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three-eyed monkey

The three Kingsguard were loyal to Rhaegar, not Aerys.

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Maester Aemon once told Jon: "A craven can be as brave as any man, when there is nothing to fear. And we all do our duty, when there is no cost to it. How easy it seems then, to walk the path of honor. Yet soon or late in every man's life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose."

Jaime understood this perfectly. "So many vows . . . they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It's too much. No matter what you do, you're forsaking one vow or the other." The day Aemon spoke of came sooner rather than later in Jaime’s life, and when it did he made his choice.

It was not the first time Jamie had faced the problem of contradicting vows. The day he burned his mace-and-dagger Hand, Jaime and Jon Darry had stood at guard outside her bedchamber whilst the king took his pleasure. "You're hurting me," they had heard Rhaella cry through the oaken door. "You're hurting me." In some queer way, that had been worse than Lord Chelsted's screaming. "We are sworn to protect her as well," Jaime had finally been driven to say. "We are," Darry allowed, "but not from him." In this instance Ser Jon set aside his vows to protect the innocent and defend the weak, and advised Jaime to do the same.

But as Ser Barristan Selmy told his own squires, "It is chivalry that makes a true knight, not a sword," he said. "Without honor, a knight is no more than a common killer."

Of course, the Kingslayer is hardly a shining example of chivalry, right? In Westeros, Kingslayer is a by-word for dishonor. Except the people of Westeros don’t know what Brienne does, and if they are not in possession of all the facts, then it is understandable that their view of Jaime is skewed, as Brienne’s was before she knew.

Jaime might think honor is a horse but to the good folk of Westeros and many readers alike, honor is better represented by a bull. However, Ser Gerold Hightower’s bull was not as white as people claim. "As for Lord Rickard, the steel of his breastplate turned cherry-red before the end, and his gold melted off his spurs and dripped down into the fire. I stood at the foot of the Iron Throne in my white armor and white cloak, filling my head with thoughts of Cersei. After, Gerold Hightower himself took me aside and said to me, 'You swore a vow to guard the king, not to judge him.' That was the White Bull, loyal to the end and a better man than me, all agree."

The White Bull may well have been loyal, but loyalty should not be confused with honor or chivalry. Was Ser Gerold really a better man than Jaime, who sacrificed his own honor and reputation when he killed the king he was sworn to protect in order to defend the innocent inhabitants of King’s Landing? As Qhorin Halfhand once told Jon, "Our honor means no more than our lives, so long as the realm is safe.”

So I’m sorry, Jaime, but all do not agree. There is a famous saying, evil men need nothing more to compass their ends, than good men to look on and do nothing. Ned demonstrated this same principle when he stood up to his king against the murder of Dany, and the link between both scenes is made directly in the text.

"Nonetheless," Ned said, "the murder of children … it would be vile … unspeakable …"

"Unspeakable?" the king roared. "What Aerys did to your brother Brandon was unspeakable. The way your lord father died, that was unspeakable.

Unlike Ned, old Ser Gerold looked on and did nothing when his king did unspeakable things, and by all the laws of chivalry that was dishonorable.

Ser Barristan expands on the point. In that same cloak he had stood beside the Iron Throne as madness consumed Jaehaerys's son Aerys. Stood, and saw, and heard, and yet did nothing.

But no. That was not fair. He did his duty. Some nights, Ser Barristan wondered if he had not done that duty too well. He had sworn his vows before the eyes of gods and men, he could not in honor go against them … but the keeping of those vows had grown hard in the last years of King Aerys's reign. He had seen things that it pained him to recall, and more than once he wondered how much of the blood was on his own hands. If he had not gone into Duskendale to rescue Aerys from Lord Darklyn's dungeons, the king might well have died there as Tywin Lannister sacked the town. Then Prince Rhaegar would have ascended the Iron Throne, mayhaps to heal the realm. Duskendale had been his finest hour, yet the memory tasted bitter on his tongue.

It’s worth noting that Barristan’s finest hour is written in direct opposition to Jaime’s most notorious hour. Barristan is celebrated as a hero for upholding his vow and risking his life to save Aerys, while Jaime is despised as a villan for breaking his vows and killing the king. Yet it’s a bitter memory for Baristan, while Jaime says,I promise you, I never grieve for Aerys.” Unlike Selmy, Jaime is satisfied he did the right thing, despite his vows, and his conscience is clean as a result, with regard to Aerys at least.

Areo Hotah says, Serve. Obey. Protect. Simple vows for simple men. While these simple vows are not beyond contradicting themselves, (as anyone familiar with Isaac Asminov’s three laws knows), they are certainly not as complex as the vows sworn by the knights of the Seven Kingdoms, nor the men who swear them.

"We swore a vow," explained old Ser Gerold.

Ned's wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.

This is often cited in support of Jon being the true heir to the Iron Throne, and by implication legitimate by way of polygamous marriage. I think that is a well-made and perfectly valid argument, (feel free to visit the latest RLJ thread if you disagree), but I don’t think it is the only argument, given the overall theme surrounding vows.

As Maester Aemon said, soon or late in every man's life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose." Are we to believe that day never came for the three knights at the Tower of Joy? No, I think it must have, especially in a political climate where some people believed Rhaegar would make a better king.

Most of the small council were with the Hand outside Duskendale at this juncture, and several of them argued against Lord Tywin's plan on the grounds that such an attack would almost certainly goad Lord Darklyn into putting King Aerys to death. "He may or he may not," Tywin Lannister reportedly replied, "but if he does, we have a better king right here." Whereupon he raised a hand to indicate Prince Rhaegar.

Barristan reflected on the event along similar lines. If he had not gone into Duskendale to rescue Aerys from Lord Darklyn's dungeons, the king might well have died there as Tywin Lannister sacked the town. Then Prince Rhaegar would have ascended the Iron Throne, mayhaps to heal the realm.

The three kingsguard are noted as honourable men, proud members of the kingsguard, but as we have seen with the murder of the Starks and rape of Rhaella, and as their sworn brother Ser Barristan attests, the keeping of those vows had grown hard in the last years of King Aerys's reign. Like it or not, all three men were faced with a choice, for the sake of the realm and their own vows; Aerys under whom their vows had grown hard to keep, or Rhaegar?

The three knights did not support the rebellion, or the murder of Aerys, the king they were all sworn to protect, nor did they approve of Jaime’s action and how it tarnished the sworn brotherhood of the Kingsguard, they make that very clear to Ned, but that does not mean their loyalty did not lie with Rhaegar.

"Our knees do not bend easily," said Ser Arthur Dayne.

Their knees do bend, clearly, but not easily, which suggests to me that a certain level of worthiness is required. Robert did not measure up, nor did Aerys anymore, but surely Rhaegar did.

Ser Arthur Dayne was Rhaegar’s closest companion by all accounts. Ser Oswell Whent helped organize the tourney at Harrenhal. Both had remained in Rhaegar’s company for the duration of the episode with Lyanna, all of which strongly suggests they had Rhaegar’s trust.

The case for Ser Gerold Hightower is not so clear. The Lord Commander was in King’s Landing after Rhaegar disappeared with Lyanna. At first the prince was not to be found but later Rhaegar returned to King’s Landing from the south, while Ser Gerold ended up at the Tower of Joy. The obvious implication is that Lord Commander traveled to the tower and then Rhaegar returned without him, but we are left with so many unanswered questions regarding this. How did Ser Gerold know where to find Rhaegar when it seems no one else did? Why did the White Bull stay at the tower if he was so loyal to Aerys, considering Lyanna would have been an invaluable hostage for the king to hold against the rebels? Was he ordered to stay by Rhaegar? Persuaded by Rhaegar? Or had the day come for old Ser Gerold when he must choose?

"We swore a vow," explained old Ser Gerold.

Indeed, but to Aerys or Rhaegar? For me, the answer that makes most sense is Rhaegar.

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I think your premise is pretty much widely accepted.  Rhaegar and Arthur Dayne were very close, and it's obvious that he and Whent thought that Aerys needed to be deposed in favor of Rhaegar, hence the tourney at Harrenhal.

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I can understand Dayne but really if Rhaegar had anyone's loyalty in King's Guards than that person would be Lewyn Martell if he hadn't fucked up at Harrenhall, Lewyn would care about Elia and if she understood plans of Rhaegar (pre Harrenhall btw not after she was humiliated like that) than she would talk her uncle to be part of Rhaegar's circle. 

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5 hours ago, acwill07 said:

I think your premise is pretty much widely accepted. 

Well, there are many who argue that the three knights are simply following their vow to guard the king, as all three are the paradigm of knightly honor and would therefore never forswear their vows. It may seem like a small detail but it does matter.

If the three knights were not conflicted in their vows, then it logically follows that they were there to protect the king, therefore Jon is the king, therefore Jon is legitimate, therefore Rhaegar and Lyanna were married. I accept that chain of logic as sound as long as the knights were not conflicted in their vows.

If the knights were conflicted in their vows, as I suggests was more likely, then all of the above need not necessarily follow.

3 hours ago, Jova Snow said:

I can understand Dayne but really if Rhaegar had anyone's loyalty in King's Guards than that person would be Lewyn Martell if he hadn't fucked up at Harrenhall, Lewyn would care about Elia and if she understood plans of Rhaegar (pre Harrenhall btw not after she was humiliated like that) than she would talk her uncle to be part of Rhaegar's circle.

I agree there were others in Rhaegar's circle, some closer to the center than others. I think Dayne and Whent were inner circle. But it is Hightower's presence at the tower that is most interesting, and perhaps the most revealing.

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If it was only Dayne and Whent, it would be clear as day that they had made their choice and considered Aerys unworthy of their vows. However, Hightower, as you yourself say, is a different matter, and the reason why Hightower originally stayed behind at ToJ may not be the one as the one why they fought Ned.

The main reason why I remain unconvinced that Hightower switched sides is his proclamation that had they been with KL, Aerys would still sit the throne. Even with Rhaegar dead, Aerys absolutely couldn't be allowed to continue his mad acts, a regent, or some kind of ruling body, would have been needed to take care of the realm until Rhaegar's heir came of age. Yet, Hightower doesn't say that they would simply prevent Jaime from killing Aerys, but that they would keep him on the throne, and that, IMHO, is inconsistent with swearing vows to Rhaegar.

ETA: Forgot to mention Ned's deep respect for the original Kingsguard. Whatever they did, must have been in accord with their KG role, or else he, so concerned with honour, wouldn't have respected them.

 

 

Edited by Ygrain

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1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Well, there are many who argue that the three knights are simply following their vow to guard the king, as all three are the paradigm of knightly honor and would therefore never forswear their vows. It may seem like a small detail but it does matter.

If the three knights were not conflicted in their vows, then it logically follows that they were there to protect the king, therefore Jon is the king, therefore Jon is legitimate, therefore Rhaegar and Lyanna were married. I accept that chain of logic as sound as long as the knights were not conflicted in their vows.

If the knights were conflicted in their vows, as I suggests was more likely, then all of the above need not necessarily follow.

I agree there were others in Rhaegar's circle, some closer to the center than others. I think Dayne and Whent were inner circle. But it is Hightower's presence at the tower that is most interesting, and perhaps the most revealing.

It is interesting Rhaegar's friends never truly named and has opposite personalities to him. Connington is arrogant, energetic and certainly rude, Lonmouth can have a drinking contest with Robert, Arthur and the pissing association, and Lewyn with his paramour. And I wouldn't say Whent was a close friend though he may be part of the circle later to organize Harrenhall Tourney

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47 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

The main reason why I remain unconvinced that Hightower switched sides is his proclamation that had they been with KL, Aerys would still sit the throne. Even with Rhaegar dead, Aerys absolutely couldn't be allowed to continue his mad acts, a regent, or some kind of ruling body, would have been needed to take care of the realm until Rhaegar's heir came of age. Yet, Hightower doesn't say that they would simply prevent Jaime from killing Aerys, but that they would keep him on the throne, and that, IMHO, is inconsistent with swearing vows to Rhaegar.

Maybe Hightower (and other two) didn't switched sides, but he did vowed to Rhaegar - to guard Lyanna and Rhaegar's baby, in exchange for Rhaegar going back to KL. Aerys sent Gerold to find Rhaegar, and to bring him back, for Rhaegar to lead Targaryen army against rebels. But even though Gerold has found Rhaegar, doesn't mean, that he could have forced Rhaegar to go, if Rhaegar didn't wanted. And it's not like a mere KG can force Crown Prince to do, what he doesn't want. So it is likely, that they made a deal, and that's what the vow was about, not about those 3 KG swearing their loyalty to Rhaegar, and proclaiming him their new King, it was - I'll go = you'll stay.

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1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Well, there are many who argue that the three knights are simply following their vow to guard the king, as all three are the paradigm of knightly honor and would therefore never forswear their vows. It may seem like a small detail but it does matter.

If the three knights were not conflicted in their vows, then it logically follows that they were there to protect the king, therefore Jon is the king, therefore Jon is legitimate, therefore Rhaegar and Lyanna were married. I accept that chain of logic as sound as long as the knights were not conflicted in their vows.

If the knights were conflicted in their vows, as I suggests was more likely, then all of the above need not necessarily follow.

I agree there were others in Rhaegar's circle, some closer to the center than others. I think Dayne and Whent were inner circle. But it is Hightower's presence at the tower that is most interesting, and perhaps the most revealing.

Or maybe it's a misplaced question/issue.
The kingsguard existe regardless who the actual king is. It existes as long as there is a king.
When a king dies, the KG men don't change and/or they do not re-new their vows.
They are loyal in fact, to the idea itself of a king, not to an ideal type of king.
Or this is how it shoud be.

That said...

SCENARIO #1:
Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, Jon is legitamate.

Not only the presence of Dayne and Whent at the ToJ makes sense but that of Hightower too.
Aerys may die, Rhaegar too, same for Aegon and Vyseris. There's a civil war going on.
A rebellion vs not only Aerys II but vs the Targaryens as a whole. In fact, it's not that Viserys succeded his father...
The KG 's men are separated and each group/man is protecting a piece of that bloodline. From Aerys II to possibly Jon. And you put the best ones near the weakest ones, holding the weakest position too (a shattared tower vs the Red Keep, or a battlefield, which is dangerous, sure: but Rhaegar had an army with him).
You do exactly that, in a scenario were all the family is in jeopardy. Conflicted or not, they've done their duty. All but Jamie.

SCENARIO #2:

Rhaegar and Lyanna were not married. Still, and not by chance imo -  the specific men (conflicted or not towards Aerys II, doesn't matter) at the ToJ were not only loyal to a "king" but to the Targaryen's kingship. To a blood line of Targaryen kings. Jamie and Barristan, maybe not so much.

And if you are loyal to a specific bloodline, in absence of legimate heirs - as it may be if Aerys, Rhaegar, Aegon and Viserys die - you put a bastard above an usurper. So you try to save the bastard too.

You try to put the bastard on the throne. And you give that hard task, well actually the hardest one (to put a bastard on a the throne) to the best ones.

Maybe that was what they were doing.
"Now it begins".
"No. Now it ends".

Ned stopped that attempt.

SCENARIO #3:

Jon is not Rhaegar's son, there was not reason for them - as brothers of the KG - to be at ToJ. Confliceted or not, they were... cowards and traitors. They put whatever personal motive, interest, x thing above their vows and duties.

 

 

Edited by lalt

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The one thing I've gotten out of the books and all the side material is that being a Kingsguard is a thankless job.

Dayne and Whent are certainly a particular case. And if Rhaegar managed to bring Hightower to his side then perhaps he gave him assurances that nothing would happen to Aerys. Gerold Hightower could have been convinced with a regency and a new small council. Aerys would have go on calling himself king for as long as he lived. 

We can add the exchange between Rhaegar and Jaime, about him wanting to make change once he returned from the Trident. Jon Darry was standing right there with them. So there's a chance the Kingsguard (all of them) by the time Rhaegar was getting ready to leave for the Trident knew that changes were coming.

There's also another thing with Gerold Hightower. He was there when Rickard and Brandon were killed by Aerys. Him remaining there with the two others may have gone further for him. Maybe he was trying to pay his debt to the Starks by protecting one of theirs and her unborn child. 

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1 hour ago, Ygrain said:

The main reason why I remain unconvinced that Hightower switched sides is his proclamation that had they been with KL, Aerys would still sit the throne. Even with Rhaegar dead, Aerys absolutely couldn't be allowed to continue his mad acts, a regent, or some kind of ruling body, would have been needed to take care of the realm until Rhaegar's heir came of age. Yet, Hightower doesn't say that they would simply prevent Jaime from killing Aerys, but that they would keep him on the throne, and that, IMHO, is inconsistent with swearing vows to Rhaegar.

I accept this is a strong argument, but Aerys would still sit on the throne had Jaime not killed him because he would still be king and the man the KG had hoped would replace him would be dead. The kingsguard obviously did not favor Robert. So while Aerys still needed to be replaced, he would have remained on the throne until such time as a replacement was found and installed.

But if the line you cite is indicative of Ser Gerold's unwavering loyalty to Aerys, then that raises the question of why Hightower stayed at the tower when Rhaegar left? Of course he would follow an order given by the crown prince, under usual circumstances, but given the presence of Lyanna Stark at the tower and her potential value to Aerys as a hostage against the rebels this would have been an unusual circumstance. Ser Gerold had to choose between doing what he thought would best serve Aerys or doing what Rhaegar wanted. And it seems to me that he chose Rhaegar, by virtue of the fact that he remained at the tower.

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1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Well, there are many who argue that the three knights are simply following their vow to guard the king

The point has always been about Hightower, Queen Rhaella and the duty to guard the family of the king. And about the point that Viserys is the heir. You kind of missed the issue. 

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13 minutes ago, SirArthur said:

The point has always been about Hightower, Queen Rhaella and the duty to guard the family of the king. And about the point that Viserys is the heir. You kind of missed the issue.

"The KG men don't flee".

Like I said, imo, the best fighters and the lord commander were sent to protect the weakest people and position.
Rhaegar had an army with him, Barristan (an hero) and prince Martell whose best chance to save his sister and her children was to help Rhaegar winning that battle.
Aerys was in the Red Keep, the safest place among the 3. In fact, he could have survived.
The 3rd being, ToJ. A wrek in the middle of nowhere. And they were tasked to protect there a woman and a newborn, the weakest people you can possibly defende.
If the point was only to take Lyanna as an hostage, everybody else was fit for the task.
The point IMO was to protect them. Before and during the battle of the Trident and afterwards.

Edited by lalt

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3 minutes ago, lalt said:

"The KG men don't flee".

Like I said, imo, the best fighters and the lord commander were sent to protect the weakest people and position.
 

It is still their duty to protect grandmother baby king as part of the family. And they can do it by splitting one person away and getting Rhaella from Dragonstone. Splitting the KG is standard operation pattern. And getting Rhaella is not fleeing with Rhaella.

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Why does it have to be a case of one or the other? 

Rhaegar was, seemingly, given command of the Royal military after Connington's dismissal (and Aerys refusal to leave the city), the Kingsguard would fall under that purview during the war.

Neither Jaime or Barristan think it odd that their brothers were absent, I think Aerys had no problem with his son utilizing them.

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1 hour ago, SirArthur said:

It is still their duty to protect grandmother baby king as part of the family. And they can do it by splitting one person away and getting Rhaella from Dragonstone. Splitting the KG is standard operation pattern. And getting Rhaella is not fleeing with Rhaella.

I’d say they should protect Viserys and the child Rhaella is baring.

But apparently the plan for them was to stay in Dragonstone and in the worst scenario, flee. Which is what they have done. But again the KG men don’t flee.

In addition we don’t know - if I remember well, but correct me if I am wrong - where the 3 KGs were before the meeting with Ned. What if they, or one of them, were/was in Dragonstone as long as Rhaella and Viserys stayed there? I bet that’s not the case... but still.. who did need protection first and foremost? A woman and child in an island, that was the sit of house Targaryen or a mother and child in a shattered tower without any kind of other protection? I would have sent to Rhaella and Viserys my best captain and a strong ship, to flee away. Not my best swordmen. The master at arms of the Red Keep, just in case, was good enough given the circumstances. It’s a matter of priority. Of choosing how to use all your resources in the more effective way. 

Edited by lalt

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2 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I accept this is a strong argument, but Aerys would still sit on the throne had Jaime not killed him because he would still be king and the man the KG had hoped would replace him would be dead. The kingsguard obviously did not favor Robert. So while Aerys still needed to be replaced, he would have remained on the throne until such time as a replacement was found and installed.

But if the line you cite is indicative of Ser Gerold's unwavering loyalty to Aerys, then that raises the question of why Hightower stayed at the tower when Rhaegar left? Of course he would follow an order given by the crown prince, under usual circumstances, but given the presence of Lyanna Stark at the tower and her potential value to Aerys as a hostage against the rebels this would have been an unusual circumstance. Ser Gerold had to choose between doing what he thought would best serve Aerys or doing what Rhaegar wanted. And it seems to me that he chose Rhaegar, by virtue of the fact that he remained at the tower.

I think Rhaegar may have trapped Hightower into doing what he wanted. If Hightower's task was to convince Rhaegar to return to KL, Rhaegar may have conditioned his return by Hightower staying at ToJ. It would depend on who needed whom more - was Aerys feeling desperate enough to think that Rhaegar was his only hope? I believe it might be so.

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1 hour ago, SirArthur said:

The point has always been about Hightower, Queen Rhaella and the duty to guard the family of the king. And about the point that Viserys is the heir. You kind of missed the issue. 

The point is Hightower. You quoted my reply to someone who said the premise is widely accepted where I simply explained why it is not. Please explain how I missed the issue?

29 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Why does it have to be a case of one or the other? 

Rhaegar was, seemingly, given command of the Royal military after Connington's dismissal (and Aerys refusal to leave the city), the Kingsguard would fall under that purview during the war.

Neither Jaime or Barristan think it odd that their brothers were absent, I think Aerys had no problem with his son utilizing them.

I feel it has to be one or the other because Hightower would have faced a conflict when he arrived at the tower, (unless of course he had resolved it earlier and was already loyal to Rhaegar over Aerys by the time he left King's Landing).

What do you think Aerys would have expected of his Lord Commander if he knew what Ser Gerold had found at the tower? Kingsguard primarily live to serve their king, and it seems to me that Ser Gerold would best serve Aerys by returning to King's Landing with Rhaegar, Dayne, Whent, and Lyanna. Or at least return to King's Landing with Rhaegar to inform the king of the situation at the tower. But Rhaegar obviously did not want that, and it seems Hightower did what Rhaegar wanted.

So did he stay at the tower because Rhaegar ordered him, persuaded him, or simply because he chose to? Many readers would say that it must have been an order from Rhaegar, but I think we are given a strong narrative thread, through Aemon, Jaime, and Barristan, to suggest that Hightower did chose to stay.

2 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

The one thing I've gotten out of the books and all the side material is that being a Kingsguard is a thankless job.

Not just Kingsguard but Night's Watch or any sworn brotherhood. Thankless as well as almost impossible because vows can often conflict. And when they do the people who take those vows have a human decision to make, and that's what it always boils down to. Vows are words and words are wind. It is actions that count.

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5 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

I think Rhaegar may have trapped Hightower into doing what he wanted. If Hightower's task was to convince Rhaegar to return to KL, Rhaegar may have conditioned his return by Hightower staying at ToJ. It would depend on who needed whom more - was Aerys feeling desperate enough to think that Rhaegar was his only hope? I believe it might be so.

I think this is a good proposal. But if the honorable knights were struggling to keep their vows under Aerys, then I don't see how your proposal is any stronger than what I'm suggesting, that Hightower had sworn himself to Rhaegar, who he believed would ascend to the throne after the rebellion was put down.

This brings us back to your earlier comment about what Ser Gerold said about Aerys still being on the throne had they been there. But as I said, with Rhaegar dead that would be the case until a replacement had been found and installed.

 

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The Kingsguard were loyal to King Aerys.  They were not loyal to Rhaegar.   Rhaegar was just a prince.  He was not even the heir anymore.  Aerys chose Viserys to succeed him.  The Kingsguard were loyal to Aerys all the way to their bitter end.  Their deaths, not his.  They stayed loyal even after Aerys died.  The White Bull made this clear.  He would have done anything in his power to keep Aerys on the throne.  

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After the talk of the Trident, Jaime and Aerys, Strom's End, the flight to Dragonstone, Ser Willem Darry, Kingsguard not fleeing, we eventually get to the line, "We swore a vow," explained old Ser Gerold. It's important to note that the whole conversation flows and dialogue is connected.

"We swore a vow," explained old Ser Gerold.

Ned's wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.

"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.

"No," Ned said with sadness in his voice. "Now it ends."

And the fight begins, seven against three.

Ser Arthur's last line can simply be seen as him stating the obvious, the fight is about to begin, but that seems a bit clunky and out of place in what is a very well written passage, which suggests to me that there is another meaning to the line. We could speculate wildly here but I don't think there is need to when it makes perfect sense to simply carry on with the flow of the conversation and connect the line to the last thing that was said.

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold. “And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne.

Edited by three-eyed monkey

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