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Damsel in Distress

Failure Analysis: Ned and Robb

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I posted a topic called "SWOT Analysis" last year.  We analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of one team.  Today, I want to present to you a similar topic but with a narrower scope.  We will analyze what led to the failure and what the team leader could have done differently.  Doing things differently is not guaranteed to bring different results but it may increase the probability of a better outcome.  It can also lead to a different but equally disastrous result.  A better outcome means "better for the character's interests" and it does not necessarily better for the overall good.  It may not necessarily lead to the greater good but it will at least be good from the point of view of the characters were are analyzing.  

  1. Ned Stark's plan to sneak out of King's Landing.  Sansa spilled the beans and revealed her father's plans to the worse person she could have possibly told.  What could Ned have done differently to avoid this, if anything?  By how much (significantly, not significant, etc.) would his chances of getting out increase if he were to follow your suggestion?
  2. Robb Stark's plan to lure the Lannisters into his trap.  Is there anything Robb could have done differently to avoid the strategy collapse they suffered?

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Why? It would change the story so drastically that it wouldn’t be A Song of Ice and Fire anymore. What’s the point of fan fiction? It will have no bearing on the story’s end. 

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1.  Ned planned on sending his daughters to the North, right before Jaime crippled him and killed Jory. If Ned simply never told Sansa that they're headed North, Sansa wouldn't rat him out. Or Ned could have not gone with Petyr to Jon Arryns whore house. These actions would save Eddard momentarily, but probably not Robert. In truth, Eddard was a dead man the minute Robert asked for Sansas hand in the Winterfell tombs. 

2. Robb did pretty well trapping Lannisters, it was just getting trapped by Walder that did him in. Robb's war was Robb vs the world, and somehow it was going swimmingly until Ramsay made an appearance.  Robb's enemies were too numerous, and Ramsay too lucky for Robb to both defeat his southron enemies and keep his kingdom in Stark hands.

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5 hours ago, Damsel in Distress said:

 

  1. Ned Stark's plan to sneak out of King's Landing.  Sansa spilled the beans and revealed her father's plans to the worse person she could have possibly told.  What could Ned have done differently to avoid this, if anything?  By how much (significantly, not significant, etc.) would his chances of getting out increase if he were to follow your suggestion?
  2. Robb Stark's plan to lure the Lannisters into his trap.  Is there anything Robb could have done differently to avoid the strategy collapse they suffered?

The failures of these two characters, one main, one supporting are there specifically to go against two very popular tropes in fantasy writing.
1: The semi recluse's old friend is killed and now the recluse has to leave comfort to avenge his friend 
2: The son of the hero rising up to avenge his murdered father

GRRM hates these plots, so he specifically set them in motion to have them fail so there is literally nothing either character could have done to make the outcome better. They were doomed from the beginning. Accept this and enjoy the books for what they are. If you dislike them, write your own where you can use the old tropes at will 

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Posted (edited)

1. Ned should have waited for his daughters to leave the city before confronting Cersei (and frankly it's quite unbelievable that he didn't, I always thought that's an instance of cheating by GRRM). He would have still been taken prisoner but the Lannisters' position would have been much, much weaker.

2. No, I think Robb was doomed the moment he was declared king of the North and Riverlands.

Edited by Geddus

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1 hour ago, Geddus said:

No, I think Robb was doomed the moment he was declared king of the North and Riverlands.

Why specifically do you think this was Robb's point-of-no-return?

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2 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

The failures of these two characters, one main, one supporting are there specifically to go against two very popular tropes in fantasy writing.
1: The semi recluse's old friend is killed and now the recluse has to leave comfort to avenge his friend 
2: The son of the hero rising up to avenge his murdered father

GRRM hates these plots, so he specifically set them in motion to have them fail so there is literally nothing either character could have done to make the outcome better. They were doomed from the beginning. Accept this and enjoy the books for what they are. If you dislike them, write your own where you can use the old tropes at will 

What's that you like to say in similar scenarios?

Ah, I remember now, "BINGO"! :D

 

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Ned suffers from the same tunnel vision as Tywin and Doran.  They don't really know their own children.  A father close to his daughter would know Sansa can't be trusted with this kind of secret.  I don't blame Edmure for taking the fight to the Lannisters.  It is his call to make unless specific instructions were given.  It was risky to send detailed instructions but Robb should have done it anyway.  

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7 hours ago, Ylath's Snout said:

Why specifically do you think this was Robb's point-of-no-return?

Because as a king he had too many enemies. Also, because at that point he couldn't retreat back North without leaving half his kingdom unprotected.

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3 hours ago, Geddus said:

Also, because at that point he couldn't retreat back North without leaving half his kingdom unprotected.

Wouldn't he feel compelled to protect the Riverlands as a half-Tully anyway?

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For Ned,

not going with the initial plan of sending Cat and kids to Lysa.

Sansa-Joff betrothal instead of Robb-Myrcella or a double one.

Bringing ice along.

Not returning North when Darry happens.

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Loose lips sinking ships and all.  Ned might have done better to keep his mouth shut.  Sansa will throw a tantrum but let's give her a strong dose of sedative to knock her out and have Fat Tommard carry her butt to the ship.  

We should look at Robb's war in terms of a military campaign.  Edmure's superior officer ordered him to stay put.  Edmure should have stayed put.  No explanation needed.  Normal people have a lot of discretion in doing business but the military is not the same.  Robb need not give an explanation.  He only had to tell Edmure to avoid engaging the enemy and that should have been enough.

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Ned should not have confronted Cersei about her bastards. I mean if she’s willing to commit treason by having them then what made him think she was just going to walk away..

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Ned and Robb suffer from the same problem - the inability to get in someone else's head. It is a major blind spot for these two.

You get the feeling Ned doesn't understand either of his daughters truly so it makes it very hard to get a judgement call on what they are going to do but of the two, despite Arya being the non-traditional one, Sansa is the most perplexing one to him. So, the best thing he could have done is bundle Sansa and Arya out of the city before either of them could talk to anyone at all, and waited until they were well, well, well out of reach before trying to expose the Lannisters. Had he done this not only would he have saved them from becoming potential hostages but, in hindsight,  he wouldn't have blurted all he knew to Cersei before Robert turned up on death's door.

With Robb, I kinda agree that there was no way he was going to win his war no matter what happened. Having said that his biggest issue was, y'know, not telling Edmure the plan. He didn't have to spell it out to him - simply be more direct with his instructions. Yet, again, the other aspect of this is again Robb's failure to understand those around him. Cat could have made things as clear to him as she did to us: Edmure is a slightly hot-headed and overall compassionate young man who cares for his people and would rather uselessly cram them into Riverrun than fail them, against better judgement. His actions were inevitable. Again, like Ned, Robb simply expects everyone to act like him (or at best, act like the resoundingly loyal Northern lords) rather than really considering the sort of people he is dealing with and their individual concerns.

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On 23/4/2018 at 0:08 PM, Ylath's Snout said:

Wouldn't he feel compelled to protect the Riverlands as a half-Tully anyway?

Yes, that's why he fought the Lannisters off in the first place. But they weren't his lands, no one could have faulted him for going back home once he'd done that.

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