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Lord Varys

[spoiler] How gray is Prince Daemon after all?

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The only redeemable quality of the man is whatever tied him and Nettles together. And that's nothing that adds enough *white* to his *blackness* to make him gray.

Everything else we learn about the man makes him utterly despicable. He has strong sadistic tendencies (likes to whip servants bloody, rape maidens, and torture criminals), he is a shitty husband, he craves power but cannot properly deal with it or take responsibility for his actions, he feigns affection for his niece and grooms her to be his lover/wife, her may have murdered his brother-in-law to marry said niece, he fights a pointless war on the Stepstones because he has nothing better to do, basically, he cuckolds the wife he sat on the throne, giving her 'great advice' like granting high seats to Hugh and Ulf or destroying great houses of Westeros.

In the end, he throws aways his life and abandons his wife and his children to the mercy of their enemies.

Oberyn Martell, the guy Daemon is supposedly based on, also had a cruel streak. But he cared for his family - his daughters, his paramour, and his brother - and he was working with and for them. He died a stupid death, too, but he had a point there. When Daemon killed Aemond he basically killed himself (two times, at that, if he died) considering that Aemond was basically just a one-eyed version of himself - and a guy he really had not many personal issues with as far as we know.

Oberyn fits the bill of a 'gray character'. Daemon doesn't.

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Switching devices:

1) Daemon died eliminating the only significant threat left facing his wife, sons, and daughters- only Caraxes stood a chance and he took down the last great dragon.

2) Daemon can't be judged by modern standards of morality in terms of his views on justice, rights regarding women, etc., because you can't tell me Aemond didn't like to torture people or that Viserys I, with his wild younger days, was a saint where women are concerned. It's a non sequitur in this context to judge one side as immoral when both sides are immoral.

3) Daemon was always opposed and considered a threat. Instead of viewing him as a waste, view him as someone that was a child prodigy that "older, wiser" heads thought needed to be "put in his place"- ensuring that instead of a lordship he received command of the city watch; and then horror of horrors, he turns it into an effective, professional organization (within the cultural context). Fine, they strip him of everything but his dragon- and he makes himself a king. You have to consider the man's deeds in context to the opposition he faced- I think that's George's perspective; and from that perspective Daemon didn't start fights, he finished them. And those who threw roadblocks in his way realized they'd made themselves his enemies.

 

That's a short summation, but c'mon. Victors write the histories. Daemon died for his children. Daemon threatened to raise the realm to make his BROTHER king. Daemon was a ruthlessly effective sinner who was loyal to his immediate family above all.

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Daemon appears to have mellowed with age(or at least become more focused in his ambitions), but he always was vicious, ruthless, and cruel. Its a bit of black humor, but his time with the Gold Cloaks makes him look like a Lawful Evil version Sam Vimes from Discworld. 

His interactions with Nettles are weird, like really weird, given his previous behavior. Makes me wonder if Nettles was actually his daughter instead of his lover, though its unlikely(and I wouldn't put it past Daemon to try and sleep with her regardless)

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6 minutes ago, Ran said:

GRRM feels he's very gray.

I listened to that. That's why are asked the question - do we agree with him? Do you agree with his assessment there? Is Daemon Targaryen the example you would give if somebody asked you what a gray character?

I'd not. I'd say a gray character has to have more white in it.

Daemon more fits that description:

Quote

And the vilest of men and the wickedest of women likewise may do good from time to time, for love and compassion and pity may be found in even the blackest of hearts.

But doing something good from time to time doesn't mean you are a gray character the way I'd understand that. Villains and the like a humans, they can have compassion and nice moments and all, but a gray character would be more a character who was conflicted, who tried to do his best but failed because his character, his temper, etc. interfered with him.

Daemon basically has nothing of that. In fact, I'd say Aemond turned out to be the better guy, being still young and much more controlled by his emotions than his cold and calculating uncle. The incident with Maris really helped to make Aemond more human.

10 minutes ago, BrainFireBob said:

So is this a discussion or a rant? Because that's a selective reading. 

It is supposed to be the beginning of discussion. At this point I honestly don't remember any good traits of Daemon's aside from the Nettles thing - assuming we see this as 'good' in a broader sense and not as something that made him feel good (which isn't the same).

6 minutes ago, BrainFireBob said:

Switching devices:

1) Daemon died eliminating the only significant threat left facing his wife, sons, and daughters- only Caraxes stood a chance and he took down the last great dragon.

Was this actually his motivation, though. Did he really want to do anything for his wife and his children there? That's not even hinted at in the text. And honestly, if there was somebody who was no immediate threat to Rhaenyra and her and Daemon's children it was Aemond. The man just burned some backwater castles and villages.

6 minutes ago, BrainFireBob said:

2) Daemon can't be judged by modern standards of morality in terms of his views on justice, rights regarding women, etc., because you can't tell me Aemond didn't like to torture people or that Viserys I, with his wild younger days, was a saint where women are concerned. It's a non sequitur in this context to judge one side as immoral when both sides are immoral.

This was not the intent. I merely asked whether he counts as a gray character within the framework of his story. Pointing out other people who may or may not have done bad things doesn't really help with that issue.

7 minutes ago, HamSandLich said:

His interactions with Nettles are weird, like really weird, given his previous behavior. Makes me wonder if Nettles was actually his daughter instead of his lover, though its unlikely(and I wouldn't put it past Daemon to try and sleep with her regardless)

As I laid out, I firmly believe she was his daughter and there was no affair there, but we don't have to discuss this here. I don't think whatever connected him and Nettles helps him to add more gray to the black there.

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Quote

 

Not Aemons- Vharaxes. Armond on Vharaxes was a threat. And how Daemon did it? No way he planned to survive. And if not to protect his children- just leave. 

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I have not gotten to the Dance in Fire and Blood yet, but I've read The Rogue Prince and The Princess and the Queen many times. One thing that I wonder about Daemon is what he was like as a father. All of his kids seemed to have turned out pretty well: I don't recall anything negative being said about his twin daughters (I'm guessing there's more on them in F&B), and I'm a fan of both Aegon III and Viserys II. Granted, I'm not sure he actually spent all that much time with his children, but it does pique my interest. 

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There is nothing on Daemon interacting with his two sons in FaB. Nothing at all. Jace uses Daemon's Pentoshi connections to get his half-brothers fostered there, but that's it.

On the daughters we have a little bit more, Gyldayn cites from a letter Ser Robert Quince wrote to Daemon in Harrenhal about Baela misbehaving. That's all. Baela is said to have inherited her father's character, but that we didn't need spelled out nor is it something that has anything to do with his relationship to his children.

And Aegon III didn't turn out well at all. He doesn't seem to be completely bad, but he is a singularly unlucky person, and he will most definitely not be a good king. If he is adequate and functional it won't be because of his great leadership abilities but because the people around him make his administration work - and force him to do stuff when it is necessary for him to take charge.

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42 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There is nothing on Daemon interacting with his two sons in FaB. Nothing at all. Jace uses Daemon's Pentoshi connections to get his half-brothers fostered there, but that's it.

On the daughters we have a little bit more, Gyldayn cites from a letter Ser Robert Quince wrote to Daemon in Harrenhal about Baela misbehaving. That's all. Baela is said to have inherited her father's character, but that we didn't need spelled out nor is it something that has anything to do with his relationship to his children.

And Aegon III didn't turn out well at all. He doesn't seem to be completely bad, but he is a singularly unlucky person, and he will most definitely not be a good king. If he is adequate and functional it won't be because of his great leadership abilities but because the people around him make his administration work - and force him to do stuff when it is necessary for him to take charge.

What I liked about Aegon III was his humility--his simple golden crown that his brother and Egg inherited, his comment about feeding the poor (and hiring a dancing bear), etc. After the selfishness of several previous Targaryen rulers, I appreciated his demureness. 

I also share Tyrion's controversial opinion that Viserys II was the best Hand and de-facto king that Westeros ever had, but that's just me. 

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9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The only redeemable quality of the man is whatever tied him and Nettles together. And that's nothing that adds enough *white* to his *blackness* to make him gray.

Everything else we learn about the man makes him utterly despicable. He has strong sadistic tendencies (likes to whip servants bloody, rape maidens, and torture criminals), he is a shitty husband, he craves power but cannot properly deal with it or take responsibility for his actions, he feigns affection for his niece and grooms her to be his lover/wife, her may have murdered his brother-in-law to marry said niece, he fights a pointless war on the Stepstones because he has nothing better to do, basically, he cuckolds the wife he sat on the throne, giving her 'great advice' like granting high seats to Hugh and Ulf or destroying great houses of Westeros.

In the end, he throws aways his life and abandons his wife and his children to the mercy of their enemies.

Oberyn Martell, the guy Daemon is supposedly based on, also had a cruel streak. But he cared for his family - his daughters, his paramour, and his brother - and he was working with and for them. He died a stupid death, too, but he had a point there. When Daemon killed Aemond he basically killed himself (two times, at that, if he died) considering that Aemond was basically just a one-eyed version of himself - and a guy he really had not many personal issues with as far as we know.

Oberyn fits the bill of a 'gray character'. Daemon doesn't.

Completely agree. Daemon is supposed to be 'light and dark in equal parts' but... we never see it? We see him degrade his first wife Rhea and her homeland the Vale all the time (but does try to steal said homeland once she's dead), jape about his infant nephew Baelon dying, child-grooming his 14-year-old-niece Rhaenyra, possibly murdering the son of his greatest ally Laenor, sending Blood and Cheese to kill a perfectly innocent 6-year-old Prince Jaehaerys, and to counter all that... what? What he did that made him a good person? The fact that he was beloved amongst Kingslanders and the City Watch? Well every murderer has loved ones, that doesn't make them any less of a murderer.  And him being a dragonrider and good with sword means nothing to me, wielding Dark Sister and being badass is no personality trait.

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15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The only redeemable quality of the man is whatever tied him and Nettles together. And that's nothing that adds enough *white* to his *blackness* to make him gray.

Everything else we learn about the man makes him utterly despicable. He has strong sadistic tendencies (likes to whip servants bloody, rape maidens, and torture criminals), he is a shitty husband, he craves power but cannot properly deal with it or take responsibility for his actions, he feigns affection for his niece and grooms her to be his lover/wife, her may have murdered his brother-in-law to marry said niece, he fights a pointless war on the Stepstones because he has nothing better to do, basically, he cuckolds the wife he sat on the throne, giving her 'great advice' like granting high seats to Hugh and Ulf or destroying great houses of Westeros.

In the end, he throws aways his life and abandons his wife and his children to the mercy of their enemies.

Oberyn Martell, the guy Daemon is supposedly based on, also had a cruel streak. But he cared for his family - his daughters, his paramour, and his brother - and he was working with and for them. He died a stupid death, too, but he had a point there. When Daemon killed Aemond he basically killed himself (two times, at that, if he died) considering that Aemond was basically just a one-eyed version of himself - and a guy he really had not many personal issues with as far as we know.

Oberyn fits the bill of a 'gray character'. Daemon doesn't.

Rhaenyra is much more of a grey character.

Daemon is more of a villain, albeit, an interesting villain.

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15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

 And honestly, if there was somebody who was no immediate threat to Rhaenyra and her and Daemon's children it was Aemond. The man just burned some backwater castles and villages.

No, he definitely was a major threat, due to his own ruthlessness, reputation as a warrior and to Vhagar. If Daemon didn't care about his family at all, he could have just left for Essos together with Nettles - I am sure that a lot of people there would have been glad to have 2 dragonriders as allies. Or Daemon could have even tried to seize power somewhere. Instead, he committed himself to a suicide mission that rid his family of their most dangerous enemy. If Rhaenyra had been more decisive and competent, that would have ensured a pretty much guaranteed win.

And well, the fact that Daemon didn't try to supplant or get rid of Rhaenyra's elder sons and apparently had a decent relationship with them both surprisingly and somewhat positive?

But overall, yea, he is pretty much a villain. Though not as villanious as he could have been - i.e. he didn't try to engineer Viserys's or Rhaenyra's deaths, nor those of Alicent's children, prior to Aemond killing Luke.

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28 minutes ago, Maia said:

No, he definitely was a major threat, due to his own ruthlessness, reputation as a warrior and to Vhagar. If Daemon didn't care about his family at all, he could have just left for Essos together with Nettles - I am sure that a lot of people there would have been glad to have 2 dragonriders as allies. Or Daemon could have even tried to seize power somewhere. Instead, he committed himself to a suicide mission that rid his family of their most dangerous enemy. If Rhaenyra had been more decisive and competent, that would have ensured a pretty much guaranteed win.

And well, the fact that Daemon didn't try to supplant or get rid of Rhaenyra's elder sons and apparently had a decent relationship with them both surprisingly and somewhat positive?

But overall, yea, he is pretty much a villain. Though not as villanious as he could have been - i.e. he didn't try to engineer Viserys's or Rhaenyra's deaths, nor those of Alicent's children, prior to Aemond killing Luke.

Murdering an infant in front of his mother escalated the cruelty significantly.  It went beyond tit for tat.

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9 hours ago, Alyssa of House Arryn said:

possibly murdering the son of his greatest ally Laenor

Let's not forget the Strongs - Daemon had the means and motives to kill both of them.

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I guess Daemon really is a cursed name, at least for Targaryens.  xD

I do find him an interesting character to read about, and the way he went out, in my opinion at least, has got to be one of the most badass things I've ever read about. But I certainly wouldn't have wanted to see him as King. 

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1 hour ago, Maia said:

No, he definitely was a major threat, due to his own ruthlessness, reputation as a warrior and to Vhagar. If Daemon didn't care about his family at all, he could have just left for Essos together with Nettles - I am sure that a lot of people there would have been glad to have 2 dragonriders as allies. Or Daemon could have even tried to seize power somewhere. Instead, he committed himself to a suicide mission that rid his family of their most dangerous enemy. If Rhaenyra had been more decisive and competent, that would have ensured a pretty much guaranteed win.

That's not how Rhaenyra Targaryen sees it:

Quote

“The queen wept when they told her how Ser Lorent died,” Mushroom testifies, “but she raged when she learned that Maidenpool had gone over to the foe, that the girl Nettles had escaped, that her own beloved consort had betrayed her, and she trembled when Lady Mysaria warned her against the coming dark, that this night would be worse than the last.

Apparently, Rhaenyra didn't see Daemon's actions as a noble sacrifice for herself and their children.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

And well, the fact that Daemon didn't try to supplant or get rid of Rhaenyra's elder sons and apparently had a decent relationship with them both surprisingly and somewhat positive?

That is not bad, but we should keep in mind that Rhaenyra was not yet on the Iron Throne. If I were Daemon, I'd take one step at a time.

2 hours ago, SeanF said:

Rhaenyra is much more of a grey character.

That is true. She becomes very much a tragic figure in the complete material.

1 hour ago, SeanF said:

Murdering an infant in front of his mother escalated the cruelty significantly.  It went beyond tit for tat.

Since we cannot pin down the actual planning of the Blood and Cheese episode to Daemon, I'd give him a pass there if his original goal was actually to have them kill Aegon II (or even Aemond). If he would have said go for Aegon's children I'd say it was most definitely not fair game. The only justification for such an assassination one can try is that the Blacks had to show they were still in the game and would not tolerate Aemond's blatant murder (although here I really like Maris Baratheon goading Aemond into killing Luke - that gave depth to Aemond and made the entire situation more tragic).

9 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Let's not forget the Strongs - Daemon had the means and motives to kill both of them.

The later career of Larys Strong very much implies that he may have been behind that one. Whether Daemon had the means to arrange a fire at Harrenhal is also difficult to determine. Killing Laenor would be rather easy by comparison. But to do stuff in Harrenhal one has to have connections there. Connections Larys Strong most definitely would have had.

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

The later career of Larys Strong very much implies that he may have been behind that one

On the contrary, Larys' later life very much implies that he was not. Larys is consequently proven to be unconcerned with Harrenhall or trappings of lordship in general. Daemon on the other hand had proven criminal connections, dabbled in assassinations and had strong reasons to murder both Harwin and Lyonel.

Harwin was a potential witness against Rhaenyra - nothing like a sour favorite to spoil Daemon's entire scheme. He was also walking talking proof against Strong boys - which is why he was sent away in the first place.

Lyonel advised Viserys to take Damon's head for trying to seduce Rhaenyra. Lyonel - who has risen to the Hand since then - would be an unwanted risk in Daemon's scheme to seduce Rhaenyra once again. And if Harwin looked anything like his old man, Lyonel's mug would be for all the court to see. Quite problematic in the light of a strong controversy.

Having crippled sickly Clubfoot as the only official Strong around would be much more acceptable in terms of optics.

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34 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

On the contrary, Larys' later life very much implies that he was not. Larys is consequently proven to be unconcerned with Harrenhall or trappings of lordship in general.

That is not so. Larys Strong was the Lord of Harrenhal. You don't have to be at Harrenhal to enjoy being its lord as another master schemer can tell you.

34 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Daemon on the other hand had proven criminal connections, dabbled in assassinations and had strong reasons to murder both Harwin and Lyonel.

He is cited as one suspect. King Viserys himself and Larys Strong are the other cited suspects. And Larys is the one who makes the most sense. Viserys is not the type to murder someone, especially not the son of a man he greatly relied upon (and risking his death in the process). Daemon has little reason to do anything because Laenor is the one who had to go to marry Rhaenyra, and Harwin wasn't really an obstacle to that. And then Viserys conveniently removed him from Dragonstone.

But, who knows? Perhaps the whole thing was just an accident. Accidents do happen, after all.

34 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Harwin was a potential witness against Rhaenyra - nothing like a sour favorite to spoil Daemon's entire scheme. He was also walking talking proof against Strong boys - which is why he was sent away in the first place.

He was? Do you know whether Ser Harwin had brown hair and a pug nose? Lucamore Strong, the only Strong whose hair color we have, was blond...

And considering that Harwin actually attended the births of Rhaenyra's sons we can be reasonable certain he did not want to spill the beans - if there was anything to spill there. It would have gotten him killed if did it, anyway.

34 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Lyonel advised Viserys to take Damon's head for trying to seduce Rhaenyra. Lyonel - who has risen to the Hand since then - would be an unwanted risk in Daemon's scheme to seduce Rhaenyra once again. And if Harwin looked anything like his old man, Lyonel's mug would be for all the court to see. Quite problematic in the light of a strong controversy.

Not sure where you are getting this from. That's nowhere in the text. Lyonel was in KL, Daemon on Driftmark and Rhaenyra on Dragonstone. The Hand had no means to interfere with Rhaenyra and Daemon and their sex life. In fact, considering that Rhaenyra gave birth to Aegon the Younger still in 120 AC, chances are very high indeed that she was already pregnant when Harrenhal burned.

34 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Having crippled sickly Clubfoot as the only official Strong around would be much more acceptable in terms of optics.

Not if the guy had brown hair and a pug nose, no ;-)?

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