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The Lady Titus

Stannis Baratheon, The Red Woman and Meaningless Sacrifices

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Does anyone find it strange that during Season 5 Stannis allowed Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen (his daughter) because his men were starving in the cold on the war front. This was not for some extended period of time however compared to the famed siege of Storm's end.

"The siege continued for the better part of a year, with the garrison having to eat their horses, dogs and cats, and were nearly forced to eat their own dead." http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Siege_of_Storm's_End

However when you watch the show before the sacrifice of Shireen the men still have meager soups they eat. Some still have dogs along the tents, there is winter game in the forests and a few horses. Now Stannis does give the order to kill them to eat but the conditions aren't as bad as the ones he faced during the siege not yet.

While he may have faced desertion he didn't try to follow any of Davos's advice and in fact he seemed to ignore it yet again in factor of Melisandre's mad whispering in his ears.

Now this may play into the choice that Azor Ahai had to make the sacrifice of one close to him. As well as the foreshadowing she made where Stannis will betray his family and those he loves.

But the way it is portrayed seems to cheapen both the character and the ideals that he stood for, his entire arc was his teetering on the edge of being a hero and being a villain. Each act could be justified in some way and so can the sacrificing of shireen. But the act itself doesn't cost, the lesson of death pays for life is not one that Stannis learns but his wife did and she to gave her life as penance for the one Melisandre took from her.

I think that Shireen's sacrifice did work, and help but Not Stannis and not in the way anyone may have thought. We have as an audience watched the strange magical progression from fire filled effigies, to leeches filled with king's blood, to a King's own daughter. There is something off about this "Red Woman", Melisandre has lied and deceived all those closest around her concerning her powers, her "foresight", and her Red God R'Hollor.

I think Melisandre has known from the day she came to Stannis offering him her gifts that Shireen would have to die. That Shireen would have to be sacrificed and everything leading up to it was nothing more than cheap parlor tricks.

I think she knew if she came with her offer that Stannis would refuse outright and probably have her executed or imprisoned. even if she used the line of fate and destiny. There is a greater plan to her works and a truth that will soon be revealed. She has spent the past seasons working Stannis up to the point, eroding his beliefs and ideals until he comes to see hers and to understand in a way that it must be done.

The connection of the leeches, the fires the blood of kings, moving the AA prophecy closer it seems towards Stannis.

Perhaps Melisandre is planning to use the blood magic, the death pays for life to save another? Perhaps she will use this life to wake a sleeping giant or a sleeping dragon.

Edit: Comment I made that I'm going to add in Here

I understand and do acknowledge that but it was done in a manner not conductive to the character. It felt like they missed a large portion of a potential plot point and the sacrifice of both death pays for life, and for waking dragons. (Could be Jon Snow there if R + L + J is to be believed).

IF Melisandre is actually correct in her prophecies/sight that Stannis is AA, he will have to continue the others works and replicate their actions. All of them. Which would Include the sacrifice of something treasured or beloved and to Stannis that was his only child. His daughter Shireen. Thematically they could have played it out more with his screen time the struggle, the great weight of the choice. Destiny or the one he loves.

These are the tropes that GRRM loves to twist and to turn on its head in fantasy. It would be a matter of Duty for Stannis but here it could have paralleled Jamie's war of duty and honor/ love with his murder and betrayal of the king he swore to obey and to guard.

There would be no Davos to save her like he could Gendry, and it also moves the plot forward on the AA prophecy even it is a potential red herring. Shireen's sacrifice is a better fit for Stannis in terms of following the AA legends and the meaning of the sacrifice.

As well as the emotional toll it would have on both the character and the audience. As well as foreshadowing for what is to come and for what has come. Not only the visions in Melisandre's flames but the love/affinity Shireen has for dragons (she does still have Targ blood after all so she would maybe be having dragon dreams like she does in the books on the show.)

With the prophecy in his mind and the weight of duty in Stannis's head heavy as any crown of gold the idea of the sacrifice could be shown to consume him. Scenes maybe of his men telling Davos their lord/king won't eat eh only stares into fires and then we see a few of those in the background if not the forefront. The main context for the Sacrifice of Shireen, could have been shown during Hardhome or a siege on his men when he left Castle Black by the wights and he saw the White Walkers/ Others.

Or they could have even waited until the wall fell before he was willing to do it. Could you imagine that moment where form Stanni's pov the wall exploding or breaking down and then turning to see Melisandres the only woman in red there in the night watching, waiting for his decision.

This would have worked better as the sacrifice in the AA mythos was directly connected to the war against the White Walkers. Not petty battles.

Here we would see Stannis's belief system entirely change in the face of events so supernatural that even he could not deny their existence. Nor could he stall any longer. This would show him that the sacrifice of his child, his only daughter was a necessary one for the survival of all humans.

This also moves the plot ahead and away from another pointless battle the Boltons somehow win; but it fits with the version of Stannis we have been shown up to this point. The Stannis we were told stories about holding a keep with starving men constantly under siege through day and night. Love is the death of duty and Stannis would be the only one of all the honorable knights and lords to actually follow through.

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9 hours ago, GrapefruitPerrier said:

The show was attempting to follow the books and as normal HBO went for shock value over a good storyline. Agree.

Thank you :) hope you enjoyed the read

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On ‎2016‎-‎03‎-‎13 at 2:56 AM, The Lady Titus said:

Does anyone find it strange that during Season 5 Stannis allowed Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen (his daughter) because his men were starving in the cold on the war front. This was not for some extended period of time however compared to the famed siege of Storm's end.

Now, I might confuse with the books, but I do not think the starving of the men was the main issue. Rather, it was the situation that the snow and cold made it impossible to march on. He needed a sacrifice to be able to move forward, to reach his objective (Winterfell) and in the end the Iron Throne (his destiny). And winter conditions require this decisions quickly, even a few days is enough for freezing starving men to die in contrast to "just" starvation as at Storm's end.

If it had gained his perceived destiny (or duty), he would have easily let his men freeze and starve to death (as he did at Storm's end). And of course, "winning" is a good way to partly redeem horrible actions; I think he would have been viewed somewhat more positive if he had beaten the Boltons (he "sacrificed" Shireen, the Boltons flay for sports).

 

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On 3/14/2016 at 7:38 AM, HMJ said:

Now, I might confuse with the books, but I do not think the starving of the men was the main issue. Rather, it was the situation that the snow and cold made it impossible to march on. He needed a sacrifice to be able to move forward, to reach his objective (Winterfell) and in the end the Iron Throne (his destiny). And winter conditions require this decisions quickly, even a few days is enough for freezing starving men to die in contrast to "just" starvation as at Storm's end.

If it had gained his perceived destiny (or duty), he would have easily let his men freeze and starve to death (as he did at Storm's end). And of course, "winning" is a good way to partly redeem horrible actions; I think he would have been viewed somewhat more positive if he had beaten the Boltons (he "sacrificed" Shireen, the Boltons flay for sports).

 

That is addressed where he didn't really need the sacrifice of Shireen just then but was pushed into it by Melisandre. 

And in the show at least it was the starving of the men, and the weather which was driving the morale down and leading to threatening talks of desertion. It also wasn't impossible to march on  it was the fact instead of listening to scouts or Davos Stannis was still listening to Selyse and Melisandre. 

I don't really agree with your second paragraph as it was his sense of duty to both his army and his prophecy of self belief in AA that he sacrificed his only daughter. At that point we saw half the army fled because if the man was willing to burn his own daughter was he willing to burn them to? In that moment there really was no redemption for Stannis even if he did manage to defeat the Boltons. 

Everyone that lived would remember the screams of that little girl.

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Well written. Good luck arguing with any of the show watchers. They believe this is "tragic" and "sad". Everything Stannis did was down right idiotic in the show. He didn't do one smart thing. Ever. That is clearly on the writing teams end.

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