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Lord Varys

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  1. There cannot be any 'professional soldiers' in Westeros considering there is at best a short war every generation or so - the lesser skirmishes and stuff (wildling raids in the North and the Vale, outlaw hunts, robber knights, minor rebellions, and Dornish incursions prior to the union) would only be local or regional conflicts. Not all the Reach or all the Stormlands would have to react to a Dornish incursion, just as a Lord Stark or Arryn doesn't have to call all his banners to deal with some wildling attack. There is a very tiny fraction of men permanently under arms - garrisons of castles, highborn knights and tourney knights who constantly play at arms, but that's it. The rest is half rabble or mostly rabble, men who may lose half or all their teeth before riding into battle. It is a joke that Westeros still has a martial culture so men can die in the Dance after eighty years of peace and plenty. What 'professional warriors' do we can see in the Dunk & Egg stories. Ser Arlan and later Dunk ride around and serve this or that lord for local missions and stuff. If there are no campaigns there is no war, and if there is no war you don't really get professional soldiers of any kind. As for a standing army - there is no point for that considering that Westeros doesn't have any outside enemies, and never did even before the Targaryens. There are no indications that any of the kingdoms were ever in a war with a Free City - not that they could have won something like that while Valyria was still around. Relatively speaking, the king is the most powerful guy around, anyway. He does have the strongest 'standing fighting force' if you will. He should have the most household knights and sworn swords and men-at-arms in Westeros (depending on the time there is a chance that the Lannisters, Hightowers, and Tyrells can maintain forces of equal size), and considering that he controls the largest city he has the largest City Watch - which is somewhat of a semi-professional armed force. This idea that the lords are very powerful relative to the king is based on the fallacious idea the great lords directly control their own bannermen and the men sworn to them - which they don't. Especially not in a scenario where a lord turns against his king and then expect his bannermen to follow him suit. People delude themselves into thinking everything works like the North in this regard - that Robb calling his banners is sort of representative how things would go in the Vale or the West or the Riverlands ... but that isn't a given. The Starks are a former royal house and have a very powerful standing with the Northmen. They are not representative of Westeros at large. Likewise, Tywin was one the most exceptional men of the 3rd centuy - his hold over the Westermen isn't comparable to that of his father Tytos or any other average Lord of Casterly Rock. The way the system is set up indicates that four out of five lords would side with their king against their liege lord, not the other way around. Even Ned and Cat are afraid that Robert could destroy them if they were losing the king's favor.
  2. This would happen in the 150s, I'd think, after they dealt with Alys Rivers and her pretender son - just as they did only then bury the remains of Larys Strong at Harrenhal. I expect the carcass eventually washed up at the shore, possibly even before Alys and her son were done, so her pretender could not only ride a dragon in his war but also wield Dark Sister as another token of his status as the rightful king.
  3. That is just nonsense. Shae didn't deserve to be killed, and she didn't deserved to be caught up in the silly games of two highborn perverts like Tyrion and Tywin. That is very odd considering he gave the iron coin to Arya, indicating that they might see each other again in Braavos. He realized she was Faceless Men material. Also, he makes it clear to Arya he has a job to do when he leaves her in the Riverlands. Jaqen doesn't have the time to move to Pyke and Oldtown in the time he has, but more importantly ... it is quite clear that Euron only made his plans, including the one involving him murdering Balon and taking over the islands, after he captured Pyat Pree and his Qartheen warlocks after they left Qarth in persuit of Daenerys. Whatever job Jaqen has goes back before he ended up in black cell ... or was arranged while he was imprisoned there (although I've no idea who would be behind that then - Varys could do it, I guess, but he would have no motive). Euron's Faceless Man would have been a different person - and to be clear: we have only Euron's word that he ever had a dragon's egg. That isn't worth anything while we don't have other evidence. Later, you cannot judge somebody for something they didn't do yet. Especially if you don't know if that particular guy would have been part of it or not. Roose made his final decision when he talked with Jaime. And what do you think would have happened if Arya Stark had been there at this point? It is impossible to say, really. Oh, I meant she is a natural born killer in the way she knows how to kill if she wants to. She has to learn to kill on command, but if you put her together with a person she wants to waste she knows how to do that. And one assumes the Faceless Men know that. It was pretty good how she dealt with Raff. The mistake she made from their point of view, one imagines, is that she killed him in a way that makes it evident that he was murdered ... if the corpse is ever discovered. And of course the Faceless Men are all about information. They are magical assassins who might not only kill people but also gather information for the rulers of Braavos (which they themselves might be to a good degree). That is why I said they might send Jaqen along with her. I expect the other Faceless Men to go on a killing spree for Stannis in the wake of the deal he made with the Iron Bank. They will have to ensure that their investment is going to come back with interest ... meaning Stannis' enemies have to die. I meant that Arya should have revealed herself when Roose took Harrenhal, not only around the time she ran away. And he didn't know who she was. Else he wouldn't have treated her the way he did. The Braavosi do loathe dragons, as shown by Tycho Nestoris in ADwD. They will only make one decision about them ... kill them.
  4. That sort of implied they enjoyed figuring out/showing how one had to place the wildfire to get the best effect - they look like scientists really looking forward to see the first atom bomb go off for the whole joy of it. But if the Oppenheimer had been doing that for a guy who intended to blow up Washington, D.C. or New York it would have been somewhat odd, especially if they had had friends and families and homes in those places. I mean, the way George presents the wildfire nonsense we have to believe that only the king, Rossart, Garigus, and Belis and perhaps a few other unnamed fellows Jaime killed knew about the plan - else people still alive would remember where the hell they had moved all that wildfire on behalf of the Mad King. Is it really imaginable that this plan could have been implemented with very few people knowing about it, especially among the alchemists? I mean, we can imagine ways how to set it up so you can ignite the fire without being consumed by it yourself - sort of like they present the destruction of the Great Sept in the show. But for that you need workers and servants preparing stuff. It wouldn't do just to move a lot of wildfire to various places - that one could be doing using people who don't know what they are doing, but if they don't know what they are moving around they would probably not handle the wildfire as carefully as they should and the city should have burned when the wildfire was hidden. They might think nothing about storing some wildfire in the abandoned Dragonpit ... but beneath the Great Sept or in Flea Bottom or elsewhere in the city? Not very likely. To actually ignite the stuff the Mad King would either need a pretty big number of suicidal servants, or a complicated mechanism which delays the holocaust sufficiently so that a small number of people can go to every place where the substance is hidden to trigger a chain reaction and get away before the city is ablaze. That is a rather complex thing. Because one imagines that Rossart didn't plan just to ignite one stash of wildfire but arrange it so that multiple or all of the stashes would be ignited. If one place in the city started to burn then people would have more than enough time to escape the city through the seven gates. But I guess I'm overthinking this ;-).
  5. Oh, but her training is far from done now, is it? She doesn't know the full story of the Faceless Men yet, nor how to carve off faces and wear them. She has to learn all that yet. And to be sure, she already was a natural born killer when she got to Braavos. That is why they didn't throw her out. The Faceless Men are assassins who infiltrate and then kill you so ingeniously that people interpret it as a natural death/accident. That is their modus operandi, and Arya is learning that. Her own, let's call it butchery, isn't how they operate, and we can expect them to teach her that lesson after the way she dealt with Raff. Oh, they will send her out to kill Dany and/or the dragons. That is why they want that book. The only question is whether that's their own game or whether some third power hired them all the way back in AGoT or earlier to eventually kill the dragons. I'd not know who the hell that person could have been, but Jaqen wants the book, and they will use that book to kill dragons the way the Citadel supposedly killed them back in the day. Yeah, for the wights those wolves could be something. And George has said they are going to come back big time eventually. But they are not needed and kind of superficial to deal with Freys and Lannisters - the Riverlanders will be able to do that all by themselves (and it will be more fun that way), especially considering that Lady Stoneheart is going to help them. Also, you have to keep in mind that Arya doesn't have to be physically close to Nymeria to possess her. She is a skinchanger, and as her powers grow she will be able to reach her from Asshai if she were to end up there (which she isn't). I can see them making some appearance to ensure that some battle in the Riverlands goes the way Arya/'the good guys' want it to go - say, if there were some sort of battle in the future between some Lannisters and Aegon's or Dany's people - but I doubt they will really play a great role before the grand finale. Although, now that I'm think of it - perhaps they will show up in the Prologue if it depicts an outlaw attack on Forley Prester and his men, preventing them from murdering Jeyne and Edmure. But that would mean they would have to be close to the hunting grounds of the wolves. Ah, well, that man was a loyal Northman, and Arya Stark truly had as much right to kill as I have going around killing innocent people who I think might do something evil in the future. I mean, seriously, if Roose Bolton may have known he had Arya Stark there there may have been no Red Wedding. Robb could have been so happy that his sister was still alive that he may have set aside Jeyne in favor of the Frey girl he was supposed to marry if the Freys had restored her to them - not to mention that they could have gone through with the Arya-Elmar match. This idea that Arya's fear from a post-Bolton regime at Harrenhal justifies this murder is just wrong. And if you allow her fears to be informed or mature enough that her actions are okay, then her not getting it - her failing to use her three dead wisely, her not revealing herself to her brother's men immediately - means she can be blamed for helping to fuck things up for the Starks. Perhaps Robb wouldn't have married Jeyne if he had known ... just as Cat most certainly wouldn't have let Jaime go. Also, ever thought what may have happened if Arya Stark had been there when Jaime arrived at Harrenhal?
  6. Oh, that is not that difficult. Remember that the Jaqen fellow wanted an archmaester key and got one via Pate before he killed and replaced him? That means he wants something from this vault that can only be opened with an archmaester key. Now, we do know that forbidden books are hidden in those vaults, indicating what Jaqen-Pate wants is such a book ... and the only book hidden by the archmaesters in this fashion we know by name so far is the one mentioned by Tyrion in ADwD - namely, the tome called 'Blood and Fire' or sometimes also 'The Death of Dragons'. The idea is that Jaqen-Pate is after that particular book, that it contains knowledge how to kill dragons via poison or another method that is more likely to be successful than a direct approach (it would also be the book the maesters used when/if they poisoned some of the last dragons during the reign of Aegon III), that Jaqen-Pate steals the book and delivers it to Braavos in TWoW, and that Arya's first mission as a fullblown Faceless Girl will be the infiltration of Dany's movement and the eventual assassination of Daenerys and her dragons - possibly/likely with Jaqen accompanying her to Vaes Dothrak/Slaver's Bay/wherever she will be at that point. Arya's great conflict there will be whether to go through with that ... or turn against Jaqen, killing him, because she understand that Dany isn't the enemy, her movement is good or at least better than the hypocrisy of the Faceless Men. After all, Jaqen's Oldtown mission goes back to AGoT or earlier, since he was on the way to that place, presumably, when he somehow ended up in a black cell - meaning that his mission may actually be a mission he undertakes on behalf of the House of Black and White who foresaw the return of the dragons somehow and decided they and Braavos would not suffer that - which would be enourmously hypocritical on their part if they decided they want to put down a dragonlord who wants to abolish slavery. Even more so after she finally learns the true story about the Doom of Valyria where the Faceless Men apparently thought killing millions or billions of people in a huge explosion was a great thing to do. I don't think she is ever going to agree with such an approach. Subsequently Arya could join Dany's movement either as Arya of House Stark or incognito in a Faceless Girl disguise. In such a capacity her unique skills could really make a difference and become an asset in the coming wars - by both advising a person in power as well as killing people who oppose them. If Arya just continued to go through with her list - or worse still: returned to Winterfell/the North for some reason, she would effectively have no big impact on the story, especially since the North/Wall will be the first who have to seriously deal with the Others, even before the Wall falls. There won't be any use for a political assassin there. I've a lot of trouble predicting a future story for Arya, and that's the best (and honestly: only) thing I could come up that makes sense to me. There we could have potential for conflict both an internal and external level, a real conflict of interests between the Faceless Men agenda and Arya Stark as a person. A return to Westeros for a killing spree doesn't make much sense to me. Oh, I'm sure we are going to read at least that one.
  7. George has gone on record himself, stating that this was his worst act. And he shows that by giving us glimpses of her long agony in ADwD when Tyrion's remembers it. I'm not saying anyone is going to avenge Shae or anything - but there is this element of karmic justice I mentioned. Tyrion may survive the series, but he is going to pay. Being George's favorite might certainly ensure Tyrion sticks around for a long time - but that's not going to give him a free pass. Of course. Any series where her story would go into a completely different direction in the next couple of chapters would be a caricature of itself. And George said TWoW is going to be the darkest book so far - statements like that don't bode well for people who are already at very dark places in the beginning of the book. It is going to get worse for all the characters, but especially those who are already not exactly at a nice place. The one thing that makes sense for me for Arya's character is if she becomes a professional assassin in service of a good cause. Not revenge nonsense, but a power for change. She could be another Varys, say, a person using ugly methods to try to accomplish something good. I still think the Faceless Men are going to send her after Dany and the dragons once Jaqen brings that book back from the Citadel, and then she will have to decide whether it is good or bad to kill Daenerys. That way she could reenter the story in a meaningful way.
  8. Oh, well, people get strange ideas there. I'm not sure what that is, perhaps this whole 'Mad King' epitome? The idea that in this world burning people alive is that evil a punishment compared to death by crow cage? The idea that if a guy is called 'the Mad King' he must be the worst guy ever, and everything he and his people did must have been completely nuts? Could very well be those guys were nuts ... but if they were we should have been told. I mean, technically Rossart should have had time and opportunity to get away from the fires considering he knew where the wildfire was and would be the one who organized the ignition process. If he intended to do that - where the hell would he go afterwards? The Stark executions are pretty extreme, but not all that far away from young Joff commanding people to fight to the death when they were just having a squabble over some land. This kind of thing didn't cause anyone to talk about 'Mad Joffrey' or 'Joffrey the Cruel'. And we don't know any context of the Stark trials so far. Did they enrage and provoke and threaten the king before? What were they actually accused of? Were they offered some sort of way out if they confessed their crimes (after all, we know that Brandon's former squire Ethan Glover survived the entire ordeal)? I personally imagine that the other KG were having the same issues - or perhaps even more severe issues - with Aerys II than Jaime did considering many of them had known the royal family for years and decades, serving under Aerys' father and grandfather - they just didn't express them or allowed others to see them the way Jaime did. I interpret Darry and Hightower pushing Jaime to accept how things are to prevent him from doing/trying something stupid - like killing or intervening with the king when he does something horrible. We do have sufficient reason to believe that Dayne and Whent weren't at court because they flat-out preferred Rhaegar to the Mad King and were to various degrees complicit in Rhaegar's plan to limit his father's power/depose him/whatever. And that Hightower ended up joining them at that tower also speaks pretty loudly, as does the willingness of Selmy and Darry and Martell to accompany Rhaegar to the Trident rather than remain in KL to protect Aerys there (one assumes they could have insisted to stay with the king no matter what Rhaegar wanted them to do).
  9. Murder is bad, even in Martinworld. There is no middle ground there. They don't actually, there is a lot of karmic justice and stuff going on - Jaime losing his hand, Joffrey being murdered by the Tyrells, Tywin getting shot by the son he abused his entire life, the Mad King being murdered by a man he himself chose for the KG, Ned beheading a man we would consider innocent of the crime he stands accused of is beheaded in turn, Theon gets tortured and maimed and castrated after betraying his foster family and murdering innocent children, etc. It is not that the evil constantly prosper - smart people prosper and fools and morons end up dead. Stupid people like Theon fail quickly, smart evil people like Littlefinger still thrive ... but there is no doubt that he is going to be cast down, too. Part of Arya's story is that she is murdering people on a regular basis now - this will come back to haunt her eventually in some fashion. I didn't say she will have to die for that, I just said she won't escape this thing. I'm talking about myself when I use subjective language. And I've gone on record more than once stating that I found Arya's and Bran's chapters up until AFfC/ADwD boring as hell. They didn't have any stories of their own up to that point, were just telling other people's stories. Arya gets interesting when she first meets Jaqen and starts her path to become an assassin. She is an 11-year-old girl and she will never become a woman within the confines of this series. Girls turn into women when they come of age at the age of sixteen. Why should I be put off by that? I think 'Mercy' is one of the best chapters George has ever written precisely because it effectively portrays an eleven-year-old psychopaths using the allure of sex to murder somebody. That is great literature, I enjoy stuff like that, but that doesn't mean the character depicted in that story is a hero. What am I supposed to hate here? I like Arya as a character precisely because she goes to dark places and kills people ... I just don't delude myself into believing this doesn't make her dark or damaged character whose ultimate fate is not likely going to be all that nice.
  10. I don't think Barristan is particular deep or interesting as a person. He seems to have a very traditional approach to knighthood and religion (think how he actually devotely prays each morning). But he has a working moral compass - meaning there is no way he would have been a part of the wildfire holocaust of KL. In fact, George's take on this story is pretty weird. What kind of people are Rossart and his cronies? Their own homes are in KL, too. What rewards could the doomed king who apparently planned to burn with his city (and perhaps be transformed into a living dragon) have offered them to do what they apparently planned to do? Did they intend to die in the fire, too? If not, then where did they intend to live after KL was a burned ruin? What about the family and friends they must have had? This isn't a scenario where some soldiers are commanded to execute some last command without not really knowing what's going to happen - it is scientists/sorcerers participating in and implementing a plan (singlehandedly, for the most part) which would destroy their home and possibly kill themselves and their loved ones. Are they supposed to have been part of some doomsday cult? If so, then it is odd that they all pleaded with Jaime for their lives when he came for them. To imagine that Barristan Selmy would stand there and watch while KL burned is ludicrous. None of Aerys' Seven would have done that. They may not have killed the king, but they may tried to find another way to stop him.
  11. The next book is not going to undo what Arya did in the earlier books. This idea that the ending or some future changes sort of do away with everything that happened before wouldn't even make sense if this was a fairy tale (which it is not). Arya can save the world for all I care - she would still have to answer to that Northman she murdered in cold blood, for Dareon, and for insurance guy. Just as Tyrion is likely going to pay for what he did to Shae and Tysha. And the Arya problem is really a hard problem. Her plot is only interesting if she continues on her assassin journey - that is how she can make a difference in relation to the overall (political) plot, but for her personal story it would be childish fan fiction if she ever became a nice and normal little girl again. The author turned her into a murderess and assassin for a reason. He wanted her to go to that dark place. That is not some sort of weekend excursion, it is her life now. Her story would be pointless and stupid if she did not continue on her path to the bitter end. And the way she is decribed when she murders Raff she acts like a perfect psychopathic serial killer. For her killing is a thing like everything else ... and something she very much enjoys in this case. What exactly the author wants to accomplish by depicting a child who gets better and better at killing people is everybody's guess but a good guess is that this is not going to turn her into a heroine nor will it be good for Arya on a personal level.
  12. Baseless speculation since we have no way to assess what Barristan would have done had he known about the wildfire plan. Did Barristan knew about Lewyn Martell soiling his cloak? LOL, Stannis the moron believed Tywin was Aerys during his first visit to court. Steffon apparently didn't bring Stannis there before or often. To compare Stannis the moron with Jaime, the son of the Hand who had been at odds with the Mad King for most of Jaime's life is ludicrous. I don't give a damn whether Jaime knew or not - ignorance wouldn't save him from my jugdment here. If you join a knightly order you have to serve for life you should inform what kind of boss you are signing up with. If you accidentally become Hitler's lackey you have to eat that cake. You have no right to complain. And it is silly for you or anyone would invent excuse for a fictional character who would never go as low as you. Jaime would not deny that he knew what Aerys was. It is implied that Tywin couldn't do anything about it ... not that Jaime couldn't consent. He did consent to Cersei when they fucked, and she then told the king (or Varys, who may have put her up to that shit show, who then told the king) that Jaime Lannister wanted to be a KG. If anyone could be commanded to join the KG there would be no need for vows nor need for Cersei to fuck Jaime into giving consent. In fact, if people could be forced to become KG the king would be fucked because forcing people to be KG would be a recipe for more KG kingslayers. Nope, Barristan knowledge about the Mad King's crimes would inform his actions. And we have no idea he knew about the wildfire thing. Jaime is just scum. He thinks he can judge an anointed king as a Kingsguard. If he wants to do that he should have become a lord or a historian, not a KG. There are roles and positions in life where you cannot do certain things. If you are a Catholic priest you don't marry, if you join a chaste order of knights you don't fuck (your sister), and if you swear to obey and defend the king above all else you don't kill him. Period. There is no middle ground and no excuse there. I don't know those people were innocent of crimes. Do you? Perhaps they all were traitors, we don't get any insight into their actions. In fact, we don't even know for sure Robert and Ned weren't plotting treason already when the order to execute them arrived - we only know Jon then decided to not obey that order and raise his own banners in rebellion. To who? The false king Robb Stark? Give me a break. How do you know? Were you there? Did you read books I'm not familiar with?
  13. That depends. If the will went into the Neck, then it would depend on Howland Reed what he is going to do with it. Considering the man likely knows who Jon Snow actually is, it is rather interesting what he would do if he realized Robb Stark didn't know that and decided to name Jon Snow his heir, possibly legitimizing him to do so (which we do not actually know that happened, as George himself pointed out). If Howland were to support that will people can kiss the idea goodbye that Howland Reed is ever going to talk about Jon Snow's true parentage because the will would legitimize Jon Snow as Eddard Stark's son by an unknown woman, not as Rhaegar Targaryen's son by Lyanna Stark. After all, it also stands to reason that Jojen and Meera know what Howland knows about Jon Snow since they also know about the mystery knight at Harrenhal ... yet they didn't tell Bran about any of that nor did they take a detour to the Wall to try to inform Jon Snow about who he actually is. Keep in mind the Reeds were surprised that Bran didn't know the mystery knight story - indicating they would have thought Eddard Stark told his family who Jon Snow actually was. The idea that this will could come into play in a meaningful way is also not very likely since it should be about to be discovered that both Brandon and Rickon Stark are still alive. Jon Snow was not willing to usurp the place of Sansa Stark as ruler of the North, meaning it is exceedingly unlikely he would ever be willing to push a claim against Bran and Rickon. If Rickon were to die soon, and Bran were seen as a cripple and tree-man unable/unsuited to succeed to Winterfell, then, perhaps, he might consider stuff like that ... but by then people should have learned that Sansa - and possibly even Arya - Stark are still around. More importantly, I don't buy for a second that the Northmen are keen to want a guy in charge who was once not only a black brother but the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. That would be very weird, to say the least. I'd say if Robb's will actually contained legitimization nonsense and a decree disinheriting Sansa Stark then it is going to be as relevant to the plot - and will be treated as respectfully - as Robert's will was treated by Ned (who forged it) and Cersei (who ripped it to pieces).
  14. LOL, right. Textual evidence for such ridiculous nonsense? The wildfire in the capital would threaten his own life as well as that of the new king and queen and their family. Your defending sister-fucking scum here, a man so corrupt he wants to joing a chaste order of knights to have some more incest sex. The man is disgusting just alone for that. But the audacity to claim this man had no idea whose KG he was joining when his own father was the man's Hand and when he, Jaime Lannister, was in KL when he was fucked into agreeing to join the KG is utter shit. The man was at court. He would have seen his father, the king, and other people at court who would have talked about the king and his madness - just as Jaime himself would have seen it. As he later did at Harrenhal where he actually swore his vows. He could have decided not to do it then. He didn't, he wanted to the lackey of a lunatic. He got what he wanted. Even if you were magically right there - and that's pretty much impossible - then I still don't care about a man as stupid as to to not see that he was becoming the lackey of a lunatic. If you swear holy vows not knowing what you do it is your fault, too, you know. It is your duty to think and inform yourself before you act. Even if you are Jaime Lannister. LOL. Barristan is also a traitor and scumbag for turning against Hizdahr. He is using a shitty loophole there to justify his coup and the subsequent sabotage of Dany's peace. If it turned out that Hizdahr was innocent - or Dany decided to forgive her lord husband his involvement with her enemies - then Barristan should and would lose his head over this after Dany's return. You shouldn't have to specifically state that a KG has to protect a monarch's consort. That should be part of the job, especially in the monarch's absence - and even more so if the monarch might be dead and the consort his/her successor. Jaime just murdered his king because he wanted to at a moment he could afford to do it. There was nothing moral about that, he was just following his basic ugly instincts. The idea that the other men in Aerys II's KG were bad you would first have to establish that they knew about the wildfire plot (for which there is no evidence - especially in the case of the absent fellows, Hightower, Dayne, Whent), and that anybody expects a knight or KG to interfere with the king or his government when they are executing traitors and other criminals. I mean, is there any indication Robb's knights and guards should have saved Rickard Karstark's life from the false king who was executing him, personally? Are there indications that people should have intervened when Joffrey commanded to execute Ned? I don't think so.
  15. What we can say is that the way the author presents his ridiculously old dynasties who, apparently, married their own cousins since, well, forever if the Stark and Lannister family trees we have are any indication (and what we know about historical marriages among other houses). One can use that whole thing to sort of try to explain how the Lannisters could preserve their unique fair-haired looks from the days of Lann to the days of Tywin just as one could also use that to explain how something like a unique 'Stark look' developed - although that one definitely isn't as distinct nor necessarily as difficult to maintain as the blond and golden hair of the Lannisters (of Casterly Rock). After all, if nearly all the brides the Lannisters or Starks took were their own cousins to various degrees (both through the male and female line) then it would make sense that a certain distinct look would develop over the decades and centuries - the same the royal dynasties of Europe developed such characteristic traits. That wouldn't be incest but rather a form of strong inbreeding piling up throughout the centuries and millennia. The occasional 'freak bride' (like Rohanne Webber for the Lannisters or a Royce or Blackwood for the Starks) wouldn't really contribute too much there if we keep in mind that the children and grandchildren of such a union would just go back to marry some cousin.
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