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James Steller

Rhaegar: How do you feel about him?

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1 hour ago, DanielBasich said:

I will start with I love Dunk & Egg and I genuinely hope that their deaths weren’t in vain. That being said I do think it is significant that they died the day Rhaegar was born. I think Rhaegar was or is interested in not only being king but being a good king. I do think he was or is very interested in prophecy and that’s how Lyanna Stark came into the picture. I think Elia respected Rhaegar and Elia was from Dorne where relationships are more open. I think Rhaegar being with another woman was blown out of proportion. I think Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna was propaganda that they used to justify Robert usurping the thrown. They also use Roberts lineage on his grandmothers side as further justification. So I wonder if Robert knew that Tywin was going to sack the city. I guess I don’t think Rhaegar was a bad guy at all in fact I think the good guys lost at the Trident. Maybe there are no good guys in war but like I said most of the negative we read about Rhaegar is just propaganda. Now is he heroic I couldn’t say because his time is supposedly cut short before he can do anything in a heroic manner. I will say currently the story has him painted as the villain but I just don’t see it. I’m not sure if he would be a good king I’d say it’s more likely then unlikely who knows maybe we’ll find out in the final two books. 

I agree it's not black and white, but the "good guys" were the ones fighting to keep the Mad King on the throne? The idea that Elia was totally cool with Rhaegar running off with another woman like he did and leaving her at Aerys's mercy has always been annoying to me and I don't see what it's based on besides really superficial views of Dornish sexuality.

I don't think Rhaegar forcibly kidnapped Lyanna, but I also don't think it was a deliberate lie by the rebels. By all accounts Brandon was told she was abducted and believed it, and we have no indication that it was widely known or believed that this was false. Furthermore, I think it's largely besides the point. In a medieval society, the married crown prince running off with the daughter of a high lord who is betrothed to another high lord is not ok whether or not the girl goes willingly. That's a massive violation of the feudal contract and a guaranteed political crisis. In addition, the rebel cause was not based on Lyanna being kidnapped. Jon Arryn started the rebellion after Aerys executed Brandon and Rickard and demanded the heads of Ned and Robert. Whatever the circumstances of Rhaegar & Lyanna's abduction/elopement were doesn't matter at that point. The case that Rhaegar wasn't to blame for this situation always seems to rely on highly convoluted reasoning that excuses all his actions and handwaves away the fact that he went MIA for month as he left Aerys to handle an obviously foreseeable political crisis that directly resulted from Rhaegar's actions and unsurprisingly spiraled into war because of the Mad King's insanity.

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If he wasn't obsessed with prophecies and had time to attempt a soft coup against his father, then he would've made a great king.

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Rhaegar is complicated. We are very clearly being withheld information about him. By most accounts he seems life a decent guy, perhaps depressed and a bit obsessive, but overall a good person. Then we have this story about him either kidnapping or eloping with Lyanna. And that sets off events in a way that paints him in a pretty negative light. I personally don't think he kidnapped or eloped with Lyanna. I think something else was going on there and the story told to Brandon had some liberties taken. I'd be very interested to know who told Brandon that Rhaegar kidnapped his sister. I'm also curious as to how long events preceded before Rhaegar found out about the war. This isn't our world. News travels slowly. Exactly when did he find out that the realm was at war? Why was Lyanna with him? Was she even with him or just people associated with him? There's way too much that we don't know to truly judge him. 

 

I also find it interesting that even when Robert throws Rhaegar's crimes in his face, Ned still doesn't think ill of the man. I know someone pointed out that Ned doesn't think ill towards the mad king, but that's not entirely true. He does make a comment about them being just as bad if they are willing to assassinate a child. It's not much, and it might not show how he truly feels as much as he knows the room feels, but I trust that Ned does think that way about the mad king. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that thoughts of the mad king made Ned feel sad more than angry. And the story is that Rhaegar raped his sister which led to her death. Ned has every reason to have ill thoughts about the man, but he doesn't. His only thought is borderline positive and doesn't fit the narrative if Rhaegar went after his sister for love or lust. 

 

This is just my long-winded way of saying that I don't have strong opinions on Rhaegar one way or the other. There's just too much we don't know and I'm constantly wondering what the missing details are as opposed to trying to identify my feelings on him based on the info we do have. 

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Meh. There's not enough characterisation for me to like or dislike him. Canonically he's pretty much a blank slate, which is why his character changes depending on what theory you choose to believe. He kidnapped and raped Lyanna? Rhaegar's a depraved madman! He was actually working with Lyanna and Elia to save the world? Misunderstood hero!

And because people are projecting personality based on plot, almost none of the different fanon versions of Rhaegar resembles an actual human being.

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1 hour ago, Bhain Shadowien said:

I also find it interesting that even when Robert throws Rhaegar's crimes in his face, Ned still doesn't think ill of the man. I know someone pointed out that Ned doesn't think ill towards the mad king, but that's not entirely true. He does make a comment about them being just as bad if they are willing to assassinate a child. It's not much, and it might not show how he truly feels as much as he knows the room feels, but I trust that Ned does think that way about the mad king. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that thoughts of the mad king made Ned feel sad more than angry. And the story is that Rhaegar raped his sister which led to her death. Ned has every reason to have ill thoughts about the man, but he doesn't. His only thought is borderline positive and doesn't fit the narrative if Rhaegar went after his sister for love or lust.

It's entirely true, the only thing Ned thinks positively about him is that he was not a man to go brothels. Ned does not think ill of Aerys. Hell, you have Ned's thoughts and he does not think ill of him.

The offhand comment is a desperate last attempt to make Robert change his mind, not really his thoughts. The comment you're thinking of btw, is regarding to Tywin "You're not Tywin Lannister, you [Robert] don't kill children.

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2 minutes ago, frenin said:

It's entirely true, the only thing Ned thinks positively about him is that he was not a man to go brothels. Ned does not think ill of Aerys. Hell, you have Ned's thoughts and he does not think ill of him.

The offhand comment is a desperate last attempt to make Robert change his mind, not really his thoughts. The comment you're thinking of btw, is regarding to Tywin "You're not Tywin Lannister, you [Robert] don't kill children.

It might have been the show where he uses the mad king. ..If that's the case then I apologize for the confusion.

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4 minutes ago, Bhain Shadowien said:

It might have been the show where he uses the mad king. ..If that's the case then I apologize for the confusion.

He uses the Mad King the book too, "why do we rise against the Mad King if not yo stop the murder of children". But since the Mad King was not killing children, nor is that a thought... And is an attempt to use guilt by association... But overall, Ned thinks quite a few times about Aerys, he does not once thinks ill of him, he goes from indifference to pity.

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4 minutes ago, frenin said:

He uses the Mad King the book too, "why do we rise against the Mad King if not yo stop the murder of children". But since the Mad King was not killing children, nor is that a thought... And is an attempt to use guilt by association... But overall, Ned thinks quite a few times about Aerys, he does not once thinks ill of him, he goes from indifference to pity.

Yes I remembered him pitying him in thoughts, I tried to briefly touch on it. My point was that since we do see Ned use the Mad king in that way, it's possible he doesn't think too highly of him. Ned doesn't seem the type to play up negative things he doesn't believe. So while he is a very forgiving and understanding man, I still think he doesn't regard Aerys highly. I think the way the line was used in the show colored my opinion on how negatively Ned may have thought about the man. But I feel we're getting a bit off track here. 

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Just now, Bhain Shadowien said:

Yes I remembered him pitying him in thoughts, I tried to briefly touch on it. My point was that since we do see Ned use the Mad king in that way, it's possible he doesn't think too highly of him. Ned doesn't seem the type to play up negative things he doesn't believe. So while he is a very forgiving and understanding man, I still think he doesn't regard Aerys highly. I think the way the line was used in the show colored my opinion on how negatively Ned may have thought about the man. But I feel we're getting a bit off track here. 

But we do have Ned's thoughts on the Mad King. Those thoughts are simply not negative, no matter how one to spin it. We have Ned's thoughts on his son is hmm positive and the rest can be sumed in "Robert can't stand this guy,".  Ned does not regard Aerys highly just as, as much as people want to believe it, he does not regard Rhaegar highly, he is pretty neutral and indifferent towards them. He has learnt to cope with the past and has moved on, besides Rhaegar and Aerys were destroyed and so was their House, that's why he is surprised that Robert couldn't let it go.

 

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9 hours ago, Floki of the Ironborn said:

As for Rhaegar, I don't claim he's the grand instigator of everything like a Machiavellian sorcerer, he was definitely not thinking of anything but his own desires and goals. And as I said, it was his actions which triggered a very sensitive situation, which he knew full well was sensitive, and he clearly didn't care enough. Like a guy who throws a lit cigarette over his shoulder as he's walking away from a leaking oil pipe next to a city of people, good and bad alike.

This is a good example of the main problem with how people think of Rhaegar. Most people make their own judgements of situations they (we all) are almost totally ignorant of, then apply their ignorant situational analysis to a character judgement. And ignore everything we are actually told about said character as they do it.

Its astonishing how we know so little about Rhaegar the person, yet this commentator knows absolutely what he thought about, what his desires and goals were, and what he cared about (or more relevantly, didn't care about).

 

I believe we get a better understanding by trying to make the characterisations we are given fit with the data, when we form theories, rather than form theories that run opposite to the characterisations.

2 hours ago, Hodor the Articulate said:

Meh. There's not enough characterisation for me to like or dislike him. Canonically he's pretty much a blank slate, which is why his character changes depending on what theory you choose to believe. He kidnapped and raped Lyanna? Rhaegar's a depraved madman! He was actually working with Lyanna and Elia to save the world? Misunderstood hero!

And because people are projecting personality based on plot, almost none of the different fanon versions of Rhaegar resembles an actual human being.

There is actually a fair amount that can be cleaned - generalisations, rather than specific details fro the most part - but since these things seem to clash with the most common, and most ignorant, 'assumptions' about events in that time, the actual data gets ignored. Can't have data getting in the way of personal head-canon...

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1 minute ago, corbon said:

There is actually a fair amount that can be cleaned - generalisations, rather than specific details fro the most part - but since these things seem to clash with the most common, and most ignorant, 'assumptions' about events in that time, the actual data gets ignored. Can't have data getting in the way of personal head-canon...

I think one of the reasons he's either beloved or hated by a majority is because what we're told about him is frankly ridiculous. Like we're supposed to believe he's some superhuman perfect man who's also the most attractive sensitive and charming man in the seven kingdoms who knows things no one else knows and can understand, and never did any wrong. He humiliates and cheats on his wife then elopes with a 14 year old girl, it's ok because prophesy, because his wife was Dornish and ok with it, because they were in love. What!? Seriously if this doesn't explain why so many people WANT to hate him then I don't know what will. I try to avoid it but I am guilty of reading a few anti-Rhaegar fanfics and can understand where people are coming from. 

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4 hours ago, Hodor the Articulate said:

Meh. There's not enough characterisation for me to like or dislike him. Canonically he's pretty much a blank slate, which is why his character changes depending on what theory you choose to believe. He kidnapped and raped Lyanna? Rhaegar's a depraved madman! He was actually working with Lyanna and Elia to save the world? Misunderstood hero!

And because people are projecting personality based on plot, almost none of the different fanon versions of Rhaegar resembles an actual human being.

:agree:

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With the information we have so far... I don't like him.
He publicly humiliated his pregnant wife, then abandoned his wife and babies so he could impregnate a 15 year old girl (even though he had to be well aware of the dangers of teen pregnancies considering his own mother's issues...), then he for all appearances publicly supported his father's decision to murder Rickard, Brandon and co when he decided to join the war on his father's side, he also didn't do anything to stop his father using Elia and their children as a way to force Dorne to join the fight.

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2 hours ago, corbon said:

There is actually a fair amount that can be cleaned - generalisations, rather than specific details fro the most part - but since these things seem to clash with the most common, and most ignorant, 'assumptions' about events in that time, the actual data gets ignored. Can't have data getting in the way of personal head-canon...

That's certainly true. You'd think with how little info we get about him, people wouldn't forget things about his character, but most theories and "interpretations" of Rhaegar rely on extrapolating from a single action of his. Like the idea that he's irresponsible because went MIA with Lyanna -that ignores that he's described as dutiful and promised Jaime he'd sort out Aerys. It's like people don't understand that human beings can sometimes do things inconsistent with their regular personality.

13 minutes ago, AryaRegina said:

With the information we have so far... I don't like him.
He publicly humiliated his pregnant wife, then abandoned his wife and babies so he could impregnate a 15 year old girl (even though he had to be well aware of the dangers of teen pregnancies considering his own mother's issues...), then he for all appearances publicly supported his father's decision to murder Rickard, Brandon and co when he decided to join the war on his father's side, he also didn't do anything to stop his father using Elia and their children as a way to force Dorne to join the fight.

Apart from the first thing, everything you list is conjecture. He never abandoned Elia and the children. They were left safe on Dragonstone. Aerys summoned them to Kingslanding and nobody - not Rhaegar, not the Martells - could defy this order without political fallout. Then he came back to defend them again by fighting against the people who were going to overthrow his family. A bit unfair to expect him to what, join the rebels and murder his own family? You've trapped him in a catch-22.

Given all the child brides and teen pregnancies, it's not at all clear that anyone in GRRM's world is aware of the dangers of teen pregnancies or if it's even a thing in this series. He's also inconsistent on whether it's normal for grown men to lust after teen girls or they're children.

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4 hours ago, corbon said:

situational analysis

Kepner-Tregoe Method? 

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5 hours ago, corbon said:

This is a good example of the main problem with how people think of Rhaegar. Most people make their own judgements of situations they (we all) are almost totally ignorant of, then apply their ignorant situational analysis to a character judgement. And ignore everything we are actually told about said character as they do it.

Its astonishing how we know so little about Rhaegar the person, yet this commentator knows absolutely what he thought about, what his desires and goals were, and what he cared about (or more relevantly, didn't care about).

But we do know enough about his person and general traits to conclude he is somewhat overrated, a person with no actual accomplishments in the fields of warfare and ruling who was put on a pedastal by his followers and sycophants - sort of like Renly was by Brienne and the buddies swarming around him in his progress.

I'd not really condemn him completely for the Rebellion thing yet - but even if we ignore that entire thing the man that remains is closer to Aegon III than Aegon the Conqueror (who was also a pretty private person). He was suffering from melancholia and depression, meaning he wasn't particularly well nor necessarily well-suited to become king. Although he was clearly a better man than his father.

I personally started to like Aemond the Kinslayer much better after reading the full account of the Storm's End episode in FaB - with Maris Baratheon goading him into the murder. But I certainly understand that people might not give a damn about that context since the guy is still a murderer and cannot really claim the woman is responsible for his own actions.

With Rhaegar one can mentally assume that he personally thought he was doing the right thing in every decision he made at Harrenhal and later ... and still decide one doesn't agree with any of them. Because one simply can be of the opinion that risking the well-being of a kingdom and its people on the basis of prophecy or love is irresponsible no matter how you spin it.

And interpreting things by way of 'the outcome' is a silly way to go by things. That way we can say that Aerys and Rhaella being forced into an incestuous marriage neither of them wanted because 'of prophecy' was the right thing to do and is somehow justified by the fact that their union eventually produced the savior.

It is a disgusting view to think Rhaella's suffering at the hands of Aerys is justified because it produced Dany. Just as it is horrible to assume that the Rebellion is justified because it may have produced Jon Snow - especially while we don't even know whether this promised prince/savior person has some sort of unique ability nobody else has.

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11 hours ago, ATaleofSalt&Onions said:

I agree it's not black and white, but the "good guys" were the ones fighting to keep the Mad King on the throne? The idea that Elia was totally cool with Rhaegar running off with another woman like he did and leaving her at Aerys's mercy has always been annoying to me and I don't see what it's based on besides really superficial views of Dornish sexuality.

I don't think Rhaegar forcibly kidnapped Lyanna, but I also don't think it was a deliberate lie by the rebels. By all accounts Brandon was told she was abducted and believed it, and we have no indication that it was widely known or believed that this was false. Furthermore, I think it's largely besides the point. In a medieval society, the married crown prince running off with the daughter of a high lord who is betrothed to another high lord is not ok whether or not the girl goes willingly. That's a massive violation of the feudal contract and a guaranteed political crisis. In addition, the rebel cause was not based on Lyanna being kidnapped. Jon Arryn started the rebellion after Aerys executed Brandon and Rickard and demanded the heads of Ned and Robert. Whatever the circumstances of Rhaegar & Lyanna's abduction/elopement were doesn't matter at that point. The case that Rhaegar wasn't to blame for this situation always seems to rely on highly convoluted reasoning that excuses all his actions and handwaves away the fact that he went MIA for month as he left Aerys to handle an obviously foreseeable political crisis that directly resulted from Rhaegar's actions and unsurprisingly spiraled into war because of the Mad King's insanity.

I totally get it Rhaegar is a grey character so is Ned honestly but you don’t see the fandom crucifying over his actions. Rhaegar was or is another Samwell Tarly type character in my opinion. Just like Sam he’s bookish, neither of them have great social skills, both of their fathers are cruel men, they’re both depressed men they and kind of like how Jon is the bad ass of his and Sams friendship I wonder if Arthur and Rhaegar have a similar relationship. 

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We don't have enough infos to make a clear picture of Rhaegar, but for what we know, I don't have a good opinion on him. Just like Arya said, he publicly humiliated his wife and House Martell, who could have legitimately been offended by this humiliation, was obsessed with the prophecy and he triggered a war to accomplish it. It was a dumb move, whatever the issue and he paid it with his life, yep he screwed up very badly and his house have been overthrown. 

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1 hour ago, DanielBasich said:

I totally get it Rhaegar is a grey character so is Ned honestly but you don’t see the fandom crucifying over his actions. Rhaegar was or is another Samwell Tarly type character in my opinion. Just like Sam he’s bookish, neither of them have great social skills, both of their fathers are cruel men, they’re both depressed men they and kind of like how Jon is the bad ass of his and Sams friendship I wonder if Arthur and Rhaegar have a similar relationship. 

Ned wasn't perfect and the guy made mistakes, but what did he do that's comparable to what Rhaegar did? And sure, we don't all the details, but every theory I've ever seen that seeks to absolve Rhaegar of responsibility relies on a highly convoluted chain of events and IMO devalues the story by turning Rhaegar from a complex, grey character to the actual shining prince that his fanboys make him out to be.

11 hours ago, Bhain Shadowien said:

I'm also curious as to how long events preceded before Rhaegar found out about the war. This isn't our world. News travels slowly. Exactly when did he find out that the realm was at war? Why was Lyanna with him? Was she even with him or just people associated with him? There's way too much that we don't know to truly judge him. 

The timing of when Rhaegar heard about the war doesn't matter. That a political crisis would ensue when the married crown prince runs off with the Warden of the North's daughter (who was betrothed to the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands), especially without any sort of explanation, was obvious and foreseeable. It also doesn't take much foresight to realize that Aerys handling that situation was extremely dangerous and irresponsible.

The explanations that absolve Rhaegar of any responsibility for that rely on highly convenient and convoluted events. Like the idea that Lyanna wasn't with him, but coincidentally they both went MIA in the Riverlands around the same time, someone lied that Rhaegar kidnapped her, neither of them said or did anything publicly for months, and Lyanna coincidentally ended up at the ToJ guarded by 3 Kingsguards  (in all probability) giving birth to Rhaegar's son. Or the general notion that it was all the fault of whoever informed Brandon, and there's some unfortunate but convenient (for Rhaegar) reasoning explaining why Rhaegar and Lyanna ran off, why there was no explanation, and why Rhaegar vanished until Gerold Hightower came to retrieve him on Aerys's orders.

 

 

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IMO we just don't know him enough to judge at all-only other peoples perspectives. He could have been a true hero or a straight up villain. But knowing GRRM he probably was neither completely. As long as we are not miraculously given his POV we'll never know him truly I think and I think GRRM intended it that way. Just as we might never truly know what kind of person Lyanna was either.

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