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The Young Maester

Ned shouldn't have allowed Robb and Theon to become so close

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Theon was obviously a hostage and having him become friends with the heir to Winterfell wouldn't have been all good and well if Ned were to die. Everyone knew that as soon as Balon rebels (which was going to happen as soon as Westeros plunged into war) Ned would have to take Theon's pretty head in order to show everyone in Westeros that he and Bobby B weren't bluffing. 

Theon himself said that Ned didn't show much affection towards him, my guess is cause Ned was preparing for the day that he might have to swing the sword. Therefore having your heir and hostage/ward become besties won't end well if Balon rebels whether Robb or Ned are Lords of Winterfell. Theons raid of Winterfell proved what this friendship did, and in my opinion Ned should have thought what would happen if he was dead and Robb was lord of Winterfell, and whether this friendship would alter Robbs decision to obey his Kings order. 

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Ned definitely treated him more like a ward than a hostage. Maybe it just wasn't in Ned's nature to punish a then 10 year old Theon by branding him as an outcast. I really think Ned had no idea what to do with his 10 year old  Iron Born hostage.

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I don't see how Ned could have prevented it, except for locking Theon away somewhere. They are all boys, roughly of an age. They're all growing up together, training together, etc.  They are going to become friends.

Also, Balon did not take up arms as soon as Westeros was plunged into war. The fighting was already well underway when he sent his longships out. He waited until his son and heir was no longer a hostage. That was the fatal mistake, and it was Robb's not Ned's.

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Once Balon died the North and the Iron Islands might've finally been able to have a good relationship due to Robb and Theon being friends. At least that's what I imagine was Ned's plan. With the Ironborn being how they are, I doubt it would've worked. 

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I got the impression that Eddard was a little bit less hell bent on the notion that a son is guilty of the crimes of his father. At the same time, he was not stupid to know that without Theon he would lose a diplomatic edge over Balon.

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5 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

Theon was obviously a hostage and having him become friends with the heir to Winterfell wouldn't have been all good and well if Ned were to die. Everyone knew that as soon as Balon rebels (which was going to happen as soon as Westeros plunged into war) Ned would have to take Theon's pretty head in order to show everyone in Westeros that he and Bobby B weren't bluffing. 

Theon himself said that Ned didn't show much affection towards him, my guess is cause Ned was preparing for the day that he might have to swing the sword. Therefore having your heir and hostage/ward become besties won't end well if Balon rebels whether Robb or Ned are Lords of Winterfell. Theons raid of Winterfell proved what this friendship did, and in my opinion Ned should have thought what would happen if he was dead and Robb was lord of Winterfell, and whether this friendship would alter Robbs decision to obey his Kings order. 

 

4 hours ago, Ralphis Baratheon said:

Ned definitely treated him more like a ward than a hostage. Maybe it just wasn't in Ned's nature to punish a then 10 year old Theon by branding him as an outcast. I really think Ned had no idea what to do with his 10 year old  Iron Born hostage.

Ned had a soft heart for kids but there is a limit to his compassion.  He would decap Theon if father Balon rebels.  But life goes on.  Ned didn't allow the pal of that to make his family too dysfunctional.  Social pressure creates that line so the children knew where each of them stood.  Ned expected his children and Theon to know where that line is at all times.  There was little rivalry because everybody knew their place.  Jon's presence caused more unrest at the Stark home than Theon's fostering.  I blame that on social pressure and the threat that Jon had to the inheritance.  Catelyn acted similarly to Rhaenyra and Allicent.  She poisoned her own children against Jon like those two did before the Dance of the Dragons.  Oh how I would dearly love to have a Dance of the Direwolves!   

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16 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

Theon himself said that Ned didn't show much affection towards him, my guess is cause Ned was preparing for the day that he might have to swing the sword. Therefore having your heir and hostage/ward become besties won't end well if Balon rebels whether Robb or Ned are Lords of Winterfell. 

I definitely think that Ned distanced himself emotionally in case this was necessary, and Ned definitely would have done it if it came to it.

But it's important to note that Ned not only treated Theon well in respect to him essentially being a hostage, but he gave him a lot of the same opportunities to learn that any highborn son and heir would receive - learning from Maester Luwin, training from Rodrik, etc. 

I think a small part of Ned did not want to discount the remote possibility that raising Theon right with Robb (even as a ward/hostage) might be good when Balon died and Theon took over. I assume the plan was for Theon to take over after Balon died? He can't be a hostage forever.

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6 hours ago, Mat92 said:

I definitely think that Ned distanced himself emotionally in case this was necessary, and Ned definitely would have done it if it came to it.

But it's important to note that Ned not only treated Theon well in respect to him essentially being a hostage, but he gave him a lot of the same opportunities to learn that any highborn son and heir would receive - learning from Maester Luwin, training from Rodrik, etc. 

I think a small part of Ned did not want to discount the remote possibility that raising Theon right with Robb (even as a ward/hostage) might be good when Balon died and Theon took over. I assume the plan was for Theon to take over after Balon died? He can't be a hostage forever.

Good idea.  That was the best they could hope for and worth a try to get a sensible leader on the seastone chair.  Theon had a fatal flaw though and one can argue should have been obvious to Ned. 

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One of the oversights Ned has here, which isn't really discussed, is even if Balon died and Theon was to be the heir, there was always the possibility the Ironborn, due to their distinct culture, would reject Theon. We're not entirely aware of what happened with Ned being fostered in the Vale and how it affect his relationship with the Northmen, but there's also the reverse possibility Robb might have eventually needed to take up arms to defend Theon's claim.

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On 2/25/2019 at 1:44 PM, John Suburbs said:

I don't see how Ned could have prevented it, except for locking Theon away somewhere. They are all boys, roughly of an age. They're all growing up together, training together, etc.  They are going to become friends.

Also, Balon did not take up arms as soon as Westeros was plunged into war. The fighting was already well underway when he sent his longships out. He waited until his son and heir was no longer a hostage. That was the fatal mistake, and it was Robb's not Ned's.

The mistake was Robbs, not Neds. I agree.

Cat warned Robb.

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Catelyn I

"He's been a hostage half his life."

"For good reason," Catelyn said. "Balon Greyjoy is not a man to be trusted. He wore a crown himself, remember, if only for a season. He may aspire to wear one again."

Robb stood. "I will not grudge him that. If I'm King in the North, let him be King of the Iron Islands, if that's his desire. I'll give him a crown gladly, so long as he helps us bring down the Lannisters."

 

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15 hours ago, AdmiralKyrd said:

One of the oversights Ned has here, which isn't really discussed, is even if Balon died and Theon was to be the heir, there was always the possibility the Ironborn, due to their distinct culture, would reject Theon. We're not entirely aware of what happened with Ned being fostered in the Vale and how it affect his relationship with the Northmen, but there's also the reverse possibility Robb might have eventually needed to take up arms to defend Theon's claim.

I doubt Ned or Robb would have had any problem doing just that, especially if such an event had taken place under Robert's rule, or if Joffrey hadn't been... Joffrey.

The Ironborn weren't really going to have a choice. There hadn't been a Kingsmoot since pre-conquest, anyways, and the Ironborn followed the same rules of succession as the rest of the 7K. Balon came into the Seastone Chair the same way any other Lord would have.

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Honestly, it isn't as if Theon got some kind of preferential treatment - that's how the hostage system is supposed to work - a threat, yes, but also a means to establish connections for the future. Ned and whoever else cooked up the idea of Theon's fosterage did make a couple of crucial mistakes, though: 

they didn't take into account how important it was for Theon to become a capable sailor in order to be accepted by his people - he really shouldn't have been given to the landlubber Ned instead of Stannis

they really should have done something about Balon's brothers - Euron in particular. The likelyhood of them usurping Theon after Balon's death was quite high and very much in-line with the Ironborn sensibilities. Combined with the above - letting these dudes run free was very stupid.

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On 2/25/2019 at 12:44 PM, John Suburbs said:

Also, Balon did not take up arms as soon as Westeros was plunged into war. The fighting was already well underway when he sent his longships out. He waited until his son and heir was no longer a hostage. That was the fatal mistake, and it was Robb's not Ned's.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is correct (although I do agree it was a mistake on Robb's part). Theon's first chapter back in Pyke has him marveling "Had Lord Balon anticipated him and called the Greyjoy banners?"

The whole chapter is a set up for the joke on Theon and his delusions of grandeur until he finds out that his father had basically already written him off for dead (or worse, a Stark) and considers Asha to be his true heir. When he shows up on Pyke, his family considers it an unpleasant surprise.

Thinking about the logistics of mustering a fleet of ships, Balon had called the banners months before, likely as soon as Bobby B. and Ned were dead.

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The fostering family has obligations to the hostage.  The highborns thought highly of themselves and they uphold traditions because it served them.  A highborn foster like Theon is expected to get basic training.  That's what passes for a well-rounded education in Westeros.  The Starks are expected to extend every courtesy to Theon.  The son of a highborn has rights that must be honored.  The Starks would expect no less if they had fostered a son to another house.  There are social etiquette to be expected of the Starks and it would have been a dishonor to their pride to treat Theon with anything less than his due.  

Ned is not a sensitive man.  He wanted Bran to face the reality of an execution.  No doubt he expected Robb to face the reality of beheading Theon if the situation got sour with the Ironborn.  A lord who cannot do what needed to be done is not going to be successful.  Robb might be sad but he would witness Theon's execution.  

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On 2/27/2019 at 2:29 PM, Lluewhyn said:

Unfortunately, I don't think this is correct (although I do agree it was a mistake on Robb's part). Theon's first chapter back in Pyke has him marveling "Had Lord Balon anticipated him and called the Greyjoy banners?"

The whole chapter is a set up for the joke on Theon and his delusions of grandeur until he finds out that his father had basically already written him off for dead (or worse, a Stark) and considers Asha to be his true heir. When he shows up on Pyke, his family considers it an unpleasant surprise.

Thinking about the logistics of mustering a fleet of ships, Balon had called the banners months before, likely as soon as Bobby B. and Ned were dead.

Balon mustered the longships, which is what any smart king would do when armies take the field, but he invaded immediately after Theon returned to Pyke. By that time, we'd already had the battles of the Golden Tooth and the Mummer's Ford, as well as the siege of Riverrun, the battle at the Green Fork, the Whispering Wood and the battle of the Camps (Riverrun's liberation). 

There is every reason to believe that Balon would have stayed his hand if Theon was still with the Starks. Installing Asha as queen would have been highly problematic, both for his bannermen and the faithful.

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Posted (edited)

Robb should wait until Balon was dead. Because he was a baby when the war of Iron Islands happen. He didn't understand Balon or why would man would try to take the Iron Islands or the North again.  Balon was nut cast how can't you take part Westeros without allies?. I think that Theon should done coup et not kill him but put into chains and try to make deal with Asha.

Edited by Sophia [email protected]
adding

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On 2/26/2019 at 3:05 AM, Mat92 said:

I definitely think that Ned distanced himself emotionally in case this was necessary, and Ned definitely would have done it if it came to it.

But it's important to note that Ned not only treated Theon well in respect to him essentially being a hostage, but he gave him a lot of the same opportunities to learn that any highborn son and heir would receive - learning from Maester Luwin, training from Rodrik, etc. 

I think a small part of Ned did not want to discount the remote possibility that raising Theon right with Robb (even as a ward/hostage) might be good when Balon died and Theon took over. I assume the plan was for Theon to take over after Balon died? He can't be a hostage forever.

Theon was the heir to a Great House. Even as a hostage, it’s expected that he’ll get an education.

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Were Theon and Robb that close?  I was re-reading some chapters recently and I felt that the Starks always kept Theon at a distance, Robb included.  Also Theon was 5 years older than Robb.  He was a man by the time the books start, while Robb is just a 14-15 year old boy.

One thing I always wonder about is why didn't Ned find a wife for Theon?  Wasn't that part of his responsibilities?  If not, wouldn't Theon have to return to the Iron Islands at some point?  Was he going to remain a Stark ward until his 30s?  He should have left Winterfell, the moment Ned went to King's Landing.

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