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  1. At which point said rightful king ceased to be the rightful king. That simply doesn't work that way. Read Lord of the Rings again; and Unfinished Tales and History of Middle Earth if that is not enough: Sauron cannot send images. He can influence control over Palantir, and maybe force lesser minds (which Denethor is not) to incorrectly interpret things they have seen. But everything Denethor has seen in Palantir is true: he does not see details which would allow him to correctly interpret things, but nothing he does see is fake. He does not see that Fleet of Umbar is crewed by Gondorian troops, for example, but the fleet itself is real. Look at the text - you have a collection of quotes refering to that here: http://www.henneth-annun.net/events_view.cfm?evid=929 I will just note the most important: 'Pride and despair!' he cried. 'Didst thou think that the eyes of the White Tower were blind? Nay, I have seen more than thou knowest, Grey Fool. For thy hope is but ignorance. Go then and labour in healing! Go forth and fight! Vanity. For a little space you may triumph on the field, for a day. But against the Power that now arises there is no victory. To this City only the first finger of its hand has yet been stretched. All the East is moving. And even now the wind of thy hope cheats thee and wafts up Anduin a fleet with black sails. The West has failed. It is time for all to depart who would not be slaves.' 'Though the Stewards deemed that it was a secret kept only by themselves, long ago I guessed that here in the White Tower, one at least of the Seven Seeing Stones was preserved. In the days of his wisdom Denethor did not presume to use it,1 nor to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of his own strength. But his wisdom failed; and I fear that as the peril of his realm grew he looked in the Stone and was deceived: far too often, I guess, since Boromir departed. He was too great to be subdued to the will of the Dark Power, he saw nonetheless only those things which that Power permitted him to see. The knowledge which he obtained was, doubtless, often of service to him; yet the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind.' 'The Stones of Seeing do not lie, and not even the Lord of Barad-dûr can make them do so. He can, maybe, by his will choose what things shall be seen by weaker minds, or cause them to mistake the meaning of what they see. Nonetheless it cannot be doubted that when Denethor saw great forces arrayed against him in Mordor, and more still being gathered, he saw that which truly is. The Stones of Seeing do not lie, and not even the Lord of Barad-dur can make them do so. And it is not clear that Sauron ever actually entered Denethor's mind. He certainly was not able to dominate and corrupt Denethor the way he did with Saruman; Denethor resisted him. But he was nevertheless driven to despair by his knowledge of Sauron's might and his lack of faith into supernatural. Denethor continued to resist, but he saw resistance as futile, and only did it because it was his duty. And this meant that, when it seemed both of his sons had died, he simply broke. But he was never "corrupted", in a sense that Sauron succeeded in changing his very nature; nor did he ever "consort" with Sauron. Denethor was, however, demoralized. And how in seven hells did you get "It doesn't matter that he only allows him to coerce him into depression and suicide or if he actively joins him.". That is just ridiculous. Denethor who was coerced into depression and suicide left behind a state with capable leaders (Imrahil), highly professional army, and fully willing to resist. Had he actively joined Sauron, he would have been another Saruman: he might not have been able to coerce rest of Gondor into joining Sauron (after all, captains of the provinces had wide authority and might well have resisted such ridiculous orders - we simply don't know), but he certainly would have told him of the quest of the One Ring (which he was fully aware of), and that alone would have been enough to doom the Free Peoples; it was Sauron's conviction that One Ring is with Aragorn that allowed Frodo to reach Sammath Naur. It can be said that he is a deserter. But he never joined Sauron. And he only broke when he had nothing to live for, or so it seemed to him: his son was dying, and Gondor was about to get conquered. He was simply too reliant on logic. No, they are not mutually exclusive. Evil men at least are still capable of free will. We see that time and again. Theirs is the case of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out): they are evil because evil is all they know. But when given good treatment - Dunlendings after Helm's Deep, for example - they are capable of reformation. Orcs however are a more complex case. They clearly have some free will (see Shagrat and Gorbag discussing how they will "settle down with a few good lads") but are also driven by Sauron's own will (as seen from the Battle at the Black Gate, where loss of will which had "given them direction" causes collapse of the whole host and leads to them "milling about as headless ants" - not exact quotes). At any rate, I do not think "free will" is a binary 0/1 system; people today don't have a completely free will either. If what you wrote is the case, Targaryens would have been overthrown and Westeros fallen apart as a political entity the moment their dragons had died out. They had, after all, usurped the original dynasties of Seven Kingdoms. Fact that not everybody agrees does not mean that dynasty is illegitimate (which would suggest that not majority agrees). And if dynastic principle is so important, then Targaryens themselves are illegitimate as well. Who doesn't? Robert merely states that he is not happy being a king, but clearly sees himself as a rightful king. Joffrey bases his claim of legitimacy on that of Robert, as does Stannis. And your second paragraph would mean that legitimacy is determined by popular acceptance, not by dynastic ties. I never said she had a plan. I said she had a desire. And her visions in the desert show that desire is still there, or had been reawakened by Quaithe. So she is not getting visions from Quaithe? Tyrells were promised that Margaery will be the queen. Yes, Renly may have used the Tyrells: but by the time Stannis decides to declare himself, Renly has already declared himself a king, and no longer can withdraw that declaration even assuming he wanted to. And you clearly don't understand why I compare the Iron Throne to the One Ring: narratively, both of these represent power and obsession with power. Westeros is being ruined by people pursuing power, which is no different from potential civil war over the One Ring. It certainly did give Renly ideas. And maybe Stannis also considered his rebellion more justifiable seeing how Robert was successful in his own. It is actually his own reasoning. And why not? Ruling is a two-way street. I know some good authors who never revealed some of the mysteries. And the point of Aegon is that his impact will be determined in large part by who people believe he is. Chair which symbolizes power. If you don't think that is corrupting, you clearly don't understand human psyche. Ring actually is a person / a being. It is literally part of Sauron's soul, and has its own will. As a result, anything done with the One Ring will, in the end, be turned to evil. That is true. But my point is that Ring represents the corrupting influence of power, but one which is magically enhanced. Not that it is what Ring is. Tolkien was actually quite clear on that point: "You can make the Ring into an allegory of our own time, if you like: and allegory of the inevitable fate that waits for all attempts to defeat evil power by power" (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 1995, p. 121.) "Power is an ominous and sinister word in all these tales" (p. 152.) "The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on" (pp. 178-179.) "In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit" (p. 243.) "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for domination)" (p. 246.) I was not talking about Stalin. I was talking about Communists in general. He was hardly the only mass murderer on that list, and in fact vast majority of Communist states were tyrannical. Killing people is only correct when they are a threat. Not when you want to get rid of them for the sake of the better world. First, every life has a value. Second, you have no guarantee that you will be able to build a better world. In fact, attempts at building a utopia typically result in creation of a hellhole. As I have pointed out, Throne of Gondor is sanctified by God, meaning that usurper will be immoral by default. Usurpation being a heinous crime is result of the nature of sacral kingship - but it also means that a moral person will hardly contemplate such a thing. However, there were legitimate rulers who were evil - Ar-Gimilzor was flat-out evil. And in such cases, Tolkien is hardly against disobeying or resisting said ruler, though she stops short of overthrowing them. Aragorn is a sacral king, but not just because of his inheritance - it is also because he acts as such. In fact, Tolkien has a stark contrast between a lawful king, which also includes king fulfilling his duties, and a tyrant. Looking beyond Numenorean kings, we have nature of kingship in Rohan as well as elven societies, which is significantly different from Gondor. Tolkien does not believe that "monarchy bad, democracy good" as many modern (and rather shallow, both intellectually and spiritually) authors believe; rather, his dichtonomy is between freedom and authoritharianism, between consent and enslavement. Any government that intrudes into personal freedoms is by definition tyrannical; rather, main guiding principle of government should be subsidiarity and accountability. As a result, citizens have moral duty to resist immoral order: Eomer is lauded for his resistance against orders of corrupted Theoden, and likewise Beregond is lauded (and rewarded) for his resistance against orders of almost-equally corrupted Denethor. As for Westeros, lack of sacral element in Westerosi kings, as limited as it would be, ought to have resulted in a rather unstable society. Original sacral kingship has, under Christianity, eventually developed into "divine right of kings" which is a theory of both rights and obligations of a monarch. In other words, king is blessed by God, but this blessing requires king to fulfill certain obligations; thus king can be overthrown if it is judged that he has failed in fulfilling said obligations (which are, essentially, moral standards). Unlike Martin, Tolkien's kings govern within the frame of traditional law: ‘A Numenorean king was monarch, with the power of unquestioned decision in debate; but he governed the realm with the frame of ancient law, of which he was administrator (and interpreter) but not maker.’ (Letters, No. 244) In other words, king is not an absolute ruler. This is situation similar to Byzantine Empire where emperor did not have legal limitations on his power, but limitations still existed in form of a) sacral obligations and b) custom - or in other words, customary law. Going back to differentiation between a king and a tyrant, this is how Tolkien frames it: "Power is an ominous and sinister word in all these tales" (p. 152.) "The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on" (pp. 178-179.) "In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit" (p. 243.) "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for domination)" (p. 246.) "My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) - or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word state (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate!" (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 1995, p. 63.) Tolkien also promotes the idea of radical subsidiary: government intervenes only as much as necessary, and no more than that. Tolkien's ideal ruler, ironically, is Smaug: lazing in his lair and leaving his "subjects" to live their lives in peace. Elessar also seems to follow the same model of governance. What differentiates them is their own character: Smaug is only concerned about himself, and when he lives his lair, it is to visit destruction upon his "subjects". Elessar however leaves his "lair" when his people and lands are threatened, that is when he needs to fulfill his duties as defender of the realm. Another difference is that Smaug imposed himself against the will of the people, whereas Aragorn's coronation follows the Byzantine tradition of acclamation. While Aragorn does have dynastic legitimacy, he is still effectively "elected" or "confirmed" by the people, and his rule depends upon his subjects' goodwill. Bloodline is important for legitimacy, but it alone is not enough. In the end, Tolkien's ideal state is not absolute monarchy, but rather the Byzantine model of participative monarchy: with a monarch who wields his power with consent of the people, and is also responsible and accountable to those same people. From this it naturally follows that a ruler who disregards his duties, "turns bad", can be disobeyed - or, if he is bad enough, even rebelled against; though Tolkien would certainly see peaceful resistance as morally superior to an armed rebellion. We see this in Numenor: when kings of Numenor became corrupt and fell under influence of Morgoth's spirit, the Faithful did not rebel. They sequestrated themselves in their own enclaves, and eventually emigrated to what would become kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. But even rebellion can be justified if stakes are high enough: Beregond rebelled against Denethor's orders, and even spilled blood on the holy ground, which is sacrilege. Yet Aragorn - who is Tolkien's ideal ruler - pardoned and even rewarded him, because Beregond's sacrilege was a consequence of his view of duty: he was saving life of somebody to whom he was beholden to. Regarding Ar-Pharazon, it is not merely his usurpation which points him out as a monster he is: it is also the manner in which it is done. He stole the throne from personal ambition, not out of a sense of duty; he did it by commiting incest (in a society which explicitly did not allow such); marriage was done against Miriel's will; and by all appearances, he excluded her from rule. And main reasons why Pharazon is considered the tyrant are his pride, and his will to dominate (but of course, these characteristics cannot be separated from the acts listed). Elves however fall outside the models listed. Elven leaders are monarchs, but they - even more than kings of Gondor and Rohan - depend on feedback of their subjects and refuse to impose their will by force. Such a thing does happen in Silmarillion, but they evidently learn from it in a way that short-lived races cannot. Agreed.
  2. Targaryens ceased to be the rightful royal dynasty the moment they were evicted in the Rebellion. Ultimately, the rule of a king is not based on bloodline, but on consent - bloodline is there simply to make transit of power less chaotic and painful. Targaryen claim to the throne is only valid if there are enough people in the Seven Kingdoms supporting said claim. I was talking specifically about her as a ruler, not about taking the throne. Except not that hotly, and without impact on Westeros as a whole. The Iron Throne is Martin's One Ring equivalent. Denethor is not a good person, per se, but he is not a bad person either. He is proud and self-serving, but he is also dutiful, and his pride is not just in himself but in Gondor as well. He is deceived by Sauron, but never submits to him (unlike Saruman, who is not just deceived but overpowered by Sauron and becomes his servant). And "consorts with the Dark Lord"? Have you even read the books at all? Denethor never submits to Sauron or "consorts" with him. Sauron was never able to overpower Denethor's will in the way he did Saruman's, nor to induce him to betray the Free Peoples. Denethor continues to resist Sauron with all his might. What Sauron did manage to do was to make Denethor's already present flaws even more pronounced: his pride, his obsessions, and his despair. But Denethor's pride was in Gondor, first and foremost; and his despair came from his belief that opposing Sauron without One Ring is doomed to failure. And he was correct about that, as Gandalf himself acknowledged: there was no hope for beating Sauron, militarily, without the One Ring. Even then, it was not actually Denethor who proposes using One Ring immediately - it is Boromir. Denethor himself seems to be at least aware of the dangers of using the Ring, and thus proposes to lock it into the vault and not use it unless Gondor is in danger of imminent defeat. He fails to look beyond Gondor, and overlooks the danger that One Ring would pose to him even locked up, but neither is really surprising: he is a governor, not an angelic emissary or even just a philosopher. Evil in Silmarillion does originate from Melkor, due to his marring of Arda - first during the Song of Ainur, and then by literally possessing it. But even so, Tolkien also has a massive theme of free will: yes, evil is there, but we are free to accept or to reject it. Feanor and his sons were free to give up Silmarils: but they did not, and so were doomed to failure. Feanor was free to listen or to reject Melkor: but he allowed Melkor to poison his mind. Melkor is the literal Devil, and source of all evil; but that does not mean free will does not matter and that resistance is useless. No, Robert would point to himself. He took the throne by right of conquest, and reason why that was possible was because he had enough support among other lords to both take the Throne and ensure legitimacy of his rule afterwards. A successful usurper is typically legitimate. Or maybe they don't feel the need to talk about Baratheons as the rightful rulers because it is an established fact, whereas Targaryen supporters are louder as Targaryens are in the exile? Fact that a group is loud doesn't mean its ideas are widespread. Except she does, especially in the first books before she becomes focused on Mereen. But that desire is still there. Now, it is true that she is not obsessed with the Iron Throne the way, say, Stannis is. But she has that witch in her head, so... They both were corrupted, although it is true that it is not only that. You will recall that Stannis offered Renly rather good terms: if Renly supported Stannis (as was his duty as a younger brother), then Stannis would acknowledge Renly as his heir until Stannis had a son (which would be never). But Renly was locked into refusing, both by his pride but also by Tyrell ambition: I am not certain they would have settled for Renly becoming a king some years in the future. But still, neither really made an effort. Stannis first hid on Dragonstone and then beseiged Storm's End without even trying to talk to Renly beforehand. Renly for his part did not even try to talk to Stannis and figure out what he thinks or wants, but simply went and declared himself a king when he saw that Stannis had locked himself in Dragonstone. If neither of them was corrupted by desire, then they would not have done any of the above: especially since, as you pointed out before, neither had hard proof of Joffrey's illegitimacy. No, he could not have. If he had postponed the claim to the Throne, he would have had to abandon it altogether. And I am not denying the propaganda value of what he did, but it seems clear to me that it wasn't simply due to propaganda: that he genuinely decided to do what he saw as his duty. Do you want me to list all the wars, in history and fiction, that were caused by misunderstanding? Yes, it is true that somebody must want it to get bloody... but reasons for that want can be a myriad: a perceived threat is enough, it does not need to be real. And person who wants it does not need to be either Aegon or Daenerys; both of them can concievably get locked into a certain course of action by the people around them. If somebody tried to kill Daenerys (she made quite a few enemies) and it was interpreted as an attempt from Aegon's side; or if the reverse happened; then one or both of them could be pushed into declaring war even if they do not actually want to do it, or even if they genuinely believe that the other side is genuinely innocent. Or if Jon Connington was driven insane by greyscale and did something stupid: again, Daenerys could be pushed into attacking regardless of hew own desires. 1) Why would it be bad writing? 2) People do not need to be alive for secrets relating to them to be revealed. Except it does. It represents power, One Ring is Sauron's power; both thus represent a prospect of power, of control, of rule and dominance. The difference is that One Ring is magically corrupting, whereas the Iron Throne is mundane, and only brings out things which are already present in the person. Actually, it is not a ridiculous concept: the One Ring represents temptation, one that is strenghtened by magic. But One Ring still needs something to work with. It needs a preexisting darkness within human heart, to take it, warp it and employ it for its own purposes. A person without said darkness cannot be dominated by the Ring because it does not have anything to work with: look how Ring failed to affect at all Tom Bombadil, who is a spirit of the nature and "his own master". Or again, how it failed to affect Sam, because he lacked any kind of desire or evil that Ring could exploit in any meaningful manner. This is the way power in general works: as person gains power and becomes less accountable, so does the temptation to utilize said power for selfish needs grow. There is reason why monarchies started falling apart with the era of absolute monarchies: a Byzantine Emperor or a traditional king would have been in public eye, and if anything more accountable than modern-day politicians who use the complex and rather opaque nature of modern state apparatus to play "pass the buck". And concept that people can become evil against their will is not ridiculous either. One Ring actually represents that as well: you can start meaning well, taking power to make the world a better place. But power alone can change a person, and good ideas and good meanings can easily become something evil. Like how Communists started wanting to build a better society and ended up murdering tens of millions. Yes, it is true that person has to have character flaws; but all people have character flaws, so that caveat is not something which really matters, as it is a rule with no exceptions. True. But that never happened, so we do not know how he would have reacted in such conditions. Eldacar was in right because Castamir turned out to be a tyrant. If Castamir had somehow become a good ruler, Eldacar would have been in the wrong, or at least not have any more right to the throne than Castamir. But considering that throne of Gondor is basically sanctified by God, there was little hope of a usurper turning out alright, unlike in real life or Westeros. Conversely, Aerys II was overthrown because he was a tyrant, and Targaryens were thus replaced by Baratheons. Fact that Aerys was removed means that Iron Throne passed away from Targaryens, and is thus not theirs anymore. Whoever takes the Throne has the right to it if it is done with sufficient support from the people being ruled.
  3. Stannis is the direct relative of the previous king. He is in the line of succession. Aegon, Euron and Daenerys are not in the line of succession at all. Hence, they have no right to the throne... meaning that yes, Stannis' "delusion" is significantly different from Daenerys' belief she should be on the throne, as it does have legal backing (provided his accusations could be proven). Daenerys meanwhile is no different from that of any other conqueror. Yes, Daenerys is more likeable. But that is about the only advantage she has over Stannis. First, the Iron Throne may not matter logically if there is a danger to the entire world, but it still matters narratively. Second, calling Tolkien's writing "simplistic good vs evil" shows that you have no clue about Tolkien and his writing. Go read Silmarillion, or even just Denethor chapters of Lord of the Rings, and you can see how a great person can still cause much evil, despite best intentions. Nor is everything always about the Dark Lord - in Silmarillion, Elves pretty much screwed themselves over even without help from Morgoth. Elvish kinslaying was helped by Morgoth, but it was caused by the pride and hubris, and it continued even in Middle Earth. The entirety of Akallabeth shows how a good choice and a necessary action may still lead you down the road of destruction if you are not careful. I don't doubt that she will reach that conclusion eventually. The series is, after all, called A Song of Ice and Fire. But how many people will die before that happens? No, that is not how it works in a "monarchistic world". Premise that people will always believe that the original dynasty are the ones who are rightful kings is ridiculous. If that were the case, no open rebellion would have any chance of succeeding, and there would be no hope of replacing a dynasty except through assassination. Yet it did happen. Therefore, people will not always believe that "the original dynasty are the ones who are rightful kings". And Stark argument is not a good one - North is clearly different from the rest of the realm. Plus, Targaryens do not have the roots in Westeros. Some people may believe that. But not the people in general. Possibly. It would not be a natural development, but that is why those visions she receives are important. She is being influenced from the outside. He did it to gain the Throne. Renly was going to kill Stannis to gain the Throne. And that between brothers who while not particularly close also were not strangers, and in a society which sees kinslaying as one of the worst crimes. So how do you think they were not corrupted? Corruption does not need to be metaphysical or magical to be real: power alone is enough to corrupt. Fact that Gollum was corrupted with help of magic does not mean he is fundamentally different from Stannis and Renly. Stannis is trying to achieve the both, yes. But his initial decision to go to the Wall was taken with no prospect of it helping him to gain the Throne, and was, if memory serves me, in fact opposed by some of his men for that very reason. Personally, I think that some sort of misunderstanding is most likely. But fact that she doesn't know him doesn't mean it will not affect her. And not all secrets get revealed. As for Daenerys needing sufficient evidence to consider challenging his claim... not necessarily. Stannis definitely didn't need much. Oh, I do agree with that. With caveat that nonhereditary systems favour people who are most ambitious and best poised to take power. Which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on what they are like as people, and how prepared they are. Gandalf may have been able to defeat Sauron - but only if he subverted One Ring to his will. But by doing so, he would have gotten corrupted by the Ring. And Gandalf would have been worse than Sauron: he was in fact wiser than Sauron, and he knew the free peoples of Middle Earth: minds and hearts both. I do not think "chilling in the North" constitutes "actively pursuing power". Yes, Aragorn did want the throne, and he did pursue the power when the time was right, but he only did so at the point when he could secure willing acceptance by people of Gondor. That is an important point. Maybe. But Aragorn always prioritized defeat of Sauron over potential pursuit of the throne. As for Eldacar, he was not wrong to lead an army to regain his throne, true. But remember that he was ousted by force, and Castamir had proven a rather cruel dictator. If you look at Tolkien's notion of kingship in more detail, you will notice that kingship is a right, but also a duty: people do in fact have the right to reject a king who forgoes his duty (though it is still not a decision to be made lightly). This is especially obvious in Silmarillion with several Elven monarchs, but it is also apparent in many other places as well.
  4. This is an excerpt from my work-in-progress about monarchies in fantasy: Ruling family is a symbol of the nation, and something people can unify around. The monarch is essentially a patriarch of the family, but on the scale of the whole country. He is the father, the personification of the nation and its foundation. This effect is much stronger in fantasy. Longest-ruling dynasty in real life is Yamato dynasty of Japan, which lasted from at least 509 AD (earliest verifiable Emperor) but might be as old as 660 BC; it thus lasted anywhere between 1 511 and 2 680 years. Pandyan dynasty in India ruled from 6th century BC to 1345 AD, or over 1 800 years. Chola Dynasty in India lasted from 3rd century BC to 1279 AD, or 1 500 years, before being brought down by Pandyans. In Europe, longest lasting in Bagrationi Dynasty of Georgia, which lasted from 780 to 1810, or 1 030 years, all in the main branch. In Western Europe, France's Capetians ruled from 987 to 1328 in the main branch, but several junior branches still survive, with king Felipe VI Bourbon reigning in Spain. This gives them timeframe of 1 033 years, of which 341 year for the main branch. Habsburgs lasted from 1273 to 1780, or 507 years, in the main branch; but in cognatic line they reigned until 1918, or 645 years. But dynasty of Numenorean kings lasted for 3 287 years. Kings of Arnor reigned for 2 000 years, but House of Isildur lasted for well over 3 000 years, while House of Anarion was only around 2 000 years old when it was extinguished. This makes them significantly longer lasting than any real life dynasty, though not to the extent often thought, and longetivity of Numenoreans means that these dynasties only really saw about as many generations of rulers as particularly long-lasting European dynasties. Assuming 25 years between generations, Yamato dynasty will have seen 60 generations of rulers, and Bagrationi will have seen 41 generation. For comparison, Kings of Numenor only saw 25 rulers, and there were likewise 25 Kings of Arnor. While this is actually realistic, same cannot be said for dynasties of Westeros: House Stark has lasted for 8 000 years, which will have meant 320 generations: over five times as many as those of the Yamato dynasty. Is there any explanation given for how exactly did dynasties of Westeros (remember, Lannisters too have ancestors going back to the Age of Heroes) manage to last so long? And at what point exactly do legends actually start transitioning into history?
  5. Not really. Yes, it is what you do with it that matters, but it is also what you do in order to gain it that matters. Read again what I wrote: Bilbo was not corrupted by the One Ring as much because he found the ring (whereas Smeagol killed for it), and Frodo inherited the Ring. In other words, while Bilbo did actively take the ring, he did no harm in the process. And this is what we see in Lord of the Rings as well. Aragorn and his ancestors for centuries refused to claim the crown of Gondor in order to avoid potential repeat of the Kinstrife, which makes them the exact opposite of basically all claimants to the Iron Throne. Yes, Aragorn did claim the throne of Gondor eventually - but look at how it happened. He did not march in muh inheritance; he first saved Gondor and then claimed the throne. Closest equivalent to Aragorn that is possible in ASoIaF would be Jon Snow resurrecting, leading defense against the Others, and then claiming the Iron Throne with agreement of Westerosi nobles as a a) recognition of his lineage and b) reward for his leadership in war. And Aragorn claiming the throne was not violent: it was dependant on the acceptance and gratitude of the people he had just saved. Had people of Gondor rejected him, Aragorn would have retreated, much like Arvedui had done centuries and centuries before.
  6. Maybe. It is true that Roman historiographers are often very hostile to emperors who entered into conflict with the Senate, as Nero did. Or she will present unreasonable demands, or neither of them will listen, or maybe he will listen but something else will happen. There are many ways those talks could fail without him being an idiot. Funny, one turn you support murdering nobles, the second one you call Stannis a monstruous king because he would... murder nobles. Actually, George does have problem with characters trying to get what is theirs. Stannis has more legal right to the Iron Throne than Daenerys does - Targaryens were ousted in a rebellion supported by most of the kingdom, and thus neither Daenerys nor Aegon can call themselves legitimate rulers by default. That can only change by securing support of the people. Yet whole Stannis' story in the North is about letting go of the Throne in favour of immediately important stuff. Have you even read the books? Plot literally is about the "Iron Throne nonsense". Then there is the fact that we have five books so far about war for the Iron Throne. Five books about Daenerys flailling around while learning to rule. The Others are literally "set dressing". Those are Martin's own words: "I've always taken that as my guiding principle and the rest is just set dressing. You can have dragons in it, or aliens and starships, or a western about a gunslinger, or even literary fiction, and ultimately you're still writing about the human heart in conflict with itself." The Others don't matter. Human feelings, ambition, politics and, yes, the Iron Throne do matter. The Others are just there to provide the moral of "if you are selfish, ice zombies will kill you all". The end. Not necessarily. Quite a few people have embraced such a role for sheer ambition, both within the story (Tywin, etc.) and in real life. Especially if she gets convinced that she is a Messiah, destined to save the Westeros, what do you think will happen? Oh, I do think chair is a big lure as well... but more importantly, think about how bolded part contradicts your previous point. As for the rest of it, I actually agree... I just think that her "Savour complex / holy mission / whatever you want to call it" will lead to tragedy... and she may or may not pull it off in the end. "Somewhat" stupid? He got himself killed because he had a massive sister complex and was a control freak. That means that he was either completely disconnected from reality ("insane"), or else so stupid as to be mentally retarded. And Targaryen name would only be enough if people actually believed him to have a chance of winning... which, between his personality, his advisors and the fact that he had bloody Dothraki as a core of his force was basically impossible. Now, it is true that Daenerys didn't grow up in the court... but she did grow up on Viserys' stories about their "right", "Usurper's dogs", "his throne" - which would be "her throne" seeing how he got himself killed. And she clearly saw the Iron Throne in the same way as Viserys: The Dothraki would respect him more if he looked less a beggar, she hoped, and perhaps he would forgive her for shaming him that day in the grass. He was still her king, after all, and her brother. They were both blood of the dragon. When her son sat the Iron Throne, she would see that he had bloodriders of his own to protect him against treachery in his Kingsguard. Dany rode close beside him. "Still," she said, "the common people are waiting for him. Magister Illyrio says they are sewing dragon banners and praying for Viserys to return from across the narrow sea to free them." And that "when her son sat the Iron Throne" is interesting. She is Drogo's wife then, and Viserys clearly intends to take the IT to himself. So either she had already seen Viserys as useless and someone who wouldn't sit or last long on the Throne, or she dreamed of taking the Throne for herself, killing him in the process. Now, she does mature as the story goes on... but I see no indication that her view of the Iron Throne has changed at all. And remember that she is being actively pushed by Quaithe towards more violent role: “Daenerys. Remember the Undying. Remember who you are.” “The blood of the dragon.” But my dragons are roaring in the darkness. “I remember the Undying. Child of three, they called me. Three mounts they promised me, three fires, and three treasons. One for blood and one for gold and one for …” I am not going to give up that parallel because a) it is not stupid and b) is almost certainly what George intended. Smeagol and Deagon killed each other over the Ring; and this type of "Cain and Abel" story appears many times in ASoIaF universe, most obviously with Stannis and Renly (Stannis kills Renly because they both want the throne - although to be fair, he did offer Renly reasonable terms, and Renly was going to kill him), but also quite a few other rebellions, including Robert's rebellion to an extent. If you think Tolkien didn't have complex political world, then you have clearly not read Tolkien. In fact, both Tolkien and Martin have the same moral lesson: that evil rarely pays off. Read Silmarillion. Or literally anything Tolkien wrote beyond Hobbit and Lord of the Rings themselves. If anything, his writings - limited as they are - show a world that is just as, if not more, complex than Martin's. Yes, Tolkien and Martin have different styles of writing and different priorities. Tolkien wrote mythology, whereas Martin writes historical accounts (and is ironically rather sloppy in doing so - his attempts to force "historicity" at some points significantly break immersion). And Tolkien only described and showed things that are immediately important, while Martin goes into piles of descriptions - with the result being that casual / inattentive readers believe that Martin's world is deeper than Tolkien's. But amount of words does not depth make. Back to Stannis, he had to give up the throne in order to do his duty. So yes, focusing on the throne itself is clearly seen as bad. The f***? Fact that Iron Throne is not important means that she would be more likely to end up hating herself if she ends up killing people (and potential family to boot - I don't think she will ever discover whether Aegon is a real deal or not) for the sake of the throne. EDIT: Sorry to butt in, but you misunderstand the point. Yes, there were good rulers of Seven Kingdoms. But 7K are a hereditary monarchy - thus you can become a ruler and weild power without actively pursuing it. IN fact, this is precisely what happens in Lord of the Rings: Tolkien (through Gandalf) makes a point that the reason why Bilbo and Frodo were so little affected by the Ring was that they did not pursue it. Bilbo gained it almost by accident - he did not steal it, he found it; and Frodo inherited the Ring. Neither of them pursued the Ring. So if you inherit the power, but do not seek it, you are less likely to get corrupted. And no, you cannot in fact use the One Ring to defeat Sauron. Even if you could, it would mean likely instant corruption - only a passive corrupton, which comes through possessing but not overtly using the Ring takes centuries. But if you use Ring overtly - that is, to dominate wills of others instead of just hiding from people - then it is very likely that process of corruption would take far shorter time. Keep in mind that neither Isildur, Smeagol, Frodo or Sam ever used the Ring for anything significant: but even so, Ring was slowly corrupting them (well, except Sam - Ring was apparently quite desperate while in Sam's possession - but even so Sam was wounded by it).
  7. Actually, Vlad did keep nobles in check to an extent. Was it sufficient? Clearly not, given that he got ousted. Iron Throne represents the exact thing which One Ring represents: the temptation of power, and the will to dominate other people. One is mundane, the other is magical, but they are both fundamentally the same from the storytelling perspective.
  8. Cruel kings are only tolerated as long as their cruelty is not aimless. Less Nero and more Vlad Dracul. Neither Aegon I or Jaehaerys I are what I would call cruel, much less monsters. That I would actually agree with. If that happens, she will basically start a conflict where one could, potentially, have been avoided. Violence is not useless, but it should be the last option. That is how it actually worked in real Middle Ages: kings had diplomats, intelligence services and so on (yes, Byzantine Empire was the gold standard for such, but they were hardly unique). They already had layers of conflict avoidance - that is not a new thing. Oh, it definitely is going to do so. You really think Martin would condone war for a bloody chair? Nevermind the fact that Stannis actually has more right to it than Daenerys does, and he is not a sadist either. No, Daenerys is not Maegor or Joffrey. But that doesn't mean she will necessarily be able to hold onto her ideals. Sooner or later, she will have to choose between her humanitarian ideals and identity, and the throne. That sort of conflict is what ASoIaF is all about. Or she is favoured by the fortunes while in Slaver's Bay precisely in order to allow her to survive and be placed in the Rhaenyra-like position. Did you think of that? Actually, that makes it more likely. Imagine a living god and [insert arm's length of titles here] be gainsaid by a mere lord, or God forbid, a king? She won't tolerate that, and may not even attempt the persuasion before going to compulsion. Option, yes, but will she take it? Viserys was insane. I do not think Daenerys will become insane, but it is indeed likely that her actions (and maybe even thoughts) will grow closer to what Viserys was as she gets closer to Westeros and the Iron Throne. Iron Throne is GRRM's equivalent to the One Ring. It corrupts. In order for Daenerys to gain the throne, she will have to become everything she once hated. Remember how Frodo changed between Rivendell and Sammath Naur? How he slowly succumbed to the Ring as it grew stronger and stronger by approaching Orodruin? That is what I expect will happen to Daenerys, and by the time she comes to Westeros she will become unrecognizable. Smeagol will turn into Gollum. Iron Throne is the One Ring equivalent, except much less magical. I already wrote about it before. Now, she might not intend for such a thing to happen. She may start a war by accident - everything goes fine between her and Aegon, then JonCon goes insane due to greyscale, Daenerys concludes that whatever he does was actually planned by Jon and Aegon instead of an accident, and boom! war. But ultimately, her quest for the Iron Throne will turn her into person she herself will have hated before, and will eventually come to hate once she calms down. Only question is how it will happen. So yes, there will be dark, villiany and nutcasey things from Daenerys. They just won't be a consequence of insanity, but rather a consequence of an accident combined with paranoia. EDIT: Just to note here, but your Roman parallel doesn't work: those slaves were members of Spartacus' Rebellion. In other words, they were rebels. Guess which was one of crimes for which crucifixion was reserved? In fact, many of rebels actually weren't slaves to begin with, and in any case none were crucified for being slaves. They were crucified for being rebels. But yeah, considering how Masters are like, you are correct.
  9. Not necessarily. People who go to one extreme and then fail do have a tendency to overcompensate in the opposite direction. Basically, the very fact that she was too kind and failed because of it may lead her to forgo kindness alltogether and opt for "fire and sword blood" style of governance. In fact, I am convinced that is what will happen. So far she has shown very bad ability to properly gauge her actions. Her crucifixion of Masters was too aimless to be justice (it was not aimed at those who had commited the transgression), too cruel to facilitate conciliation (crucifixion? Really? Couldn't you have beheading?), and too kind to destroy their will/capacity to resist (if you are going to crucify Masters without trial, why not all of them?). So if her peaceful approach in Mereen fails, I can easily see her turning into a tyrant.
  10. Daenerys also has temper, and while she has the best of intentions, she also has highly unstable way of ruling which leaves people below her uncertain of what to expect. No standards, no consistency, so why would they obey her? Anyway, Alyn wrote it better than I could. As for the first point, I would actually like it if one of those fakes won, precisely because they are fakes.
  11. Just a note, but Stannis actually did that already. In fact, he works far better as a Richard III parallel, seeing how he is Robert's brother, and actual rebel against the throne as opposed to a foreign invader. That being said, George does mix-and-match things, so while Aegon is certainly not a Richard III parallel, there might be some parallels involved.
  12. Yep. I don't think Aegon will be directly responsible for it, but Jon Connington himself is clearly developing into person capable of doing so. He is deliberately trying to become Tywin Lannister, and well, we know what happened with Tywin and Robert's rise to power...
  13. While I agree with most of the rest, you can still have such a battle: Others are quite clearly trying to invade. If someone is trying to invade your home / country / etc., you are then fully justified in killing them, regardless of circumstances. You can chose not to, but there is nothing morally wrong in doing so. But having such a battle still does not preclude eventual diplomatic settlement.
  14. That is not what I was talking about. Unrealistic structures can be explained by magic, so while I do see oversized castles in particular (e.g. Winterfell, Storm's End... every single castle in Westeros actually) as rather superfluous and somewhat immersion, breaking, there are very large structures in real life: Mehrangarh fort has 118 ft tall walls. But structures are irrelevant: it doesn't matter whether Winterfell's wall is 18 or 80 feet tall. What matters are the things which determine interactions. Problems I have with Martin's worldbuilding are related to the sociopolitical structures and how they interact with each other, with characters in the story and with the world as a whole.
  15. Same here. But for my part, worldbuilding is my passion, as is history, so as much as I like the books, that stuff is to me kinda hard to ignore.
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