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@Ran

People grouse because they care about the setting.

1. GRRM has yet to give us an example of a "bad man who was a good king", which was what I was specifically talking about with regards to the Targaryens.

2. When you add on top of Ser Olyver Lothar, Lord Bracken during the reign of Aegon IV, Barba, and Jonos it becomes clear that they are his go-to punching bag. Same with the Peakes, who are always shown to be singularly unpleasant for the most part.

3. GRRM's complaints ring hollow to me because Tolkien never intended LOTR to be about those things. Honestly, by his standards, I should be bitter about how everyone in Westeros speaks the Common Tongue when just across the Narrow Sea the Free Cities follow realistic linguistic patterns.

4. Yet the North is always talked about as being a harsh place where the frivolous pleasantries of the south are held in disdain and we are given examples of that both when Sansa recalls a single singer coming to Winterfell in her childhood and Alaric telling Alysanne in the past that she won't find any masques or balls or dances at Winterfell.

5. Its not just Aegon II though. Borros Baratheon, Criston Cole, Aemond, etc. are all shown to be both unpleasant and/or incompetent. Furthermore, when only one side commits atrocities that makes things far less dramatic and interesting.

@Lord Varys

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

@Ran

People grouse because they care about the setting.

1. GRRM has yet to give us an example of a "bad man who was a good king", which was what I was specifically talking about with regards to the Targaryens.

Tywin Lannister is, by modern standards, a bad person but a great Hand. As to the Targaryens, the argument can certainly be made that Maegor was a monstrous person, but the main threats that faced the Targaryen dynasty were crushed through his efforts, whereas his all-together nicer and more humane brother led the family to the edge of ruin. That's not the same as saying he was a good king, but it's certainly the case that George has had no problem showing decent Targaryens being bad kings.

 

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

2. When you add on top of Ser Olyver Lothar, Lord Bracken during the reign of Aegon IV, Barba, and Jonos it becomes clear that they are his go-to punching bag. Same with the Peakes, who are always shown to be singularly unpleasant for the most part.

I'm not sure they're punching-bags, so much as examples of ambitious families. I don't even see how Jonos Bracken is a "punching bag", since he's on the winning side of the war, and there's plenty of perfectly decent people who switched sides (as most of those riverlords have done). Is he personally unsympathetic? I don't know, he's gruff and hard-nosed, but he clearly suffered loses, including seeing his ancestral seat burned out and his alleged son killed, and GRRM takes the time to mention these things as part and parcel of who he is. 

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

3. GRRM's complaints ring hollow to me because Tolkien never intended LOTR to be about those things. Honestly, by his standards, I should be bitter about how everyone in Westeros speaks the Common Tongue when just across the Narrow Sea the Free Cities follow realistic linguistic patterns.

I'm not sure that's "his standards". He's interested in medieval culture and governance, not language. Tolkien was much more interested in language and much less interested in governance. It's absolutely the case that he acknowledges that he's lacking on the linguistic side and has kept things simple for the sake of his sanity. But the important thing for him, when Aragorn became King, was what that actually meant for Gondor, not whatever language they were speaking during his reign. And I think most people, reading histories of the Middle Ages, tend to be more interested in the details of the events and dramas and cultural complexities, the way they fed into the intrigues and the systems of political and culture power, than they are in having a breakdown of the various languages being spoken during these things.

Do many people read histories of, say, the Norman conquest of Sicily, and go, "Man, there's not enough about the languages and the process of socio-cultural negotiation over their boundaries in this book!"? So as far as that goes, George is definitely speaking for a broader slice of readers than those who want to see close scrutiny of linguistic matters. 

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

4. Yet the North is always talked about as being a harsh place where the frivolous pleasantries of the south are held in disdain and we are given examples of that both when Sansa recalls a single singer coming to Winterfell in her childhood and Alaric telling Alysanne in the past that she won't find any masques or balls or dances at Winterfell. 

Based on the account of a southron archmaester who keeps calling the northmen "savage", I don't think you need to take that all too seriously. At worst, it reflects that Alaric is a crabby, joyless skinflint.

 

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3 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

1. GRRM has yet to give us an example of a "bad man who was a good king", which was what I was specifically talking about with regards to the Targaryens.

He gives us such a guy in Stannis in the books, no? And in a sense also with Tywin who most definitely was a great king in all but name but still one of the worst people the books have to offer on a personal level.

Gyldayn talks about villains doing good and good men doing evil things in FaB, but he doesn't talk in detail about bad people being good kings. I for one would say that this only works under very special circumstances - say, if you are people with a lot of personal issues but determined to do this 'ruling thing' right. That's basically Stannis, and perhaps later on also Aegon III and Maekar, people who may have ambitions and personal problems but who are determined to not allow them to interfere all that much with what they see as the duties of a king.

But if we are actually talking about bad people then many and more of them would actually not care about being good kings - and that's Maegor the Cruel, Aegon II, Aegon IV, Aerys II, etc.

Good men as such can also be bad kings - like Robert, if one want to call him 'good' (I wouldn't), or Aenys or, in certain parts, Viserys I - but that's then mostly due to a character flaw not because they don't want to be good kings. Bad people rarely have a good motivation to be good kings.

3 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

2. When you add on top of Ser Olyver Lothar, Lord Bracken during the reign of Aegon IV, Barba, and Jonos it becomes clear that they are his go-to punching bag. Same with the Peakes, who are always shown to be singularly unpleasant for the most part.

Not sure what your issue with Jonos Bracken is. I don't think that guy is all that unpleasant, nor do I think Tytos Blackwood is a great guy. They are just people.

And the Peakes, well, we actually only have met two male Peakes of note to this day - Unwin and Gormon. The others are basically extras. Could just as well complain that there are no evil Starks, no mentally healthy Cleganes, no non-psychopathic Baelishes, etc.

3 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

3. GRRM's complaints ring hollow to me because Tolkien never intended LOTR to be about those things. Honestly, by his standards, I should be bitter about how everyone in Westeros speaks the Common Tongue when just across the Narrow Sea the Free Cities follow realistic linguistic patterns.

He dropped the ball there, just as he did about a lot of things. The idea that the Free Cities and Westeros are so heavily intertwined economically but have had no significant military clashes that we know of is about as likely as England and France getting along well throughout the middle ages...

But a lot of such things can't be helped considering they have been established as facts since the beginning of the series.

3 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

4. Yet the North is always talked about as being a harsh place where the frivolous pleasantries of the south are held in disdain and we are given examples of that both when Sansa recalls a single singer coming to Winterfell in her childhood and Alaric telling Alysanne in the past that she won't find any masques or balls or dances at Winterfell.

@Lord Varys

That life in the North is unpleasant and basically down to the bare necessities is well established in the series. A family who constantly reminds everyone that they are going to die (with the 'Winter is coming' motto) is per definition not likely to focus strongly on the pleasantries of life.

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@Ran

1. We do see good men can be bad kings but never the reverse, which you seem to be admitting is the case if I understand your post correctly.

2. They come off that way to me because the Blackwoods by comparison are always so much nicer (Agnes, Melissa, Tytos).

3. Again he's complaining about something the author never intended to focus on. Beyond that we actually do get a bit on Aragorn's reign. He successfully warred and then made peace with the Easterlings in alliance with the Rohirrim, rebuilt the capital of Arnor, gave Mordor over to its slave inhabitants, made Ghan-buri-Ghan's lands a protectorate free of outside intervention, forbade men from entering the Shire and obeyed that law himself, among a few other things.

4. Maybe but we're never shown in ASOIAF through flashbacks or in F & B or TWOIAF that the North has much of a courtly culture, which realistically it should have in spite of how harsh life up there is.

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Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

@Ran

1. We do see good men can be bad kings but never the reverse, which you seem to be admitting is the case if I understand your post correctly.

I cited Tywin as a bad person who was a great ruler. I don't think George was limiting himself to Targaryens in his quote. I don't think he's also obligated to immediately provide you a character that fits your particular ideas of what a quote of his meant.

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

2. They come off that way to me because the Blackwoods by comparison are always so much nicer (Agnes, Melissa, Tytos).

To you. That's fine. I think you may need to realize that not everyone sees things the way you do.

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

3. Again he's complaining about something the author never intended to focus on. Beyond that we actually do get a bit on Aragorn's reign. He successfully warred and then made peace with the Easterlings in alliance with the Rohirrim, rebuilt the capital of Arnor, gave Mordor over to its slave inhabitants, made Ghan-buri-Ghan's lands a protectorate free of outside intervention, forbade men from entering the Shire and obeyed that law himself, among a few other things.

Which is all quite high-level stuff and not the kind of thing George is talking about.

Just now, The Grey Wolf said:

4. Maybe but we're never shown in ASOIAF through flashbacksx

We're shown it in the harvest feast that I already mentioned to you. It has a different character than the wedding feasts down south, but it's still courtly culture, with music and all.

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I have another question: Do we even met any Blackwood that was worse than their Bracken counterpart?

We have Agnes, Royce, Benjicot, Alysanne, Melissa, Bloodraven, Betha and Tytos. They all seem too perfect by comparing them to Lothar, Olyver, Barba, Bethany, Bittersteel and Jonos.

 

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Bloodraven is essentially an oathbreaker and murderer. He doesn't really look that great compared to Jonos, or even Bittersteel. He picked a side, just like they did.

Edited by Ran

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@The Grey Wolf

Give us an example what you think a bad person being a good king would be like. I tried to pinpoint that above and aside from men like Tywin or Stannis - the latter being a very special character - I really can't imagine what such a character would be like.

Overall it is clear that kingship and lordship ruins people in this world. They all get twisted by what the office and its duties demand of them. You have to find the right measure between kindness and cruelty (or harshness) in this world or else the people around you will eat you alive.

I that sense, very few kings in this world are actually good people. They would all have skeletons in their closets. Some more, some less.

7 minutes ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

I have another question: Do we even met any Blackwood that was worse than their Bracken counterpart?

We have Agnes, Royce, Benjicot, Alysanne, Melissa, Bloodraven, Betha and Tytos. They all seem too perfect by comparing them to Lothar, Olyver, Barba, Bethany, Bittersteel and Jonos.

As Ran has said, Bloodraven is a horrible person - perhaps a good Hand, but still a horrible person and very likely driven by his own ambitions and hatred in his attitude towards the Blackfyres.

That the Bracken KG broke his vows up at the Wall is completely understandable if you ask me. Those two guys had every right to expect that Jaehaerys I reward them for abandoning the usurper (even more so if it turned out that they had gotten their white cloaks from King Aenys or King Aegon), so one can definitely understand why they did what they did up there. We don't need their complete biographies to make a good guess as to why they felt Jaehaerys treated them unjustly.

But I'm not sure why we should take this Bracken/Blackwood thing as a contest? I fully understand why the Brackens sided with Harwyn to get the Stormlanders out of the Riverlands, what's wrong with that?

And while Melissa Blackwood seems to have been a nice enough woman we don't know how much in her was cool calculation - winning the friendship and love of Queen Naerys, Prince Aemon, and Prince Daeron could (and did) do much and more for the Blackwood cause after King Aegon IV tired of her.

The idea that only the Brackens tried to use Aegon IV to acquire power and the Blackwoods were completely uninterested in stuff like that is very unlikely. Especially not at a court as corrupt as Aegon IV's.

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On 11/29/2018 at 10:56 PM, Lord Varys said:

In my complete ranking of the Targaryen kings Aegon II now has the second last place, behind Maegor and Aerys II with Aegon IV being the worst (I'm still buying George's assessment there that this is true).

But against Aegon II even Maegor and Aerys II look like sane and competent and well-meaning monarchs.

I'm not sure about judging Aegon's performance as a king because his rule has been too brief, even tho the few decisions he has taken are less than impressive (a giant statue of Aemond? Really?). I was speaking more on a personal level, F&B portrays him as a horrible human being; even at the end, when she was desperate and paranoid, Rhaenyra was way better than him.

Also, the blame for the Dance and everything that led to it now falls squarely on the Greens (and on Viserys).

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14 hours ago, Geddus said:

I'm not sure about judging Aegon's performance as a king because his rule has been too brief, even tho the few decisions he has taken are less than impressive (a giant statue of Aemond? Really?). I was speaking more on a personal level, F&B portrays him as a horrible human being; even at the end, when she was desperate and paranoid, Rhaenyra was way better than him.

If we want to judge his ability as a ruler we can only take what we have - not what we would like to have. Else I'd like to judge Aerys II the Wise in a parallel world where he was neither mad nor stupid nor vain...

The difference between Rhaenyra and Aegon II are very glaring - Rhaenyra is surrounded by bad advisers and actually tries to do what she thinks is right - and makes very bad calls when she has one of her fits of rage - but Aegon II is just a completely rotten moron. He comes up with his nonsensical notions all by himself despite the fact that he is, at times, surrounded by pretty competent advisers. The man fueling the fires of wars is also always Aegon II himself - from the start till the very end.

Even Rhaenyra's decisions to not show mercy are not as rigid as Aegon II's. Rhaenyra went against her own sex to placate the men around her. Rhaenyra did not follow Daemon's ridiculous advice to destroy both the Baratheons and the Lannisters (!) but the idea just to offer Aemond and Daeron and even Aegon II to take the black in light of the fact that they are all dragonriders was, quite frankly, not exactly one they could have gone through with. Rhaenyra is faithful to her uncle-husband, Aegon II fucks women left and right, being the first Targaryen we know of who had acknowledged bastards. Aegon II doesn't even understand the basics of proper rule as he demonstrates when he fires his grandfather who was doing his best to mastermind their eventually victory. When faced with difficulty and challenges his 'solution' is drinking more strongwine.

The man is a horrible human being but he is also a joke as a ruler.

Quote

Also, the blame for the Dance and everything that led to it now falls squarely on the Greens (and on Viserys).

It was always mainly the fault of the Greens. If Rhaenyra had accepted her half-brother's 'terms' she would have handed her two youngest sons as hostages to the mercy of Aegon II. How well would have that gone in the end? It is more than once alluded to that Rhaenyra had had no intention to actually kill any of her half-brothers, so there is, in the end, no real justification for what they did, aside from 'we wanted power'.

Especially in light of the fact it is implied that Alicent never even loved Viserys, and that they all must have lied through their teeth and pretended to ultimately accept Rhaenyra as Viserys' successor or else the man would have likely not recalled Otto, etc.

I mean, it is quite clear that one can be of a different opinion, but loyal men who have sworn vows would keep them. And Otto Hightower was the first to swear to defend Rhaenyra's rights, was he not?

Edited by Lord Varys

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@Ran

1. GRRM in his quote talked about kings so I limited myself to kings. Moreover, if GRRM makes an argument he should back it up is all I'm saying. 

2. Its not just my opinion and I am more than capable of understanding that people can differ in their views on something. That being said, the way GRRM portrays the Brackens vis-a-vis the Blackwoods is blatant. Tytos Blackqood is refined whereas Jonos is uncouth, being introduced in ADWD literally f**** a camp follower. Barba is shown to be petty and ambitious whereas Melissa is beloved even by the Dragonknight and Daeron II, Olyver Bracken is twice an oathbreaker whereas Royce Blackwood is practically perfect, Agnes dies bravely whereas Lothar dies ignominiously.

3. High concept as opposed to what exactly? That's foreign and domestic policy. Just because he didn't go into the nitty-gritty doesn't invalidate what's there.

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6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

As Ran has said, Bloodraven is a horrible person - perhaps a good Hand, but still a horrible person and very likely driven by his own ambitions and hatred in his attitude towards the Blackfyres.

Yet in comparison to Bittersteel, Bloodraven seem much better - he even became cool weirwood tree magician for breaking his nightswatch oaths, while Bittersteel died pathetic death after numeroud failed rebellions.

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12 hours ago, Lion of the West said:

From what I read I must say that I am rather amused more than disturbed by the lengths for essential character assassination of Aegon II that GRRM seems to be going to. I really am starting to feel that GRRM apparently took great offense at the idea of people favoring the Greens over the Blacks in the Dance of the Dragons.

Or at least that's what I see from it.

It is his character; he can do whatever he wants with him. Besides the whole affair comes off as a naked power grab on behalf of Otto Hightower. His one good justification is keeping Daemon of the throne. But even so Rhaenyra wasn't his puppet. If anything she seems to have been the only one keeping him in line. 

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7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It was always mainly the fault of the Greens.

Yeah but before there was at least room for discussion, it was understood (at least that was my impression) that both sides had legitimate claims and grievances. Now it's just years of insults and open, unprovoked hostility from Alicent and her sons that culminate in a coup, it's just a power grab without any justification.

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4 hours ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Ran

2. Tytos Blackqood is refined whereas Jonos is uncouth, being introduced in ADWD literally f**** a camp follower.

 

You know who else fucks a camp follower? Tyrion Lannister, George's favorite character. You know who else is refined? Rhaegar Frey, who ends up in a pie.

To me, a more apt comparison would be to say that Tytos Blackwood is the Denys Mallister to Jonos Bracken's Cotter Pyke. GRRM clearly doesn't think either of these characters are really better or worse than the other, they're merely two differing world-views and approaches to life caught in an inexorable opposition.

You treat some of these characters, houses, or factions in these books like they're supposed to represent your favorite baseball teams, and if they don't live up to your homerism, that the fault lies with the author being "unfair". It's a way to read the books, I guess, but you're basically setting yourself up for useless agitation over it.

 

Edited by Ran

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I think a lot of what makes Aegon ll a vicious king is he never was groomed for anything. He was overweight. Hardly put in any hours in the practice hour His dad wasnt a role model nor did he give him experience running anything. Hell his maternal Grandfather ignored him and Aemond. Neither one of those two had anytime working with smallfolk  or  non household knights. 

Aemond couldn't tell that the lord Baratheon was drunk nor any of his marriage contract be valid. 

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1 hour ago, Geddus said:

Yeah but before there was at least room for discussion, it was understood (at least that was my impression) that both sides had legitimate claims and grievances. Now it's just years of insults and open, unprovoked hostility from Alicent and her sons that culminate in a coup, it's just a power grab without any justification.

I never got the impression from tPatQ or tRP that the Greens actions were anything but a naked power grab without justification. I was always surprised when people took that stance

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4 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I never got the impression from tPatQ or tRP that the Greens actions were anything but a naked power grab without justification. I was always surprised when people took that stance

I think sometimes people really do just treat it all like a football game.

Als,o @Lion of the West

Quote

 I really am starting to feel that GRRM apparently took great offense at the idea of people favoring the Greens over the Blacks in the Dance of the Dragons.

The Heirs of the Dragon and the Dance of the Dragon material is essentially unchanged from how George wrote it for TWoIaF. The Greens and Blacks were always depicted this way, long before readers saw the material.

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39 minutes ago, Geddus said:

Yeah but before there was at least room for discussion, it was understood (at least that was my impression) that both sides had legitimate claims and grievances. Now it's just years of insults and open, unprovoked hostility from Alicent and her sons that culminate in a coup, it's just a power grab without any justification.

The laws of the land state that a son comes before a daughter, Viserys himself was only King because his claim was judged to be superior to his older female cousin and her children. On top of that Viserys actions  were as much to stop his brother becoming King as they were getting his daughter to be Queen, with Daemon now as his daughters husband and defacto king it becomes even muddier. 

Viserys screwed up, he allowed a power grab to happen and did not do enough after Aegon's birth or Daemon's marriage to his daughter to clarify who should rule. 

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2 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I never got the impression from tPatQ or tRP that the Greens actions were anything but a naked power grab without justification. I was always surprised when people took that stance

Well no, the fact that Rhaenyra was a woman and that she was Daemon's wife were legitimate issues (in Westerosi terms obviously, I'm not saying that a woman shouldn't rule) and I thought at least some of the Greens were actually concerned about those, in good faith. According to F&B, however, they couldn't care less, they only acted out of ambition, personal vendettas and lust for power: I don't think there's a single Green that doesn't come off as an asshole at best, except for maybe Tyland Lannister.

Another thing is that Aegon was said to have been reluctant in taking the crown: this version is put forward in F&B as well but it's not believable any more, it clashes with basically everything else we now know. Also, the enmity between the two sides is now all the Greens' fault, I don't remember anyone on Rhaenyra's camp provoking the opposite side before the war, not even Daemon.

I'm not saying I'm disappointed because I'm not, it's just that I think these new informations paint a different picture than what I previously imagined.

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