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the Last Teague

Cregan Stark: the fool wolf

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14 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

You know, I asked why Cregan was never called "The Late Lord Stark", considering that it took him 2 years to march southward and the war was won by the time he arrived.

It was neither prudent in the climate of post-war reconciliation nor useful at the time Yandel was writing.

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Despite joining the black side early in the war, Lord Glacier only moved his army souther of the Twins two years after the war started. His reason was "winter is coming". What? Does it mean he has to reap every field? Drove every cattle inside Winterfell? Weave his socks? A seneschal or a castillan could do that. Also, after the war ended, there was hunger in the North (it started really soon after first snows) so his measures were dull.

Of course some of his vassals (Roddy the Ruin and the Manderlys) brought some help. But they did on their own. 

It is a long way from Winterfell to King's Landing. At the start, nobody thought that the war would last long enough for the North to have any impact on the thing. That the winter wolves arrived as quickly as they did and had as much impact on the fighting in the riverlands that they did seems like major points in Cregan Stark's favor. And that Cregan Stark sent the winter wolves seems pretty clear. He was the Lord of the North and a strong one at that. His vassals aren't running south without his say-so. And his men weren't described as green in any way but seasoned veterans. He came south with the second army later because the dance was dragging on a lot longer than originally anticipated.

Yeh, Cregan certainly seemed overzealous once he reached King's Landing and found himself briefly in a position of power, but I hardly think we can call him a fool. What we see of him paints him in a pretty favorable light. He had to fight his uncles to become the Lord of the North, so this is not some stupid kid who had everything handed to him. He gains the respect of Jace who seems like a pretty clear thinking fellow himself. And even though he had some wild ideas about destroying everybody in the South, his actual actions speak more to his character than those words. What he comes out of the dance with is a wife in Black Aly who seems like an excellent match, and he rids the North of lots of hungry mouths in advance of one of the longest and harshest winters in recent history.

 

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On 3/5/2019 at 12:58 AM, Daemon of the Blacks said:

Probably because it would result in an angry Cregan coming for you and ask you could kindly explain that joke to his face before he beheads you. And after Cregan the powerful Stark family might not appreciate their ancestors being mocked either. Everyone would still remember all the people Cregan Stark killed once he finally formed his army. 

Personaly, I prefer Fool Wolf or Lazy Wolf...

One thing is mocking Lord Stark and the other one is mocking Lord Frey, an upstart. 

I agree that Stark was real slow and without any good excuse. His vassals Lord Dustin and Lord Manderly moved quickly (in my opinion, by their own decision. And in Manderly's case, motivated by a marriage's promises). Stark maybe feared Aemond and his dragon. Or he simply was utterly uncompetent. I mean, he spent two years gathering provisions for winter, but there was famine in the north just the next year.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Syl of Syl said:

It is a long way from Winterfell to King's Landing. At the start, nobody thought that the war would last long enough for the North to have any impact on the thing. That the winter wolves arrived as quickly as they did and had as much impact on the fighting in the riverlands that they did seems like major points in Cregan Stark's favor. And that Cregan Stark sent the winter wolves seems pretty clear. He was the Lord of the North and a strong one at that. His vassals aren't running south without his say-so. And his men weren't described as green in any way but seasoned veterans. He came south with the second army later because the dance was dragging on a lot longer than originally anticipated.

Yeh, Cregan certainly seemed overzealous once he reached King's Landing and found himself briefly in a position of power, but I hardly think we can call him a fool. What we see of him paints him in a pretty favorable light. He had to fight his uncles to become the Lord of the North, so this is not some stupid kid who had everything handed to him. He gains the respect of Jace who seems like a pretty clear thinking fellow himself. And even though he had some wild ideas about destroying everybody in the South, his actual actions speak more to his character than those words. What he comes out of the dance with is a wife in Black Aly who seems like an excellent match, and he rids the North of lots of hungry mouths in advance of one of the longest and harshest winters in recent history.

 

His duty was to assemble his levy and join his Queen. The Hightowers and the Lannisters were a threat for the Blacks during all the war. And Cregan believed no war is over until you kill the entire enemy house, including toddlers, so I don't think he thought he wasn't necessary.

Cregan's work for preventing winter problems were laughable. The first months of winter were enough to start a famine in the North. 

Robb Stark assembled 20.000 men in a much shorter time, and he was a boy, not a man like Cregan. In only one year he had time of winning three battles, conquering three castles, geting married and getting himself murdered. Cregan needed two years only to assemble 8.000 useless peasants.

I've the feeling it was lord Dustin who organized the Winter Wolves and went south. The Manderly's help also moved by their own decision. With Lord Hairy permission, of course. But without any special help: no Stark rode with the Wolves. Cregan could have joined them with his cavalry, but nay. Glaciers have their own slow rhytm.

Cregan is perfectly able to intimidate a 12 years old lad, that's for sure. I'm sure he was a holy terror at the school yard. Jace was a kid, and a very diplomatic one. And if he only stayed in Winterfell for a month, and married a bastard girl (despite his mother needing marriage aliances), he was simply fool.

Being able to get rid of an uncle isn't exactly a feat. That was just a noisy weekend in Winterfell.

The Stark army was more of an horde, I think. The last thing the devastated Trident needed was a plague of bearded locust. With or without them, the North starved the same. How did he pretended to conquer Storm's End when they deserted at the first chance? When I read that chapter, I was wishing the Lads made short work of them. 

Black Aly managed him at her whim. It wasn't geting a good match. It was being seduced by a young girl. There Cregan showed how laughable it was his commitment to "justice". Give him a pretty lass and he forgets about "avenging" Aegon's murder,, and about his genocidal fantasies. That story only shows Aly was a smart lady, and Cregan was a fool.

Becouse planning about destroying Lannisport and Oldtown is short of genocidal.

So Cregan get a wife, yes. And the Rivermen, the people who really fought and bled for two years, the people who suffered Aemond's dragonfire and smashed Criston Cole, only get 8.000 thousand hungry bandits. No matter what Gyldain says: a peasant widow with a burned field doesn't need a new "pagan" husband, who is almost a homeless. She needs a knife to get rid of him. That's what probably happened. Probably the northerners who established themselves at Raven's Tree were more lucky.

 

 

 

Edited by the Last Teague

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8 hours ago, the Last Teague said:

Robb Stark assembled 20.000 men in a much shorter time, and he was a boy, not a man like Cregan. 

And look what happened to Robb Stark. If we're judging by actual results, Robb is much more fool than Cregan. Robb wins a few battles in the Riverlands and Westerlands while leaving the North vulnerable to attack from the Iron Islands. All that is before dying and leaving his kingdom in complete disarray. Good job Robb.

Cregan Stark on the other hand lived to be an old man and the North seems to have prospered from his leadership.

You say his duty was to assemble his men and join his Queen. I say maybe his duty was to his people was more important and he saw to that as his priority. Yet he managed to send help more swiftly than anyone in the South anticipated in the form of his Winter Wolves.

8 hours ago, the Last Teague said:

I've the feeling it was lord Dustin who organized the Winter Wolves and went south.

That doesn't make much sense. Lord Dustin is just organizing old men from all over the North to go fight in the war without any input or involvement from the Lord of the North? That doesn't follow from the narrative presented. Did Jace stop at Barrowton on his way back south to beg Lord Dustin to come with all his oldest men?

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From Winterfell, Cregan Stark wrote to say that he would bring a host south as soon as he could, but warned that it would take some time to gather his men “for my realms are large, and with winter upon us, we must needs bring in our last harvest, or starve when the snows come to stay.” The northman promised the queen ten thousand men, “younger and fiercer than my Winter Wolves.”

And then later we have Cregan Stark specifically calling the his Winter Wolves. Sure, he could have been trying to claim more than his worth after the fact, but that doesn't exactly fit with his character and again it just doesn't make sense for his bannermen to be taking this kind of action without his involvement. If anything, one of his bannermen gathering a host without his knowledge would have drawn his attention. Manderlys sending their own host after receiving a personal visit from Prince Jace is very different from Dustin gathering old men from all over the North simply because he heard about the fighting in the Riverlands and felt like seeing what kind of hijinks he and 2000 of his oldest friends could get up to.

 

8 hours ago, the Last Teague said:

Black Aly managed him at her whim. It wasn't geting a good match. It was being seduced by a young girl. There Cregan showed how laughable it was his commitment to "justice". Give him a pretty lass and he forgets about "avenging" Aegon's murder,, and about his genocidal fantasies. That story only shows Aly was a smart lady, and Cregan was a fool.

If Aly was so smart why did she marry this fool Cregan? Alysanne Blackwood is described as a fierce and strong woman. She was neither a young girl nor a pretty lass as you describe her.

 

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So Cregan get a wife, yes. And the Rivermen, the people who really fought and bled for two years, the people who suffered Aemond's dragonfire and smashed Criston Cole, only get 8.000 thousand hungry bandits.

8000 hungry bandits? By your count, Cregan Stark came south with 8000 men (the lowball count Mushroom gives rather than the 20000 that Septon Eustace gives or any number in between).

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In the end, more than a thousand northmen accompanied Black Aly and her nephew Lord Benjicot when they returned to the riverlands after the royal wedding.

Hundreds get married, while others swore their swords to various lords. The math just doesn't add up to 8000 hungry bandits being a possibility. Banditry doesn't pay as well as service to a lord or husband with land to work. The life of a widow in the medieval world isn't great. And it's not like anyone was forcing every widow to get married. They saw able-bodied young men and took them as husbands. I get questioning some things in the story, but this one seems very solidly on the sensible and plausible side.

The northmen who wanted more fighting formed up the free company The Wolf Pack and sought their fortune across the sea. And Cregan brought the rest back North. The ones who stayed and got married were desirous of that life. There is no reason to assume that they all turned to unhappy marriages for no particular reason. Also, it is stated that the marriages in the Riverlands helped spread worship of the old gods south of the neck which is a good thing for the North.

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Cregan didn't let Rhaenyra down. He (and Jeyne Arryn's men) essentially sealed the victory the Lads won for her - it isn't his fault that she ended up dead. The Dance of the Dragons wasn't on the Kingsroad, it was decided in Duskendale when Rhaenyra wrote and received letters from the Vale and Winterfell. The new armies from the Vale and the North didn't come down because Aegon II had been cruelly punishing some Crownlanders. They came because they had promised Rhaenyra to come.

It may have been that not all Riverlords had ended up joining the Tullys against Aegon II and thus, perhaps, the Stormlanders wouldn't have lost on the Kingsroad, but they would have still been crushed by the Starks and the Arryns.

As for Cregan's men:

They gathered at Winterfell, Barrowton, and White Harbor both times. Just because he didn't command the Winter Wolves or the White Harbor men doesn't mean they weren't raised at his command or with his permission. One assumes there came more men from the Dustin lands and the Manderlys in Cregan's larger army in addition to whatever other men Cregan had in that army.

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There seems to have been some more issues with your translation than just the numbers. The Lads were Elmo and Oscar Tully, and Benjicot Blackwood. Two of those came later to the cause than Cregan did and the third was not a MAJOR leader in the war until many other older and better men had died. 

The Butcher's Ball was led by Lord Roderick Dustin, Ser Pate the Lionslayer and Ser Garibald Grey. Not the Lads. The Lads didn't fight a battle together until the Muddy Mess. Speaking of the Butcher's Ball, they didn't kill Criston out of hand because they were scared of him. They killed him that way because "They did not want any songs sung about how he died." They say it right there. 

As for some other issues you mentioned throughout (sorry for not taking the time to quote them all.) 

Did you ever think that maybe if the famine was that bad even with the two years of prep it would have been worse if he had just hauled ass with everything he had to get himseslf and his people burnt by Vhagar and left the North in the hands of his little kid? 

Age wise he's only 23, just a bit older than the Lads (except Benjicot who was 14) and only a year older than Aegon had been when the war started. However, he did have experience with shitty politics and regencies, since he had been in one and had to overthrow his uncle and cousins to actually take power in the north. He presumably sent what he could and what was asked for, considering after the Battle of the Gullet there was no safe passage to KL with the few ships the North had. 

Also you characterize the Winter Wolves in such a way that makes no sense based on the description of them in English so I'm assuming it's a translation error. You call them cowards, useless old men and all the other things when in reality they were more like this: 

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I want to live forever in a land where summer lasts a thousand years. I want a castle in the clouds where I can look down over the world. I want to be six-and-twenty again. When I was six-and-twenty I could fight all day and fuck all night. What men want does not matter. Winter is almost upon us, boy. And winter is death. I would sooner my men die fighting for the Ned's little girl than alone and hungry in the snow, weeping tears that freeze upon their cheeks. No one sings songs of men who die like that. As for me, I am old. This will be my last winter. Let me bathe in Bolton blood before I die. I want to feel it spatter across my face when my axe bites deep into a Bolton skull. I want to lick it off my lips and die with the taste of it on my tongue. - Hugo "Big Buckets" Wull 

They were berserkers, ulfhednar making and charging through gaps in the enemy line so they could die with the taste of their enemies' blood on their tongues. Roddy's killing of the two Hightowers at Tumbleton just shows that they were effective in that task. Despite being under equipped he wrecked a guy who was fighting with a Valyrian steel sword, that guy's lord, and that lord's other bodyguards. If Robb had had Roderick Dustin instead of Roose Bolton at the Battle on the Green Fork the War of the Five Kings would have gone much differently. 

As for Cregan's army near the end, it's not his fault Rhaenyra f*cked up her entire war strategy several times. There's no reason for Rook's Rest not to have been an 8 on 2 grudge match, or that Jace should have been in anyway in danger at the Battle of the Gullet. Add in all the terrible PR decisions she did when she took KL and the war was hers to lose. Also, they didn't desert him, they came with the same mentality as every northman marching on Winterfell so all of your words apply to those guys too. That some of them left to fight in the Disputed Lands. so what? He didn't need them. And they weren't "pagans" (partially because the use of that word in a fictional setting without Christianity and the Roman Empire makes no sense.) when they settled in the riverlands. They settled on Blackwood land, where the Blackwoods worshiped the same gods. Cregan came down when he was actually needed, when his people were as safe as he could make them, cut off the heads of people that needed their heads cut off, got sick of southron politics, grabbed his hot new wife and left. He also left a pretty good northerman in his place to help with the total f*ck up that was the regency. The only thing his Hour of the Wolf didn't do was cut off Unwin Peake's head. Hell, he knew what Aegon was about to go through for the next few years, he had lived it, and if he had stuck around he probably would have lobbed off the heads of damn near everyone near the end. 

Thesis point: There seems to be some issues with your copy's translation, and Cregan Stark wasn't that bad in comparison to literally everyone else at the time with two swords. 

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21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Just because he didn't command the Winter Wolves or the White Harbor men doesn't mean they weren't raised at his command or with his permission.

Yep. Can you imagine if while he's gathering his banners with a plan to march in two years and two of his bannermen just decide to go do their own thing? The same guy who was planning a tour of destruction of the southern kingdoms for their disloyalty to the throne just accepts disloyalty from his own bannermen without consequence. The logic doesn't add up at all on this one.

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5 minutes ago, Syl of Syl said:

Yep. Can you imagine if while he's gathering his banners with a plan to march in two years and two of his bannermen just decide to go do their own thing? The same guy who was planning a tour of destruction of the southern kingdoms for their disloyalty to the throne just accepts disloyalty from his own bannermen without consequence. The logic doesn't add up at all on this one.

Jacaerys Velaryon certainly did win the allegiance of White Harbor by treating with Lord Manderly, but if he had failed to to come to an understanding with Lord Cregan, too, the former deal wouldn't have been that much. One imagines that Manderly would have supported Rhaenyra if his liege lord had remained neutral - like the Tyrells - but if Winterfell had declared for Aegon II the Manderlys would have likely not (continued to) support(ed) Rhaenyra.

As for Cregan's motives:

As I think I said, he and Jeyne Arryn effectively ensured Rhaenyra won the war. She just died before. Cregan is pissed about that, and he is even more pissed that the Lads defeated the last Green army and Greens-turned-Blacks at court put down Aegon II - which he wanted to do.

Cregan is basically 'the Late Lord Stark' who is very annoyed by the fact that he did come too late. That, I think, is the main reason why he imprisons all the men who were responsible for the murder of Aegon II. They stole his victory, and now they have to pay for that. And once Lady Jeyne, the Corbrays, and the Lads forced him to abandon his plans to continue the war he just insisted to punish Aegon II's murderers to have some success (or at least satisfaction). That he didn't care all that much about 'justice' there can be derived both from the fact that he did not insist on executions (which he likely would have if he had thought that Aegon II did not deserve it to be put down - think of how Lord Alaric makes it clear that scum do not deserve to take the black!) and that he accepted the pardoning and restoration of Corlys Velaryon without much resistance.

We can be pretty sure that no man involved in the murder of Rhaenyra would have gotten away as easily as the murderers of Aegon II. It seems to me that Marston Waters was very lucky that he wasn't in KL during the Hour of the Wolf... And the Toms and Broom and the other thugs who were already dispatched by Corlys, Larys, and Ser Perkin likely would have had very ugly ends had they been taken by Lord Cregan.

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18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We can be pretty sure that no man involved in the murder of Rhaenyra would have gotten away as easily as the murderers of Aegon II. It seems to me that Marston Waters was very lucky that he wasn't in KL during the Hour of the Wolf... And the Toms and Broom and the other thugs who were already dispatched by Corlys, Larys, and Ser Perkin likely would have had very ugly ends had they been taken by Lord Cregan.

This leads me to a slightly on topic but also slightly off topic question. We have it from GRRM (for some pretty flimsy reasons) that Ned never used Ice in battle (Whether TOJ counts as a battle or not is another issue.) Can we assume from the depiction of Cregan ,as well as the depiction of Brandon and Rickard as men who think they're skilled enough to take on one of the White Swords, that this does not per se mean that the sword was only ever used for ceremonial use?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CAllDSmith said:

This leads me to a slightly on topic but also slightly off topic question. We have it from GRRM (for some pretty flimsy reasons) that Ned never used Ice in battle (Whether TOJ counts as a battle or not is another issue.) Can we assume from the depiction of Cregan ,as well as the depiction of Brandon and Rickard as men who think they're skilled enough to take on one of the White Swords, that this does not per se mean that the sword was only ever used for ceremonial use?

Rickard did not take Ice with him to fight that duel. George's view seems to be that the specific form of Ice is that of an executioner's sword, unusually large and impressive and ceremonial, but that it's basically unwieldy as a battle weapon despite the advantages of Valyrian steel. Why the Starks went for such a sword rather than trying to get something usable in battle (as the Tarlys did with Heartsbane and the Lannisters with Brightroar) is a bit of a mystery. One possibility is there wasn't much choice in it, it was what they could get their hands on. Another is that it was basically a way of distinguishing themselves as mighty kings, so mighty that their Valyrian steel was truly for ceremonial purposes only and was not in fact intended for war.

Edited by Ran

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On 3/29/2019 at 9:53 AM, the Last Teague said:

a peasant widow with a burned field doesn't need a new "pagan" husband, who is almost a homeless. She needs a knife to get rid of him.

Riverlands were burned out by Aemond and Black Riverlords. The winter of 130-135 AC is noted as long and brutal. Agriculture would not resume until the end of it, meaning total dependence on reserves - the very same reserves that would be gathered in burned out towns and villages. A Northern husband would be just another mouth to eat dwindling supplies, a heavy burden in the middle of harsh winter.

So yeah, either a knife or a fork - depending on exact amount of remaining supplies in given area.

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33 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

Agriculture would not resume until the end of it, meaning total dependence on reserves

Pretty sure that famine is only noted in the North during this time. Also, winter had just started at this time. I think it's possible that the Riverlands can still support some agriculture. Regardless, there are a lot of good reasons to want an able-bodied husband during the winter, in addition to whatever work he can do around the place. I assume these widows are also looking for a husband that can warm their bed and protect them from thieves.

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One assumes we should accept that the widows espousing those Northmen as their new husbands knew better what they needed and what was good for them than people reinterpreting and twisting the source material. It is pretty clear that no widow in the Riverlands would have taken in a useless Northern heathen if they had not seen any advantage or benefit in that.

1 hour ago, Ran said:

Rickard did not take Ice with him to fight that duel. George's view seems to be that the specific form of Ice is that of an executioner's sword, unusually large and impressive and ceremonial, but that it's basically unwieldy as a battle weapon despite the advantages of Valyrian steel. Why the Starks went for such a sword rather than trying to get something usable in battle (as the Tarlys did with Heartsbane and the Lannisters with Brightroar) is a bit of a mystery. One possibility is there wasn't much choice in it, it was what they could get their hands on. Another is that it was basically a way of distinguishing themselves as mighty kings, so mighty that their Valyrian steel was truly for ceremonial purposes only and was not in fact intended for war.

I guess there issue here is in part also that the historical Starks we know are singularly unimpressive in the warrior and chivalry department - at least insofar as specific details are concerned. Cregan and Rodrik may have done great or at least pretty impressive deeds, but if that's the case then we simply have no clue at this point.

Ice certainly could have played a role in some great feats at arms of some powerfully built Stark - approaching the size of Sandor and Gregor Clegane (the latter also fought with a greatsword), or perhaps only the Greatjon (many Starks should have Umber blood).

How unwieldy a Valyrian steel sword the size of Ice actually is in combat is, I think, unclear at this point. After all, a pretty big part of the unwieldiness should come from the weight of a greatsword, and Ice, being Valyrian steel, should be that heavy.

Sure, its length is another important point, so whoever hoped to actually wield Ice in battle should be at least pretty tall. But he doesn't necessarily have to be particularly strong.

You do cheat when you use Valyrian steel in a fight, at least if your enemy doesn't use Valyrian steel, too.

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Cregan and Rodrik may have done great or at least pretty impressive deeds, but if that's the case then we simply have no clue at this point.

According to Bran way back in Game of Thrones, Cregan Stark once fought Aemon the Dragonknight and Aemon had a very high opinion of him as a swordsman. When he is going into the crypts with Maester Luwin and Osha:

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Oh, there, he’s Cregan Stark. He fought with Prince Aemon once, and the Dragonknight said he’d never faced a finer swordsman.

Take that with a grain of salt if you will, but it is some indication that Cregan Stark may have been a formidable warrior. Of course, that doesn't say anything about whether he would wield Ice, but he certainly had it with him when he marched south at the end of the dance. I don't see why you would carry a deadly weapon and not fight plan to use it in the fighting, whatever George has said about Ice, but that's just me. I get that it is a big sword - at the beginning of GoT it is described as being taller than Robb. That probably puts the sword at least five and a half feet end to end, which I don't think is longer than actual greatswords that were indeed used in combat. I don't think you had to be extraordinarily tall to wield such a weapon either. I imagine it is something like fighting with a quarterstaff except that it has a couple edges and is made from Valyrian steel.

Anyway, we know that Brightroar (the lost Lannister sword) is a greatsword and was used in battle:

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Lancel IV is said to have beheaded the ironborn king Harrald Halfdrowned and his heir with a single stroke of the Valyrian steel greatsword Brightroar at the Battle of Lann’s Point

That's from the Westerlands section of World of Ice and Fire. I imagine that Brightroar was pretty similar to Ice. It was a greatsword, extremely expensive and made from Valyrian steel. They even seem to be of similar age, since the Lannisters acquired Brightroar in the century before the Doom and Catelyn mentions early in the books that Ice is four hundred years old. I do suppose tho, that the Starks have not had nearly as much fighting to do as the Lannisters had in the past four hundred years, so it is possible that Ice saw very little action and so its primary purpose was indeed ceremonial.

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