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Jon Weirgaryen

R+L=J v.119

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I don't think the KG have a book where it's all written down black on white. Each KG is sworn to stay true to their vows, obey and protect the King, to the best of their ability and knowledge.

HA! I can just imagine, Hightower saying, "Sorry Lord Stark, can we take a time out while I double check our response in the rule book."

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To protect the king with one's own life is what Ned says that it is. We need to understand what Ned believes in order to properly assess the dream sequence, as that forms the basis of our understanding his thoughts about the Kingsguard post tower of joy.

To clarify, the stress is the literary reference between the two scenes. One, where Ned is referring to Jaime's specific dereliction and two, when Ned is discussing the 'vow' with the KG.

Even if Ned knows all the vows that the KG take, he specifically references the 'die for the king' part talking about Jaime, which leads the reader to infer that Ned is referring to the same 'die for the king' part of the vow in the ToJ fight.

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To clarify, the stress is the literary reference between the two scenes. One, where Ned is referring to Jaime's specific dereliction and two, when Ned is discussing the 'vow' with the KG.

Even if Ned knows all the vows that the KG take, he specifically references the 'die for the king' part talking about Jaime, which leads the reader to infer that Ned is referring to the same 'die for the king' part of the vow in the ToJ fight.

And, you have some indication that there is more to it, from Ned's perspective? Nope.

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Because there is no loyalty to the Crown Prince (Rhaegar) being expressed, it is strictly to King Aerys. The Lord Commander is loyal to Aerys, mad or not.

Yes. But I said nothing about loyalty. You are concluding that because in that precise moment Gerold Hightower expresses loyalty toward Aerys, it means he has always privileged Aerys over Rhaegar, or Aery's orders, over Rhaegar's.

You are concluding that 'being loyal to Aerys' implies a lack of loyalty to Rhaegar. That is actually not necessary. Aerys was the King, but Aerys was also not is his right mind. In this context, choosing not to follow an order given by the King, can well be done out of loyalty toward the King. Loyalty, need not mean blind faith in a mad man.

True loyalty in that case, would be to act in the King's best interest -- and if these coincide with the Crown Prince's, there's no true conflict at all. The KG can follow Rhaegar's orders without being disloyal to Aerys. Hence, they can be loyal to Rhaegar and Aerys at the same time, too.

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Yes. But I said nothing about loyalty. You are concluding that because in that precise moment Gerold Hightower expresses loyalty toward Aerys, it means he has always privileged Aerys over Rhaegar, or Aery's orders, over Rhaegar's.

You are concluding that 'being loyal to Aerys' implies a lack of loyalty to Rhaegar. That is actually not necessary. Aerys was the King, but Aerys was also not is his right mind. In this context, choosing not to follow an order given by the King, can well be done out of loyalty toward the King. Loyalty, need not mean blind faith in a mad man.

True loyalty in that case, would be to act in the King's best interest -- and if these coincide with the Crown Prince's, there's no true conflict at all. The KG can follow Rhaegar's orders without being disloyal to Aerys. Hence, they can be loyal to Rhaegar and Aerys at the same time, too.

Not at all, you are making unsubstantiated suggestions that it is otherwise. It is not otherwise, it is deliberately in the tower of joy sequence to show that the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is by the book loyal to King Aerys, mad or not.

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To protect the king with one's own life is what Ned says that it is. We need to understand what Ned believes in order to properly assess the dream sequence, as that forms the basis of our understanding his thoughts about the Kingsguard post tower of joy.

Seems to me that Ned's statement about Jaime belongs in its own context - a situation in which Jaime quite conceivably was all that stood between the forces of the opposition and the death of the king. Under those circumstances, Jaime should have died before he let his king fall into enemy hands. He certainly should have died himself before he let his king die. That, if anything, is what Ned means when he says that Jaime had sworn "to protect his king's life with his own."

In contrast, it is not clear that the KG knights at the tower of joy were confronted with anything like a similar scenario. As far as anyone knows, their king was dead - and they'd never even had a chance to protect him. So in that sense, it's difficult to argue with confidence that Ned's assessment of Jaime's character provides a model for understanding the respect he continues to hold for Arthur Dayne.

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Seems to me that Ned's statement about Jaime belongs in its own context - a situation in which Jaime quite conceivably was all that stood between the forces of the opposition and the death of the king. Under those circumstances, Jaime should have died before he let his king fall into enemy hands. He certainly should have died himself before he let his king die. That, if anything, is what Ned means when he says that Jaime had sworn "to protect his king's life with his own."

In contrast, it is not clear that the KG knights at the tower of joy were confronted with anything like a similar scenario. As far as anyone knows, their king was dead - and they'd never even had a chance to protect him. So in that sense, it's difficult to argue with confidence that Ned's assessment of Jaime's character provides a model for understanding the respect he continues to hold for Arthur Dayne.

They have a king, the king is dead, long live the king.

Now, the finding of that king is a mystery . . . Oh, wait we know that it is not Viserys, they are not asking Ned's terms to let them go to Dragonstone. It is not Rhaella, again no questions about making a trip. Where is their king? Since they must be true to their Kingsguard vow for Ned to think so highly of them. A shining example for the rest of the world. Ned knows, but it is treason and his head is forfeit should anyone find out.

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Seems to me that Ned's statement about Jaime belongs in its own context - a situation in which Jaime quite conceivably was all that stood between the forces of the opposition and the death of the king. Under those circumstances, Jaime should have died before he let his king fall into enemy hands. He certainly should have died himself before he let his king die. That, if anything, is what Ned means when he says that Jaime had sworn "to protect his king's life with his own."

In contrast, it is not clear that the KG knights at the tower of joy were confronted with anything like a similar scenario. As far as anyone knows, their king was dead - and they'd never even had a chance to protect him. So in that sense, it's difficult to argue with confidence that Ned's assessment of Jaime's character provides a model for understanding the respect he continues to hold for Arthur Dayne.

This. Every KG but Jaime, fulfilled their vows in some way.

Lewyn and Darry died on the Trident fighting for their prince and king, Barristan was severely injured doing the same and was taken prisoner by rebel forces, and Dayne, Hightower, and Whent were at the TOJ either obeying an order to be there, or protecting a member of the royal family (assuming R+L=J and Jon is legitimate).

Jaime on the other hand's only job was to protect the king in his case, and he instead killed him before the enemy forces even got into the castle. He went against every vow, while the other 6 did their best to fulfill theirs.

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Seems to me that Ned's statement about Jaime belongs in its own context - a situation in which Jaime quite conceivably was all that stood between the forces of the opposition and the death of the king. Under those circumstances, Jaime should have died before he let his king fall into enemy hands. He certainly should have died himself before he let his king die. That, if anything, is what Ned means when he says that Jaime had sworn "to protect his king's life with his own."

In contrast, it is not clear that the KG knights at the tower of joy were confronted with anything like a similar scenario. As far as anyone knows, their king was dead - and they'd never even had a chance to protect him. So in that sense, it's difficult to argue with confidence that Ned's assessment of Jaime's character provides a model for understanding the respect he continues to hold for Arthur Dayne.

Text wise, it is almost all we have with regards to Ned talking about the KG, so it does demand some analysis and some weight.

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Produce the full quote. I know exactly which one it is, and GRRM's first sentence is that the Kignsguard vow to protect the king, then goes on to say that they promise to obey the king's orders, and if Rhaegar told them to do something they would do it. If one thinks about it, Rhaegar is not the king, interesting that GRRM says that they would follow his orders. Would they kill the king, if Rhaegar told them to do it? Obviously they don't follow Rhaegar's orders. Barristan tells us the first duty is to protect and defend the king. Jaime says the Kingsguard vow is to protect and defend the king. Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own."

What really matters in the dream is what Ned believes. So, where are you getting that it means something else, from Ned's perspective?

What would happen if a king's mother (let's call her Cersei) ordered the Lord Commander of the kingsguard (let's call him Barristan) to stop guarding the king and retire. Would Barristan obey the order?

Or perhaps it isn't the order.

"The Kingsguard is a sworn brotherhood. Our vows are taken for life. Only death may relieve the Lord Commander of his sacred trust."

"Whose death, Ser Barristan? The queen's voice was soft as silk, but her words carried the whole length of the hall. "Yours, or your king's?"

That gets interesting when you read it along with this:

"I swore an oath!"

"To Joffrey, not to Tommen."

"Aye ..."

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What would happen if a king's mother (let's call her Cersei) ordered the Lord Commander of the kingsguard (let's call him Barristan) to stop guarding the king and retire. Would Barristan obey the order?

It was backed by the king, Joffrey.

If the king kicks you out, then there's not a whole hell of a lot you can do at that point.

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Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own." That is what Ned believes the Kingsguard vow is. It is a direct quote.

Seriously if it wasn't you, a poster who I generally respect, at this point I'd think you were trolling. Ned is talking about a specific point of Jaime's behaviour. You can't possibly be concluding from that statement that Ned must necessarily have been ignorant of the possibility that Kingsguard are capable of making other vows?

What matters in the tower of joy sequence is what Ned understands it to mean. Ned understands it to mean protect the king's life with his own. If you think otherwise provide evidence. Otherwise words are indeed wind.

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.

NOT "We swore a vow to protect the king". NOT "We swore a vow as Kingsguards" NOT "We swore the Kingsguard vows".

When you say that vow must refer to the Kingsguard vow, you are presuming something. You even say it here:

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.

The Lord Commander is citing the Kingsguard’s vow as the reason that they must stay. He has decided that all three would remain, and we must presume that the reason is to protect the king. Several things contribute to this conclusion:

"We must presume". You are making the presumption. You need to validate the presumption, the onus is not on other people to disprove it. You give several reasons following this paragraph to believe that it is an extremely credible presumption, but that is not the same as proving it is true. Your conclusions do not preclude the possibility that they swore a vow to Rhaegar.

I cannot disprove your presumption, nor do I think it's necessarily wrong. I am merely saying that it is in doubt. The burden of proof is not on me, it's on you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

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I cannot disprove your presumption, nor do I think it's necessarily wrong. I am merely saying that it is in doubt. The burden of proof is not on me, it's on you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

What other reason can the White Bull have?

The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard has decided that all three would stay at the tower, and we know the primary duty of the Kingsguard is to see to the safety of the king. It seems quite logical to presume that the king is present.

I did give the proof in the analysis. Did you have anything that opposes it?

Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”

“Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.

The Kingsguard does not flee, then or now, because we swore a vow. It looks very straightforward to me. "We" the Kingsguard swore a vow to protect and defend the king, dying for him if need be, so we will not flee to Dragonstone to be with Prince Viserys and Queen Rhaella, as we would not have before King Aerys was slain.

Ser Gerold says, "The Kingsguard does not flee." he explained, "We swore a vow."

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Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own." That is what Ned believes the Kingsguard vow is. It is a direct quote.

Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own." We know this, since Ned says it directly to Robert. Not a vow, the Kingsguard vow.

Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own." I am dismissing all the made up crap. Show me where Ned says that it is anything else.

Ned says: "[Jaime] swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own." Jaime says "protect and defend the king." GRRM says that they vow to protect the king and the royal family. Then he goes on to mention promises to obey, etc. It would be silly for GRRM to create his mystery, then outright give it away with an unsullied answer.

What matters in the tower of joy sequence is what Ned understands it to mean. Ned understands it to mean protect the king's life with his own. If you think otherwise provide evidence. Otherwise words are indeed wind.

Ned gets a little more specific later on about Jaime's vow. Ned thinks: "He remembered Jaime Lannister, a golden youth in scaled white armor, kneeling on the grass in front of the king's pavilion and making his vows to protect and defend King Aerys."

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Not at all, you are making unsubstantiated suggestions that it is otherwise. It is not otherwise, it is deliberately in the tower of joy sequence to show that the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is by the book loyal to King Aerys, mad or not.

And I'm not questioning the loyalty, at all. I'm saying that being loyal to a person =/= from always following that person's orders over that of another. As in, being loyal to Aerys doesn't exclude following Rhaegar's orders.

To me, Gerold Hightower expressing loyalty toward Aerys actually proves little, because being loyal to the King and being loyal to the Crown Prince are not mutually exclusive. Even, when they stand in apparent conflict with each other.

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Text wise, it is almost all we have with regards to Ned talking about the KG, so it does demand some analysis and some weight.

I don't disagree with that. But each case (Ned's view of Jaime, Arthur) can be weighed and analyzed on its own merit, in light of its own context. And should be. It may be convenient for RLJ to hypothesize that the scenarios confronted by Arthur and Jaime were similar, but it's hardly necessary. And it's anything but certain.

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To me, Gerold Hightower expressing loyalty toward Aerys actually proves little, because being loyal to the King and being loyal to the Crown Prince are not mutually exclusive. Even, when they stand in apparent conflict with each other.

I'm very much in agreement here, Greymoon - and believe it's a good point.

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I'd like to see some quotes where "serve" is being repeatedly emphasized in the text. Unless I get the word count, I'm still going with "die for the king" as the most common phrase reflecting what an ideal KG is supposed to do.

Okay, here is a small sample.

"If the queen had commanded me to protect Hizdahr, I would have no choice but to obey."

"When you donned that white cloak, you promised to obey [Rhaegar]."

"Baelor took that calmly. 'My brother erred when he demanded that the Kingsguard fight for his son.'"

"Ser Barristan Selmy was the first to answer the summons, immaculate in white cloak and enameled scales. 'My lords,' he said, 'my place is beside the young king now. Pray give me leave to attend him.' 'Your place is here, Ser Baristan,' Ned told him."

"The white knights were sworn to obey the king's commands as well . . . "

"Lord Larys gave the order [for 2 kingsguard knights to leave King Aegon II in the care of a "bastard knight."]"

"The knights of the kingsguard are sworn to keep the king's secrets."

"Yes, the man was old, but the name of Barristan the Bold still has meaning in the realm. He lent honor to any man he served."

"I took Robert's pardon, aye. I served him in Kingsguard and counsel. Served with the Kingslayer and others near as bad, who soiled the white cloak I wore. Nothing will excuse that. I might be serving in King's Landing still if the vile boy on the upon the Iron throne had not cast me aside, it shames me to admit."

"Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm. There were only seven of them, and they wore white armor and had no wives or children, but but lived only to serve the king."

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Ned's recurring dream, so it is not just a fever dream. It is recurring, and it holds deep meaning for Ned. It makes sense to Ned. It is a source of grief for Ned. He killed three of the finest knights he had ever known, one of them Ned says was the best of all, Ser Arthur Dayne.

Ned and his friends arrive at the tower, as they had in life. This dream is based upon real events. This actually occurred, but the dialog seems to be paraphrased in Ned's memory. He vividly remembers the three Kingsguard, though. The conversation must have a deep meaning for Ned.

The only vow that we can be sure that Ned knows is the vow that Kingsguard take before receiving their white cloak. Jaime and others tell us that it is to protect and defend the king, dying for him, if need be. There are also some ancillary promises, but the first priority is given as protection and defense of the crown, all other promises descend from that.

"I looked for you on the Trident,” Ned said to them.
Ned knew about Prince Lewyn Martell and Ser Jonothor Darry dying at the Trident. He knew about Ser Barristan Selmy slaying twelve of his and Robert’s friends before being wounded so severely that he may have died without Robert sending his own maester to tend to Selmy’s wounds. He knew that Ser Jaime Lannister had been in the Red Keep during the battle. He expected to see these three at the Trident, too.

“We were not there,” Ser Gerold answered.
From the app we know that Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Oswell Whent are with Prince Rhaegar when Lyanna enters the company of the prince. There is no surprise about events on the Trident expressed by any of these three. Evidently they are aware of the battle, and the outcome.

“Woe to the Usurper if we had been,” said Ser Oswell.
This states that Robert is considered an usurper by these Kingsguard, or at least by Ser Oswell Whent. He does use the term "we" and implies that Robert could not have won the battle at the Trident if these three had been present at the battle. They know that Robert has been crowned and taken the throne as an usurper. This also tells us that they know of an heir that is still living that has a better claim than Robert.

“When King's Landing fell, Ser Jaime slew your king with a golden sword, and I wondered where you were.”
Ned relays that King's Landing has fallen and King Aerys is dead by Jaime’s hand. Ned knows that the primary duty of the Kingsguard is to protect and defend the king. He wonders why it is that these three Kingsguard were not with King Aerys when King’s Landing fell.

“Far away,” Ser Gerold said, “or Aerys would yet sit the Iron Throne, and our false brother would burn in seven hells.”
Ser Gerold Hightower condemns Jaime as a Oathbreaker, and implies that he or one of these others would certainly kill Jaime rather than let him slay the king if they had been present. Ser Gerold is expressing his support for King Aerys. He also relays that when Jaime slew Aerys that none of the three had been in a position to react, they were too far away.

“I came down on Storm's End to lift the siege,” Ned told them, and the Lords Tyrell and Redwyne dipped their banners, and all their knights bent the knee to pledge us fealty. I was certain you would be among them.”
Ned tells them that all remaining forces surrendered to him, and pledged fealty to Robert and Ned. He expected to find the last of the Kingsguard with these forces, but again was surprised to note that they were not. This is an invitation for these Kingsguard to surrender to him.

“Our knees do not bend easily,” said Ser Arthur Dayne.
Ser Arthur Dayne speaks for the group, and says that they will not surrender. Of note, when Ned approaches the tower Ser Oswell Whent is on his knee. That fact and this line can amount to a subtle clue that the Kingsguard have already bent their knees at the tower, before Ned arrives.

“Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.”
Ned has offered the Kingsguard the option of surrendering to him, which they rejected. This line is disjointed in the timeline because Ned is changing his tactic. He holds the Kingsguard, especially these three in high regard, even years later. He called them a shining example to the rest of the world. In an attempt to find some talking point that would lead to a peaceful solution, Ned tells them that their queen and prince have fled to Dragonstone without Kingsguard protection. This is an opening for the Kingsguard to discuss a tactical withdrawal. It is within Ned’s capabilities, as second in command, to provide safe passage. It would be in his, his friend’s and the Kingsguard’s best interests to allow them to go to Dragontsone to carry out their duties there.

“Ser Willem is a good man and true,” said Ser Oswell.
Ser Willem Darry is a brother to Ser Jonothor Darry of the Kingsguard, and known well to these members of the Kingsguard. They are admitting that they know that "Prince" Viserys is without a Kingsguard. They have ignored the insult of labeling Viserys as a prince, when he should be considered the king.

“But not of the Kingsguard,” Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”
On the night that news of the Trident arrived at King's Landing Aerys ordered that Rhaella and Viserys be taken to Dragonstone for their safety, as it appeared that King's Landing would shortly be under siege. Jaime was the only Kingsguard in King's Landing so Ser Willem Darry was drafted to protect the royal family members, while Jaime remained with King Aerys, Elia, and her children.

The Lord Commander recognizes that Ser Willem Darry is not Kingsguard, thus the queen and prince Viserys are not currently under Kingsguard protection. Taken together with Ned’s statement, it is easy to see that Ser Gerold Hightower sees leaving King Aerys' side at King’s Landing as fleeing from his duty, even if it was to protect Queen Rhaella and Prince Viserys.

If the Red Keep falls, and Aerys dies then Viserys was safe as long as he could stay alive on Dragonstone. The majority of the fighting men had gone with Rhaegar, and mustering enough men to defend the city or just the Red Keep may be difficult. Without a Kingsguard to protect them Darry, Viserys and Daenerys are nearly captured and turned over to Robert. They manage to escape just before Dragonstone surrenders.

“Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.
Arthur reiterates that the Kingsguard would have chosen to stay in King's Landing over fleeing with Rhaella and Viserys. The primary duty of the Kingsguard is to protect and defend the king, they would choose to stay with King Aerys (then) as Rhaella and Viserys flee King's Landing. It appears that these three Kingsguard have decided that they have an obligation, by their vow, to stay to protect and defend someone at the tower (now).

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.
The Lord Commander is citing the Kingsguard’s vow as the reason that they must stay. He has decided that all three would remain, to protect the king. Several things contribute to this conclusion:

  • The White Bull, as Ser Gerold is known, is quite the stickler when it comes to the comport of Kingsguard duties.
  • Ser Gerold does not have a friendship with Rhaegar that would favor this decision.
  • Ser Gerold has already stated that he would slay Jaime to protect Aerys.
  • Ser Gerold’s decision to keep Arthur and Oswell with him only protects the king (the primary purpose of the Kingsguard) if the king is present at the tower.
  • Ned knows that these men were honoring their Kingsguard vow. There is no other vow that Ned is ever aware of. He thinks of these three as the epitome of honor and skill. A shining example for the world.

We have Ned's interpretation of the Kingsguard's vow: His sword helped taint the throne you sit on, Ned thought, but did not permit the words to pass his lips. "He swore a vow to protect his king's life with his own. Then he opened that king's throat with a sword." Reading these three statements, with Ned's understanding we have: The Kingsguard does not flee (from its duty to protect King Aerys) then or (from its duty to protect Jon) now, because (explained) we swore a vow to protect our king's life with our own; puts things in a very clear light.

Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.
GRRM has confirmed that with equal equipment Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Arthur Dayne are a close match, with Dawn in hand Ser Arthur is superior. Ser Barristan single-handedly rescued King Aerys from captivity at Duskendale. Ser Jaime Lannister expresses his awe at the defeat of the Kingswood Brotherhood and the Smiling Knight, who was slain by Ser Arthur. In the screenplay Jaime slays a dozen men before being subdued at the battle of the Whispering Woods. Kingsguard practice daily among themselves.

One of the seven is a crannogman, not known for fighting skill. Another is Ethan Glover, recently released from the Black Cells, and likely weak as well as just being Brandon's squire. It seems that even facing the odds that they do, the Kingsguard should prevail. Something odd happened, and I really look forward to GRRM telling us about it.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.
The most important (first) battle of the Jon Targaryen dynasty. The mindset of the Kingsguard is that they will win the battle, and keep the secret at the tower safe until they can move to safety. There is nothing here that would indicate any fatalism on the part of Arthur. It suggests that Arthur expects to win, though we know with hindsight that they did not, and that at least Ned and Howland are aware of the secret.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.”
Ned knows the outcome, and he regrets that he had to kill the three finest knights in the kingdom, even years later. If Lyanna had been kidnapped or mistreated while they were present Ned would not have that favorable view of these men. These three Kingsguard are undoubtedly living up to their "vow to guard the king", in Hightower's own words, to gain Ned's greatest respect. As fate has it, because these men were so honorable, on both sides of this meeting, they were fated to fight to the bitter end, for honor’s sake.


We also have the text of the white book about Ser Gerold Hightower from the screenplay.

Dispatched by King Areys to locate the crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in the wake of Robert Baratheon's rebellion. Died in the Red Mountains of Dorne alongside his sworn brothers, Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Oswell Whent. After refusing to bow to the new King, Robert Baratheon, all three were defeated by a small force led by Eddard Stark of Winterfell.

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