it matters to him, and he gives Stannis nothing back (except Dragonstone, arguably, but that's not what Stannis cares about so it doesn't matter to him). The Baratheons seem to perpetually have that issue in their family, come to think of it.
  5. Admittedly, there is so much horror/dark comedy to be made out of that first day in his new home, where Justin discovers the secret room in the Dreadfort where all the Starks' skins are kept.
  6. A smart man wouldn't have sided with the least popular contender for the throne, nor tried to save him and the cause when all was lost, and then follow said contender into exile on Dragonstone. Nor would that smart man have gone all the way north and devoted himself to a whole new cause which might result in him freezing to death at the Wall. So to paraphrase my favourite character from "Reservoir Dogs", you're telling me that after all that smart man chose to do, when it made so much more sense to abandon the cause right from the very start, he's just gonna decide, out of the effing blue, to rip Stannis off?
  7. Before I get into the topic, I want to point out that one thing I love about the Stannis plot in ADWD is how interesting and diverse his followers are. Richard Horpe is a terse killer, a Kingsguard wannabe, and seems to be Stannis' second-in-command despite the fact that he's only a knight (never mind the fact that there are lords like Harwood Fell). Godry Farring is a big arrogant braggart. Clayton Suggs is a misogynistic sadist. Justin Massey is a handsome ladies' man who isn't afraid to speak his mind. Diverse as they are, they're all bound to R'hlorr by faith and Stannis by loyalty. They've all been with Stannis through defeat, retreat, failure, long travel, and victory in the North. My point of bringing all that up is the fact that Justin Massey has had so many opportunities to desert Stannis, to fall upon the mercy of the Lannisters, to go east and make his fortune elsewhere. And all of that when Stannis was at his lowest. But he's stuck by Stannis despite all the odds. I'm also quite certain that Massey has been with Stannis from the start, given House Massey's position and their presumed loyalty to Dragonstone. He was the one who spoke truth to power by urging Stannis to retreat from the Battle of Blackwater. If he's gone through all that, why would he abandon or betray Stannis now that the Iron Bank is backing him? Of course, while I don't think Massey would betray Stannis, I also don't think that everything will go according to plan. But there's lots of ways for that to go about without Massey proving disloyal. Maybe Massey gets killed at Castle Black while everything's hitting the fan? Maybe he gets killed in Essos? Maybe Stannis AND Shireen are dead by the time he gets back? Something will probably go wrong, but I don't think it'll be due to Massey's disloyalty. It feels out of character for him.
  8. The whole Rhaegar-Lyanna-Elia thing is a huge mystery which hasn't been fully explained, not even in the abomination. In all honesty, I'm beginning to worry that I'm going to hate the reveal when it's finally given, but that's because I don't like the idea of prophecy justifying Rhaegar's (and possibly Lyanna's) utter selfishness and casual disregard for anything beyond love or making a third dragon head.
  9. I could certainly buy it from him, he's ruthless and amoral enough. And that makes it so much sweeter when Aegon avenges Aenys Blackfyre's murder by imprisoning Bloodraven as his first kingly act.
  10. Yes, six, my bad. And you raise another good point. I never actually considered the idea that Eddard might have been in on Lyanna's 'abduction', but I do find it unlikely given how much he loves Robert. Plus he seems quite haunted by what he found at the Tower, and by Lyanna begging him for his promise. Why would she need to beg him for that if she trusted him with her secret affair with Rhaegar?
  11. That raises more questions, then. When did he start looking for Lyanna? What triggered his decision? How did he find out where she was? Why did he only take five men with him? Why was it those five in particular? What was the story he gave when other people asked him where he'd gone and what had happened?
  12. Good points, and I was tempted to ask "How much of what's happened is a result of somebody's plans" but I thought that would be too unfocused. I figured I'd go with Varys because of my inspiration. But I could have easily said "Littlefinger" instead.
  13. There's another thread which includes a furious debate on whether or not Varys wanted to free Tyrion or if he was really forced to do it by Jaime. I'm not going to weigh in on that, but it does make me wonder how many plot points in the books happened because of Varys' planning. He's become an almost mythical figure by this point; the ultimate master of whisperers who has been weaving conspiracies since before he was summoned to Westeros by King Aerys II. But it's fanciful to believe in conspiracies which set everything in motion piece by piece. I tend to be sceptical of conspiracy theories like that because of how much randomness and human error there is in the world. That said, I'm not mistaken about GRRM's books being realistic; however, I do wonder how much of what's happened so far has been in accordance with Varys' wishes. We know that Littlefinger is another ambitious plotter, and we can assume he's a rival to Varys; each one claims to have a superior intellect or be more dangerous than the other, and it often seems like their plans clash. Of course, people on this site have also tried to claim Varys and Littlefinger are working together somehow, and I'm sure that'll come up here too, at some point. Still, there's other elements which seem beyond Varys' control (and I have to use the word 'seem' for obvious reasons). Stannis seems free of Varys' direct influence for the most part, as do many of the Northern and Ironborn characters. But even then, those characters' lives are affected by the actions Varys causes in the south, so it's debatable to say even that. And meanwhile there's apparently half a dozen other conspiracies happening either at the Citadel, among the paramount houses, etc.
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